THE FY 87 SUBMARINE-RELATED R&D PROCESS
The last report on Government Affairs dealt with the Navy’s 1986 research and development programs for submarines. As the 1987 budget starts through the legislative process, the R&D programs remain essentially unchanged but the focus is being changed, particularly for the recently formed Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command. This Command’s procurement functions have been transferred to the Air and Sea Systems Commands of the Navy. In addition, OP-098 1s R&D functions — with VADM Al Baciooco’s title lengthened to Director Research, Development and Acquisition — now clearly include the job of managing the transition of technology from basic research to operational development. This also emphasizes the importance of thoroughly testing the applicability of technology to practical problems before starting programs for specific applications. The two main themes of changed focus and proof of concept thus characterize the approach to submarine R&D, today.
The changes at the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command indicate that the objective is efficiency and improved span of control. Transferring hardware procurement functions to Naval Air and Naval Sea Systems Commands was aimed at freeing the Space Command to concentrate on space warfare systems’ relationships and systems engineering. Consistent with this, the Space Command took over the Director of Naval Laboratories’ job and the eight in-house Navy R&D centers (labs}. In addition, responsibility was assumed for the Navy work at four university laboratories; at Penn State, the University of Texas, Johns Hopkins and the University of Washington.
The proof of concept approach is well exemplified by the program titled “Submarine Hull Array Development (Advanced).” In the January REVIEW, it was noted that $13.2 million had been requested for FY 86 — for this element — while the House/Senate joint committee settled on a figure of $8.2 million. Today the Navy’s FY 87 request is for about 8 million dollars. This hull array element is just one building block in the continuing development of submarine sensors. This process has resulted in trial of a Wide Aperture Array now undergoing tests in the USS AUGUSTA (SSN 710). The Array resembles the PUFFS array that was installed and tested in USS BARB (SSN 596) during the 1960’s.
The Wide Aperture Array has three arrays mounted on each side of the submarine; at the bow, midships and at the stern, comprising a precise base line. Its functions are mainly for target localization — not necessarily for target detection. (There is no single sensor that can do the whole job from long range detection through localization, to approach and attack.)
This method of proving concept and testing it before embarking on a formal development program is being carried out within the focused system of the SSN-21 and in consonance with many of the SSN21’s efforts.
Another example of a successful system progression through the R&D process can be found in the development of the Submarine ASW Standoff Weapon — SEA LANCE. The concept was formulated in the late 1970s. Work on it was fully funded in the 1986 R&D budget at about $75 million. For FY 1987, the request is $118.4 million. But by this time, the program has entered the next phase of the development cycle. In the 1986 budget, the program was titled generically and was in the 6.3 category of Advanced Development. But in 1987 it became a specific program, SEA LANCE, and was put in the 6.4 category of funding — Engineering Development. It was this weapon system which the Senate Armed Services Committee questioned as to the Navy’s commitment. The Secretary of the Navy then provided a written commitment to fund the program so as to achieve the structured date for initial operational capability.
The two examples cited above are easily identifiable as submarine development projects. They are not however totally submarine-unique since they benefit from other R&D efforts and have been developed with other programs in mind. The Wide Aperture Array has benefited from general advances in acoustic processing. The ASW Standoff Weapon. on the other hand, has been designed so it can be used by other platforms and against other targets.
Making increased use of cross-program technological information to enhance both the effectiveness and efficiency of the Navy R&b process is obviously an immediate intent of the recent reorganization moves. Rear Admiral Chuck Brickell, the Director of Undersea & Strategic Warfare & Nuclear Energy Development (OP-981) recently described the main advantages of this technology approach as ngetting more out of the basic physics by being able to dig deepern and nachieving synergism by integrating across the spectrum of Navy needs.n Thus, not all R&D done for submarine applications will be as easily identifiable as the Wide Aperture Array and the Standoff Weapon. The job is to match the stated needs of the operational commanders with available technology and then initiate a systematic process for program development.
In the development of computers for future submarine needs, this technique is used as well as the building-block approach for building a system by initial concentration on components — then hooking them together to perform a given function. Submarine sensor systems are using standard Navy computers as signal processors. Though the present computers are not submarine-unique, there is a design effort in those being developed toward meeting specific submarine mission requirements. Such computers will be expected to be fully compatible with submarine systems, i.e. the interfaces will match those of the submarine fire control system and there will be flexibility for expanding submarine needs. Rear Admiral Brickell used the example of building a beam-forming network from arithmetic processors — the be~ former being one step in the target information path from hydrophone through signal conditioner to the display and end use. The arithmetic processors that form the network are therefore a critical development item and the introduction of Very High Speed Integrated Circuits into those arithmetic processors is an important development — increasing the computational power and significantly reducing the size of computer units. But as they are introduced as processors in the beam-forming networks, the basic computer system does not have to be changed to accommodate this feature.
In general, the computers that are being designed as the brains of Navy systems will provide for flexibility, changed functions, and growth in system requirements through the utilization of new software rather than through hardware replacement.
Perhaps of greater immediate interest are several large programs that are specifically related to submarines. These programs are all in the 6.4 funding category of Engineering Development. The following table lists the program elements and gives the request for funding over three fiscal years; the current, the requested budget year and the next follow-on year.
(in mill ions of dollars)
|Item||FY 86||FY 87||FY 88|
|Sub Sonar Devel.||38.9||52.7||44.7|
|Sub Combat Sys.||199.5||316.6||277.2|
|Sub Tactical Warfare System||38.5||47.1||41.2|
These five submarine engineering development programs account for seven percent of the total Navy R&D request for FY 1987 ($10.58 Billion).
It should be noted that the FY 87 budget request contains a substantial line item for SSN21 development. This is a direct reflection of the focus earlier noted. It is further understood that the FY 88 Navy R&D budget request will start a new line for continuing generic submarine research and development.
CAPT Jim Hay, USN(Ret.)