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Re: AIP submarine building
IF THE USN can afford /justify the LCS then surely it can afford an AIP LITTORAL COMBAT SUBMARINE class to complement the nukes which are best as "open ocean" boats! especially as the carriers are now loaded with only light short range aircraft!
The USN nuclear lobby were against diesel and when the early AIP boats came along they were so problematic that it was easy to ignore them.
Now that AIP has really matured the USN's opposition is rather silly, HOWEVER, they also realise that they have to play in the highly politicised defence procurement "game" - and any dilution of the "nuclear subs are best" chanting would threaten their funding. (On a serious point they need to keep the sub numbers up to ensure training and career development berths.)
The other point at issue is that the technology of AIP is not mature, in as much as the already efficient installations are going through a step change with better systems and newer types of lithium batteries are being developed. The subs built in 5, or 10 years time will be much better than last year's models. Setting up a scientific/engineering prototype team would seem to be a sensible idea - but politics is a big factor.
The RN were happy with the nuclear/conventional mix, but eventually the power available from the reactors won over limited battery power. The Upholders (the RN were eventually happy with them even if the Canadians aren't) were "nuclear front ends" attached to conventional rears and were useful for shallow water ops. A "nuclear front end" with a new design top-of-the-range high power rear end would be excellent.
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