By Soulskill from Slashdot's end-of-a-silent-era department
An anonymous reader writes: The United States spends $1.8 billion to build a brand new, state of the art, Virginia-class nuclear powered attack submarine. They are the backbone of the U.S. Navy and the ultimate threat to those nations who are building massive amounts of missiles to keep U.S. naval forces like aircraft carriers away from their shores — think China, Russia, Iran and various others. Sadly, the era of the submarine could be coming to an end. New types of detection technology could make the stealth capabilities of subs obsolete, just like the age of flight made the battleship into a floating museum:
"The ability of submarines to hide through quieting alone will decrease as each successive decibel of noise reduction becomes more expensive and as new detection methods mature that rely on phenomena other than sounds emanating from a submarine. These techniques include lower frequency active sonar and non-acoustic methods that detect submarine wakes or (at short ranges) bounce laser or light-emitting diode (LED) light off a submarine hull. The physics behind most of these alternative techniques has been known for decades, but was not exploited because computer processors were too slow to run the detailed models needed to see small changes in the environment caused by a quiet submarine. Today, "big data" processing enables advanced navies to run sophisticated oceanographic models in real time to exploit these detection techniques. As they become more prevalent, they could make some coastal areas too hazardous for manned submarines."
This could force submarines to stay far away from areas where they could be found. Alternately, they could evolve into something different: underwater aircraft carriers hosting drones that could strike below the surface.Read Replies (0)