Saturday, December 28, 2013

Sub CO Pucker Factors (from ridiculous to sublime)

Definition: Pucker factor is a military slang phrase used to describe the level of stress and/or adrenaline response in a dangerous or crisis situation. The term refers to the tightening of the buttocks caused by extreme fear.[1] If it is inadequate, the person making decisions may make them "like a robot" without considering ethics or the long-term consequences of his actions; conversely, if it is excessive, then the person "puckers"--panics and becomes unable to think clearly and effectively.[2]


If the idea of unmanned aircraft tracking targets from above is unsettling, imagine how a future Chinese or Iranian submarine captain could feel at being hunted by a robot ship on the surfacePM - August 20, 2013

"That's the idea behind the Pentagon's Anti-Submarine Warfare Continuous Trail Unmanned Vessel, or ACTUV. The program, run by DARPA, awarded the company SAIC the contract to build a prototype submarine-hunting [surface] ship."

ANSWER  Not so much; an unmanned aircraft tracking from above is barely anticipated by sub COs. The customary fear of manned tracking aircraft, especially a destructive P-8 Poseidon, is always a very frightening prospect for a submarine CO, however.  

AND "the idea behind the Pentagon's ACTUV,  a 130-foot surface craft (shallow draft, but easy torpedo target) is too flawed to be taken very seriously by a sub CO. Why? Due to the ACTUV's length, running lights, potential visibility to satellites, and COMM emanations subject to DF. 

BUT  DARPA's  ACTUV is really good for something else (not to be discussed here, but forecast here years ago) and provides ample cover for development of autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs = Slocum gliders).  AUVs will soon be near the apex of sub CO pucker factors. What is at the very apex?  ---Seawolf and Virginia class SSNs.

WHY  Consider a Chinese or Russian submarine captain's anxiety at being pinged by one or more robot (autonomous Slocum gliders = drones) with active sonar optimized to the sub's depth (up to 3,000 feet) and actual ambient temperatures and salinity:

The following excerpts are from a recent article [color and underscoring emphasis are mine]:

"a fleet of 65 aquatic, submersible drones is already giving the U.S. Navy a tactical advantage"

"Right now the Navy is at the forefront of this technology," [researcher Oscar] Schofield says, "and the Office of Naval Research really funded and developed these gliders in the first place."The Navy currently owns 65 of the same kind of gliders Schofield operates, with plans to expand to 150 by 2015." But the Navy's interest isn't exactly in science. The fleet of gliders is helping the Navy gain a tactical advantage in the ocean's future war zones.

Where the gliders can have the biggest impact are the places where the Navy can't or isn't allowed to go. While he's not at liberty to list them all, Bub [Bub Frank of the Naval Oceanographic Office] points to places where the Navy currently has significant interest: "The Navy is in the western Pacific, the northern Indian Ocean, and the Navy spends time in the Mediterranean," he says. It's in these places (perhaps even around the increasingly tense East China Sea) that gliders could slip in silently to gather intelligence. "The gliders are clandestine," Bub says. "They spend very little time on the surface, they're not generally detectable, and although they communicate through the Iridium satellite system, they've been encrypted.

Operational Planning 
And Schofield says this type of clandestine mission could be done from far away. Even though the gliders swim at less than a mile per hour, their propellerless propulsion and battery packs allow them to stay at sea for up to a year. "And you can launch a glider pretty far away from a region of interest. I could deploy one a hundred miles away from where I have it fly in," Schofield says.

Hunting Hidden Subs
Although the current Navy drones can reach a depth of only 3000 feet, the Navy already has plans for a newer version that could dive to more than 1 mile below sea level. By mapping the deep seas, the Navy thinks it can find places that are best for hiding subs.

Molten Eagle first introduced our readers to a "gliders" (type of AUVs or drone) in 2008, with one called Robotuna.   Then, in 2009, we had reported the cost of these early-stage Slocum gliders at the relatively expendable sum of $130,000 or less each.  Compared to the cost of crewed AIP subs robotic subs are clearly cheaper to build by the hundreds; and compared to the cost of nuclear subs robotic subs are not only cheaper to build by the thousands, but more expendable than even our torpedoes. 
Submarines are always silent and strange.

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