05 January 2006

Small Sub, Big Price.

The ASDS (Advance SEAL Delivery System) are 65 foot long, 60 ton mini-submarines. Battery powered and with a crew of two, the ASDS can carry up to 14 passengers (fewer if a lot of equipment is being brought along, the usual number of passengers is expected to be eight.) With a max range of 200 kilometers, top speed of 14 kilometers an hour and max diving depth of 200 feet, the ASDS operates from a nuclear submarine equipped to carry it on its deck. The ASDS is equipped with passive and active SONAR, radar and an electronic periscope (that uses a video camera, not the traditional optics.)

The first unit has cost $500 million so far and still has serious bugs. Each additional unit will cost $300 million. The originally budgeted price was $80 million each.

By comparison, state of the art Air Independent Propulsion (AIP) diesel submarines, such as Sweden's latest submarine class, cost $100-$300 million each, and are fully functional 1,490 ton attack submarines. A 1,500 ton "Street Fighter" Littoral Surface Craft test bed costs $50 million. The new 2,500 ton plus littoral combat ships that Navy proposes to produce cost on the order of $250 million each. An F-22 fighter costs about $200 million [ed. revised number]. A new 7,000 ton plus nuclear attack submarine costs a little more than $2,000 million.

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