Giant Shadow Experiment
Giant Shadow is an experiment that will test some of the technology and capabilities that will be a part of the new SSGN platform. The exercise will take place in the Caribbean in mid-to-late January 2003 and involve the USS Florida, special forces, and other units. The exercise will last for roughly ten days and is due to end on January 28, 2003.
NAVSEA and Commander, Naval Submarine Forces (COMNAVSUBFOR) sponsored Giant Shadow, the first limited objective experiment under the "Sea Trial" initiative of the Chief of Naval Operations' Sea Power 21 vision.
Giant Shadow, conducted with USS Florida (SSGN 728), is the first in a series of experiments before overhauling and converting four Ohio-class ballistic missile submarines (SSBNs) to SSGNs.
The exercise simulates a scenario in which sea and air access to an enemy country has been blocked by neighboring countries, similar to countries surrounding Iraq denying access to the United States.
The exercise scenario includes the use of special operations forces, UAVs, UUVs and P-3 aircraft to try to prosecute activity related to weapons of mass destruction on a Caribbean island. A P-3 aircraft fitted for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance and provides communications data links. UAVs play a reconnaissance role. The SOF will deploy from the Florida, though she will not have the drydeck shelter or the advanced delivery system.
A UUV was launched from the ship vertically from one of the submarines missile tubes prior to the insertion of the SEALs. The UUV was to determine if there was a mine threat to the SEALs and it was also to be used to resupply the SEALs while they were on the beach.
The final element of the scenario is for a call for fire to be made by the SEALs which would result in the launching of two Tomahawks from the Florida. One of the Florida's tubes was single stacked with a seven-tomahawk canister. A third launcher in the canister was to be used to monitor the effects of the launches on the tubes, measuring vibrations and acoustics. Though the D-5 tubes are tall enough to allow a second stack the Navy does not plan to include a second stack at this time.
Demonstration and validation (DEMVAL) tests were conduced prior to the Giant Shadow Experiment in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of western Florida.
The successful launches provided confirmation that a key element of the planned conversion of SSBNs to SSGNs - the delivery of conventional weapons from the submarine's missile tubes - will work.
The first launch on January 14 was of an instrumented Tomahawk Block III missile configured with an MK 106 Rocket Motor Assembly to obtain a boosted energy profile similar to the Tactical Tomahawk missile currently in development. The unarmed missile was launched vertically from one of the submarine's missile tubes and transitioned to cruise flight, flying its planned mission at the Eglin Air Force Base C Range using global positioning satellite navigation, with recovery occurring at Eglin.
A second launch on January 16 was also successful. While very similar to the first test, instead of launching a Tactical Tomahawk-type missile, the second test launched an unarmed instrumented Block III missile configured with an MK 111 Rocket Motor Assembly to obtain a normal Block III missile boosted energy profile.
For both tests the missile was placed within a Multiple All-Up-Rounds Canister (MAC) in such a configuration that it was similar to the tightly packed cluster of Tomahawk All-Up-Rounds (AURs) planned for SSGN Trident tubes. An instrumented test vehicle was collocated in the Trident launch tube to measure the effect of nearby launches on adjacent missiles.
Giant Shadow also provided an opportunity to evaluate various technologies, such as nuclear-biological-chemical sensors, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) and targeting systems.
Several Navy commands participated in Giant Shadow. USNS Mary Sears (T-AGS-65), Naval Meteorology and Oceanography Command's oceanographic survey ship was home for the command and control capabilities that will be put onboard the SSGN as part of the conversion process. Naval Air Systems Command's "Hairy Buffalo," a modified P-3C aircraft, provided ISR capability and communication networking that would normally be provided by a high-altitude UAV like Global Hawk. Naval Oceanographic Office provided their UUV, the "Sea Horse," and elements of Naval Special Warfare Group Four supported the special warfare phases of the experiment.
Results of the experiment are still being evaluated.
|Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list|