December 4, 2015

A Vertical Launch System for Future Australian Submarines

For a 4,000 ton (surfaced) future Australian submarine design (weight likely required/expected under the Competitive Evaluation Process (CEP)) an option for a vertical launch system (VLS) may be required. Certainly the German TKMS contender (see Diagram 2. below) carries a VLS (more specifically called Vertical Multi-Purpose Lock (VMPL)). 

A VMPL inside the pressure hull, probably aft of the sail, can carry more than missiles. As it is accessible during the mission it can take such non-missile payloads as:
-  large UUVs
-  unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) for scouting and targetting
-  submarine launched airflight missiles (SLAMs) for eg. anti-aircraft
-  complex decoys
-  mines
-  diver delivery vehicle
-  special forces stores eg. inflatable boats
-  even short term accommodation/bunks
-  and other payloads.

As some Virginias and the Ohio SSGNs already have this VLS/VMPL these may provide blueprints for an Australian VMPL. The uses/weapons fitted and mission implications also provide a blueprint.

If the already developed Virginia VLS (or Ohio SSGN's VMPL) is adopted the Australian VLS might have a diameter of 2.5 meters and would be capable of holding 6-7 Tomahawk miles. Tomahawks are probably another CEP requirement or option (fitted for but not with). See Raytheon Australia marketing Tomahawks. 

In future a class of 1 to 7 mini-ballistic missiles could also be possible. I'm wondering if India has already discussed its K-15 mini-SLBM with the US?

Diagram 1. Two vertical launch systems are already on Virginia Block IIIs (and planned for later Blocks). At 4,000 tons (surfaced) the diameter of a future Australian sub would be too small for VLS to be placed in the bow (Virginia style). In any case to have full, within pressure hull, multi-use, functionality a VLS, better called Vertical Multi-Purpose Lock (VMPL), would probably be sited aft of the sail. (Diagram courtesy Defense Industry Daily).
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Close-up of a Virginia's (or Ohio SSGN's) Vertical Launch System. 6 or 7 Tomahawk size missiles can be fitted. (Photo courtsy Sino Defence Forum).
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Diagram 2. Part cutaway of TKMS Type 216. Note at least one Vertical Multi-Purpose Lock (VMPL) aft of the sail (for Tomahawk cruise missile vertical launch and other uses). Crew may be below 50 people, providing enough space/weight for a VMPL, within the constraints of a 4,000 ton (surfaced) design. (Diagram courtesy TKMS via news com au). 


Pete

6 comments:

Biswajit Pattanaik said...

Hi Pete,
Its highly unlikely that India would had discussed about K-15 SLBM with the US.Given that both them are no ally leaving aside all the reohtric noise coming from the diplomats or the politicians.

Regards
Biswajit

Peter Coates said...

Hi Biswajit Pattanaik

An additional reason India may not discuss the K-15 with the US is that some of India's ballistic missile design ideas/inventions may come from Russia.

Israel, however, may have a long term interest in gaining, or even contributing to, K-15 technology. A K-15 SLBM concept may be an ideal replacement for the "Popeye Turbo" SLCM https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Popeye_(missile)#Popeye_Turbo_SLCM (which maybe) deployed on Israel's Dolphin SSKs.

Regards

Pete

Biswajit Pattanaik said...

Hi Pete,

Yup,you are right when you say that some of India's ballistic missile design ideas/inventions came from Russia. Especially in the case of SLBM.And Russia wouldn't entertain such type of moves.

Yeah,Israel could have long term interest in gaining or in contributing in K-15 technology.K-15/BO-5/Shaurya are of same family.Shaurya being an Quasi-Ballistic missile increases chances of Israel having an interest in it.Plus it can act as a short range,quick response cheap anti-ballistic missile or it can be integrated into Israel's missile defence system (mainly from Iran or Saudi Arabia).

Regards

Biswajit

MHalblaub said...

Dear Pete,

the reason for an US VLS is clear: Trident SLBM (diameter 2.1 m & 13.6 m length)
The Tomahawk's diameter is just 0.52 m and length is 6.25 m.
So one UGM-133 Trident could be replaced by 14 BGM-109 Tomahawk.

Any submarine type offered would have far to less diameter to implement a Trident missile. A Tomahawk could also be launched via a torpedo tube. A big horizontal tube would be far more efficient.

Regards,
MHalblaub

Peter Coates said...

Hi Biswajit Pattanaik [December 7, 2015 at 10:20 PM]

Certainly Israel cannot test multi-hundred km range missiles in its neighbourhood - so testing in the Indian Ocean (with India's help) makes sense.

It also makes sense that the Israeli's might also wish to develop a secure (submarine launched) ABM system. So a Dolphin launched K-15 may have that extra ABM use. Mainly Mediterranean or Red Sea launched.

Regards

Pete

Peter Coates said...

Hi MHalblaub

Yes I think Australia should be thinking of a Horizontal Multi-Purpose Lock before or as well as a VMPL.

VMPL has the advantage of a US development path. VMPL may also appeal to the vanity of Admirals, Captains and some politicians as it is an "upmarket" feature that will be used by SSNs.

A future quick (small) SLBM system would also benefit (a bit) from vertical launch as against horizontal launch.

Depending on how much Germany and Sweden are developing HMPLs Australia would probably not want to be the only user of a 2+ meter HMPL.

Regards

Pete