Technological advances in maritime drones will make the ocean ‘transparent,’ meaning weapons such as Britain’s Trident nuclear submarines will be unable to hide from enemy detection, according to a top academic.
Professor Paul Rogers, who teaches security at Bradford University, made the comments in an analysis piece for Open Democracy on Thursday.
“One issue in particular is of deep concern to the authorities: whether the oceans are in the process of becoming transparent,” he warned.
“If the submarines which carry the missiles become detectable, they will no longer constitute a secure nuclear force.”
Technologies designed for civil maritime exploration such as Underwater Unmanned Vehicles (UUVs), which are effectively sea drones, are likely to make the seas “transparent” in a way they had not previously been, said Rogers.
He accepted the climate of debate in the UK around Trident nuclear weapons is extremely tense.
“In Britain at the present time, any suggestion that the Trident replacement system may prove to be a non-starter is met with considerable opposition from defense sources, and not a little anger at the way the issue keeps surfacing, so to speak,” he said.
Apart from strategic concerns about obsolescence, campaigners recently highlighted the spiraling costs of Trident.
Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) warned on May 12 that replacing Britain’s aging Trident nuclear deterrent will likely cost £205 billion (US$296 billion), more than doubling initial estimates in 2014.
They calculated the figure using the latest publicly available data, answers to parliamentary questions and previous costs of relevant items including warheads.
CND noted the figure did not take into account the fact Ministry of Defence (MoD) projects typically go over budget.