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."