DARPA wants to hide naval assets on the sea bottom
The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has seen the future of naval warfare and it’s falling upward. As part of an effort to reduce the logistics of sending equipment into trouble areas, the agency’s Upward Falling Payloads project is aimed at developing storage capsules capable of remaining on the deep seabed for years. These would contain non-lethal military assets that could be deployed on the spot years in advance and rise to the surface as needed.
Forward deploying caches of military equipment isn't a new idea. For centuries, armies and navies have left supply dumps at strategic locations for future use, and even today the US military has equipment stored in friendly nations in case of a sudden crisis. DARPA wants to take this a step further by placing assets in the deep sea in capsules protected by ambient pressure and equipped with receivers, waiting for the signal to deploy and “fall upward” to the surface.
The purpose of these capsules is to provide the military with operational support and situational awareness by means of unmanned, distributed systems. Currently, laying down a sensor network in a remote part of the world or deploying a UAV is a major operation that can take weeks or even months to carry out – especially if the other side has started shooting. This makes underwater pre-deployment very attractive. DARPA is interested because the deep sea provides “cheap stealth.” A capsule sitting dormant on the sea bottom is extremely difficult to detect and even harder to recover, so it’s an ideal location to forward deploy assets such as sensor packs, communication relays, electronic intelligence monitors and even unmanned aircraft.
DARPA is looking at the experience of the scientific community and the telecommunications and oil-exploration industries, who have had over a century of dealing with deep-sea engineering. Laying down and repairing cables, installing drill heads and pumps – these all have provided industry with a huge library of knowledge and skills for working in the deep sea that DARPA hopes to tap in developing the capsules.
The challenges don't lie only in making capsules that can survive for years on the seabed, but also in communicating with them when it's time to deploy. The deep sea is a very complex region filled with layers of water of different levels of salinity, density, and temperature, and mixed in with this is the sea life that make a cacophony of noises. This makes communicating even with submarines loaded with state of the art gear difficult, but finding a reliable way to contact a dormant capsule after years of laying in the silt poses remarkable challenges whether by means of radio, sonar or lasers.
Because of the difficulty of retrieving the capsules, DARPA is concentrating on non-lethal assets, so there’s no conflict with treaties involving munitions and their disposal.
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And good luck going and taking anything they put down there, we are talking deep sea here, first you would have to know where to look, and then good luck actualy pin pointing it, its one thing to scan the seabed for large geographical features, but a small 10'-20' capsule that has been specificaly designed to be stealthy will be near impossible. The ocean is a large place even in areas close to where we would need the supplies.
Next saying how stupid it would be to "place a large amount of communication equipment" in one place, is refuting a claim that was never even made, no one said anywhere that they were going to put "a large amount of equipment" of anytype, anywhere. I would really hope the military and government has enough supplies and equipment that they could stash some somewhere(cause they already do it) where it wouldnt cause us to lose a war that could potential take place somewhere else.
And also i think if it was possible to just simple focus on making ships faster so that it ends up being the same thing, for the same amount of resources, they would just do that... i have to believe darpa(even though i dont really like them that much) has enough highly qualified people to look at both situations and realize that stashing stuff on the seabed would be far greater value for resources spent then upgrading the ships to be faster, which may not be possible without a huge amount of money and research(larger then making capsules).
All that being said i think this idea is only good if its used in a limited way where it has a significant advantage do to the area its deployed in, where having some assets usable very quickly when they are needed would be very advantageous.
Also, not trying to be a dick, i just dont see how alot of what has been said against the article, really even related to what was said.
The new generation of submarines being built for the US are designed to have flexible cargo areas for just such items. Google "SSN-23".
The Japanese built submarines capable of launching aircraft and that was in 1941. Part of a failed plan to damage the Panama canal, if i recall.
Nothing new here.
Make the container roof or sides open up when floating to let in/out all the unmanned water and air vehicles. Then bob down again until required.
Such a platform can: 1.Be textured and shaped to look like an island/ coral reef/ boat wreck 2.Can stay either just below water level or on the sea floor as the mission requires. 3.Be big enough to also house onboard power generators (tidal, geothermal, nuclear) 4.Could actually be a storage/refuelling facility with living quarters 5.House a maintenance facility for submarines/boats
Subject to mechanism of tethering, it may even uproot and move elsewhere as the mission requires.