As America’s military and political power expands, a new generation of submarines has taken the shape of their own design, according to a study of the US Navy.
The stealthy U-boats, developed by Lockheed Martin, the US defence giant, and Northrop Grumman, have been designed to survive underwater without being detected by radar or sonar, as well as being able to operate in a variety of harsh environments.
The Pentagon is considering making more of the submarines, known as the Block III class, and has asked a panel of experts to study how they could operate in more challenging conditions.
The latest report on the U-boat class by the Navy’s Advanced Capability Directorate, an arms-control division within the department, notes that the submarines have undergone “a significant redesign” since the early 1990s, when they were initially developed for the Navy, then later purchased by the US military.
The Block III is a class of vessels that is intended to be an “operational deterrent”, the report said, and they are expected to have a range of sensors that could detect submarines and their associated equipment from 50 kilometres away.
The new class also incorporates a number of improvements that will make it more difficult to detect the Uboats.
The report said the new boats are expected “to be able to detect sonar at ranges of more than 200 kilometres”, a capability that would enable the U boats to be identified and tracked from the air.
It added that the “unmanned underwater vehicle (UUV) that is to be the primary means of detection of a submarine” will also be “an integral part of the UUVs design”.
It said that the UUV “is expected to be able operate at a range up to 30 kilometres” and that it “will be equipped with advanced sensors that can detect and track UUV in all of its operational ranges”.
It also said that it is expected that “the propulsion systems will be able detect and locate the submarine as well”.
In addition, the report noted that the new class will be equipped “with a new sensor called a “stealth camera”, which will allow the UAVs “to remain undetected by other UAV platforms”.
It added: “While some of the stealth cameras have been tested, there is a lot of development work that still needs to be done to allow the cameras to be deployed”.
It noted that while the new stealth camera is “expected to be highly accurate” and capable of detecting U-5 “submersible” in “all of its operating ranges”, it “has yet to be fully operational”.
The new stealth cameras will also include “faster than air” systems that will “provide the ability to operate at speeds of up to 10 kilometres per hour”.
The report also noted that “it will be critical for the future of the submarine fleet to support the stealth UUVS with an advanced sensor capability”.
The US military is also looking at adding “more advanced radar to the fleet”, with “advanced sensor pods” being considered, the study said.
The reports comes amid growing concerns about Russia’s military capability, including the development of a new type of ballistic missile, the Muscovite, that has the potential to hit US bases in the Pacific.
The Russian military has also been accused of conducting an air-to-air attack on a US aircraft carrier, the USS John C Stennis, in the Black Sea earlier this month, causing significant damage to the aircraft carrier.US Secretary of State John Kerry said last week that Russia had been accused by the Trump administration of conducting “a systematic campaign of aggression” against US forces in the Baltic region, and he expressed concern that Russia might attack a US military installation in Europe.”
The Russian Navy, the Russian Air Force, the [Russian] Navy has been responsible for these sort of actions and I would urge the Russian people to do what they can to deter these actions,” Kerry told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
Russia has denied any involvement in the US aircraft attack, but the Pentagon said on Thursday that it would take “immediate action” against Russian forces.”
We will respond to the Russian aggression and we will take all necessary measures to ensure that these actions do not happen again,” the US defense secretary, Ash Carter, said.