WillyShake has a post up about the research into a regional replacement for the SOSUS array, awkwardly named PLUSNET (for "persistent littoral undersea surveillance network".) In addition to agreeing with the comment left by PigBoatSailor (who just started his own blog, "The Discomfort of Thought", and is off to a fast start with posts like this), I'd have to wonder what kind of crack the "submarine warfare experts" referenced by the authors of the article were smoking when they provided the information that led to this lead:
"Submarine warfare experts predict that by 2010, as many as 1,000 stealthy diesel submarines launched from ports not necessarily friendly to the United States will be plying troubled waters from the entrance to the Persian Gulf to the Taiwan Straits. "
One thousand modern diesel submarines by 2010? Unless they're defining "stealthy" as "any diesel submarine, including mini-subs, whether it can actually submerge (at least more than once) or not", my guess is that they have some stock in the Northern European submarine makers that they're trying to talk up so they can unload it. (I don't have any current unclassified numbers that I can put out, but a quick search for world submarine inventories came up with this list from the late 90s, when there were about 500 diesel boats in the world [Intel Source: Sid Hill]. Many of these are obsolete Whiskey and Romeo variants, so I wouldn't exactly classify them as "stealthy".) Assuming that enough have been added in the intervening eight years to say there are currently 500 decent diesel boats in the world, I haven't heard of any plans to build an additional 500 in the next 5 years. (Note how I didn't jump on them for implying that all 1,000 would be concentrated in the Eastern hemisphere, although I could have...)
Anyway, here's the BAA (basically a request for proposals) for PLUSNET that got put out last year. It describes the proposed project thusly:
"The Office of Naval Research (ONR 32) seeks white papers describing innovative technology concepts that will form the foundation for future (circa 2015) naval systems for clandestine undersea surveillance to provide the location of submarines in far- forward and/or contested waters.
"Concepts should emphasize mobile and/or fixed, multiple mode sensing nodes, networked to provide an adaptive and/or relocatable sensing grid. Concepts should include technologies and approaches which will result in low false alarms, reduced manning, provide tracking with effective attack criteria for existing or emerging weapons, and be operable from ambiguous warning through neutralization of the threat. Successful concepts will incorporate environmental information to optimize deployment and sensing. Concepts should include technologies that are rapidly deployable (within days) and remain survivable to countermeasures for their operational life. It is anticipated that this period will extend from four to six months. These novel concepts must support the future naval undersea warfare directions of Sea Power 21 and Naval Power 21 and should be operable and effective from near the enemy shore to the vicinity of the Sea Base or Strike Group, including shallow and deep water.
"ONR highly encourages teaming of academia, industry, and government laboratories with a view toward speeding the transition of new science and technology into fielded systems. Priority will be given for concept development proposals addressing a complete undersea surveillance system.
"Priority will be given to concepts of sufficient maturity such that significant aspects can be demonstrable during fiscal years 2006 and 2007.
"The technological concepts sought in this offering may lead to further development of a prototype surveillance system demonstrable during FY08-10 using higher category funds."
Staring into my crystal ball, I see... no deployment of anything like a finished system until 2020 at the earliest... probably 2030 or so...