The 2020s Will Change the World Submarine Balance (excerpt)
(Source: Forbes magazine; posted Jan 5, 2020)
By H I Sutton
The new decade will see seismic shifts in the world of underwater warfare. I believe that several trends will converge to change the world submarine balance. Reflecting on the decade we've emerged from, we can see that the writing is already on the wall.

Although many of the key submarines have already been designed or built, it is the next 10 years when things will shift. This is largely because there was a period of slow development following the Cold War. Successive defense cuts and a focus on low-intensity land conflicts meant that submarines were under-invested in. And many submarine building programs were plagued by delays and small orders. Now finally it feels like we are on the cusp of something new.

Russian Navy Yasen Class Submarine

Russia's massive effort to modernize its submarine fleet, for many years undernourished, will finally bear fruit. They are already operating more assertively in NATO areas. By 2030 most will be much more modern designs, such as the Borei and Yasen classes which are currently entering service. Some may even be the next-generation Laika design.

Weapons are where we will see the largest Russian shift. President Putin’s drive for super-weapons includes the Zircon hypersonic cruise missile and Poseidon mega torpedo. More formally described as an Intercontinental Nuclear-Powered Nuclear-Armed Autonomous Torpedo, Poseidon is an entirely new class of nuclear weapon. It may steer NATO submarine thinking in the coming years.

The submarine outlook for China is less clear. Although Chinese Navy submarines have been improving, the pace of change is less visible that in their massive warship building program. Possibly the greater influence of China will be in their exports. Increasingly China is exporting relatively large quantities of AIP (Air-Independent Power) submarines. Customers include Pakistan and Thailand. (end of excerpt)

Click here for the full story, on the Forbes website.


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