U.S. Navy Exploring New Concepts, Procurement Priorities for ASW
Modern diesel submarines have advanced propulsion systems and coatings, and many of them are hard to detect with the current sonar technologies aboard the U.S. Navy’s nuclear-powered submarines and surface ships. As nations in Asia and beyond race to buy these vessels, the US Navy’s Antisubmarine Warfare (ASW) Task Force is preparing for that future with a new “concept of operations” that includes new tactics and new technologies. It’s the first major revision of anti-submarine doctrine since the middle of the Cold War.
Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Vernon Clark approved this new concept of operations in late December 2004, which will serve as a guiding document to develop future ASW tactics and techniques. It’s built on the notion that U.S. commanders will get accurate information about the location of potential enemy submarines, via a network of miniaturized sensors that will be deployed in strategic coastal areas to give commanders an advance view. U.S. ships will also try to beat the enemy by getting to a contested area faster, before they have a chance to deploy their submarines. Other tactics will include decoys and deception, information operations and psychological warfare.
In order to better understand what technologies are available in the private sector, the ASW task force plans to issue “broad area announcements” to industry on a regular basis. Expected procurement and research priorities under the new ASW concept of operations include waterborne and airborne sensors that are cheap enough to deploy in large numbers, but capable of processing most information on their own due to bandwidth restrictions. Another items on the priority list include an overarching command-and-control network for the U.S. Navy and the other services that can tie information together, and a “rapid attack” torpedo that can be guided with pinpoint accuracy.
Additional Reading and Sources
- National Defense Monthly (March 2005) – Shrewd Tactics Underpin Navy Strategy to Defeat Diesel Submarines.
- Dr. Owen R. Cote, Jr., Associate Director. MIT Security Studies Program. (March 2000) – “The Third Battle: Innovation in the U.S. Navy’s Silent Cold War Struggle with Soviet Submarines.” Interesting commentary about the post Cold War “forth battle,” too. (Hat Tip: Richard Heddleson)
- DID FOCUS Article – The US Navy’s New Littoral Combat Ships covers this ship class and its associated semi-independent modular weapons systems.
- DID (May 31/07) – Longshot: A Swooping HAAWC for Torpedoes. Enables high-altitude launch, turning the Mk54 into a GPS-guided glide weapon that releases the torpedo near sea level.
- Washington Times (Nov 14/06) – Defenses on subs to be reviewed. “Navy officials confirmed yesterday that an aircraft carrier battle group failed to detect a Chinese submarine that surfaced within weapons range of the USS Kitty Hawk… The Chinese Song-class attack submarine surfaced near the carrier in deep waters off Okinawa on Oct. 26… The carrier was not engaged in anti-submarine warfare exercises at the time and thus did not have active patrols for submarines, the Navy official said. As a result, submarine defenses for the carrier and its accompanying warships will be reviewed… The submarine was spotted by carrier-based aircraft conducting routine surveillance… “Our China analysts appeared to be stunned that China would shadow a U.S. carrier as far away as Okinawa,” the defense official said.”
- DID (Nov 7/06) – $8.9M for FY 2007 Support of the USN’s S-3B Vikings. Which are scheduled to be phased out in 2009 in favour of slower, shorter-range helicopters. The “carrier based aircraft conducting routine surveillance” that found the Song Class submarine was probably an S-3 Viking.
- DID (Oct 23/06) – US Navy Spends Another $12.7M for ASW Module USVs
- DID (May 15/06) – $11.2M to Improve Anti-Submarine Combat Systems. the AN/SQQ-89 is deployed on CG-47 Ticonderoga Class cruisers, DDG-51 Arleigh Burke Class destroyers, and DD-963 Spruance Class destroyers.
- DID (Dec 2/05) – ADS: Sub-Finding Sensor Nets Get a Step Closer
- DID (Dec 2/05) – Global Hawk UAV Prepares for Maritime Role (updated)
- DID (Oct 14/05) – Seapower Interviews US Navy’s Littoral and Mine Warfare PEO
- DID (Sept 23/05) – Navy Launches Final Development of Bluefin 21 UUV
- DID (Sept 20/05) – WLD-1 UUV and AQS-20 mine-hunting sonar. It can also find other things besides mines.
- DID (Sept 19/05) – India to Sign Multi-billion Dollar Scorpene Sub Contract (Updated). A good and representative example of the advanced diesel sub trend, albeit in friendly hands. Also profiles the Pakistani and Chinese submarine forces.
- DID (Sept 12/05) – BAE Receives $5M to Develop Advanced Underwater Anti-Sub Sensors
- DID (Aug 29/05) – Sea “Sparker” Snags SBIR/STTR Success
- DID (Aug 24/05) – Follow-Up: Rear Adm. Michael L. Holmes on The USA’s P-3C Force. A combination of active sensors with new modes, GPS-aware sonobuoys, and torpedoes that can be dropped from high altitude are also envisioned as part of their emerging fast-response capability. The USA is also running frequent exercises with friendly countries, and a Swedish Gotland Class diesel sub and crew has been leased to the USN for a year.
- DID (July 6/05) – Underwater Sub Detection: SBIR Tries to Think Like a Shark
- DID (June 7/05) – Australia’s MAGSAFE Offers New ASW Options
- DID – MH-60R/S.
- DID (May 10/05) – P-8A MMA Could Become a Multinational Program (Updated). The USA’s next generation successor to the P-3 Orion ASW aircraft, which will operate in conjunction with the BAMS UAV.
- DID (May 10/05) – $27.7M to Develop PLUSNET Undersea Sensor Network