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.