Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Global Environment for US Submarine Development

Throughout history, military submarines have remained silent and strange due to the brazen tasks they have been constructed to perform both suddenly and/or with painstaking perfection.

Currently, China, Germany, India, Iran, Israel, Pakistan, Russia and the U.K., among others, are modernizing their submarine fleets. This means that that fiscal sacrifices have now been incurred in each country to develope competitive, if not winning, submarine capabilities.

From the standpoint of the United States submarines, the global competition helps assure our current primacy. Once gobs of currency are dedicated to constructing expensive new designs by other sovereign states, maintaining sea worthiness and crew readiness will soak up ever-increasing sums for decades. Fiscal commitment is self-entrapping.

Pakistan, for instance, is now considering purchasing at least three new submarines, in a German contract worth up to $1.5 billion. The U-214/U-212 submarines, which are much more advanced than Scorpene submarines ordered by Indian Navy, have a diving depth of 400 meters (>1200 feet), due to improvements in hull materials. The German subs also incorporate stealth advantages, such as elimination of exhaust heat, making the U-214/U-212 more difficult to detect. Moreover, the AIP fuel cell allows the U-214/U-212 to cruise underwater for weeks without surfacing.

Now, China must catch up to U.S. nuclear submarine supremacy. This may be the only reason for the U.S. to improve its Seawolf and Virginia designs in their very limited numbers.

The bulk of the future U.S. submarine fleet will be based upon revolutionary designs whose technologies, crew complements and ongoing maintenance will be much less expensive per unit than Seawolves, Virginias, SSGNs and Tridents. DARPA is working on these goals as I write.

More importantly, the capabilities of the new U.S. subs will be technologically advantaged and unmatched for decades, despite China's spying eyes, for instance.

Expanded production, smaller crew complements, improved stealth profiles and unmatched force projection capabilities may be on the way (target 2012-2024) without exorbitant budget strains. Now, that is fitting of a world leader in industrial technology, research and development, six sigma methodologies and military primacy.

Molten Eagle expects to be surprised by coming design developments, but not at all by the evolution of a new submarine navy in which archaic distinctions between attack and ballistic submarine crews evaporates.

Tracking The Gotland: The Attendant Mysteries link there.
Shadowy, SSGN Three-card Monte link there.



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