Albeit belatedly, the Navy is taking bold action to strengthen and diversify the capabilities of its submarine forces.
Its evolving procurement plan has prioritized an increase in the number of attack submarines in the fleet. This is a long overdue development, delayed by admirals’ traditional preference for big and beautiful aircraft carriers over small and silent submarines. But it’s good news nonetheless.
Still, the truly revolutionary development is the Navy’s announcement this week that it has successfully deployed submarine-launched armed, “unmanned aerial systems.” Military jargon for combat drones. As first reported by Seapower, program lead, Rear Adm. Dave Goggins, told a conference on Wednesday that the new drone system will allow the Navy’s attack submarines to strike enemy targets beyond visual range. Trials, Goggins said, had successfully proved the Navy can launch the drones “from periscope depth, control them out to tactically significant ranges — well beyond the line of sight.” Goggins added one test had allowed a submarine “to target and conduct a rapid simulated torpedo attack against a participating surface ship … pretty much at near-maximum effective range of that torpedo, by flying that [drone] to obtain [effective targeting lock] after gaining that initial sonar gain.” The drones have also been successfully tested against land targets.
This is excellent news for which Goggins and his sailors deserve great credit. The new drones would appear to offer two particular utilities.Read more…