May 22, 2015

UUVs Need to Complement Manned Submarines in Future

Ex-submariner and unmanned underwater vehicle (UUV) analyst Bryan Clark.
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The US ONR Large Displacement (or Diameter) Unmanned Underwater Vehicle Innovative Naval Prototype (LDUUV-INP) program for missions 70+ (long requirements description) days in open ocean and/or littorals. Can be sub launched. This LDUUV's missions will include ISR, ASW, mine counter-measures and offensive ops. (Photo and data courteshttp://auvac.org/community-information/community-news/view/2834)
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Here is an interesting 8 minute video interview (May, 21 2015) with full transcript at  http://www.abc.net.au/lateline/content/2015/s4240310.htm with Bryan Clark. He is increasingly becomming an unmanned underwater vehicle (UUV) advocate. 

Clark was the retired US submariner, top aide to the US Chief of Naval Operations and
Senior Fellow, Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, who published The Emerging Future in Undersea Warfare on January 22, 2015. While all of his comments are in the transcript I’ve summarised his more significant comments below:

-  what we're seeing is the increasing ability to take a look at large areas and amass a large amount of information at one time and then process it very quickly [My comment - This underlines the trend of navies working closely with their NSA equivalents to handle vast amounts of data and run simulations of enemy vessel signatures.]

-  new detection techniques are emerging that would allow you to find man-made objects in the water more easily

-  it is increasingly difficult for subs to operate with impunity in areas close to other countries. Manned sub coastal work is going to be come to an end against advanced adversaries in the next 20 years or so

-  with new detection technologies out to a couple of hundred miles off an adversary's coast this will demand changes in the way subs are built and operate

-  Subs may have to operate more like an aircraft carrier where they stay offshore, staying away from the threat, while subs deploy UUVs towards an adversary's coast

-  for Australia’s future submarine selection Australia must consider the “new detection technologies.” Subs “may have to be larger" with much more communications equipment using more comms methods

-  There are two big limitations to UUVs 

   :  one is short endurance, short range and slow speed on battery. Although a small diesel engine might help. 

   :  the other big UUV limitation is they don't have any accountability in terms of the human control over weapons use. And so even though you could autonomously program a UUV to go and shoot a torpedo at a target that it recognises, who will be accountable for the result if that torpedo hits a civilian ship instead of hitting a military ship? [My comment - Clark seems to be asking Will Chinese UUV attacks be less constrained morally and legally than more careful Western UUV attacks?].


-  A UUV is not going to be susceptible to the fear factor that a manned sub might be. A limitation of a manned sub is if you shoot at it, it generally has to run away because it doesn't have a lot of self-defence systems and your crew's life is at stake. The UUV will not respond in that way. A UUV will continue to carry out the mission until you physically destroy it. So, countering UUVs is going to be a huge challenge - which the US Government is looking at.
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Please connect with:

 LDUUVs, UUV, AUVs and Undersea Cable Tapping, January 14, 2015 at http://gentleseas.blogspot.com.au/2015/01/sea-stalker-uuv-lduuv-auy-and.html .

Pete

11 comments:

Anonymous said...

Dear Pete,

I read the article and start to wonder about several points.

Endurance: “short range and slow speed on battery. Although a small diesel might help.” What about fuel cells only?

“Accountability in terms of the human control over weapons use.” LOL – what about naval mines? A naval mine is an UUV with a very limited range. A torpedo without back link to the submarine is a real UUV.

I have a feeling Clark has some personal interest to advocate UUVs.

“New detection techniques” will also detect rather dumb UUVs more easily.

“Manned sub coastal work is going to become to an end against advanced adversaries in the next 20 years or so.” For sure this is a problem for the big us SSN but I doubt that for small submarines like Type 210mod.

“Subs may have to operate like an aircraft carrier” is scenario for the big US SSN. You also need the crew size to control and assess the data of a fleet of UUVs. So UUV fleet needs big submarines with a big crew.

“Australia must consider the ‘new detection technologies’. Subs ‘may have to be larger’ with much more communication equipment. “ Or subs need to be smaller to avoid detection and operate with just 1 UUV close to the point of interest and just two more crew men. A small submarine with one big horizontal launch tube can do it.

Sounds like the F-35 nonsense. Stop the nonsense! You first need a good aircraft or submarine and then you can stuff the gimmicks in. Big submarines are easier to detect, cost more and need more crew. Think smart, think small!

Regards,
MHalblaub




Peter Coates said...

Hi MHalblaub

Russia's Sputnik News Agency explains how the US may achieve its LDUUV endurance, range and speed requirements
http://sputniknews.com/us/20150523/1022475847.html : "23 May 2015 The US Navy is aiming within the next 10 years to be able deploy unmanned, underwater pods where robotic mini-subs can recharge undetected and securely upload intelligence to Navy networks"

Yes the accountability issue might just be a US ideological issue to aim at "Godless, totally UnAmerican" China.

Yes Clark may now be a salesmen for American LDUUV corporations.

Yes its up to countries to consider whether big subs launching big LDUUVs which inturn launch small torpedos are more cost effective than small subs.

2 man Small subs will quickly run out of fuel/range unless some network of secure undersea resupply stations can be built. Maybe snorting/indiscretion rates may be too high?

The Japanese tried 2 man subs in WWII (against Sydney, Honolulu etc) which proved very ineffective. And they were suicide vehicles at the best of times.

If 210mod can reach Australia's endurance-range-speed requirements all the way SECURE LOW INDISCRETION for 3 weeks in the South China Sea they may be viable.

Regards

Pete

Anonymous said...

Dear Pete,

I was not talking about a submarine with a crew of just 2 men. I was talking that a submarine would need just two additional men to operate one UUV. I think wire guidance is a must have.

The underwater recharging pods are somehow unrealistic. How will the pods be reloaded?

Therefore I am in love with KISS! A small submarine with a 2 meter horizontal multipurpose lock with one small UUV. No need for recharging pods. Such pods are always located at the wrong position in case you need them.

Btw. there is an error on English Wikipedia for Ula-class. Range is not 5,000 miles @ 8 kn. It is 5,000 nm @ 8 kn. From Chrismas Island to Hong Kong it is about 2,300 nm via Jakarta and 2,700 nm via Lombok straight.

Ula-class was built 25 years ago. Just with todays diesel engines and electric motor the range such be extended by at least 20 %.

Regards,
MHalblaub

Peter Coates said...

Hi MHalblaub

Thanks for clearing up the two man issue.

Yes the recharging and information uploading pod, if located by a Chinese or Russian adversary, could be compromised. Basically those countries might wait for a LDUUV to use the pod, capture the LDUUV and see what info it has collected and why.

5,000 nm @ 8 kn is better but it falls short of Australia's likely 11,000 nm low with very low discretion rate requirements. Six SSK for Australia by 2030 then it should shop for 4 SSNs.

If Christmas Island has enough naval infrastructure then maybe.

Maybe not 210 Ulas but Dolphin 2s might be nice. Not 216 if it looks like an Orphan class.

Regards

Pete

Anonymous said...

Dear Pete,

The Ula-class submarine did cost 700 million NOK (~A$115 million) in 1990 or about A$400 million today (@ 5% interest). That is less than A$10 billion for 24 submarines. For A$10 billion RAN could buy a lot of naval infrastructure anywhere. RAN's excessive range requirements are linked to a few submarines with a few suitable naval ports.

What about the new Australian friend Japan? From Okinawa it is only 2,000 nm to Singapore right through the South Chinese Sea. Guam is just a bit further away. With additional real submarine bases at Sydney and Darwin Australia's coasts could be far better covered with many small submarines.

Nice video there: http://www.military-today.com/navy/ula_class.htm
Even small subs use big torpedoes!

India could also be interested in the Type 216 because they also want for some reason a Vertical Launch System...

Regards,
MHalblaub

Anonymous said...

Dear Pete,

here another link according to the topic: http://breakingdefense.com/2015/05/the-7-11-for-robot-subs-underwater-plug-and-stay-hubs/

Still one question remains: how to recharge the "underwater plug and stay hubs"?

Regards,
MHalblaub

Peter Coates said...

Hi MHalblaub

Ula class is tempting but it needs to be upgraded to Dolphin 2 range, endurance and size. The "Ula on Steroids" would be excellent for Australia. As Ulas are principally designed for coastal operations could they be upgraded to lurk near South China Sea coasts?
http://www.military-today.com/navy/ula_class.htm - do Ulas still have noise problems?

If buying from TKMS Australia should aim for cost conscious Dolphin 2AUs rather than overly expensive Australia only 216 orphan subs. Australia has already made the hugely expensive Collins Class orphan sub mistake - which should not be repeated.
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https://solarsystem.nasa.gov/rps/rtg.cfm is interesting.

"how to recharge" could be acheived by using a Radioisotope Thermoelectric Generator (RTG) to Battery. As there is no crew, radiation is not a problem. RTGs work by providing electrical power by converting the heat generated by the decay of plutonium-238 (Pu-238) fuel into electricity using thermocouples. No moving parts, can't fail or wear out. Also as they are radioactive this makes it less likely that pesky enemy divers will tamper with RTGs or even with slightly radioactive LDUUVs. Danger of Pu leakage is more a Chinese coastal problem than Americas :-) - see https://solarsystem.nasa.gov/rps/rtg.cfm .

Regards

Pete

Anonymous said...

Dear Pete,

the problem for the underwater recharge station with an RTG would be the low power output of such an RTG. The power output is exceptional low ~ 300 W and temperature difference is not as in space. Radiation is no problem under water in case of Plutonium-238 as an alpha emitter. Plutonium itself is not toxic. An RTG is not that big. So why not place it inside the UUV?

The noise problems for Ula-class and Type 214 were solved long ago. A submarine is a complex machine. There is a reason why there is always a big time span between launch and commissioning. A submarine needs to be fine tuned like an music instrument.

The Australian Collins class disaster was not related to an orphan submarine type. Type 212 and Ula-class are also orphan classes with 6 submarines just like Collins-class. The big difference is the company that supports the submarines. The error Australia made was to divorce ASC from Kockums without proper knowledge how to maintain a submarine properly. South Korea on the other side is still in contact with HDW and TKMS to maintain and develop their submarines.

Something else related to the disaster: the combat system
Here is a comment about US combat system on Australian submarines and how the development worked for Australia: http://www.australiandefence.com.au/news/concerns-abound-over-future-submarine-combat-system

Regards,
MHalblaub

Peter Coates said...

Hi MHalblaub

Please note that I commented that a RTG should work to Battery. The Battery can then transfer electricity at the faster rate a UUV needs.

Actually placing Pu in a UUV may not provide the peak power requirements if the UUV needed to move quickly to flee capture or perhaps perform a torpedo like function.

Pu looks pretty toxic - see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plutonium#Toxicity "During the decay of plutonium, three types of radiation are released—alpha, beta, and gamma. Either acute or longer-term exposure carries a danger of serious health outcomes including radiation sickness, genetic damage, cancer, and death...Gamma radiation can go all the way through the body."

The propaganda-public relations benefits for an enemy who says that a US UUV is carrying or indirectly being charged by Pu - technically "nuclear" would be great. But technically Pu or U-235 might provide the best charging solution.

An TKMS AIP-like Fuel cell to Battery solution might be useful instead :)

Yes the whole Defence-ASC-Kockums breakdown has been repeated in the DMO-ASC-Corporations AWD fiasco. There is no reason under Australia's fiasco subs-shipbuilding culture this fiasco wouldn't be repeated for a future sub. Management and Unions would demand more and more money for an extended period - as a patriotic duty to South Australia.

Thanks for http://www.australiandefence.com.au/news/concerns-abound-over-future-submarine-combat-system . I'll comment on its many issues later.

Regards

Pete

Anonymous said...

Dear Pete,

the problem with an RTG loading a battery results always in a loss of energy. Loading the pod battery and then the UUV battery leads to the need of even more RTG power. RTGs are good for long endurance power at low level.

The RTG for the Cassini–Huygens spacecraft is man-sized and provides about 285 W without any k before the W. In Germany pedelecs are limited up to 250 W and a speed of 25 km/h. My electric water boiler for tea has 3,000 W.

So these recharging pods would need to be rather huge with RTGs.

The nice thing about Plutonium-238 is only an alpha emitter. Very easy to shield and Plutonium itself is not toxic like Uranium. It was even used for cardiac pacemakers.

What about a real but small atomic reactor?

UAVs are at most time under human control. Autonomous UUV will have a much higher loss rate than UAV.

Regards,
MHalblaub

Peter Coates said...

Hi MHalblaub

Thanks for the info on the limitations of using RTGs.

I think there would be many drawbacks from using actual Atomic Reactors in the UUV chain. This would include the cost, complexity, environmental concerns, difficulty of direct monitoring and accident prevention, enemy exploitation of "reactor leaks" after enemy sabotage for propaganda purposes.

Would anyone want the Russians to leave small Atomic Reactors operating on the bottom of the Baltic Sea for Russian UUV operations?

Hydrogen-Oxygen Fuel cell recharging of UUVs is probably much more reasonable and doable.

Regards

Pete