It would be highly unlikely that any country would be able to outgun the United States on land, in the skies or on the surface of the water; that is why so many of America’s potential adversaries are turning their efforts toward submarine warfare. America has long held an advantage in both sub technology and sub detection technology, but the gap is beginning to close as we cannot turn out multi-billion dollar attack submarines as fast as other countries are producing smaller and harder to detect submarines. What is the answer? It may lie in the ability of America to produce a slew of unmanned surface vessels to handle anti-submarine warfare.
Navy Commanders are increasingly concerned about two main threats that have emerged recently regarding the safety of US Navy ships. The two biggest threats against American surface vessels are:
These are coordinated attacks by droves of enemy submarines that are designed to overwhelm carrier group defenses with the sheer numbers of combatants. It works because it does not matter the size of the submarines in the attacking submarine force; even the smallest submarine can be outfitted with a torpedo powerful enough to sink even an aircraft carrier if it gets through a carrier group’s defenses.
A recent ploy by the North Vietnamese showed how effective this strategy could possibly be at attacking ships such as aircraft carriers or getting nuclear warheads close enough to our nation’s coast to launch them effectively. As America and South Korea staged their annual war games this year, North Korea decided to suddenly mobilize about 50 of their approximately 70 total submarines in their Navy’s inventory. Both the US Navy and South Korea admitted that they were not able to effectively track all the submarines at once.
One of the main advantages that US Submarines used to have going for them is their silent running and long submerging nuclear propelled engines; most opposing forces used diesel engines which were fairly easy to detect and follow. Most countries, even the bigger ones like Russia and China, simply could not produce nuclear powered subs quickly enough to meet the demand to counter the American sub fleet. Well now they no longer have to.
There is a new diesel technology that makes diesel powered subs much harder to detect than before as they can run significantly more silent with it. It is called Air Independent Propulsion (AIP). This will result in more countries being able to produce silent running subs at a much cheaper cost as the technology continues to be perfected.
Is this technology effective at attacking ships? Consider that the USA just hired a Swedish Naval AIP Powered Submarine to test its carrier group defenses against. The submarine got within striking distance of an aircraft carrier more than once during the tests without being detected.
DARPA saw this threat coming as early as 2010 and decided to develop unmanned surface combatants as a low cost response to these threats. The first system is about to go to sea trial now. The Trimaran design and stealth materials used to build it make the platform stable at sea for long periods of time and hard to detect. Its sensors consist of high frequency sonar which will enable it to lock on and track an enemy sub even through the most sophisticated evasion techniques it can do; tracking will continue until the sub is eliminated by other means such as weaponry from a naval surface combatant or a P-8 anti-submarine warfare aircraft.
It is a technology that cannot get here fast enough to keep our highly important carrier groups as safe as possible at all times.
Disclaimer: The content in this article is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the policies or opinions of US Patriot Tactical.
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