Contact Us   |    Join   |    Donate


It is particularly appropriate that in our Submarine Force’s Centerutlal year we discuss the technological advances that will increase our capabilities as we embark on our second century of service to our Navy and our nation.

In its infancy, the submarine was envisioned as being able to deliver torpedo payloads from inside the denied area constituted by the range of a battleship’s guns. That vision, of course, required the solution of important technical problems. And just like our predecessors, we have a vision for what can be done with our exceptional submarine platforms-but we also must address some very real technical challenges. The remarkable success of our Submarine Force derives not only from the courage of the men who have taken them into harm’s way. The ingenuity and dedication of the shipbuilders, maintainers, scientists, and technicians who have always provided our people with the most capable platforms possible to support our national objectives are also very much responsible for our legacy of success.

Today, I will discuss how we intend to provide the capabilities that we will need in 21st-century combat.

Much as the earliest submarines proved remarkably capable against that era’s area-denial threat, our submarines’ ability to operate in denied areas within the 21″ century littoral battlespace will provide unprecedented value-added in the years to come. Simply said, “access matters.” In addressing our vision, I will also highlight a few programs, especially regarding intelligence gathering and UUVs, to demonstrate how we are matching programmatic investments to our goals.

In addition, I will offer examples of how our investments may lay the foundations for future concepts that until recently, belonged in the realm of science fiction. And finally, I will discuss the submarine’s pre-eminent role in the precision strike, an especially good example of bow vision and technical execution that have come together to provide our nation with an essential capability. But before I discuss the details, let me first speak to some of the recent developments in the debate about force structure.

Since I spoke to you last year, both the Attack Submarine Study and the Trident SSGN study have been completed. I like to think of these both as customer market surveys, both of which looked at submarine roles in-depth, and determined what capabilities were required to meet the needs of our customers. The 1999 Attack Submarine Study is the most complete and detailed study on submarine future requirements ever conducted. This study, mandated by the 1997 Quadrennial Defense Review, indicated that the CINCs would need 68 SSNs in 2015 and 76 SSNs in 2025 to meet all critical national collection requirements. Critical refers to requirements that are vital to U.S. national survival. The Attack Submarine study, and the SSGN study, arrived at two profound conclusions. First, they highlighted the growing importance submarines are expected to have in collecting the vital intelligence we need to effectively prepare for and to win wars. Second, the studies illustrated the key role submarines will play in the earliest stages of future conflict. I’ll discuss this latter point later in my presentation, but let me first briefly discuss the increasing prominence of submarine ISR. According to the JCS SSN study results, the vast majority of the total number of mission days available to a force of 68 SSNs would be spent conducting national level or theater ISR. Again, this is a market survey taken from the warfighting CINCs, not from the Submarine Force.

Shifting gears, let me discuss why our CINCs believe submarines will have such great relevance in the future.

Military relevance is a function of 3 crucial factors: Combal Power, Access, and Knowledge Superiority. Combat power is proportional to the payload, but given a certain payload capability, its employment for maximum benefit is critically dependent on access and knowledge superiority. Without the ability to get in range of your target-access-combat power is diminished, and military success can only be bought at a high price in blood and treasure. Without knowledge superiority, combat power cannot be applied in a timely and coherent fashion on key targets. In other words, using precision-guided munitions with maximum effect requires sufficient knowledge of how an enemy is organized to enable us to hit those targets that really matter.

Since access matters, and is essential to what we do, let me discuss it in some detail. Access is a function of two components: Physical access and Electronic access. Clearly, the submarine is our military’s most effective means of enabling assured access within a denied area. Virtually impervious to detection, a well-operated nuclear-powered submarine is nearly invulnerable to coastal cruise missiles, tactical ballistic missiles, and the biological and chemical weapons of mass destruction that are likely to pose growing problems to non-stealthy forces.

Concerns over missile flight arcs are not just a theoretical problem. During the Taiwan Straits crisis in 1996, the United States carefully maintained its two aircraft carriers with associated escorts outside the range arcs of Chinese missiles. Such a policy also served the political purpose of remaining non-provocative while still demonstrating our interest in the issue. Only U.S. submarines, including those attached to the battlegroup, operated in international waters well within the range of Chinese missiles. It was a clear demonstration of the principle: access matters.

Assured access, even for the submarine is not free; it is a precious commodity that must be husbanded and improved. The physical access our submarines now enjoy stems from a number of factors, including the submarine’s acoustic and non-acoustic stealth and the quality of our sonar equipment and mine reconnaissance equipment-all areas of sustained high profile investments by the Submarine Force. But physical access is much more. Force structure plays an important role in physical access, because having a sufficient number of submarines ensures that we can provide a physical presence in the key areas of national interest. UUVs or Special Forces launched from submarines may provide the physical access to a denied area. And in the future, our access will likely increasingly depend on advanced sensors and payload. For example, leave behind sensors, submerged weapons pods that fire when signaled, or submarine-launched UAVs are all realistic examples of the submarine enabling future physical access.

Let me illustrate by example how our real-world investments will improve our ability to access the battlespace. The Submarine Force is making major investments in UUVs. The Long Term Mine Reconnaissance System, or LMRS, slated for IOC in 2003, will provide precise, autonomous, and long-range mapping of mines and other ocean bottom features. We intend to equip LMRS with the Precision Underwater Mapping capability that will be resident in Phase IV of ARCI. All of the knowledge of the undersea battle-space collected by our submarines and UUVs will be shared interchangeably. By 2004, we plan to leverage off of our investment in LMRS and begin work on the Multi-Mission Reconfigur-able UUV, which will carry interchangeable payloads. Payloads will only be limited by our imaginations. MRUUV will provide us with a capable and flexible payload truck, while the development of better payloads and sensors will allow us to perform ever more superior intelligence gathering. UUV s will leverage our ability to improve both our physical and electronic access.

I foresee opportunities to use UUVs in concert with our ADS (Advanced Deployable System) fields. We have demonstrated the capability to recognize acoustic transients associated with the deployment of mine-like objects, using an ADS field.

A family of UUVs dormant in an ADS field could be used to investigate these potential mine plants.

Consider how UUVs and ADS could be used in concert for submarine track and trail. An ADS tripwire detection could be used to cue a UUV handoff.

If we had an ADS field in an area where mine reconnaissance was in progress, a UUV could utilize the ADS sensors as communications nodes to send back tactical data or receive new search instructions. The possibilities are endless and we need to engage a group of bright young submariners and scientists to generate potential CONOPs that old funds like Konetzni and me don’t even dream about.

Now I’d like to flesh out the concept of electronic access in some more detail by focusing on ACINT, VISIT, and SIG INT. As I said earlier, our market surveys indicate that ISR is our high-demand business, so our investments in intelligence capability will directly impact our ability to provide better products to our customers.

Electronic access is more than just the ability to put a submarine sensor in an area where the electronic collection is. The quantum leap in the submarine processing capabilities made possible largely by the people in this auditorium and your colleagues in programs like ARCI has required us to make a paradigm shift in how we collect and process intelligence.

Providing the submarine with improved data analysis capability is an element of the shift required to achieve real-time reach back. Even if all the fruits of our data explosion could be delivered via our antennas, we still will fail to deliver more utility to the intelligence analysts back home if we simply swamp them with much greater amounts of unprocessed new data. Let me provide a few examples of how we are using the advanced processing and algorithms made possible by the revolution in computing power onboard the submarine to improve our ability to provide the customer with better data more quickly.

ARCI and ACINT 21 are a perfect examples. Working in concert with ONI, we’re moving forward with the ACINT 21 program. ANCIENT 21 brings significant software upgrades to the submarine to allow refinement of collected data prior to data transmission off the ship. ANCIENT 21 will reduce the need for ONI to re-beamform and process the data received from a submarine. Currently, acoustic data is collected on tape, triple wrapped, and then sent to Suitland once the submarine reaches home after a deployment. Once at ONI, analysts reprocess the data from the tapes in order to get the nuggets of useful data. Now we are on the verge of being able to provide already-processed data-nearly instantaneously.-back to the analysts. ANCIENT 21 is being phased in through two versions which, for lack of a better descriptive term, I’ll call lite and heavy. The lite version will provide ARCI-equipped submarines with the ability to record display data and play it back. This capability will permit the ship and the ACINT rider, for example, to isolate the most relevant contact data. This not only benefits the ship, since other watchstanders could be trained on the relevant threat characteristics in-situ, but the data could also be transmitted to the Battle Group commander and ONI analysts to provide near real-time threat data for tactical use and analysis. Our first ships will have ACINT 21 lite during FY 03.

In the heavy version of ACINT 21, there will be increased hardware, software, and storage capability that will give the ship vastly increased capability to do real-time data analysis onboard. Our first boats will be fitted with ACINT 21 heavy in FY 05. Though we’re not all the way there, we’re certainly well along the path toward real-time reach back, by providing much better and more timely product than we do when we ship our tapes in a box to Suitland three months after the fact.

On a related note, I’d like to briefly touch on the development of a Common Operational Picture, which will be evaluated next year as part of the Advanced Undersea Warfare Concept, or AUSWC. I’m very excited about AUSWC because it leverages off of investments we are already making in the Submarine Force to provide a major step forward in our Navy-wide ability to prosecute submerged targets. For example, we are investing in the Tactical Environmental Data System, or TEDS, which will provide a high-fidelity real-time environment and bottom data. Actual environment data has obvious benefits for the submarine in terms of developing search plans and weapons presets. But through the Common Operational Picture that will be tested in the AUSWC, that data will also be passed to all elements of a battlegroup so that there will be real-time sharing of ground truth. AUSWC will deploy with the Carl Vinson Battlegroup next year, and I am looking forward to it being a major success.

Similar examples exist in the realms of VISIT and SIGINT. For VISIT, programmed upgrades include an improved PERIVU and Infrared capability combined with digital imaging and processing to enable 24×7 capability. By incorporating techniques to compress large files, we will enable the transmission of all images of interest without overloading broadcast circuits. In parallel with the ARCI/ACINT 21 example, VISIT no longer means developing wet film in Nucleonics or the Wardroom Pantry, followed by a swift entry into a cardboard box which was slated to wait months for transit to our intelligence community.

We are making similar progress in our SIGINT superiority initiative-combining the enhanced capability of the Type 181 periscope with the Classic Troll exploitation suite. These improvements enable a large step forward in wideband collection capability. Just getting a 3db improvement in sensitivity with the Type 181 makes an extraordinary difference in terms of the stand-off range available to the submarine. As an aside, I also think this points out a valuable lesson for us all, namely that dramatic capability advancements don’t have to mean embarking on big new expensive programs. Just developing techniques to sense and better process data has allowed us to mine a few extra db, with a profound increase in capability. Real-time reach back is also an important element in knowledge superiority. I want to underline the synergy that arises from sharing knowledge. Much as the “common tactical picture” I discussed in the context of the AUSWC implies significantly greater operational effectiveness through the sharing of knowledge, real-time reach back will significantly facilitate support our deployed forces can receive from the shore establishment and provide to senior decision-makers.

I would like to highlight a second essential point on knowledge superiority. Since the earliest days of the Cold War, we as a Submarine Force have cultivated the importance of knowledge superiority-we clearly wanted to know as much as possible about the military capabilities and doctrine of our opponent while limiting his comparable knowledge. As I mentioned earlier, this proven, successful ability to conduct ISR has resulted in a sharp rise in demand for submarine ISR in the post-Cold War world security environment. Yet in the past, a modest investment in ISR programs with substantial payoff has not always been made. Today, we’re changing that dynamic by making a stronger investment in areas such as ACINT 21, 24×7 VISIT and SIGINT superiority initiatives, and other areas that will provide, in my view, a tremendous return on investment.

Let me now spend a few moments discussing combat power, specifically in the area of Submarine Launched Precision Strike. Credible combat power must be accurately delivered to have a real impact on military operations. As many of you know, we have an ultimate goal to improve our payload by a factor of ten.

Our ability to operate in denied areas in the early stages of conflict positions us to have a profound impact on the outcome. Whether destroying key portions of enemy air defenses, hitting command and control complexes or other key nodes, our ability to strike with a surprise from close in early in the conflict will likely play a disproportionate role in the outcome of any military action. Let me illustrate the point by way of a few examples.

In Afghanistan, our Navy conducted its first attack against a landlocked nation. More importantly, we chose to fire from a submarine in order to catch the Bin Laden’s terrorist camps by surprise. Our adversaries had not counted on the presence of submarines, and therefore we had a significantly greater opportunity to inflict damage.

To reiterate some of Owen Cote’s points: as many of you know, allied air operations against Iraq and Serbia have encountered moderately potent anti-aircraft missile defenses-but these defenses were based on older, Soviet-designed systems, against which we had developed successful tactics. However, we have yet to encounter more modern Russian missiles such as the double-digit SAMs. And while our countermeasures are likely to improve, I think that any pilot would prefer flying after airborne defense systems have been hit.

The obvious solution to this problem is to employ precision strikes to hit critical targets such as SA-10 batteries and command and control elements before they can engage our aircraft. And, of course, submarine-launched missiles are particularly potent for a number of reasons: by firing with a surprise from close in, we reduce attrition to Tomahawks; furthermore, we have sufficient range to attack the launchers from widely separated aspects with a corresponding improved opportunity for success.

Many of our most difficult targets, like missile batteries, are mobile. Unlike fixed targets, which are now far easier to attack effectively using weapons employing GPS, hitting mobile targets remains a very difficult task-as those of you who followed operations in Kosovo know. One of the conclusions of the recent MIT conference on this subject is that the reduced flight time of missiles launched from close to shore is a great enabler. Coupled with real-time intelligence, this target set can be destroyed before it is moved. Destroying enemy defenses early allows our strikers to focus on power projection without the need to devote resources to suppression. I commend MobUe Targets From under the Sea for your reading; it is exceptionally thoughtful.

We need to make some investments to ensure that we can effectively execute time-critical strikes. Mobile target sets will only proliferate and our relevancy will be further enhanced when we can successfully engage them. Wouldn’t it be remarkable if we were able to respond to a time-critical strike order and do in-flight re-targeting from below periscope depth? This capability, as a minimum, would require a capable antenna on the missile to feedback its data, as well as some version of a floating wire-type UHF antenna with both transmit and receive capability. The bottom line is that for the time-critical strikes to be a reality we need to see what the missile sees and be able to guide it accordingly. We need your help to work through some of the significant hurdles that face us in this area.

I know that I’ve covered a lot of ground in these remarks. In closing let me highlight the key points that I believe are the most essential:

1. This has been a great year for the Submarine Force, highlighted by the broad consensus the future requirements for submarines are growing.
2. The submarine will have growing relevance in 21st-century warfare; access, knowledge superiority, and combat power being vital attributes delivered by our forces.
3. We need to move forward with investments to ensure that we have an effective time-critical strike capability.
4. We have shifted our investment strategy to more fully reflect the importance of submarine ISR. The goal of real-time reach back is in view. With your help, we will be there soon.

Finally, we must be mindful that the capabilities of each individual submarine must also improve dramatically into the future. We must leverage the investments being made in a host of associated fields. We must really be prepared to answer the bell with fewer submarines than the CINCs would like in the years ahead. We will only be able to do that by optimizing the capability of each of our ships. With your continued contributions this will become a reality, and the submarine will be recognized as the true capital ship of the 21″ century. Thanks.

Naval Submarine League

© 2022 Naval Submarine League