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Subject: Future of Strategic Nuclear Submarines (SSBNs and SSGNs)
Roman    7/5/2004 7:44:08 PM
The U.S.A. is currently in the planning stages of designing a new SSBN and and accompanying SLBM to replace the Ohio/Trident II system in the 2020-2025 timeframe. Simultaneously Russia, is working on its own new SSBN and so is China, while other countries such as India are likely to acquire them too. So, how will this new generation (I believe it will be the 4th) of SSBNs and possibly nuclear SSGNs (or any other type of submarine that you can think off which could be used for strategic nuclear deterrence) differ from the current generation? The current SSBNs appear to be near perfection - what is there to improve upon? And last but not least, will the new generation be built in similar numbers as the current one, or will we see a reduction (or perhaps even an increase if the strategic situation changes)?
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Alexis    RE:Future of Strategic Nuclear Submarines (SSBNs and SSGNs)   7/8/2004 6:34:30 AM
I cannot think of any significant improvement that could be brought to the best existing SSBNs, the likes of Triomphant, Ohio or Vanguard. Silence and stealthiness have reportedly achieved extreme levels. If what is read in the open litterature is true, one can hardly imagine what could be done more. The next generation of Russian SSBN on the other hand, and even more so the next generation of Chinese SSBN will be very interesting to watch. Especially the Chinese since they're lagging so far behind. And India building herself a first SSBN is definetly a possibility, though a quite distant one. A possibility for improvement of the concept (in case of advanced missile defense) would be to replace the ballistic missiles with hypersonic cruise missiles, with 2000 - 3000 km range. Look up Prométhée project as far as France (in cooperation with Russia) is concerned, or similar projects and experiments in the US, in Japan, in Australia ... But this is very prospective ... If no advanced missile defense is ever built (something that would have to be MUCH MORE than the currently planned US NMD), none of this will probably ever come to pass.
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Roman    RE:Future of Strategic Nuclear Submarines (SSBNs and SSGNs)   7/8/2004 11:02:33 PM
Right, but the U.S. too is in the planning stages for a new SSBN - hence they obviously must believe that some major improvements are possible.
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Alexis    About new US SSBNs   7/9/2004 9:38:21 AM
If the US wants to continue fielding SSBNs in the long run (and they do !), they have to prepare for a replacement of existing ships anyway : these will not last forever. That decision does not have to be based on seeing major improvements.
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Roman    RE:About new US SSBNs   7/10/2004 9:30:28 PM
If mere continuance of SSBN deterrent was desired the current Ohios and their Trident II cargoes could be refurbished. An entirely new submarine indicates that they are looking at improved capabilities although I cannot imagine where those improvements could be. Possibly having an all electric drive could make the submarines more quiet, but they are so quiet now that I have some doubts that any further improvements in this regard could be meaningful, but who knows?
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