U.S. Navy's Virginia-class Block IV attack submarines to support fly-by-wire control and modular computing
GROTON, Conn. – The U.S. Navy has begun work on a new generation of attack submarines with never-before-seen weapons, fly-by-wire control, quieting technology, undersea attack drones, sonar, and communications networking, to emerge over the next 10 years or more. Kris Osborn at The National Interest reports.
The Military & Aerospace Electronics take:
14 May 2019 -- Plans for the new boats, referred to as a new fleet of Block VI Virginia-class attack submarines, include launching long-range precision strikes, delivering Special Operations Forces on secret high-risk attack missions, conducting ISR missions, networking with platforms and -- perhaps of greatest significance - operating undetected in high-threat waters.
From a technical or engineering perspective, modularity means building a boat with a software and hardware foundation able to adjust as needed. For instance, while attack submarines currently fire Torpedoes and Tomahawks, it is entirely feasible, if not likely, that new submarine-launched weapons will exist 10 years from now.
Yet another area of innovation quite likely to lay a foundation for Block VI includes Block IIIs fly-by-wire navigational controls; instead of using mechanically operated hydraulic controls, the fly-by-wire system uses a joystick, digital moving maps, and various adaptations of computing automation to navigate the boat. This means that computer systems can control the depth and speed of the submarine, while a human remains in a command and control role.
John Keller, chief editor
Military & Aerospace Electronics
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