America’s Super Submarine Aircraft-Carrier (AN-1) could be held again. The U.S. Navy Could Have Had a Submarine Aircraft Carrier (AN-1) that could launch 8 fighter jets in 8 minutes
During the 1950s, the advent of the atomic age forced the U.S. Navy to look at a number of alternate basing schemes for naval aviation. One such scheme was AN-1, an enormous nuclear-powered submarine that could launch eight fighter jets in just under eight minutes.
AN-1 would have been a large submarine, nearly 500 feet long with a beam of 44 feet. It would have had an underwater speed of 16 knots, and thanks to a 15,000-horsepower shipboard nuclear power plant, could have cruised to any point on earth. The submarine would have had six bow-mounted torpedo tubes and two rear-firing tubes.
The sub’s real firepower, however, was a squadron of eight vertical-takeoff fighter jets. Designed by Boeing, the dagger-like jets would be raised up on launch platforms nose-first and then boosted into the sky by three 23,000-pound Wright SE-105 turbojets. Two of the engines would fall away to be recovered and reused later. The plane (which never left the design stage) had an estimated top speed of Mach 3.
Although AN-1 was never built, it’s a fascinating look at a ship that could have been.
AN-1 was a concept ahead of its time. Today, the increase of high-tech threats against aircraft carriers, including hypersonic weapons and anti-ship ballistic missiles, could force them to adapt and go underwater, just like the Navy was considering 60 years ago. Unmanned aerial vehicles, launched and recovered from submarines could someday perform many of the same missions performed by carrier aircraft.
The United States already builds drones and submarines far larger than AN-1, and it may be just a matter of time before it combines the two into a stealthy and lethal package.
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