July 25, 2021

The 15 Year SSN(X)/"Seawolf 2" Debate Awaits

Many in the USN submarine ("USNsub") service are arguing that a high spec (hence high US$5-6 Billion cost) Future Attack Submarine aka "SSN(X)" is required from the early 2040s to have the edge over improving Chinese and Russian SSNs/SSGNs. 

USNsub desire a large "Seawolf 2" solution carrying about 50 heavyweight shots ie. a larger proportion of torpedoes and anti-ship missiles and lower proportion of Virginia class favoured land attack Tomahawks. Hypersonic anti-ship and hypersonic land attack missiles would also feature. 

A 15 year debate is likely - similar to the earlier Seawolf-class (29 envisaged, only 3 built) Debate. Those opposing the USNsub lobby are likely to be the USN surface force lobby, whole of Navy lobby, other armed services, Pentagon bureaucracy and Congress. They may push for a continuation of Virginia-class construction through to the 2050s or a lower spec class than a "Seawolf 2".

Programs competing with the SSN(X) include:

-  12 Columbia-class SSBNs 

-  "Ground Based Strategic Deterrent" replacements for the 450 Minuteman-III ICBMs 

-  20+ new Constalletion-class frigates   

-  20+? 10,000 ton cruiser sized Future/Large Surface Combatant aka DDG(X) Program

-  Many different types of land, sea and air launched Hypersonic Missiles.

-  and many other weapon, personnel and new base building programs.

It is inevitable that the SSN(X) program will be more expensive than the Columbia-class.  With 2 main near-peer competitors, Russia and China (the latter having a huge economy), the US will need to intensively debate and economize on its submarine choices.  

Here and below is a useful 5 minute, May 27, 2021, video on the SSN(X) which seems to be according to USNsub lobby aspirations. For example, from 34 seconds in the Video claims the USN is planning SSN(X) deployment "beginning in 2031". That is more than 10 years before other lobbies and factions estimate the first SSN(X) will deploy (in the early 2040s).


July 23, 2021

AIP for India Issues: Excellent Article for Donors

An excellent article by Ghalib Kabir has just been emailed to Donors. 

This is regarding AIP and other sensitive tech for India - in the context of the Kalvari-class submarines and also P-75(I for India) tender process.


July 22, 2021

USN Looking at Fitting SSN(X)s with Inflatable Sails

When I read The Drive's July 20, 2021 article :

The [USN] Is Looking At Fitting Its Future Attack Submarines With Inflatable Sails

I checked that it was not a late entry for April 1st (Fools Day).

The inflatable nature "sail" or "fin" (what used to be called a "conning tour") involves immediate and possible problems, many and varied.

1.  The article rightly comments a fin "has an important function of breaking through the ice and providing initial access outside of the sub when operating in polar regions."

So I ask: would the lack of a rigid sail require instead a separate ice piercing spike to penetrate the ice? 

This is especially if there is a need for emergency surfacing - say a US SSN, while under the ice, was damaged by a Russian or Chinese torpedo?

Or what if the reactor needed an emergency shut down while under the ice (in peace or war)?

Even if a spike breaks through the ice and the sail is then inflated polar bears (I kid you not) are known to try to attack parts of surfaced SSNs. Might a hard bear bite deflate the sail? 

2.  The article also rightly comments: "Above all else, the sail is normally used to house important sensors like periscopes, communication antenna masts, as well as electromagnetic and radar sensor systems."

So how could the various optronic (aka photonic) masts and antennas penetrate a damaged, hence un-inflatable or improperly deflated, sail?

Also the sail might need to be inflated while the sub is submerged (running shallow) if the sub's Captain wanted to deploy his 360 degree search mast or attack mast to peak just above the surface?

3.  The inflatable sail would need to be very rigid indeed to remain rigid in high winds and rough seas, particularly when the captain (and up to 4 crew) are standing on top of the sail when the sub is exiting or entering the port area. I understand the approaches to US mainland bases, US overseas sub bases and the UK Clyde/Faslane base can experience very rough swells. Might a flexible mast bend the Captain and watch members into the sea? 

How could you safely/efficiently deflate a sail for stowage in high winds and rough seas?

4. Fortunately the article also raises "ballistic protection against small arms fire."

Even short of foreign country naval threats, might a nutter, terrorist or smuggler with a US$200 light machinegun cause enough damage to deflate the sail, thus crippling a US$5 Billion SSN(X)?

In the end.

5. Once a sail is damage and deflated would it be easily stowable so the sub can efficiently dive and continue efficienctly and safely on its mission?

Can anyone think of any other pitfalls of inflatable/deflatable sails?

Big problems buying Nuclear Subs from the US.

Excellent essay  https://www.aspistrategist.org.au/buying-military-hardware-from-the-us-wish-list-or-shopping-list/

July 20, 2021

Invitations to DONORS just sent, July 21, 2021

I have just finished emailing Invitations to DONORs, to become "Custom Readers". The Invitations come in the form of blogger/blogspot/Google notices. The "Custom Reader" system is the way to limit Submarine Matters International (SMI) to viewing by Donors Only. 

The Invitation then needs to be accepted by Donors in a short process which I understand also involves gmail. The July 21 timing gives Donors plenty of time before SMI becomes Donor Viewable Only on July 31, 2021, for one year.

With SMI becoming viewable by Donors Only this will permit me to place the Special Reports (one sent July 15, 2021 so far) and substantial articles onto the SMI website. Donors will then not need to hunt for old Special Report emails long after I emailed them on the 15th of every month (for a year).  

Also the Comments Section, below Special Reports/articles, will be open to Comments from Donors Only (aka "Team Members"). Donors Only also has the advantage of keeping out the many SPAM comments I receive each day AND preventing Non-Donors asking such questions as "What does AIP stand for?"

For Non-Donors.
To become a Donor
 please contact me at pete74730@yahoo.com.au . I will then send you an invoice. 



Poland Seeking New Frigates and Submarines

The very interesting paysite magazine Warships International Fleet Review (WIFR) reports in its July 2021 edition, paged 8, Poland sees it essential to acquire 3 frigate sized coastal defence vessels (under Poland's Miecznik "Swordfish"  Program). These 3 ships would be armed with ASMs and would replace Poland's 2 aging Oliver Hazard Perry frigates. Whether new frigates have a higher priority than new submarines is unknown.

[Janes reports: "The first company invited to participate in the program was Polish Remontowa Shipbuilding, with subsequent invitations sent out to naval companies across Europe. The consortium has received six proposals from five potential bidders to date, each with technology transfer arrangements to local shipyards. However, further details on these remain confidential."]

Under the Orka Program Poland still wants to acquire 3 submarines. Three competitors have expressed interest:

- Naval Group: with Scorpenes to mount MBDA cruise missiles
- TKMS: Type 212CDs, and
- Saab: A26s

Two of Poland's Kobbens (ORP Sep ? and ORP Bielik? the Kilo ORP Orzel still in service?) seem to be still active - with Poland optimistically expecting new subs to take over in 2026.

Adamowski reports Poland has a 1.9 Billion UK pound [equivalent to US$2.6 Billion] budget (implicitly for the 3 new subs) - though it is not precisely spelled out what that budget covers.