posted on Jun, 22 2006 @ 05:38 AM
I was just curious as too why there are no super fast subs or attack type subs that
go really fast ? I mean in the air we have bombers (subs) but know attack subs (like a yf-22 equivalant).
Actually, this is a very valid question. First, the Seawolf and some of the later Russian Nuke boats _can_ in fact 'supercruise' at around 20
knots, within a minimum noise threshold. This is quite a useful ability because with the proliferation of quieting technology, the ability to leave
the enemies computed shot bubble is increasingly important.
Something that was known as far back as the Nautilus which was known to be able to leave behind (period '50s) USN ASW plots with ease.
It should however be noted that with the emphasis these days on inshore ops and supporting fires (CM) and even SOF actions, what you do once you are
there is apt to be far less ASW oriented than simply station keeping with quick dashes inshore to drop off and retrieve small unit forces.
In this, maximum cruise speed is really only useful for rapid staging into and out of the patrol area because the nuke boats are already so big and so
noisy that it takes awhile for them to get 'comfortable' in close, simply because they are so large and make such a 'hole in the water' effect
which is not really maskable due to absent thermal layers and the effectiveness of modern actives and even laid-cable sensors.
If we faced an active submarine threat it would be tantamount to suicide to take them there.
Speaking of which, while others have mentioned flow noise and propulsor problems I would also like to add that, especially for attack boats, any
attempt to go fast means running the pumps on the PWR or _Pressurized_ Water Reactor. Plant noise is the number one key signature on all boats,
beating even blade counts in most conditions.
As far as going really fast, the key is not to not try and throw a brick through the water, sideways. Because a small robotic 'torpedo' like device
can withstand both vastly greater pressure depths and have a HUGE advantage in surface drag over it's equivalent wetted area. Indeed, the British
Spearfish was supposedly doing 65+ knots as long ago as the late 80's. With this kind of system, and especially multiple pairs of them in the water,
you can avoid Sprint-Drift tactics (lunge and listen) and simply use the UUV's to go-Yankee intermittently as they come off high speed runs. Scare
away wales, map seamounts, frighten off the steel sharks, whatever. Given that sound moves through water at around 2,500mph and the mini subs offer
the relatively easy ability to porpoise over and under thermal layers as deep as 1,500-2,000ft, _so long as they are cheap_, they can beat any passive
quieting system a sub can employ at tactical distances.
Indeed, since sound knows neither enemy or friend, it becomes possible for them to 'escort' slower manned boats with the latter serving as
netcentric weapons cabinets to fire actual weapons onto bearing, leaving the scouts to function without worry over subsequent engagement tactics or
threat to selves.
The only real problem here being that the best way to kill a sub is to loft a rocket boosted torpedo to it rather than drive one out at even SCT
speeds. And we have lost Subroc and ASW-SOW as the principle methods of doing this.
Yet, given the increasing use of anti-torpedo weapons and the certainty that you can afford to lose a 10 million dollar AIP 'drone' sub far more
often than a 2 billion dollar attack boat, the reality is that high speed operations are probably a lot closer than most people think.
If what I've heard about 'turning the water transparent' within 400ft of the surface with systems like April Showers and other methods are true,
the real question is apt to be how long we maintain a large submarine force as potential (high tech) enemies become more overhead + SOSUS adept at
creating bastion exclusion zones around their littorals.
Subs are incredibly vulnerable, exceptionally inefficient (per volume ton), _very_ hard to upgrade, assets. You take a hit and you're either dead
immediately or a noisy cripple waiting for the coup. You lose a boat and not only have you thrown away the equivalent of a B-2 in unit costs but also
have created a political disaster in the form of a 100-200 sailor mazcaz. If subs themselves have a use in future, it will therefore be (IMO) as
spider-in-her-web platforms which exist solely to deploy sensor webs and possibly UAV to allow at least offboard tracking from range and possibly
moored kill system intercepts as well.
With everything swimming in from a deployment area far out to sea, you remove much of the need to drive a boat tactically against any threat,
including mines and inshore ASW aircraft which are again, quite lethal to big nukers.