The Perfect Soldier: Special Operations, Commandos, and the Future of Us Warfare by James F. Dunnigan
Dirty Little Secrets
Virginia And The Eight Towers Of Power
Over the last decade, the U.S. navy has been converting its submarine periscopes from the traditional one using lenses and prisms to allow the user in the control room to see what is 10-15 meters above, at surface level, to all-digital sensors (vidcams, thermal imager and laser range finder) at the top of a telescoping mast that doesnÂ’t penetrate the pressure hull. These new "photonics masts" use a standard telescoping masts, and each American Virginia class SSN carries eight of them. Two of them carry sensors for the usual periscope functions (in case one breaks down). But the other six carry communications or electronic listening devices, or one is a spare for the top-of-the mast modules (some of which can be quickly swapped in or out). Thus an SSN comes to periscope depth (about 15 meters/45 feet beneath the surface) and deploys several masts to see what's out there via the vidcams and electronic eavesdropping. One of the masts can also connect with communications satellites, to send and receive email. This is a big morale booster for the crew.
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