Anti-submarine warfare has become an area that the Navy has to reinvent completely,
according to service officials.
The Navy’s requirements office, OPNAV, will reorganize in the coming
months to bring ASW to the forefront in “a significant way,” said
Rear Adm. Henry Ulrich, the director of surface warfare in the office of the
chief of naval operations. This time around, the approach towards ASW is going
to be different, he said during an industry day.
“Acknowledging the fact that we have had spurts of ‘we care about
ASW’ and then a rapid decline, I believe that we are serious this time,”
he said. “I am personally committed, and lots of folks are.” In
the future, the lack of advanced ASW capabilities could be a “show-stopper,”
The “force on force” way of doing ASW is a thing of the past for
Ulrich. “I would like to get away from it,” he said. “I am
not sure I want my surface ships out there looking for a submarine. Maybe they
do not have a distinct advantage, but there are other ways of doing it.”
Ulrich said he wants surface ships to have capabilities to detect and neutralize
an incoming torpedo.
According to Ulrich, a defense technology expert panel made several recommendations
on ASW capabilities. These included rapidly deployable, active/passive distributed
fields to cover a full range of shallow and deepwater environments without frequent
reseeding; non-acoustic sensors with long-endurance that can fly at low altitudes;
tactical air vehicles and rapid-attack weapons.
Longer-term recommendations focus on an autonomous ASW sensor system; large-area,
non-acoustic search capability against shallow submarines; long-range standoff
ASW weapons and decoys or countermeasures.
The Navy is planning a series of demonstrations for next year, said Ulrich.
One is scheduled for January 2004, and will look at off-board active defense
in a littoral setting. The second one is scheduled for May 2004 and will examine
acoustics and non-acoustics together with a moving area search. The third is
scheduled for September 2004 and will focus on active/passive distributive systems
and non-acoustics, according to Ulrich’s presentation.
“You bring me technology proposals that I can touch, feel, do a demonstration
and experiment with, I am committed,” he told contractors. And the money
will follow after successful demonstrations, he said.
Ulrich said he shuns away from the idea of a long-term master plan. “Mine
is old after three months,” he said. “That is how fast I want to
Meanwhile, ONR is developing advanced technologies for ASW and seeking industry
participation, said David Johnson, manager of ONR’s Littoral ASW Future
Naval Capability program. ONR is funding several anti-submarine warfare technologies
that can be used on unmanned vehicles, or to defend against torpedoes.
Palantir, for example, is a large focal plane array camera that could operate
from a UAV, according Johnson. The camera potentially could be tested on a maritime
Global Hawk UAV. The technology still has shortcomings, such as the communications
links, high false-alarm rate and performance changes depending on the atmosphere.
Another project seeks to integrate a compact rapid attack weapon that uses
the anti-torpedo torpedo body with a warhead. Technology issues here are warhead
lethality, the integration of the sensors, warhead and guidance systems, the
search/homing capability, airdrop sensors and the endurance in a 200-pound vehicle,
ONR also is focusing on improving a lightweight torpedo precision targeting
system with launching systems, as well as working on counter-torpedo detection,
classification and localization.
Unmanned undersea vehicles play an important role in ASW and in mine detection,
said Navy officials.
“The Navy is absolutely committed to all types of unmanned vehicles.
First in space, then in the air, undersea and on the surface,” Rear Adm.
Jay Cohen, chief of naval research said.
Unmanned undersea vehicle programs, however, have yet to yield useful war-fighting
capabilities for the Navy, said a senior service official. The mine and undersea
warfare office has a budget of $1.5 billion over the next seven years.
“We have very large scale UUVs that are currently in development at the
Naval Undersea Warfare Center, both at Newport, Rhode Island and Keyport, Washington,”
said Cohen. Among the more promising efforts are the Remote Minehunting System
and the Remus UUV. During Operation Iraqi Freedom, in Um Qasar, the Remus was
able to operate 24 hours a day and verify that the port was mine free.
In Cohen’s opinion, “we had UUVs forever. We called them torpedoes.
Now we call them intelligent torpedoes.”