Stealth planes and submarines currently have the great advantage of being very hard to detect. For stealth planes that can be detected but when it is too late to react. Mass production of new underwater and aerial drones with new sensors and assistance from persistent monitoring from thousands to tens of thousands of small satellites means submarines and stealth fighters will be detectable.
Teledyne Webb have designed a torpedo shaped drone submarine with a thermal engine which can extract energy from the temperature difference at different depths and continue indefinitely going at about 2 knots. Their current drone submarine can operate for months.
A thesis on gliders by William Parker for the Naval Postgraduate School simply puts it:
“A fleet of gliders could also provide a low cost network for determining the patrol patterns of threat submarine fleets.”
With no propeller noise, gliders are extremely quiet (and stealthy), and can carry acoustic sensors so sensitive they can, as one researcher put it, “hear a fish fart”. This is not an exaggeration: a project on the West Florida Shelf had a glider tracking shoals of grouper and toadfish by the sounds they made.
Professor Masakazu Arima of Osaka University has created a low-cost glider called ALEX which is about a meter long and a tenth the weight of other gliders. He is interested in robotic swarms and has proposed deploying “about a thousand” underwater gliders, to form a vast co-operative network to measure and survey the oceans.
* Sonar and acoustic
* Magnetic anomolies via superconducting sensors
* Hydrodynamic pressure wave detection using optical and radar techniques detects submarine wakes (AI enables the system to work even in seas with rough waves)
* Laser and LED detection at particular wavelengths can see through hundreds of meters of water. This can be used for LIDAR.
US Submarines cost $3 billion while drones are in the $500 to $50000 range.
Submarines will have go deeper and hide on the Ocean floor
Today’s submarines are link blimps in the ocean. They float high over the sea floor. Dr Robert Ballard proposes submarines that hide on the ocean floor. Modern nuclear attack submarines like the American Seawolf class are estimated to have a test depth of 490 meters (1,600 ft), which would imply (see above) a collapse depth of 730 meters (2,400 ft).
In 1984, Dr Robert Ballard demonstrated the ability to operate on the ocean floor during a two-week exploration near Iceland’s Reykjanes Ridge. He took the Navy’s deep-sea research submarine, the NR-1, down 3,000 feet and drove it around volcanic peaks; he even hid in the occasional lava tube. At the time, the NR-1 was the Navy’s largest deep-sea research submarine and its smallest nuclear sub. At a length of 150 feet and 400 tons, it could support a crew of 13 for up to a month. But most importantly, the NR-1 had retractable wheels and portals. The wheels allowed the NR-1 to roll along the seafloor. The portals allowed the sub drivers to see where the hell they were going.
But most importantly, the NR-1 had retractable wheels and portals. The wheels allowed the NR-1 to roll along the seafloor. The portals allowed the sub drivers to see where the hell they were going.
In a complex, jumbled terrain with rocks, mountains, and canyons, the sound waves get so jumbled up that it’s impossible to make any sense of the sounds that come back.
Navies also use very sensitive magnetic detectors to locate the giant, metallic mass of the submarine as it moves underwater. But this method is less effective in some kinds of seafloor terrain. For example, near basaltic rocks, which interfere with even simple compasses and create downright havoc with sensitive magnetic sub-hunting gear.