If submarines possessed the high vision and quick speed of aircraft, they could dramatically extend their reach. If aircraft took off and landed from underwater platforms, their staging and strikes would be stealthier and more secure.

But combining the two epoch-making weapons has proved difficult. Only one country really pulled it off—and too late to win a war. But the tremendous potential of the aircraft-sub combo may make an historic comeback thanks to drones and Special Operations Forces.

The underwater stealthiness of submarines comes with a great downside—blindness. Subs rely on a few sensors—and help from other military assets—to comprehend their environments.

By carrying and deploying a small airplane, a submarine could dramatically expand its ability to look around itself.

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