Alternatives to Columbia-Class boomers

NeilChapman

Interested 3rd party
Joined
Dec 14, 2015
Messages
1,000
Reaction score
115
Is there an alternative to these new boats?

For instance...

Is it possible to build an alternative to the Trident II that will fit in the Virginia Payload Module?

If it were, are there existing treaty limitations to deploying these missiles around the fleet of new Virginia-Class boats that will have the VPM?

I'm just thinking that having 10 or 12 dedicated boomers makes less sense than having this leg spread around 40+ boats.

Any thoughts or is this just a goofy idea?
 

NeilChapman

Interested 3rd party
Joined
Dec 14, 2015
Messages
1,000
Reaction score
115
marauder2048 said:

Can always count on you guys!

But note this report was in 2013. The 2016 FSA completely changes the calculus since US now needs 66+ SSN's and not 48.

So I'm reading through this appendix and I'm not convinced these arguments are convincing today.

Utilizing the Virginia-Class w/smaller missile - "This would carry forward many of the shortfalls of a Virginia-based SSBN we just discussed, and add to it a long list of new issues."

Ok - let's read through the many "shortfalls" listed above..

1. i.) Not meet survivability (stealth) requirements due to poor hull streamlining and ii.) lack of a drive train able to quietly propel a much larger ship

i.) This doesn't apply since the missile would be smaller, also, if VPM is stealthy enough for attack sub then it should be "good enough", especially since risk is spread out over more boats.
ii.) Pump jet for Columbia coming from Virginia-class. Also, they've cut the Columbia-Class back to 16 tubes (from 20) so they could use a smaller propulsion system and existing components already designed for Virginia-Class. So this "shortfall" is just old reasoning.

2. Not meet at-sea availability requirements due to longer refit times (since equipment is packed more tightly within the hull, it requires more time to replace, repair and retest).

If I'm increasing the # of 774's built (from 1 to 3 in '21) and all have VPM's starting in 2019 then by 2030 I've got at least 30 boats that can carry a new missile ready by 2030. Those 30 boats equate to 120 tubes for nuclear missiles. The number of boats increases until all boats (66-88 = 264-352 tubes) are capable of launching the new missile. It seems like a longer refit time wouldn't matter much if all your boats are capable of launching nuclear missiles. The at-sea availability for the number of required tubes is constant.

3. Not meet availability requirements due to a longer mid-life overhaul (refueling needed)

When available, put a new 'life of the boat' 42-year reactor in the 774's as a block upgrade. Same as what's been done with the jet engine development where GE & PW have been told to make their AETP engines the same size as the F135 engine. Since they've reduced the envelope of the Columbia-Class then it's likely that designing the new power plant would not be difficult to make happen for the 774's if it's not been done already.

4. Require a larger number of submarines to meet the same operational requirement

Yes - but that's a GOOD thing. They're all basically the same except for block upgrades. It's also going to be massively cheaper to operate and maintain this fleet. Columbia-Class is estimated at USD9Billion + USD6Billion in detailed design and nonrecurring engineering costs in 2015 dollars. 774's w/VPM will be ~USD3.5Billion in 2019 dollars. Block upgrades are spread over many boats. It's just going to be much less expensive to get better, more capable boats. Plus, now we've got the 2016 FSA specifying 66 SSN's and 12 SSBN's - 88 boats. It becomes even more expensive to maintain 12 boats that are different amongst a larger fleet of 88 than a fleet of 60.

5. Reduce the deterrent value needed to protect the country (fewer missiles, warheads at-sea)

Just not possible w/66-88 boats (264-352 tubes) capable. So, actually, changing to using 774's increases the number of tubes from 192 to 264/352. The deterrent value and warheads at sea is actually larger utilizing 774's with VPM's.

6. Be more expensive than other alternatives due to extensive redesign of Virginia systems to work with the large missile compartment (for example, a taller sail, larger control surfaces and more robust support systems)

N/A - We're talking about 774's w/smaller missiles. Not larger 774's.

7. Developing a new nuclear missile from scratch with an industrial base that last produced a new design more than 20 years ago would be challenging, costly and require extensive testing.

We're starting on GBSD. It's a great time to employ defense contractors in risk reduction tech development that can be used for both GBSD and a D5 replacement. GBSD is required by late 2020's so this would work out for D5 replacement as well.

8. We deliberately decided to extend the life of the current missile to decouple and de-risk the complex (and costly) missile development program from the new replacement submarine program.

I'm all for de-coupling. We've seen it with B-21 and AETP programs. It can be done for missiles as well. There are risk reduction options.

9. i.) Additionally, a smaller missile means a shorter employment range requiring longer SSBN patrol transits. ii.) This would compromise survivability, require more submarines at sea and ultimately weaken our deterrence effectiveness.

i.) Only until permanent D5 replacement is developed. Trident II was designed in the 1970's. It's ridiculous to suggest that an equitable replacement cannot be designed for the VPT within the required time frame.

ii.) No, there would significantly more boats at sea which enhances survivability. Also, more submarines at sea is required by the 2016 FAS anyway.

10. With significant cost, technical and schedule risks, there is little about this option that is attractive.

The cost, technical and schedule risk is all on the Columbia-Class replacement program. Acquisition is USD84Billion+ for 12 boats Technical risk has completely changed since significant technology transfer from Virginia-Class is now slated to Columbia-Class to reduce costs. Schedule risk does not exist as since this report was written the 774 shipyard production has dropped from 72 months to <30 months. Also, industry and the Navy have stated that building qty-2 Virginia-Class boats is possible while building Columbia-Class. That means that building qty-3 Virginia-Class boats simultaneously will be possible. Building an entirely new class of submarine for only 12 boats is not attractive, cost effective or likely to be completed on schedule whereas adding a third Virginia-Class boat will create greater efficiencies.

So what about the benefits?

774 shortfall disappears. Constant deployment of at least 10 SSN's (2013 requirement) is assured. Ten SSN's w/4 large tubes per boat is 40 D5 replacements deployed at all times. If that number is increased to 22-29 SSN's then tasking would be better managed and 88-116 D5 replacements would be deployed at all times vs 48 using Columbia-Class. Note that the 10 SSN deployment requirement was before the 2016 Force Structure Assessment that is requesting 66 SSN's & 12 SSBN's. Commanders are asking for 80 SSN's to meet tasking requirements.

SSBN shortfall disappears. Acquiring Columbia-Class will reduce the number of ballistic missile tubes from 336 w/Ohio to 220 by 2032 when the number of boats drops to 10. Utilizing 774 Block V and beyond, available tasking ballistic missile boats would be at least 8 Ohio-Class boats and 33 (3 per year) VPM 774's. With 4 tubes from VPM and 24 per Ohio that's 225 tubes across 40 boats increasing at 3 boats per year in 2032. An increase of 5 tubes and 30 boats. Also, Ohio-class may experience some marginal life extension as tasking is decreased and fuel life is extended. It's also likely that a Triton II replacement will be a much more efficient ballistic missile. That could decrease the number of required missiles creating opportunity for even more tubes to be used for other solutions.

Wartime demand of 35 SSN's is assured. W/66-88 774's, one would expect a surge of 40-50+ is possible. That's 160/200+ tubes of D5 replacement missiles vs 64 possible w/Columbia-Class.

In 2006, 774 shipyard construction time was 72 months. It's ~30 months from being laid down to commissioning today. First Columbia will take many years longer than that. Building qty-3 774 boats a year will cut build time further.

The 2015 estimated USD84Billion in acquisition costs for 12 Columbia-Class boats (sans dev $) could be spent on other things. Perhaps funding CVN's every 4 years instead of 5 or perhaps additional ARG's, fighters or even the new nuclear missile technology risk buy down for both GBSD and D5 replacement.

---

Next Steps?

1. Stop production of Columbia-Class immediately. Continue with tech development for Columbia-Class but refocus tech dev for use on 774's as block upgrades beginning w/VPM additions in 2019 purchases. Add new tech in block upgrades as it becomes available.

2. Begin purchasing qty-3 774's in 2021 or sooner if vendor capacity allows. Build Qty-3 774's until the schedule allows for 66+ boats to be maintained. I'd also include an offer for the UK to purchase 774's if they want. If the US is building qty-3 Virginia-Class boats a year the cost savings may be appealing to them.

3. Ask LM for a proposal for a modified D5 proposal for what they can build by 2021 that will fit in the VPT's. This is really just a risk reduction requirement. If there are problems in #4 and #5 below then you need a the modified D5. That allows the missiles to be ready as the new 774's w/VPM's are completed. Even if the capabilities are modified you can immediately begin reducing the tasking of the Ohio-Class to extend their service lives as the 1st is scheduled for decommissioning in 2027. This allows time for #5 below. It may also encourage LM, Boeing, et. al. to begin assigning resources to #4 for #5.

4. Couple the Trident II replacement to the GBSD program for the development of new tech only. Not combined missile build programs. Run this the way the AETP program and tech risk reduction for B-21 has been run.

New smaller rocket motors
New warheads
New countermeasures
New guidance systems

5. Build GBSD and D5 replacement utilizing tech developed in #4. Not combined missile programs, just common risk reduction programs. D5 replacement is needed about the same time as GBSD (2027-30?) so perhaps this would work out well.

Summary
Columbia-Class is where F-35 was ~1998. Right at the beginning with a lot of money getting ready to be spent. Defense acquisition has learned some hard lessons since then that have resulted in great programs like AETP and B-21. Let's evaluate once more the Columbia-Class assumptions prior to moving forward.

There's been a sea-change in requirements since the Ohio Replacement report was produced in 2013. The 2016 FAS is calling for a significantly larger Navy. The Air Force requires the GBSD system. Threats around the world have increased significantly. These changes suggest that the Columbia-Class SSBN solution no longer meets the needs of the United States technologically, operationally or fiscally.

The SCO should start funding technical risk reduction for Triton II replacement ballistic missiles to reach IOC by the late 2020's. These missiles will be deployed in Virginia-Class submarines utilizing the Virginia Payload Modules large-diameter missile tubes. Simultaneously, the SCO should rapidly deploy by the early 2020's as a risk reduction measure a Triton II interim replacement that will fit the VPT utilizing what technology is currently available.

I've included some pictures of other technology designed in the 1970's besides the Triton II.
--

Any thoughts?
 

Attachments

  • Screen Shot 2017-01-06 at 2.42.01 AM.png
    Screen Shot 2017-01-06 at 2.42.01 AM.png
    274.8 KB · Views: 3
  • Screen Shot 2017-01-06 at 2.42.48 AM.png
    Screen Shot 2017-01-06 at 2.42.48 AM.png
    269.6 KB · Views: 2
  • Screen Shot 2017-01-06 at 2.45.23 AM.png
    Screen Shot 2017-01-06 at 2.45.23 AM.png
    227.9 KB · Views: 2
  • Screen Shot 2017-01-06 at 2.50.25 AM.png
    Screen Shot 2017-01-06 at 2.50.25 AM.png
    768.5 KB · Views: 310
  • Screen Shot 2017-01-06 at 2.54.08 AM.png
    Screen Shot 2017-01-06 at 2.54.08 AM.png
    386.9 KB · Views: 317
  • Screen Shot 2017-01-06 at 2.56.30 AM.png
    Screen Shot 2017-01-06 at 2.56.30 AM.png
    373.8 KB · Views: 331
  • Screen Shot 2017-01-06 at 2.58.34 AM.png
    Screen Shot 2017-01-06 at 2.58.34 AM.png
    374 KB · Views: 339
  • Screen Shot 2017-01-06 at 3.03.26 AM.png
    Screen Shot 2017-01-06 at 3.03.26 AM.png
    896.3 KB · Views: 362

marauder2048

"I should really just relax"
Joined
Nov 19, 2013
Messages
3,158
Reaction score
523
I appreciate the detailed reply. In fact, a variant of your argument was presented here (and attached as a pdf):

http://www.usni.org/magazines/proceedings/2016-10/build-strategic-fast-attack-submarines.

I'm not so sanguine about shoe-horning a Trident C4 sized missile into the VPMs; the increase
in drag and displacement caused by the addition of the VPM + 130 long tons worth of C4
missile likely has implications for reactor burnup and hence reactor lifetime which for a
an attack submarine is built around a different set of assumptions than a FBM submarine.

There are also likely hydrodynamic complications e.g. center of mass and buoyancy changes
that would require modifications to the Block Vs to counter. It's unclear at this point if you
are just better off developing a new sub which of course they will be doing with SSBN-X and SSN-X.

If the Navy had elected to continue with SLIRBM development I would feel very differently
but as such I would think a good way to improve deterrent capabiltity while relaxing Columbia
schedule (and consequently cost) pressure would be developing a version of LRSO
that can be launched from Virginia's torpedo tubes and the VPM.

This would restore the capability lost when TLAM-N was retired by the Obama administration
despite assurances from the previous administration to our allies that TLAM-N would be preserved
i.e. extended deterence.

Granted, sea launched LRSO doesn't provide the same capability
as an SLBM but it would still force an enemy to thin out their ASW assets to hunt for
their launch platforms. And, IIRC, smaller payloads like LRSO can be vertically
launched while on the move which offers some survivability advantages.
 

Attachments

  • build-strategic-attack-subs.pdf
    1,002.3 KB · Views: 17

NeilChapman

Interested 3rd party
Joined
Dec 14, 2015
Messages
1,000
Reaction score
115
Thanks for the PDF! I hadn't been able to find the length of the VPT's installed in the VPM. Your doc states they will accommodate a missile equivalent in size to the Trident 1, C4 SLBM which were 33ft in length. C4's were only 73" in diameter whereas the VPT will accommodate the larger 83" D5's diameter (tube is 87").

Let me address your arguments within the text.

marauder2048 said:
I appreciate the detailed reply. In fact, a variant of your argument was presented here (and attached as a pdf):

http://www.usni.org/magazines/proceedings/2016-10/build-strategic-fast-attack-submarines.

I'm not so sanguine about shoe-horning a Trident C4 sized missile into the VPMs; the increase
in drag and displacement caused by the addition of the VPM + 130 long tons worth of C4
missile likely has implications for reactor burnup and hence reactor lifetime which for a
an attack submarine is built around a different set of assumptions than a FBM submarine.

Perhaps I am bullish on missile development. Looking at the commercial items that were developed when Trident II was designed is a graphic illustration for the beginnings of the argument to make that point. We've come a long way since the 1970's.

The Virginia-Class reactor is designed for the life-of-the-boat, 33 years. There's been no reduction in that life based on the addition of the VPM. My proposed, modified D5 (basically a cut-down D5) would not weigh 130k lbs. There would probably be a 20-30,000lb reduction per missile based on size.


marauder2048 said:
There are also likely hydrodynamic complications e.g. center of mass and buoyancy changes
that would require modifications to the Block Vs to counter. It's unclear at this point if you
are just better off developing a new sub which of course they will be doing with SSBN-X and SSN-X.

Don't know. The VPM adds a module 84' long. That's a lot of displacement. But for much less than USD125Billion you can figure out the center of mass and buoyancy changes that would be required. Can't believe they haven't already planned for the VPM VPT's to be used for ballistic missile interceptors. They would probably use a D5 first stage which is ~65k lbs itself.


marauder2048 said:
If the Navy had elected to continue with SLIRBM development I would feel very differently
but as such I would think a good way to improve deterrent capabiltity while relaxing Columbia
schedule (and consequently cost) pressure would be developing a version of LRSO
that can be launched from Virginia's torpedo tubes and the VPM.

This would restore the capability lost when TLAM-N was retired by the Obama administration
despite assurances from the previous administration to our allies that TLAM-N would be preserved
i.e. extended deterence.

Granted, sea launched LRSO doesn't provide the same capability
as an SLBM but it would still force an enemy to thin out their ASW assets to hunt for
their launch platforms. And, IIRC, smaller payloads like LRSO can be vertically
launched while on the move which offers some survivability advantages.



What's the risk on the boat front?

774's with VPM - absolutely zero risk for deployment. All 774's acquired after 2018 will have this module.

Columbia-Class -

New reactor - S1B - Medium Risk - never been deployed but has good lineage.

New Electric Drive - High Risk - Never been deployed before. We've seen problems w/this tech on Zumwalt.

Cost - USD125Billion - High Risk - Will be more expensive if all ships in class are not built.

---

What's the risk on the missile front?

Can I get a "good enough" D5 alternate utilizing the VPM VPT's until technology risk reduction can be completed for new missile?

YES

Trident I C4 was a three stage missile designed to carry the Mk4 re-entry vehicle. The C4 has a 4,000nm range. It was designed to carry qty-8 (to 14) of the Mk4 reentry vehicle whose W76 100kT warhead is about 1/2 the weight of the D5's Mk5 w/the W88 warhead. This missile was 73" in diameter which limited the solid fuel capacity of its first two stages.

Trident II D5 is a three stage missile designed to carry the Mk5 re-entry vehicle. The D5 is the evolution of the Trident I C4. The basic missile layout is the same. The D5 has a 6,000nm range which enables the D5 to reach almost every strategic target in the Northern hemisphere when launched from SSBNs sitting in U.S. ports. It was designed to carry qty-8 (to 12) of the Mk5 reentry vehicle whose W88 475kT warhead is ~2x the weight of the W-76 of the Trident I C4. The D5's ability to carry 12 reentry vehicles is not allowed by treaty to be used.

So - we've got advantage Trident II D5

1. Longer legs - 6000nm - even SSBN's in port could launch and hit targets. Very important if you've only got a few boats.

2. Heavier payload - Can carry 12 W88 MIRV's - but limited to 8 by treaty.

But does that advantage matter in the short term? No. Here's why.

1. Longer legs not necessary - We don't require SSBN's in port launching missiles. We've got many more tubes constantly at sea.

2. Heavier payload not necessary - Using the tech from the D5 in C4 scale we'd expect about 2/3 the weight capacity - That's qty_6 W88 MIRVS w/same range as D5. 1st stage just get's it up to ~30mi.

Using existing technology we can quickly build a cut-down D5 to fit the VPM VPT's. The likelihood is that it would carry less than 8 MIRVs but that's OK. We are starting on new ballistic missile technology development. We'll be able to build new SLBM's w/in 6-7 years.

Summary

I think the Columbia-Class acquisition is much higher risk than configuring some cut-down D5's.

Thoughts?
 

bobbymike

ACCESS: USAP
Senior Member
Joined
Apr 21, 2009
Messages
11,347
Reaction score
2,946
NeilChapman said:
marauder2048 said:

Can always count on you guys!

But note this report was in 2013. The 2016 FSA completely changes the calculus since US now needs 66+ SSN's and not 48.

So I'm reading through this appendix and I'm not convinced these arguments are convincing today.

Utilizing the Virginia-Class w/smaller missile - "This would carry forward many of the shortfalls of a Virginia-based SSBN we just discussed, and add to it a long list of new issues."

Ok - let's read through the many "shortfalls" listed above..

1. i.) Not meet survivability (stealth) requirements due to poor hull streamlining and ii.) lack of a drive train able to quietly propel a much larger ship

i.) This doesn't apply since the missile would be smaller, also, if VPM is stealthy enough for attack sub then it should be "good enough", especially since risk is spread out over more boats.
ii.) Pump jet for Columbia coming from Virginia-class. Also, they've cut the Columbia-Class back to 16 tubes (from 20) so they could use a smaller propulsion system and existing components already designed for Virginia-Class. So this "shortfall" is just old reasoning.

2. Not meet at-sea availability requirements due to longer refit times (since equipment is packed more tightly within the hull, it requires more time to replace, repair and retest).

If I'm increasing the # of 774's built (from 1 to 3 in '21) and all have VPM's starting in 2019 then by 2030 I've got at least 30 boats that can carry a new missile ready by 2030. Those 30 boats equate to 120 tubes for nuclear missiles. The number of boats increases until all boats (66-88 = 264-352 tubes) are capable of launching the new missile. It seems like a longer refit time wouldn't matter much if all your boats are capable of launching nuclear missiles. The at-sea availability for the number of required tubes is constant.

3. Not meet availability requirements due to a longer mid-life overhaul (refueling needed)

When available, put a new 'life of the boat' 42-year reactor in the 774's as a block upgrade. Same as what's been done with the jet engine development where GE & PW have been told to make their AETP engines the same size as the F135 engine. Since they've reduced the envelope of the Columbia-Class then it's likely that designing the new power plant would not be difficult to make happen for the 774's if it's not been done already.

4. Require a larger number of submarines to meet the same operational requirement

Yes - but that's a GOOD thing. They're all basically the same except for block upgrades. It's also going to be massively cheaper to operate and maintain this fleet. Columbia-Class is estimated at USD9Billion + USD6Billion in detailed design and nonrecurring engineering costs in 2015 dollars. 774's w/VPM will be ~USD3.5Billion in 2019 dollars. Block upgrades are spread over many boats. It's just going to be much less expensive to get better, more capable boats. Plus, now we've got the 2016 FSA specifying 66 SSN's and 12 SSBN's - 88 boats. It becomes even more expensive to maintain 12 boats that are different amongst a larger fleet of 88 than a fleet of 60.

5. Reduce the deterrent value needed to protect the country (fewer missiles, warheads at-sea)

Just not possible w/66-88 boats (264-352 tubes) capable. So, actually, changing to using 774's increases the number of tubes from 192 to 264/352. The deterrent value and warheads at sea is actually larger utilizing 774's with VPM's.

6. Be more expensive than other alternatives due to extensive redesign of Virginia systems to work with the large missile compartment (for example, a taller sail, larger control surfaces and more robust support systems)

N/A - We're talking about 774's w/smaller missiles. Not larger 774's.

7. Developing a new nuclear missile from scratch with an industrial base that last produced a new design more than 20 years ago would be challenging, costly and require extensive testing.

We're starting on GBSD. It's a great time to employ defense contractors in risk reduction tech development that can be used for both GBSD and a D5 replacement. GBSD is required by late 2020's so this would work out for D5 replacement as well.

8. We deliberately decided to extend the life of the current missile to decouple and de-risk the complex (and costly) missile development program from the new replacement submarine program.

I'm all for de-coupling. We've seen it with B-21 and AETP programs. It can be done for missiles as well. There are risk reduction options.

9. i.) Additionally, a smaller missile means a shorter employment range requiring longer SSBN patrol transits. ii.) This would compromise survivability, require more submarines at sea and ultimately weaken our deterrence effectiveness.

i.) Only until permanent D5 replacement is developed. Trident II was designed in the 1970's. It's ridiculous to suggest that an equitable replacement cannot be designed for the VPT within the required time frame.

ii.) No, there would significantly more boats at sea which enhances survivability. Also, more submarines at sea is required by the 2016 FAS anyway.

10. With significant cost, technical and schedule risks, there is little about this option that is attractive.

The cost, technical and schedule risk is all on the Columbia-Class replacement program. Acquisition is USD84Billion+ for 12 boats Technical risk has completely changed since significant technology transfer from Virginia-Class is now slated to Columbia-Class to reduce costs. Schedule risk does not exist as since this report was written the 774 shipyard production has dropped from 72 months to <30 months. Also, industry and the Navy have stated that building qty-2 Virginia-Class boats is possible while building Columbia-Class. That means that building qty-3 Virginia-Class boats simultaneously will be possible. Building an entirely new class of submarine for only 12 boats is not attractive, cost effective or likely to be completed on schedule whereas adding a third Virginia-Class boat will create greater efficiencies.

So what about the benefits?

774 shortfall disappears. Constant deployment of at least 10 SSN's (2013 requirement) is assured. Ten SSN's w/4 large tubes per boat is 40 D5 replacements deployed at all times. If that number is increased to 22-29 SSN's then tasking would be better managed and 88-116 D5 replacements would be deployed at all times vs 48 using Columbia-Class. Note that the 10 SSN deployment requirement was before the 2016 Force Structure Assessment that is requesting 66 SSN's & 12 SSBN's. Commanders are asking for 80 SSN's to meet tasking requirements.

SSBN shortfall disappears. Acquiring Columbia-Class will reduce the number of ballistic missile tubes from 336 w/Ohio to 220 by 2032 when the number of boats drops to 10. Utilizing 774 Block V and beyond, available tasking ballistic missile boats would be at least 8 Ohio-Class boats and 33 (3 per year) VPM 774's. With 4 tubes from VPM and 24 per Ohio that's 225 tubes across 40 boats increasing at 3 boats per year in 2032. An increase of 5 tubes and 30 boats. Also, Ohio-class may experience some marginal life extension as tasking is decreased and fuel life is extended. It's also likely that a Triton II replacement will be a much more efficient ballistic missile. That could decrease the number of required missiles creating opportunity for even more tubes to be used for other solutions.

Wartime demand of 35 SSN's is assured. W/66-88 774's, one would expect a surge of 40-50+ is possible. That's 160/200+ tubes of D5 replacement missiles vs 64 possible w/Columbia-Class.

In 2006, 774 shipyard construction time was 72 months. It's ~30 months from being laid down to commissioning today. First Columbia will take many years longer than that. Building qty-3 774 boats a year will cut build time further.

The 2015 estimated USD84Billion in acquisition costs for 12 Columbia-Class boats (sans dev $) could be spent on other things. Perhaps funding CVN's every 4 years instead of 5 or perhaps additional ARG's, fighters or even the new nuclear missile technology risk buy down for both GBSD and D5 replacement.

---

Next Steps?

1. Stop production of Columbia-Class immediately. Continue with tech development for Columbia-Class but refocus tech dev for use on 774's as block upgrades beginning w/VPM additions in 2019 purchases. Add new tech in block upgrades as it becomes available.

2. Begin purchasing qty-3 774's in 2021 or sooner if vendor capacity allows. Build Qty-3 774's until the schedule allows for 66+ boats to be maintained. I'd also include an offer for the UK to purchase 774's if they want. If the US is building qty-3 Virginia-Class boats a year the cost savings may be appealing to them.

3. Ask LM for a proposal for a modified D5 proposal for what they can build by 2021 that will fit in the VPT's. This is really just a risk reduction requirement. If there are problems in #4 and #5 below then you need a the modified D5. That allows the missiles to be ready as the new 774's w/VPM's are completed. Even if the capabilities are modified you can immediately begin reducing the tasking of the Ohio-Class to extend their service lives as the 1st is scheduled for decommissioning in 2027. This allows time for #5 below. It may also encourage LM, Boeing, et. al. to begin assigning resources to #4 for #5.

4. Couple the Trident II replacement to the GBSD program for the development of new tech only. Not combined missile build programs. Run this the way the AETP program and tech risk reduction for B-21 has been run.

New smaller rocket motors
New warheads
New countermeasures
New guidance systems

5. Build GBSD and D5 replacement utilizing tech developed in #4. Not combined missile programs, just common risk reduction programs. D5 replacement is needed about the same time as GBSD (2027-30?) so perhaps this would work out well.

Summary
Columbia-Class is where F-35 was ~1998. Right at the beginning with a lot of money getting ready to be spent. Defense acquisition has learned some hard lessons since then that have resulted in great programs like AETP and B-21. Let's evaluate once more the Columbia-Class assumptions prior to moving forward.

There's been a sea-change in requirements since the Ohio Replacement report was produced in 2013. The 2016 FAS is calling for a significantly larger Navy. The Air Force requires the GBSD system. Threats around the world have increased significantly. These changes suggest that the Columbia-Class SSBN solution no longer meets the needs of the United States technologically, operationally or fiscally.

The SCO should start funding technical risk reduction for Triton II replacement ballistic missiles to reach IOC by the late 2020's. These missiles will be deployed in Virginia-Class submarines utilizing the Virginia Payload Modules large-diameter missile tubes. Simultaneously, the SCO should rapidly deploy by the early 2020's as a risk reduction measure a Triton II interim replacement that will fit the VPT utilizing what technology is currently available.

I've included some pictures of other technology designed in the 1970's besides the Triton II.
--

Any thoughts?
Here is the updated 2016 report but full disclosure I have not compared the two for differences

https://fas.org/sgp/crs/weapons/R41129.pdf
 

marauder2048

"I should really just relax"
Joined
Nov 19, 2013
Messages
3,158
Reaction score
523
NeilChapman said:
Perhaps I am bullish on missile development. Looking at the commercial items that were developed when Trident II was designed is a graphic illustration for the beginnings of the argument to make that point. We've come a long way since the 1970's.

The Virginia-Class reactor is designed for the life-of-the-boat, 33 years. There's been no reduction in that life based on the addition of the VPM. My proposed, modified D5 (basically a cut-down D5) would not weigh 130k lbs. There would probably be a 20-30,000lb reduction per missile based on size.

First off, Trident II is an 80's era design (FSD began in 1983).
I'm very unclear why would you expect low-volume, essentially single user technologies like strategic class SRM
propellants (the dominant driver in SLBM design) to enjoy the same technology scaling trends as consumer electronics?

The only way to maintain the reactor lifetime with the addition of VPM is to change the power consumption
profile of the boat i.e. spend less time at maximum power which means a hit to your capabilities as an attack
boat. That's on top of the reduction in top speed imposed by the VPM. To that you are adding
(assuming they could be accommodated) the weight of the gas generators to propel ~ a 70,000+ pound SLBM
that has as a worse fineness ratio than C4 or D5.



NeilChapman said:
Don't know. The VPM adds a module 84' long. That's a lot of displacement. But for much less than USD125Billion you can figure out the center of mass and buoyancy changes that would be required. Can't believe they haven't already planned for the VPM VPT's to be used for ballistic missile interceptors. They would probably use a D5 first stage which is ~65k lbs itself.

There's enough uncertainty and risk in modifying the subs to accommodate the gas generators. And we haven't even scratched
the service on MILCON (more strategic weapons handling facilities), manning, DASO burden, training budgets
since the crews will need to be proficient in all of the attack boat tasks and now strategic missile launch.

The BMIs looked at for submarine launch were all high fineness ratio, very high VBO boost-phase intercept missiles
that even at the low-end, say KEI, were too long for anything but Trident D5 tubes.

NeilChapman said:
What's the risk on the missile front?

Can I get a "good enough" D5 alternate utilizing the VPM VPT's until technology risk reduction can be completed for new missile?

YES

I'm not clear here: you want *two* new missiles? Yes, the cut down D5 would be, for all practical purposes, a new missile.
Longer legs will be increasingly necessary because of the number of new and emerging nuclear powers:
to avoid overflying other nuclear powers the SLBMs (unless the submarine happens to be in the right place or can
risk the transit time) will have to conduct plane changes. At the very least, improving BMD will
likely require MaRVs in the future which are heavier than standard ballistic RVs. Or more PenAids, or
higher apogees for BGV release.

I don't see why the ability to launch from port is being denigrated here: the closer you are to friendly ASW, ASuW
assets the better not to mention reduced exposure to enemy forces because there is no need to transit
to patrol areas that fit your reduced range.
 

GeorgeA

ACCESS: Top Secret
Senior Member
Joined
Dec 31, 2006
Messages
705
Reaction score
77
Also wouldn't we end up yet again screwing over the British, who have invested a not-insignificant sum in their new boats based on a D5 payload, and would have to start over? It would be Skybolt all over again.

I don't care who's president, I can't see a viable scenario where the CNO and Secretary of Defense go back to Congress with the message, "About those Columbias . . . yeah . . . no. Do-over!"
 

NeilChapman

Interested 3rd party
Joined
Dec 14, 2015
Messages
1,000
Reaction score
115
George Allegrezza said:
Also i.) wouldn't we end up yet again screwing over the British, who have invested a not-insignificant sum in their new boats based on a D5 payload, and would have to start over? It would be Skybolt all over again.

I don't care who's president, ii.) I can't see a viable scenario where the CNO and Secretary of Defense go back to Congress with the message, "About those Columbias . . . yeah . . . no. Do-over!"

i.) I don't think of it that way. The UK benefits by the US maintaining its financial stability. New capital expenditures of USD125Billion to transport 35 yo missile technology doesn't make fiscal sense. This is especially true since the US is ready to spend on tech dev for ballistic missile production. The result of which could be all new tech for GBSD, SLBM's and ballistic missile defense systems. I believe the UK leases these missiles.

The US has invested in Columbia already as well. ~USD1.5Billion the last two years IIRC. BTW...Do we know the sum the UK has already invested? The US and UK are both prepared to invest heavily in acquisition. So I don't think that particular argument works. There's lots of ways to smooth those feathers in future systems.

Also - I'm not suggesting the tech dev stops. What's being developed for Columbia should be repurposed for Virginia - including the S1B 42year reactor.

ii.) That's not an impossible sell. The analysis was finished in 2013. The world has changed significantly since then. Based on strategic changes we need to reallocate resources.

2014 - Russia invades Crimea
2014 - PRC sets up oil rig in SCS - rams&sinks Vietnamese fishing boat
2015 - PRC transforms Mischief Reef into an Island
etc
etc
 

NeilChapman

Interested 3rd party
Joined
Dec 14, 2015
Messages
1,000
Reaction score
115
Wow M. Thanks for engaging in this conversation with me. My over-arching argument is that
1. Columbia should be halted,
2. an interim cut-down D5 produced
3. Ballistic missile tech dev should be constantly funded for use in new GBSD, SBLM and Ballistic missile defense and follow on systems. It's silly that the US has let these technology advancements atrophy.


marauder2048 said:
NeilChapman said:
Perhaps I am bullish on missile development. Looking at the commercial items that were developed when Trident II was designed is a graphic illustration for the beginnings of the argument to make that point. We've come a long way since the 1970's.

The Virginia-Class reactor is designed for the life-of-the-boat, 33 years. There's been no reduction in that life based on the addition of the VPM. My proposed, modified D5 (basically a cut-down D5) would not weigh 130k lbs. There would probably be a 20-30,000lb reduction per missile based on size.

First off, Trident II is an 80's era design (FSD began in 1983).

Yes, but it's an evolution of Trident. Missile design is basically the same but much bigger with important, but actually incremental, upgrades based on what they learned from the C4.

marauder2048 said:
I'm very unclear why would you expect low-volume, essentially single user technologies like strategic class SRM
propellants (the dominant driver in SLBM design) to enjoy the same technology scaling trends as consumer electronics?

For the cut-down, interim D5 I'm not. I'm interested in a 2021 IoC. I just want them to get something that will fit the tube using the same tech as is in the D5 today if necessary. If there are upgrades that will not affect a IoC of 2021 then I don't have a problem with changes. Perhaps there's some changes that are required since the program has been shut down for so long. I think that IoC of 2021 is critical since that's when the VPM module boats may start commissioning. Also, I think it will take awhile for the Navy to learn how to make this work. The more transition time, while Ohio's are still operational, the better.

For the new SLBM, you raise an interesting point. SRM propellants may be the dominant driver in how much mass can be moved but I'm not sure I agree it's the dominant driver in SLBM design. The mass of the warhead and how many you want to deliver seem to me the dominant driver. The guidance system matters. Any counter-measures matter.

Maybe with so many more tubes perhaps you don't need as many warheads per missile.

In this part of the discussion it's important to reintroduce that submarines have many missions besides delivering SLBM's. My objective is to reduce the cost of all those missions by spreading the SLBM function among more boats. Recall that commanders are asking for 80 boats to meet tasking requirements - today. The 2016 FSA specifies 66 SSN missions. Adversaries to western ideas about sovereign nation states, representative democracies and freedom of navigation are testing the resolve of the US and its allies. Having 12 boats that do one function and cost USD125Billion is a non-starter.

The US can make the 774's work for SSBN missions, even if it's not perfect, and use that money on other priorities.

marauder2048 said:
The only way to maintain the reactor lifetime with the addition of VPM is to change the power consumption
profile of the boat i.e. spend less time at maximum power which means a hit to your capabilities as an attack
boat. That's on top of the reduction in top speed imposed by the VPM. To that you are adding
(assuming they could be accommodated) the weight of the gas generators to propel ~ a 70,000+ pound SLBM
that has as a worse fineness ratio than C4 or D5.

The Navy is moving forward with the VPM and has not stated the reactor won't last the life of the boat. Perhaps it was within the design margin. The UK notes the reactors they use are designed with a 5 yr "service life" margin.

Naval Reactor has been working on the Transformation Technology Core project for awhile which was to be incorporated at some point into the Virginia-class boats. Perhaps this "upgrade" to the class was factored in.

Also, I would expect the S1B reactor to be

Not sure I understand why the interim, cut-down D5 would have a worse fineness ration than a D5. Could you explain?

NeilChapman said:
marauder2048 said:
Don't know. The VPM adds a module 84' long. That's a lot of displacement. But for much less than USD125Billion you can figure out the center of mass and buoyancy changes that would be required. Can't believe they haven't already planned for the VPM VPT's to be used for ballistic missile interceptors. They would probably use a D5 first stage which is ~65k lbs itself.

There's enough uncertainty and risk in modifying the subs to accommodate the gas generators. And we haven't even scratched
the service on MILCON (more strategic weapons handling facilities), manning, DASO burden, training budgets
since the crews will need to be proficient in all of the attack boat tasks and now strategic missile launch.

The VPM module is 84' long. There's not enough room to accommodate the gas generators?

So what I'm hearing is the US can't get people that can do two missions. Well, maybe that's USD125Billion problem.

Are the clearance requirements the same at least?

Don't know the answer on training. Maybe everyone does everything and the missions are split for a few years until folks get the hang of it. Something like this.

Route 1...

1. Come out of school and join the fleet
2. SSBN mission deployment training
3. Blue / Gold cycle (2.5 month/100day)
4. SSN mission deployment training
5. SSN mission deployment (18 month)

Route 2...

1. Come out of school and join the fleet
2. SSN mission deployment training
3. SSN mission deployment (18 month)
4. SSBN mission deployment training
5. Blue / Gold cycle (2.5 month/100day)

Perhaps the Navy will come up with an even better training solution.

marauder2048 said:
The BMIs looked at for submarine launch were all high fineness ratio, very high VBO boost-phase intercept missiles
that even at the low-end, say KEI, were too long for anything but Trident D5 tubes.

Don't think that stops tech dev process.

NeilChapman said:
marauder2048 said:
What's the risk on the missile front?

Can I get a "good enough" D5 alternate utilizing the VPM VPT's until technology risk reduction can be completed for new missile?

YES

I'm not clear here: you want *two* new missiles? Yes, the cut down D5 would be, for all practical purposes, a new missile.

Yes the cut down D5 is a risk reduction process. Expected life is from 2021 until a new SLBM IoC ~2027-2030. The Interim D5 is basically a D5 that will fit in a 33' tube instead of a 44' tube. Perhaps it looses from 1st and 2nd stage. Probably best to leave 3rd stage and MK5 alone.

marauder2048 said:
i.) Longer legs will be increasingly necessary because of the number of new and emerging nuclear powers:
to avoid overflying other nuclear powers the SLBMs (unless the submarine happens to be in the right place or can
risk the transit time) will have to conduct plane changes. At the very least, improving BMD will
likely require MaRVs in the future which are heavier than standard ballistic RVs. Or more PenAids, or
higher apogees for BGV release.

ii.) I don't see why the ability to launch from port is being denigrated here: the closer you are to friendly ASW, ASuW
assets the better not to mention reduced exposure to enemy forces because there is no need to transit
to patrol areas that fit your reduced range.

i.) Totally agree. Solved by tech dev risk reduction that runs from 2018-IoC of a new SLBM in 2027-2030 time frame.

ii.) It's not. Just saying that it's even more important when you have a limited number of boats. With the SLBMs distributed amongst 60-80 boats it's less critical of an issue. That being said I'm all for the new, smaller SLBM being designed for a whatever range is required. If that's 6000 nmi then so be it.
 

sferrin

ACCESS: USAP
Senior Member
Joined
Jun 3, 2011
Messages
14,741
Reaction score
3,712
NeilChapman said:
Wow M. Thanks for engaging in this conversation with me. My over-arching argument is that
1. Columbia should be halted,

Virginias can't carry the D-5 (too small) and you need that. You need AT LEAST that. (See below.)

NeilChapman said:
2. an interim cut-down D5 produced

Ever improving defenses mean future SLBMs/ICBMs (and even current to an extent) will need to carry more equipment and/or more complex RVs (possibly even powered RVs) to maintain effectiveness, and that means more weight. That means even the D-5 is going to have to offload a significant amount of warheads (which also eliminates the ability to rapidly upload warheads when, not if, the world political climate deteriorates).


NeilChapman said:
3. Ballistic missile tech dev should be constantly funded for use in new GBSD, SBLM and Ballistic missile defense and follow on systems. It's silly that the US has let these technology advancements atrophy.

Agreed. None of this will allow you to pack D-5 capability into a smaller missile though. Rocket propellant (by far the largest contributor to SLBM size per pound of throw weight) doesn't follow Moore's law. In fact, due to increasingly strict insensitive munitions / environmental requirements one may actually be going the other direction. That is to say I would not be at all surprised to find out the ISP of propellant today is less than that on Peacekeeper or Midgetman.
 

NeilChapman

Interested 3rd party
Joined
Dec 14, 2015
Messages
1,000
Reaction score
115
sferrin said:
NeilChapman said:
Wow M. Thanks for engaging in this conversation with me. My over-arching argument is that
1. Columbia should be halted,

Virginias can't carry the D-5 (too small) and you need that. You need AT LEAST that. (See below.)

NeilChapman said:
2. an interim cut-down D5 produced

Ever improving defenses mean future SLBMs/ICBMs (and even current to an extent) will need to carry more equipment and/or more complex RVs (possibly even powered RVs) to maintain effectiveness, and that means more weight. That means even the D-5 is going to have to offload a significant amount of warheads (which also eliminates the ability to rapidly upload warheads when, not if, the world political climate deteriorates).

My argument is for using, and continuing to block upgrade, 774's.

Your point, if I understand correctly, is that

1. RV's will get bigger
2. Need to put more warheads on missiles as a deterrent.

Either way, the cart is being put before the horse.

1. US/UK has an SLBM through 2042 - get started on replacement tech dev today - programs after tech dev - NOT combined.
2. US is, seemly, building Columbia because they (and the UK) are strapped to the D5.

I've argued to keep the 774, to buy down risk on ballistic missile tech, design a new missile, then perhaps design a new boat - in that order. But, unless Mattis finds a more pressing use for those $$$'s allocated to Columbia, I think that boat has probably sailed. It's also possible that there is another reason for Columbia's increase in size - some survivability risk or risk reduction technologies that we've not been made aware of perhaps.
---
Let's go further with your argument that RV's need to get larger. With that, perhaps my argument more refined, is...

Building small numbers of disproportionately expensive boats for a single mission has severe drawbacks.
Drawbacks include

Innovation suffers - Your stuck w/old tech. Compare an Ohio to the latest Virginia-class. Night and day differences.
Industrial capacity suffers - Capacity is diverted for this particular program. The cycle is not constant.
Limited production - Costs are very high. Asset becomes too critical. Think B2.
Limited users - If something happens to any of these few crews who will man the boats? This is an under appreciated risk.

Alternatives that mitigate these risks include...

Folding the SSBM and SSN mission into the same class of submarine using the 774. Which I've argued above.
- OR -
Folding the SSBM and SSN mission into the same class of submarine using the Columbia-class.
- OR -
Moving some SSN missions to SSBM boats so the quantity of boats can be increased to spread the cost around. Commanders want 80 boats to task. Building two per year, 40 year life, that's an 80 boat fleet.
- OR -
Limiting the SSBM quantity of missiles carried and boat lifespan so that boats can be built, and block upgraded, on a regular basis.

---

With that in mind, are there options for moving some SSN missions to SSBM's? Perhaps adding a multi-mission module, Jimmy Carter-esque, to the Columbia-class?

Perhaps building opportunities for inserting both war-footing levels of production capacity and constant innovation into the life cycle is another way to address these costs.

For instance, the UK has designed their boats to last ~20 years to maintain industrial capacity. With that in mind, perhaps a 20 year boat life, with a 5 year buffer, makes sense. Columbia class is scheduled for multi-year overhaul every 20 years as it is. You make up the perceived cost by driving down production cost through volume and scheduled block upgrades.

With an 80 boat fleet that's production and commissioning of ~4 boats per year. With a 40 boat fleet it's two per year. Two and 1/2 w/a 60 boat fleet. We've seen the advantages in Virginia of constant, planned production. Costs are not growing. They're actually dropping in constant dollars.

That way you're building, and more importantly, upgrading boats on a regular basis. A huge strategic advantage is boat-building capacity. In war, if boats are out of action they need to be replaced quickly. If two to four are being commissioned each year then you've got a great supply chain going.

As an equal advantage you have the constant innovation. You "out innovate" your adversaries. They're trying to keep up with boats from two block upgrades prior.
 

marauder2048

"I should really just relax"
Joined
Nov 19, 2013
Messages
3,158
Reaction score
523
In related news:

http://wtnh.com/2017/01/09/electric-boat-says-it-can-meet-navy-goal-for-adding-subs/

The General Dynamics Corp. subsidiary builds two Virginia-class attack submarines with Newport News Shipbuilding in Virginia annually.
It’s also designing a new class of ballistic-missile submarines.

Company President Jeffrey Geiger said on Monday that the Navy is asking whether the company could still build
two attack submarines a year, or even three, when the ballistic-missile submarines are under construction.

He says yes, but it would have to grow its workforce, supplier base and facilities.

Emphasis mine.
 

NeilChapman

Interested 3rd party
Joined
Dec 14, 2015
Messages
1,000
Reaction score
115
marauder2048 said:
In related news:

http://wtnh.com/2017/01/09/electric-boat-says-it-can-meet-navy-goal-for-adding-subs/

The General Dynamics Corp. subsidiary builds two Virginia-class attack submarines with Newport News Shipbuilding in Virginia annually.
It’s also designing a new class of ballistic-missile submarines.

Company President Jeffrey Geiger said on Monday that the Navy is asking whether the company could still build
two attack submarines a year, or even three, when the ballistic-missile submarines are under construction.

He says yes, but it would have to grow its workforce, supplier base and facilities.

Emphasis mine.

"or even three" There is capacity. The question is "what's the best way to use it?" Any thoughts?


Both you and Scott hammered me on SRB propellents. It got me to reading up on them. Not a pretty picture.
 

Similar threads

Top