TheGreatBlasto

Are the US Navy Carrier Fleets Obsolete?

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IIRC, the range of these missiles is longer than the range of the carrier borne aircraft.  IOW if you want to keep your CV out of their range, your air wing becomes useless.

 

This is a lengthy exploration of the issue by the great War Nerd himself.

 

http://www.exile.ru/articles/detail.php?ARTICLE_ID=6779&IBLOCK_ID=35

Not really.

You see, the range of some ballistic missiles may indeed be out of the range of certain carrier-borne aircraft, but ballistic missiles are incredibly slow and prone to getting shot-down by USN SAMs. Also, USN carriers can travel at high speed (in excess of 30 knots for the Gerald R. Ford class), which would make their actual ability to hit a carrier very poor.

 

And no currently-existing AShM has longer range than an F-18. The ranges of aircraft are measured in thousands of nautical miles (1nmi = ~1.85km), the ranges of AShMs are measured in the tens of kilometers.


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I honestly think "yes", to this. I foresee a day where missile defense systems are so perfect that missiles will be useless, save something like a nuke. The US Navy is trying to make railguns into viable weapons, even if the only ships capable are the Zumwalts which...eh, not sure about them.

 

 It's sort of going back to the "big gun navy" idea. Granted, not perfectly, but pretty close.

 

 Any one know the feasability of using radar to detect a 16 inch shell, and then a missile launch to deflect/destroy said shell?

 

 

 

 

I'm no expert, but I'd assume that shells could be countered, but a typical AP shell would probably be harder to deal with than a missile, considering that you'd have to deflect it somehow rather than just disable the propulsion or detonator.

 

There is no argument to radar or missile to deflect a shell that I can see. The Mark 8 superheavy shell travels at a speed of 762mps new, 739mps average. A tomahawk cruise missile can go a maximum of 247mps. Aside from the massive speed difference, the time it takes to get a radar lock, fire the missile, and have it reach max speed, the shell has already impacted the target.

 

In short, you would have to have a lock on the shell before it is even fired in order to have a chance to hit it, and even then, the blast of a missile might not even be enough to stop the shell. You need only to think, can radar detect, and fire a missile to stop a bullet? To get a type of answer.

 

At least that's how I see it.


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You'd be better off shooting bullets out of the sky with other bullets, if you even bother at all. Missiles are pretty costly, but one of their big selling points is to be able to take out things that cost even more than they do.


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I think you might want to take a look at this.

 

Excerpted:

 

"Problem one: Finding it. Carriers move. And they really move pretty quickly. The supposed easy method of sinking a carrier is use a satellite to locate it, and send a ballistic missile with a nuke on it to that location. But during the time of that missile flight, the carrier will move to another location, and your canned sunshine will go off far in its wake. Which means you just started a nuclear war by killing some fish. This is not an advisable strategy. This same problem also makes it difficult to sink a carrier with a diesel submarine. Diesel submarines are very quiet as long as they aren't moving. But unless you know where a carrier is going, you can't exactly set a trap for it. And where a carrier is going (in an exact sense) is a closely guarded secret.

Problem two: The carrier is protected by guys like Tim Hibbetts who fly some of the most sophisticated aircraft on the planet in defense of those carriers. Anything that's within a VERY long distance of a carrier is known to the battle group. Anything that acts aggressive is going to get shot down or blown up a LONG way from the carrier. Getting through a carrier's fighter cover is far from trivial. A carrier has more fighter aircraft aboard than most nations have total. And in battles between planes and ships (in case you were thinking of killing a carrier with torpedo boats) planes win. Dramatically. See the Pacific theater for details.

Problem three: The carrier is protected by a bunch of ships with AEGIS defense systems. So even if you manage to fight through the fighter wing of the carrier, you are now faced with some of the most sophisticated SAM missiles in the world coming at you. How sophisticated? We've used them to shoot down ballistic missiles. They are guided by the most sophisticated radar arrays in the world. Things will not go well for you. Even if you just launch standoff cruise missiles, things won't go well for them. Or you. Cruise missiles are like shooting fish in a barrel compared to downing ballistic missiles.

Problem four: Carriers have their own defensive systems, based on Gatling guns that fire a hundred rounds a second, and use two radars... One tracks the target, one tracks the outgoing bullets. A computer just moves the gun until those lines meet. Then you die. Those systems are fully automatic, and incredibly devastating. The carriers also have their own local defensive missiles, just in case you weren't being pounded enough by the carriers' air wing, the AEGIS missiles, and the Gatling guns.

Problem five: Even if you land ordnance on target, carriers are big, tough, targets that won't be trivial to even significantly damage, let alone sink. US crews are EXTREMELY well trained in firefighting and damage control. You will not only need big explosives, but lots of them, to sink a carrier. And that makes getting through steps one to four really hard.

Problem six. Carriers are almost certainly escorted by one or more attack submarines. So if your plan is just to stay out of the air or water surface, you don't get a break. US subs are among the best in the world, and have absurdly good active and passive sonar. And you won't know where they are."

 

The problem with this thread is that everyone is assuming that we're talking about WWII era carriers. But we aren't. We're talking about armored behemoths like USS Nimitz.

The USS Nimitz has an armored keel capable of withstanding several impacts from the Mk. 48 Deep Diving Torpedo, sophisticated CIWS systems capable of ripping missiles asunder (and, coming soon, melting them as well [LaWS]) [see: Phalanx, Goalkeeper], and triple armored decks. The most a non-nuclear strike will do to it is secure a "mission kill," that is, make the ship unfit for combat duties. But, guess what? It comes back in a few months.

And we've already read how effective "canned sunshine" is.

 

Lemme quote this for emphasis.  Also the USS Independence survived a nuclear blast.  It melted her hull and would have killed everyone on board had there been anyone,  but she still weathered a nuke and kept floating.  The Independence.  Built in 1942.  I dare say we've made some advances in technology since then.

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Yeah, carriers are obsolete today. The choice replacement IMO would be massive ships (or subs) which act as mobile missile platforms with state of the art offensive and defensive missile and other systems (rail guns, lasers, etc). Short of a nuclear confrontation, the side that wins is the side that can field more advanced missiles, more advanced acquisition, surveillance, and jamming systems. The side that wins, is the side that can overwhelm the enemy with sheer number of missiles while defending against enemy missiles. Carriers can neither stop a missile attack, nor can the AEGIS cruisers, nor can they field enough missiles to counter land-based missiles.

 

The battleship age was superseded by the carrier age, and the carrier age is now obsolete to the "missile age".  


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There is no argument to radar or missile to deflect a shell that I can see. The Mark 8 superheavy shell travels at a speed of 762mps new, 739mps average. A tomahawk cruise missile can go a maximum of 247mps. Aside from the massive speed difference, the time it takes to get a radar lock, fire the missile, and have it reach max speed, the shell has already impacted the target.

 

In short, you would have to have a lock on the shell before it is even fired in order to have a chance to hit it, and even then, the blast of a missile might not even be enough to stop the shell. You need only to think, can radar detect, and fire a missile to stop a bullet? To get a type of answer.

 

At least that's how I see it.

 

Except you wouldn't use a Tomahawk to shoot down a shell.  You use one of the RIM missiles, like the RIM-7 Sea Sparrow or the RIM-67 Standard, to shoot down shells.  Considering that these missiles are intended to hit jets and fly at speeds around Mach 4, catching shells isn't an impossibility.   Also considering that these missiles contain either a few hundred pound explosive or a blast fragmentation proximity explosives, there is little reason to believe that the shell would be able to stay true to its original path if at all in the air.

 

In Zipang, an anime so not the most realistic source, the Mirai, a fictional Yukinami-class ship equipped with the Aegis combat system, engages the Yamato.  In the scene, the CIC is able to pick up the shells on the radar and launch Sea Sparrows to intercept.  Watch Episode 14 for this example.  

 

The Sea Sparrow has a maximum range of 19km.  For a Mark 8 SHS shell flying at 762 m/s, or the Yamato 18" bombs which fly slightly slower, it would take roughly 25 seconds to travel the 19km.  If we assume that the radar only picks up the shell at the 19km point, then it is not unreasonable to assume that a well trained crew could acquire and react to the shell in less than 25 seconds.

 

However radar is much more powerful than is given credit to.  Modern air radar in the form of the AN/SPS-49 has the ability to pick up threats out to around 400km.  Granted a shell is much smaller, but an object just roughly 6 feet by 1.5 feet that is barreling through the sky could and should still be picked up.  The CICS of a ship will identify and be prepared to deal with the threat before the threat is within range.  Even surface radar exceeds the ship required to mount the gun's range.  The AN/SPS-55 surface radar is able to pick up ships over 90km away, and considering the size of a ship that is required to fire the projectile, the ship most likely isn't hiding from radar too well.  

 

This is still discounting any CIWS.  The Phalanx fires 75 rounds per second and has been proven against missile threats in training.  Again a shell is much smaller and is less likely to be stopped by 20mm tungsten rounds than a missile, but the potential is still there.


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Two things:

 

1)  Even if a nation does sink an aircraft carrier, won't the US send more on its way? Not only that, but the US wields more than just the supercarriers. A nation would have to invest a lot of time, money, and weapony to sink one aircraft carrier. Any small hint of failing to sink it and the striking nation that attempted to sink a CV might find themselves in significant disadvantage.

 

2)  This is the wrong thread to have a discussion. We should have it on the Off-Topic forums. This thread is for CV gameplay, improvements on game style, criticisms, etc that pertains to World of Warships. I'm sorry to say, but modern warfare has no place here. 


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a

 

 

There is no argument to radar or missile to deflect a shell that I can see. The Mark 8 superheavy shell travels at a speed of 762mps new, 739mps average. A tomahawk cruise missile can go a maximum of 247mps. Aside from the massive speed difference, the time it takes to get a radar lock, fire the missile, and have it reach max speed, the shell has already impacted the target.

 

In short, you would have to have a lock on the shell before it is even fired in order to have a chance to hit it, and even then, the blast of a missile might not even be enough to stop the shell. You need only to think, can radar detect, and fire a missile to stop a bullet? To get a type of answer.

 

At least that's how I see it.

They would not use a missile to deflect a shell, If you look up C-RAM (Land based equivalent of the CIWS) they use advanced radar and a 20mm Cannon for Counter Rocket, Artillery and Missile (C-RAM)


So yes they can counter shells, but the question is at what point is the shell simply too heavy to deflect or destroy in such a manner, and if that threshold can't be met at what point are there just too many shells to deal with.

 


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yes, they are, as 1 SSBN can neutralize a carrier and all it's support ships from halfway across the globe.

IF they choose to.

USN carriers need to go submarine, using only drones, to become better able to survive active combat operations.

 

You can not invoke the nuclear option in a vacuum.  Yes, a USN carrier battle group is susceptible to a nuclear strike.  The nuclear $hit $torm that would follow a nuclear attack on a USN aircraft carrier battle group would make the loss of a carrier group, in both dollars and lives, look small.  So rational opponents aren't going to risk the retaliation, and irrational opponents aren't going to waste a nuke on an aircraft carrier when it is far easier to detonate one over New York City, Chicago, or Washington DC.

 

USN aircraft carriers do not operate in a vacuum.  They are escorted at all times by both cruisers and destroyers, both armed with a variate of guided missiles.  And usually an SSN.  Also, there are very few places on earth where then would not be supported by land based aircraft.   Anything hinkey won't get within 5 miles of the CV.


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Yeah, carriers are obsolete today. The choice replacement IMO would be massive ships (or subs) which act as mobile missile platforms with state of the art offensive and defensive missile and other systems (rail guns, lasers, etc). Short of a nuclear confrontation, the side that wins is the side that can field more advanced missiles, more advanced acquisition, surveillance, and jamming systems. The side that wins, is the side that can overwhelm the enemy with sheer number of missiles while defending against enemy missiles. Carriers can neither stop a missile attack, nor can the AEGIS cruisers, nor can they field enough missiles to counter land-based missiles.

 

The battleship age was superseded by the carrier age, and the carrier age is now obsolete to the "missile age".  

What you do not understand is that the Carrier is the exact type of "missile-age" ship you're talking about! Massive, heavily-armored, and filled to the brim with missiles. Except the Carrier is superior in that it has attack planes which can deliver those missiles accurately to targets thousands of miles away.

 

And, what else? A target detected by a hard to hit (or even spot) fighter aircraft will stay spotted longer than a target acquired by a "massive ship." So carriers are superior in Acquisition and Detection.

 

I wonder if you even know how much ECM Carriers and their surrounding escort ships carry. It's a lot. And then there's Analog countermeasures (flares, CIWS).

 

Finally, your penultimate sentence must be a joke... "Carriers cannot stop a missile attack, nor the AEGIS cruisers, nor can carriers field enough missiles to counter a land-based missile attack."

You do realize that the Nimitz carrier has a CIWS Target Aquisition system capable of identifying and targeting over 500 missiles at once? And, furthermore, you do realize that the Aegis system is one of the most advanced CIWS systems in the world. And, pretty soon, US Carriers will be armed with lasers. Yes, that's right, lasers. In case you don't understand, lasers are faster, more accurate, and less expensive to maintain than Phalanx guns, and have just the same effect.


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Valid points about my argument, and I will concede that pi was unaware of the anti artillery weapons we have. HOWEVER. This is speaking of the US's equipment and not an enemy's. The age of engaging in naval combat on equal terms ended long ago.

 

In terms of artillery, with the development of railguns coming along and, at least for the foreseeable future, the only platforms capable of mounting them being naval vessels, there is a strong chance the battleship could return arming itself with railguns, a massive array of missiles, and perhaps conventional artillery.


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I don't get why some people here are so convinced that nukes would do anything to a carrier group....

 

A Nuclear warhead is a relatively fragile thing (Simply because of how they function), as a general rule shooting the missile out of the air will damage the warhead in such a way that would completely prevent nuclear detonation.

 

A Nuke is a weapon of fear at this point, if the enemy calls your bluff they become practically useless.


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I don't get why some people here are so convinced that nukes would do anything to a carrier group....

 

A Nuclear warhead is a relatively fragile thing (Simply because of how they function), as a general rule shooting the missile out of the air will damage the warhead in such a way that would completely prevent nuclear detonation.

 

A Nuke is a weapon of fear at this point, if the enemy calls your bluff they become practically useless.

You're making the big assumption that "they" would fire only one nuclear missile. You get to a point where nukes come into play, you don't fire one and hope whoever you fired on doesn't launch everything back at you. You fire as many as you need, and then some. And you fire them across a wide range of paths so that you over tax your opponent. 

 

Personally, I'd fire a few nukes at a carrier to be a distraction while I had other nukes flying against less defended targets.


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What you do not understand is that the Carrier is the exact type of "missile-age" ship you're talking about! Massive, heavily-armored, and filled to the brim with missiles. Except the Carrier is superior in that it has attack planes which can deliver those missiles accurately to targets thousands of miles away.

 

And, what else? A target detected by a hard to hit (or even spot) fighter aircraft will stay spotted longer than a target acquired by a "massive ship." So carriers are superior in Acquisition and Detection.

 

I wonder if you even know how much ECM Carriers and their surrounding escort ships carry. It's a lot. And then there's Analog countermeasures (flares, CIWS).

 

Finally, your penultimate sentence must be a joke... "Carriers cannot stop a missile attack, nor the AEGIS cruisers, nor can carriers field enough missiles to counter a land-based missile attack."

You do realize that the Nimitz carrier has a CIWS Target Aquisition system capable of identifying and targeting over 500 missiles at once? And, furthermore, you do realize that the Aegis system is one of the most advanced CIWS systems in the world. And, pretty soon, US Carriers will be armed with lasers. Yes, that's right, lasers. In case you don't understand, lasers are faster, more accurate, and less expensive to maintain than Phalanx guns, and have just the same effect.

 

LASERs.... Pretty soon?????      They ARE.  Installed and running.

However, before they can be used, all the planes would be shot down, escorting cruisers sunk, tactical subs destroyed, and SSDS and CIWS ran out of ammo.

Yeah..  welcome to the real world.


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LASERs.... Pretty soon?????      They ARE.  Installed and running.

However, before they can be used, all the planes would be shot down, escorting cruisers sunk, tactical subs destroyed, and SSDS and CIWS ran out of ammo.

Yeah..  welcome to the real world.

 

True, but doesn't that just reinforce my point? By the time that you got in-range for the carrier to use those lasers, well, you've probably used-up most of your military.

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You're making the big assumption that "they" would fire only one nuclear missile. You get to a point where nukes come into play, you don't fire one and hope whoever you fired on doesn't launch everything back at you. You fire as many as you need, and then some. And you fire them across a wide range of paths so that you over tax your opponent. 

 

Personally, I'd fire a few nukes at a carrier to be a distraction while I had other nukes flying against less defended targets.

 

You can't actually fire multiple nuclear missiles at once. if one is detonated with others in range, the others are potentially disabled. So you're left with having to fire in succession or a 'linear' mode. This would be 'easy' for missile protection systems to take down.

 

"ERWs were first operationally deployed for anti-ballistic missiles (ABM). In this role the burst of neutrons would cause nearby warheads to undergo partial fission, preventing them from exploding properly."

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neutron_bomb

It's one of the reasons why the peacekeeper staggers warhead reentry and spacing.

 

With neutron bombs as an example, you possibly could use the enemies weapons against themselves. These weapons are rather fragile.

 

 

Edited by sarkinc

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LASERs.... Pretty soon?????      They ARE.  Installed and running.

However, before they can be used, all the planes would be shot down, escorting cruisers sunk, tactical subs destroyed, and SSDS and CIWS ran out of ammo.

Yeah..  welcome to the real world.

 

Go ahead and tell me what nation besides the US could field a force strong enough to tear through all those layers of defense.


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Personally, I'd fire a few nukes at a carrier to be a distraction while I had other nukes flying against less defended targets.

 

Well, some of us would make plans to win while the planet was still inhabitable.... just sayin...

 

And even if you went that route you'd need to fire an absurd amount of nukes at the carrier group, more than would be feasible in any real world scenario. Carrier groups are practically designed to deal with that kind of massed missile attack. 


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Go ahead and tell me what nation besides the US could field a force strong enough to tear through all those layers of defense.

 

British, Russian, Chinese, not to mention combined alliances of smaller armed forces.  If they throw enough assets at that carrier group, it's going down.

...

The goal of modern warfare is not to send force against force, it's to throw all your force against weakness.

Fighting wars on equal footing is OK in a game, but risking trillions of dollars of hardware recklessly would be the end of our country, and the world we live in.


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British, Russian, Chinese, not to mention combined alliances of smaller armed forces.  If they throw enough assets at that carrier group, it's going down.

...

The goal of modern warfare is not to send force against force, it's to throw all your force against weakness.

Fighting wars on equal footing is OK in a game, but risking trillions of dollars of hardware recklessly would be the end of our country, and the world we live in.

 

I do not mean to insult the British military in any way. The British SAS is the best-trained and best-equipped Special Forces program out there bar none. The Royal Navy is a powerful and well-trained navy.

 

But they do not have the resources to take-on a USN Carrier group without being forced to over-commit drastically. And this is where your second point completely falls-apart.

 

The goal of modern warfare is not to throw all of your force against weakness. The goal of modern warfare is to create a weakness and then throw enough force at that weakness that you exploit it and destroy it, but not so much force that you are completely concentrated in one place.

 

The United States keeps 11 Carrier Strike Groups, 10 of which are active, with the 11th planning to become operational with the christening of USS Gerald R. Ford. Sure, if you "throw enough assets" at one, you will take them down. However, "enough assets" for some countries quantifies as their entire water-capable assets, and, for some others, 2 or 3 times what waterborne assets they have. Britain does not have a navy large enough to be able to neutralize all of the USN's Carrier Strike Groups.

 

And, though the US has only 10 carrier strike groups, it has 20 combat-capable carriers (19 active, 1 reserve), plus one that is undergoing trials and should be active within a year.

 

Let's compare:

The Royal Navy consists of 30 combat warships, 19 major surface combatants (6 guided-missile destroyers and 13 frigates) and 11 nuclear submarines, and no combat-capable carriers (HMS Illustrious was scrapped in 2016. 2 are considered under-construction, with one completed but not expected to be operational until 2020.)

 

A typical USN CGS (Carrier Strike Group) consists of a USN Nimitz-class Carrier (but 2 for CSG 7, since it absorbed the flagship from CSG 16 upon the latter's disestablisment), 2-3 guided-missile destroyers, 1+ crusiers, and some submarines, plus supply ships. The carrier is usually equipped with 65 to 70 aircraft.

 

So, if we do the math, that's... Well, let me put it this way: One USN CSG has from 1/3 to 1/2 the number of guided missile destroyers that the RN has total.

And, the US has 10 (+1 coming soon) Carrier Strike Groups.

 

The US Navy also has 52 combat-capable nuclear attack submarines, which are designed for the primary purpose of hunting and killing enemy submarines. That's close to 5 times the number of submarines that the RN has.

 

So, if you were hoping to use your powers as First Sea Lord to order a quick submarine strike at USN carriers... well, the United States Navy has enough to commit 2 submarines to fleet-protection AND still have 30 to actively hunt yours.


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They are certainly obsolete given missile defenses, not to mention the Shkval 230 mph torpedo and more advanced versions of this being developed. These will force carrier groups to stand well offshore for defensive purposes thus negating their ground attack role (since Midway type sea battles are a thing of the past). One hit with a Shkval that CV is dead in the water. You cannot intercept a 230 mph torpedo. A barrage of anti-ship missiles would also overwhelm whatever interception capabilities a CV group has at hand and keep them far off an enemy coastline.

 

Sorry, have to disagree, 

 

There will always be weapons which will end weapons system X, Y or Z but the thing is, what technology can create, technology can defeat. Of course the main problem you have with your 200 knt torpedo is that you have to get something close enough to guide it in to it's target which is the same problem modern submarines have.  Getting close enough to launch a torpedo attack on a carrier group is the next best thing to suicide which is why torpedoes are no longer designed to engage surface ships, they, and the torpedo you are describing, are designed to go after other submarines.  

 

The way you go after carrier groups is with missiles.  They are much faster than your 200 knt torpedo, can deliver a much heavier warhead and, for a while, there was little out there that could effectively defend against them.  That changed as defense technology caught up again.  But until you can develop an undetectable submarine that can get close enough to a carrier to accurately identify and target it, and provided your 200 knt torpedo has the range and the guidance system to reliably hit it's target, and provided this method can be more effective than sub launched or airplane launched missiles, for the purpose of sinking ships, your 200 knt torpedo is ... obsolete.  

 

 

 


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But until you can develop an undetectable submarine that can get close enough to a carrier to accurately identify and target it, and provided your 200 knt torpedo has the range and the guidance system to reliably hit it's target, and provided this method can be more effective than sub launched or airplane launched missiles, for the purpose of sinking ships, your 200 knt torpedo is ... obsolete.  

 

 

 

And, don't forget, that this sub has to be undetectable even to other submarines.


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Well that is one of the layers of defense this super submarine would need to overcome.  But that's just one.  


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