The Navy Is Looking At Fitting Its Future Attack Submarines With Inflatable Sails

The U.S. Navy is investigating the possibility of having its future nuclear attack submarines fitted with sails — the tower-like structures on their forward upper-hulls — that are inflatable, popping up when required, but otherwise concealed to preserve the sub’s speed, maneuverability, and acoustic stealth. The Inflatable Deployable Sail System (IDSS) is ultimately hoped to result in technology that will allow the Next-Generation Attack Submarine, or SSN(X), to be able to “operate submerged without the impediments of a sail.”

In a document published earlier this year on the website of the Navy’s Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) program, under which the service seeks to provide funding for start-ups and small businesses, Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) outlines its initial requirements for the IDSS initiative. The outlined objective: to “Develop technology that will advance traditional submarine design toward accommodating an Inflatable Deployable Sail System (IDSS) for future submarines.”

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