At DSEi in September 2007, BAE Submarine Solutions unveiled some of its thinking that it and industry partners were developing to inform the the MOD's Future Submarine project. In particular they displayed two concepts.
Concept 35 was a relatively conservative approach clearly evolved from the Vanguard class, it was developed primarily to illustrate a submarine design philosophy ultimately driven to reduce costs throughout the whole life of the submarine - which had become a major influence driving the redesign of the Astute-class. The philosophy included:
· Simplifying submarine assembly
· Removing the need for extensive and intrusive dockyard modernisation
· Reducing the number of piece parts and bespoke submarine systems
· Doing nothing that would impact adversely on the submarine signature or safe operation
Concept 35 demonstrated how technology can deliver this substantial and sustained reduction in cost of ownership of submarines. The concept also included:
· A next generation Naval Propulsion Plant, with extensive passive features and designed for disposal
· Extensive use of automation for submarine control, damage control and condition monitoring
· Full electric propulsion with shaftless drive
· Externally mounted tactical weapons
· Electrical actuation of control surfaces
· Replacement of obsolescence equipment, with extensive use of current military and commercial off-the-shelf equipment.
Rather more ambitious was the Advanced Hull Form submarine concept, this uses modular design techniques and advanced hydrodynamic thinking to break out of the constraints imposed by the classical body of revolution design.
The resulting unusual external hull form offers advantages in signatures, manoeuvring and safety, and provides large volumes for payloads and equipment outside the pressure hull. This gives exceptional flexibility in design and operation, with the maximum opportunity for rapid role change or upgrading.
Safety is enhanced by the hydrodynamic design, which offers improved manoeuvring and emergency recovery compared with current designs. It is further improved through the external payload and equipment locations, which minimise hull penetrations and improve watertight integrity.
The Advanced Hull Form has been designed for low cost fabrication using largely flat or single curvature surfaces. This approach also allows rapid repair and modification, giving the basis for a flexible and economical platform through life.