Will Submarines be Obsolete Soon?


Canada is in the early stages of thinking about replacing its submarines. Submarines are not part of the National Shipbuilding Strategy, but they are mentioned in the new defence policy. As complex platforms, they’re extremely expensive, and it will be a long and painful process before Canada has them and can use them (assuming a decision is made to procure them). Given the rapid pace of technological change, they could very easily be obsolete soon after they’re built. And by this I mean not just the technology on the submarines, but manned submarines themselves could be obsolete. There are already unmanned submarines – for example Boeing’s Echo Voyager started sea trials in June – and more will be developed. Why not spend the money on the development of unmanned underwater vessels (UUVs) instead of on procuring new submarines? Canada could become a leader in the technology – maybe Bombardier and Boeing could work together? (Or maybe not.) At any rate, it’s something to consider before setting aside money to build new submarines. Australia is early in the process of procuring new submarines, and Andrew Davies at the Australian Naval Institute made an interesting presentation in October considering the possible obsolescence of submarines.

See “Could Submarines be Obsolete by 2050?” at http://navalinstitute.com.au/could-submarines-be-obsolete-by-2050/

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