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Sub leaders plan for 2080 with next boat design

Apr. 10, 2013 - 05:19PM   |  
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Leaders of the sub fleet talked about how to design a sub in 2013 that will still be relevant in 2080 during a roundtable discussion at the Navy League’s annual Sea-Air-Space symposium outside Washington, D.C.

The key word: flexibility.

“You look at science and you try to look as far ahead as you can,” said Rear Adm. Barry Bruner, director of undersea warfare, during the Wednesday afternoon panel. “There are other things … we don’t even know what we’ll need, so we’re trying to design flexibility in.”

The Ohio-class replacement submarine is being designed to work with different payloads to ensure the technology on the boats will be able to complete its mission 67 years into the future, when the last Ohio-class replacement is scheduled to be decommissioned.

While the technology or requirements may be uncertain, panel members said one thing is crystal clear: The country will still have a great need for a nuclear weapon deterrent in 2080.

William Hoeft, the undersea technology assessment group leader, said he had no doubt that ridding the world of all its nuclear weapons will not happen this century. As a result, the U.S. will continue to need a way to protect itself and its allies from nuclear attack — an extremely relevant need considering recent threats from North Korea, Hoeft said.

Submarines provide a unique deterrent to nuclear attacks because the enemy cannot predict where the sub attack will come from, leaving them few options to prepare a defense, Hoeft said.

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