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posted by janrinok on Monday February 23 2015, @12:19AM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the the-tilting-balance dept.

Harry J. Kazianis writes at The National Interest that due to advances in big data and new detection methods modern attack subs may soon face the same problem as surface combatants around the world, where some areas are simply too dangerous to enter, thanks to pressing anti-access/area denial (A2/AD) (PDF) challenges:

"Since the Cold War submarines, particularly quiet American ones, have been considered largely immune to adversary A2/AD capabilities," says Bryan Clark, a former submariner and Navy strategist now with the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessment. "But the ability of submarines to hide through quieting alone will decrease as each successive decibel of noise reduction becomes more expensive and as new detection methods mature that rely on phenomena other than sounds emanating from a submarine. These techniques include lower frequency active sonar and non-acoustic methods that detect submarine wakes or (at short ranges) bounce laser or light-emitting diode (LED) light off a submarine hull. The physics behind most of these alternative techniques has been known for decades, but was not exploited because computer processors were too slow to run the detailed models needed to see small changes in the environment caused by a quiet submarine. Today, “big data” processing enables advanced navies to run sophisticated oceanographic models in real time to exploit these detection techniques. As they become more prevalent, they could make some coastal areas too hazardous for manned submarines."

"We need to think about a new strategy for undersea warfare," says Clark "Right now we tend to rely on submarines doing tactical operations on their own, in an environment where they can operate largely with impunity. All those things are going to change in the future. The threat is going to improve, opportunities to offload missions onto other vehicles are going to improve, and we can take advantage of that if we're going to again be the first mover into this new technology of undersea networks, unmanned vehicles and communication technologies."

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  • (Score: 5, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 23 2015, @12:43AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 23 2015, @12:43AM (#148261)

    How about putting some of that money and research into PEACE?

    But then again, if your country deals mostly in the 10 trillion dollar per year war industry, time to make some 500 billion dollar subs.

    • (Score: 2) by kaszz on Monday February 23 2015, @12:51AM

      by kaszz (4211) on Monday February 23 2015, @12:51AM (#148264) Journal

      Make sure no dictators with expansive plans creates a need for such expenses.

      • (Score: 3, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 23 2015, @01:14AM

        by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 23 2015, @01:14AM (#148273)

        Are you talking about the dictators that we put in place?
        Cause, they always seem to have plans for expansion.
        Maybe we can just stop doing that and we won't need to DEFEND ourselves.

      • (Score: 5, Informative) by Ethanol-fueled on Monday February 23 2015, @01:25AM

        by Ethanol-fueled (2792) on Monday February 23 2015, @01:25AM (#148277) Homepage

        Skimming through 2 articles, I saw that they were "...what if?" circle-jerk scenarios written to stoke fear in people and justify being all defensive-like against some enemy or something. Note that the emphasis is on detection of other craft and evasion of detection methods.

        But there's more to it than that. High-accuracy subsea navigation, the kind a dictator would need, is ITAR-regulated [wikipedia.org] and also a technology with a high barrier to entry - precise navigation to within a fraction of a percent accuracy thousands of meters under the surface where you can't get a GPS signal is no trivial matter. In current military applications its usually an inertial navigation unit combined with one or more sensor types in a Kalman filter [wikipedia.org] kinda situation.

        With regards to autonomous underwater vehicles, we have the same moral dilemma as with other unmanned machines with potential to kill - and even moreso in this case, since one of the big elephants in the room is communication with a human operator in real-time. That is easily done remotely controlling drones through land and air, but not underwater (without obviously giving up their position). I think the article writers had better be more creative in addressing that part before snowing us with more bullshit.

        The big question related to this discussion is, how can anything at depth communicate with the surface (or underwater with a decent data transfer rate, without compromising its location) in close to real-time situations?

        • (Score: 3, Interesting) by frojack on Monday February 23 2015, @02:32AM

          by frojack (1554) Subscriber Badge on Monday February 23 2015, @02:32AM (#148292) Journal

          Minor points.....

          thousands of meters under the surface

          Los Angeles class subs
          Test depth: 950 ft (290 m) (peace time max depth)
          Design Depth (secret but guestimated at 435 meters)

          Submerged Coms up to 2004 used ELF, were very limited, usually a few characters per minute. [wikipedia.org]
          But the US shut down its ELF system in 2004, and probably replaced it with something based on satellites, maybe blue-green lasers.
          Russia and India still use ELF.
          Navy is involved in underwater testing on the west coast which some people are concerned hurts whales.

          --
          No, you are mistaken. I've always had this sig.
        • (Score: 4, Interesting) by VLM on Monday February 23 2015, @12:23PM

          by VLM (445) on Monday February 23 2015, @12:23PM (#148400)

          Landlines? Not even entirely kidding, there's a lot of fiber under the ocean.

          You don't need a physical connection, you just need a sonar/optical/whatever connection thats shorter detectable range (which is always longer than operational range) than your passive monitoring can detect a possible enemy.

          Another option little discussed is WRT drones and drone like activity, instead of tracking and communication with a dozen multbillion dollar subs, try a fleet of 10K (100K?) semi-expendable commo-sonar drones going full active all the time and running something like tor in a mesh network so our subs can talk. I would imagine energy storage is an issue, so rechargeable batteries that can run for a couple days and charge via solar on the surface in a couple days. Launch 1000 semi autonomous drone spy subs per year. Lets say 100 per month, or ten a month from ten worldwide locations. The biggest "fun" would be drones getting powned and monitoring traffic and/or injecting traffic and/or DDOS.

    • (Score: 5, Insightful) by CRCulver on Monday February 23 2015, @01:08AM

      by CRCulver (4390) on Monday February 23 2015, @01:08AM (#148267) Homepage

      How about putting some of that money and research into PEACE?

      The case has been made that in the nuclear era (we are here, and it isn't realistic that we are ever going back) the Mutually Assured Destruction approach, of which submarines are a key component, has done an excellent job of keeping us from a species-destroying war.

      • (Score: 3, Interesting) by Thexalon on Monday February 23 2015, @01:26AM

        by Thexalon (636) on Monday February 23 2015, @01:26AM (#148278)

        The thing is, for an MAD scenario, you just need to be capable of blowing up everybody on the planet just once. The US can do so about 4 times over, the Russians about 3 times over. So a good case can be made that it's overkill at this point.

        --
        The inverse of "I told you so" is "Nobody could have predicted"
        • (Score: 5, Informative) by CRCulver on Monday February 23 2015, @01:36AM

          by CRCulver (4390) on Monday February 23 2015, @01:36AM (#148280) Homepage
          The MAD scenario considers the possibility that one nation might be able to wipe out a large portion of another nation's nuclear arsenal in a surprise first strike, so of course these nations would have more nuclear weapons than are strictly necessary.
      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 23 2015, @01:53AM

        by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 23 2015, @01:53AM (#148285)

        I wouldn't be so sure we are not going back. Fancy first-strike delivery systems are prohibitively expensive on an ongoing basis and are surplus to MAD requirements. Nuclear capable nations can't afford to maintain the current footing as it is. In any case, if submarines can not remain undetected their usefulness as a component of the first-strike system has come to and end.

        • (Score: 4, Interesting) by Non Sequor on Monday February 23 2015, @03:32AM

          by Non Sequor (1005) on Monday February 23 2015, @03:32AM (#148300) Journal

          I wouldn't be so sure we are not going back. Fancy first-strike delivery systems are prohibitively expensive on an ongoing basis and are surplus to MAD requirements. Nuclear capable nations can't afford to maintain the current footing as it is. In any case, if submarines can not remain undetected their usefulness as a component of the first-strike system has come to and end.

          From what I understand, first strike isn't really a strategic asset. During the cold war, weapon systems that required a lot of time to ready were deemed to only be useful in a first strike scenario. In at least one case (i.e. the UK's nuclear program), these kinds of systems were seen as undermining rhetoric about weapons being obtained for defensive purposes only.

          Weapons which can be readied quickly, have a long range, or which can be deployed from subs are capable of delivering retaliatory strikes. They put the mutual in MAD. The first strike only type weapons don't have the attributes that make retaliatory strikes possible.

          --
          Write your congressman. Tell him he sucks.
  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 23 2015, @12:45AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 23 2015, @12:45AM (#148262)

    Cue exploded whale body parts coming ashore.

  • (Score: -1, Spam) by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 23 2015, @01:01AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 23 2015, @01:01AM (#148265)

    and read/listen to a quote from Thomas Hesse:

    "Most people don't even know what a rootkit is, so why should they care about it?" - Thomas Hesse, President, Global digital business, Sony BMG

    http://www.f-secure.com/weblog/archives/they_dont_know_so_why_should_they_care.wav [f-secure.com]

    http://www.f-secure.com/weblog/archives/00000703.html [f-secure.com]

    Now tell me gov/corp give a shit about us.

  • (Score: 3, Interesting) by Snotnose on Monday February 23 2015, @01:11AM

    by Snotnose (1623) on Monday February 23 2015, @01:11AM (#148269)

    10 Group A upgrades offensive capability.
    20 Group B figures out how to defend against it.
    30 Goto 10

    --
    Why can't I age like a fine wine, instead of last week's milk?
    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 23 2015, @01:29AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 23 2015, @01:29AM (#148279)

      25 GOSUB Get more TAX money!

      Common, the topic is about subs, you gotta have that in your code or you can't have fun with the pun.

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 23 2015, @02:20AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 23 2015, @02:20AM (#148288)

    "Today, “big data” processing enables advanced navies to run sophisticated oceanographic models in real time to exploit these detection techniques."

    • (Score: 4, Funny) by Hartree on Monday February 23 2015, @03:36AM

      by Hartree (195) on Monday February 23 2015, @03:36AM (#148304)

      "Today, “big data” processing enables advanced" marketing types to target PHB's in and out of government with buzz-word based bullfeathers.

  • (Score: 5, Interesting) by Hartree on Monday February 23 2015, @03:29AM

    by Hartree (195) on Monday February 23 2015, @03:29AM (#148299)

    I've heard quite a number of these "$weapon-system will soon be obsolete" over the years. Tanks, carriers, infantry, etc, etc. I'm not a believer yet.

    I remember when people were saying the Soviet RORSATs made ballistic missile submarines obsolete by detecting low frequency components of their wakes. In the 80s.

    And often, it's from those trying to retire fantastically cost effective systems to make room for their overbudget pet project.

    The Joint Strike Fighter mafia (It slices, it dices, it does everything at 20 times the cost) versus the A-10 Warthog, anyone?

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 23 2015, @11:05AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 23 2015, @11:05AM (#148362)

    actually you don't need a propeller or any protruding part that "stirs up the water" to move:

    if you fill a bottle with water, move it 50 under water it will sink.
    but if you turn some of the water into gas (and keep it inside the bottle) then the bottle will rise

    once the bottle is near the surface and you turn the gas back into the liquid the bottle will sink again.
    if you add some steering fins to the bottle you can make it rise/sink at a angle.

    with some more thought i'm use it can be made to move near horizontal ... : )
    good luck reaching 100 km/h!

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alcubierre_drive [wikipedia.org]