Friday, October 30, 2015

U.S. Navy's worst nightmare: Super advanced Russian submarines

This is the stealth sub project that worries U.S. and its allies.

Dave Majumdar, The National Interest
29 October 2015

In recent years, the Russian navy has started to slowly recover from the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union. While the Russian surface fleet still faces quite a few challenges, the country’s submarine force has been more active than ever since the end of the Cold War. Though not near as large or as capable as the once mighty Soviet submarine fleet, some of the most advanced late Soviet-era designs are starting to enter service.
The best example is Russia’s Project 885 Yasen-class nuclear attack submarine K-329 Severodvinsk, which started construction in 1993 but only entered service in 2014. The massive cruise missile-carrying SSGN’s construction had been repeatedly delayed because of post-Soviet Russia’s budgetary woes. During the intervening years, many of the vessel’s components were rendered obsolete and the follow-on Project 885M vessels – starting with Kazan – will have many refinements. Nonetheless, Severodvinsk is by far the most capable submarine in the Russian fleet.
“We’ll be facing tough potential opponents. One only has to look at the Severodvinsk, Russia’s version of a [nuclear guided missile submarine] (SSGN). I am so impressed with this ship that I had Carderock build a model from unclassified data.” Rear Adm. Dave Johnson, Naval Sea Systems Command’s (NAVSEA) program executive officer (PEO) submarines said last year during the Naval Submarine League’s symposium in Falls Church, Va. “The rest of the world’s undersea capability never stands still.”
Severodvinsk leverages many of the automation technologies the Soviet Union invested in during the 1970s and 1980s with the Project 705 Lira-class boats – better known by their NATO-code name as the Alfa-class. The Alfa-class submarines – which were built with a titanium hull and liquid-metal cooled reactor – were the fastest and deepest diving operational submarines ever built – save for the lone Soviet Project 661 Anchar-class (NATO: Papa-class) boat. As such, the 13,800-ton, 390-foot long, submarine is highly automated vessel with a crew of only 32 officers and 58 enlisted submariners.
The U.S. Naval Institute’s Combat Fleets of the World noted that some reports suggest the vessel might have a maximum speed of between 35 and 40 knots. It is far quieter than previous Russian submarines and has a maximum “silent” speed of about 20 knots. Like most new nuclear submarine designs, Severodvinsk reactor is designed to last for the life of the boat.
According to the Office of Naval Intelligence (ONI), while the new Russian submarine is quieter than the Improved Los Angeles-class boats, the new vessel is not quite as silent as the Seawolf or Virginia-class. However, the Russians were always only lagging slightly behind the U.S. in quieting technology according to Navy sources.
Unlike most Soviet submarine designs, the Yasen-class boats do not make use of a double-hull – instead it has hybrid design with a lighter structure over the vessel’s pressure hull according to Russian media reports. Another unique feature for a Russian vessel is that it incorporates a spherical bow sonar called the Irtysh-Amfora for the first time. As a result, Severodvinsk has its torpedo tubes located at about mid-ship like U.S. submarines. The vessel has eight torpedo tubes, four of which are 650mm tubes while the rest are 533mm tubes. Combat Fleets of the World estimates that the Yasen-class may carry as many as 30 torpedoes.
But the Russians are well aware that time has not stood still since 1993 when Severodvinsk was laid down. The Russian navy is set to take delivery of an improved Project 885M Yasen-class attack submarine in 2016 according to Russian state media, which is named after the city of Kazan. The new Project 885M boat incorporates many improvements over Severodvinsk. Kazan is expected to have improved sensors and weapon systems compared to Severodvinsk. It is also likely to be quieter than Severodvinsk.
The Russian navy hopes to procure a minimum of eight Yasen-class attack boats. Four boats have been ordered thus far with a third vessel, Novosibirsk, having been laid down in July 2013.
While the Project 885M is an impressive and very capable vessel, it is not quite an equal to the latest American boats in terms of acoustical or sensor performance. In terms of raw performance, the Severodvinsk and her sisters are likely more similar to the U.S. Navy’s three Seawolf-class attack boats, which according to Navy sources were designed specifically to counter late generation Soviet vessel like the Project 941 Akula – also known more commonly as the Typhoon – Project 971 Shchuka-B (oddly code-named Akula by NATO) and the Project 945 Sierra-class boats.
The Yasen-class boats are fast, heavily armed and deep diving – and ideally the United States would have more Seawolf-class vessels to handle them. But while the Virginia-class subs don’t have the deep diving, high-speed open ocean performance of the Seawolf-class, it should be more than adequate to handle the handful of Project 885s that Russia builds.
Dave Majumdar is the defense editor for The National Interest.

U.S. Navy planning torpedoes with multiple payloads

Megan Eckstein, U.S. Naval Institute News
29 October 2015

The Navy hopes to restart its heavyweight torpedo program after a more than 15-year hiatus in production, but those plans could be hampered by a long-term continuing resolution.
Director of Undersea Warfare Rear Adm. Charles Richard left no doubt about his need for the program: “I have to go get that line started,” he said last week at the annual Naval Submarine League symposium.
Program Executive Office for Submarines Executive Director George Drakeley said at the same event that the submarine community is currently limited to the Mk 54 lightweight torpedo, the Mk 48 heavyweight torpedo and the Tomahawk missile.
“That’s really not that great, that’s not a good state of affairs,” he said. “Now there’s a number of programs in the [research and development] area that I can’t discuss here, but we are looking at other weapons – but I say to the community we need to do a better job giving the warfighter more weapons here.”
And that limited selection of weapons is aging, he said. Discussing the Mk 48 Mod 7, the newest of the torpedoes, Drakeley said, “we refurbish these, we use them a lot, we fire them for training and then bring them back and refurb and reuse, but they’re getting old. And though when you look at the picture of it it looks like it’s kind of a modular weapon, we really have only been upgrading the forward part with the sonars and the electronics. So in the torpedo restart, we are going to be making this a truly modular design that you can pull out a section and plug in different payloads or different propulsion systems or different fuel supplies, and so as you’re developing the payloads you ought to be thinking about how you integrate with the modular Mk 48 some new capabilities and the like.”
But Richard said the ability to get that modular, plug-and-play torpedo off the ground could be hurt by the budget. The Navy is currently operating under a continuing resolution, which funds the government at last year’s levels
until December. Congress appears to have reached a two-year budget deal to provide some relief from the Budget Control Act spending levels, but it is unclear if Congress will be able to pass a line-by-line spending bill by December or if the continuing resolution will be extended.
“That’s a body blow in terms of my ability to get the resources and get them into the hands of those program managers so that we can go and make torpedoes. That’s next to impossible under a continuing resolution,” Richard said. “So I’ve got to start making torpedoes.”
“And then what I have to do is I have to come up with an entirely new array of schwackage options that I can go give the fleet,” he said, echoing Drakeley’s call for additional payloads. “That includes both undersea, that’s with the heavyweight torpedo capabilities, as well as an expanded missile portfolio. High on my expanded portfolio list is we have to figure out how to go get back in the anti-surface ship missile business. And then behind that, large and small diameter UUVs.”
Director of Naval Reactors Adm. Frank Caldwell said at the same event last week that the Navy is pursuing adding anti-ship missiles back to its sub fleet to bring it in line with the rest of the world’s fleets.
“For this audience, I’ll tell you we are considering that and we are taking some steps to delivering that kind of capability to our submarine force and I can’t really say any more than that,” he said.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Retired U.S. submarine commander to manage Australian submarine construction project

Vice Admiral Stephen Johnson was commander of the USS Chicago attack submarine.

Staff, The Australian
29 October 2015

A former US submarine commander with extensive experience running complex construction prog-rams has been called in to manage Australia's biggest defence project, theselection and build of the navy's new submarine fleet.
The bungled political handling of the multi-billion-dollar project by Tony Abbott's government played a significant part in the instability that led to the switch to Malcolm Turnbull, however, it has also handed the new Prime Minister a serious headache amid persistent claims the Coalition plans to break an election promise to build 12 submarines in South Australia.
The Australian has been told Defence Department secretary Dennis Richardson and Australian Defence Force chief Mark Binskin informed staff yesterday that, after an extensive recruitment search in Australia and globally, Stephen Johnson, a retired US Navy rear admiral, had been appointed general manager, submarines.
Rear Admiral Johnson was chosen because of his extensive experience running large hi-tech projects including development of the revolutionary Seawolf class submarine for the US Navy.
His last seagoing role was as commander of the Los Angeles Class nuclear-powered attack submarine USS Chicago.
In the US Navy, he served as director in charge of undersea technology in Naval Sea Systems Command and as commander of the Undersea Warfare Centre.
In Australia, Rear Admiral Johnson will oversee the competitive evaluation process to chose the new submarine from design options submitted by companies from Japan, France and Germany, and also the sustainment of the six existing Collins-class submarines.
In reality, all three contenders have said they are willing to build all or some of the submarines in Australia. Indications are that the government will opt for eight to 12 new boats.
Mr Turnbull yesterday sought to extract himself from the promise to build 12 new submarines in South Australia, as he made his first prime ministerial visit to the state.
Asked on ABC Radio if the pledge was "a lie, a misleading -impression or a bent untruth", the Prime Minister said he was "not going to go back into the archeology of what was said" before the last election.
"I didn't make that statement; all I can say to you is watch this space. I am very committed to having a substantial defence -industry here in Australia," Mr Turnbull said.
The Prime Minister said later that the question of building eight or 12 new subs was addressed in the defence white paper to be -released "in due course".
Adelaide-based shipbuilder ASC yesterday said that it would cut about 45 permanent tradies from the Air Warfare Destroyer Project by the end of the year.
ASC's interim chief executive, Mark Lamarre, said further cuts were likely and, until decisions were made on where new warships, the Future Frigate and Offshore Patrol Vessels, would be built, and when, it was not possible to maintain the current number of staff.
ASC has cut 300 jobs since May, mostly subcontractors, but still has about 2600 fulltime workers.
Independent South Australian senator Nick Xenophon said -recent events in the South China Sea showed the region becoming more volatile and anything fewer than 12 submarines built in Australia, ensuring jobs with a continuous build, would not protect Australia's national and strategic interest. "Right now we have a situation where 45 permanent jobs will be lost by the end of this year at the ASC . This is something that could have been completely avoidable,'' he said.

U.S. Navy preparing for next-generation attack submarine decisions in 2024

Megan Eckstein, USNI News
28 October 2015

Though the Virginia-class attack submarine program (SSN-774) is still going strong, delivering boats ahead of schedule and below original cost estimates, the Navy needs to start planning the next generation of attack submarines soon, according to the program executive office for submarines.
PEO Subs executive director George Drakeley said last week at the annual Naval Submarine League symposium that an analysis of alternatives for the next-generation sub, or SSN(X), would take place in 2024.
To prepare for that milestone, PEO Subs has created a future capabilities group to begin studying what the operating environment might look like in the 2050 timeframe, what technologies submarines would require to be successful in that environment, and what enablers the research and development community can start working on now to set up the future program for success, he said.
“We’re already putting together a team to look at, what does the future submarine after Virginia need to look like? This is looking forward just as the Ohio Replacement Program is looking forward, but it’s important that we do this now,” Drakeley said.
“We need to identify the technologies that we’re going to need out in the future years in the attack submarine business ... This is going to be a submarine that will have to be better integrated with [unmanned
underwater vehicles] and other sensors and other capabilities that we maybe haven’t even thought of yet.”
In 2013 the Navy expanded the Virginia class from a 30-boat program to 48, which now puts the last Virginia-class sub at delivering in 2034, he said. The SSN(X) analysis of alternatives will take place in 2024, the authorization for the lead ship in the new class will happen in 2034, and the new class will reach initial operational capability in 2044, according to current PEO Subs plans.
Starting the SSN(X) discussion nearly a decade ahead of the AoA will help ensure that mature technologies and design tools are ready when the program starts, which reduces risk and cost; will help the Navy understand the impact of external factors and other programs on the SSN(X) design and mission; and build affordability into the program, Drakeley said during his presentation.
For example, he said the program will need to understand how the Navy expects the submarine to interact with off-board assets, and whether a single design can meet all mission needs or whether a mixed-class approach might be more appropriate.
On the Virginia class, the Navy is about to deliver the third Block III sub, Illinois (SSN-786), later this year. Block III included a 20-percent design change and is still expected to deliver in 66 months, compared to the 84 months for the first block of boats. The service has already authorized several of the Block IV boats, which will begin delivering in 2019 and will boast increased operational availability and decreased total ownership cost. Block V, which will include the Virginia Payload Module, is in the design phase now and will be authorized beginning in Fiscal Year 2019.

U.S. Navy to field full slate of unmanned systems by 2020

Dan Parsons, Defense Daily
28 October 2015

The Navy plans to operate alongside unmanned robotic systems on land, at sea and in the air by 2020, and has established a specific command position to lead rapid innovation and fielding of unmanned systems in pursuit of that goal.
Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus said Oct. 27 that within five years Marines will fight alongside an entire integrated family of robotic systems and that a squadron outfitted exclusively with undersea unmanned vehicles (UUVs) would deploy on an independent mission.
Mabus also reiterated a his assertion that the F-35 would be the last manned fighter the Navy would buy and predicted that the F/A-XX next-generation air superiority family of aircraft that will enter service in the 2030s also will have "unmanned components, heavily networked platforms, sensors and weapons."
"Unmanned systems are the platforms of the future. What was once the stuff of science fiction movies is now infiltrating the world around us," Mabus said Oct. 27, speaking to a meeting of the Association of Unmanned Vehicle Systems International outside Washington, D.C. "This technology is being developed swiftly in the commercial world around us, both for good and of course, with more nefarious intentions, by our adversaries. We absolutely cannot afford to lose in this realm."
To that end, Mabus laid out a series of milestones the service is striving to reach by 2020, including the deployment of large-displacement UUVs from an exclusively UUV squadron on an independent mission, and fielding "an entire integrated family of robotics systems to augment" Marine air-ground task forces.
Marine Corps Lt. Gen. Robert Walsh, deputy commandant for combat development and integration, said unmanned systems would be seamlessly integrated into Marine operations in the future, but humans would always fight alongside robots.
"I envision a manned-unmanned balance," he said during an Oct. 28 forum hosted by the Center for Strategic
and International Studies in Washington, D.C. "It will be a teamed approach where you will be using both, but in different ways than you have in the past."
UAV technology is outpacing military acquisitions as other commercial advancements are, which means that affordable, capable systems are readily available to adversaries. The Navy and Marine Corps need to speed the pace at which they field unmanned systems, Walsh said.
"The challenge with UAVs is a lot like technology growth," he said. "We've got to continue to move fast with them, but have to be integrated with the mesh of capabilities we have. The demand from ground forces is huge. There is more and more demand for group one, low-level UASs."
Mabus recently announced the creation of two high-echelon Navy positions specific to the development and fielding of unmanned systems. He has appointed retired Marine Brig. Gen Frank Kelley to be deputy assistant secretary of the Navy for Unmanned Systems and assigned Rear Adm. Robert Girrier to head up the new N99 office as the director for unmanned warfare systems.
"The change to the organization is a reflection of the priority we're placing on this emerging capability, and how critical it is that there is centralized leadership for our unmanned programs," Mabus said.
Both the Navy and Marine Corps already have extensive experience operating unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) in combat in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Navy's Scan Eagle and Firescout UAVs were deployed in both theaters. UUVs have been launched from surface ships to perform searches of the seafloor, as during the hunt for the remains of Malaysian Airlines Flight 370 in the Indian Ocean. In May, the Virginia-class submarine USS North Dakota (SSN-784) conducted the first real-world operations deploying and operating with unmanned undersea vehicles.
The Marine Corps deployed the K-MAX unmanned cargo helicopter on an experimental basis to Afghanistan and ended up keeping it in service for years, during which time it transported about 6,000 pounds of cargo a day to forward operating bases without a pilot.
The Blackjack UAV will deploy for the first time with an amphibious ready group (ARG) or Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) aboard San Antonio-class ships beginning in FY '16.
The Navy also is in the process of testing the Triton high-altitude, long-endurance UAV for broad-area maritime surveillance and has successfully tested the X-47B as part of the unmanned combat air system (UCAS) experiment.
Congress has recognized the importance of the follow-on unmanned carrier-launched airborne surveillance and strike (UCLASS) program by including guidance in the 2015 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) to develop a penetrating air-refuel-able unmanned carrier-launched aircraft capable of performing a broad range of missions in a non-permissive environment.
With so many ongoing and planned efforts to identify and field unmanned systems, Mabus and Walsh both called for a push toward open architecture systems and common standards for command and control of UASs.
"Whatever we get it has to focused on both platforms and payloads," Walsh said. "It needs to be a truck, open architecture, plug-and-play."
Mabus said the various platforms the Navy adopts must be interoperable not only with other naval unmanned systems, but with manned platforms, shipboard computer networks and other services.
"Our unmanned systems will only be truly successful if they are developed with interoperability, modularity and open architecture, to address the complexities of autonomy and the advancement of systems that can operate together across multiple domains," Mabus said. "Open architecture development with systems that are platform agnostic is a critical piece of ensuring unmanned systems are integrated into all of our platforms, across all domains, as well as our ability to partner with our sister services in support of joint operations."

PEO subs would like Virginia payload modules on all Block V subs

It would help Virginia-class attack subs replace guided missile submarines.

Megan Eckstein, USNI News
28 October 2015

The Program Executive Office for Submarines would like to see the Virginia Payload Module built into all its Block V subs from a warfighting perspective but will have to verify that doing so will not hurt ongoing Virginia sub construction or upcoming Ohio Replacement Program construction..
PEO Subs executive director George Drakeley said last week at the annual Naval Submarine League symposium that the Virginia Payload Module would help the Virginia-class attack subs (SSN-774) replace the SSGN guided missile subs.
“The warfighters have come to love that platform,” Drakeley said of the SSGNs.
“Those ships are getting used and used hard,” with parts wearing out earlier than expected due to heavy use in the fleet.
“The VPM is the follow-on basically for SSGNs, and with the kind of support it has, the program is actually probably in pretty good shape,” he said.
“Right now the plan of record is to build one VPM a year starting in [Fiscal Year 2019] through the shipbuilding plan. There is now kind of support for the possibility of, after we start building Virginia VPM … to make all of the Virginias VPM-Virginias. I think that makes sense from a shipbuilding point of view, and from a capability for the Navy” point of view, he said.
Drakeley said the PEO set up a Submarine Unified Build Strategy (SUBS) group to study industry capability to handle the Virginia class, one or two VPMs a year, and the upcoming Ohio Replacement Program.
PEO Subs Rear Adm. David Johnson “about a year ago realized that with the Ohio coming up and the work in that, and in the increased work of the industrial base, and making sure that we do no harm to the Virginia program, realized that we had to have a plan,” Drakeley said.
“Adm. Johnson also tasked the two shipbuilders to come up with their plan, and we’ve been spending this summer integrating our plans to make sure we do the best thing for the submarine programs.”
General Dynamics Electric Boat and Newport News Shipbuilding build the Virginia-class attack boats and are expected to participate in the VPM and ORP programs.
Virginia class program manager Capt. Mike Stevens told USNI News after a panel presentation that the Navy needed to balance warfighting capability, cost, industry capacity and many other factors in making a final decision. That decision will likely be made by the end of the year, he said.
Navy spokeswoman Capt. Thurraya Kent told USNI News that “the Navy is completing its analysis of the feasibility of accelerating VPM, and a report to Congress is due in December.”
The Navy first mentioned the idea of accelerating the VPM program in February in testimony to the House Armed Services Committee, and in April HASC made clear it wanted all Block V boats to include the module.
Also at the symposium, director of undersea warfare (OPNAV N97) Rear Adm. Charles Richard explained the importance of the attack subs and VPM to support the Navy’s sea control mission. Even with building two boats a year, the Navy will face a structural shortfall in the attack sub fleet going forward, he said, and to minimize that shortfall the Navy must “make sure that [VPM program] maintains course and speed, see if there’s anything else we could do to further close that gap in strike capacity.”
Though he stopped short of endorsing building all Block V subs with VPM, Richard said Navy and industry should look at “what are the limits? What else can we do to go address that shortfall? What is the maximum ability of our industrial base? Are there additional resources that could be made available?”

USS Albuquerque arrives in Bremerton for inactivation

Commander Submarine Group Nine, DVIDS
28 October 2015
The Los Angeles-class fast-attack submarine USS Albuquerque (SSN 706) arrived at the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard and Intermediate Maintenance Facility to commence the inactivation and decommissioning process, Oct. 28.
An inactivation ceremony was held in San Diego to honor the boat’s 32 years of service on Aug. 28. During the ship’s life, Albuquerque deployed 19 times, visited over 20 countries and steamed over 500,000 miles.
“The ship’s success is directly attributable to a cohesive crew that through the years has maintained a ‘can-do’ attitude,” said Cmdr. Don Tenney, Albuquerque’s commanding officer. “I am exceptionally proud of the crew who just completed a six-month WESTPAC deployment and immediately turned to the business of moving the ship and their families to Bremerton, and started preparing the ship for decommissioning.”
Albuquerque completed its final six-month deployment Aug. 21, which was followed by a change of command where Tenney relieved Cmdr. Trent Hesslink.
“USS Albuquerque has a rich history that includes highly successful missions in both war and peace,” said Tenney. “She is known as the 'Sure Shooter' of the fleet because of her 100 percent success rate on Tomahawk missions during the Kosovo conflict in 1999.”
During the inactivation process, the submarine will be de-fueled with the hull retained in safe storage until decommissioning. Albuquerque is scheduled to decommission in 2016.
“We view the decommissioning as our next mission and are determined to execute it with the precision and thoroughness that are the hallmarks of the submarine force,” said Tenney. “We understand that our success here is critical, so we can make our highly-trained Sailors available to newer ships in the fleet.”
Albuquerque was second ship of the United States Navy to be named for Albuquerque, New Mexico. The keel was laid by the Electric Boat Division of General Dynamics in Groton, Connecticut, Dec. 27, 1979. The boat was launched March 13, 1982, and commissioned May 21, 1983.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Indigenous stealth submarine Kalvari ready for India sea trial

Kalvari at its launch, first of five to be built by 2020.

Vishnudas Sheshrao, The Free Press
28 October 2015
The first of the Indian Navy’s indigenously built Scorpene class stealth submarines, ‘Kalvari’, is ready for a sea trial. Officials said the vessel will sail for its sea trial on Wednesday and after successfully completing the same, the submarine will be ready for being commissioned into the Indian Navy as a flagship Indian Naval Submarine before the scheduled deadline.
The construction of the Scorpene class submarine is part of Project 75 of the Ministry of Defence, in collaboration with M/s DCNS, France and Mazagon Dock Limited (MDL). The vessel was undocked from MDL by Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar in April this year.
An MDL official said, “On Wednesday morning, the vessel will be released from the pontoon and launched for the sea trial. After a successful trial, the vessel will be officially commissioned into the Indian Navy as an Indian Naval Ship.”
According to officials, the vessel is scheduled to be commissioned into the Indian Navy by 2016. MDL officials are sanguine that the sea trials will be completed by then and the vessel will be ready for commissioning.
The remaining five vessels of Project 75 would be delivered by MDL to the Indian Navy by 2020 and would form the core of the Navy’s submarine arm for the next two decades. The Scorpene submarine would pack a potent punch for the Indian Navy, officials said. The vessel would be equipped with anti-submarine missiles and long-range guided torpedoes, along with modern sensor suits.

U.S. Navy aims to deploy submarine drone squadron by 2020

Patrick Tucker, Defense One
27 October 2015
The U.S. Navy plans to deploy a squadron of underwater drones within the next four years, including the Large Displacement Unmanned Underwater Vehicle, or LDUUV, a 10-foot, highly autonomous, and very, very yellow subdrone, Navy Secretary Ray Mabus said today.
It’s not yet clear just what missions will be performed by the LDUUV, which resembles a giant robot
canary fish crossed with a sausage. Some Navy watchers expect it to boost attack submarines’ intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities, but officials with the Office of Naval Research pushed back against such speculation. “Right now, it’s just an empty platform with some innovative power production things that will help increase its endurance,” one official said.
Mabus made the announcement at Tuesday’s AUVSI Unmanned Systems Defense 2015 conference, the day after the New York Times reported on Pentagon concerns about Russian submarine movements near critical undersea data cables.
Rear Adm. Mat Winter, the chief of U.S. Naval Research, unveiled the giant yellow submersible in April at the Navy League’s Sea, Air, Space expo. At the time, Winter underscored the Navy’s need for an unmanned, underwater vehicle will be able to deploy for weeks, months, and years.
“I am continuously amazed with the underwater breakthrough technologies in power, power generation, and navigation and sense and avoid,” Winter said. “When people say, ‘I can’t see that happening. There’s no way that can be,’ I say, ‘Excellent! Put that on ONR’s list.’”
Looks like the Navy has done just that. The ONR official said that Mabus’s announcement came as a “surprise,” but that it was something that they “had been working toward.”
Mabus said the LDUUV would help the Navy develop “increased subsurface endurance and autonomy” — read that to mean subdrones that can operate with minimal human intervention close to vital areas and targets. The LDUUV currently has an undersea endurance of 30 days but the eventual goal is to stretch that to years. (Original builder specifications can be found here.)
“These systems are affordable and rapidly deployable worldwide. They’ve already been operational and served as critical enablers and game-changers for mine-hunting missions, such as those that will be conducted aboard [littoral combat ship]. We plan to deploy LDUUV from an exclusively UUV squadron on an independent mission by 2020,” the secretary said.
Next spring, the LDUUV is scheduled to demonstrate its open-ocean navigation abilities by sailing from San Francisco to San Diego.

The Seawolf submarine: Did U.S. stop production too soon as new Cold War heats up?

Harold Hutchison, The Daily Caller
27 October 2015

America’s nuclear attack submarines have served very quietly since the launch of USS Nautilus (SSN 571) in 1954. In fact, for about 37 years, they played a cat-and-mouse game with the Soviet Union’s nuclear subs – missions that turned very dangerous at times.
Near the end of the Cold War, the United States Navy began seeking a replacement for the Sturgeon-class submarines, as well as two one-off designs, the Narwhal (SSN 671) and the Glenard P. Lipscomb (SSN 685). The Los Angeles-class attack submarines were not bad, but the
Navy wanted to get a qualitative edge over the Soviet Akula and Sierra-class submarines that were coming out.
The Navy had been caught off-guard by Soviet capabilities before. In 1969, a November-class submarine had managed to reach speeds of 30 knots while trailing USS Enterprise (CVN 65), about 15% faster than the Sturgeon-class submarines that started entering service two years earlier. That was bad enough, but the Soviets had the new Victor and Charlie-class submarines coming out – and those were more advanced than the November.
The Seawolf was intended to be a response to the Akula and Sierra classes – and it is arguably the best submarine to ever prowl the ocean depths. With eight torpedo tubes, and the ability to hold 50 weapons (any mixture of Tomahawk cruise missiles, Harpoon anti-ship missiles, or Mk 48 torpedoes), it packed a lot more firepower than any previous American submarine. It also used HY-100 steel, which allowed it to dive deeper, and made it tougher, than any previous American submarine.
The first 12 submarines were slated to cost $33.6 billion – or about $2.8 billion per submarine, and as many as 29 were planned. But when the Berlin Wall fell, interest in Seawolf quickly did so as well. The class was halted at three units, and the Navy began development on a new submarine that became the Virginia-class which was, in essence, a warmed over Los Angeles hull with some Seawolf technology.
Today, the Navy is paying $2.688 billion for each Virginia-class submarine, which has a Mk 45 VLS that holds 12 Tomahawks, and 27 more weapons (Mk 48 torpedoes, Harpoon anti-ship missiles, and Tomahawks) in its torpedo room. Not a bad sub, but is the $112 million per sub savings between the Virginia-class subs and the Seawolf worth the loss in capability, particular when further cost savings would have been acquired had the Seawolf-class been allowed to reach the planned 29-ship total?
Today, all three Seawolf-class subs are in service. Two are regular attack submarines, while the third, USS Jimmy Carter (SSN 23) is a “special missions” boat – replacing USS Parche (SSN 683) in that role. The hope of the post-Cold War era has now faded – and the harsh reality is that Russia is again an adversary. America may find out, to its sorrow, that the money saved on buying Virginia-class subs instead of Seawolf-class subs, was a classic case of being penny wise, but rather foolish on other fronts.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Ministers: U.K. Royal Navy guaranteed 4 new nuclear ballistic missile subs

Jon Rosamond, USNI
26 October 2015

The British government has decided to replace the Royal Navy’s four Vanguard-class ballistic nuclear missile submarines (SSBN) with new boats on a one-for-one basis.
After years of indecision, caused largely by global economic crash-induced fiscal austerity, ministers have effectively acknowledged that reducing the SSBN force to three submarines would signal the end of a half century of continuous U.K. sea-based deterrence.
Prime minister David Cameron is expected to seek parliamentary approval next year to start building the four Vanguard replacement or “Successor” submarines, with the first of the 16,000-ton boats due to enter service in 2028.
Although the opposition Labour Party’s new hard left leader, Jeremy Corbyn, is a vociferous opponent of nuclear weapons, the ruling Conservatives enjoy a 12-strong majority in the House of Commons and a ‘yes’ vote is almost guaranteed.
Both Cameron and his defense secretary, Michael Fallon, have now spoken publicly about the decision to retain four SSBNs, with the latter setting out the government’s position most explicitly at an industry briefing last week.
“Cold War certainties have been replaced by an unpredictable new nuclear age defined by weapons proliferation, more nuclear states, and rogue nations wanting nuclear weapons and the technology to develop them,” Fallon said.
He pointed out that an “expansionist” and “revanchist” Russia was commissioning a new class of eight SSBNs, and that North Korea was conducting its own nuclear and ballistic missile tests.
“When there are 17,000 nuclear weapons in the world we can’t wish away threats that may emerge in the 2030s, 2040s and 2050s”, he said.
While a nuclear deterrent “with a Union Jack on the top of it” would not prevent another 9/11-type tragedy, it would fulfil the need “to deter state-sponsored terror and to counter nuclear blackmail,” he told shipbuilders.
And Fallon aimed a direct blow at Corbyn, who was recently named vice-president of the London-based Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, an organization that wants the U.K. to give up its nuclear weapons unilaterally as a step towards global disarmament.
“Despite taking our nuclear non-proliferation obligations seriously; despite reducing our stockpile by over half from the height of the Cold War; and despite reducing the number of deployed warheads on each submarine from 48 to 40, emerging states have not stopped seeking nuclear capability”, Fallon said.
The Successor program is nearing the end of a five-year assessment phase which began in 2011. Work this year has focused on maturing the design of the platform and nuclear power plant, and collaboration with the US on a Common Missile Compartment (to be shared with the Ohio-class Replacement Program (ORP_) is also continuing.
The Ministry of Defence has estimated that procuring the Successor submarines will cost $19.82 to 25.2 billion (at 2013/14 prices), with total program costs of $26.89 to 35.95 billion if warhead and infrastructure costs are included.
“Spread across the 30-year life of the new boats, this represents an annual insurance premium of around 0.13 per cent of total government spending”, Fallon said.

U.S. cyber security chief: Manipulation of data by hackers may be next big threat

“What happens when nation-states, groups, individuals no longer want to steal data (but) they want to manipulate data – and suddenly we can't believe what we're seeing?”

Andrew Conte, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
26 October 2015
Computer hackers could do more damage than just stealing information they find online, the nation's top cyber security official said in Pittsburgh on Monday.
Computer thieves hit American companies daily, looking for trade secrets, bank account information and the inner-workings of operating systems, said Adm. Michael Rogers, who heads the National Security Agency and the U.S. Cyber Command.
“What happens when nation-states, groups, individuals no longer want to steal data (but) they want to manipulate data – and suddenly we can't believe what we're seeing?” Rogers asked at the University of Pittsburgh.
“Much of our structure is based on the whole idea of trust. If you log on, you can believe what you're seeing ... (Manipulation) would be huge collectively for us as a nation, but more broadly, the world.”
Rogers spoke for 45 minutes to about 150 students, professors and others at Pitt's Graduate School of Public and International Affairs. He later met privately with officials at the National Cyber-Forensics & Training Alliance on Second Avenue before speaking at Carnegie Mellon University's Gates-Hillman Center.
At Pitt, Rogers spoke broadly about online threats to the nation while calling the NSA a friendlier, more accountable intelligence operation.
He acknowledged that information leaks about the secretive agency have hurt its ability to track terrorists, criminals and foreign threats. Former NSA contractor Edward Snowden released government files about the agency in 2013, leading to recurring news reports.
“I have watched us lose a measure of capability because I'm watching terrorist groups, No. 1, physically change the way they communicate as a direct result of what has been compromised,” Rogers said. “I would argue that's not a good place for us to be in as a nation right now.”
Another impact is that intelligence agency officials now are willing to appear in public and take questions, said Michael Kenney, a Pitt national security professor and researcher.
“This sort of event would not have happened before the Snowden revelations,” Kenney said. “It is a new world for the NSA and for U.S. government intelligence agencies ... They realize they can no longer be in these protected silos that aren't interacting with the American public.”
Rogers started out by saying the public should trust the agency, and he interacted with people in the audience. He mentioned baseball, and as a Chicago native, he teased about the Cubs' post-season run.
That human touch seemed to be working, said Michael Spring, an information sciences professor who met with Rogers before the event.
“He's a thinking military officer who has children, who understands all of the issues, all of the concerns of the American people,” Spring said. “I think that for whatever reason, he's engaged in an outreach effort.”
The NSA follows the rule of law, Rogers said, but agency officials rarely can talk about what they do for fear of tipping off the nation's enemies.
“Now as a democratic nation, it's our right to argue about what we think about that law,” Rogers said. “Are we comfortable with that legal framework?”
The federal government must protect the free flow of information around the world, Rogers said. Encryption makes his job harder, but he said protected messages are in the best interests of the nation and the world.
Rogers addressed a report by The New York Times about Russian submarines and naval vessels operating near international undersea communications cables. Any activity near that kind of infrastructure raises concerns, the admiral said.
“We believe it is in the best interests of the world to have continuous free flow of information,” Rogers said. “... When we see potential activity around that kind of
infrastructure, we stop and ask ourselves, ‘What is being done and why?’“
The Internet has resilience built into it, but if Russian adversaries could cut enough of the right cables as an act of war, it would have a devastating impact on communications, Kenney said.
“That would potentially be devastating,” he said. “That's akin to a kill switch on the Internet.”

Lt. Governor promotes construction of latest attack submarine

Staff, Vermilion Plain Talk
26 October 2015

Lt. Gov. Matt Michels visited the Connecticut facility where the USS South Dakota SSN 790 will be built. At the facility, Michels toured the recently commissioned USS Illinois and met with the ship commander, the chief of the boat and the ship manager who is overseeing construction of the USS South Dakota.
"The USS South Dakota BB-57 was the most decorated warship of World War II. With the construction of the SSN 790, we’re moving the history of the USS South Dakota forward to protect our nation," said. Lt. Gov. Michels.
General Dynamics Electric Boat is building the multi-mission nuclear powered Virginia class submarine which will support a crew of 130 sailors. The company has been building submarines since 1899 when it assembled the U.S. Navy’s first commissioned undersea warship, the USS Holland.
Construction for the USS South Dakota will begin in 2016. The submarine is expected to be complete in August of 2018.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Is Mediterranean headed for a new Cold War?

Russian military intervention in Syria raises the specter. 

Esteban Villarejo, Defense News
25 October 2015

MADRID – Are we heading for a new Cold War in the Mediterranean and Black seas? Russia's military intervention in Syria has suggested this scenario, along with its growing display of warships and submarines around the Mediterranean, in the Black Sea and at the Syrian port of Latakia (28 miles from Turkish border) – a main "homeport" of the Russian Navy.
This geostrategic situation is evolving while NATO is developing its biggest, most ambitious exercise in more than a decade with about 36,000 troops, more than 140 aircraft and 60 ships from over 30 nations. In addition to NATO allies, participants include Australia, Austria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Finland, Macedonia, Sweden – and Ukraine.
The Trident Juncture 2015 exercise opened Oct. 19 in Trapani Air Base, Sicily, and will be hosted by Italy, Spain and Portugal until Nov. 6.
"We are very concerned about the Russian military build-up," NATO's Deputy Secretary General Alexander Vershbow told reporters. "The increasing concentration of
forces in Kaliningrad, the Black Sea and, now, in the eastern Mediterranean does pose some additional challenges."
At the opening ceremony, NATO showed off its airstrike power with Typhoon, F-18, F-16, Tornado and AMX aircraft, as well asMQ-9 Reaper drones.
But two other remarkable events, linked to the Mediterranean scenario, also occurred last week.
On Oct. 20, the U.S. Navy announced the destroyer Ross successfully intercepted a ballistic missile in the North Atlantic Ocean as part of an integrated air- and missile-defense demonstration with eight other nations. The destroyer is based on the Spanish Navy Base of Rota, near the Mediterranean.
"This is the first time a Standard Missile-3 Block IA guided interceptor was fired on a non-U.S. range and the first intercept of a ballistic missile threat in the European theater," the U.S. Navy confirmed only two weeks after four Russian Navy warships launched 26 cruise missiles from the Caspian Sea to supposed targets in Syria.
"That launching was a surprising Russian show of force that could have aftermaths also in the Mediterranean Sea where, don't forget it, four U.S. Navy guided missile destroyers are based nearby, in Rota," a top military official told Defense News. "Four destroyers equipped with the Aegis combat system."
Spain and the Netherlands took part in the missile-defense demonstration. Thanks to a provisional upgrade implemented in their combat systems, two Spanish and Dutch frigates were able to detect, track and transmit ballistic missile defense cues to a U.S. Navy ship.
Also on Oct. 20, the destroyer Porter destroyer arrived in Batumi, Georgia, a country that fought a war against Russian forces in 2008 and is attempting to join NATO. Porter is also one of the four destroyers based in Rota alongside Ross, Donald Cook and Carney.
"Porter's operations in the Black Sea are meant to enhance maritime security and stability, readiness, and naval capability with our allies and partners," a U.S. Navy release said.
Is NATO facing a new Cold War scenario?
"We don't believe Russia wants a military conflict with NATO, but yes, we have ongoing activities at other low levels like in Cold War times: management of information, cyber attacks, military spying," a NATO official told Defense News.
"However, there are two essential differences now," the official said. "There is not an existential threat in Europe, and it is now a more regional issue than a fight between two superpowers. This concern has increased with the Russian military intervention in Syria and the threat in Turkey."
The Black Sea, which borders Turkey, Romania and Bulgaria, all NATO countries, and also Russia, Ukraine and Georgia, appears to be a key factor in this new NATO-Russia scenario.
In Trapani, a senior official who declined to be identified told Reuters that Russia is using the Syrian war as a pretext to increase its presence in the Mediterranean Sea.
"We have to take into account that Russia is going to have a much more substantial presence with the ability to impede our freedom of maneuver and our freedom of navigation," the official said.
The Crimean peninsula, which Russia annexed from Ukraine in 2014, has become "an armed fortress," the official said.
The continuous presence of an Aegis destroyer in the Black Sea is one of the strategies the U.S. is studying to replace its Patriot missiles, used to protect Turkey, that are being withdrawn.
Trident Juncture 2015 has begun, but no NATO official has publicly claimed Russia is a problem in the southern flank. Vershbow denied the exercise is aimed at a Russian threat.
"Indeed, it is inspired by African countries," he said.
The exercise simulates a conflict in an area of the Horn of Africa and Sudan, with Kamon, Lakuta and Tytan as imaginary countries.

U.K. nuclear deterrent to cost $256 billion, far more than expected

Staff, Reuters
25 October 2015

The overall cost of replacing and maintaining Britain's nuclear deterrent will reach 167 billion pounds ($256 billion), much more than expected, according to a lawmaker's and Reuters' calculations based on official figures.
The Scottish Nationalist Party, which wants Britain's Scotland-based nuclear-armed Trident submarines scrapped, called the sum "unthinkable and indefensible" at a time when deep cuts under the government's "austerity" policies mean "thousands of people across the UK are struggling to afford basics like food."
Some military officials also oppose investment in Trident, saying the money would be better spent on maintaining the army and on more-conventional technology, which have also faced cuts.
Until now, Prime Minister David Cameron's government has said replacing the aging fleet of four submarines that carry nuclear warheads to provide a continuous at-sea deterrent would cost an estimated 15-20 billion pounds.
It has as yet given no official estimate of the cost of its replacement and maintenance.
Critics have previously said Britain would need to spend 100 billion pounds, a figure based on a 2014 report by the independent Trident Commission.
In a written parliamentary response to Crispin Blunt, a lawmaker in Cameron's Conservative Party, Minister of State for Defense Procurement Philip Dunne said Friday the acquisition of four new submarines would cost 25 billion pounds.
He added that the in-service costs would be about 6 percent of the annual defense budget over their lifetime. The total defense budget for 2014-15 reached 33.8 billion pounds and rises to 34.1 billion pounds for 2015-16, according to the ministry.
"My office's calculation is based on an in-service date of 2028 and a missile extension until 2060 ... the total cost is 167 billion pounds," Blunt told Reuters.
"The successor Trident program is going to consume more than double the proportion of the defense budget of its predecessor. ... The price required, both from the U.K. taxpayer and our conventional forces, is now too high to be rational or sensible."
His figure is based on the presumption that Britain will spend 2 percent of its annual gross domestic product (GDP) on defense as Cameron's government has promised.
It also uses existing official government and International Monetary Fund figures, and an assumption of GDP growth of an annual average of 2.48 percent between 2020 and 2060.
Using the same figures, a Reuters calculation came to the same sum of 167 billion pounds.
Asked about the rising cost, a spokesperson for the British Ministry of Defense said the government had published an unclassified version of a review on alternatives to Trident that "demonstrated that no alternative system is as capable, or as cost-effective, as a Trident-based deterrent".
"At around 6 percent of the annual defense budget, the in-service costs of the UK's national deterrent ... are affordable and represent an investment in a capability which plays an important role in ensuring the UK's national security," the spokesperson said.
Dangerous Obsession
The deputy leader of the SNP, Stewart Hosie, took aim at the Conservatives, or "Tories," saying the new figure showed "just how dangerous the Tories' obsession with nuclear really is".
"This is truly an unthinkable and indefensible sum of money to spend on the renewal of an unwanted and unusable nuclear weapons system," he said in a statement.
The SNP's popularity has surged since Scots rejected independence in a vote last year, with millions of supporters won over by its anti-austerity message and criticism of Trident.
The opposition Labour Party had been a supporter of renewal, but its new leader, far-left veteran lawmaker Jeremy Corbyn, an anti-war campaigner, is opposed to the plans.
He was widely quoted last month as saying he would not be prepared to use nuclear weapons if he became prime minister.
Spiraling costs are likely to reinforce Corbyn's opposition and possibly alarm many in his party who support renewal.
The new figures tally with comments this month by Jon Thompson, the top civil servant at the Ministry of Defense, when he described the project to replace the nuclear deterrent as a "monster." "That's the project that keeps me awake at night the most," he told parliament's Public Accounts Committee.
"It's the biggest project the Ministry of Defense is ever going to take on. If the government were to proceed with renewing the deterrent, then in due course that would exceed 5 billion [pounds] a year. That is a significant proportion of the defense budget, and it's an incredibly complicated area."
He added that it is extremely difficult to estimate what the future costs will be.
A final decision on replacing the existing vessels carrying the Trident missiles -- four Vanguard-class submarines -- is due next year, and Cameron says he will press ahead with the renewal.
In August, the government said it would spend more than 500 million pounds refurbishing its Faslane naval base in Scotland.
"I think it is right to maintain our independent nuclear deterrent, and anyone who has any doubts of it only has to look at the dangers and uncertainty in our world," Cameron told parliament Wednesday.
In a speech last week, Defense Secretary Michael Fallon said global threats mean renewing Trident is vital.
"I appeal to all moderate MPs [lawmakers] to put our national security first and to support building four new Trident submarines," he said. "Spread across the 30-year life of the new boats, this represents an annual insurance premium of around 0.13 percent of total government spending."

U.S.: Chinese sub that can hit targets here on patrol soon

Anthony Capaccio and David Tweed, Bloomberg
23 October 2015
A Chinese nuclear submarine designed to carry missiles that can hit the U.S. is likely to deploy before year’s end, the Pentagon said, adding to Obama administration concerns over China’s muscle-flexing in Asia.
China’s navy is expected this year to conduct the first patrol of its Jin-class nuclear-powered submarine armed with JL-2 submarine-launched ballistic missiles, the Pentagon’s Defense Intelligence Agency said in a statement. It declined to give its level of confidence on when the new boat will be deployed, or the status of the missile.
“The capability to maintain continuous deterrent patrols is a big milestone for a nuclear power,” Larry Wortzel, a member of the congressionally created U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission, said in an e-mail. “I think the Chinese would announce this capability as a show of strength and for prestige.”
The submarines are part of an effort to modernize China’s military under President Xi Jinping, who will be in Washington Thursday and Friday for a state visit with U.S. President Barack Obama. U.S.-China defense cooperation and competition will be among the topics discussed by the two leaders. The Pentagon and DIA had previously predicted the patrols would start in 2014.
‘Threat Inflation’
“Don’t discount the likelihood of threat inflation by the Pentagon because of the shift toward the Asia-Pacific in the revised maritime strategy,” said Collin Koh Swee Lean, an associate research fellow at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies in Singapore.
China set out its ambitions for a bigger naval presence far from its coasts in its 2015 defense white paper, released in May, saying it would add “open seas protection” to “offshore waters defense” to a list of core naval missions.
Wortzel said his commission’s 2015 report probably will include a comment from PLA Navy Commander Admiral Wu Shengli, who said the submarine-missile combination is “a trump card that makes our motherland proud and our adversaries terrified.”
China’s increased naval strength, coupled with its claims to territory in the contested South China Sea and East China Sea, has helped spur the region’s largest military buildup in decades and caused disquiet in the U.S. about its role as the region’s peace keeper.
China’s deployment “will further shift the Sino-American military balance and impose more demands on our own submarine force,” Representative Randy Forbes, a Virginia Republican and chairman of the House Armed Services Committee’s sea power panel, said in an e-mail. “This milestone in Chinese naval
development should remind U.S. policy makers of the need to strengthen American sea power, particularly in the Asia-Pacific,” Forbes said.
Missile Range
“The United States is a Pacific power,” U.S. National Security Adviser Susan Rice said in a speech on Sept. 21. “We’ve been the guarantor of stability in the region for the past 70 years. President Obama has made it clear that we have vital interests in Asia and the Pacific, and a good part of our foreign policy has been focused on our rebalance to Asia.”
China currently has at least four Jin-class submarines. Fifty-one years after the country carried out its first nuclear test, patrols by the new submarines will give Xi greater agility to respond to a nuclear attack, according to analysts.
“Of all the PLA strategic deterrence capabilities, the sea-based link is the most closely guarded secret because it is meant to be the most secure of the deterrents for China,” said Koh, who studies China’s naval modernization.
Sending the submarines on patrol is a significant step because JL-2 missiles have a range of about 4,600 miles (7,403 kilometers). The U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission has said the missiles could reach Alaska if launched from waters near Japan, and all 50 U.S. states if launched from waters east of Hawaii.
Troop Cuts
“The chances of getting a submarine east of Hawaii at a time when tensions are high, would be relatively low,” said Felix Chang, a senior fellow at the Foreign Policy Research Institute in Philadelphia. “But it’s not a possibility you can completely discount.”
Xi earlier this month announced plans to cut 300,000 troops and vowed never to seek “hegemony or expansion.” While the move represents, the largest cut to the People’s Liberation Army in almost two decades, it may only accelerate the arms buildup in the Asia-Pacific region.
The move will speed the PLA’s transition from a large, land-based army built over decades of invasions, civil war and border conflicts, to a modern, mechanized force able to defend China’s territorial integrity and growing interests abroad.
“The more modern their weapons, the fewer personnel needed,” said June Teufel Dreyer, a University of Miami political science professor, who served as a commissioner on the United States-China Economic and Security Review Commission. “Less money spent on personnel means more money for airplanes, submarines, frigates, missiles.”
Still Testing
The JL-2 “has nearly three times the range” of China’s current sea-launched ballistic missile, “which was only able to range targets in the immediate vicinity of China,” the U.S. Office of Naval Intelligence said in an April report on China’s Navy. The JL-2 “underwent successful testing in 2012 and is likely ready to enter the force,” it said. “Once deployed it will provide China with a capability to strike targets” in the continental U.S., it said.
Koh said reports indicate the PLA may still be conducting JL-2 tests. “If the missiles aren’t operational yet, there is no reason to send them out on patrol,” he said.
There is also speculation that China is developing a new 096 Tang class nuclear-powered submarine that may be able to carry as many as 24 ballistic missiles, twice as many as the Jin-class 094 submarines, Koh said.
“So the most likely scenario is that the JL-2 is likely to be in the final stages of testing, and has been deemed successful, otherwise they wouldn’t be going ahead with the development of the 096,” said Koh.

Russian ships operating close to undersea data cables of concern to U.S.

Is a planning underway for an attack under certain circumstances?

David E. Sanger and Eric Schmittoct, New York Times
25 October 2015

Russian submarines and spy ships are aggressively operating near the vital undersea cables that carry almost all global Internet communications, raising concerns among some American military and intelligence officials that the Russians might be planning to attack those lines in times of tension or conflict.
The issue goes beyond old worries during the Cold War that the Russians would tap into the cables — a task American intelligence agencies also mastered decades ago. The alarm today is deeper: The ultimate Russian hack on the United States could involve severing the fiber-optic cables at some of their hardest-to-access locations to halt the instant communications on which the West’s governments, economies and citizens have grown dependent.
While there is no evidence yet of any cable cutting, the concern is part of a growing wariness among senior American and allied military and intelligence officials over the accelerated activity by Russian armed forces around the globe. At the same time, the internal debate in Washington illustrates how the United States is increasingly viewing every Russian move through a lens of deep distrust, reminiscent of relations during the Cold War.
Inside the Pentagon and the nation’s spy agencies, the assessments of Russia’s growing naval activities are highly classified and not publicly discussed in detail. American officials are secretive about what they are doing both to monitor the activity and to find ways to recover quickly if cables are cut. But more than a dozen officials confirmed in broad terms that it had become the source of significant attention in the Pentagon.
“I’m worried every day about what the Russians may be doing,” said Rear Adm. Frederick J. Roegge, commander of the Navy’s submarine fleet in the Pacific, who would not answer questions about possible Russian plans for cutting the undersea cables.
Cmdr. William Marks, a Navy spokesman in Washington, said: “It would be a concern to hear any country was tampering with communication cables; however, due to the classified nature of submarine operations, we do not discuss specifics.”
In private, however, commanders and intelligence officials are far more direct. They report that from the North Sea to Northeast Asia and even in waters closer to American shores, they are monitoring significantly increased Russian activity along the known routes of the cables, which carry the lifeblood of global electronic communications and commerce.
Just last month, the Russian spy ship Yantar, equipped with two self-propelled deep-sea submersible craft, cruised slowly off the East Coast of the United States on its way to Cuba — where one major cable lands near the American naval station at Guantánamo Bay. It was monitored constantly by American spy satellites, ships and planes. Navy officials said the Yantar and the submersible vehicles it can drop off its decks have the capability to cut cables miles down in the sea.
“The level of activity,” a senior European diplomat said, “is comparable to what we saw in the Cold War.”
One NATO ally, Norway, is so concerned that it has asked its neighbors for aid in tracking Russian submarines.
Adm. James Stavridis, formerly NATO’s top military commander and now dean of the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, said in an email last week that “this is yet another example of a highly assertive and aggressive regime seemingly reaching backwards for the tools of the Cold War, albeit with a high degree of technical improvement.”
The operations are consistent with Russia’s expanding military operations into places like Crimea, eastern Ukraine and Syria, where President Vladimir V. Putin has sought to demonstrate a much longer reach for Russian ground, air and naval forces.
“The risk here is that any country could cause damage to the system and do it in a way that is completely covert, without having a warship with a cable-cutting equipment right in the area,” said Michael Sechrist, a former project manager for a Harvard-M.I.T. research project funded in part by the Defense Department.
“Cables get cut all the time — by anchors that are dragged, by natural disasters,” said Mr. Sechrist, who published a study in 2012 of the vulnerabilities of the undersea cable network. But most of those cuts take place within a few miles from shore, and can be repaired in a matter of days.
What worries Pentagon planners most is that the Russians appear to be looking for vulnerabilities at much greater depths, where the cables are hard to monitor and breaks are hard to find and repair.
Mr. Sechrist noted that the locations of the cables are hardly secret. “Undersea cables tend to follow the similar path since they were laid in the 1860s,” he said, because the operators of the cables want to put them in familiar environments under longstanding agreements.
The exceptions are special cables, with secret locations, that have been commissioned by the United States for military operations; they do not show up on widely available maps, and it is possible the Russians are hunting for those, officials said.
The role of the cables is more important than ever before. They carry global business worth more than $10 trillion a day, including from financial institutions that settle transactions on them every second. Any significant disruption would cut the flow of capital. The cables also carry more than 95 percent of daily communications.
So important are undersea cables that the Department of Homeland Security lists their landing areas — mostly around New York, Miami and Los Angeles — at the top of its list of “critical infrastructure.”
Attention to underwater cables is not new. In October 1971, the American submarine Halibut entered the Sea of Okhotsk north of Japan, found a telecommunications cable used by Soviet nuclear forces, and succeeded in tapping its secrets. The mission, code-named Ivy Bells, was so secret that a vast majority of the submarine’s sailors had no idea what they had accomplished. The success led to a concealed world of cable tapping.
And a decade ago, the United States Navy launched the submarine Jimmy Carter, which intelligence analysts say is able to tap undersea cables and eavesdrop on communications flowing through them.
Submarines are not the only vessels that are snooping on the undersea cables. American officials closely monitor the Yantar, which Russian officials insist is an oceanographic ship with no ties to espionage.
“The Yantar is equipped with a unique onboard scientific research complex which enables it to collect data on the ocean environment, both in motion and on hold. There are no similar complexes anywhere,” said Alexei Burilichev, the head of the deepwater research department at the Russian Defense Ministry, according to in May 2015.
American concern over cable cutting is just one aspect of Russia’s modernizing Navy that has drawn new scrutiny.
Adm. Mark Ferguson, commander of American naval forces in Europe, speaking in Washington this month said that the proficiency and operational tempo of the Russian submarine force was increasing.
Citing public remarks by the Russian Navy chief, Adm. Viktor Chirkov, Admiral Ferguson said the intensity of Russian submarine patrols had risen by almost 50 percent over the last year. Russia has increased its operating tempo to levels not seen in over a decade. Russian Arctic bases and their $2.4 billion investment in the Black Sea Fleet expansion by 2020 demonstrate their commitment to develop their military infrastructure on the flanks, he said.
Russia is also building an undersea unmanned drone capable of carrying a small, tactical nuclear weapon to use against harbors or coastal areas, American military and intelligence analysts said.
Admiral Ferguson said that as part of Russia’s emerging doctrine of so-called hybrid warfare, it is increasingly using a mix of conventional force, Special Operations mission and new weapons in the 21st-century battlefield.
“This involves the use of space, cyber, information warfare and hybrid warfare designed to cripple the decision-making cycle of the alliance,” Admiral Ferguson said, referring to NATO. “At sea, their focus is disrupting decision cycles.”

U.S. sub leaders discuss progress on integrating women into the force

David Larter, Navy Times
26 October 2015

Sailor issues were on the docket at the annual unclassified gathering of the Silent Service in late October, from the expanding number of female submariners to the resiliency of junior sailors.
Leaders discussed new approaches to handling stress and mental health and their planning as enlisted women enter the submarine fleet over the next year. Some highlights:
Mental health
A submariner is medevaced from their sub every 14 days for mental health issues, an issue the Submarine community is trying to tackle through better access to mental health care, the Atlantic Fleet's top enlisted bubblehead said Oct. 22.
Mental health issues account for about 30 percent of the unplanned losses — where sailors leave the fleet for reasons other than normal rotation or temporary assigned duty, Force Master Chief Wes Koshoffer said.
It's a trait that is pronounced among the millennial generation now populating the lower ranks, with most losses among sailors E-1 to E-6.
"I'm a fan of millennials all day long: They are smart, capable, driven — they are getting the job done," Koshoffer said. "But there is a flaw in the system, and that's this millennial phenomenon that the reaction to discipline, failure or rejection, generally [elicits] a response disproportionate to what you would expect."
Setbacks and challenges can cause tumult, even suicidal thoughts for younger sailors.
"A first breakup with a girlfriend, maybe they fail a qualification board and they've never failed anything before ... and the first words out of their mouths are 'I'm going to kill myself.'"
The force is trying to get ahead of the problem by improving crisis lines and making sure sailors aren't stigmatized for reporting mental health issues, an important step toward lowering the Navy's suicide toll.
"We cannot rewire an entire generation, but we can adjust, we can change the environment," he said.
Fleet areas now have an embedded mental health professional who works with chaplains to better address the issues.
"We've trained ourselves on how to react, we don't overreact," he said. "We take them off the ship, get them help ... and when we get the 'go' signal from a mental health professional, we get them right back in the force instead of overreacting and having them as a loss forever."
Women on subs
The first four enlisted women passed the intensive basic enlisted submarine course Oct. 16, Koshoffer said, bringing the integration of enlisted women on subs this year one step closer.
The women will join the Blue and Gold crews of the guided-missile submarine Michigan, where berthings are being modified to accommodate them.
The sub force is reviewing its policies around relationships between submariners, Koshoffer said, citing a few couples who met in "A" school and who are now in advanced training together.
"The sum total of the plan to integrate enlisted women into submarines, we are revising our instruction that was — no kidding — 49 pages long of excruciating detail on what you wear on the treadmill and how you manage the head. The instruction just ought to read: We will treat each other with dignity and respect because we are professionals.
"We have a fraternization policy and until we cross those lines, proceed."
The videotaping of women officers undressing on board the ballistic missile submarine Wyoming was alluded to during the junior officer panel.
Lt. Cmdr. Krysten Ellis, a supply officer who served on a submarine, told the audience that she thought the Silent Service could integrate enlisted women but that setbacks are likely.
"The sub force has always been able to adapt," Ellis said. "Obviously things happened when women were integrated. ... When enlisted women integrate, they'll have a plan, they'll execute it and some bumps will happen. They'll recover from those bumps and good things will happen. I don't have any doubts the sub force will be able to adapt."
Naval Reactors controversy
The selection of Adm. John Richardson to be the chief of naval operations has been a sore point in the retired submarine community, who were concerned that his leaving the eight-year Naval Reactors job after just three years sets a precedent that could undermine nuclear safety.
If NR becomes a landing pad for rising four stars, the thinking goes, then the Reactors boss could be thinking about follow-on military commands instead of overseeing the Nuclear Navy and its largely spotless safety record.
At the conference, one audience member asked Adm. Frank Caldwell, the new NR head, if he would serve his entire term so he "won't have to worry about his fitness reports or any of that BS."
"I think the answer to that is the Navy and the nation sees value in this eight-year tour," Caldwell replied. "There is a lot in this program that is significant, and there is value in having continuity of leadership. And I think what's been indicated to me is a commitment to preserve this as we go ahead."
Also during the answers, the Reactors boss said the force was looking at upping its capabilities against ships, by adding an anti-ship missile.
"I think its something we need to consider and move out on," he said. "We are looking at that and we are taking some steps to deliver that to the submarine force."

STRATCOM commander: Next Air Force ICBM, Navy sub-launched ICBM could have more in common

Sam LaGrone, USNI
23 October 2015
The U.S. Air Force and Navy are working to include more commonality in their next batch of nuclear tipped ballistic missiles, the head of U.S. Strategic Command (STRATCOM) told reporters on Thursday.
“In terms of commonality, I have signed a letter along with [USN acquisition executive] Sean Stackley and [USAF acquisition executive] William LaPlante such that we do look at a common approach where we can associate with a future missile,” Adm Cecil Haney said, according to a report in Jane’s Defence Weekly.
Currently the Air Force fields the 1970s era LGM-30 Minute Man III intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) and is working toward extending the life of the standing force of 400 missiles into the 2030s. The Navy’s UGM-133A Trident II D5 were first fielded in the 1990s and will carry over to the Ohio-class Replacement Program nuclear ballistic missile submarine that will start construction in the 2020s.
“The Air Force is also modernizing the Minuteman missiles, replacing and upgrading their rocket motors, guidance systems, and other components, so that they can remain in the force through 2030,” read a March Congressional Research Service report.
“It is conducting studies and analysis on its plans to replace the missiles after 2030.”
The Minuteman III replacement — the Ground-Based Strategic Deterrent program — is undergoing an analysis of alternatives (AoA) ahead of a request for proposal that could be released to industry as early as this year, Haney said.
In tandem with the AoA, the Air Force and Navy are looking at commonality in the warhead as well as the unspecified components for the future strategic deterrent missiles.
A refresh of the Cold War-era nuclear forces has been an ongoing and expensive line item in the U.S. defense spending planning. Esitmates say the effort to aqdquetly modernize the nuclear deterrent triad of bombers, nuclear submarines and ICBMs could cost up to $1 trillion into the 2040s, according to a Congressional Budget Office estimate.

U.S. Navy moving on new nuclear sub Electric Boat hopes to build

Ana Radelat, CT Mirror
23 October 2015
The defense budget is in flux, but the Navy is moving forward on plans for a new missile-firing nuclear submarine that Electric Boat hopes to build in partnership with Newport News Shipbuilding.
Matt Leonard, a spokesman for the Naval Sea Systems Command, said Friday that the Navy hopes to release a request for proposal next month for the detailed design of the SSBN(X) – also known as the Ohio-class replacement submarine.
The Navy needs a replacement for the Ohio-class boats, which were built by Electric Boat, because they are reaching a 42-year operational lifetime and will be retired at a rate of one per year beginning in 2027. The Navy envisions building 12 of the new generation of submarines and hopes to have some by then. Like the Ohio class, the new submarines would carry multi-warhead nuclear missiles as a key part of the nation's nuclear deterrent.
Leonard said the submarine program office will meet with Navy leadership to set a technical baseline for the Ohio-class replacement next month.
“The SSBN(X) program is moving forward in preparation for a design contract to be awarded about a year from now, Fall 2016,” Leonard said.
A construction contract would come later.
Electric Boat and Newport News, which teamed up to produce the Virginia class of nuclear attack submarines, submitted a proposal to team up on the Ohio-class replacement in March. That proposal would have Electric Boat complete the majority of work.
But the Navy has not approved the partnership yet, said Timothy Boulay, spokesman for Electric Boat.
The Navy’s decision to move forward with the Ohio-class replacement, which would be the most expensive U.S. submarine ever built at about $6 billion apiece, comes as the future of defense funding is in doubt.
President Obama this week vetoed a defense authorization bill that would provide billions of dollars to Connecticut’s defense industry because the president did not like the way some of the bill’s $612 billion in spending was accounted for, calling it a "gimmick."
Republican leaders shifted $38 billion to a special war-funding account that does not count against budget limits, while nondefense spending remains bound by them. Obama wants caps on both defense and non-defense spending to be lifted.
“My message to (Congress) is very simple: ‘Let’s do this right,’” the president said after he vetoed the bill
The defense authorization bill also would have allowed the Pentagon to shift money from other programs into a newly established National Sea-Based Deterrence Fund that would finance the Ohio-class replacement subs.
The sea-based deterrence fund was established because of concerns that the cost of the nuclear boats would bust the Navy’s shipbuilding budget. Opponents want the cost of the Ohio-class replacement to remain in the Navy's budget, which would force the service to make tough spending choices.
“This is an asset that is not just the Navy’s, but the country’s,” said Rep. Joe Courtney, D-3rd District, a backer of the special fund, when the bill was debated in the House earlier this year. “It's (cost) will be borne by the submarine program far greater than in the past. The Air Force and long-range bombers and the Army are not going to be bearing the same burden.”
Another constraint is that the Pentagon is currently being funded at last year’s spending levels because Congress could not agree on a new federal budget. That stopgap bill expires on Dec. 11.
If Congress cannot agree on a new budget by then and decides to fund federal programs at this year’s level until the end of the 2016 fiscal year, the Navy says it will be short of what it needs to fund its priorities by $11.3 billion.
The Ohio replacement submarine and plans for additional F-35 Joint Strike fighter jets are among the programs the Navy says it would have to postpone.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

British sub industry warned to keep costs, schedule under control for new generation of submarines

Andrew Chuter, Defense News
22 October 2015

Britain’s nuclear submarine industry has been warned by Defence Secretary Michael Fallon not to repeat the delays and cost overruns of the Astute hunter-killer program when it builds the Royal Navy’s new Trident missile submarines.
“Let’s be in no doubt that our new conventional [Astute nuclear submarine] timetable may have slipped a little but our new ballistic missile submarines cannot be late. There cannot be any threat to the build times, overrunning costs or any other excuses,” Fallon said during a speech Wednesday at an industry briefing to lawmakers and others on the Successor nuclear deterrent program.
The Conservative government is committed to building four of the new 16,000-ton Successor nuclear missile boats and is expected to seek final parliamentary approval for the program in the next few months.
Fallon said industry's failure to deliver was one of the risks to the program.
A number of industry executives, including Ian King, the CEO of nuclear submarine builder BAE Systems, were in the audience to hear Fallon’s warning.
“For 46 years our deterrent has been used every day and night to keep this country safe. If we are to continue that continuity, that continuous at-sea deterrence, there is no room in the program for delay,” he said.
Fallon’s warning follows remarks made Oct. 14 by the MoD’s top civil servant, Jon Thompson, that Successor was the program that most kept him awake at night.
“It’s the single biggest future financial risk we face. The project is a monster ... it’s a significant element of the overall equipment plan ... it most keeps me awake at night,” the permanent undersecretary told a parliamentary public accounts committee hearing.
Thomson acknowledged getting accurate program costs would be difficult.
“It’s an incredibly complicated area to estimate future costs but we will make them,” he said.
BAE Systems, nuclear reactor builder Rolls-Royce and others have been working on the 3.3 billion pounds (US$5.1 billion) assessment phase for the Successor ahead of an expected development and build contract allowing metal to be cut on the first submarine next year.
The first new submarine to replace the existing Vanguard-class of boats is planned to enter service around 2028.
With the Successor program already set to swallow a large portion of the defense equipment procurement budget for more than a decade, government ministers are anxious to avoid the problems encountered in building the Astute submarines.
Fallon’s reference to the Astute program having “slipped a little” is something of an understatement. The third of seven Astute-class boats is now undergoing sea trials but the program is years behind schedule and significantly over cost.
The defense secretary told the parliamentary briefing, organized by the shipbuilding industry lobby group Keep our Future Afloat Campaign, that the Successor project budget was about twice that of the London Crossrail program and three times the budget of the London Olympics.
That puts the Successor program cost at around 30 billion pounds, a figure that likely includes submarines and the upgrade of the Faslane, Scotland, nuclear base, in addition to other costs.
“Spread over the 30-year life of the new boats it represents an annual insurance premium of only 0.13 percent of total government spending, but we get a lot out from what we put in,” Fallon said.
The government is expected to win parliamentary approval for the Successor project even though there is strong opposition from the Scottish National Party and parts of the Labour Party.
Maria Eagles, the shadow defense secretary, told the audience at the House of Commons that Labour Party policy was for a credible, independent nuclear deterrent.
That’s at odds, though, with new party leader Jeremy Corbyn , a long-time supporter of the anti-nuclear movement in the UK, who is pushing for Successor to be canceled.

What U.S. Navy is doing to remain cybersecure

Office of the Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for Information Dominance Navy Cybersecurity Division, Navy News Service
22 October 2015

WASHINGTON – The cyber threat reaches beyond traditional information technology (IT) networks and computers to systems that affect nearly every aspect of the Navy's mission. Machinery control, weapons and navigation systems may be vulnerable, as well as the
networks and computers commonly used by Navy personnel.
To protect against these threats the Navy has made significant changes, including how it is organized and how much it invests in cybersecurity.
In 2014, the Navy established Task Force Cyber Awakening (TFCA) to improve cybersecurity after its network was compromised the previous year. The mission of the task force was to take a comprehensive look at the Navy's cybersecurity and make changes to improve its defenses.
TFCA established priorities for protecting the Navy based on recommendations from industry, the cybersecurity community and stakeholders. Using these priorities, the task force evaluated hundreds of funding requests for addressing vulnerabilities, which resulted in $300 million being set aside in fiscal year 2016 for solutions that strengthened the Navy's defenses and improved awareness of its cybersecurity posture. TFCA used the same approach to evaluate over 300 competing funding requests for the next five years of the Navy's budget.
One of these funding priorities was for control points which allow the Navy to isolate portions of the network after a breach is detected. Much like the watertight compartments on a ship, these control points will allow the Navy to limit the impact of a compromise and keep adversaries from moving to other targets in the network. These control points will also allow the Navy to selectively limit connectivity for parts of the network if increased cyber activity from adversaries is expected, similar to how ships set different material conditions of readiness.
The task force also formed a Navy-wide group to implement the CYBERSAFE Program. CYBERSAFE is modeled after SUBSAFE which is the rigorous submarine safety program begun after the loss of the USS Thresher (SSN 593) in 1963. Like the submarine program, CYBERSAFE will harden a critical subset of warfighting components, which could be certain computer systems or parts of the network. CYBERSAFE will apply more stringent requirements to these components before and after fielding to ensure they can better withstand attempted compromises. CYBERSAFE will also require changes in crew proficiency and culture to implement these requirements.
Technical solutions alone cannot completely protect the Navy. The cybersecurity, professional and general workforce are also key contributors to the Navy's defense.
• Cyber workforce: To ensure the cyber workforce has people with the right skills, the Secretary of the Navy is revising the Cyber Workforce Management Manual. After this manual is approved, the Navy will identify updated training, education and certification requirements for the cybersecurity workforce.
• Professional workforce: To reduce vulnerabilities in the computers that control equipment, machines or weapons systems, the Navy identified positions within the systems commands that will need cybersecurity training.
• General workforce: The Navy is bolstering its cybersecurity training to users and leaders because defending the Navy is not only the responsibility of the cybersecurity workforce, it is an all hands effort. Some examples of current training being provided to the general workforce include cybersecurity training for Surface Warfare Officer leaders, and officers at Submarine School.
In September 2015, the CNO established the Navy Cybersecurity Division on the Navy headquarters staff to continue the transformation started by TFCA. The new division will oversee the Navy's approach to cybersecurity, developing strategy, ensuring compliance with cybersecurity policy and advocating for cybersecurity requirements. The division will also evaluate and prioritize major investments and manage the CYBERSAFE program.
Other organizations critical to the cybersecurity fight:
Navy Chief Information Officer: Establishes policy and guidance relating to IT.
• Developed the Navy's approach for evaluating and improving the security of IT systems;
• Revised the Navy's policy for protecting information and information systems.
Fleet Cyber Command/U.S. 10th Fleet – Operates, maintains and defends Navy networks and conducts cyber operations.
• Began installing and operating the new technical solutions that have been purchased;
• Continued defending the Navy's networks, systems and data.
Information Dominance Forces Command: Organizes, mans, trains and equips the cybersecurity workforce.
• Obtained approval to add another Division Officer cybersecurity position on CG, DDG, and LSD class ships;
• Conducted training and assist visits to prepare Echelon II commands for cybersecurity and cyber readiness inspections.
Systems Commands: Strengthen cybersecurity throughout the lifecycle of systems with the goal of "baking in" security from the beginning instead of "bolting it on" after systems are fielded.
• Developed technical standards for building more secure systems;
• Helped develop and implement the CYBERSAFE Program.
The Navy continues to strengthen its cyber posture. But remember, the most critical member of the Navy cybersecurity team is you.

Friday, October 23, 2015

China says naval ties with U.S. "best in history'

23 October 2015

BEIJING – Relations between the Chinese and U.S. navies are their "best in history" and exchanges between the two will become more systematic in the future, China's military on Friday cited the country's naval chief as telling visiting U.S. officers.
The comments by navy chief Wu Shengli come as Washington considers conducting freedom-of-navigation operations within 12 nautical miles of artificial islands China has built in the disputed South China Sea, without saying when it would do so. Such a move would likely infuriate Beijing.
Both China and the United States had worked hard to increase military interaction, holding joint drills and agreeing rules on encounters at sea and in the air, Wu said, according to the official People's Liberation Army Daily.
"At present, relations between the Chinese and U.S. navies are at their best time in history," Wu was cited as saying. "Exchanges and communications are more trusting and effective."
This has not come easily though, and is the result of hard work by both sides, he added.
"In the future, exchanges between frontline forces from both countries will gradually become more systematic," Wu said.
There was no mention of the South China Sea.
The U.S. naval delegation Wu met earlier this week visited China's sole aircraft carrier.
The military's newspaper said they also visited a submarine school and a command college.
China-U.S. relations have become increasingly strained over Beijing's territorial claims in the South China Sea, through which $5 trillion in ship-borne trade passes every year. Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, Taiwan and Brunei also have claims in the area.
(Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Dean Yates)

Undersea warfare directorate looks to increase dominance thorough key investments

Longer-range targeting and electromagnetic warfare envisioned for submarine force.

Megan Eckstein, U.S. Naval Institute News
22 October 2015
The new director of undersea warfare (OPNAV N97) is looking to extend the Navy’s asymmetrical advantage by investing in longer-range targeting, electromagnetic warfare tools and other capabilities to help submarine forces operate effectively into the future.
Rear Adm. Charles Richard said at the 2015 Naval Submarine League Annual Symposium that the Commander of Submarine Forces has released a vision for the force, and Richard will determine a path to get to that vision.
Among the capabilities he sees the Navy needing is putting effects on targets at longer ranges – and having the targeting and the command and control infrastructure to support longer-range strikes.
While the Navy has tried to achieve long-range targeting by submarines in the past and wasn’t able to overcome technology obstacles, “we think we’re on the cusp of getting to it with our new technologies. But it’s not going to do me a lot of good to have a target-quality solution with a weapon that can go do something that I’ve been ordered to do if I’m waiting for permission to fire because my command and control networks aren’t in a position to let me go do that,” he said. “I can gain competitive advantage over a potential adversary if I can get inside his command and control loop, so we’re working on that.”
Richard said that submarine forces would also need a greater number of ways to engage targets.
“I see a future that has, to use that Pentagon term, ‘competition short of war,’” he said. “We’re not exactly at peace with somebody, but we’re not exacting winging guided missiles back and forth at each other just yet. So what can we offer combatant commanders in these type of environments? Again, I’m going to overstate it for effect just a little bit, but right now in some cases, it’s, ‘boss, you want a picture? I can get you a picture. You want me to blow it to smithereens? I can blow it to smithereens.’”
Richard told USNI News after his speech that this problem is especially applicable to the Pacific, where the “competition short of war” scenario could easily arise. He said the Navy needs to think about what capabilities it wants in that situation to accomplish a commander’s mission
To that end, the undersea force will need to figure out how to leverage the electromagnetic spectrum – which is challenging in any environment and particularly so under water.
“The electromagnetic spectrum looks potentially very attractive in your ability to put an effect on a target to perhaps neuter its capabilities, to otherwise make it ineffective for what it’s doing there. With a reversible effect on it without going all the way to a level of violence that may not be appropriate,” Richard said.
He added that he views cyber as part of the electromagnetic spectrum discussion.
“In my mind, electromagnetic warfare and cyber are two halves of the same coin, it’s still the whole electromagnetic spectrum – some is contained in a Cat 5 cable or a fiber, some is radiated out of an aperture,” he told USNI News.
Additionally, Richard included battlespace acoustics, command and control for multiple undersea
systems, payloads for countermeasures and decoys, and special operations support as other areas to consider for future development to enhance the Navy’s advantage under the ocean.
Richard said that, in studying these and other aspects of future undersea warfare, he hopes to generate a list of priorities for the Navy to focus on transitioning into programs of record and getting out to the fleet.

U.S. contemplates future attack sub by 2044

Extensive use of off-board sensors could be key component of SSN(X).

Richard R. Burgess, Seapower
22 October 2015
FALLS CHURCH, Va. – The Navy is planning to field a new-design nuclear-powered attack submarine (SSN) in 2044, a Navy official said.
Speaking Oct. 22 to an audience at the Naval Submarine League’s annual symposium, George Drakely, executive director of the Program Executive Office-Submarines, said the service plans to begin an analysis of alternatives in 2024 for the design, designated SSN(X).
Drakely said the Navy expects to begin construction of the SSN(X) in 2034. He said that affordability will be a key focus of the design, leveraging the technology existing at the time. He expects the SSN(X) to make extensive use of off-board sensors.
The SSN(X) will follow the production of 48 Virginia-class SSNs, with the last scheduled for delivery in 2034.
Drakely said the first Block III Virginia-class SSN, USS North Dakota, just returned “from a highly classified mission” that is performed on its shakedown cruise.
He also said the Navy is considering installing the Virginia Payload Module (VPM) – an additional hull section with four payload tubes – on all Virginia production beginning in 2019. Current planning has VPM being installed on one of each year’s production of two SSNs.

U.S. Navy can't afford extending Ohio submarine platform, says top Pentagon official

Pat Host, Defense Daily
22 October 2015
The Navy can’t afford to further extend the life of its current Ohio-class ballistic missile submarine platform, despite an upcoming budgetary challenge on replacing it, according to a key Pentagon official.
“That sub was built to last 30 years and we’ve extended it out to 42 years, longer than any other submarine we’ve operated in this country,” U.S. Strategic Command (USSTRATCOM) chief Adm. Cecil Haney said Thursday at a Defense Writers Group event in Washington. “Our backs are against the wall at this point in time.”
The Defense Department soon faces a glut in nuclear modernization bills. The Air Force is asking for $5.6 billion over five years to modernize its two legs of the nuclear triad, ground based ICBMs and Long-Range Standoff Weapon, while the Navy has budgeted $5 billion in research and development (R&D) funding and another $5 billion in advanced procurement for the Ohio-class replacement. Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics (AT&L) Frank Kendall in April said the budget crunch on nuclear modernization gets “severe” starting in 2021, when Ohio-class replacement development starts.
The Navy currently wants to buy 12 subs as part of Ohio replacement, which Haney called one of his highest priorities. Each of the 14 Ohio-class subs can carry up to 24 submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBM) with multiple, independently targeted warheads, according to the Navy. The design allows the subs to operate for 15 or more years between major overhauls. The subs, on average, spend 77 days at sea followed by 35 days in-port for maintenance.

Top U.S. admiral: NATO should rework maritime strategy

Concern is Russian submarine patrols have increased by more than 50% from 2013 to 2014, and Russia's fleet has increased its range.

Julian E. Barnes, Real Time Brussels (Wall Street Journal Blog)
22 October 2015

Russia’s stepped up naval operations and other threats mean that the North Atlantic Treaty Organization should reexamine maritime strategy, the new head of the U.S. Navy said Thursday.
Addressing the top naval officers in Europe at a meeting in Venice, Italy, U.S. Navy Adm. John Richardson, who recently became Chief of Naval Operations, said Russia has demonstrated growing prowess with its ships and demonstrated a willingness to use military coercion.
Russian submarine patrols increased by more than 50% from 2013 to 2014, Adm. Richardson said, and its fleet has increased its range.
“Their operational tempo has risen to levels not seen in over a decade,” he said in his speech in Venice. “Their proficiency is increasing.”
Russia unveiled a new naval doctrine in August, which western observers argue sets the stage for a more aggressive military posture by the Kremlin. But NATO has not updated its naval strategy since 2011.
“Enough has changed with the Russia threat, with migration issues, with the rise of information systems that it may be time to take another look at the NATO maritime strategy to see if it adequately describes the problem set that we have got,” Adm. Richardson said in an interview after his speech.
Adm. Richardson said Russia may now present the military with the greatest challenge of so-called “anti-access, area denial,” a military term referring to the ability of a country to restrict the U.S. from conducting operations in a specific area.
U.S. military officials have raised with increasing alarm concerns about the build up of Russian military capability in Crimea and in the Russian enclave of Kaliningrad. Russian missiles and naval power there could threaten the ability of the U.S. and its allies to operate in the Black and Baltic Seas.
Adm. Richardson in the interview said there was also growing concerns about the Russian naval build-up in the eastern Mediterranean. Russia’s military build-up, he said, “may become the defining anti-access, area-denial challenge” for the U.S.
NATO and the European Union should also step up coordination in order to more efficiently allocate naval assets, he said. The EU is conducting a naval operation in the Mediterranean to try to intercept smugglers bringing migrants from Libya to Europe.
Although there is a degree of coordination between the alliance and the EU, European diplomats frequently complain that political differences frequently block full cooperation between the two entities.
Adm. Richardson argues that regional navies need to make sure the most appropriate ships are assigned to the best mission, but also make sure that navy ships work on multiple missions at once. For example, a ship on patrol for migrant smugglers can also collect information on Russian presence in the Mediterranean.
“You want to make sure everyone is contributing to their maximum capability and we are not assigning a high-end warship exclusively to migrant duty,” he said.
Without better coordination, Adm. Richardson argued, neither the migrant mission or Russian deterrence will be done effectively.
“Where do the EU and NATO have common objectives, where could we use those resources much more effectively and efficiently?” Adm. Richardson said. “If each makes an independent pull on a constrained resource we aren’t going to achieve anything. we have to look for synergies and overlaps.”