Sunday, October 23, 2016

German-French Rivalry Led To Scorpene Submarine Data Leak: Report 

Staff, The Financial Express
21 October 2016 

The Scorpene submarine data leak to The Australian newspaper in August was allegedly carried out by sources linked to German defence firm ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems (TKMS), French investigators have found. Reporting the findings, French newspaper Le Monde said the data leak was driven by a competition between TKMS and French firm DCNS. The two companies were competing for export of submarines to various countries.
DCNS CEO HervĂ© Guillou said that the Scorpion leak has not dented the confidence of India confidence in his company. “I went to the Indian authorities for reassurance. We formed a group working on the issue with them,” Guillou told Le Monde.
However, IE reported sources in the Indian defence ministry as saying that Manohar Parrikar, Union Defence Minister, did not meet Guillou or any other DCNS official in the last few weeks. The sources dismissed it as “a matter of corporate rivalry” and refused to comment further.
At a time when the French and German companies are competing to get the Project 75-I programme of the Indian Navy, the report on French investigations gains significance. As part of the Project 75-I, the contracted company would construct six submarines under ‘Make in India’ initiative of the Modi government.
The Australian had published online excerpts of 22,400 documents related to the Scorpene submarine being made under Project-75 at Mazagon Docks Limited in Mumbai on August 24.

New Nuclear Submarine Given Famous Naval Name

Staff, BBC News
21 October 2016

The first of four new UK submarines to carry Trident nuclear missiles will be named Dreadnought, a decision inspired by famous ships from the past.
The Ministry of Defence revealed the name, to coincide with Trafalgar Day, for the first vessel of the £31bn project to replace existing submarines.
The MoD said nine Navy vessels had previously been named Dreadnought.
Perhaps the most famous was HMS Dreadnought, commissioned in 1906, which transformed naval warfare.
The name became used at the time to describe a new era of warship design.
Other Dreadnoughts included one that sailed with Sir Francis Drake to battle the Spanish Armada in 1588, and another that was present with Vice-Admiral Horatio Nelson at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805.
Britain's first nuclear-powered submarine, launched 56 years ago, also shared the name.
Critics of the project to renew the UK's Trident nuclear weapons system believe the enormous investment could be better spent elsewhere.
But Defence Secretary Michael Fallon said: "Every day our ballistic missile submarines are used to deter the most extreme threats to Britain's security.
"We cannot know what dangers we might face in the 2030s, 2040s and 2050s, so we are building the new Dreadnought class.
"Along with increasing the defence budget to buy new ships, more planes, and armoured vehicles, this commitment shows we will never gamble with our security."
Dreadnought will be the lead boat of the four new submarines, as well as the class name for the whole fleet.
The MoD, which received approval for the name from the Queen, said the next three boats would also be given names with "historical resonance".
But there are still groups fighting against the project who have said the bill will run much higher than predicted.
Dave Webb, chairman of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, said: "Replacing and running Trident is set to cost a staggering £205bn.
"The government dishonestly states Trident will cost between £31bn and £41bn, but that's only the cost of manufacturing four submarines.
"Hundreds of billions for a nuclear weapons system that does nothing to address the real and serious security threats we face - like terrorism and cyberwarfare - but not enough money for schools, hospitals, welfare and jobs. That just doesn't make sense to the majority of the population."

A Surface Vessel Just Commanded A Submarine To Launch An Aircraft—All Unmanned

The world’s first multi-domain autonomous, unmanned vehicle chain

Eric Tegler, ARS Technica
20 October 2016
The US Navy chain of command puts ships, submarines, and aircraft into type commands for operational purposes. Aircraft squadrons and air stations are under the administrative control of the appropriate Commander Naval Air Force. Submarines come under the Commander Submarine Force. All other ships fall under the Commander Naval Surface Force.
It has been that way for a long time, a neat arrangement of platforms and the people who populate them. But a Navy exercise in Rhode Island's Narragansett Bay in August may have upended the traditional chain of command.
The focus of the Annual Navy Technology Exercise (ANTX) was Lockheed Martin’s Vector Hawk UAV, a versatile, four-pound autonomous drone designed for short-range reconnaissance, early-warning, and intelligence-gathering missions. Vector Hawk looks like a pair of chevrons (wings) joined by a small fuselage, tipped with a propeller. It can be configured in the field as a conventional fixed-wing aircraft, a VTOL (vertical takeoff and landing) craft, or as a tilt-rotor, enabling VTOL with transition to fixed-wing flight.
Vector Hawk variants can be hand- or canister-launched from land or water, and they can be launched and flown autonomously. Vector Hawk’s canister launch (basically a tube) capability as highlighted during ANTX is significant because it extends small UAV capabilities—that land units have enjoyed for years—to tactical maritime users.
The exercise began with instructions issued from a ground control station to the Submaran, an unmanned surface vehicle (USV) developed by Ocean Aero. The USV relayed the instructions it received via an acoustic modem to a submerged autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV), Lockheed’s Marlin Mk.2, which carried Vector Hawk as it cruised below the surface of the Bay.
Upon receiving a command order from Submaran, the Marlin AUV transited to a launch site as instructed, where it then surfaced. Once above water, the Marlin acted on further instruction to ready a canister containing a Vector Hawk. The canister received a GPS position, which was passed to the UAV. Then the top of the canister opened and the Vector Hawk was ejected from the canister, unfolding its airfoils and flying away.
Vector Hawk then proceeded on a predetermined flight path, carrying a payload with a 10 megapixel electro-optical camera, a 640×480 long-wave infrared camera, and a laser illuminator. The Marlin re-submerged and the UAV undertook its ISR mission overhead, transmitting EO and IR video to Submaran, which relayed the images to the ground station. Submaran also provided surface reconnaissance and surveillance. All three autonomous vehicles communicated their operational status to the ground control station, allowing operators to maintain situational awareness and to command and control each asset.
"This was a significant milestone," says Doug Prince of Lockheed Martin business development, unmanned underwater vehicles. "It's the first time that a UAV has been launched from an Autonomous Unmanned Underwater Vehicle. This is the first time that three autonomous vehicles in three different domains [air, surface, and underwater] have worked together to execute a mission. This collaborative demonstration brings us another step forward to realizing a future where different unmanned systems work in cooperative operations to support first responders, military operations, and commercial users."
Despite its light weight, the battery-powered Vector Hawk can carry a variety of payloads and is able to fly for 70-plus minutes, at line-of-sight ranges up to 9 miles (15 kilometers). The launch mode, by hand or via canister, has no impact on its payload capacity according to Lockheed.
The little UAV features fully autonomous flight, landing, and fail-safe modes. The latter ensure it can safely return to the user or auto-land if it suffers a loss of communications with the ground control station or is forced into low-power mode. It can be recovered and relaunched in minutes (it lands conventionally and floats on water), including time needed to recharge its battery.
Vector Hawk’s size is a form of stealth as is its low noise signature, described by Lockheed as "inaudible at operational slant ranges." The UAV operates with a data link which features a high-bandwidth, software-defined radio, mesh networking (including 3G, 4G, and LTE cellular), over-the-air reconfiguration, and is capable of employing a variety of waveforms. Communication/data transfer between the UAV and USV is direct, using the high-bandwidth radio link.
Vector Hawk could communicate with Marlin in the same fashion if the sub is surfaced. Otherwise, its data is relayed indirectly to the AUV via the Submaran’s acoustic modem.
The combination of platforms and successful launch sequence, free of human intervention, was unprecedented—the world’s first multi-domain autonomous, unmanned vehicle chain. It’s a chain that raises chain-of-command questions.
Should each unmanned vehicle belong to a type command consistent with its domain? Or, given that a single manned platform like a ship could carry and deploy all three vehicles, should the vehicles be free agents, under the command of a fleet or shore command? At present, these unmanned platforms are posited as ISR tools, not active strike or defense platforms. But when they inevitably morph into weaponized craft further in the chain of command, questions will arise.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

India To Get Second Nuclear Submarine From Russia, Deal Struck In Goa: Sources

Staff, Times of India
19 October 2016

NEW DELHI – After protracted negotiations, Russia has agreed to lease a second nuclear submarine to India+ in a deal which will cost around $2 billion. Sources on Wednesday said the deal was struck during the meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Russian President Vladimir Putin on October 15 on the sidelines of the BRICS meet in Goa.
However, it was not part of the slew of announcements made after the talks. The Defence Ministry and the Navy did not offer any information on the subject since it was a strategic platform coming under direct purview of the Prime Minister's Office. Alexei Nikolski, a columnist with Russian daily Vedomosti, which broke the story, wrote, "According to a source in the Russian defence industry, the long-discussed lease to transfer a multipurpose Project 971 nuclear submarine to India from the Russian Navy was signed in Goa." The Akula 2 class submarine is expected to arrive in Indian waters in 2020-21. The Indian Navy already operates an Akula 2 class nuclear submarine, INS Chakra (formerly known as K-152
Nerpa), which was leased by Russia for 10 years and commissioned on April 4, 2012 after India paid for its completion of its construction and sea-trials. India had been keen to lease a second nuclear submarine. Indian defence sources had said that Russia had linked the lease of the nuclear submarine to the agreement for four stealth frigates. In Goa, India and Russia announced an over USD 3 billion frigate deal.
Under the agreement, two stealth frigates will be built in Russia while the other two would be built in India under license production. The Akula 2 class submarine, though not the latest class of nuclear-powered fast-attack submarines in the world, is still considered one of the most advanced. Capable of sailing at speeds up to 35 knots (nearly 65 km per hour) under water, it is among the quietest Russian submarines

Plymouth Sailors Honour WW1 Hero Who Blew Up His Own Submarine To Cut Off German U-Boats

Gayle Herald, Plymouth Herald
17 October 2016

Sailors from a Plymouth-based submarine have paid tribute to a First World War hero who blew up his own submarine to cut off German U-boats.
Sailors from the Royal Navy's HMS Trenchant have honoured the memory of Lieutenant Richard Sandford, who was awarded the military's ultimate mark of courage - the Victoria Cross.
A team of submariners helped unveil a blue plaque to honour Lt Sandford, who became a hero of the First World War Zeebrugge Raid.
The plaque, marking Lt Sandford's birth place, in Cathedral Close, Exeter, was unveiled by the sailors from the Devonport-based boat who also provided the honour guard for the event.
They were joined by their commanding officer Commander Rob Watts.
Commander Watts said: "It is very important to remember our fellow submarine brothers-in-arms, particularly those who paid the ultimate sacrifice and whom were awarded the highest honour.
"I am very proud that HMS Trenchant provided a suitable guard to mark this important occasion of our submarine heritage."
The Zeebrugge Raid in Belgium was a daring plan by the Royal Navy to blockade the Imperial German Navy and prevent them sailing their highly effective U-Boat submarines from port.
Lt Sandford was 26 when he commanded the submarine, HMS C3, and used it effectively as an explosive device to help prevent them sailing and sinking allied shipping.
In April 1918 at Zeebrugge he sailed with a crew of only six sailors on board.
He skilfully placed his vessel under a viaduct which connected the submarine berths to the land and helped supply them.
He then laid his fuse, abandoned his submarine and successfully destroyed the viaduct, cutting off a vital supply line to the submarine garrison.
Lt Sandford died of typhoid fever at a hospital in North Yorkshire, 12 days after the Armistice agreement was signed.
HMS Trenchant is one of four Trafalgar Class submarines in service with the Royal Navy and is approaching the end of a three-year maintenance package.
She will be ready to deploy on operations armed with Spearfish torpedoes and the latest Tomahawk Land Attack Missiles with strike ranges well in excess of 1,000 miles in-land.
She has state-of-the-art satellite communication technology and is capable of operating alone or in support of other units in a task force.

No Air Independent Propulsion For Scorpene Submarines 

Staff, NDTV
18 October 2016

NEW DELHI – In a setback, the last two of the six Scorpene submarines will not be fitted with Air Independent Propulsion (AIP) system, which allows the vessel to stay underwater for a longer duration.
The reason is that DRDO, which is manufacturing the system, has missed the deadline.
"We are not looking at 5 and 6. In case we have to do it, we will do it as a retrofit," Vice Admiral GS Pabby, Controller of Warship Production and Acquisition, Indian Navy, said.
Sources said the AIP system could have been integrated into the last two of the six submarines if it was ready by the end of 2015.
However, the work on the system is going on. Kalvari, Indian Navy's first indigenous Scorpene-class stealth submarine, is scheduled to be inducted by the end of the year.
The 66-metre-long INS Kalvari is part of a USD 3.5 billion contract signed by the Defence Ministry with French firm DCNS in October 2005 to jointly develop six submarines.
Under Project 75, the submarines are being built at the MDL dockyard in Mumbai under license from DCNS.
While the first four are conventional submarines, the last two are to be equipped with AIP, which will enable the vessel stay underwater for longer.
Interestingly, the submarines still do not have its main weapon -- the heavyweight torpedos.  The original torpedo selected for the submarine was the one manufactured by one of the subsidiaries of scam-tainted firm Finmeccanica.
The government has decided to withdraw the tender for the heavyweight torpedos and go for an alternative.
Once INS Kalvari is handed over to the Navy, the plan is to have other five inducted every nine months.
Construction of the first submarine started on May 23, 2009. The project is running four years behind schedule.
The government plans to go for a follow-on order of three more Scorpene class submarines.

China's First Nuclear-Powered Submarine Decommissioned

Gabriel Dominguez, IHS Jane's
18 October 2016

China's first nuclear-powered submarine has been decommissioned after more than 40 years of service, Xinhua news agency quoted naval authorities as saying on 16 October.
Following a denuclearisation process the submarine was towed to a wharf belonging to the Qingdao Naval Museum, where it will become a public exhibit.
China's People's Liberation Navy (PLAN) has at least 10 nuclear-powered submarines remaining in service, according to IHS Jane's Fighting Ships .
The decommissioned boat is likely to have been one of the PLAN's three Han-class attack submarines, which are likely to be retired by the end of this decade.