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New breath for submarines: when looking at upgrading submarines, one can see that the subject could be dealt with at great length, covering the addition of new weapons and sensors, through fire control and command systems (including periscopes) to powerplant improvements such as new batteries or the addition of air-independent propulsion (AIP).

Currently the biggest submarine upgrade programme is the US Navy's conversion of four Ohio class nuclear powered ballistic missile submarines (SSBN) to re-role them as guided missile and special operations forces support (SSGN) submarines.

In September 2002, the US Navy awarded General Dynamics' Electric Boat Corporation--the original designer and builder of the Ohio class boats--a $ 443 million, five-year contract to produce detailed designs and begin purchasing materials to convert the first four of class--USS Ohio (SSBN 726), Michigan (SSBN 727), the Florida (SSBN 728) and Georgia (SSBN 729).

The upgraded boats will carry up to 154 Tomahawk Land-Attack Missiles (Tlam) or Tactical Tomahawk (TacTom) cruise missiles--fitted at seven missiles to each of 22 vertical-launch tubes currently available on the Trident, with the remaining two permanently mounted for wet delivery of special operations forces.

The SSGNs will also serve as test beds to develop and test new weapon systems, sensors and operational concepts, including large unmanned underwater vehicles (UUV) as part of the Manta project and, also, submarine-launched unmanned aerial vehicles.

The Florida commenced its conversion at Norfolk Naval Shipyard in August 2003 and will be followed by the Georgia in October 2004. The Michigan is scheduled to begin its three-year conversion in November 2003. Following Ohio's return to service in 2007, the other three SSGNs will rejoin the fleet at about six-month intervals, ending in early 2008.

With regard to submarine-launched drones, earlier this year Northrop Grumman successfully completed the first in a series of three trials of the Stealthy Affordable Capsule System (Sacs), a system which will enable submarines to launch a range of new payloads, including UAVs, while still submerged. This new capability is primarily aimed at use with boats converted to SSGN configuration, but will apply equally to the Los Angeles and future Virginia class nuclear attack boats.

Crossing the Atlantic, the HMS Torbay, the first of four Royal Navy Trafalgar class nuclear attack submarines (SSN) to receive the Final Phase (tactical weapon system) of the Swiftsure and the Trafalgar update package, was returned to service earlier this year.

This phase, managed by BAE Systems Sea Systems, delivered a tactical weapon system capability similar to the new Astute class SSNs. The four boats--Torbay (SSN16), Trenchant (SSN17), Talent (SSN 18) and Triumph (SSN19)--will get the new Thales Underwater Systems Type 2076 integrated sonar suite, a remodelled 'open' command deck, a high-bandwidth fibre optic Tactical Weapon System Data Highway, a new command and fire control system and a range of measures to reduce radiated noise and minimise target echo strength.

At the same time yet independent of the S&T Final Phase package, the Torbay received a mini-dama (Minia-turised Demand Assigned Multiple Access) UHF satellite communications terminal during its refit. This enables the submarine to exchange data with other units and shore headquarters. The Torbay is currently not capable of launching the Tlam, but it is anticipated that the Advanced Tomahawk Weapon Control System will be fitted during the boat's forthcoming Repair And Maintenance Period.

Turning to France, at the end of 2002, the Delegation Generale pour l'Armement (DGA) procurement agency awarded a contract for the next stage in developing France's new M-51 nuclear missile that is to be deployed aboard its strategic submarine fleet in 2010.

The 1.3 billion [euro] ($1.35 billion) contract was awarded to Eads Launch Vehicles, and the G2P consortium (consisting of Snecma Propulsion Solide and SNPE) for the propulsion system. The deal should culminate in a first missile test flight in 2006.

After this, a final installment will be paid for weapon procurement, which is due to replace the M-45 missile now deployed aboard France's SNLE submarines. The M-51 will be installed, initially, on the fourth Le Triomphant class SSBN, Le Terrible, being built at Cherbourg and due to join the fleet in 2010. The weapon will then be retrofitted into the other SSBNs, Le Triomphant, Le Temeraire and Le Vigilant. Each is to carry 16 missiles. It may be added en passant that Sagem has recently received a contract to the tune of 96 million [euro] for the development of a laser gyro-based navigation system for Le Terrible.

Meanwhile, Russia is making efforts to retain the seven remaining Project 667 (Delta IV class) SSBNs--the core of the Russian Navy's nuclear deterrent--in service to 201018. The Ekaterinburg (K 84) was relaunched in May 2002 and was scheduled to rejoin the Northern Fleet this summer following her overhaul by the Zvyozdochka State Unitary Enterprise at Severodvinsk.

The Northern Fleet also received a nuclear attack boat (SSN) Tiger (K 154) of the Project 971 (Akula) class following completion of a refit at the Sevmashpredpriyatiye shipyard in Severodvinsk in December 2002. The overhaul, ongoing since 1997, included a new turbine and a replacement auxiliary diesel.

While nuclear-powered boats were not exported from the former Soviet Union, many diesel-electric submarines (SSK) were. The Egyptian Navy's four ageing Type 033 Romeo class SSKs (built in China) are to receive a new inertial navigation system from Northrop Grumman's Sperry Marine. The company is supplying and installing the new Mk 39 Mod 3A ring-laser gyro systems.

The Romeos, the last in Egyptian service, were all upgraded between 1988 and 1997 to fire UGM-84 Sub Harpoon anti-ship missiles and Mk 37 torpedoes. This latest navigation update will finally enable the fire control system to fully utilise the missiles. The current upgrade is part of a continuing programme to maintain these older SSKs as a viable force.

Meanwhile, the Ukraine plans to restore its sole SSK, a Project 641 Foxtrot class boat, Zaporizya (ex-B 435) built in 1970 and transferred to the Ukraine in August 1997, to service by mid-year following the completion of repairs and delivery of new batteries, sourced from a Greek supplier. Repairs to the Zaporizya's hull have already been completed, with work underway to restore hydraulic systems, communications and the boat's electrical system.

Staying with SSKs, the Hellenic Navy is having three of its four HDW Type 209/1200s Glavkos class SSKs modernised under the Neptune II programme by Hellenic Shipyards (Skaramangas), with an option on the fourth-of-class. The Neptune II programme's salient features are understood to be a Siemens Pem fuel cell-based air-independent propulsion plug-in section, plus a replacement propeller and rudders. Additionally, the existing combat management system will be replaced by an integrated STN Atlas Isus-90 Combat Direction System, capable of controlling encapsulated Harpoon missiles. An electro-optic mast will also be installed, together with new radar, communications and datalink systems, the AR-700S5 electronic support measures) system and a torpedo countermeasures launcher.

Two of South Africa's French-built Daphne (Spear) class SSKs, the Umkhonto and the Assegaai, are now back in service following a locally developed Service Life Extension Programme. The boats were originally laid down in the late 1960s and suffered in the wilderness of South Africa's years of apartheid-related sanctions. This much-needed upgrade has seen the two SSKs receive a new combat system developed by African Defence Systems, incorporating a new radar and a cylindrical conformal array intercept sonar. The boats have also been fitted with new communication systems, electronic warfare suites and Zeiss periscopes upgraded by Eloptro.

The upgraded boats give the South African Navy a stop-gap force until its three new HDW-built Type 209 SSKs are delivered from 2005. This is crucial not only the crews. The third boat, the SAS Spear, laid up in 1999, is being used as a source of spares.

In Australia, the new Collins class SSKs, based on the Swedish Kockums Type 471 design, had a troubled entry into service: a 1999 report criticising the overly ambitious Rockwell combat system. To address this shortcoming, an interim combat system enhancement was initiated until a replacement could be sourced. Selection of the Raytheon Command and Control System Mk II (CCS Mk II) followed in 2002, and integration into the Collins class combat system is now underway. Installation of the 'Australianised' CCS Mk II into the last-of-class HMAS Rankin (delivered in March) is anticipated in 2009-10. Subsequently, the Australian government announced at the end of March that its SSKs will use the most current Mk 48 Mod 7 Adcap heavyweight torpedo--to be fielding these weapons from 2006.

As a final vignette, the Royal Swedish Navy is enhancing its 190 mm CK038 submarine search periscopes with an all-embracing, night vision capability, together with improvements to their recording and registration systems. Under the leadership of Thales Optronics the periscopes of all seven submarines in Swedish service--four Vastergotland (A 17) and three Gotland class (A 19) boats--will be upgraded as part a general capability modernisation which also involves new ESM and conversion to air-independent propulsion.

While most submarine designs feature a pair of periscopes--allowing thermal imaging from one and image intensification from the other--the Swedish boats only have one incorporating a second generation longwave (eight to twelve [mu]) thermal imager and a Thales Super Gen 2 intensifier. Both sensors feature feeds to a Swedish-designed recording and registration system, with capability to record both raw or overlaid text video.
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Title Annotation:Upgrade Approach
Author:Hanson, Anatole
Publication:Armada International
Date:Dec 1, 2003
Previous Article:The silent process of change.
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