The US Navy's carriers have a gaping hole in their defenses against a growing threat, and drones may soon fill it

Business Insider | 1/2/2019 | Christopher Woody
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The US military is gearing up for a potential conflict with a comparable adversary.

At sea, this means countering new threats to aircraft carriers and to their air wings.

US - Navy - Hunters - Decade - Kind

The US Navy retired one of its main anti-submarine hunters a decade ago and may need a new kind of aircraft to replace it.

The return of great-power competition has the US military refocusing on a potential conflict with a sophisticated adversary whose submarines can sink the US's supercarriers.

Defense - Experts - Undersea - Force - China

Defense experts are increasingly concerned by a resurgent Russian undersea force and by China's increasingly capable boats.

But the centerpiece of the US Navy's fleet has a decade-old gap in its submarine defenses, and filling it may require new, unmanned aircraft.

'It - Legs

'It's got legs'

During the Cold War and the years afterward, aircraft carriers had fixed-wing aircraft and helicopters for anti-submarine-warfare operations. For much of that period, the fixed-wing option was the S-3 Viking.

Turboprop - S-3 - Submarines - Mind - S-2

Introduced in 1974, the turboprop S-3 was developed with Soviet submarines in mind. It replaced the propeller-driven S-2 Tracker, carrying a crew of four. It wasn't particularly fast, but it had a 2,000-mile range and could stay airborne for up to 10 hours to hunt submarines.

"It's got legs," said Capt. John Rousseau, who flew the Navy's last Vikings as part of an experimental squadron before their retirement in early 2016.

Abilities - Periscopes - Anomaly - Detector - Subs

It had strong surface-search abilities to find periscopes, a magnetic anomaly detector to search for submerged subs, and gear to analyze sounds from sonobuoys it dropped in the ocean. Its search and processing capabilities tripled its search area. And in a war scenario, it could fire Harpoon missiles at ships and drop torpedoes and depth charges to destroy submarines.

"It can go fast and long. The radar, even though it's old, there's not many better. We still spot schools of dolphins and patches of seaweed" when patrolling off...
(Excerpt) Read more at: Business Insider
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