Tuesday, April 18, 2006

"Revolution in Undersea Warfare"

Analyzing the analyst-

Unmanned subs would revolutionize warfare, analyst says By Megan Scully here.

"To counter China's rapidly strengthening submarine fleet, the United States should spur a revolution in undersea warfare by focusing greater attention and resources on developing advanced unmanned underwater vehicles, a top naval analyst said Tuesday. Such a move could make China's submarine investments "worthless" and secure the Navy's place as the world's premier maritime fleet, said Robert Work, an analyst at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments. Struggling domestic shipbuilders, who are urging Congress to increase submarine purchases to two a year by 2009, are capable of changing "the rules of the game" in naval warfare, Work said."

What is wrong with the analyst's opinion? Politics, of course:

Last year, the Navy planned four classes of the unmanned vehicles ranging from 25 pounds to 25,000 pounds. The plan set nine missions for UUVs including: serving as extensions of manned vessels to help conduct intelligence; surveillance; or, reconnaissance missions; performing mine countermeasures; or functioning as communication; navigation; or antisubmarine warfare platforms.

A July 2005 Congressional Research Service report questioned whether the Navy is adequately funding UUVs, and recommended congressional oversight (political interference?).

Analyst's Bottom line: "Such a move could make China's submarine investments "worthless" and secure the Navy's place as the world's premier maritime fleet, said Robert Work, an analyst at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments. Struggling domestic shipbuilders, who are urging Congress to increase submarine purchases to two a year by 2009, are capable of changing "the rules of the game" in naval warfare, Work said."

Real Bottom Line: UUVs were used in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Naval Special Clearance Team (NSCT) One, the Royal Navy and Australian forces on March 24, 2003, performed exploratory mine hunting and countermeasures for incoming humanitarian shipments. NSCT One used Unmanned Undersea Vehicles (UUV) at Az Zubayr and Karbala, Iraq.

If UUVs could make China's "submarine investments worthless", they would, by extension make the United States submarine investments highly questionable. The same fallacious merit was once attributed to mines, torpedoes and submarine netting. Patently wrong then and now.

At any rate, submarines are expensive (target $2-billion a copy) and in the eyes of many in congress the money for each one could be better used in the employment of another 2,000 lawyers for one year. The analyst's comments hardly fit undersea warfare reality until one accepts that it is just another utterance in the perennial, political battle over defense dollars.

Expect smoke and mirrors in the always silent and strange world of submarines.

more: Navy Launches Final Development of Bluefin 21 UUV

But let's not forget that torpedoes are UUVs, too.


1 Comments:

At 20 April, 2006 20:30, Blogger bothenook said...

good point about torpedos. one i hadn't thought about. some of the guidance systems utilized today certainly place the topedo in the UUV realm.
oh, and when has dicussions of this type ever been anthing BUT political?

 

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