US planning advanced submarine sensing and hunting technologies for Russian ultra quiet submarines

Russia is seeking to further bolster its sub-surface capabilities, with new generations of conventional and nuclear propulsion submarines, which promise to be significantly more difficult to detect and track for western naval forces. This includes the Yasen, Lada, Borei and Kalina classes of submarines.

Submarines are one of deadliest weapons which are hardest to detect, literally a pile of submerged nuclear weapons ready to unleash widespread destruction with single command. In case of a nuclear war the stealthy submarines have a greater chance of surviving the first strike. Once on high alert the boats can leave their bases stay undetected for months and can carry and fire missiles that could sink even the sturdiest ship and flatten entire cities.

DARPA considers ultra-quiet as well as highly lethal submarines as an asymmetric threat and in response has launched the Distributed Agile Submarine Hunting (DASH) program that intends to reverse the asymmetric advantage of this threat through the development of advanced standoff sensing from unmanned systems.

DARPA  has awarded BAE Systems a $4.6 million contract for its Mobile Offboard Clandestine Communications and Approach (MOCCA) program. The MOCCA program’s goal is to enable submarines to detect other submerged vessels at greater distances, while minimizing the risk of counter-detection.

“With the resurgence of near-peer competitors and an increasing number of submarines, MOCCA technology will provide Navy submariners with a vital asymmetrical advantage against a rapidly proliferating undersea threat.” Geoff Edelson, director of Maritime Systems and Technology at BAE Systems, said in a written statement.

DARPA is also developing the ASW Continuous Trail Unmanned Vessel (ACTUV),  a 40-meter long state of art unmanned vessel built specifically to track quiet diesel-electric submarines, at a fraction of their size and cost. DARPA believes using large numbers of inexpensive unmanned ACTUVs are a way to counter submarines as an undersea component of anti-access warfare.

DARPA program manager Ellison Urban, quoted by Defense One, explains the rationale behind the U.S. Navy’s push for robot ships: Instead of chasing down these submarines and trying to keep track of them with expensive nuclear powered-submarines, which is the way we do it now, we want to try and build this at significantly reduced cost. It will be able to transit by itself across thousands of kilometers of ocean and it can deploy for months at a time. It can go out, find a diesel-electric submarine, and just ping on it.



Russian Super stealth submarine threat and US Response

Russia has been devloping super quiet submarines like new lada-class diesel electric submarines. “The stealth capabilities of Russia’s new Lada-class diesel-electric submarines far exceed those of their predecessors, Admiraty Shipyard’s CEO Alexander Buzakov told the Russian press.

“According to Buzakov, the new vessels are even stealthier than Russian Kilo-class submarines, thought to be one of the quietest diesel-electric submarine classes in the world and dubbed “black holes” for their ability to “disappear” from sonars. “The new submarines are able to maintain such a low profile thanks to a clever implementation of a next-generation anti-reflective acoustic coating and a new improved hydro-acoustic system, Buzakov said

Russia’s super-quiet “Improved Kilo” class or Varshavyanka class submarines also possesses an extended combat range, and its relatively small size helps it maneuver in shallow waters.

for more information on Russian Submarines:


“The emerging security environment lays bare the urgent need to regenerate maritime patrol capabilities in Europe and more broadly enhance not only antisubmarine warfare but also maritime domain awareness across the maritime domains in and around Europe,” said Magnus Nordenman, Director for the Transatlantic Security Initiative. “Airborne systems to provide MDA, and maritime patrol aircraft (MPAs) in particular, stand out among the most important and urgent of these maritime requirements. Maritime patrol aircraft fulfill a number of roles, from high-end Anti-Submarine Warfare and Anti-Surface Warfare (ASuW) to maritime Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR), and search and rescue at sea.”

U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter called for “a continuous arc of highly capable maritime patrol aircraft” to meet the challenge of increasingly sophisticated and active Russian submarines at the boundary of the North Atlantic. It’s an important call to replace a depleted capability — and it will require a special kind of cooperation to make happen.


US Navy seeking advanced sub-hunting technology

The U.S. Navy wants to upgrade its ability to detect Russian submarines in response to assertive naval moves by President Vladimir Putin.

The Navy is seeking to deploy a sophisticated surveillance device made by Lockheed Martin Corp. in the Atlantic Ocean. The device, towed by a ship, already is in use in the Pacific. As soon as mid-2016, the service also wants to send to the Atlantic a prototype networked “undersea sensor system” that “addresses emergent real-world threats,” according to a Defense Department budget document.

The prototype sensor network will be best used “in a choke point like Gibraltar” or a stretch of the North Atlantic from Greenland and Iceland to Britain, where Soviet submarines transited during the Cold War, Bryan Clark, a naval analyst for the nonpartisan Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, said in an email.

The Navy proposals are evidence that “the U.S. military views Russian submarine activity in the Atlantic as both an immediate risk and an emerging long-term threat,” said Tom Spahn, a Navy reservist who writes on undersea warfare issues. The projects may be part of a strategy “to replace or upgrade our aging” undersea sensor system of hydrophones — underwater microphones — “made famous during the Cold War, which again points to Russia as the target,” Spahn said

 DARPA’s Distributed Agile Submarine Hunting (DASH)

DARPA’s program Distributed Agile Submarine Hunting, or DASH, effort is to find an adversary’s quiet submarine using advanced standoff sensing from unmanned underwater systems.

Through a scalable number of collaborative sensor platforms that use multiple sensing modalities, the program will demonstrate system solutions to detect and localize submarines over large areas in both shallow and deep water environments.

Two complementary prototype systems — part of DARPA’s Phase 2 development effort in the Distributed Agile Submarine Hunting program — have demonstrated functional sonar, communications and mobility at deep depths in recent tests, it said.

DARPA’s Bistatic Sonar System under Mobile Off board Command and Control and Approach (MOCCA) program.

Most sonar systems are monostatic, in that the transmitter and receiver are in the same place. But DARPA wants a Bistatic sonar describes wherein the transmitter and receiver(s) are separated by a distance large enough to be comparable to the distance to the target. Bistatic sonar system for anti-submarine warfare (ASW) would be able to provide long range of active sonar without compromising the stealth of U.S. attack submarines.

Whereas surface ships conducting anti-submarine warfare can use a combination of active and passive sensors, submarines use passive detection systems to listen to their surroundings without putting out any pings, to maintain their own stealth. According to a Broad Agency Announcement released last year at the start of DARPA’s Mobile Offboard Clandestine Communications and Approach (MOCCA) program, MOCCA would leverage the benefits of active sonar systems while protecting the submarine’s location, since the pings would be coming from a UUV at some unknown distance from the submarine.

Under MOCCA program, an attack submarine shall launch a small UUV  21 inches in diameter or smaller, and may operate in littoral waters, the bottom of the ocean and other challenging environments.

The UUV will carry a small but powerful sound projector, which shall transmit sound pings of high volume The sound reflected by enemy submarines shall be received by attack submarine and be used to detect and track enemy submarines at long ranges.

The submarine will need the ability to coordinate the operational functions of the supporting UUV. Thus, the program must also demonstrate the ability to achieve reliable clandestine communications between the host submarine and supporting UUV without sacrificing submarine stealth.

DARPA researchers want an active sonar with an active sonar projector small enough for UUV operations; and bistatic active sonar processing. This will involve developing high-output transducer materials, and a sonar projector that is as energy-efficient as possible.

Researchers want the ability to focus the projected acoustic signal in a direction of interest. The goal is to produce practical and flexible designs for the projector that can scale for several different UUVs and deployment options.

The program is looking for companies to develop compact power-efficient sonar projector bistatic sonar processing advancements in reverberation and clutter rejection as well as precision localization capability and secure undersea communications technology.


DARPA  has awarded BAE Systems a $4.6 million contract for its  MOCCA program

The U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has awarded BAE Systems a $4.6 million contract for its Mobile Offboard Clandestine Communications and Approach (MOCCA) program. “Advances in maritime technology are critical to the Department of Defense and an area where the U.S. military can continue to strengthen its advantage,” Geoff Edelson, director of Maritime Systems and Technology at BAE Systems, said in a written statement.

To meet the MOCCA program’s ambitious Phase 1 goals, BAE Systems’ researchers will design efficient sonar capabilities to maximize detection range and improve target identification and tracking, BAE developers say.

“An ideal link would have a low probability of intercept and of exploitation and provide high link reliability,” DARPA states.


Technical Challenges

The MOCCA program has two key technical challenges:

1) Development of an active sonar system, which includes a small form factor active sonar projector suitable for UUV operations and bi-static active sonar processing

A small UUV is disadvantaged as a host for an active sonar projector. The volume available for the projector is highly constrained which makes high-output transducer materials a necessity. At the same time, the UUV is energy-limited, so the projector must be as energy efficient as possible.

Innovative sonar transducer concepts and designs should consider high-drive materials, efficient power-amplifiers, and compact array projector configurations that will optimize sound output in a UUV volume-and-energy constrained package.

Relatively long-range ensonification is required, so the ability to focus the projected acoustic signal in a direction of interest is needed to provide additional effective source level at the cost of a requirement to scan the sonar to produce the needed coverage. The goal is to produce practical and flexible designs for the projector that can be scaled for multiple vehicles and deployment options.

The acoustic projector should be dynamically steerable to focus acoustic output in directions of interest. This feature will maximize detection performance and minimize the counter-detection risk to the operating host submarine. MOCCA sonar projector frequency bands must be compatible with current US Navy submarine sensors.

Bi-static sonar processing advancements are needed in the area of reverberation and clutter rejection as well as precision localization capability. The system will be operated in bottom limited acoustic environments. Sound that is projected will be scattered, producing reverberation and signal loss. Scattered sound may inadvertently illuminate the host submarine and possibly compromise stealth. For this reason, detailed and accurate predictions of the acoustic environment are important to manage the sonar and potential exposures.


2) Design and implementation of a secure and reliable communications link to provide positive control of a UUV operating at a significant distance from its host submarine

The communications link between the host submarine and the UUV will be used to control the UUV and its sonar payload, and to communicate information generated on the UUV back to the host platform. The MOCCA system will be used during an engagement, so proper control of the UUV is critical. Link throughput, delay, and reliability trades should consider the need for reliable operation during combat.

The MOCCA communication system designs may include acoustic, optical, and relayed Radio Frequency (RF) signaling modalities that are compatible with existing submarine systems and tactical operations. The fundamental attributes of this link are: (1) Significant communications range (2) Secure and reliable UUV control (3) Ability to preserve the host submarine stealth

MOCCA communications will be evaluated for Low Probability of Intercept and Low Probability of Exploitation (LPI/LPE) characteristics on a continuing basis. The MOCCA communications link cannot degrade submarine stealth.


System Considerations

MOCCA technologies must be compatible with US Navy submarines and submarine-delivered UUVs for future development and demonstration efforts. The MOCCA program will not develop a UUV, but MOCCA sonar and communications payloads should be designed for integration into submarine-launched UUVs with a maximum diameter of 21 inches.

MOCCA sonar and communications data transmission, collection, and processing cannot impact existing submarine operations – the MOCCA submarine processor and display will be adjunct equipment approved for on-board submarine operation and interface with submarine systems. Digital sonar signal data will be available for MOCCA sonar processing at the output of submarine sensor signal conditioning and analog-to-digital conversion processing.

MOCCA communications will be evaluated for Low Probability of Intercept and Low Probability of Exploitation (LPI/LPE) characteristics on a continuing basis. The MOCCA communications link cannot degrade submarine stealth.


Transformational Reliable Acoustic Path System (TRAPS) Passive Sonar Node

The first prototype is the Transformational Reliable Acoustic Path System (TRAPS) developed by a team led by Science Applications International Corp. It is an expendable, low-size, weight and power (SWaP) fixed passive sonar node for large-area coverage and operates from the deep seafloor.

The significant field of view, along with the advantage of low-noise phenomena at extreme depths will permit a scalable number of collaborative sensor platforms to detect and track submarines over large areas. These nodes will communicate to a stationary surface node via wireless acoustic modems, with further secure RF reach back to the performer’s facilities via satellite.

Under Phase 3 of the contract, SAIC will expand the number of prototype nodes to demonstrate a scalable distributed system prototype system to detect quiet submarines.


SHARC unmanned surface vessel to Monitor ASW Sensors and transmit data to satellites

An unmanned ocean glider developed by Liquid Robotics is destined to be the uplink for antisubmarine warfare acoustic sensors planted on the bottom of the deep ocean.

Liquid Robotics’ SHARC (Sensor Hosted in Autonomous Remote Craft) will be part of a battery-operated ASW array of sensors designed to passively monitor submarine movements. SHARC is an unmanned surface vessel that looks like a large raft. It is equipped with solar cells for electrical power for its mission systems and it equipped with a radio for uplink and downlink. A set of wings suspended from the floating raft into the deep provide the propulsion for the SHARC, using the ocean’s wave energy. The SHARC’s navigation is programmed through waypoints. The SHARC also can tow an acoustic array for submarine detection and tracking.

Gary Gysin, president and chief executive officer of Liquid Robotics, told Seapower that the SHARC is part of the rapidly deployable TRAPS system that can be planted in a body of water to create an acoustic surveillance barrier at locations such as a choke point. A SHARC can monitor several bottom acoustic sensors called nodes. As a submarine makes a transit near one of the nodes, the node will record its acoustic signature. The SHARC can interrogate the nodes, collect the recording and uplink the data vie Iridium satellite to an aircraft, ship or ground station.

SHARC is equipped with an Automatic Identification System receiver to enable it to identify shipping and avoid traffic.


Submarine Hold at RisK (SHARK) autonomous unmanned underwater vehicle (UUV)

DARPA, will be testing its latest “submarine drone,” that is, a prototype of SHARK (Submarine Hold at RisK). SHARK is  a loitering autonomous unmanned underwater vehicle (UUV) to detect and track submarines in the deepest regions of the ocean. It will provide a mobile active sonar platform to track submarines after initial detections are made.

The SHARK, is designed to exploit long-range acoustic propagation in the deep ocean, an industry spokesperson told IHS Jane’s at the annual DARPA Day at the Pentagon in Washington, DC, on 11 May. SHARK uses long-range active sonar mounted on the front and a receiver array mounted along the side. The UUV can change the steering angle of the sonar and the position of the receiving array so that the array is broadside of the target, he noted.

The UUV is approximately 3,300 lb (1,496.8 kg) dry weight. The 23 ft (7 m) long UUV is designed to dwell at depths of up to 6,000 m until called into action. SHARK is powered by a lithium polymer battery that can provide about 24 hours of endurance, including sonar operations. The vehicle has other features for deep-water operations, he added. “The housing uses aluminum ceramic instead of titanium or aluminum [to achieve the required lower weight] that is much more appropriate for a UUV.

SHARK uses a variable-buoyancy system to enable it to loiter and help with endurance so that the system is not struggling to maintain buoyancy. For safety purposes the UUV has a drop weight that it releases to enable it to quickly rise to the surface.

SHARK was developed by a team led by Applied Physical Systems and the UUV conducted successful deep dive testing in February 2013. DARPA said the prototypes are scheduled to demonstrate their core sonar functionality together and that subsequent development efforts will follow, including using multiple sonar nodes with TRAP and integrating the SHARK with its sonar.

The program will achieve breakthrough technology for longrange detection and classification, communications, energy management, sensor and platform integration, and robust semiautonomous processing and control for distributed sensing platforms.

For the vast shallow continental shelf areas, the program similarly adopts distributed mobile sensors, but instead leverages insights in non-acoustic sensing from above. Once a wide-area sensor provides an initial indication of a possible target, the forward deployed Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) Continuous Trail Unmanned Vessel (ACTUV) will then rapidly “sprint” to the area and use its own sensors to assess the contact.

Anti-Submarine Warfare Continuous Trail Unmanned Vessel (ACTUV) ( Unmanned Surface Vessel )

The U.S. Navy is preparing to take full control of the Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) Continuous Trail Unmanned Vessel (ACTUV) program and procure a second craft. The ACTUV enemy submarine hunter is expected to be about 130 feet long.  Its extremely slender hull form has a composite fiberglass shell and a foam core to provide structural resilience in conditions up to Sea State 7.


The craft is an unmanned surface vehicle (USV) designed to operate and patrol autonomously for 60-90 days straight, being able to track quiet diesel-electric submarines  and avoid surface ships by itself. The ACTUV is designed to out-endure any diesel-electric submarine, even those equipped with Air Independent Propulsion (AIP) at a fraction of their size and cost. Once the enemy sub is spotted it could guide other U.S. naval assets to the vessel’s location to destroy it.


In addition to hunting enemy subs, ACTUV will be capable of a wide range of missions, such as reconnaissance and counter-mine deployments. It could also be useful to resupply troops.


A suite of sensors “capable of tracking quiet, modern diesel electric submarines” will be implemented, including very high frequency sonar that will produce an “acoustic image” of the target to identify and classify the specific submarine. ACTUV will be smart, it will not just identify other vessels, but also predict how they will behave.


The vessel was commissioned in April 2016, and in a couple weeks will be sent to San Diego, where DARPA and the Office of Naval Research (ONR) will begin a two-year-long trial period to test the concept and various sensors that can be installed on the 145-ton full load displacement vessel. DARPA will conduct the initial trials and turn the vessel over to ONR later this year. The test phase will run through September 2018.


References and Resources  also include:


USAF launches LRASM, a long-range, precision-guided, anti-ship missile designed for A2/AD threat environments.

China is fielding large number of long range of antiship ballistic and cruise missiles , strike aircraft, and submarines designed to overwhelm both US air bases and carrier strike groups. According to US Navy, “As the air and missile defense capabilities of potential adversaries rapidly advance, the ability of the U.S. Armed Forces to employ short-range precision guided weapons such as Joint Direct Attack Munitions (JDAMs) will be increasingly challenged. China and Russia are also increasingly fielding sophisticated electronic warfare systems that can jam the GPS and other communication links.

The LRASM is a long-range precision-guided, anti-ship standoff missile designed to meet the needs of U.S. Navy and Air Force warfighters in anti-access/area-denial threat environments. The LRASM boasts a range of well over 200 nautical miles, a payload of 1,000 pounds, and the ability to strike at nearly the speed of sound. What really makes LRASM stand out is that all of this is completely autonomous. Human beings tell the missile where the enemy fleet is, which ship to strike, and a provide it with a continuous stream of data—the missile takes care of everything else. Using artificial intelligence, the missile takes data and makes decisions all on its own.

Anti-access and area denial (A2/AD) environment could be countered by highly autonomous systems  like  LRASM.  LRASM  missile employs advanced technologies that reduce dependence on intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance platforms, network links, and GPS navigation in electronic warfare environments. Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control LRASM surface-launch director Scott Callaway said: “This successful flight test demonstrates Lockheed Martin’s readiness to answer the US Navy’s need for new anti-surface warfare capabilities as part of the ‘distributed lethality’ concept, which calls for arming even the Navy’s smallest ships with powerful weapons that can hit targets hundreds of miles out

The US Air Force (USAF) has successfully launched the first tactical configuration long-range anti-ship missile (LRASM) at the Point Mugu Sea Range in California, US. The launch of Lockheed Martin-built LRASM was carried out by a B-1B Lancer strategic bomber from Edwards Air Force Base in California. Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control LRASM director Mike Fleming said: “This was the first flight of a production representative, tactical configuration LRASM.

The US Air Force’s (USAF) B-1B Lancer bomber has successfully test-fired production configuration long-range anti-ship missiles (LRASMs) over the Sea Range at Point Mugu in California. The trial witnessed the launch of two Lockheed Martin-built LRASMs against multiple maritime targets. It met the primary test objectives, including target impact, paving the way for LRASM’s early operational capability.

Earlier, Lockheed Martin’s Long Range Anti-Ship Missile (LRASM) was successfully released from a U.S. Navy F/A-18E/F Super Hornet at NAS Patuxent River, Maryland. The jettison release of the first LRASM from the Super Hornet is used to validate the aerodynamic separation models of the missile. “The first time event of releasing LRASM from the F/A-18E/F is a major milestone towards meeting early operational capability in 2019,” said Mike Fleming, Lockheed Martin LRASM program director. “The program is executing the integration and test contract, maturing subsystems and proving flight worthiness.”


Enhanced A2/AD environment

China is fielding an ASBM, referred to as the DF-21D that is a theater-range ballistic missile equipped with a maneuverable reentry vehicle (MaRV) designed to hit moving ships at sea. This missile provides the PLA the capability to attack aircraft carriers in the western Pacific. The CSS-5 Mod 5 has a range exceeding 1,500 km [about 810 nm] and is armed with a maneuverable warhead. It can approach its target at hypersonic speed at a near-vertical ballistic angle, capable of executing a series of complex maneuvers during its descent, greatly complicating defensive counter-fire.

The warhead is thought to be composed of numerous cluster munitions that would spread out across the deck of the supercarrier, disabling or destroying exposed aircraft, radar dishes, and antennae as well as killing the flight deck crew, achieving a mission kill without necessarily sinking the ship. The recent DF-26 has a reported range of 1,800 miles to 2,500 miles, may also have an anti-ship capability.

The PLA Navy is also deploying a wide range of advanced ASCMs, the new YJ-12 ASCM provides an increased threat to naval assets, due to its long-range and supersonic speeds. It is capable of being launched from H-6 bombers.

The implication for the U.S. Navy is that it needs aircraft and weapons with longer ranges. The Navy is “going to have to adopt an offensive mindset,” naval strategist Bryan Clark, of the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, told the House Armed Services Committee’s seapower and projection forces subcommittee.

Rob McHenry, a program manager in the Tactical Technology Office at DARPA, explained to Aviation Week: “We want US Navy cruisers and destroyers to be able to stand off from outside of potential adversaries’ direct counter fire range, and be able to safely engage and destroy high value targets they may be engaging against from extended range, well beyond potential adversary ranges that we may have to face…

Standoff precision guided weapons

LRASM – a modified version of the Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile – was developed as part of an urgent operational need for U.S. Pacific Command for a modern air launched anti-ship cruise missile.

The capability to employ precision guided weapons at standoff ranges in large numbers will be necessary to ensure operational success in any high-end engagement. Advanced weapons such as the Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile—Extended Range (JASSM–ER), the Longe Range Anti-Ship Missile (LRASM), the Tomahawk missile and others will be key elements in attack execution.”“I need weapons systems of increased lethality that go faster, go further, and are more survivable,” PACOM commander Adm. Harry Harris told the Senate.”

“Once the missile flies that far, it has a requirement to be able to independently detect and validate the target that it was shot at. Finding that target, the missile will have to be able to penetrate the air defenses and finally, once it gets to that target, it has to have a lethal capability to make a difference once it gets there.”

LRASM is first guided by the ship that launched it, then by satellite. The missile is jam-resistant and can carry on even if it loses contact with the Global Positioning System. As part of the targeting system, the missile can be set to fly to a series of waypoints, flying around static threats, land features, and commercial shipping. LRASM can detect threats between waypoints and navigate around them. If it decides it would be entering the engagement range of an enemy ship not on the target list, LRASM will fly around the ship, even skipping waypoints that might lie within enemy range and going on to the next one.

After locating the enemy fleet, it dives to sea-skimming altitude to avoid close-in defenses. LRASM then sizes up the enemy fleet, locates its target, and calculates the desired “mean point of impact”—the exact spot the missile should aim for, taking into account the accuracy of the missile—to ensure the missile does not miss. In most instances that is the exact center of the ship, with the angle of the ship in relation to the missile taken into consideration, reported Kyle Mizokami in PM. Using AI and datalinks, multiple LRASMs can launch a coordinated attack on an enemy fleet.

The LRASM programme supports the US Navy’s Offensive Anti-Surface Warfare (OASuW) effort to improve its ability to engage and destroy high-value targets from extended range.


Lockheed conducts successful flight tests of LRASM

LRASM is armed with a proven 1,000-pound penetrator and blast-fragmentation warhead, Lockheed officials said. With a range of at least 200 nautical miles, LRASM is designed to use next-generation guidance technology to help track and eliminate targets such as enemy ships, shallow submarines, drones, aircraft and land-based targets, according to Lockheed Martin developers.

The LRASM, which is 168-inches long and 2,500 pounds, is currently configured to fire from an Air Force B-1B bomber, Navy surface ship Vertical Launch Tubes and a Navy F-18 carrier-launched fighter. The weapon is expected to be operational from an Air Force B-1B bomber and a Navy F-18 by 2019, Navy statements have said.

Earlier Lockheed Martin has successfully carried out a controlled flight test of the US Navy’s long-range anti-ship missile (LRASM) surface-launch variant. Conducted from the navy’s Self Defense Test ship at the Point Mugu Sea Range, California, the event marked the third successful surface-launched LRASM test. The operational LRASM was fired from the MK41 VLS launcher, which flew a pre-planned low-altitude profile, collecting aerodynamics agility data, and then returned to its pre-determined destination.

ViaSat has been contracted to deliver datalink communications for the integration and test phase of the US Navy’s Long Range Anti-Ship Missile (LRASM) programme. The follow-on deal was awarded by Lockheed Martin, and will see ViaSat supply Weapon Data Link (WDL) L-Band Units (LBU) in support of missile test programme’s datalink communications requirements.The weapon system will be able to communicate with launch platforms using the ViaSat datalink solution, as well as provide growth opportunities in the future.

The test proved the maturity of the missile, which loaded mission data using the modified Tactical Tomahawk Weapon Control System (TTWCS+), and aligned mission data with a moving ship in a dynamic at-sea environment.

Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control LRASM surface-launch director Scott Callaway said: “This successful flight test demonstrates Lockheed Martin’s readiness to answer the US Navy’s need for new anti-surface warfare capabilities as part of the ‘distributed lethality’ concept. In 2013 and 2014, the LRASM was also tested successfully from a ground-based MK 41 VLS Desert Ship. Lockheed is planning to continue with testing of the LRASM on other surface ship applications, including topside, deck-mounted launchers.

Earlier Lockheed Martin and the U.S. Navy completed the first Long Range Anti-Ship Missile (LRASM) prototype captive-carry flight tests on the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet. The flights were conducted at Patuxent River Naval Air Station, Maryland.  These initial airworthiness flight tests used a LRASM mass-simulator vehicle attached to the Navy’s F/A-18E/F to evaluate flight and handling characteristics, as well as to measure structural loads and strains on the aircraft. A future series of tests would gather noise and vibration data between the aircraft and the missile.

“LRASM is a precision-guided, anti-ship standoff missile designed to meet the needs of U.S. Navy and Air Force warfighters in anti-access/area-denial threat environments.”

LRASM leverages the state-of-the-art Joint Air to Surface Standoff Missile Extended Range (JASSM-ER) airframe and incorporates additional sensors and systems to achieve a stealthy and survivable subsonic cruise missile. It is 168-inches long, weighs 2,500 pounds, and has a reported range of 500 nautical miles.

Featuring a multi-modal sensor, weapon data link, and an enhanced digital anti-jam global positioning system to detect and destroy enemy threats, the LRASM missile is armed with a 1,000lb penetrator and blast-fragmentation warhead.

The current plan is to have the weapon operational on-board an Air Force B-1B bomber by 2018 and a carrier-launched fighter Navy F-18 by 2019, Navy statements have said.


LRASM, is a collaborative effort between Lockheed, the Office of Naval Research and the Defense Advanced Project Research Agency, or DARPA.

The joint DARPA – Navy Long Range Anti-Ship Missile (LRASM) program is investing in advanced technologies to provide a leap ahead in U.S. surface warfare capability. The LRASM is designed to detect and destroy specific targets within groups of ships by employing advanced technologies that reduce dependence on intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance platforms, network links and GPS navigation in electronic warfare environments. Autonomous guidance algorithms should allow the LRASM to use less-precise target cueing data to pinpoint specific targets in the contested domain.

LRASM employs a multi-mode sensor, weapon data link and an enhanced digital anti-jam global positioning system to detect and destroy specific targets within a group of ships, Lockheed officials said. LRASM is engineered with all-weather capability and a multi-modal seeker designed to discern targets.

Beyond their anti-jamming digital GPS, therefore, LRASM will also rely on a 2-way data link, a radar sensor that can detect ships (and might also be usable for navigation), and a day/night camera for positive identification and final targeting. In its second flight test conducted in November 2014, the missile receiving inflight targeting updates via data-link and scoring a direct hit on the moving ship target.

The program also focuses on innovative terminal survivability approaches and precision lethality in the face of advanced counter measures. In 2015 test, in the final portion of the flight, the missile detected, tracked and avoided an object that was deliberately placed in the flight pattern to demonstrate LRASM’s obstacle-avoidance algorithms.

A key feature of this missile is a terminal guidance system that would allow it to reach a target even if the military were denied access to GPS signals or other network links.

The Lockheed Martin recently tested Joint-Air-to-Ground Missile (JAGM) that has a multi-mode guidance section with semi-active laser (SAL) sensor for precision-strike and a fire-and-forget millimeter wave (MMW) radar for moving targets in all-weather conditions. JAGM can engage several different stationary and moving targets in the bad weather, smoke and dust, and advanced countermeasures. Laser and radar guided engagement modes enable JAGM to strike accurately and reduce collateral damage, Lockheed Martin officials say


BAE Systems has begun production of an advanced targeting sensor for LRASM

BAE Systems has begun production of an advanced targeting sensor for the emerging Long Range Anti-Ship Missile engineered to track and destroy moving targets from great distances semi-autonomously, developers said. BAE Systems is a subcontractor to main LRASM developer Lockheed Martin. Production of the sensor comes shortly after Lockheed received the first LRASM production contract award from the Navy and Air Force.

Along with advances in electronic warfare, cyber-security and communications, LRASM is design to bring semi-autonomous targeting capability to a degree that does not yet exist. As a result, some of its guidance and seeker technology is secret, developers have said. Overall, LRASM employs the multi-mode sensor, weapon data link and an enhanced digital anti-jam global positioning system to detect and destroy specific targets within a group of ships, Lockheed officials said.

Developers say the weapon is particularly well suited for the most advanced adversary weapons systems and most high-threat warfare scenarios such as a “near-peer” type of combat engagements. Advanced threat environments are expected to include enemy forces armed with long-range sensors, electronic warfare, tactics for compromising or jamming GPS signals and a host of additional countermeasures designed to thwart incoming surface and air weapons.

“Our differentiator is that our technology can sense, identify, and help target moving ships from a great distance. With our LRASM sensor, we’ve transitioned our world-class electronic warfare capabilities from other platforms to a missile system with extremely low size, weight, and power constraints,” BAE LRASM Program Manager, Joseph Mancini, told Scout Warrior.

US Navy’s Offensive Anti-Surface Warfare (OASuW)

Offensive Anti-Surface Warfare (OASuW) will be an offensive weapon system that can be air, surface, and subsurface launched in the maritime battle space environment. OASuW will be a vital component of the Joint Force Anti-Surface Warfare capability and incorporate new and emergent technologies to support an increased offensive strike capability. Due to emerging threats, the fleet issued an Urgent Operational Needs Statement (UONS) that identified a capability gap for a long-range anti-ship missile to be filled by 2018.

Directly supporting this UONS and significantly reducing Joint Force warfighting risks, the U.S. Navy initiated OASuW Increment 1, which leverages the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency(DARPA)/Office of Naval Research Long Range Anti-Ship Missile (LRASM) demonstration program to deliver an Early Operational Capability (EOC) in the required timeframe.

OASuW Increment I — an ongoing program between DARPA and the Navy — is being developed using the Lockheed Martin Long Range Anti-Ship Missile (LRASM) to meet an urgent operational need from U.S. Pacific Command.

LRASM fills the most urgent air-launched capability gap to compliment, existing ASuW weapon systems and positions the Department of Defense to address evolving surface warfare threats. Longer term OASuW requirements will be addressed in the future by OASuW Increment II.

Set to start in Fiscal Year 2017, the contest for the Navy’s Offensive Anti-Surface Warfare (OASuW) Increment II seeks to replace the Navy’s decades-old inventory of Boeing RGM-84 Harpoons with more technologically sophisticated weapons.

The Harpoon missile does not have the range or survivability to defeat emerging surface threats. Additionally, the US Navy has reduced the number of Harpoon missiles deployed each year; the Navy’s ability to effectively implement Harpoon in battle is diminished as compared to the 1980s fleet.

Navy also tested in 2015, a sea-based Tomahawk land attack missile against a moving maritime target. The TLAM, however, requires in-flight communication updates to adjust its flight path. However, It does boast nearly twice the range of the LRASM.


References and resources also include:

US Navy is developing future multimission guided Missile Frigate (FFG(X)), with large power-projection capabilities

The US Navy’s “Littoral Combat Ship” program developed a new generation of affordable surface combatants that could operate in dangerous shallow and near-shore environments, while remaining affordable and capable throughout their lifetimes. LCS was designed for countering Asymmetric and A2/AD threats.

However according to experts expressed doubt about its power projection capability.  “To put things in perspective, the two variants of the U.S. Littoral Combat Ship, Freedom and Independence, are substantially larger at roughly 2,900 tons and 3,100 tons respectively—but they do not possess any cruise missile or similar power projection capability,” wrote Garrett I. Campbell Federal Executive Fellow, Brookings Institution. Therefore LCS do not currently possess the power-projection capabilities recently demonstrated by Russia’s Caspian Sea fleet.

The U.S. Navy is looking for inputs from industry on a new multimission guided-missile frigate adapted from existing ship designs, a major departure from its modular littoral combat ship, according to a request for information released Monday. US Navy’s future Guided Missile Frigate (FFG(X)) shall provide Combatant and Fleet Commanders a uniquely suitable asset to achieve select sea control objectives and perform maritime security operations while facilitating access in all domains in support of strike group and aggregated fleet operations.

Unlike the LCS, the frigates should be able to integrate into carrier strike groups and large surface combatant led surface action groups supplementing the fleet’s undersea and surface warfare capabilities. It should also be able to defend itself during independent operations in a contested environment extend the fleet tactical grid, and host and control unmanned systems.

The navy is also expecting the frigate to assume some of the duties of large surface combatants like the over-tasked Arleigh Burke-class destroyers during “operations other than war”. These operations include presence missions, security cooperation activities and humanitarian assistance and disaster relief (HA/DR) efforts among other.

The U.S. Navy would like for the ship to be able to Kill surface ships over the horizon, Detect enemy submarines, defend convoy ships, Employ active and passive electronic warfare systems and Defend against swarming small boat attacks.

Major warfare systems that the U.S. Navy would like to have on the frigate include an Aegis-derivative COMBATSS-21 combat management system that uses a common source library, a C4I suite, an Enterprise Air Surveillance Radar (EASR), Mk53 Decoy Launching System (Nulka), Four canister launched over-the-horizon weapons, SeaRAM Mk15 Mod 31 in addition to a UAV and an MH-60R helicopter.

What the navy is particularly interested in is the ship’s vertical launch cell potential to support Evolved Sea Sparrow Missile Block 2 and/or Standard Missile-2 Active missiles. The navy wants a description of launcher type and cell quantities the proposed design could accommodate.

Other capabilities in “tier two” include various sonar equipment such as variable-depth and towed-array sonar, Cooperative Engagement Capability to be able to share target data with other ships and aircraft in the fleet, rigid-hull inflatable boats, Next Generation Surface Search Radar, and a MK 110 57mm gun and related systems.

The U.S. Navy wants the frigate to have a 25 year service life and a grade A shock hardening for propulsion, critical systems, and combat system elements to retain full air defense and propulsion capabilities.

Navy surface fleet leaders in early 2015 announced a new organizing concept for the Navy’s surface fleet called distributed lethality. Under distributed lethality, offensive weapons such as Anti Ship Cruise Missiles (ASCMs) are to be distributed more widely across all types of Navy surface ships, and new operational concepts for Navy surface ship formations are to be implemented. The aim of distributed lethality is to boost the surface fleet’s capability for attacking enemy ships and make it less possible for an enemy to cripple the U.S. fleet by concentrating its attacks on a few very high-value Navy surface ships (particularly the Navy’s aircraft carriers), according to Congressional Research Service Report.

A Detail Design and Construction contract is expected to be awarded in FY2020. The navy wants to buy one ship in 2020 and 2021 followed by two ships per year from 2022


The U.S. Navy  New Warship for A2/AD  environment

In terms of the Navy’s Distributed Maritime Operations (DMO) Concept, this FFG(X) small surface combatant will expand blue force sensor and weapon influence to provide increased information to the overall fleet tactical picture while challenging adversary ISR&T efforts.

This platform will employ unmanned systems to penetrate and dwell in contested environments, operating at greater risk to gain sensor and weapons advantages over the adversary. The FFG(X) will be capable of establishing a local sensor network using passive onboard sensors, embarked aircraft and elevated/tethered systems and unmanned vehicles to gather information and then act as a gateway to the fleet tactical grid using resilient communications systems and networks.

During Phase 0 (Shape the Battlespace) operations, FFG(X) will operate independently to develop a Recognized Maritime Picture and Recognized Air Picture, perform presence missions, conduct security cooperation activities, support humanitarian assistance and disaster relief (HA/DR) efforts; and conduct security assistance and security force assistance (SFA). This ship will reduce demand on high end cruisers and destroyers that currently conduct ASW, SUW, and Theater Security Cooperation missions; allowing for an increase of more capable assets to maintain a stabilizing presence in regions where tensions with nations that have highly capable naval forces may exist.

During Phase 1 (Deter Aggression) and Phase 2 (Seize the Initiative) operations, the FFG(X) will normally aggregate into strike groups and Large Surface Combatant led surface action groups but also possess the ability to robustly defend itself during conduct of independent operations while connected and contributing to the fleet tactical grid.

FFG(X) will perform its missions in complex electronic warfare and anti-ship missile threat environments, and, therefore, when available from other Navy efforts, will integrate hard-kill with advanced soft-kill systems at the combat systems level to enable the most effective offense and defense management of onboard weapons and decoy inventories.


FFG(X) missions during these phases include:

  • ·Complement the surface warfare (SuW) capabilities of a Carrier Strike Group and Expeditionary Strike Group with capacity in aggregated operations (e.g., as a pack) to deter or defeat aggression by adversary warships with over-the-horizon anti-ship missiles. Concepts of employment for this type of ship will include integrated operations with area air defense capable destroyers and cruisers as well as independent operations while connected and contributing to the fleet tactical grid. Additionally, this platform must defend against raids of small boats


  • ·Perform anti-submarine warfare (ASW) scout and patrol missions that complement the capabilities of Strike Group and theater operations with enhanced active and passive undersea sensing capabilities.


  • ·Support transoceanic logistics movements by serving as a force multiplier to area air defense capable destroyers. If equipped with weapons providing the required capability and capacity, the ship will independently escort logistics ships during transit through low and medium threat regions.


  • ·Provide robust electromagnetic sensing and targeting capabilities and contribute to force level electromagnetic spectrum control


  • ·Provide electromagnetic information exploitation capabilities and intelligence collection



The FFG(X) aviation capability will include secure and traverse systems for aircraft handling and incorporate the aircraft systems and sensors into an integrated combat system.


To achieve these missions, the Navy desires to use common Navy systems across the radar, combat system, C4ISR systems, and launcher elements. Hull, Mechanical, and Electrical systems commonality with other US Navy platforms is also encouraged.


References and Resources also include:

US Navy’s Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) can counter asymmetric threats however lacks power projection capabilities for A2/AD environment

The US Navy’s $35+ billion “Littoral Combat Ship” program is intended to create a new generation of affordable surface combatants that could operate in dangerous shallow and near-shore environments, while remaining affordable and capable throughout their lifetimes. The littoral combat ship is a modular, reconfigurable ship, with three mission packages (surface warfare, mine countermeasures, and anti-submarine warfare).

LCS  was designed for countering Asymmetric and A2/AD threats. That requires the ability to counter growing “asymmetric” threats like coastal mines, quiet diesel submarines, global piracy, and terrorists on small fast attack boats. It also requires intelligence gathering and scouting, some ground combat support capabilities, and the ability to act as a local command node, sharing tactical information with other Navy aircraft, ships, submarines, and joint units.

At the same time, US Navy needs ships that can act as low-end fillers in other traditional fleet roles, and operate in the presence of missile-armed enemy vessels and/or aerial threats. The littoral combat ships also assumed to provide critical role in dealing with anti-access and the area denial weapons, under US Air-Sea Battle (ASB) concept.

However according to experts expressed doubt about its power projection capability.  “To put things in perspective, the two variants of the U.S. Littoral Combat Ship, Freedom and Independence, are substantially larger at roughly 2,900 tons and 3,100 tons respectively—but they do not possess any cruise missile or similar power projection capability,” wrote Garrett I. Campbell Federal Executive Fellow, Brookings Institution. Therefore LCS do not currently possess the power-projection capabilities recently demonstrated by Russia’s Caspian Sea fleet.

The Navy is considering at least three over-the-horizon missile weapons for its Littoral Combat Ship — Harpoon, Naval Strike Missile, Long-Range Anti-Ship Missile and an Extended Range Griffin Missile. Specifically, the USN is considering a proposal for an OTH missile offered by a Raytheon-Kongsberg team featuring the Naval Strike Missile (NSM).

Vice Adm. Thomas Rowden, commander, Naval Surface Forces, said this month that that he is relying on an over-the-horizon missiles to “increase offensive firepower on surface warships by continuing to modify existing over-the-horizon surface weapons by expanding procurement of improved anti-ship, anti-air antisubmarine and surface strike missiles.” Rowden, speaking at the annual Surface Navy Association symposium,” emphasized that increasing attack technology for the surface fleet was vital to the service’s future strategy.

Navy surface fleet leaders in early 2015 announced a new organizing concept for the Navy’s surface fleet called distributed lethality. Under distributed lethality, offensive weapons such as Anti Ship Cruise Missiles (ASCMs) are to be distributed more widely across all types of Navy surface ships, and new operational concepts for Navy surface ship formations are to be implemented. The aim of distributed lethality is to boost the surface fleet’s capability for attacking enemy ships and make it
less possible for an enemy to cripple the U.S. fleet by concentrating its attacks on a few very high-value Navy surface ships (particularly the Navy’s aircraft carriers), according to Congressional Research Service Report.


LCS Class

The LCS requirement has been identified as part of a broader surface combatant force transformation strategy, which recognizes that many future threats are spawning in regions with shallow seas, where the ability to operate near-shore and even in rivers will be vital for mission success.

Six LCS of two different designs are now in service, even though formal operational testing is not complete, and they’ve done real-world deployments to Singapore. The LCS class consists of the Freedom and Independence variants, designed and built by two separate industry teams.

The Independence-class LCS features a unique trimaran hull and a larger flight deck than the Freedom class. Furthermore, the Independence class has more fuel capacity and consequently a wider operational range. Independence-class ships, in comparison to the Freedom variant, are also capable of accommodating two rather than one helicopter.

The Freedom variant team is led by Lockheed Martin (for the odd-numbered hulls, e.g. LCS 1). The Independence variant team is led by Austal USA (for LCS 6 and follow-on even-numbered hulls) and was led by General Dynamics, Bath Iron Works for LCS 2 and LCS 4.

The U.S. Navy  commissioned its latest warship, the Independence-class Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) USS Gabrielle Giffords, in Galveston, Texas on June 10. The U.S. Navy plans to commission another Independence-class LCS this year, the USS Omaha, along with two Freedom-class LCS: the USS Sioux City and USS Little Rock.


US Navy’s littoral combat ship USS Coronado (LCS 4)

USS Cornado is part of the US Navy’s comprehensive plan of action to upgrade and integrate the Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) into the Fleet. Commissioned in April, this high-speed, shallow-draft multi-mission vessel is capable of operating independently or with an allied strike group.

These modular, highly agile, networked surface and reconfigurable vessels are mainly used to prevent threats in coastal waters. Due to its modular design, the ship is easy to reconfigure for different roles, including anti-submarine warfare, mine countermeasures, anti-surface warfare, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance.

Most of the functions of the mission modules will be performed by carried vehicles such as helicopters like MH-60R / S Seahawks or unmanned vehicles like MQ-8B Fire Scout, a Vertical Takeoff and Landing, Tactical Unmanned Aerial Vehicle System.

The swappable mission modules are inspired by Denmark’s Standard Flex 300 corvettes based on ISO containers, that “flex ships” can radically changes the ships’ capabilities, by swapping in a full breadth of equipment focused on a particular need, In contrast to the traditional approach, which is to cram a wide-ranging set of bolted-in compromise equipment into fixed installations.

The multimission 57mm Mk 110 naval gun system is a medium-calibre shipboard weapon designed to deliver high rates of accurate fire against threats, such as those which are surface, airborne and sea-based.

Capable of quickly switching between different optimized ammunition, the fully automatic gun system can fire up to 220 rounds a minute at a distance of up to 10.5 miles. The other armament is evolved SeaRAM 11 cell missile launcher that combines the radar and electro-optical system of the Phalanx 1B CIWS with an 11-cell RAM launcher. It is designed to effectively engage in future high-performance supersonic threats in the littoral environments.

USS Coronado’s (LCS 4) Initial Operational Test and Evaluation (IOT&E)

The Navy has completed Initial Operational Test and Evaluation (IOT&E) phase one and the second increment of the surface warfare mission package (SUW MP). The Navy is scheduled to complete IOT&E phase two on USS Coronado with the SUW MP in the spring of 2016. Phase two will validate cyber security and software updates planned for installation prior to deployment.

The events completed during IOT&E gauged the ship’s ability during the following: tracking and live fire tests against threat representative high speed maneuverable surface targets using the 30 mm and 57 mm guns; tracking air threats with the ship’s air search radar and the SeaRAM anti-ship missile defense system; and conducting Visit, Board, Search, and Seizure operations utilizing the SUW MP’s maritime security module and MH-60R Helicopter.


USS Coronado’s successfully tested against a “Swarm raid”

US Navy’s littoral combat ship (LCS4) successfully tracked and neutralized both single and multiple fast inshore attack craft during live-fire testing off the coast of California.
The ship’s crew and embarked surface warfare (SUW) mission package (MP) detachment conducted test events using the ship’s core weapons system – the Mk 110 57mm gun-and the embarked SUW MP Mk 46 30mm gun weapon systems (GWS) against a “swarm raid” of representative fast inshore attack craft. In a swarm raid, multiple enemy ships attempt to attack a ship using large numbers of smaller craft.


Raytheon SeaRAM Missile Fired from USS Coronado (LCS 4)

The U.S. Navy successfully fired a Rolling Airframe Missile (RAM) from a SeaRAM launcher aboard the Independence-class littoral combat ship USS Coronado (LCS 4) 14, according to a Raytheon Company news release. Coronado fired the RAM from its SeaRAM anti-ship missile defense system. The SeaRAM detected, tracked, and engaged an inbound threat target, and successfully intercepted it with a RAM Block 1A missile.

RAM’s superior accuracy, extended range and high maneuverability extend the reach of the system while enhancing its accuracy and effectiveness against 21st century targets, including fixed-wing and rotary-wing aircraft, anti-ship missiles, and other threats.

“This test success marks a major milestone toward full operation and employment of the SeaRAM system on U.S. Navy ships,” said Rick Nelson, vice president of Naval Area and Mission Defense product line at Raytheon Missile Systems. “SeaRAM demonstrated that it is a vital weapon for defending navies against anti-ship cruise missiles, and provides warfighters with a capability found nowhere else.”

SeaRAM leverages the proven Phalanx Close-In Weapons System (CIWS) that is fitted to many U.S. Navy allied and partner nation ships worldwide. The SeaRAM system employs the Phalanx Block 1B’s high-resolution search-and-track sensor and computer systems and reliable quick-response capability, but replaces the Phalanx’s 20mm Gatling gun with an 11-cell RAM launcher.

Last year, the USS Coronado (LCS 4), successfully test-fired the Naval Strike Missile (NSM) from its deck by hitting a mobile ship target. The Naval Strike Missile (NSM) is an anti-ship and land-attack missile developed by the Norwegian company Kongsberg Defence & Aerospace (KDA).


Navy Scraps RMMV Mine Drone developing alternatives

One of the Littoral Combat Ship’s most important and most difficult missions is clearing minefields. In previous plans, the Lockheed Martin Remote Multimission Vehicle (RMMV) was to tow the AN/AQS-20A sonar for volume search; the Textron Common Unmanned Surface Vehicle (CUSV) would tow a minesweeper, and the General Dynamics Knifefish unmanned underwater vehicle would hunt for buried mines.

With the Navy finding that RMMV as it stands today is too unreliable for its mission, it  decided to  scrap RMMV drone, replacing it with a different type of robot boat, said Navy Secretary Ray Mabus. Mabus acknowledged. “We’ve got ten of these, we’re going to upgrade them to make ’em more reliable, but it’s not a long-term answer.” Instead, “we’re going to move to something different,” Mabus said. “We’re going to move first to probably an unmanned surface vehicle, instead of this semi-submersible, and then we’re going to move longer-term to an unmanned underwater vehicle.”


The Navy is hoping to fully resurrect Mine-Hunting technology for the Littoral Combat Ship such that it can find an eliminate threatening undersea mines with drones, helicopters and underwater sonar, service officials said. The service plans to engineer a new “truck” or delivery mechanism for its sonar and undersea mine-detection technology as a way to ensure the system is integrated and functional by 2018. The Navy plan is to preserve and build upon the promising testing performance airborne mine-neutralization technology and underwater sonar by providing a new RMMV-like delivery technology, Capt. Casey Moton, LCS Mission Packages Program Manager, told Scout Warrior in an interview.

CUSV procurement will be accelerated, Rear Adm. Brian Antonio said, and “comparing it to an RMMV – easier to maintain, harder to maintain; easier to recover, harder to recover; easier to launch, harder to launch; up time, down time, finding mines. We’ll evaluate all that in concert with the fleet.”

Antonio called Knifefish a “very promising system” that had a built-in volume mine search capability in addition to its unique buried mine search sensors. Knifefish fielding is furthest out, but user feedback from the three systems would ultimately get the Navy to a decision in late 2018 or early 2019 regarding which system – or combination of systems – should be used to perform the volume mine search mission on LCSs.


Remote Minehunting System ( RMMV or RMS )

The Remote Minehunting System, or RMS was developed for the Navy’s LCS   to detect and locate mines and communicate that information to the ship in real time so the explosives can be avoided or destroyed. But the Defense Department’s Office of Operational Test & Evaluation says the drone hunting technology was unable to consistently identify and destroy underwater explosives during tests dating back to September 2014. “The Navy has determined that the RMS’ total number of failures and periodicity of failures fall short of the design requirement for the system,” said Capt. Thurraya Kent, a spokeswoman for the Navy.

Specifically, testing revealed that the vehicle “cannot be reliably controlled by the ship or communicate when it is operating out of the line-of-sight of the ship, and the towed sonar cannot detect mines consistently,” according to the DOT&E. The memo, cited in a September Senate Armed Service Committee report, also said the drone could only reliably operate for up to 25 hours before it failed during testing, falling far short of its required 75 hours.

“The issue was reliability. We couldn’t afford to have a machine that would go out into a minefield that was unmanned, thereby taking the sailor out of the minefield, having it break down in the minefield, and oops, now we’re sending a sailor into the minefield to go retrieve the unmanned system. We can’t have that. But let’s face it, we invested a lot of money and a lot of time along the way to have this capability that actually does work when it works – it actually performs when it works.”

The RMMV is a high-endurance, semi-autonomous, low-observable, unmanned, diesel-powered vehicle, operated and maintained from the LCS. It is designed to lower out of the back of an LCS down into the water, bringing a mine-searching AN/AQS-20A sonar with it. The AN/AQS-20A incorporates five separate sonar/sensors in a compact, lightweight, and hydro-dynamically stable towed body. The AN/AQS-20A localizes mine-like objects and provides the operator with a visual image and a contact data list.  All mission data are recorded by the LCS for post-mission analysis.

“Joint U.S. Navy and Lockheed Martin assessment teams largely attributed the RMMV reliability issues experienced during testing to mission package integration issues, vehicle configuration and maintenance shortcomings.

Sensors and Decoys

Among its sensors is Sea Giraffe 3D Surface/Air RADAR, capable of simultaneously detecting small, fast-moving targets at all altitudes and in severe clutter. It provides the most comprehensive Electronic Counter-Countermeasure (ECCM) capabilities, including ultra-low antenna side-lobes.

The decoy systems include Super Rapid Blooming Offboard Chaff (SRBOC) decoy launching system (DLS), deck-mounted, mortar-type countermeasure system may be used to launch an array of chaff cartridges against a variety of threats.

The countermeasures suite will include ES 3601 electronic support measures (ESM) from EDO Corp, a state-of-the-art precision system that enhances ship survivability by detecting, identifying, and locating hostile ship and missile radar signals early and efficiently.


LCS lacks power projection capabilities

In October 2015, Russian warships belonging to the Russian Navy’s Caspian Sea Strike Group launched 26 cruise missiles against Islamic State targets located in Syria. The missiles flew nearly 1,500 kilometres (930 mi) over Iran and Iraq and struck targets in Raqqa and Aleppo provinces (controlled by the the Islamic State) as well as Idlib province (controlled by the al-Qaeda-linked Nusra Front). The missiles were launched from Dagestan, which was the flagship of the strike group, is more than 328-feet long, has a displacement of about 2,000 tons, according to the Ministry of Defence.

“To put things in perspective, the two variants of the U.S. Littoral Combat Ship, Freedom and Independence, are substantially larger at roughly 2,900 tons and 3,100 tons respectively—but they do not possess any cruise missile or similar power projection capability,” wrote Garrett I. Campbell Federal Executive Fellow, Brookings Institution. Therefore LCS do not currently possess the power-projection capabilities recently demonstrated by Russia’s Caspian Sea fleet.

“Present LCS designs don’t even carry torpedo tubes, or vertical-launch systems (VLS) that could accommodate present and future attack and/or defensive missiles,” according to Defence Industry Daily.

Naval analyst Raymond Pritchett has pithily described the current compromise as: “…3000 ton speedboat chasers with the endurance of a Swedish corvette, the weapon payload of a German logistics ship, and the cargo hold of a small North Korean arms smuggler.”

The real test of USS Coronado shall be when she is deployed in the South China Sea, and has to deal with the risk of Chinese DF-21D (CSS-5 Mod 4) anti-ship ballistic missiles.


The article source also includes:


DARPA’s OCEAN OF THINGS to provide automatic detection of Russian and Chinese submarines and ships

During the Cold War, the U.S. Navy laid fixed networks of underwater hydrophones on the ocean floor called the “Sound Surveillance System” (SOSUS) to detect Soviet submarines transiting from their bases to patrol areas in the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. Listening arrays placed in strategic chokepoints that those submarines would necessarily have to transit, like the waters between Greenland, Iceland, and Scotland — the so-called “GIUK Gap” — notionally let the United States know every time a Soviet submarine entered the North Atlantic, allowing the U.S. Navy to direct its own ships or submarines to track them. China is planning to build a massive underwater observation system across the disputed East and South China seas, that experts say could be used to detect the movement of foreign ships and diminish the stealth capabilities of US submarines.


Now DARPA has launched its Ocean of Things program, which seeks to enable persistent maritime situational awareness over large ocean areas by deploying thousands of small, low-cost floats that could form a distributed sensor network. Each smart float would contain a suite of commercially available sensors to collect environmental data—such as ocean temperature, sea state, and location—as well as activity data about commercial vessels, aircraft, and even maritime mammals moving through the area. The floats would transmit data periodically via satellite to a cloud network for storage and real-time analysis.


The Ocean of Things program will provide persistent, wide-area sensor coverage across the maritime environment through the employment of large numbers of intelligent floats. Existing naval and commercial platforms are constrained to localized situational awareness from their organic sensors, and support by remote sensors is often restricted by the physical environment (e.g., fog, rain, cloud cover). Ocean of Things will address these gaps in ocean understanding to benefit all users of maritime data.


“The goal of the program is to increase maritime awareness in a cost-effective way,” said John Waterston, program manager in DARPA’s Strategic Technology Office (STO). “It would be cost-prohibitive to use existing platforms to continuously monitor vast regions of the ocean. By coupling powerful analytical tools with commercial sensor technology, we plan to create floating sensor networks that significantly expand maritime awareness at a fraction of the cost of current approaches.”

The Internet-of-Things is an emerging revolution in the ICT sector under which there is shift from an “Internet used for interconnecting end-user devices” to an “Internet used for interconnecting physical objects that communicate with each other and/or with humans in order to offer a given service”. The increasing miniaturization of electronics has enabled tiny sensors and processors to be integrated into everyday objects, making them ‘‘smart’’ , such as smart watches, fitness monitoring products, food items, home appliances, plant control systems, equipment monitoring and maintenance sensors and industrial robots. By 2025, it is predicted that there can be as many as 100 billion connected IoT devices or network of everyday objects as well as sensors that will be infused with intelligence and computing capability.


Researchers are now developing the Internet of Underwater Things (IoUT), a world-wide network of smart interconnected underwater objects that would transmit data from existing and planned roaming, autonomous vehicles and underwater sensor networks to networks above surface in real time. “We will see acoustic communications transmitting information to AUVs over long distances, while optical modems enable data transfer between sensors and vehicles over shorter distances,” says Sonardyne’s Tena. “The entire network will enable the provision of near-real-time updates to surface-based operators.”


DARPA is planning to develop its own Ocean of Things which shall rely on Floats designed using commercial hardware components as a low-cost design approach will allow for the manufacture of large numbers of floats to cover large operating areas and provide robust data from areas where limited visibility exists today.


The floats will carry sensors that will autonomously generate a large amount of heterogeneous dataset for real-time analysis and generation of high-resolution mission products. The data includes dynamic display of float locations, health, and mission performance; processing of environmental data for oceanographic and meteorological models; algorithms to automatically detect, track, and identify nearby vessels; and identification of new indicators of maritime activity.


Technical challenges

The technical challenge for Ocean of Things lies in two key areas: float development and data analytics.

Under float development, proposers must design an intelligent float to house a passive sensor suite that can survive in harsh maritime environments. Each float would report information from its surroundings for at least one year before safely scuttling itself in the deep ocean. The floats will be required to be made of environmentally safe materials, pose no danger to vessels, and comply with all federal laws, regulations, and executive orders related to protection of marine life.


To effectively use constrained floats, each onboard sensing modality will require research into efficient signal processing methods that can maximizing the information content while utilizing limited communications bandwidth  available underwater and also energy efficient to minimize the use of stored energy on a float.


DARPA is also planning the availability of cloud computing resources on vessels and on shores connecting these ocean of things through satellite network , to perform data processing and analytics algorithms on large volumes of data produced by these floats. These Ocean Internet-of-Things can benefit from the scalability, and performance of cloud computing infrastructures and could provide them with opportunities for cost-effective on-demand scaling.


Additional research will focus on the implementation of advanced analytic techniques in a cloud-based architecture, on approaches to visualize the dynamic capabilities of the system, and on methods to assist operators interacting with large numbers of floats, says DARPA.


The data analytics portion of the Ocean of Things program will require proposers to develop cloud-based software and analytic techniques to process the floats’ reported data. This effort includes dynamic display of float locations, health, and mission performance; processing of environmental data for oceanographic and meteorological models; developing algorithms to automatically detect, track, and identify nearby vessels; and identification of new indicators of maritime activity.



Ocean of Things will deliver distributed awareness of both the physical and operational ocean environments to provide improved environmental and activity characterization. In addition to the primary sensing mission, a successful Ocean of Things program will be able to support testing of specialized payloads/behaviors to interact with its surroundings and improve system performance.



References and Resources also include:

US navy developing Large Displacement Unmanned Undersea Vehicle (LDUUV) and Extra Large UUV (XLUUV) for assured access in A2/AD environment

The US Navy needs to strengthen and enhance naval power-projection capabilities and integrated layered defense by improving manned and unmanned platforms, payloads and weapons. This enables U.S. and our partner nations’ forces to complete missions at extended ranges within hostile environments by avoiding, defeating and surviving attacks.

Rear Adm. Robert Girrier, director for Unmanned Warfare Systems, re-affirmed the importance of UUVs as a part of the Navy’s undersea dominance vision. USN has revised its Maritime strategy, for decisive war fighting advantage, in anti-access, area denial environment. The capability gaps have been mapped into nine S&T focus areas that help align, balance and communicate the efforts between the warfighter, ONR and the S&T community.

The Navy has launched  Large Displacement Unmanned Underwater Vehicle (LDUUV) program that  will design, fabricate, and field a new class of large displacement highly autonomous, Unmanned Undersea Vehicles (UUVs) to provide increased endurance, long range, and payload hosting.

The Navy has a similar multi-pronged approach for the Extra Large UUV (XLUUV) – a 54-inch diameter UUV, compared to the 48-inch diameter LDUUV, which would likely be launched from a pier instead of from a ship at sea. ONR is in the process of building its second XLUUV INP boat, and at the same time PMS 406 has already released a request for proposals for construction that should be awarded by the end of the year. This mine warfare asset will go through the same dual-pronged learning effort from ONR and the unmanned systems program office – though not as a rapid acquisition program – and ultimately all the prototyping work will lead to an unmanned system with multiple payloads for multiple mission areas.

Berkof said the Navy set up its LDUUV and XLUUV programs in a similar fashion, and the only reason LDUUV was chosen for rapid acquisition was the fact that it was farther along.

LDUUV Program

The LDUUV effort has split into two concurrent programs, one to continue experimenting with software and autonomy and the other as an accelerated acquisition program intended to put a boat in the water quickly.

The Program Executive Office for Littoral Combat Ships’ (PEO LCS) Unmanned Maritime Systems program office (PMS 406) designated its rapid acquisition program the “Snakehead LDUUV” a couple months ago and is aiming to put a prototype UUV in the water in 2019, deputy program manager Howard Berkof said Monday at the Navy League’s annual Sea-Air-Space exhibition.

“We are leveraging existing technologies out there – mature, proven technologies out there – and building this first Phase 1 vehicle to get it in the water as quickly as possible,” he said. “The objective is to get the first Phase 1 prototype wet in ‘19. So get it in the water as quickly as possible, get it into the hands of our sailors, enable them to use it and get those lessons learned and that feedback, and that will feed our future LDUUV acquisition program. In fact, it will feed our family of UUV programs.”

The Phase 1 Snakehead LDUUV will focus on intelligence and preparation of the environment (IPOE) and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) mission sets, and Phase 2 would seek to add extended ranges to both missions. The eventual program of record Snakehead Increment 1 would include additional payloads, potentially including electronic warfare, mine warfare, mine countermeasures, anti-submarine warfare and anti-surface warfare, according to a UUV Systems Vision chart included in Berkof’s presentation.

At the same time, Berkof told USNI News after his presentation, the Office of Naval Research will continue with its LDUUV Innovative Naval Prototype effort. The first two ONR LDUUV INP vehicles will go to the unmanned systems program office, Berkof said – one of which is an empty hull that will be put on display and the other which will go to a “UUVron” squadron out of NUWC-Keyport, Wash., to learn operational lessons that will feed the Snakehead program.

With its two remaining vehicles, ONR will continue research and development efforts on “specifically software and autonomy and all that. Command and control. So ONR will continue maturing the two other vehicles, and then at some point they will transition to 406 in the future,” Berkof said.

Large Displacement Unmanned Undersea Vehicle (LDUUV) System

The Naval Undersea Warfare Center Division Newport (NUWCDIVNPT), had released  the Top Level Requirements (TLR) document for the Large Displacement Unmanned Undersea Vehicle (LDUUV) System. The LDUUV program will design, fabricate, and field a new class of large displacement highly autonomous, Unmanned Undersea Vehicles (UUVs) to provide increased endurance, long range, and payload hosting.

It will have a large payload bay, making it capable of releasing sensors, communication buoys, smaller UUS and weapons. LDUUV is intended to be fitted to accomplish mine warfare tasks including mine countermeasures (MCM); anti-submarine warfare (ASW); anti-surface warfare (ASuW); electronic warfare (EW); intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR); and projected operational environment missions.

Large UUVs (about 80” in diameter) like Large Displacement UUV (LDUUV) are designed to use the planned Virginia Payload Module (VPM) tubes in Block V Virginia-class submarines. The LDUUV also may evolve into a large UUV mothership that launches, operates and recovers smaller surveillance UUVs when it reaches its mission areas. Ultimately, it is likely to be armed. The LDUUV will provide a way for submarines to increase their sensor reach, expand their payload capacity, or deliver payloads into areas that are too risky or constrained for the submarine to reach.

Extra-Large UUVs (More than 80” in diameter) in development would be designed to launch from shore or very large ships with well decks or “moon pools.” They could be used for long-endurance surveillance missions or primarily as “trucks” to deliver other payloads and UUVs. Experience with LDUUV will help inform concepts for using XLUUV.

The LDUUV System must have sufficient range and endurance to provide the fleet with a capability to autonomously complete missions in the current mission set and expected future missions under development. The vehicle can already operate for up to 30 days, but the goals are much loftier. “I’m talking power generation, fuel and battery technology, that can approach months and years of underwater domain activity,” Winter said.

The ONR has made breakthroughs in underwater technologies for power, power generation, navigation, and sense and avoid, Adm Winter had earlier said at Navy League. This has provided the ability to deliver at some point in the future, he said, “an unmanned underwater vehicle that will be able to deploy for weeks, months, and years at a time.”

The LDUUV will be a modular, open architecture and reconfigurable that will allow the Navy to incrementally develop new mission sets for the craft.. It is envisioned to be an unmanned system that can be transported to and deployed from worldwide port facilities, or carried by and deployed from US Navy platforms such as the Littoral Combat Ship (LCS), the Ohio Class Cruise Missile Submarine (SSGN), and the Virginia Class Nuclear powered Fast Attack Submarine (SSN).

The LDUUV must be able to avoid all vessels in its area of operations, including fishing boats. Development challenges include detecting and avoiding undersea stationary and moving obstacles, as well as path planning algorithms to minimize energy consumption while avoiding obstacles; detecting, locating, and identifying surface vessels; determining the intent of detected surface vessels; and detecting and avoiding all kinds of fishing nets and fishing gear, including mono-filament and twine nets which are difficult to detect. Once outside the specified areas, human operators may intervene over satellite links, if necessary.

US Navy’s vision is to achieve an integrated hybrid force of manned and unmanned systems with the ability to sense, comprehend, predict, communicate, plan, make decisions and take collaborative action to achieve operational goals. The employment of these systems will reduce risk for Sailors and Marines and increase capability.


Navy UUV concept

RAND Corporation’s 2009 Report: “A Survey of Missions for Unmanned Undersea Vehicles” sponsored by the US Navy, recommended the most practical and cost-effective applications for underwater vehicles.

MCM operations in denied areas can be conducted by launching autonomous undersea vehicles (AUVs) from nuclear attack submarines (SSNs) operating within the denied areas or by launching longer-endurance AUVs from surface ships operating outside denied areas. The feasibility of deploying leave-behind acoustic arrays has been demonstrated by the Advanced Distributed System (ADS), which uses AUVs to deploy its sensor arrays.

They can conduct near-land and harbor monitoring missions could provide protection for special operations forces (SOF) operations in countering militant extremists. They are useful for monitoring undersea infrastructure such as undersea communications cables, the Integrated Undersea Surveillance System, and instrumented undersea ranges.

They can be employed for ASW tracking missions, which detect the movement of potential adversary submarines out of port, classify them and possibly track their subsequent movements. Inspection/identification missions support homeland defense and antiterrorism/force protection needs through the inspection of ship hulls and piers for foreign objects (such as limpet mines and special attack charges).

US Navy vision is for naval platforms that are agile, fuel efficient, flexible and capable of operating cost effectively in varied environments. Enable manned and unmanned naval platforms and forces to seamlessly operate in hostile environments while avoiding, defeating and surviving attacks


References and Resources also include:

US Navy’s high altitude, long endurance TRINTON drone ready for detecting enemy threats in Pacific Theater

The US Navy has received delivery of the MQ-4C Triton unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) from Northrop Grumman at its Point Mugu facility. The autonomous aircraft is expected provide the navy with unparalleled endurance and 360° coverage that will be able to facilitate widely expanded maritime intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) missions. Northrop Grumman Triton programmes vice-president Doug Shaffer said: “This aircraft represents the beginning of a new era for naval aviation.

The Navy is Preparing the MQ-4C Triton Maritime Drone for Service in the Pacific Theater to detect enemy ships and other targets at sea to the Pacific within a year or so, service officials said. The US Navy intends to deploy the aircraft at NAS Mayport, Florida, as well as NAS Sigonella, Italy, and the Middle East in the future.

The Triton will be a crucial component of the Navy’s 21st century strategy for conducting surveillance of surface ship and submarine traffic in the vast Pacific and other oceans around the globe. Tritons will work together with the Navy’s P-8A Poseidon long-range manned maritime patrol aircraft to locate and track potentially hostile surface ships and submarines.

The first operational deployment for the Triton, which will operate in concert with the manned Boeing P-8A Poseidon maritime multimission aircraft, is scheduled for 2018. The US Navy is expected to buy 68 Tritons UAS. The Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) is expected to procure up to seven Tritons, and Japan has also been named as a potential customer.

The MQ-4C Triton Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS), is a high altitude, long endurance (HALE) aircraft that is intended to provide real-time intelligence, reconnaissance missions (ISR) over vast ocean and coastal regions, continuous maritime surveillance, as well as search and rescue missions.

The MQ-4C Triton aircraft can combine to fly in an orbital configuration, with one plane on station and another en route, thereby providing the US Navy with near-constant coverage of huge swaths of ocean and littorals.


 MQ-4C Triton Mission capabilities

The MQ-4C is a high-altitude, long-endurance UAS suitable for conducting continuous sustained operations over an area of interest at long ranges. The UAS can be deployed in a range of missions such as maritime surveillance, battle damage assessment, port surveillance and communication relay. It will also support other units of naval aviation to conduct maritime interdiction, anti-surface warfare (ASuW), battle-space management and targeting missions.

It will provide the high-altitude, theater-spanning coverage that cues more tactically-focused the manned, land-based P-8 Poseidon aircraft and the Unmanned Carrier-Launched Airborne Surveillance & Strike (UCLASS) drone.

The MQ-4C flying as fast as 310 knots at altitudes to 60,000 feet, is capable of providing persistent maritime surveillance and reconnaissance coverage of wide oceanographic and littoral zones at a mission radius of 2,000 nautical miles. The UAS can fly 24 hours a day, seven days a week with 80% effective time on station (ETOS), will be able to cover more than 2.7 million square miles in a single mission.

The UAV will be able to fly unrefueled for nearly 10,000 nautical miles. Unlike the smaller Predator and Reaper UAVs, the Global Hawk/Triton family is not armed beyond its sophisticated suites of sensors, cameras and communications equipment

The UAS will complement the navy’s Maritime Patrol and Reconnaissance Force family of systems, delivering SIGNET (signals intelligence), C4ISR and maritime strike capabilities. It relays maritime intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) information directly to the maritime commander.

MQ-4C Triton operational testing

The MQ-4C “Triton” unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) represents a “navalized” form of the original Northrop Grumman RQ-4 Global Hawk with a few internal and external changes to suit the roles of maritime patrol, surveillance and anti-submarine warfare.

The US Navy (USN) has awarded Northrop Grumman a USD 255.3 million contract to begin low-rate initial production (LRIP) of the MQ-4C Triton maritime surveillance unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV). The contract for LRIP Lot 1, which was announced by the Department of Defense (DoD), covers three aircraft, one main control station, one forward operating station, training courseware, and tooling. According to the notification, work will be complete by the end of August 2020.

The Navy is continuing operational testing of its future unmanned long-endurance maritime surveillance aircraft, the MQ-4C Triton, demonstrating its ability to share critical mission information with the manned P-8A Poseidon multi-mission maritime patrol aircraft. During a June 2 flight test at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Md., a Triton successfully exchanged full-motion video with a Poseidon for the first time via a Common Data Link system, Naval Air Systems Command announced. The test demonstrated the Triton’s ability to track a surface target with its electro-optical/infrared (EO/IR) camera to build situational awareness for a Poseidon crew flying many miles away, further establishing the interoperability of the two aircraft that will be essential to their combined mission of controlling vast areas of ocean.

Separately, the Triton test aircraft also has conducted a series of heavy weight flight tests that will expand significantly the UAVs’ expected time on station by flying at higher altitudes with a full load of fuel, the NAVAIR statement added. In separate tests, the Triton flew the heavy load to 20,000 and then 30,000 feet altitude. The program will continue the heavy weight tests up to the Triton’s top operational altitude of 60,000 feet, NAVAIR spokeswoman Jamie Cosgrove told USNI News.

Payloads of Northrop’s unmanned system

The payload is composed 360-degree field of regard (FOR) sensors including multifunction active sensor (MFAS) electronically steered array radar and inverse synthetic aperture radar (ISAR),  electro-optical / infrared (EO/IR) sensor, automatic identification system (AIS) receiver and electronic support measures (ESM). The payload also includes communications relay equipment and Link-16.

Conventional SAR fails because the ships are usually in motion, both with a forward velocity, and other linear and angular motions that accompany sea travel. Because the target itself is moving,  InverseSAR, or ISAR payloads are used for ship detection. Inverse Synthetic Aperture Radar (ISAR) is in fact SAR but also allows that the target itself is moving, and often with unknown velocities, both linear and angular. It is a much more difficult problem due to the unknown motions. ISAR is also range-Doppler imaging, but the Doppler includes target motion, too.

The Triton’s maritime search radar is called the Multi-Function Active Sensor (MFAS), and will provide the UAV with a 360-degree view of a large geographic area while providing all-weather coverage for detecting, classifying, tracking, and identifying points of interest.

Officials of the Naval Air Systems Command at Patuxent River Naval Air Station, Md., announced a $39.1 million contract modification to the Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems sector in San Diego to enhance and adjust the Triton’s air-to-air radar, which is still in development and has not yet been test flown.

Northrop Grumman and its air-to-air radar supplier, Exelis Inc. in McLean, Va., are developing a radar for the Triton that will enable the unmanned aircraft to detect other aircraft in the area for sense-and-avoid functionality, as well as for targeting. Last year, Northrop Grumman received a $9.6 contract to install the Automatic Response Module of the Airborne Collision Avoidance System X into the MQ-4C Triton’s avionics system.

Along with the air-to-air and MFAS radar systems, the MQ-4C also will carry an electro-optical/infrared (EO/IR) sensor that will provide still imagery and full-motion video of potential threats; an electronic support measures package to identify and geolocate radar threat signals; and an Automatic Identification System (AIS) that will detect and track vessels equipped with AIS responders.

The MTS-B multispectral targeting system performs auto-target tracking and produces high resolution imagery at multiple field-of-views and full motion video. The AN/ZLQ-1 ESM uses specific emitter identification (SEI) to track and detect emitters of interest.

Design features

Whilst building on elements of the Global Hawk UAS, the Triton incorporates reinforcements to the airframe and wing, along with de-icing and lightning protection systems. These capabilities allow the aircraft to descend through cloud layers to gain a closer view of ships and other targets at sea when needed and will complement the P-8A Poseidon.

The main aluminium fuselage is of semi-monocoque construction, while the V-tail, engine nacelle and aft fuselage are made of composite materials. The forward fuselage is strengthened for housing sensors and the radomes are provided with lightning protection, as well as hail and bird-strike resistance.

The UAS has a length of 14.5m, height of 4.7m and a wingspan of a 39.9m. It can hold a maximum internal payload of 1,452kg and external payload of 1,089kg.

Engine and performance of the US’s UAS

MQ-4C Triton is powered by a Rolls-Royce AE3007H turbofan engine. It is an advance variant of the AE3007 engine in service with the Citation X and the Embraer Regional Jet. The engine generates a thrust of 8,500lb.

The UAS can fly at a maximum altitude of 60,000ft. It has a gross take-off weight of 14,628kg. Its maximum unrefuelled range is 9,950 nautical miles and endurance is 30 hours. The maximum speed is 357mph.


Ground control station

The UAS is operated from ground stations manned by four-men crew including an air vehicle operator, a mission commander and two sensor operators. “The UAS can fly 24 hours a day, seven days a week with 80% effective time on station (ETOS).”

The ground station includes launch and recovery element (LRE) and a mission control element (MCE).
The MCE performs mission planning, launch and recovery, image processing and communications monitoring. The LRE controls related ground support equipment as well as landing and take-off operations.


References and Resources also include:

After launching first indigenous Aircraft carrier, China building Second with breakthrough electromagnetic launch system

China’s first aircraft carrier is in operation, the second and third indigenous  carriers are  currently under advanced stage of construction and fourth is in the planning phase. China has begun operating its first aircraft carrier —the refurbished, conventionally powered, Ukrainian built flattop Liaoning – with a full load displacement of almost 60,000 tons. The Liaoning’s air wing may consist of 24 J-15 fighters, six anti-submarine warfare helicopters, four airborne early warning helicopters, and two rescue helicopters, for a total of 36 aircraft. China has also strengthened the battle capabilities of its first and lone aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, as reported by the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Daily. China is training its own carrier-borne fighter pilots. It is one of the few countries to do so.


CHINA’s first homegrown aircraft carrier — dubbed Project 001A, or CV17, is nearing completion and is likely to be launched within weeks. China Central Television (CCTV) reported that the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Navy’s Type 001A class aircraft carrier’s scaffold has been removed and red undercoat has been painted below the ship’s waterline in Dalian, northeastern Liaoning Province, and that a launching ceremony will soon be held. However, “there’s still a long way to go from its launch to enlistment, which normally takes two years,” Yin Zhuo, a senior researcher at the PLA Navy Equipment Research Center, told CCTV. China’s second aircraft carrier is expected to begin service by 2020, experts said.


China has reportedly achieved a breakthrough on a conventional propulsion system for its next carrier, which would allow it to operate advanced catapults for launching aircraft without necessitating the use of nuclear propulsion.


China needs at least three aircraft carriers to defend its 14,500 kilometer coastline as well as dealing with threats in the South and East China seas, said Cao Weidong, a Chinese military expert. With tensions escalating in the South China Sea, China has embarked upon steady naval building and modernization program. It now has 29 submarines armed with antiship cruise missiles. It added 10 new vessels to the PLA Navy last year including guided missile destroyers, frigates and minesweepers such as the Qingzhou. “The number of new warships that are put into service annually in China has overtaken the U.S. and has become the first in the world,” China Military Online said. In addition, the PLA Navy is also in the process of adding new aircraft carriers.


Xu Guangyu, a senior advisor to the China Arms Control and Disarmament Association, told the Global Times, “In the long run, China needs to develop its own aircraft carrier battle teams, with at least six aircraft carriers, maritime forces led by guided missile destroyers, as well as attack submarines.” Xu said China will build about 10 more bases for the six aircraft carriers. He explained that they could be built around countries friendly to China, such as Pakistan. He added that the bases could also be built in every continent, but this would depend on whether the countries would want to cooperate with China.


The aircraft carriers are further expected to increase in future. “In order to protect China’s territories and overseas interests, China needs two carrier strike groups in the West Pacific Ocean and two in the Indian Ocean. So we need at least five to six aircraft carriers,” a Chinese defence analyst recently told the People’s Daily. China’s warships have carried out a high-seas training in the Indian Ocean. Chinese navy’s increasing presence in the Indian Ocean comes following the release of a White Paper published by the PLA in 2015 outlining a new military strategy enhancing its navy’s duties for the first time to “open seas protection” far from its shores.


The large number of aircraft carriers, successful use of catapult systems and atomic propulsion and long experience in operating carriers would confer Beijing true blue open ocean capability and expand its global reach.


Indigenous Aircraft Carriers

“Unlike the Liaoning(Type 001), China’s first aircraft carrier, a refitted ship built by Ukraine (under the former Soviet Union), the 001A is China-built, and its design, combat capability and technologies will be much more advanced,” Song Zhongping, a military expert, told the Global Times. “One key difference is the design will be more ‘humanized,’ which means all personnel on the carrier will enjoy a more comfortable and modern environment,” Song said


The Liaoning lacks aircraft catapults and instead launches fixed-wing airplanes off the ship’s bow using an inclined “ski ramp.” The electronic catapult system allow the aircraft to be launched with greater fuel and weapon loads hence can fly further than “ski-jump” style carriers. It also allows heavier support aircraft, such as airborne early warning (AEW) radar planes to fly off the deck.


China’s future carrier should be able to carry as many aircraft as possible for China to gain control of the air when fighting strong adversaries at sea, according to Cao Weidong, a Chinese military expert. Cao said the PLA Navy needs a supercarrier similar to the Forrestal-class aircraft carriers of the United States Navy. He said, however, that China’s first supercarrier should not be powered by a nuclear reactor since the nation does not have the technology to operate it.


In 2004, Chinese President Hu Jintao unveiled a new military doctrine calling for the armed forces to undertake “new historic missions” to safeguard China’s “national interests.” Experts believe these missions include asserting or defending China’s territorial claims in the East and South China Sea, securing international shipping lanes and access to foreign oil and asserting China’s status as a leading regional power and a major world power. South China sea is a highly contested region through which roughly $5 trillion in trade passes annually, most of the waterway is claimed by China, though there are overlapping claims by Taiwan, the Philippines, Vietnam, Brunei, and Malaysia.


Two Liaoning-pattern aircraft carriers by 2020

In December 2013 China’s Central Military Commission told Duowei News it planned to commission two Liaoning-pattern aircraft carriers by 2020, designated as Type 001A. Contracts were awarded to China Shipbuilding Industry Corporation to build the two carriers at a projected cost of US$9 billion and construction started in late 2014.


China’s first domestically built aircraft carrier will be a larger version of Liaoning. The design is reportedly based on drafts of a Soviet-era, nuclear-powered, 80,000-ton vessel capable of carrying 60 aircraft. Chinese website, citing top sources in the People’s Liberation Army, said China’s first domestically produced aircraft carrier should be launched by 2020. “By that time, China will be able to confront the most advanced US carrier-based fighter jets in high sea,” the Chinese-language article reads.


According to IHS Jane’s, satellite photos of Huangdicun Airbase appear to show the construction of two catapult systems. One of these is thought to be steam-powered while the other is an electromagnetic version. According to analysis by IHS Janes based on Satellite photos, the construction of Chinese second aircraft carrier is in advanced stage in a Dailan shipyard. The second aircraft carrier features a more sophisticated design than its predecessor, the Liaoning. A third carrier currently in the planning stage could be nuclear-powered.


Earlier, China lacked  requisite expertise in designing and building the propulsion systems for large ships as well as metallurgy for the vessel’s hull. After three years of research and development, the country finally succeeded in making a special kind of steel that is needed for the manufacturing of the aircraft carrier. It is so strong that an aircraft landing on it will not scratch it.
In addition to the qualified materials, China has trained 2,400 professional welders who work 24 hour shifts in the narrow cabins to produce the ship.

Third 80,000 tonnes  Carrier with breakthrough conventional propulsion system to power electronic catapult

A third carrier currently in the planning stage could be bigger than her two predecessors—as big as an American Nimitz-class supercarrier, the ship’s features apparently mirror those on the latest American carriers—three elevators for efficiently moving planes between decks and four electric catapults for quickly launching them.


The third carrier shall be equipped with a Electromagnetically Assisted Aircraft Launch System (EMALS) catapult. Compared to steam catapautls, EMALS catapults are less maintenance intensive, mechanically simpler and have greater power and flexibility to launch  larger and heavier aircraft like the U.S. Navy’s E-2 Hawkeye airborne early warning aircraft or the C-2 Greyhound carrier on-board delivery aircraft.


The PLAN currently operates a version of the Changhe Z-18 transport helicopter fitted with a multimode active electronically scanned array radar on board the Liaoning as its airborne early warning platform. However, compared to a fixed-wing turboprop aircraft like the Hawkeye, a helicopter has significantly reduced endurance and operating altitude, which results in a significantly reduced time on station and radar range, respectively.


US flattops  are nuclear-powered which confers a greater sailing range and supports more sensors, weaponry and other systems. However China has reportedly achieved a breakthrough on a conventional propulsion system for its next carrier, which would allow it to operate advanced catapults for launching aircraft without necessitating the use of nuclear propulsion.


Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post newspaper, quoting sources close to China’s People’s Liberation Army, reported that a team led by China’s top naval engineer, Rear Adm. Ma Weiming, has developed a medium-voltage, direct-current transmission network to replace an earlier system based on alternating current.


Forming part of an integrated propulsion system, the new system would allow a conventionally powered aircraft carrier to operate an Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System, or EMALS, which conveys a number of advantages over traditional steam catapults that include increased efficiency, precision and shortening aircraft launch cycles.


Last year,  Beijing-based Chinese naval expert Li Jie  acknowledged the problem to the South China Morning Post  “Compared with submarines, a carrier is much bigger,” . “It will take time for our nuclear engineers to develop a safe and powerful engine capable of driving a huge platform of more than 100,000 tonnes.” However, China might attempt to follow in the footsteps of the recently retired USS Enterprise (CVN-65), which used eight submarine reactors but at the cost of a lot of space, since United States didn’t have the technology to build reactors suitable for an aircraft carrier when Enterprise was built.



Aircraft Carriers remain premium Force Projection instruments

Despite the proliferation of threats, Carriers remain premier instruments for presence, deterrence, and coercion, while air wing renders the carrier a potent warfighting system able to project power and exert control of the seas around which it operates.


U.S. Naval War College analyst Andrew Erickson expects Beijing to produce “more than three” homemade flattops, presumably by the 2020s. “Developing such a capability is the only way for China to achieve robust sea control and long-range maritime power projection,” Erickson wrote.

References and Resources also include:

China leading in Geo Strategic Deep-Ocean Race building deep sea “space station”, for mineral mining and military purposes

The mineral scarcity and rising prices of gold, copper and rare earth minerals is creating great interest among many nations for deep ocean mineral mining. The oceans, which covers seventy percent of our earth’s surface are believed to be able to satisfy our need of minerals like gold, copper, silver, zinc, cobalt and manganese for the next hundred years. There is enough gold on the seafloor to give every person alive nine pounds, scientists estimate. That would be worth about $150 trillion, or $21,000 a person.

The Canadian mining firm Nautilus Minerals Niugini Ltd plans to undertake first commercial undersea mining from Papua New Guinea by extracting metals from a field of hydrothermal vents. The company operations to harvest gold and copper from about 3,400 feet (1,036 meters) under the water, under Solwara 1 project could begin as early as 2018.

China’s manned submersible Jiaolong finished a dive in “Challenger Deep” in the Mariana Trench, the world’s deepest known trench, in May 2017.The latest dive was the first of 10 dives planned for the third stage of China’s 38th oceanic expedition.The dive began at 7:09 a.m. local time. Nearly three hours later, the submersible reached the planned depth of 4,811 meters, where scientists worked for more than three hours. They conducted observation, sampling and surveying, and collected seawater, rocks and samples of marine life, including a sea cucumber, a sponge and two starfish.

China has achieved mastery in utilizing civilian technologies for military purposes. Deep sea reach is also important to Navies which can collect the information about enemy submarines as well as carry out their own operations undetected. China continues to make progress in deep sea exploration following the three-month mission of a new underwater glider in the South China Sea, which experts said will also help in maritime warfare.

China is planning to build a deep-sea “space station” capable of accommodating dozens of people and able to reach depths of 1000 meters, according to Yan Kai, director of the State Key Laboratory for Manned Deep-sea Equipment, reported by Science and Technology Daily. This kind of long-term inhabited underwater station would be packed with a variety of equipment, such as small manned submersibles to facilitate deep sea research work. The station could accommodate scientists to cultivate deep sea creatures, discover oil and gas resources, as well as analyze the genes of organisms for potential medical use.

This deep sea station like a space station, the deep-sea station would have multiple ports to support the docking of smaller manned or unmanned vessels. These manned and unmanned vessels could become Chinese navy’s force multiplier  by carrying out variety of missions like  submarine detection, anti submarine warfare and mine warfare.


 Deep sea geopolitical race

International Seabed authority (ISA), formed under the UN convention of the law of the sea has granted 26 licenses since 2001 including China, Russia, India, Japan and South Korea. South Korea has launched operations in sea areas off the island of Tonga.

China and Russia have procured licenses for eastern Pacific oceans. Two of the new licenses – for German and Indian organizations – cover deep ocean ridges where hydrothermal vents have created potentially rich deposits. The total area of seabed now licensed in this new gold rush has reached an immense 1.2 million square kilometers.

India has secured an exploration contract from the International Seabed Authority to mine polymetallic nodules in the Central Indian Ocean over 1,50,000 sq km.  According to an estimate, the total mass of nodules in the area allocated to India in the Indian Ocean region is 380 million metric tonne.

Tokyo and New Delhi have signed a significant agreement in September 2014 on the commercial contract between Indian Rare Earths Limited (IREL) and Toyota Tsusho Corporation (TTC) for the exploration and production of rare earths and are working towards finalising the commercial contract and commencement of commercial production at the earliest.

Currently, 13 national consortia operate exploration leases on 4.5 million km2 of the Clarion-Clipperton (Fracture) Zone (CCZ), between Baja and Hawaii. The U.S., as a non-party to UNCLOS and ISA, issued exploration leases on its own to Ocean Minerals Company (OMCO), a subsidiary of defense contractor Lockheed Martin, to explore for nodules in the CCZ

Many states and private industries have also joined the fray, like UK Seabed Resources (UKSRL), a subsidiary of the British arm of Lockheed Martin which is planning operations in south of Hawaii and west of Mexico has conducted a baseline environmental survey of its licence area in the Pacific.


China’s huge need for minerals  

In order to sustain its high rate of economic growth and an increasingly affluent and expanding middle class, China needs huge amounts of minerals. This has led to China has been securing access to minerals all around the globe from Africa, Latin America, Southeast Asia to central Asia. China is investing heavily in submersibles, manned and robotic, that are able to at least provide superficial documentation of what is in the deep ocean.

Now china has adopted strategy for mineral mining from Moon,  ocean floor, Arctic and Antartica. China wants to arrange a joint Arctic expedition with Russia, while deep-sea mining and a deep-sea station in Antarctica are also on the Beijing agenda, according to the Chinese State Oceanic Administration. “[The] administration will advance innovative development patterns for the ocean economy involving internet and big data, and a number of state oceanic laboratories will be built,” said Zhang Zhanhai, the SOA’s head of strategic planning.


China building an undersea lab for deep sea mining and military purposes

The Mobile deep-sea station equipped with a nuclear reactor shall be able to support 33 crewmen for up to two months at a time. The designs show the station resembling a nuclear submarine, with two propeller fans at the tail. It would measure 60.2 metres long, 15.8 metres wide and 9.7 metres tall, weighing about 2,600 tonnes.

But an oceanic manned station poses many mobility and technical challenges, says Yan Kai. Considering the length of time it would stay submerged he suggests it would need to use fuel cells, nuclear power or even a yet-to-be-discovered new undersea energy. In addition, there would need to be breakthroughs in deep-sea communication and navigation, accuracy and precision controls, and special lightweight materials designed to take account of it large scale, and the intense pressure at a depth of 1000 meters.

Although Beijing frequently says its deep-sea programme is for civilian purposes, however since 2002, the deep-sea project has been financed by the 863 Programme, a government effort that is widely known to focus on military needs.

“If a submersible were a plane, this station would be an aircraft carrier,” Ma Xiangneng , a researcher with the project, told China National Radio. “The station will be an underwater palace, with showers, a living room and laboratories.” Like a space station, the deep-sea station would have multiple ports to support the docking of smaller manned or unmanned vessels.

Researchers such as Ma have said the station’s main purpose would be deep-sea mining. With an underwater “mother ship” hovering above the station, located just below the surface and undisturbed by weather conditions, mining facilities could be built much more quickly and cheaply than if surface ships were used.

Professor Cui Weicheng first deputy chief designer of the Jiaolong, the China’s record-breaking manned deep-sea submersible that created a record by descending almost 7km into the Pacific Ocean in 2012.

Cui has now joined a little-known startup registered in Hong Kong with an ambitious goal – to build the world’s first commercial deep-sea submersible fleet, the Rainbow Fish.

“Cui envisages that the vessel will eventually be part of a fleet containing a large mother-ship fitted with several ultra-deep landers (unmanned devices a little like underwater elevators that are tethered to the ship) as well as manned and unmanned submersibles.

“The landers will be used to study fixed spots while the submersibles will move about freely and be fitted with high definition cameras and robotic arms. All will be capable of reaching depths of 11km – equivalent to the deepest part of the oceans, the Challenger Deep in the Mariana Trench,” writes Stephen Chen.

Underwater Glider Haiyi 1000 Completes Mission

China continues to make progress in deep sea exploration following the three-month mission of a new underwater glider in the South China Sea, which experts said will also help in maritime warfare. Codenamed Haiyi 1000, which means “sea wings” in Chinese, the underwater glider reached a record distance of over 1,880 kilometers during its mission, collecting data for scientific research,  as reported by China Central Television (CCTV) in oct 2017.

Developed by the Shenyang Institute of Automation under Chinese Academy of Sciences, the Haiyi had successfully endured turbulent sea conditions caused by typhoons, which proves its reliability and stability, the report said. Advanced underwater gliders will not only assist China’s deep sea scientific research but also serve military purposes, Xu Guangyu, a senior adviser of the China Arms Control and Disarmament Association, told the Global Times.

“As an unmanned deep-sea machine, underwater gliders can acquire deep-sea data through multiple sensors, and will help submarines better complete their military missions as well as detect foreign submarines in China’s waters,” Xu explained. The Haiyi 1000 began its mission on July 14 in the northeastern part of the South China Sea together with 11 other underwater vehicles, the CCTV said.

The Haiyi 1000 doubled China’s underwater gliders’ endurance, the CCTV report said.

“Unlike an underwater robot, the underwater glider has no propellers. But it can adjust its buoyancy by changing the size of its oil pool. The underwater glider moves like a wave, like a dolphin,” Yu Jiancheng, a research fellow at the Chinese Academy of Sciences’ Shenyang Institute of Automation, told CCTV.

The underwater glider is efficient and high on endurance, Yu said, adding that while the machine is slow, it could be recycled and is cheap to make and maintain.

In terms of ocean exploration, the glider can detect ocean currents, mineral resources and oceanic geology, Lin Hongmin, an adviser at the Hainan Provincial Maritime Environment Protection Association, told the Global Times.

“More importantly, it helps research into ocean pollution by obtaining samples from different depths,” Lin said, adding that scientists have found large amounts of plastic waste particles in oceans.

China made its first underwater glider in 2005, which passed tests in 2009. Over the years, the Shenyang Institute has developed more than 20 such vehicles at depths of 300, 1,000 and 7,000 meters, the CCTV said. (Global Times)

Deep sea Minerals and Rare Earth Elements

These deep sea minerals exist in two forms. Massive sulfide deposits (MSD) form of minerals expelled via deep sea hydrothermal vents. Water is heated in the Earth’s crust by magma and rises up through fissures, venting into the ocean and bringing with it many minerals. Rich beds of deposits form around them as the plumes settle.

The minerals form chimneys tens of metres high around the springs through thousands of years of accumulation. These contain high-grade copper, gold, silver, zinc, and other trace metals.

Mining MSDs involves sending down remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) between 1,500 m – 5,000 m deep to break up the deposits on the sea floor. The resulting debris is sucked through pipes to a ship or platform on the surface, where the precious minerals are extracted. Up to 90% of the material is a waste. These tailings are dumped back onto the sea floor.

Other minerals exist in potato-sized (diameters from 5 cm – 50 cm) rocks called polymetallic nodules. The nodules contain a high proportion (about 28 %) of metals, which is ten times larger than found on land. These nodules are rich in manganese, nickel, cobalt, copper, lithium, molybdenum, iron, and Rare Earth Elements.

They are found on the sea floor, covering up to 70% of it in some places These nodules are much deeper (4,000 m – 6,000 m deep ), mining them would involve vacuuming them up to a processing ship on the surface.


Extraction technology

One mining method is to use a conveyor belt system of buckets to bring soil containing metal and mineral deposits from sites on the sea floor up to a mining ship for processing. A second method is to use pipes to hydraulically suck up soil from sites on the sea floor, also to a mining ship for processing.

The technology for vacuuming the minerals has been made possible using hydraulic pumps and bucket systems devised to raise ores to the surface for processing. Lockheed Martin, Soil Machine Dynamics, IHC Mining and Nautilus Minerals are developing ROVs, which they say can operate down to five kilometers.

The Australian-Canadian company Nautilus Minerals’ has completed Construction of the world’s first deep-sea mining machines that will work 1,600m down on the seabed off Papua New Guinea to mine for copper and gold.

Nautilus Minerals’ three remote controlled machines that shall be operated remotely from control rooms on a ship. The ship that sits on the surface of the ocean will be connected to a central pumping system that will pipe minerals upward.

The auxiliary cutter begins the work by grinding down the seafloor to make it level enough for the second piece of equipment, the bulk cutter. That machine grinds the resulting slurry up fine enough for the collection machine to suck it up before it is sent to a ship on the surface. On the ship, the water is separated from the rock, particles larger than 8 microns are filtered out and the water is pumped back to the seafloor.

Each of the machines are around 50 feet long, 15-20 feet wide, weigh anywhere from 220 to 340 U.S. tons with combined value of $100m.


Impact on Ecology and Marine life

MIDAS project, which is made up of scientists, industry figures, NGOs and legal experts from 32 organizations across Europe, gathered data to gain a good picture of what damage might be done by mining and so inform regulators of what needs to be put in place to protect the deep sea environment.

MIDAS scientists have found that new environmental issues need to be considered, such as the large surface areas affected by nodule mining, the potential risk of submarine landslides through sediment destabilization in gas hydrate extraction or the release of toxic elements through oxidation of minerals during mining.

There is a risk that the mining process will release metal ions into the water column, either in the benthic plume created by mining vehicles or, following dewatering on the surface vessel, in a mid-water plume. Such plumes can potentially travel hundreds of kilometers, carrying potential toxicants with them. Mid-water plumes may impact photosynthetic microalgae or animals within the water column.

“Environmental risks and impacts of deep sea mining would be enormous and unavoidable, including seabed habitat degradation over vast ocean areas, species extinctions, reduced habitat complexity, slow and uncertain recovery, suspended sediment plumes, toxic plumes from surface ore dewatering, pelagic ecosystem impacts, undersea noise, ore and oil spills in transport, and more”, writes Richard Steiner Professor and conservation biologist, Oasis Earth.

Thus, there is need for adequate legal and environmental regulations for this activity. Currently the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) governs activity on the seabed. UNCLOS states that international waters are the “common heritage of mankind” and that the International Seabed Authority (ISA), based in Jamaica is the body responsible for administering it. The ISA has signed a number of mining deals and is in the process of drawing up a mining code to govern deep-sea mining before 2018. The basic principle of the ISA is that seabed riches should be shared globally.


References and Resources  also includes:


US Navy’s Aegis 9 emerging as a centerpiece of regional missile defense cooperation

China’s is on the path to rapid military modernization, and building immense inventory of land-based missiles consisting of new generations of advanced, long-range ASCMs, PLAN surface combatants equipped with YJ-8A or YJ-62 ASCMs, and the CSS-5 Mod 5 (DF-21D) anti-ship ballistic missile. The CSS-5 Mod 5 gives the PLA the capability to attack large ships, including aircraft carriers, at ranges greater than 1,000 nautical miles and with a maneuverable warhead.

The United States, its allies and partners throughout the Western Pacific have stepped up regional missile defense cooperation across the Western Pacific with Aegis Weapon emerging as centerpiece for cooperation. “The Aegis Combat System Baseline 9.C1 offers unprecedented capabilities, including simultaneous air and ballistic missile defense,” said Jim Sheridan, Lockheed Martin director of Aegis programs. “This Aegis baseline also improves Aegis networking capabilities, allowing Aegis vessels to automatically coordinate defense with input from satellite and ground-based radar assets—forming a true shield of defense over a wide area.”

The U.S. Navy and Missile Defense Agency, supported by Lockheed Martin, successfully conducted a series of Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) tests in the Atlantic Ocean during Formidable Shield 2017 (FS-17) from Sept. 24 – Oct. 17, 2017. Naval forces from eight NATO nations participated in the exercise. Formidable Shield is designed to demonstrate and improve allied interoperability in an integrated air and missile defense environment, using NATO command-and-control reporting structures and datalink architecture.

In one event, a U.S. Navy ship operating with the BMD 4.0.3 Aegis Combat System conducted a simulated SM-3 Blk IB TU engagement of a live short-range ballistic missile (SRBM) target using remote track data provided by a Spanish F-100 class ship. In the same event, another U.S. Navy ship, operating with the Baseline 9.C1 integrated air and missile defense capabilty, launched SM-2 missiles against cruise missile targets while simultaneously tracking the SRBM.

The nine Future Frigates to be acquired by the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) will be equipped with Lockheed Martin’s Aegis combat management system (CMS), Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull announced on 3 October. “This decision will maximise the Future Frigate’s air warfare capabilities, enabling these ships to engage threat missiles at long range, which is vital, given [that] rogue states are developing missiles with advanced range and speed,” he stated.

The US State Department has approved a possible Foreign Military Sale to Japan for DDG 7 and 8 AEGIS Combat System, Underwater Weapon System, Cooperative Engagement Capability and associated equipment, parts and logistical support for an estimated cost of $1.5 billion. The addition of two new AEGIS DDGs to Japan’s fleet will afford more flexibility and capability to counter regional threats and continue to enhance stability in the region

Japan has six Aegis-equipped ships in its fleet in mid-2014, of which four are BMD-capable. In December 2013, the government issued new National Security Guidelines that call for the acquisition of two additional BMD-capable destroyers during the next decade.

The US Navy (USN)  deployed the Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Chancellorsville (CG 62) to Yokosuka, Japan, which was recently modernized with the Aegis Baseline 9 Combat System. The forward deployment of an Aegis Baseline 9-capable cruiser to Asia-Pacific continues the US Navy’s recent focus on sending its newest platforms and systems to the region; write Ridzwan Rahmat and IHS Jane’s Navy International editor Dr Lee Willett.

South Korea has already deployed Aegis on all three of its KDX-III King Seojong the Great-class destroyers, which at more than 11,000 tons are the largest ships equipped with Aegis. South Korean Navy officials have announced plans to procure three additional Aegis-equipped destroyers in the 2020-2025 timeframe.

Aegis baseline 9.C1

The U.S. Navy and Missile Defense Agency (MDA) certified the latest evolution of the Aegis Combat System – called Baseline 9.C1 – for the U.S. destroyer fleet. The Aegis baseline, built by Lockheed Martin offers advanced defense capabilities and enhanced integration with other systems external to the ship. Aegis Baseline 9.C1 provides the U.S. Navy surface fleet with the most advanced air defense capability ever. Under this baseline configuration, Aegis merges BMD and anti-air warfare into its Integrated Air and Missile Defense (IAMD) capability using commercial-off-the-shelf and open architecture technologies.

Baseline 9.C1, also includes the most current generation of ballistic missile defense programming, known as BMD 5.0 Capability Upgrade, which offers the proven capability to shoot down ballistic missiles in both the exo-atmosphere (upper atmosphere) and endo-atmosphere (lower atmosphere). The BMD capabilities of Baseline 9.C1 are also present in Aegis Ashore, the ground-based missile defense program that is the second phase of the U.S. Phased Adaptive Approach to protect Europe from ballistic missile attack.

Over the summer, the U.S. Navy and MDA conducted the Multi-Mission Warfare (MMW) tests to verify performance of recent BMD upgrades and are a critical part of the baseline certification process. Over the course of the four test events aboard USS John Paul Jones (DDG 53), Aegis flawlessly detected, tracked, and engaged two Ballistic Missile and two air warfare targets. Each event resulted in the successful intercept of a single target.

Lockheed Martin  secured a $428m, ten year contract to continue to modernise Aegis hardware and software onboard the US Navy vessels. Navy’s existing destroyers the new USS John Finn or DDG 113 and all follow-on destroyers will receive the Aegis Baseline 9 upgrade, which includes NIFC-CA and other enabling technologies. “This same capability is being back-fitted onto earlier ships like USS Arleigh Burke or DDG 51 that were built with the core Aegis capability.

The Navy successfully executed four flight tests of the surface-to-air Standard Missile-6 Block I (SM-6 Blk I) off the Hawaiian coast April 6-13. These tests marked the next step toward the SM-6 Blk I’s achievement of Full Operational Capability. In addition, these are the first tests with the latest SM-6 Blk I software that includes air warfare, ballistic missile sea based terminal defense, and anti-surface warfare capabilities. The SM-6 provides an over-the-horizon engagement capability when launched from an Aegis warship and uses the latest in hardware and software missile technology to provide needed capabilities against evolving air threats.

The central component of the Lockheed Martin-developed Aegis BMD Combat System is the SPY-1 radar, deployed on more than 100 ships worldwide — the most widely fielded naval phased array radar in the world. SPY-1 capability has been greatly enhanced with the introduction of a new Multi-Mission Signal Processor (MMSP). Baseline 9.C1 improves radar resolution and discrimination abilities.

The next step in this continuum of modernization is equipping the next-generation DDG Flight III destroyers with the SPY-6 Air and Missile Defense Radar,  Rear Adm. Ronald Boxall, director of surface warfare said.  The Navy’s new SPY-6 is 35-times more powerful than existing ship-based radar. Compared to the legacy SPY-1 radar, Air and Missile Defense Radar will be able to see an airborne object half as big and twice as far – and testing is proceeding apace at Pacific Missile Range Facility, where we have radiated at full power and cycle, Boxall added.

Boxall added that all new construction DDG Flight IIA ships, beginning with DDG-113, will be delivered with Aegis Baseline 9C. This includes “identification Friend or Foe Mode 5, Close-In Weapons System Block 1B, Surface Electronic Warfare Improvement Program Block II, and the SQQ-89A (V) 15 Integrated Undersea Warfare Combat System Suite. Delivery of these capabilities will extend into the mid-term (2020-2030) and beyond,” Boxall said

Integrated Air and Missile Defence 

Earlier U.S. Pacific Command and the Missile Defense Agency (MDA) successfully demonstrated the integrated air and missile defense capability of AEGIS Combat System aboard guided-missile destroyer USS John Paul Jones (DDG 53). It engaged three successful near-simultaneous target shots over the Pacific Ocean; one short-range ballistic missile target was intercepted by a Standard Missile-3 Block IB guided missile, while two low-flying cruise missile targets were engaged by Standard Missile-2 Block IIIA guided missiles.

The cruise missiles have always been a major threat to air defense as they provide a significant standoff range and because of difficulty in detecting, tracking and killing a small and often very low flying target. This test showcases the U.S.’s ability to defend against numerous ballistic and cruise missile threats in ‘raid’ scenarios.

The Navy and Raytheon had earlier test-fired a Standard Missile-6 against a low-flying subsonic cruise missile target over land. It offers long range air defense against fixed and rotary wing aircraft and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), anti-ship missiles operating at very high altitudes to sea-skimming cruise missiles.


Aegis Combat management system

The Aegis weapon system is an advanced combat, control, and information system that uses powerful computers and radars to track and destroy enemy targets. It is the most advanced modern combat system and is the first fully integrated combat system built to defend against air, surface, and subsurface threats. The Aegis combat system is America’s most capable surface launched missile system.

Aegis ship combat system is an integrated collection of sensors, computers, software, displays, weapon launchers, and weapons for defending ships against aircraft, anti-ship cruise missiles (ASCMs), surface threats, and subsurface threats. Because of its advanced computer system, the Aegis combat system can track over 100 targets. Some Aegis equipped ships can track even more targets at one time.

It can guide weapons to destroy almost any kind of threat including attacks from subsurface, surface, and the air. SM-6 receives midcourse flight control from the Aegis combat system via ship’s radar, whereas terminal flight control is autonomous via the missile’s active seeker or supported by the Aegis combat system via the ship’s illuminator.

The Aegis Weapons System comprises the SPY-1 Radar, MK 99 Fire Control System and ORTS, MK 41 VLS, the Command and Decision Suite, and SM-2 Standard Missile systems. The Aegis Weapons System is controlled by an advanced, automatic detect-and-track, multi-function three-dimensional passive electronically scanned array radar, the AN/SPY-1. Known as “the Shield of the Fleet”, the SPY high-powered (four megawatt) radar is able to perform search, tracking, and missile guidance functions simultaneously with a track capacity of well over 100 targets at more than 100 nautical miles (190 km).

The Baseline 9C version, leveraging the SM-6 missile, is being rolled out to DDG 51 Flight I and II destroyers with an integrated air and missile defence (IAMD) capability, integrating BMD capabilities into the legacy Aegis anti-air warfare (AAW) computer program, thereby bringing those two separate missions into a single, fully integrated computer program and equipment suite.



US Navy has developed Naval Integrated Fire Control-Counter Air (NIFC-CA) technology can be used for both defensive and offensive operations under Anti-Acces/Area-Denial environment. NIFC-CA could enable surface ships, for example, to operate more successfully closer to the shore of potential enemy coastines without being deterred by the threat of long-range missiles.

“NIFC-CA presents the ability to extend the range of your missile and extend the reach of your sensors by netting different sensors of different platforms — both sea-based and air-based together into one fire control system,” Capt. Mark Vandroff, DDG 51 program manager, told Scout Warrior in an interview. SM-6 will also be able home in on a target too distant for the ship that launched it to detect, using data relayed from other ships or aircrafts.

Defensive applications of NIFC-CA battle network allow destroyers to download targeting information from assets outside of the range of their SPY-1D radars to attack air and BMD threats with the Raytheon Standard Missile 6 (SM-6).Whereas offensive uses might include efforts to detect and strike high-value targets from farther distances than previous technologies in line with the Navy’s emerging “distributed lethality” strategy.

So far, NIFC-CA has been integrated and successful in testing with both E2-D Hawkeye surveillance aircraft and F-35 Joint Strike Fighters. The US Navy’s (USN’s) Baseline 9C Aegis Combat System has completed a series of exercises designed to demonstrate the over-the-horizon Naval Integrated Fire Control-Counter Air (NIFC-CA) capability.


Distributed Lethality

Distributed lethality is the condition gained by increasing the offensive power of individual components of the surface force (cruisers, destroyers, littoral combat ships [LCSs], amphibious ships, and logistics ships) and then employing them in dispersed offensive formations known as “hunter-killer surface action groups (SAGs.)” It is the motive force behind offensive sea control. Both parts of the definition are critical; raising the lethality of the force but operating it the same way sub-optimizes the investment. Operating hunter-killer SAGs without a resulting increase in offensive power creates unacceptable risk, write Vice Admiral Rowden , Rear Admiral Gumataotao is Commander, Naval Surface Force Atlantic and Rear Admiral Fanta, Director, Surface Warfare (N96).

Hunter-killer SAGs seize maritime-operations areas for subsequent activities (including power projection), perform screening operations for larger formations, and hold adversary land targets at risk. Additionally, by distributing power across a larger number of more geographically spaced units, adversary targeting is complicated and attack density is diluted. Hunter-killer SAGS are capable of defending themselves against air and missile attack, and extend that protection to expeditionary forces conducting offensive operations of their own. These hunter-killer SAGs will be networked and integrated to support complex operations even when not supported by the carrier air wing and land-based patrol aircraft.


References and Resources also include: