The papers in this session explore the weapon and combat systems that give the fighting power to the submarine platform in missions at sea, in the littorals, and in support of the land battle. The concepts presented will describe how new technologies can enable a comparatively small ship with a relatively small crew to have a disproportionate impact on deterrence and conflict.
With the rapid changes that the Navy and the military are undergoing, we can begin to envision a new era of warfighting that is unrecognizable by today’s standards. Much of today’s military structure likely will be gone: large forces will be eliminated, manned vehicles will be replaced by unmanned drones and stealthy ships, small mobile units will be ever present in the battle and will be moving data and information around as never before. It is expected we will be able to assault enemy targets halfway around the world, striking with pinpoint accuracy that we never thought possible. All of this allows us the opportunity to look ahead at the technical possibilities of how the war can be fought at longer standoff ranges and with fewer lives lost.
These ideas propel us into conceptualizing what the new payloads and weapons will be and how they will be delivered. We will make all attempts to engage a threat at maximum distance to provide the greatest time for self-protection. For the unexpected close-in encounters, we also need quick reaction undersea and airborne weapon systems. High speed torpedoes, going over 150 knots, will generate new paradigms for fighting the close encounter ASW scenarios. These torpedoes will also be fully capable of engagements at tactical ranges. We envision seeing mini submarines capable of speeds up to 100 knots that can carry an assortment of extemal torpedoes and underwater rockets. We are developing technologies for submarines to deliver small manned or unmanned vehicles with significant ranges and increased payloads.
These potential submarine delivered vehicles are expected to have un-refueled ranges approaching those of today’s non-nuclear submarines, and we are now developing the capability to execute a wide range of missions using forward deployed submarines that can still maintain long standoff ranges, on the order of thousands of nautical miles.
With all of these tremendous advances in improved weapons and payloads, digitized warfare, and miniaturized electronics, caution must be exercised while this cutting-edge technology is developed commercially since this revolution in military advances will be freely available to other countries and terrorists. A rogue state or hostile regional power may exploit these 21st century technologies before we do and in ways we have not anticipated, and they could inflict terrible damage on an unprepared U.S. Our future engagements will be against more capable and more sophisticated threats.
In addition to these threats, our current environment promotes the tendency to work on urgent and immediate needs, not the important and futuristic concepts. This shortsighted approach could have a deleterious effect on future conflicts and engagements.
We must anticipate warfighting scenarios that others have not considered. There are so many technical success stories that these successes often mask the underlying limitations and capabilities of our payloads and delivery systems. We must not be content with what we have, and instead, we must continuously advance our payloads, weapons, and weapons delivery systems.
Both the military and commercial sectors have made and will continue to make significant increases in the developments of technologies that are driving the computer, sensor, chemical, and propulsion sectors. These advances are exciting and will lead to changes in warfare more sweeping than at any other time in history. They will enable us to consider a dramatically different military, one no longer dominated by aircraft carriers, large forces, and manned vehicles.
The papers in this session are aimed at providing a glimpse of some of the potential technologies that our Navy can expect to have available. Concepts such as a new technology engine that can be designed to operate underwater, waterborne, in air, and on land, so that it is applicable to multiple platforms operating in multiple environments will be discussed. You will hear about concepts such as very high speed supercavitating torpedoes and Mach 15 intercept missiles that will allow us to attack before the enemy has a chance to blink. There are technologies that promise to revolutionize future designs of propulsion systems in the areas of speed and endurance, and will therefore expand our naval air and underwater vehicle missions. Such concepts address the attack objectives of increasing the probability of kill and decreasing the probability of counter kill by minimizing counterfire, evasion, and countermeasure deployment and therefore minimizing threat reaction time. In all of this, you will hear about the tradeoffs of speed versus stealth. By using high speed or stealthy weapons or delivery vehicles, we can increase our weapon effectiveness.
Over 80 abstracts were submitted to the entire symposium. Of those, over 50 were applicable and considered for the seven to be presented in this session. This shows the great interest, enthusiasm, and vitality in the area of submarine payloads and deployed devices, and it identifies how important the offensive and defensive capabilities of the submarine are.
The technologies you will hear about today begin in the undersea environment with high speed supercavitating torpedoes and long range ultra stealth torpedoes. We then move to a talk on power systems for submarine delivered vehicles that will potentially increase the range and speed of these systems. From there, we hear about a vehicle that can operate both undersea and in air. We then move from undersea to airborne weapons with a talk on Uninhabited Combat Air Vehicles, or UCAVs, and we finish with a talk on a new incarceration of directed energy weapons. So please, sit back and enjoy a brief look into the future of the submarine as the ultimate asymmetric threat.