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efforts are under way to ensure
,Mt the United States has nuclear-propel-
attack submarine (SSN) superiority in
SQe century. These efforts follow the Vlet Union having sent to sea several
]^0,submar*ne designs in the early the ''y/’ Mike, Sierra, and Akula, and
'the nuclear-propelled Typhoon,
•he g0l)nuc!ear Kilo (followed in 1988 by en8in"
eluga1). To Western naval officers, itii>lneers’ an(J analysts, the most disturb- asPect of this intensive submarine ef- een
toise levels in new Soviet
ated ^*aS ^ecn decrease of self-gener-
l^arines, especially the Akula SSNs. inge Chula’s noise levels are, accord- year° °fflcial U. S. Navy statements, ten f0rs ahead of what had been expected l98ja Soviet submarine completed in caUs ‘ This situation is distressing be- subm 11 rcc*uces the long-touted U. S. iog arine advantage in submarine quiet- as well as superiority in passive
astic (sonar) detection, leveijf reve'ation of the Akula’s noise
Mtis k3S WeP as other Soviet submarine/ Conmarine development has caused Planpl^fS to *ncrease its scrutiny of the Prog^
neh Seawolf (SSN-21) submarine
deveJani’ and to demand that the Navy Plan t 3n ant‘subnlar>ne warfare master niittee”16 ^ouse Armed Services Com- 0ve i also instituted a review of the atj0nsubmarine/ASW technology situ- Ad\,a’ anc* established a budget for the ITatn Submarine Technology Pro-
Search'V^hin the Defense Advanced Relate,. Pr°jects Agency (DARPA). The teachj aCt'on eouM have the most far- dtari "8 impact on the U. S.-Soviet sub-
KeSe , K Was set up as the Advanced '957 ■ Projects Agency (ARPA) in •he .'he aftermath of the orbiting of sate|ijtVlet Pinion’s first artificial earth «ci ^ e’ Sputnik-1. The first ARPA proj- sateiijas t0 establish a U. S. space and so°tl6 Program, which the President setlt0 a c*v'l'an agency (NASA). Md6(j aently, with the term “defense” l^acj a0 its title, DARPA became the kt'h sgCncy for the development of higher mqStenis that were either premature '''••ial j ltar>’ service development, not of fterest to the military, or designed
for nonservice use (such as White House security). Recent DARPA submarine/ ASW-related projects have included the development of technologies for submarine laser communications, nonacoustic submarine detection (with emphasis on radar and optical techniques), the surveillance towed-array sonar system (SUR- TASS), advanced acoustic processing systems, and low-cost fiber-optic acoustic arrays. Another recent area of DARPA activity is exploring the potential application of superconductor technology to submarines.
In the fall of 1987, Congress authorized $112.8 million for a new DARPA Advanced Submarine Technology Program called “subtech.” The funds were to be used to explore advanced technologies in hull, machinery, and electrical (HM&E) systems. On 13 April 1988, DARPA issued a formal solicitation “for new and innovative technology solutions in the areas of hull and design, mechanical and electrical systems, and associated platform support systems.”
DARPA’s submarine technology program was established under Dr. Ronald H. Clark, director of DARPA’s naval technology office, with Dr. Thomas Taylor as program manager. Navy Captain Mark Pelaez, previously an SSN commanding officer, was assigned as the deputy program manager.
DARPA was flooded with hundreds of proposals. After several months of review and evaluation by the DARPA staff, with Navy assistance, virtually all of the fiscal 1988 funds were allocated for more than 50 analysis, technology development, and demonstration efforts. The contracts were awarded to a variety of firms, large and small, as well as to teams of companies and to Navy laboratories.
Congress followed the initial appropriation with another $95 million in the fiscal year 1989 budget to continue the submarine subtech program. Although DARPA had requested continuing submarine technology funding in the fiscal year 1990 budget, it was deleted from the administration’s submission to Congress. Most observers believe, however, that Congress will add money to continue DARPA’s subtech efforts.
Components of the subtech program are intended to be shifted to the Navy, when deemed feasible, for advanced development. The shift to the Navy will be primarily through the Office of Naval Technology, the Naval Sea Systems Command (NavSea) and, especially, the Navy laboratory community. It is not clear how the Navy will assimilate the products of the subtech program. The recently completed congressionally sponsored analysis on submarine and antisubmarine warfare states “the Navy establishment—like many organizations of comparable size and age—is burdened with traditional, deeply rooted, and powerful vested interests that encumber innovation on the scale required” to counter Soviet developments.2 The post of deputy chief engineer of the Navy for submarines (Sea-092R) has been established in NavSea, ostensibly to coordinate the input to the Navy of the products of DARPA’s subtech program and other submarine technology efforts. But the incumbent, Rear Admiral Thomas W. Evans, is too far down in the “pecking order” of Navy submarine managers, which includes several submarine officers at the two-, three-, and four-star levels, to have a major impact on the situation.3
Submarine technology research in the Navy has been severely limited during the past few years. According to the recent congressional study, “the Navy’s ‘in-house’ technical community—its laboratories and its shipyards—has become too oriented toward maintenance of the existing fleet at the expense of research and development [(R&D)] for the fleet of the future.”4
The Navy had a total of $ 135 million in the fiscal year 1988 and 1989 programs for advanced SSN development efforts, but there is no funding in the fiscal year 1990 and 1991 budgets. (In the same period, the Navy has allocated more than $820 million for R&D funding in support of the SSN-21.)
A primary goal of the DARPA programs in this area is to develop a new infrastructure to accelerate the development of technology. The infrastructure for using even available submarine tech-
lgs/ June 1989
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nology has been limited in the past. DARPA is trying to broaden it, to provide for more rapid change in submarine technology and design than has occurred in the past. Part of this strategy will be a push toward more competition in submarine technology development.
At the same time, with the unexpected reduction and possible loss of the long- held passive acoustic advantage of U. S. submarines, some observers are questioning if the Seawolf is the proper platform for the future—to be the Navy’s primary attack submarine well into the 21st century. DARPA officials and the participants in the recent congressional study are quick to state that their efforts
Address _ City
are looking beyond the Seawolf.
“This is not a covert scheme to kill the Seawolf,” said Russell Murray, the special counsel to the House Armed Services Committee and the staffer in charge of the study.    The panel’s finding, however, that “the loss in effectiveness of narrowband passive sonar due to the quieting of Soviet submarines will affect virtually every phase of our ASW capability” seems beyond challenge.
To the extent that technologies developed by the DARPA subtech program appear to offer new options for future submarines, adverse impact on future congressional funding of the Seawolf can be expected.
While DARPA’s program is not developing future submarine designs, and no specific weapons or sensor research is being funded, “notional designs” are being used to help evaluate potential HM&E technologies. Similarly, other DARPA research efforts do relate to weapons and sensors; indeed, even some of the submarine technology activities are indirectly related. Unmanned underwater vehicles, for example, being developed under the non-subtech efforts, could include weapon and sensor units. In addition, the subtech program is funding a review of torpedo-launching concepts that may have a major impact on submarine design.
In this context, Dr. Clark explained “the subtech program is broadly focused and that it is likely that development of new technologies and capabilities will lead to expanded roles and missions for future submarines.”7
Officially, the DARPA effort is intended to provide the technology base for submarines built after the year 2000. DARPA estimates the potential initial operational capability (IOC) to be between the years 2005 and 2010. Assuming a fiscal year 2000 authorization for the follow-on, high-tech submarine, all 30 Seawolfs could have been funded by that time, if a three-ship-per-year building rate can be afforded.
Some members of Congress, as well as DoD officials and outside submarine experts (including some retired flag off' cers), however, are asking what alterna tives are now available to building t*16 Seawolf. It would, obviously, take sev eral years to design a new attack subma fine. One proposal put forward is to con tinue to improve the Los Angela (SSN-688) design. The Los Angela which had an IOC of 1976, is still in Pr° duction, with 61 units now built or aU thorized.8 The latest of these submarine- have been considerably upgraded fr011^ the original design and are referred to ' ^ the ISSN-688 series, the “I” indicating “improved.” Although the Navy e°n tends that the Los Angeles has been m’ proved to the maximum extent possib ' ’ that view is not held by some naval arc tects, who believe that further enhancements are possible. ..
Another option is to immediately m* ate an austere submarine design, alon the lines of the recommendations of a 1970s study sponsored by the then-Assl tant Secretary of the Navy for researc ^ Dr. David Mann. That study propose^ submarine similar in size to the Sturg , (SSN-637) class that would have m°st^( the capabilities of the Los Angeles, cost significantly less. New technology however, may have made the new s marine more capable. , at
There appears to be little question • a new attack submarine is required f°r U. S. Navy. Rather, the questions a what should future SSNs look like- ^ in the near term and in the long term-1 j what can the nation afford if a f°rcC 100 SSNs is to be kept in the fleet-
Norman Polmar, “(Diesel) Submarines
1989, pp. 129-130. .
Rcport of the Advisory Panel on Submarm .c£S Antisubmarine Warfare to the House Armed - Cjsej- subcommittees on research and developmenta[' |V;
power and strategic and critical materials. ex summary, 30 January 1989. p. 1. The p4ne^jVy chaired by VAdm E. A. Burkhalter, U- ' „ce (Ret.), a submariner who has held senior inlc tim
post in the Navy, Department of Defense, an Director of Central Intelligence. uisioh
’The position of director of naval nuclear Pr°P^aV;il is officially a staff function of the Chief 0slill Operations (Op-OON). The position, however^ closely related to NavSea, where it resided 0 years and is still physically located. j
Rcport of the Advisory Panel, Appendix, P- aliJ
’Barbara Starr, “Tensions Between the Na p(,-