4

Findings, Conclusions, and Recommendations

Based on the discussion in the preceding chapters, the committee offers the following four sets of findings, conclusions, and recommendations:

Finding 1. Undersea weapons involve special technologies, adaptations of other technologies, and unique integration of all these technologies for which there is in the United States little non-Navy-sponsored research and development (R&D). The committee found some good examples of ongoing healthy and productive S&T, including the following:

  • The program on propulsion at the Applied Research Laboratory, Pennsylvania State University (ARL/PSU) is exemplary and offers technologies for both weapons and vehicles that could be used in future systems. Closed-cycle engines are among the increasingly attractive options as the importance of stealth and endurance increases.

  • The programs on warheads at the Naval Surface Warfare Center, Indian Head are good examples of R&D in a mature area that has consistently delivered fresh results in S&T and new generations of explosive compounds tailored to the Navy's needs. Current research on the penetration of hardened hulls is important. Research on the problems of sensitivity of high-energy materials should be supported.

  • The program at ARL/PSU and the Naval Undersea Warfare Center to develop a high-speed, supercavitating vehicle is challenging and sufficiently promising to warrant research in (1) the physics of supercavitating flow, (2) vehicle control and guidance methodology, and (3) the design and building of a testbed. There should be careful analysis of the operational utility of the concepts this technology could include.

On the other hand, the committee believes that a truly healthy undersea weapons S&T program should include industry participation, but industry is not now a significant participant or investor in undersea weapons S&T.



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OCR for page 44
An Assessment of Undersea Weapons Science and Technology 4 Findings, Conclusions, and Recommendations Based on the discussion in the preceding chapters, the committee offers the following four sets of findings, conclusions, and recommendations: Finding 1. Undersea weapons involve special technologies, adaptations of other technologies, and unique integration of all these technologies for which there is in the United States little non-Navy-sponsored research and development (R&D). The committee found some good examples of ongoing healthy and productive S&T, including the following: The program on propulsion at the Applied Research Laboratory, Pennsylvania State University (ARL/PSU) is exemplary and offers technologies for both weapons and vehicles that could be used in future systems. Closed-cycle engines are among the increasingly attractive options as the importance of stealth and endurance increases. The programs on warheads at the Naval Surface Warfare Center, Indian Head are good examples of R&D in a mature area that has consistently delivered fresh results in S&T and new generations of explosive compounds tailored to the Navy's needs. Current research on the penetration of hardened hulls is important. Research on the problems of sensitivity of high-energy materials should be supported. The program at ARL/PSU and the Naval Undersea Warfare Center to develop a high-speed, supercavitating vehicle is challenging and sufficiently promising to warrant research in (1) the physics of supercavitating flow, (2) vehicle control and guidance methodology, and (3) the design and building of a testbed. There should be careful analysis of the operational utility of the concepts this technology could include. On the other hand, the committee believes that a truly healthy undersea weapons S&T program should include industry participation, but industry is not now a significant participant or investor in undersea weapons S&T.

OCR for page 44
An Assessment of Undersea Weapons Science and Technology Conclusion 1. The Navy has a unique responsibility for the support and health of S&T related to undersea weapons construed broadly. Although the information presented to the committee pertained only to torpedo-related matters, the committee believes that its recommendation on this responsibility should apply to all weapons spending some time undersea. The undersea weapons S&T effort should include industrial participation, at least in the relevant concept definition studies, and related operations and systems analysis. Recommendation 1. The Navy should designate S&T for undersea weapons—construed broadly— as a National Naval Need. Because of the key enabling characteristics of undersea weapons for the fleet and the need for industry involvement, the Navy should also consider designating undersea weapons as one of the Future Naval Capabilities, a step that would allow it to begin preparation for a new weapons acquisition program. Finding 2. There is no broadly based, future-oriented program of operations and systems analysis in place to support Office of Naval Research (ONR) S&T planning in undersea weapons. With regard to the individual ONR undersea weapons program areas, the committee found the following: It is not obvious that the programs on guidance and control at ARL/PSU and NUWC are succeeding at coping with progressively quieter targets and evolving countermeasures. The careful operations and systems analysis needed to critically assess operational performance in matters of target detection, identification, and homing seems to be missing. Upgrades intended to quiet the MK-48 and MK-54 torpedoes (mainly by NUWC) were not persuasively presented to the committee. The open-cycle engine, buoyancy disadvantages, hydroacoustic noise, and other characteristics make the upgrades questionable in light of the evolving stealth and countermeasure capabilities of potential enemy targets. No systems analyses of predicted program success or time scales for acquisition were presented to the committee. A number of plausible approaches to defending against torpedoes were broadly outlined to the committee, including noisemakers, decoys, supercavitating pellets, and antitorpedo torpedoes. Individually these might be of value, but maximum benefit will be achieved only if they are integrated properly into a plausible, coherent defense architecture system. Weapons design optimization, which appears to be a relatively recently identified effort, while useful still does not satisfy the need for operations and systems analysis called for at several points in this report. Conclusion 2. Concept definitions, and systems and operational analysis, are needed in a number of program areas and as a part of a healthy and productive S&T process generally. Recommendation 2. ONR should rigorously implement a process of operations and systems analysis of undersea weapons systems. Operational performance in both littoral and blue water environments should be covered. Emphasis should be placed on enabling science and technology and weapons systems of advanced mission and design. Finding 3. The health of the existing Navy program on undersea weapons S&T is strongly affected by the present emphasis on upgrades of existing torpedo systems. Less than 10 percent of the ONR undersea weapons S&T budget was for basic research (6.1) in 1999. The health of the program could be improved by much greater attention to S&T issues that will affect future weapons systems.

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An Assessment of Undersea Weapons Science and Technology Conclusion 3. To be more forward-looking, greater S&T emphasis at a fundamental (6.1/6.2) level is needed within the ONR undersea weapons effort. Recommendation 3. ONR should increase undersea weapons S&T funding sufficiently to satisfy Future Naval Capability goals while ensuring that longer-range, higher-risk/higher-payoff alternative S&T is also enabled. This investment in future systems must be protected against raids to bail out near-term projects. Finding 4. While some of the items covered in the present program, which is focused on upgrades of existing torpedoes, may also be useful in future weapons systems (e.g., propulsion units and warheads), long-range exploration for fundamentally new undersea weapons concepts and missions is needed. Conclusion 4. Innovation beyond current undersea weapons concepts and missions is needed for a healthy S&T program. S&T should be pursued toward torpedoes operating with sensor arrays, unmanned and manned undersea vehicles (attack, reconnaissance, and so forth), and sophisticated mines, and toward achievement of short-action-time air-delivered undersea weapons systems. In the future, undersea weapons systems will be driven increasingly by overall architecture that will demand much more interdisciplinary coordination than was seen by the committee in the course of its study. Recommendation 4. ONR should take a broader and longer-range view of undersea weapons systems, specifically those not limited to torpedoes and beyond the 5-year horizon. Some such concepts are being explored in other ONR undersea technology activities and in the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency and should be considered.