The conversion of sea water to fresh water, accurate prediction of the flow of seaborne ice, weather control, the construction of a truly silent submarine and the harnessing of ion propulsion are some of the exciting programs for development by the Navy during the next ten years. The author describes the progress being made in these and other fields, and gives his opinion of what will be the state of the art of naval technology in 1973.
The Navy of 1973 is being forged today in research and development laboratories throughout our country. To understand our current research and development efforts, we must project the future Navy’s role, clearly defining that Navy’s functions. We must bring into perspective the nature of the threat it must be prepared to meet in the 1970’s.
Historically, the Navy’s role has been to protect and defend the United States from seaborne attack and to insure freedom of the seas. In the past, U. S. naval ships and their weapons were designed primarily to insure supremacy over any potential enemy on the seas. As World War II developed, the necessity for sea-based weapons projecting naval power onto land targets, using amphibious forces, naval bombardment, and aircraft attacks, dictated a change in the supporting research and development efforts; a change which has continued to the present.
With the advent of nuclear power and ballistic missile technology, awesome new weapons, as typified in the Polaris weapons system designed to project power against land targets, have been placed in the hands of the Navy.
Satellites have been developed that promise the military new methods of communication and navigation. Space technology has given a new importance to the mobility and power potential of our naval forces.
The exciting prospects of using relatively safe, sea launchings of very large rockets to boost satellites into space are of increased interest in the national space efforts. In this connection, it is to be pointed out that we know considerably more about outer space than we do about the “inner” space of the oceans of the earth.
Let us examine more closely some of the research and development areas of today that together will form the Navy of tomorrow.
In the field of oceanography, it is most important that we stress research and development programs that will reveal the mysteries of the world’s oceans and will convert them to our use.
The key to markedly improved naval weapons systems, particularly in antisubmarine warfare, lies in oceanographic research and development. At present, the Navy operates 16 oceanographic research ships. By 1970, we expect to have 35 new ships, each larger than 1,300 tons, to carry out oceanographic work in all sea areas of the world. These ships are designed from the keel up for their special work and will have the most up-to-date equipment to carry out the sophisticated work required for modern technological programs.
At present, less than three per cent of the earth’s ocean area has been adequately surveyed for military purposes, but, by 1970, 10 per cent will have been covered. The situation, however, will be more favorable when we consider that all of the oceanographic data will be recorded in digital form to be processed by high-speed computers, as are missile and satellite data. This rapid processing with subsequent availability will insure prompt response to our research needs; it is an important contribution by missilery to the science of oceanography.
Techniques for such programs as optimum ship routing and ice prediction will be highly developed, permitting accurate 30-day forecasts of many Northern Hemisphere oceanographic parameters. Development of similar forecasts for the Southern Hemisphere will take somewhat longer and probably will not occur in the very near future.
Marine engineers will use oceanographic data to develop deep-diving, research sub-marines, for oceanographic work down to 20,000-foot depths; atomic-powered trans-Ponder beacons for under-ice navigation; and Permanent, submerged installations for stowage and submarine resupply.
Oceanographic research will enable humans to work effectively at depths of 1,800 feet for as long as 30 days at a time without threat of the bends. Remote manipulators and TV cameras will extend workable depths for construction purposes down to 36,000 feet.
The essential rules of antisubmarine warfare doctrine generated by World Wars I and II are that ships at sea must be protected from submarines, and that the sea lanes must be kept open. With the advent of nuclear power, submarines, free of the need to surface, will avoid detection at sea more easily. They might lie quietly in position on the bottom of the sea in order to escape detection and fire their ballistic or nuclear ram-jet missiles at land-based targets. This new threat imposes a distinct change in our antisubmarine warfare doctrine. The speed and long range of the nuclear submarine, her increased ability to avoid detection and the enormous hitting power of her missiles have ushered in a new era of weaponry. This combination of the nuclear, ram-jet missile with its thousands of miles of range—if it is developed into a practical weapon—with the nuclear submarine may be one of the most powerful weapons systems conceived by the mind of man.
From our oceanographic work and efforts in other fields, we may continue to bring into being effective means of neutralizing the ever-increasing, submarine threat. There are no simple, easy means of defeating the submarine. The laws of physics prohibit an easy solution. Just as we have built up an integrated system to combat the threat of long-range bomber attacks on the United States, so we must integrate a combination of surveillance and detection systems, to attempt to counter the submarine.
Accordingly, a large portion of our research and development effort will continue to be devoted to improving the capability of aircraft, surface ships, and antisubmarine submarines, along with improved detection and identification devices, to mold them into an integrated, antisubmarine warfare system.
Our surface ASW forces may have detection and missile systems with range capabilities well beyond the horizon. We expect significant improvement in sensor developments in the fields of magnetics, sonar, radar, and classification devices. Additionally, surface ship hull designs will undergo radical changes and inclusion of hydrofoils and air cushion or similar techniques may be expected in ASW ship designs.
The capabilities of the drone, ASW helicopter (DASH), with its advanced ASW warheads, which would give increased stand-off hitting power to the surface ships. Improvement in weapons countermeasures and counter-countermeasures can also be expected.
The airplane, both carrier-based and land-based, with improved magnetic anomaly detection (MAD) gear, high resolution radar, automatic navigation and data handling systems, and stand-off attack weapons will round out the ASW team of the future.
Improved, shore-based surveillance systems using both passive and active methods, combined with vastly improved communications (possible via satellite), will, it is hoped, enable the Navy of 1973 not only to detect the presence and location of unfriendly submarines, but also to do so in a manner permitting positive and rapid action to counter any submarine threat to ships.
The threat of the submarine to our national security may be expected to continue and increase. It is therefore imperative that the Navy’s ASW research and development efforts keep the Navy ahead of this threat in order to insure protection of “home base” for our space efforts and other more glamorous national projects.
Research and development will continue to provide markedly improved aircraft for all purposes. We can expect that our avionic systems will provide completely integrated controls which may be tied to the shipboard Naval Tactical Data System for fully automatic intercept of aircraft and for direction of attack on other targets. Communications by electronic means permitting visual displays in aircraft may reduce the necessity for voice communications. Automatic landing and take-off with pilots merely monitoring the equipment is foreseen distinctly. Aircraft will continue to bear more resemblance to rockets, as rocket power, both chemical and nuclear, may provide the principal propulsion plant in our airplanes of the 1970’s. Longer-range weapons will be provided with vastly improved accuracy. The goal of a direct hit with each round will be approached with the use of newly developed sensors, guidance techniques, and methods of control. With such accuracy, it may be possible to reduce the number of weapons and, consequently, their carriers, while still maintaining the same strike warfare effectiveness.
In addition to increased aircraft speeds, we may expect aircraft with improved low-speed, flying ability and vertical take-off-and-landing vehicles. Tilt-wing aircraft and variable-engine-thrust aircraft, for vertical take-off with subsequent high speeds, are currently a part of our research and development effort.
It is expected that our satellite research will give us markedly improved means of surface, air, and submarine navigation. Research in the use of satellites as an aid to secure and assured communications 24 hours a day will realize success, and the resulting communications equipment will be installed in our ships during the 1970’s.
Naval Command and Control Systems
Naval command systems will enable our commanders constantly to be aware of and ready to cope with events of naval consequence throughout the world. Immense strides in miniaturization, increased capability and reliability of computers, and tremendous improvements in communications will enable these future systems to do their work. We expect that communications, as well as data handling equipment, will be built as systems, and not assembled in piecemeal fashion as has been the practice.
The internal controls of ships will approach those of airplanes. One man will be able to control the maneuvering capability as well as the armament of an entire ship. Research will make our missile systems multipurpose, and, by the push of a button, antiair, antiship or bombardment weapons will meet the needs of the moment. Sonars and radars as isolated units will no longer exist. The antennas and sensor mounts observable topside will be feeding information to or following commands from a centralized computer complex handling all analysis, computation, and control functions for the ship. Although capable of a multitude of functions, the new equipment will be simple and logical from the operator’s viewpoint, because the man-machine combination will have been designed as a unit, enabling natural and compatible operation. Trouble-shooting will be done by the machines themselves. The repairman’s task will be relatively simple, and he merely will have to carry out the instructions generated by the machine after it has located its own trouble.
Nuclear Power and Nuclear Weapons
The Navy will continue to advance the uses of nuclear energy for weaponry and propulsion in the Seventies. The continued testing of nuclear weapons of the fusion type may be expected to give us markedly improved yields with decreased weight of weapons.
Cheaper and lighter means of realizing nuclear energy will permit a weight reduction in nuclear power plants to the extent that conventionally-powered ships may be phased out at the end of the 1970’s.
Additionally, nuclear-powered ram-jet engines for missile and aircraft use may be perfected with ranges of up to 30,000 miles at Mach 3 speed.
Other applications of nuclear power, such as in power stations in the Arctic and Antarctic, should do much to permit further exploitation and exploration of remote areas. Direct conversion, thermionic devices should be in existence in the 1970’s, adding further to the wondrous packages of nuclear fuel. We are beginning to use nuclear power plants in our satellites and, with further development, cheaper and lighter plants may be used in space craft for interplanetary work.
Ion propulsion plants, now in the infancy of development, will be perfected and will furnish propulsion for interplanetary use. Concurrent exploitation of the use of radio isotopes in medicine, in communication devices, and in metallurgy should be of great benefit in the furthering of scientific progress.
The more rapidly a technology changes, the more difficult it becomes to predict a long-range trend for it. Space technology was virtually non-existent ten years ago, and no one can now define with certainty the specific Performance of space systems and weapons which will serve the Navy in the next decade.
There is no question as to whether space operations will play a significant role in the Navy of the future, nor is there any question regarding the role of naval operations in support of national space objectives. The unknowns during the next decade are primarily those involving magnitude of operations and specific hardware.
Long-distance radio communications, until the birth of satellites, were almost totally dependent on the existence and nature of a high-altitude, ionized layer. This ionospheric layer is subject to many natural and man-made variations which can seriously interfere with vital, long-haul communications. By using satellites as repeaters in space, we will no longer depend on the ionosphere as a reflector for conventional, long-range communications, and we will have available the entire very-high-frequency radio spectrum, which, up to now, has been limited to line-of-sight communications. The very-high-frequency communications satellite gives us not only the advantage of a much broader, long-range frequency spectrum, but it also permits use of frequencies which are far less subject to natural interference and which can transmit data and electronic intelligence at significantly faster rates.
Space vehicles play a continuing, important role in the fields of navigation, geodesy, and mapping. The measurements which we are making today with satellites are far better in many fields than those we have been able to make heretofore by other means. This is a new technology. We now use satellites as we would use a yardstick; by 1973, we will use them as we would a micrometer.
Although the cost of space boosters is relatively high, once a satellite is placed in orbit, the fuel cost, per ton-mile, is lower than that of any other propulsion system yet devised, with the possible exception of the sail.
The possibilities for the military employment of the “weather weapon” may be as diverse as they are numerous. An ability to control the weather could introduce greater changes in warfare than those which occurred in 1945 with the explosion of the first nuclear weapons.
A severe storm or hurricane striking a naval force may well inflict greater damage than could an enemy. The capability to change the direction of destructive storms and guide them toward enemy concentrations may exist in the future arsenal of the naval tactical commander.
Ground, sea, air, and amphibious operations might be supported by the dissipation of fog or clouds, or by the production of rain or drought. Conversely, the creation of solid, low overcasts might be used to conceal troop concentrations, movements, and task force deployments. Large-scale weather control techniques might be used to cause extensive flooding in strategic areas or even to bring a new “ice age” upon the enemy. By influencing the ionosphere and atmosphere simultaneously, magnetic, acoustic, and pressure effects might be generated in such a way that ocean-wide sweeping of mines would occur.
Creating or dissipating atmospheric temperature/humidity ducts might modify the refractive index of the atmosphere enough to influence radar or radio transmission. Artificially-induced ionospheric storms might produce a blackout of communications.
Certain electromagnetic waves are unable to pass through an area of precipitation. A cloud-seeding generator could be employed under appropriate meteorological conditions to produce precipitation that would interfere with the operation of radio-guided or remotely-controlled devices or vehicles. We already have taken our first steps toward developing an environmental warfare capability. We are using satellite weather data from Tiros II for current, tactical operations and more accurate, long-range weather predictions. Some experiments in fog dissipation have shown promise, and some exploratory research has been conducted on ways to change the heading of major storms.
For these reasons—and because our adadvances in science make it reasonable—we are now engaged in planning a ten-year, comprehensive study of the atmosphere, a study which we will designate ATMOS. This. plan will be co-ordinated with our TENOC oceanographic studies.
Current research and development efforts, plus efforts in the mid- and late 1960’s, will produce marked changes in strategic weapon systems by 1973. With the present potential for improvement and adaptation, the Fleet Ballistic Missile (Polaris) System is not likely to be obsolete by that time. On the contrary, our development efforts in ballistic missile technology will produce a marked improvement in the effectiveness of the Polaris system and its supporting components. The Polaris missile in 1973 will incorporate significant advances in the performance of its components. These advances will be reflected in greater accuracy, increased destructive capability, and sophisticated techniques to minimize the weapon’s vulnerability to enemy defensive efforts. Profiting by the introduction of lightweight materials, alloys, miniaturized internal systems, and high-performance propellants, the 1973 Polaris will offer either larger payloads, or greatly increased range, or the most useful combination of the two.
The nuclear submarine that carries this missile will not have been neglected. With several years of useful service yet to offer the SSBN, in 1973, will have seen several overhauls, during which the latest subsystem developments will have been introduced. Easily maintained machinery will provide the highest degree of reliability throughout this complicated, submerged missile base.
Greater maneuverability and control will have been added to the submarine. Precise, automatic navigation and positioning equipment will provide their important contributions to pinpoint weapon delivery. Self-protection, to insure mission success, will be enhanced by greatly improved detection equipment and techniques and much longer range defensive weapons. During patrols, the SSBN commanding officer will be aided by better oceanographic information. He will be able to predict accurately sea and swell conditions, thermal gradients and subsurface currents. Accurate charting of bottom characteristics and exploitation of the Arctic environment will expand the operational horizon of the future submarine commander.
Should the need arise to augment or improve the current, strategic capabilities of Polaris, a complementary system might be developed and deployed in effective numbers by 1973. Exploratory effort is being directed at this problem with the objective of identifying the characteristics of the future system offering the most effective deterrence. Several systems are under active study; each must meet the common requirement of sea-basing, to allow us to profit by the inherent mobility and concealment thus provided. For instance, a nuclear-propelled, ram-jet missile in combination with a nuclear submarine will offer a most powerful option for a future sea-based deterrent system, if it can be developed.
The active research and development of 1973 will most assuredly be concerned with the ever-important, though more mundane, problems of reducing the maintenance requirements of machinery, increasing the mechanical life of operating units, and providing more and more useful applications of automation. Safety aspects of new developments are always of paramount importance, and effort will be directed at reducing hazards to operators, while increasing the efficiency and reliability of equipment.
The immense potential offered by techniques for transmitting power without conductors will attract a research effort aimed toward the development of weapon-delivery vehicles with self-contained power generation equipment to free them from the refueling requirement. Today’s laboratory work offers a glimmer of the future possibilities in this area.
We may conclude that our major Navy research and development problems can be divided into three major categories: vehicles, weapons, and co-ordination of forces.
During the 1950’s, our emphasis in research and development was upon improving our vehicles. In the 1960’s, increasing emphasis is being given to weapons and co-ordination of forces, command and control. During the 1970’s, approximately equal emphasis will be placed on each category.
We cannot forget people, however. The application of modern scientific methods to the problems of selection, training, and allocation of personnel must be carried out. We must give added emphasis to research on physiological and psychological conditioning of people designed to prepare them for the performance of especially demanding duty.
Major advances can be expected in many areas where research is now in progress.
(1) Vehicle propulsion—there are, at present, research programs on:
(a) natural circulation nuclear reaction,
(b) thermoelectric conversion,
(c) magneto hydrodynamic thrust generation.
Success in all of these programs could lead to a propulsion system for ships, having no moving mechanical parts.
(2) Fresh food storage without refrigeration—increased knowledge of fundamental life processes—as well as studies on the irradiation of pre-packaged foods—could lead to this capability.
(3) Oceanography—tremendous advances will be made in exploiting the oceans of the world for defense purposes and the general benefit of mankind. Not only will we unlock some of the ocean’s secrets for national defense work, but we also will find means to harvest the untold wealth of the seas. There is more food in the ocean than we have yet tilled from the soils of the world; similarly, there are more minerals than we have mined. Finally, there will be the program of cheap conversion of sea water to fresh water so that the arid areas of the world may become veritable Gardens of Eden.
Graduated from the U. S. Naval Academy with the Class of 1928, Vice Admiral Raborn was designated a Naval Aviator in 1934. He served aboard battleships, destroyers, and aircraft carriers from 1928-40. From 1940-43, he commanded the Naval Aviation Gunnery School at Pearl Harbor and, during the final year of World War II, was Executive Officer, USS Hancock. His affiliation with the Navy’s Guided Missile Program began in 1949; was interrupted by duties as Commanding Officer, USS Bairoko (1950-51) and of USS Bennington (1954-55); and culminated with his assignment as the First Director of the Navy’s Fleet Ballistic Missile Program, Polaris. His Special Projects Office implemented, among many innovations, a totally new management tool, the Progress Evaluation Reporting Technique, and, in just over three years, converted Polaris from concept to reality. In March 1962, he became Deputy Chief of Naval Operations (Development), Navy Department.
“Furthermore, as an officer, I . . .”
To round out this month’s look into the future, we present, as a supplement to our distinguished authors’ forecasts, the prognostications of a group of young candidates for the U. S. Naval Academy. Limiting their musings to a mere 20 years hence, they prophesied:
“In 20 years I hope I have fulfilled this code of always being Trustworthy, Loyal, Helpful, Curtious, Kind, Obedient, Cheerful, Thrifty, Brave, Clean and Reverent. Quite a job huh?”
“In 20 year’s I will know more than 3 Army generals.”
“I want to be scipper of a necular submarine.”
“I put in my accuplication in navel to become a polit.”
“I hope to be an officer but this is not truly necessary.”
“I am an optimist. I am also one to take nothing seriously. I plan to be a reformer.”
“20 years from now I see myself as a Navy Officer with four more years to go before I get a govt. pension.”
About me there’s not much to say. I don’t take to many things seriously and I’m usuually not worried to much you might say I’m indifferent. I usually make friends easily and then get rid of them when I move. I’m easy to get along with. I’m lazy. 20 years from now if I pass this physical I’ll be in the navey. If I don’t pass I’ll still be in college.”
“I feel that I am a person who knows what he wants to do but I’m worried about doing it.”
“I would like to be a naval officer and have my own little fleet of boats and children.”
“I want to get a good education and make a carrier of the navy, I think?”
Whatever else the future held for them, it did not include four years at Annapolis for, unhappily, our young seers were not appointed midshipmen.
------Quotations from Ankers Away
Lt. H. J. Connery (MSC) USN
(The Naval Institute will pay $10.00 for each anecdote accepted for publication in the Proceedings.)