Submarines: June 26, 2003

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The United States Navy has established Task Force 12 in the Pacific to concentrate on dealing with anti-submarine warfare in general, and diesel electric submarines in particular. A new generation of diesel electric sub is appearing, with better sensors and air independent propulsion (AIP), which allows diesel electric boats to stay under water for days, or weeks. The big fear is that one of these AIP boats will just sit itself on the bottom with its passive (listening, not broadcasting) sensors on, waiting for an American nuclear sub to wander by. Because nuclear subs need to keep pumps going constantly to cool their reactor, they are noisier than AIP boats. Better, and cheaper, electronics makes it possible for modern diesel electric boats to detect a nearby American sub and launch a highly accurate wire guided torpedo at it. Exercises with diesel electric boats from allied navies has shown that this scenario is quite likely to succeed. Moreover, modern diesel electric boats can also launch anti-ship missiles from their torpedo tubes, enabling them to get off several missiles at American surface ships, including carriers. Task Force 12 is working out all the measures and countermeasures both sides could use in these situations, in order to given American ships as much of an edge as possible.

 


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