With United States currently standing at the absolute pinnacle in the field of defence innovation exemplified by its aerial might which consists of the F-35 Lightning, F-22 Raptors, F-16 Falcons alongside the MQ-9 Reaper drones, it serves well to know that the nation is also a Top Gun when it comes to the Sea.
While all eyes are fixed on next month’s US Presidential elections between President Donald Trump and Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden, it is believed that no matter whom the winner is, America won’t change its stance on countering the increasing threat of China in the foreign seas for which Pentagon will need to bolster its naval force.
And the US is doing just that. With its missions far and wide, especially in the South China Sea where it has been intensively involved in the affairs of Taiwan with which it enjoys an enhanced military partnership, Washington has initiated plans to enhance the capabilities of its newest attack submarines.
What is famously been mentioned as “America’s first millennial submarine”, US Navy’s fast-attack submarine USS South Dakota (SSN 790) is the latest submarine to be refined as part of Pentagon’s strategy to stamp its authority in farther seas.
According to reports, the US Navy will equip the new fleet of the modern submarines with stealthy “quieting” systems along with new weapons, next-generation sonar along with additional advanced undersea warfare technologies.
The enhancements will enable its future boats to carry out massive land-attacks and perform “covert insertions” of forces, while also being able to conduct reconnaissance missions without being detected.
Under the refining process, called the post-shakedown, a key stage of the development process for the submarine, South Dakota will go through a series of important assessments and final steps in prepping it for major ocean combat.
According to William Couch, spokesman for Naval Sea Systems Command,
“Design modifications will be made and then subsequently tested. Some of these design modifications are planned to be included in the fifth block of Virginia-class submarines during new construction.”
South Dakota, a Virginia class submarine, is considered to be one of the most modern submarines in the world designed to operate in various depths ranging from deep ocean environments to shallow coastal waters.
The nuclear-powered submarine can perform a variety of roles which include surveillance and reconnaissance missions, with the sea monsters capable of hunting and sinking other submarines and surface ships.
The Virginia Class Submarines, which are also known as the SSN-774 class are a class of nuclear-powered cruise missile fast-attack submarines. The submarines currently in service with the US Navy are its latest undersea warfare platforms incorporating stealth, intelligence gathering and weapons systems technology.
The $2.6 billion worth South Dakota serves as the most-advanced addition to US Navy’s Virginia class of submarines, with the sea forces hoping to possess a total of 66 such submarines by 2048.
The 377-foot-long, 7,800-ton South Dakota is powered by an S9G nuclear reactor, which is said to cater for all of its fuelling requirements during its projected service life of 33 years. Moreover, it is equipped with Tomahawk Land Attack Missiles.
While many specifications are still surrounded by a cloud of mystery till it sails next year, in a bid to make it the “stealthiest submarine ever built”, the submarines will be equipped with a new large vertical array and additional “quieting” coating materials for the hull.
'America's first millennial submarine' — the deadly USS South Dakota – Business Insider https://t.co/1HmgRKmUDi
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According to Kris Osborn, writing for the National Interest,
“The idea with the so-called “acoustic superiority” plan is to engineer a US submarines able to operate undetected in or near enemy waters or coastline, conduct reconnaissance or attack missions and sense any movement or enemy activities at farther ranges than adversaries can,”
These advances are consistent with more recent undersea combat strategy which, in part due to technological progress, increasingly sees attack submarines as well suited for clandestine undersea surveillance missions.”