The Future of ASW?

Will the world of ASW have moved on before we get a T26 in the water?

More information here:

[browser-shot width=”550″ url=”http://www.navaldrones.com/ACTUV.html”]

Perhaps a layered ASW defence of MPAs, SSNs, ACTUVs, Merlins and bow sonar would meet future RN requirements?

Sounds high risk / futuristic, but seeing the last T23 will leave in 2036 there is time to get it right..

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All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
September 21, 2013 2:12 pm

That has to be the funniest video ever. What a load of tripe, “using sophisticated logic we can infer the intentions of other vessels” “no maintenance required for 90 day patrols”.
The fact is that being unmanned this thing will be active in so many frequencies it would be as well sending a bloody invite to the submarine.

Fedaykin
September 21, 2013 2:39 pm

00:22 seconds in is funny! The LCS is alongside undergoing repairs with the commentary stating the ACTUV will be robust….says it all really.

With the LCS order being cut down and the Perry rapidly being retired is this an admittance that they need a better solution for their ASW needs! Why do I get a feeling that British 2087 equipped T23 and T26 will be in much demand by the USN when they need help in areas of the world where there is the risk of Submarine warfare…

If the UK has any sense the first T26 once it has its bugs ironed out should go to RIMPAC, just think of all those potential customers that will see it in action!

x
x
September 21, 2013 2:53 pm

At least this ACTUV wotsit isn’t one of those torpedo shaped wunder weapon concepts that does everything from hydrography to FP to MCM to deep strike and most things in between. Whomever dreamt it up at least realised it would be a big bit of kit. Interesting, but shades of Duncan Sandys meets HMS Troutbridge…..

Observer
Observer
September 21, 2013 3:15 pm

Nice toy, but if it’s supposed to go off by itself for 20 days, what is stopping any pissed off OPFOR from simply sinking it? It isn’t even manned, so killing it is less of a diplomatic incident than killing even a RHIB. Kill a RHIB and crew, people start screaming for revenge, break a USV, people just tell you to buy a new one, which actually puts the platform more at risk. If people know they can get away with nothing more than a slap on the wrist, it makes them more willing to take the shot.

S O
S O
September 21, 2013 3:43 pm

AFAIK by current law of the sea anybody could just board an unmanned boat, rightfully claim ownership, sink it – and would at most be in legal trouble for polluting the ocean.

To defend an unmanned boat with its RC weapons against boarding by civilians or neutrals would be a crime.

Jeremy M H
September 21, 2013 4:09 pm

The USN will be quite fine though I am sure they would love the company. The USN, despite what many seem to believe for whatever reason, has not really ignored ASW. New towed arrays that are pretty much the same thing as the 2087 (active/passive towed) are being bought pretty much every year and sent out to the fleet. That means your average carrier group will probably have 2 tails (well likely 3 if you include the SSN working with them) if not more deployed. Some Burkes have tails and some don’t but if you look at deployment patterns they pretty much always send one with a carrier group that does and the Tico’s have tails as well. By my count the USN has around 50 towed array capable surface ships. You can add to that ocean based emplacements, 5 SURTASS ships, existing and new MPA aircraft and a couple hundred ASW capable helicopters.

Again, the more the merrier. But I think the RN’s 8 type 26’s/23’s with high end sonar will be more than busy enough trying to flesh out a screening force for the new carriers and the type 45’s which would both require such services.

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
September 21, 2013 4:18 pm

@JMH

I think what confuses people ref the USN and ASW is that whilst money is spent on being world beaters at AAW and carrier ops, ASW seems to be an after thought. Yes sheer number and massive active sensor ops will “hopefully” keep a submarine away from a CVN but passive ops, tracking a sub? Sorry but actually pretty poor. Noisy platforms with Commanding Officers who are not interested and Ships Companies who have done very little training.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-492804/The-uninvited-guest-Chinese-sub-pops-middle-U-S-Navy-exercise-leaving-military-chiefs-red-faced.html

This sort of thing does not happen because you are good at it.

The USN has a decent ASW capability but compared to capabilities in other areas it is definitely 2nd division.

Jeremy M H
September 21, 2013 4:19 pm

@SO

That is an interesting position to take on unmanned systems under positive control. What legal precedent would you be citing there? Is it applicable in all areas? For example could the USAF use the X-37 to fling someone else unmanned satellites into the sun?

Fedaykin
September 21, 2013 4:34 pm

@JMY

You can stick a tail on a Burke but it isn’t a specialised ASW type, a T23 and T26 are optimised for the role with electric drive.

Frankly I regard the Perry as a poor mans ASW type with the emphasis on numbers more then anything else.

Jeremy M H
September 21, 2013 4:41 pm

@APATS

That article, and most coverage of that incident, is a bit sensationalist in my view. Frankly regardless of your systems with proper intelligence one can fairly easily put a SSK on the route and have you drive right over it. In war it would be a case of shit happens and the next carrier gets to take up the fight. 2007 is also increasingly a good while ago. MFTA Sonars are new since then and there is a refocus on dealing with China. The Russian Navy has made a comeback of sorts as well so ASW training and equipment is moving forward to meet that challenge in a variety of ways.

As for the noisy platforms issue…frankly it is irrelevant for the vast majority of USN deployments. The escorts are bound to the carrier or amphibious ship which are both plenty loud enough that whatever noise the escorts are making is not nearly as relevant as it would be for operations in the GIUK gap as a standalone escort.

Training priorities are something that can easily be shifted around if need be, equipment deficiencies are not. I understand that an ex-RN officer has that opinion and to a degree I am sure he is right. I would also say I don’t really disagree with turning down that emphasis in the 90’s and early 2000’s. The sub threat was drastically dimished. I would also say a USN combatant has a lot more things to train for than a Type 23 because Type 23’s can’t do area air defense and they can’t do strike operations and they don’t have carriers to escort around for the most part.

It might be a fair question to ask just exactly what major combat task a Type 23 could train for other than ASW. Was the focus on ASW training in that period for the RN a considered strategy or simply an outgrowth of the fact that the surface force of the RN largely was suited to little else? If that was considered so important why does the Type 45 have such a limited sonar fit? Why not buy the 2087 for all the Type 26’s? In short would the RN have had the same focus on ASW from the surface if it had a force that could have credibly done something else?

Jeremy M H
September 21, 2013 4:45 pm

@X

I actually quite like the idea, depending on the cost. If one can use it to pull around a towed array I find it interesting. The other side might shoot at the thing but depending on what they do it with that can be a winning prospect. If you reveal your location for attack by an MPA to take out this thing and you effectively trade a sub for this thing then I am fairly content to do that all day long.

Engineer Tom
Engineer Tom
September 21, 2013 4:48 pm

@ JMH

Laws regarding maritime salvage are old and quirky, and without looking them up I believe the rule is that any vessel at sea without a crew is fair game. USV’s are another example of technology outstripping the law, when the maritime laws were agreed no one ever thought a vessel would go to see with out a crew.

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
September 21, 2013 5:00 pm

@JMH

Where did I ever say ex :) My “opinions” are based on working with you guys.
your point ref the T23 is completely correct which is why it bugger all use at AAW but much better at ASW than any USN asset. Different philosophies and perhaps the USN has not yet come to realise that unlike during the cold war the RN will not be in the pacific as the USN ASW wing.
I think the USN is clutching in but if I wanted to attack a US ship and had a choice between an SSK or aircraft and missile I know which one I would choose.

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
September 21, 2013 5:08 pm

@JMH

I never said ex;)

Your point ref the T23 is totally correct. it was designed to be an ASW platform at the expense of all else. It does however have a passive range advantage over even an Akula 2.
I am not being critical of the USN ASW ability, merely realistic. At AAW and Carrier Ops the USN are in their own league, at ASW they are mid table. Simply a reflection of priorities. Though with the pivot to the pacific at least some senior Officers are realising that they will not have the RN to be the ASW Flotilla for them unlike the cold war.

John Hartley
John Hartley
September 21, 2013 6:06 pm

APATS Was there not a stir when a Chinese SSN surfaced near a USN carrier group & that was the first the USN knew it was there? Happened a couple of years ago, if my memory is right.

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
September 21, 2013 6:12 pm

@JH
yes it did nut numerous NATO SSKs have penetrated the “screen” and “sunk” the carrier.

Martin
Editor
September 22, 2013 4:51 am

I think this concept is a joke. ight be useful in the pacific in open water if it does not break down on route but in the littorals in the Gulf against Iran with dozens of armed speed boats around its going to be little more than a bit of target practice for the revolutionary guards.

Its not necessarily a bad thing for us that the USN is not up on ASW as much as the RN. We are allies and the more capabilities they rely on us for the better our overall position will be. MCM and ASW are two such areas so I think the RN should continue to try to excell in these fields relying in the USN for other areas that our capability is lacking in. No one not even the USN can excell in all fields in sufficet numbers.

Martin
Editor
September 22, 2013 4:56 am

on the Chinese SSK incident, I think there behaviour shows its a bit of a fluk. if we or the US hd done the same to the Chinese which I am sure we do we would not have surfaced to give them game away rather just kept quiet about our capability to prevent them from coming up with a counter.

Observer
Observer
September 22, 2013 5:33 am

JH, I remember that incident, thought it was a bit sensationalistic. It’s the same Kitty Hawk incident that was linked above. Even if the carrier group was to detect the submarine, it still would not have the authority to open fire on it, so any navy with a sub could simply swim close to a carrier and surface for that kind of PR.

More importantly, why would the Chinese sub surface if it was there to harass the US? It would be more tactical to simply just keep submerged and shadow the TF. My gut estimate of that incident was that it was probably more of a blunder, both sides stumbling over each other than a deliberate provocation, the TF sailing close to/over the Chinese sub without realising it and the sub surfacing for safety’s sake and to avoid accidents.

Rocket Banana
September 22, 2013 7:55 am

I don’t think the Chinese SSK is the only time the USN CVBG screen has been breached. In fact I seem to remember a simulation in which the screen was breached by a frigate.

I guess 1/2 million square km is a lot of ocean to police ;-)

IanW
IanW
September 22, 2013 9:13 am

@Jeremy M H

“In war it would be a case of shit happens and the next carrier gets to take up the fight. ”

Therein lies the flaw in the MOD’s apparent strategy of investing so much faith and resource in F35 and the two very large targets from which it flies. The risk of loosing even one is too great (this also reduces the chance of their active use). It goes against the grain of the development of low-cost, throw-away technology discussed here – not to mention lessons learned the hard way in so many wars.

John Hartley
John Hartley
September 22, 2013 10:07 am

Obs I think the Chinese were sending a not so subtle message to the Americans, that their carriers were no longer invulnerable if they sail close to China.

x
x
September 22, 2013 11:13 am

@ Simon

One of the prominent Falklands War commander, can’t remember who, did get a County well into Exocet range of a CBG once on exercise. But he puts that down to the USN being concerned with other matters at the time and while the RN were taking the exercise seriously the USN weren’t.

x
x
September 22, 2013 11:17 am

Imagine if this thing could be made foldable and to weigh just under 60 tons so it could be pushed out the back of a C17.

I am still working on how to get it back into the C17………… ;)

The Other Chris
September 22, 2013 11:21 am
mike
mike
September 22, 2013 11:24 am

@X

That Commander was the late Woodward.

As with fitting that catamaran into a C-17, maybe those two outer ‘wings’ could be disassembled? Then again, it would loose structural rigidity… indeed, a lot of these promos we see, the conditions are always friendly… would be interesting to see how it would cope in worse weather, who can forget how Invincible hull plating was warped by the S.Atlantic… unless this is more for the ‘littoral’?

x
x
September 22, 2013 11:49 am

@ Mike

Was it? I just couldn’t remember. Thanks.

I was thinking the sponsons could be foldable a la Transformers. I am sure a sensor and comms suite (given the size and weight of that fitted to Merlin) could be squeezed into ten tons leaving 50 tons for hull and fuel.

http://www.yachtsandyachting.com/photos/maxicats/2005bandq6.jpg

Something like this would be needed I think which would eat into weight margins.

http://www.dynamicstabilitysystems.com/superyacht/

Brian Black
Brian Black
September 22, 2013 12:03 pm

I agree with others, that a little vessel left all by itself would either be damaged by someone or nicked by the Chinese; however, this particular little toy has clearly been conceived to operate as part of a larger naval group, in this case a carrier battle group.

There is definitely potential to use remotely operated vessels to screen a main force. Fairly small boats could mount weapons, sensors, decoys, or could be used to intercept and interrogate the many -largely benign- little boats that your task group might come across.

What surprises me about our navy is that, even with the future potential for automated or remotely operated vessels, they don’t seem that bothered about being able to launch anything heavier than a RHIB from its handful of escorts. Aside from unmanned systems, the ability to carry ships’ boats of a larger class could enable combat boats or LCP to be carried for all the regular sort of stuff the Navy currently does.

The problem I see with this particular example of an unmanned system is, that when you get above the sort of size that can be carried by a warship itself, you find yourself with a vessel that is so expensive that you then get into runaway mission growth – piling on more and more systems to protect your little robot until you end up just buying a frigate. A smaller, ship-launched boat on the other hand could be given one task and can cheaply get on with it.

x
x
September 22, 2013 12:24 pm

The helicopter put an end to real ship’s boats. A large ship I think should carry a RIB with a cabin and inboard engine but is finding space for davits and then enclosing those davits within the modern ship’s “stealth bodywork”. I see no utility in a frigate carrying a LCVP; perhaps WIGS say? The need for a frigate to carry more was the reason why the Danes built the Absalons. But as I have said before Absalon isn’t an amphib. The HMS Cornwall incident showed RIB’s are no substitute for proper PBs with good speed, weaponry, and just as importantly mass or presence. Lastly I have said lots of time now the helicopter is the common ships module that we know works. But and though we know the fixed wing small UAV in the maritime environment is a really useful platform there seems to be no desire to use the sea as a runway to launch bigger more capable UAVs with greater endurance, more sophisticated sensors, and perhaps even greater survivability. Again with twin hangars and a crane we could launch and recover a very useful unmanned aircraft. The fuselage of this little beauty is smaller than a Merlin’s fuselage…….

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saunders-Roe_SR.A/1

Imagine a propeller driven aircraft of that size with foldable wings. Makes Scaneagle look a bit toy like.

Chris
Chris
September 22, 2013 12:48 pm

x – something like this but bigger?

http://www.drs.com/Products/UAS/PDF/neptune.pdf

x
x
September 22, 2013 1:01 pm

@ Chris

Yes I think Swimming Trunks has mentioned that aircraft (or something similar) in the past. When I see Global Hawk I see an upside boat hull. Even the engine is in the right place. A shipborne amphib UAV wouldn’t need to be as big but compare Globalhawk to Merlin for size,

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/2/29/RQ-4_Global_Hawk.jpg

http://www.key.aero/central/images/articles/1144.jpg

the insides of Global Hawk……….

http://www.flightglobal.com/airspace/media/militaryaviation1946-2006cutaways/images/14167/northrop-grumman-rq-4a-global-hawk-block-10.jpg

why it reminds me of a boat hull………

http://www.worldwarbirdnews.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/RQ-4-Globalhawk.jpg

and a Russian amphib jet for comparison purpose….

http://www.ruaviation.com/images/media/600/192.jpg

Rocket Banana
September 22, 2013 1:54 pm

I’m with BB on the LCVP thing.

Obviously they are pretty big but the idea of being able to use a frigate/destroyer as supplemental amphibious assault? That’s 6 extra LCVP for the task force (two companies) or a single platoon for policing/intervention duties supported by the ships copter (Wildcat or Merlin).

If I were to design a T26 (with the now deleted mission deck) I’d make sure it could launch a Mk5.

I also like the seaplane idea but think the open ocean is generally too lumpy for it to work.

x
x
September 22, 2013 4:37 pm

@ Simon

Um. No. This place amazes me at times. There will be endless discussion about how it is a waste to use a frigate for patrolling, a role they are designed to do, on tasks like WIGS (I refuse now to call it APT(N)). Yet it seems if there is the hint of them being used for MCM or now as amphibious warfare platforms then the idea is a positive goer. No, no, and thrice no. As that great intellectual Professor Yaffle used to, stop this silliness this instant. I am going away now to weep into my custard.

x
x
September 22, 2013 4:54 pm

SImon said “I also like the seaplane idea but think the open ocean is generally too lumpy for it to work.”

I grant at times it will be too lumpy. Just as at times it is too lumpy to launch and recover helicopters or do anything else really apart from pitch, roll, yaw, and become re-acquainted with your last meal.

Doughty little aircraft like the Walrus were launched and recovered in quite heavy seas. As long as the aircraft gets down, floats (most important that), and is tough enough to be recovered to be used again I don’t think there is a problem. The modern UAV’s long endurance means bad weather could be waited out or perhaps it could be diverted to another vessel or shore location where the was weather more benign?

In the film The Sea Shall Not Have Them which is about RAF bods who realise ships and boats are more interesting and useful than airyplanes there is some good Walrus footage.

Rocket Banana
September 22, 2013 5:07 pm

x,

Many of us sympathise with your 30 frigate minimum stance but also realise there’s less money and less reason to spend money on lovely sleek ships. Therefore anyone that thinks we’re going to retain our amphibious capability in the mid-term is living in cloud cuckoo land.

This is my way of making sure we have at least some capability when the blimp goes skyward ;-)

Thanks for posting the vid of the seaplane on a millpond like sea, makes my point very nicely :-)

x
x
September 22, 2013 5:24 pm

Well using frigates as amphibious assault ships won’t work even if the blimp does go skywards.

The point of the video was to show the RN in the 1910s and 20s thought seaplanes were workable. The Walrus and similar would be by today’s standards be considered fragile. A modern aircraft built from composites using advanced structures would be a factor or more more resilient.

Observer
Observer
September 22, 2013 6:44 pm

…hmm…

If you are going to float planes, why not split the baby between RHIB/LCUs and convert the entire rear of the ship into a hanger for both? You can cover up the helipad that you no longer need and turn the entire rear into a 2 level hanger, bottom for your seaplanes, top for your LCUs (LCU getting top because it’s easier to winch up a LCU/RHIB than a seaplane). Instead of deploying by crane, you can use a welldock similar to those used to launch LCUs, lower the ramp and just launch the plane from there.

It’s a wasteful idea as you would need to design a whole new class of planes for it, but it you want to go for it, might as well make it the best that you can do.

x
x
September 22, 2013 7:26 pm

@ Observer

Seeing as the one growth area in defence at the moment is UAV which come in all shapes and sizes I don’t see why you think what I am suggesting is so outlandish. I don’t think I said anywhere that I wanted to replace helicopters. As I said even the largest most capable UAV are in terms of the fuselage no larger than helicopters. Folding wing technology isn’t new. I said nothing in support of LCVP aboard frigates on the contrary.

x
x
September 22, 2013 7:35 pm

@ Observer

Did you actually read anything I posted? Can’t see where I said an amphibious UAV would replace the ship’s helicopter. UAV’s are one of the growth areas in defence and they are being produced in all sizes and forms. Folding wings, cranes, and hangars are all known technologies. You would be surprised but there is a whole world of defence outside what the Singapore Army teaches on its courses…..

x
x
September 22, 2013 9:03 pm

This site eating posts is getting a bit annoying…………..

Observer
Observer
September 22, 2013 11:48 pm

x, munch, munch, munch. :)

Anyway, I did not say outlandish, I said wasteful as you need to design and manufacture a totally new class of plane. As for amphibious, well, you were rather vocally against using an escort ship in an amphibious role, even in a limited secondary role. So yes, I did read what you wrote. Did you read what you wrote? :P

Think Defence
Admin
September 23, 2013 6:44 am
Reply to  x
Jeremy M H
September 23, 2013 1:39 pm

@Brian

I agree that cost will be the main driver here. But effectively I don’t think the thing should be all that expensive for what it does. You have sonars, navigation radars, probably some cameras of various sorts and radio/data links. It will come at some sort of cost to be sure but I think for what you pay (particularly if it can pull a towed array as it seemed to mention at the end of the video) it has a lot of uses when it comes to extending your sensor reach away from your task forces fairly cheaply. Most of the time I imagine they would operate within aircraft range of a carrier group or shore base and they look relatively swift so if approached by those with bad intentions they should be able to run away in peacetime. In wartime I would think you would all but be begging for the enemy to spend their time shooting at these things, particularly with subs, as it lets you localize the threat and start hunting it down. There is some silly non-sense in those videos but the overall concept is not bad if it can be delivered at a reasonable cost. I would pay about as much for this as I would for a long-range UAV like the Global Hawk I think.

@APATS

I agree the USN is not top of the world at ASW. I just tend to think of ASW as more of a numbers game than anything in the end (we saw that in WWII to an extent). The capability of one ship is important to defending that ship or prosecuting a specific contact but the real objective is to try and control the oceans overall and to do that you need lots of platforms.

I always found ASW exercises for CVBG’s to be interesting. It is a very tough tactical problem regardless of what you do to screen a ship that has to move at 15-30 knots most of the time to conduct flight operations. You just don’t get enough time at low speed to do it right. More than that no exercise can really simulate what would happen in a war in that USN strategy against a reasonable sub threat would be to push the boundaries out about as far as they could with SSN’s camped out at any choke points or likely transit points backed up by MPA’s conducting barrier operations along many of the same routes. No one really conducts such exercises where step 1 is get by the SSN’s operating near your home base, step 2 is getting by the MPA’s that are hunting you with radar (that makes snorting risky) and sonar buoys along your best lines of approach.

This won’t work in some constricted waterways (the Persian Gulf being one particularly tough operating environment) but it would be hell on Chinese SSK’s in my view. SSK’s, even with AIP, just can’t move that swiftly while still staying under and covert. If you can force them to make an opposed transit to their targets where they have to be tactical much of the time I am not sure they can really get it done.

Chris Werb
Chris Werb
September 23, 2013 1:58 pm

Post war British and Canadian escorts up to the Leander class had bows designed to chase down a fast battery submarine running into a heavy sea. I think the article stated that this unmanned vessel could only manage up to sea state seven and then only with some capabilities degraded. That’s fine for the Persian Gulf, but I’m not sure it would cut it in the China Sea.