Tuesday, June 30, 2015

China's new sub hunter plane could become command center for long-range drone submarine gliders


China's new sub hunter aircraft

Franz-Stefan Gady, The Diplomat
30 June 2015

The four-engined Y-8GX6 (Y-8Q) turboprop anti-submarine warfare (ASW) aircraft has purportedly finally entered service with the Chinese Naval Air Force after several years of testing, according to IHS Jane’s Defence Weekly.
IHS Jane’s bases its report on an article published on a Chinese defense site, which notes that the ASW variant of the Shaanxi Aircraft Corporation (SAC) Y-8/Y-9 medium transport aircraft has been inducted into the North Sea Fleet.
The report neither elaborates on the number of aircraft that have entered service nor the precise induction date. However, it notes that the People’s Liberation Army Navy’s East and South Sea Fleet’s will receive the plane only at a later date.
Equipped with air-launched torpedoes (e.g., Yu-7), anti-ship missiles, sea mines, and sonobuoys the plane has an estimated maximum range of approximately 5,00 km and, according to Popular Science Magazine, can potentially carry over ten tons.
Popular Science Magazine also notes that due to the plane’s size, it may act as a command center for Chinese underwater unmanned vehicles (UUVs) such as the Haiyan glider–China’s first autonomous underwater glider that can dive up to 1,500 meters deep and boasts a range of 1,000 kilometers.
The Y-8GX6, partially based on the Soviet Antonov AN-12, was first revealed in November 2011 and is intended
to replace three aging Harbin-SH 5 ASW planes, which first entered service in 1986. Up until the induction of the first Y-8GX6 the Harbin-SH 5 constituted PLAN’s sole long-range aerial ASW capability.
Popular Science Magazine discusses some of the more noteworthy features of the plane:
 The Y-8Q’s most distinctive feature is its seven-meter-long Magnetic Anomaly Detector (MAD) boom, which detects the magnetic signature of enemy submarines’ metal hulls as the Y-8Q flies over them. Since MAD performance correlates to size, and it’s seven-meter MAD boom is arguably the largest of its kind among airplanes, the PLAN would have a fine weapon for hunting otherwise stealthy submarines.
Two Y-8GX6 prototypes have been tested  thoroughly for the past several years the article also states. In addition, Popular Science Magazine provides a succinct analysis of the long-term technological implications of China’s most recent ASW asset and what the future may hold in store:
 Since the Y-8Q is extending Anti-Access/Area Denial operations underwater, it is almost a given that China is going to invest in future ASW methods. In the future, the Y-8Q may be equipped with more exotic technologies like LIDAR (which uses laser beams to penetrate water to detect objects), hard kill anti-torpedo systems, acoustic signals intelligence and radiation detection (identify radiation from nuclear reactors) that Chinese scientists are already beginning to research.

Expert recommends Canada junk its sub program in favor of Boeing Super Hornet fighter jets

Buy Super Hornets, Abandon Victoria-Class Submarines, New Report Recommends (Canada)
David Pugliese, Ottawa Citizen, June 30

UBC professor and one-time NDP candidate Michael Byers is recommending the Canadian government cancel any purchase of the F-35, shut down the Victoria-class sub program and instead buy up to 40 Boeing Super Hornets.
Byers also recommends examining the types of operations that Canada could undertake as a smaller nation and thrive at those types of missions. “Over the course of the last 15 years, the Canadian Armed Forces have not engaged in combat with professional militaries,” his report noted. “As a result, they have no demonstrated need for the capabilities involved in attacks on foreign air defences and control centers, combat involving tanks and other heavily armoured vehicles, or naval battles involving advanced air-and-missile defence systems.”
More details in this article:
There are smarter ways to spend scarce defence dollars that could save $10 billion over the next 12 years while
at the same time boosting Canada’s military capabilities, the Canadian Press writes, citing a report released Monday.
Here is the rest of the Canadian Press article:
The government should rethink big-ticket purchases like the controversial F-35 fighter jets and reallocate funding both to the military’s immediate priorities and to equipment that makes more sense for its missions, said the report, published by the Rideau Institute and the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives.
For example, the current military engagement in Iraq and Syria is relying on allies to provide close air support and armoured trucks, two elements the Canadian military could provide itself — if it had the money.
“The mission should define the equipment that we choose to acquire, rather than the equipment defining the mission,” said Michael Byers, a professor at UBC who wrote the study.
“But unfortunately we’re in a situation today — because of nine years of incompetence — where the equipment is starting to define the mission.”
The Conservative government has acknowledged the procurement process is problematic.
Earlier this month, they launched an independent panel to review defence projects valued at over $100 million, part of a broader overhaul of the procurement process that began last year to address overruns and delays.
“We’re taking a significant step forward in our government’s commitment to develop and maintain a first-class, modern military that is well-equipped to take on the challenges of the 21st century,” Defence Minister Jason Kenney said at the time.
Kayla Iafelice, a spokeswoman for Public Works Minister Diane Finley, said no final decision has been made on replacing the CF-18s.
“To ensure that our men and women in uniform have the equipment they need to do the job that we ask of them, the CF-18s are being life-extended to maintain their capability through 2025,” Iafelice said.
“Also, to ensure that Canadian industry continues to benefit, our government will continue our full participation and investment in the (F-35) program.”
Byers, who once ran for the New Democrats, said the Conservatives have broken a 2008 commitment to increase defence spending by 2 per cent a year, opting to cut it instead.
“The reduction in military spending to 1 per cent of GDP is not in itself a bad thing,” he writes in the report.
“But the mistakes and misallocations made with respect to that money have badly compromised the ability of the Canadian Armed Forces to fulfil any missions.”
April’s federal budget earmarked $11.8 billion over 10 years for additional defence spending, starting in the 2017-18 fiscal year. But prior to this year’s budget, three rounds of cuts lowered spending at National Defence by $2.46 billion per year.
Last year, $3 billion in planned spending on ships, planes and vehicles scheduled to be spent between 2014 and 2017 was postponed.
Byers said one deal that should be shelved is a $1.5-billion contract announced by the government in 2008 to support Canada’s existing submarine fleet.
Four second-hand subs were purchased from the British in 1998 for $900 million but have been plagued with problems and have spent little time in the water. They should be abandoned, as there’s no evidence Canada actually needs them, Byers said.
The report makes 23 recommendations, most of which look at ways to reallocate the estimated $10.5 billion that could be saved if the F-35 purchase was cancelled and the existing CF-18 jet fleet upgraded instead.
That’s a plan that would give Canada fighter jet capacity it could use now, rather than having to wait for planes that are still being tested, with less-than-admirable results, Byers said.
Money should also be spent on more maritime patrol aircraft and more search and rescue helicopters, the report concludes, while also recommending the military stop pursuing custom-built planes and armoured vehicles, opting instead for tested, off-the-shelf versions.

4th Russian-made Kilo sub arrives in Vietnam

Staff, Global Post
20 June 2015

A freighter carrying the fourth Kilo- class submarine made by Russia for Vietnam has arrived on Tuesday morning at Cam Ranh gulf in Vietnam's south central coastal Khanh Hoa province, some 1,040 km south of capital Hanoi.
After one and a half months voyage from Russia's Saint Petersburg, the submarine, which was made under the contract between Vietnam and Russia to build six of its kind, will be released into the sea after several days, reported Vietnam's state- run news agency VNA.
The submarine is nearly 74 meters in length with displacement of 3,000-3,950 tons. It is able to operate at a maximum depth of 300 meters and at a speed of 20 nautical miles per hour with 52 crew members on board, reported VNA.
The Kilo-submarines will be called under the names of major cities and provinces of Vietnam. Earlier, the country received three of the submarines, namely HQ-182 Hanoi, HQ-183 Ho Chi Minh City, and HQ-184 Hai Phong. The fourth submarine is set to be named Da Nang, a centrally controlled city in central Vietnam.

Chinese sub in Karachi "no big concern" to Indian Navy

Staff, Newsnation
29 June 2015

Amidst reports that a Chinese submarine had crossed the Arabian Sea and entered Karachi port last month, the Indian Navy on Tuesday said it was not a matter of big concern but they were monitoring all such activities.
“Docking of a submarine belonging to some other country in a third country itself is not a big concern but we do monitor them, whichever submarines operate in our region,” Vice Admiral P Murugesan, Vice Chief of Naval Staff, told reporters here today.
India also has submarine capabilities and our submarines also go on dock in foreign countries, he said while speaking on sidelines of the launching ceremony of Navy’s Water Jet Fast Attack Crafts by defence PSU Garden Reach Shipbuilders & Engineers Ltd (GRSE).
“We monitor them and then we see what are the precautionary measures we should take,” the naval officer said.
As far as naval cooperations are concerned, Murugesan said, “We are also having relations with numerous countries but we monitor in our neighbourhood who is interacting with which other navy. That is always briefed to the concerned authorities of the government and we do develop our navy to meet any challenges that might come out of such cooperation”.
On naval build-up in India’s neighbourhood, he said there is “no immediate concern”.
“Our Navy is quite strong enough to look after our maritime interests in our area of interest,” he said adding that the navy is like an ambassador as they can go anywhere.

Joint military exercise in South China Sea reflects Japan's concern about Beijing

Manabu Sasaki, Asahi Shimbun
29 June 2015

PALAWAN ISLAND, Philippines – Tokyo’s growing partner in the field of security appeared impressed by the equipment of Japan’s Maritime Self-Defense Force.
“We have radar, but they (MSDF) have advanced radar for search and rescue,” said Niccaben Ogoc, 37, a second petty officer of the Philippine Navy, during the countries’ first joint exercise using the MSDF’s P-3C patrol aircraft.
The joint exercise was held on June 23 and 24 in the South China Sea using an airport on Palawan Island in the western Philippines.
The location of the exercise indicated that Japan also wanted the P-3Cs to impress, or at least send a message to, another country.
“(The exercise) shows Japan’s strong concern about China,” a Japanese government official said.
China is currently building manmade islands in the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea in an apparent bid to strengthen its sovereignty claims over the isles, which are also claimed by the Philippines and other countries.
Japan has its own territorial issue with China, over the Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea.
The Abe administration, in tandem with the United States, is strengthening alliances around Asia, including the Philippines, in a bid to keep China in check.
During Diet deliberations on national security legislation in Tokyo, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe suggested that Japan may dispatch the SDF to the South China Sea, but officials are split over such a scenario.
“In the East China Sea, Japan and the United States have been blocking China’s advances through integrated efforts,” a senior MSDF officer said. “The two countries must demonstrate close cooperation in the South China Sea as well.”
However, a high-ranking Defense Ministry official said such a dispatch would be “unrealistic” because the fleet of P-3Cs has been preoccupied with patrols around the Senkaku Islands to prevent Chinese ships from entering Japanese waters.
“We can hardly deploy our resources as far as to the South China Sea,” the official said.
In any event, the Philippines is looking to Japan and the United States as mentors.
Jonas Lumawag, colonel of the Philippine Naval Air Group, told reporters on Palawan Island that the Philippine military wants to develop relations with Japan’s SDF.
Under the scenario of the joint exercise, a fishing vessel sent out a distress call, P-3C patrol aircraft searched for it and conveyed information to vessels of the Philippine Navy.
Hiromi Hamano, an MSDF commander who led the Japanese contingent in the Philippines, emphasized that the purpose of the exercise “is search and rescue at the time of disasters.”
The roar of the P-3C engines echoed around the palm tree-surrounded airport on Palawan Island before departing to sea areas in the South China Sea about 80 kilometers to 180 km to the west. Several tens of kilometers further to the west are the Spratly Islands.
Ogoc sat behind the pilot in one of the P-3Cs and looked hard at the equipment.
He said the P-3C aircraft and the Philippine Navy’s patrol aircraft, Islander, are completely different in sophistication.
The Islander only has radar for weather observations, so its crew members would have had to use their own eyes to search for the vessel under the same scenario.
The Islander is 11 meters long and has a flight endurance of five-and-a-half hours. The P-3C is 36 meters long and can stay in the air for eight to 10 hours.
The P-3C also has radar covering a wide search area and has high capabilities to monitor submarines.
For the Philippines, Palawan Island is a stronghold to defend the Spratly Islands.
In April 2014, Manila strengthened its ties with Washington by concluding an agreement that effectively enables the U.S. military to station its troops in the Philippines again.



The Philippines also held a joint exercise with the U.S. military around the same time as the exercise with the MSDF. However, the location of the Philippine-U.S. exercise was in sea areas east of Palawan Island not facing the South China Sea.

Sailor gets 20 months in Navy brig for videos of female officers

Associated Press
29 June 2015

MAYPORT NAVAL STATION, Fla. – A submarine sailor pleaded guilty Monday to illegally videotaping female officers in the vessel's shower area and was sentenced to 10 months in a Navy brig.
Petty Officer 2nd Class Ryan Secrest also received a bad conduct discharge and a reduction in rank.
Secrest, a missile technician, is among seven sailors who served aboard the USS Wyoming out of Kings Bay Naval Submarine Base who are charged in the case. The video scandal has disrupted the Navy's integration of women into its submarine force.
Navy prosecutors say the men waited until the officers were done working out in the ship's gym, and then secretly made recordings of them in the shower area.
The men then traded the videos "like Pokemon" cards for items like energy drinks, prosecutors said.
The women in the videos were among the first to serve on subs. They all had promising military careers that were disrupted and derailed by the incident, the victims said in previous testimony.
Military prosecutors said Secrest in 2014 used the camera on his cellphone to take a video of the officers. They also said he lied to investigators about the incident afterward.
Secrest declined to comment on the case through his defense attorney, Lt. Clay Bridges.
So far, four other sailors involved in the case have been found guilty. One was found not guilty.

New fuel cell technology could revolutionize undersea drones

Richard Burgess, Seapower Magazine
29 June 2015

ARLINGTON, Va. — A new battery fuel cell technology shows promise in providing more power and endurance to unmanned undersea vehicles (UUVs) and other platforms as well as less potential for fire.
Aluminum-seawater fuel cell technology, being developed by Open Water Power of Somerville, Mass., is able to “safely store about 10 times as much energy as lithium-ion batteries,” said Tom Milnes, president and chief executive officer of Open Water Power.
Milnes’ company is developing the technology for a variety of uses for defense and commercial applications, such as UUVs and the oil and gas industry. Exploration of the technology was conducted by a joint team, of which Milnes was a member, at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Lincoln Laboratory and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute. Open Water Power has taken the technology further from “beaker-level science,” in Milnes’ characterization, with a $450,000 in funds of from the Rapid Response Technology Office of the Defense Department, the Office of Naval Research, and the Naval Air Systems Command, delivering a developmental model of an aluminum-seawater cell to the Office of Naval Research in December.
The Naval Surface Warfare Center Carderock Division in Maryland put the first cell in an inactive state through pressure, temperature and fire testing this spring and released a report on its performance in June. The testers concluded that “early tests indicate that a reactor [battery] — when in an inactive state — does not generate hazards when exposed to extreme storage temperatures, low pressures, or fires,” according to a Navy briefing. 
Open Water Power will be delivering two more cells to the Navy for testing. The next steps for testing by the Navy include a short-circuit test, a water-exposure test and performance tests “to determine energy density and characterize operational behavior,” the briefing said. 
Milnes said the aluminum-seawater concept is an old idea but only recently have the barriers to making it operational been overcome. The technology was explored for primarily for its energy density but the safety of the technology also has become evident. 
The Navy has had a need to develop a safer battery technology for undersea vehicles since the 2008 fire on the Advanced SEAL Delivery System submersible.

Editorial: Russian deterence in Europe suffers from draw down in U.S. forces

Defense News
29 June 2015

The U.S. decision to move 250 tanks, armored personnel carriers and howitzers to the Baltics, Bulgaria, Germany, Poland and Romania is a welcome signal for NATO allies worried about Russia.
While new and existing gear is being moved forward, U.S. troops stationed in Europe will hardly increase. Rather, U.S. soldiers will be rotated through the region for training.
The message would have been more powerful had Washington also said it would stop withdrawing forces from Europe and start meaningfully increasing them. More equipment is reassuring, but more forces indicates a stronger commitment to allies on the borders of a bellicose Russia.
The reality is, stability worldwide often depends on the presence of U.S. forces.
South Korea and Japan just celebrated 50 years of peaceful post-World War II-relations that fostered unprecedented economic growth made possible by U.S. forces in both countries.
On the other side of the world, U.S. forces and diplomats were equally key in forging a prosperous Europe. While NATO's heightened activity in the wake of Russia's Ukraine campaign has been criticized by some as ineffective, even Russian President Vladimir Putin has said he'd be crazy to attack a NATO country and trigger wider war.
Still, Moscow continues to raise tensions, threatening NATO and European nations with nuclear weapons and violating the Ukraine cease-fire even as a new truce is negotiated. NATO's long-term Russia strategy must include more training and equipment, but also more troops. More shoes in offices are welcome, but in this case, there's also a need for more boots on the ground.
And as long as Russia resorts to nuclear intimidation, America and its allies must invest in deterrent capabilities. When Washington confirmed that it would – as it had hinted for months – return a token force of heavy weapons to Europe, Russia countered it would add another 40 nuclear ballistic missiles to its arsenal this year.
As Deputy U.S. Defense Secretary Bob Work recently noted, Russia's willingness to flaunt its nuclear capabilities is a scare tactic to intimidate the United States and its allies. While Russia's aggression is improving NATO solidarity, it also makes it clear the United States must take a far more strategic view of its nuclear modernization needs, given that each leg of America's nuclear triad requires either replacing or upgrade. According to Work, that will cost DoD "an average of $18 billion a year from 2021 to 2035 in FY16 dollars," or about 7 percent of the projected DoD spending in the 2020s when these programs peak.
During that period, the Navy must replace its Ohio-class ballistic missile submarines, and the Air Force will acquire its Long-Range Strike Bomber while upgrading its Minuteman intercontinental ballistic missiles. That doesn't include the staggering costs of revitalizing the nation's nuclear weapons infrastructure that is quite literally crumbling after decades of underinvestment.
DoD's problem is that without relief from budget caps, it will have to cover the cost of these massively expensive programs within a fixed budget. That means the Air Force and Navy will have to gut other ship, aircraft and weapons programs that can manage escalation and deter conventional aggression.
For decades, nuclear systems have underpinned U.S. deterrent capabilities. They will be increasingly important in a world where competing powers are revitalizing their nuclear and conventional capabilities. The key to deterrence is convincing adversaries that America's nuclear arsenal is modern, capable, reliable and formidable enough to avoid a potentially devastating miscalculation. The right message is to properly resource these key programs as a strategic investment in the nation's security.

Analysis: A strategic mistake in another arms race

Walter Pincus, Washington Post
30 June 2015

It seems the Pentagon can never have enough deployed nuclear warheads

Rhetoric about nuclear weapons is heating up between Washington and Moscow, but there is no need to reinstate the foolish and wasteful arms race that dominated the Cold War period.
For one reason, the security challenges have changed.
Having 1,500 or more deployed U.S. nuclear warheads on land- or sea-based intercontinental ballistic missiles, or strategic aircraft with nuclear bombs or missiles, will not help a U.S. president defeat terrorists or deal with proxy wars somewhere in the world – or even protect American assets in the new confrontational arenas of space and cyberspace.
There also are the astronomical costs for modernizing not just the current triad of delivery systems – the strategic submarines, bombers and land-based ICBMs – but also continuing the life-extension programs for the nuclear stockpile and upgrading the nuclear weapons-building complex itself.
Deputy Defense Secretary Robert Work told the House Armed Services Committee on Thursday that the cost for all that modernization would average $18 billion a year from 2021 through 2035 – or $252 billion over that 14-year period.
That annual average is nearly double the proposed nuclear weapons spending for next year and would mean 7 percent of the entire Defense Department budget would be devoted in those out years just to the nuclear weapons program, up from around 3 percent today.
“We’ll start replacing our Trident boats [strategic submarines at about $6.6 billion each] first. Then will come ... the bomber in the mid-20s [at $550 million each]. And then will come the ground-based strategic deterrent ... in 2030 [at an unexplained price],” Work told the committee.
“Carrying out this plan is going to be a very expensive proposition, and we recognize that,” Work said, adding that it “will require very, very hard choices and will impact the other parts of the defense portfolio, particularly our conventional mission capability.” He also warned that these “20-year cost estimates are uncertain.”
The real question now should be why does the United States need that many new delivery systems and that many deployed nuclear warheads and bombs for the coming decades?
Let’s pause for a moment and listen to the explanations given to Congress last week by Pentagon officials.
Work told the committee: “The only existential threat to our nation is a nuclear attack ... The one step down is preventing a catastrophic attack, which we believe would be one or two nuclear weapons being fired at the continental United States or blowing up in the continental United States.”
He talked about “Russian military doctrine that sometimes is described as ‘escalate to de-escalate,’ ” which apparently means that Moscow would threaten to use or actually use a few nuclear weapons in a situation where it was losing to larger conventional forces. The threat or use of nuclear weapons would thereby get Russia’s enemy to hold up or withdraw.
“Anybody who looks at the way that the international environment is moving, especially the way that Russia has been describing its nuclear deterrent posture, has to say: Nuclear weapons remain the most important mission we have,” Work said.
This, however, is Cold War talk.
Adm. James Winnefeld Jr., vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was asked at Thursday’s hearing about the Russians modernizing their nuclear weapons systems.
He responded that his major concern with Moscow’s program was its shift to mobile, land-based ICBMs. Why? Because, he said, they “would be hard for us to hit in a first strike.” That would happen only if the time came that the United States wanted preemptively to wipe out Russia’s nuclear forces, before Moscow attacked us – an extremely doubtful scenario, but Cold War first-strike fears led to the building of tens of thousands of warheads.
As for the rest of Russia’s nuclear forces, Winnefeld testified that “their bomber leg is not as good as ours” and “their submarine-launched ballistic missile force, even with their improvements, is not as good as ours.”
Why not reduce U.S. forces? Winnefeld gave the traditional post-Cold War reply: “We still believe that any reductions in weapons must be done in concert with our potential antagonists, because unilateral gestures of goodwill have little standing with authoritarian regimes.”
Meanwhile, each U.S. commander justifies continuing his own role in the triad.
“If we look at the world environment today, it’s more dangerous than the Cold War and more unpredictable, and the ICBM force is as valid today as it was in the 1960s,” Air Force
Maj. Gen. Jack Weinstein, commander of the 20th Air Force, told the House committee Thursday.
One of the new Ohio-class strategic submarines “will be in the water through approximately 2084,” said Vice Adm. Terry Benedict, director of the Navy’s strategic systems programs. “As we try and project out the threats through that time frame, the major focus ... was to ensure ... that we don’t find ourselves surprised in the future.”
The bomber fleet “is the most flexible and the most visible part of the triad. That’s what the bomber fleet offers. And I think from a flexibility standpoint, there’s not a lot of argument there,” were the words of Air Force Maj. Gen. Richard Clark, commander of the 8th Air Force.
And to any unilateral reduction, Work supplied an old answer, “This is not a time for us to say that nuclear weapons are useless.”
I am not saying nuclear weapons are useless. I am suggesting the United States doesn’t need a nuclear force large enough to survive a decapitating first strike because there is no such threat – the idea of a Soviet first strike was a myth, but nonetheless it led to the Cold War nuclear arms race. Let’s not do it again.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Chinese submarine in Karachi: A worst case scenario for India, and here's what it needs to do

Rajeey Sharma
29 June 2015
A conventional Chinese submarine docking in Karachi port last month and spending one week there is a disturbing development for India.
While warships are known to dock at foreign ports and sail away after a brief stay and refuelling, submarines are a different ballgame. After aircraft carriers, submarines are the most potent weapon in sea warfare.  The fully loaded and equipped Chinese submarine reportedly spent a full week in Karachi port in the last week of May with entire crew of at least 65 on board.
Ironically, the Chinese submarine – a Yuan class 335 boat equipped with Air-Independent Propulsion (AIP) which gives greater stealth and longer duration under-sea capability – had docked in Karachi port on 22 May. This means that when Prime Minister Narendra Modi was wrapping up his maiden official visit to China (14-16 May) the Chinese were planning this provocative act.
The political symbolism emanating from the Karachi event is simple. China will stop at nothing in increasing its military might. There is nothing wrong with this, as this is the right of every sovereign nation. India too will have to get its act together and address vital defence issues in double quick time to keep pace with China.
But the problem is that the Karachi episode is a potential harbinger of things to come: China increasing its defence cooperation with Pakistan, and both are India’s arch-rivals.
Obviously the Chinese can’t be oblivious to the enormous outrage the development would trigger in India considering the fact that this was the first ever docking of a Chinese submarine in a Pakistani port.
Without being alarmist, one thing can safely be said in this context. The development accentuates fears of India’s worst case scenario: the joining of hands by the only two neighbours who have fought wars with India since its independence, and projecting a pincer attack threat.
There is nothing much that India can do here. At best India can politely tell China that it is an unnecessary manoeuvre which is best avoidable in future. As for Pakistan, India cannot tell even that much knowing the anti-India mindset of Pakistani security and strategic establishment.
Even a country like Sri Lanka under the leadership of pro-China president Mahinda Rajapaksa had ignored protests from India when a Chinese submarine had docked in Sri Lanka, and another similar incident had happened last year. India heaved a sigh of relief as the new Sri Lankan president Maithripala Sirisena, who defeated  Rajapaksa in presidential polls earlier this year, announced that his government won’t allow Chinese submarines to dock in Sri Lankan ports.
It is highly unlikely that China would be sensitive to Indian concerns. In any case, no formal reaction from India has come thus far. It is well known that India moves with extreme caution in its dealings with China. Though India might have taken up the matter with China through diplomatic channels, it is unlikely that the Modi government would take this issue in the public domain with a formal reaction.
The only way forward for the Modi government is to expedite the delivery schedule of six submarines that the French are building in India and fast-track the process of acquisition of as many more submarines.
The India-France submarine project is moving at a slow pace and the first of the submarine is expected to be delivered only towards the end of next year. The completion of construction of the rest is likely to stretch up to 2020.
also see
The Modi government has recently come out with a Request for Information (RFI), inviting tenders for six more submarines. But it is a long-drawn process and given the pace at which the bureaucracy works, the boats won’t be available before 2025. The government has allocated $8.1 billion for the six submarines to be acquired. There is a strong fear of cost overruns if the project is kept hanging, as it usually happens in India.
India presently has just 13 operational submarines at present as against China’s 60. Pakistan, a much smaller country, has eight operational submarines as of now. China is racing ahead in adding more submarines to its fleet and should have 75 submarines by 2020.
What is required off PM Modi is that he needs to do away with the red tape and expedite beefing up India’s submarine strength. This is a worrisome scenario. PM Modi needs to think out of the box. Ten days later he will be off to Russia for attending BRICS summit. The submarine issue should figure high on the talking points when he holds one-to-one talks with Russian president Vladimir Putin.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Navy gets its sub ahead of schedule

The John Warner, prior to her chistening. Photo by John Whalen, courtesy of Huntington Ingalls Industries.

NEWPORT NEWS, Va., June 26 (UPI) -- The 12th Virginia-class submarine for the U.S. Navy has been delivered ahead of schedule by Huntington Ingalls Industries' Newport News Shipbuilding.
The John Warner is the eighth Virginia-class Block III ship and the sixth to be constructed by the company. It is named after John Warner, a former U.S. Senator and Secretary of the Navy. 

Pentagon: Russia "playing with fire' with nuclear saber-fattling

David Alexander, Reuters
25 June 2015

Russia is "playing with fire" with its nuclear saber-rattling and the United States is determined to prevent it from gaining a significant military advantage through violations of the Intermediate Nuclear Forces Treaty, the deputy U.S. defense chief said on Thursday.
Deputy Defense Secretary Robert Work, speaking to lawmakers in the House of Representatives, also said modernizing and maintaining U.S. nuclear forces in the coming years would consume up to 7 percent of the defense budget, up from the current 3 to 4 percent, and could squeeze other programs unless additional funding was approved.
Speaking to the House Armed Services Committee, Work said Moscow's effort to use its nuclear forces to intimidate its neighbors had failed, actually bringing NATO allies closer. He also criticized what he called Russia's "escalate to de-escalate" strategy.
"Anyone who thinks they can control escalation through the use of nuclear weapons is literally playing with fire," Work said. "Escalation is escalation, and nuclear use would be the ultimate escalation."
The deputy defense chief said Russia continued to violate the Intermediate Nuclear Forces treaty, which bans ballistic and cruise missiles with a range of 500 to 5,500 kilometers (315 to 3,450 miles).
Work said the Pentagon was developing options for President Barack Obama to consider to respond to the treaty violations and would not let Russia "gain significant military advantage through INF violations."
The United States is about to embark on a costly long-term effort to modernize its aging nuclear force, including weapons, submarines, bombers and ballistic missiles. Estimates of the cost have ranged from $355 billion over a decade to about $1 trillion over 30 years.
The modernization comes as the Pentagon struggles with tight budgets and the need for other expensive weapons like the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter and new warships.
Work said the nuclear force modernization was expected to cost an average $18 billion per year from 2021 to 2035 in constant 2016 dollars.
The Pentagon's annual base budget has been about $500 billion for several years.
"Without additional funding dedicated to strategic forces modernization, sustaining this level of spending will require very, very hard choices and will impact the other parts of the defense portfolio," Work said.
Arms control groups say the U.S. nuclear force is larger than needed to accomplish the president's strategic aims, and the Pentagon could save money by prudently trimming the size of the nuclear triad and other steps.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Attack sub John Warner delivered to Navy 2+ months ahead of sked


25 June 2015
NEWPORT NEWS – The Navy on Thursday accepted delivery of the submarine John Warner two and a half months ahead of schedule, Newport News Shipbuilding reported.
The shipyard, a division of Huntington Ingalls Industries, builds Virginia-class attack submarines in partnership with General Dynamics Electric Boat of Groton, Conn.
Commissioning is scheduled on Aug. 1 at Naval Station Norfolk. The Warner will be the first Virginia-class boat to be home-ported in Norfolk.
The 377-foot-long submarines are capable of submerged speeds of more than 25 knots and can stay submerged for up to three months at a time.

Analysts: Artificial islands in South China Sea are built to hide China submarines

Staff, The Manila Times
24 June 2015

BEIJING – For months, China’s visible construction of artificial islands and military facilities in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) has alarmed US officials and many of China’s neighbors. What is happening under the water is also worrisome, say several defense and security analysts.
China has a growing fleet of nuclear submarines armed with ballistic missiles. The expansion of its claim on the West Philippine Sea may be intended to create a deep-water sanctuary–known in military parlance as a “bastion”–where its submarine fleet could avoid detection.
“The South China Sea would be a good place to hide Chinese submarines,” said Carl Thayer, a US-born security specialist who has taught at the University of New South Wales and other Australian institutions. The sea floor is thousands of meters deep in places, with underwater canyons where a submarine could easily avoid detection.
 Conflicts in the West Philippine Sea are expected to be a major focus of annual US-China talks that started on Tuesday in Washington, including meetings between US Secretary of State John Kerry and Chinese Vice Premier Wang Yang. (See related story on page C3)
 The Philippines and Japan flew patrol planes near disputed waters for the second straight day on Wednesday, defying Chinese warnings.
A Japanese P-3C Orion and a Philippine Navy Islander aircraft conducted a search and rescue drill 50 nautical miles (92.6 kilometers) northwest of Palawan, officials said.
While the flight was in the general direction of the resource-rich Recto (Reed) Bank claimed by both the Philippines and China, officials refused to say if the planes flew directly over the area.
Following a similar flight on Tuesday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang warned against hyping the navy drills, suggesting they could undermine stability in the region.
Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force commander Hiromi Hamano told reporters that Wednesday’s joint training exercise was a success, shortly after the spy plane landed at Antonio Bautista Airbase in Puerto Princesa City, Palawan.
“I think it is important to continue HADR (humanitarian and disaster response), SAR [search and rescue] training with the Philippine Navy,” he said.
The surveillance plane crew did not observe anything unusual in the waters, Hamano also told reporters.
MalacaƱang said Beijing should not worry about the drills.
“The Philippines has had these exercises before with our strategic partners,” its deputy spokesman Abigail Valte said in a statement. “It should not be taken as an affront to any other and is an expression of cooperation and learning from all those involved.”
Wednesday’s flight was a “search and rescue activity,” Philippine Navy spokesman Commander Lued Lincuna told Agence France-Presse.
China last week announced that it was winding down its expansion of artificial islands in the South China Sea, but the statement was not warmly received by US officials.
Daniel Russel, Assistant US Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, noted that China continues to
build facilities on the islands, including military installations, a move that he said was “troubling.”
“The prospect of militarizing those outposts runs counter to the goal of reducing tensions.” Russel said last Thursday during a briefing in Washington. “That’s why we consistently urge China to cease reclamation, to not construct further facilities, and certainly not to further militarize outposts in the South China Sea.”
The South China Sea–bounded by Vietnam, China, Taiwan, Japan, the Philippines and Malaysia–is one of the world’s most important shipping lanes. China asserts it holds maritime rights to 80 percent of the sea, a claim that other countries have vigorously contested.
According to Thayer, Beijing sees the South China Sea as a strategic asset because it guards China’s southern flank, including a submarine base in Sanya, on China’s Hainan island. The Chinese Navy has built underwater tunnels there to quietly dock some of its submarines, including those that carry ballistic missiles.
As of 2014, China had 56 attack submarines, including five that were nuclear- powered. It also has at least three nuclear-powered submarines capable of launching ballistic missiles, and is planning to add five more, according to a Pentagon report released last year.
In an April media briefing in Washington, a top US Navy official said the Pentagon is watching China’s ballistic submarines “very carefully.”
“Any time a nation has developed nuclear weapons and delivery platforms that can range the homeland, it’s a concern of mine,” said Adm. William Gortney, the commander of the US Northern Command. Gortney added that China has a policy of “no first use” of nuclear weapons, “which gives me a little bit of a good news picture there.”
In recent decades, China has worked to build up a nuclear deterrence capability in the shadow of that developed by the United States and Russia. Its submarine program is a major part of that push. Since submarines can often avoid detection, they are less vulnerable to a first-strike attack than land-based intercontinental ballistic missiles or nuclear bombers.
Currently, China’s JL2 submarine ballistic missiles lack the capacity of reaching continental United States from the South China Sea. But China hopes to improve the range of those missiles in coming years, which is why analysts think China sees the sea as a future “bastion” for its nuclear submarines.
Chinese submarines are known for being relatively noisy–and thus easy to detect– making it difficult for them to slip into the western Pacific without being detected. But once China improves the range of its missiles, it won’t need to move its submarines out of the South China Sea to pose a retaliatory threat to the United States.

Analysis: China's Indian Ocean strategy

Brahma Chellaney, Japan Times
23 June 2015

NEW DELHI – What are Chinese attack submarines doing in the Indian Ocean, far from China’s maritime backyard, in what is the furthest deployment of the Chinese Navy in 600 years? Two Chinese subs docked last fall at the new Chinese-built and -owned container terminal in Colombo, Sri Lanka. And recently a Chinese Yuan-class sub showed up at the Pakistani port city of Karachi.
The assertive way China has gone about staking its territorial claims in the South and East China seas has obscured its growing interest in the Indian Ocean. This ocean has become the new global center of trade and energy flows, accounting for half the world’s container traffic and 70 percent of its petroleum shipments.
China’s newly released defense white paper, while outlining regional hegemony aspirations, has emphasized a greater focus on the seas, including an expanded naval role beyond its maritime backyard. The white paper says that, as part of China’s effort to establish itself as a major maritime power, its navy will shift focus from “offshore waters defense” to “open seas protection” – a move that helps explain its new focus on the Indian Ocean, with the Maritime Silk Road initiative at the vanguard of the Chinese grand strategy. To create a blue water force and expand its naval role, China is investing heavily in submarines and warships, and working on a second aircraft carrier.
President Xi Jinping’s pet project is about expanding and securing maritime routes to the Middle East and beyond through the Indian Ocean, which is the bridge between Asia and Europe. Xi’s dual Silk Road initiatives – officially labeled the “One Belt, One Road” – constitute a westward strategic push to expand China’s power reach. Indeed, Xi’s Indian Ocean plans draw strength from his more assertive push for Chinese dominance in the South and East China seas.
The Chinese maneuvering in the Indian Ocean – part of China’s larger plan to project power in the Middle East, Africa and Europe – aims to challenge America’s sway and chip away at India’s natural-geographic advantage. Xi has sought to carve out an important role for China in the Indian Ocean through his Maritime Silk Road initiative, while his overland Silk Road is designed to connect China with Central Asia, the Caspian Sea basin and Europe.
The common link between the two mega Silk Road projects is Pakistan, which stands out for simultaneously being a client state of China, Saudi Arabia and the United States – a unique status.
During a visit to Pakistan in April, Xi officially launched the project to connect China’s restive Xinjiang region with the warm waters of the Arabian Sea through a 3,000 km overland transportation corridor extending to the Chinese-built Pakistani port of Gwadar. This project makes Pakistan the central link between the maritime and overland Silk Roads. The Xi-launched corridor to Gwadar through Pakistan-held Kashmir – running in parallel to India’s Japanese-financed New Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor – will hook up the two Silk Roads.
Indeed, a stable Pakistan has become so critical to the ever-increasing Chinese strategic investments in that country that Beijing has started brokering peace talks between the Pakistan-backed Afghan Taliban and Kabul. This effort has been undertaken with the backing not just of Pakistan but also of the U.S., thus underscoring the growing convergence of Chinese and American interests in the Afghanistan-Pakistan belt.
More broadly, with China’s officially disclosed defense budget soaring from $35 billion in 2006 to $141 billion in 2015, Xi has not only emphasized “active defense” but also articulated a more expansive role for his country than any modern Chinese leader other than Mao Zedong. His maritime goal is to redraw the larger geopolitical map by bringing within China’s orbit regional countries, especially those in the Indian Ocean Rim, which extends from Australia to the Middle East and Southern Africa. This region has the dubious distinction of having the world’s largest concentration of fragile or failing states.
The Maritime Silk Road initiative, with its emphasis on high-visibility infrastructure projects, targets key littoral states located along the great trade arteries. At a time of slowing economic growth in China, infrastructure exports are also designed to address the problem of overproduction at home.
By presenting commercial penetration as benevolent investment and credit as aid, Beijing is winning lucrative overseas contracts for its state-run companies, with the aim of turning economic weight into strategic clout. Through its Maritime Silk Road – a catchy new name for its “string of pearls” strategy – China is already challenging the existing balance of power in the Indian Ocean.
Beijing, while seeking to co-opt strategically located states in an economic and security alliance led by it, is working specifically to acquire naval-access outposts through agreements for refueling, replenishment, crew rest and maintenance. Its efforts also involve gaining port projects along vital sea lanes of communication, securing new supplies
of natural resources, and building energy and transportation corridors to China through Myanmar and Pakistan.
One example of how China has sought to win influence in the Indian Ocean Rim is Sri Lanka. It signed major contracts with Sri Lanka’s now-ousted president, Mahinda Rajapaksa, to turn that country – located along major shipping lanes – into a major stop on the Chinese nautical “road.” The country’s new president, Maithripala Sirisena, said on the election-campaign trail earlier this year that the Chinese projects were ensnaring Sri Lanka in a debt tap, with the risk that “our country would become a colony and we would become slaves.”
Another example is China’s current effort to set up a naval base in Djibouti, which overlooks the narrow Bab al-Mandeb straits. This channel, separating Africa from the Arabian Peninsula and constituting one of the busiest shipping lanes in the world, leads into the Red Sea and north to the Mediterranean.
In February 2014, Beijing signed a military accord with Djibouti allowing the Chinese Navy to use facilities there, a move that angered the U.S., which already has a military base in that tiny Horn of Africa nation. Now, according to the county’s president, Ismail Omar Guelleh, China wants to establish its own naval base at Obock, Djibouti’s northern port city.
Beijing is also interested in leasing one of the 1,200 islands of the politically torn Maldives. Xi has toured several of the key countries in the Indian Ocean Rim that China is seeking to court, including the Maldives, Tanzania and Sri Lanka.
From China’s artificially created islands in the South China Sea to its ongoing negotiations for a naval base in Djibouti, the maritime domain has become central to Xi’s great-power ambitions. Yet it is far from certain that he will be able to realize his strategic aims in the Indian Ocean Rim, given the lurking suspicions about China’s motives and the precarious security situation in some regional states.
One thing is clear though: China wants to be the leader, with its own alliances and multilateral institutions, not a “responsible stakeholder” in the U.S.-created architecture of global governance. It is building naval power to assert sovereignty over disputed areas and to project power in distant lands. Determined to take the sea route to secure global power status and challenge the U.S.-led order, China is likely to step up its strategic role in the Indian Ocean – the world’s new center of geopolitical gravity.
Brahma Chellaney is a geostrategist, author and long-standing contributor to The Japan Times.

Japan may join U.S. in South China Sea patrols

Potential move aimed at countering China’s growing presence, Japan’s top uniformed officer says.

Yuka Hayashi and Chieko Tsuneoka, Wall Street Journal
24 June 2015

TOKYO – Japan’s military may join U.S. forces in conducting regular patrols in the South China Sea, according to the nation’s top uniformed officer, underscoring how China’s territorial claims are encouraging Tokyo to play a greater role in regional security.
Adm. Katsutoshi Kawano, chief of the Joint Staff of the Japan Self-Defense Forces, said in an interview that China’s recent moves to build artificial islands have created “very serious potential concerns” for Japan, a trading nation that relies on the sea lane that runs through the area.
“Of course, the area is of the utmost importance for Japanese security,” Adm. Kawano said. “We don’t have any plans to conduct surveillance in the South China Sea currently but depending on the situation, I think there is a chance we could consider doing so.”
Adm. Kawano didn’t specify what actions by China might trigger Japanese consideration of patrols, and any activity by Japan’s military beyond its borders would likely raise concerns at home.
However, Japan’s participation would be a welcome move for the U.S., which has sought to rely more on allies to provide peacekeeping in the region. “I view the South China Sea as international water, not territorial water of any country, and so Japan is welcome to conduct operations on the high seas as Japan sees fit,” said Adm. Harry Harris, head of the U.S. Pacific Command, at a briefing in Tokyo earlier this month.
Troops from Japan’s navy have been conducting joint drills this week with the Philippine navy around Palawan Island, just a few hundred kilometers from the Spratly Islands, which are at the heart of a territorial dispute between Beijing and Manila. The session features Japan’s P-3C surveillance aircraft, which Adm. Kawano described as having “a superb ability for detecting submarines and other objects in the water.”
The U.S. has pledged to send aircraft and naval ships to contest China’s claims, and Australia already runs military patrols.
Adm. Kawano took the helm of the military late last year as Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was seeking to ease decades-old self-imposed restrictions on the nation’s Self-Defense Forces. Mr. Abe has cited China’s military buildup and North Korea’s nuclear-weapons development for the shift.
“In the case of China, as we can see with the South China Sea problem, they are rapidly expanding their naval presence and their defense spending is still growing,” Adm. Kawano said. “Also because there is a lack of transparency, we are very concerned about China’s actions.”
Asked about Adm. Kawano’s comments, a Chinese Defense Ministry spokesman said China’s construction activities in the Spratly Islands “are entirely a matter within our sovereignty, which is beyond reproach.” The spokesman said countries outside the region shouldn’t try to raise tensions with military intervention “which will only cause an adverse impact.”
In April, Japan and the U.S. revised the guidelines for their defense cooperation for the first time in 18 years, allowing Japan to contribute more to peacekeeping in Asia. Mr. Abe now must pass a set of bills to change domestic laws governing his pacifist nation’s military, a challenge given the caution expressed by lawmakers even within his own coalition.
Adm. Kawano said he hoped to see more military cooperation with South Korea, an area that has suffered because of disagreements between Tokyo and Seoul over wartime history. A sign of a thaw came this week when leaders of both nations attended events marking the 50th anniversary of normalizing diplomatic relations.
“Once the relations are normalized on political levels, I believe movements will emerge on our levels,” Adm. Kawano said.
He said Japan would also like to conduct more joint exercises with Australia and India. “I believe the Japan Self-Defense Forces boast an extremely high level of proficiency,” Adm. Kawano said. “We can have a positive impact on other militaries.”
He praised closer ties with the U.S. Japan’s navy now has an officer stationed at the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations at the Pentagon. “The alliance with the U.S. is our foundation. That’s how we build deterrence,” he said.
Olivia Geng contributed to this article.

Analysis: U.S. nuclear force upgrade affordable despite high cost

David Alexander, Reuters
24 June 2015

WASHINGTON – An effort to modernize the U.S. nuclear force, from bombs to ballistic missile submarines, is affordable despite estimates the cost could be as high as $1 trillion over 30 years, according to a new study by a Washington think-tank.
But paying for the nuclear modernization could mean trade-offs elsewhere, "thus, the issue is not affordability – rather, it is a matter of prioritization," the authors of the study said in preliminary findings released late on Tuesday.
Todd Harrison and Evan Braden Montgomery, analysts at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments think-tank, estimated the annual cost of maintaining and upgrading the U.S. nuclear force would rise 56 percent to a peak of about $26 billion by 2027 before falling back to current levels of about $17 billion per year by 2039.
They said rebuilding the country's nuclear force was affordable because the cost would never exceed 5 percent of the total annual defense budget, currently at more than $500 billion.
Five percent is half of what the Pentagon spends on healthcare each year, they said.
The question, they said, is: "Should nuclear forces, and by extension their modernization programs, be given a higher priority in the budget than other forces? This question is ultimately a matter of national security strategy."
The United States is in the process of overhauling all three legs of its nuclear triad of delivery systems, submarines, ballistic missiles and bombers, because the aging current systems are reaching the end of their service life.
The modernization program is expected to take some 25 years to complete. It comes at a time of tight budgets as the
U.S. military is buying other expensive new weapons, including the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter and new aircraft carriers.
Harrison and Montgomery did not initially offer a specific dollar estimate of the cost of modernizing nuclear missiles, bombers, warheads and submarines.
The Congressional Budget Office estimated this year the cost would be about $348 billion over the next 10 years, similar to findings issued by the Stimson Center think-tank in 2012.
Because modernization is expected to take 25 years or so, much of the work would fall outside the 10-year timeline of the CBO and Stimson studies.
The Center for Nonproliferation Studies in California estimated last year that the cost of nuclear modernization would top $1 trillion over 30 years.
A congressionally mandated National Defense Panel concluded last year the modernization program was "unaffordable" under current budget constraints.

Navy celebrates once-secret sub now on display in museum

Stephen Singer, Associated Press, June 24

GROTON, Conn. – A once-secret submarine in U.S. military research and expeditions is being celebrated for its advanced technology, exploration of the ocean floor and role as a workhorse.
The nuclear-powered NR-1 launched in 1969, the same year the U.S. put a man on the moon, and was taken out of service in 2008. It is now on display, minus some of its parts, at Submarine Force Museum in Groton, joining the museum's collection, including the Nautilus, the first nuclear powered ship in the U.S. Navy when it was commissioned in 1954.
"It was innovation. It was revolution," Adm. Jonathan Greenert, chief of naval operations and engineer of the NR-1, said at a museum gathering Wednesday. "It pushed horizons of engineering and technology and took us now to many, many areas of this world. We could get to the ocean floor."
Stephen Finnigan, supervisory curator at the museum, credited the strength of the country's industrial base, specifically Electric Boat of the General Dynamics Corp., which built the NR-1.
"They made this as they do today, made us owners of the undersea domain," Greenert said. "She really was a technical marvel."
The NR-1 was known primarily as a research vessel, but also carried out military missions that still remain a secret. Veterans who served aboard the tiny sub during the Cold War say it was one of the most fascinating assignments of their careers and their wives still don't know all the details.
The submarine was designed to maneuver on or close to the ocean floor, to detect and identify targets on the bottom and lift objects from the depths. It could roll on wheels and illuminate the sea floor.
It performed geological surveys, oceanographic research, installation and maintenance of underwater equipment, and underwater search and recovery, including the recovery of parts of the Challenger shuttle destroyed in 1986.
"This vessel expanded our range through national security missions, lot of oceanography, a lot of ocean engineering, a lot of national security missions that, well, we don't talk about today, but they made a big difference," Finnigan said.
U.S. Rep. Joe Courtney of Connecticut said the submarine museum contacted his office to "make sure that this treasure did not sort of end up in a scrap yard."
The sail, upper rudder, two propellers and a manipulator arm are on display at the museum. The hull and machinery are set to be recycled.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Russia at work on 5th generation submarines

Robotics to play a central role in the new class of submarines. 

Zachary Keck, National Interest
23 June 2015

Fresh off building the fourth-generation Yasen-class submarines, Russia is already developing a fifth-generation submarine.
Vladimir Dorofeyev, CEO of Russia’s Malakhit Marine Engineering Design Bureau, told TASS last week that "The work on the fifth generation of submarines is already underway. The project will be implemented after the Yasen nuclear submarine construction project is completed.”   
 This was subsequently confirmed by Admiral Viktor Chirkov, the commander-in-chief of the Russian Navy. Speaking at the Army 2015 international military and technical forum in Moscow last Wednesday, Chirkov said that “In order to avoid pauses and standstill, we have started design work on developing submarines of the next, i.e. fifth generation.”
Both men said the submarines would be built within the Russian shipbuilding program through 2050, although they did not have a precise estimate of when the boats would first be launched.
There also only gave limited details of the sub’s design, likely because the concept is still being developed. Dorofeyev did say that the fifth-generation submarines would focus on “network centric” capabilities, which would reduce the primary importance of its dimensions and speed.
Regarding the reactor, Dorofeyev stated that “The reactor [of the subs] will be certainly based on new principles, but there will be no revolution, and it is not needed after all.”
Meanwhile, Admiral Chirkov hinted that robotics would play a central role in the new class of submarines. According to Chirkov, the navy’s emphasis will be “on the universal nature” of the submarines use “and the efficiency of their control and armament systems.” He added that “In particular, the vessels’ combat capabilities will be raised through the development of unified modular platforms of different displacement and the integration of promising robotized systems into their armament.”
The U.S. Navy has long been seeking to integrate submarines into network centric warfare. As far back as 2002, National Defense magazine reported: “The submarine of 2020, according to the Navy’s long-term blueprint for undersea warfare, will interact with unmanned underwater, surface and air vehicles. Further, it will be equipped to launch non-Navy weapons, such as Army tactical missiles.”
It went on to explain:
One scenario, for example, would have the submarine lay sensors on the ocean floor, creating an “information grid” that would feed the naval battle group commander valuable intelligence. The sensors would be linked to unmanned undersea vehicles (UUVs) and pilot-less drones (UAVs) that would fly over the battle zone. The information grid would help the commander, who may not even be anywhere near the submarine, gain control of the situation. 
It has sought to turn this vision into a reality with the Submarine Warfare Federated Tactical System (SWFTS) program, which aims to integrate all submarine combat subsystems into a single architecture.
Russia’s fifth-generation submarine is likely to remain a distant aspiration for some time. It was only last year that the Russian Navy officially accepted the first Yasen-class submarine into service. Construction on that ship, named the K-560 Severodvinsk, had begun in 1993. Design of the Yasen-class submarine began in the 1980s under the Soviet Union.

Why Russian submarines are making waves in Asia

Staff, Russia Beyond The Headlines
24 June 2015

In space, a black hole is an invisible killer star that destroys everything around it. There’s a different kind of black hole lurking under the oceans – a Russia submarine so stealthy that not even the American military can detect it. The US Navy openly acknowledges it cannot track the Novorossiysk-451 sub when it’s submerged.
In the wake of the “Black Hole” follows the “Beast from Beneath”, a state of the art Russian submarine that leaves the US Navy far behind. The Severodvinsk K-329 has been compared with the high-tech boomer that was taken over by a rogue Russian captain in the 1990 film The Hunt for Red October.
While these monsters of the sea will remain the exclusive property of the Russian Navy, Moscow is making a high-octane entry into the huge export market, with advanced diesel-electric submarines. As well as being silent, stealthy and armed with the world’s deadliest missiles, Russian submarines are often the vessel of choice for an increasing number of navies, especially in cash-rich Asia.
According to David Isenberg of Asia Times, “Russian submarines' unique capabilities and powerful armament are the two major attractions for foreign customers. In underwater duel modelling, Russian Kilo-class submarines invariably emerged the winner in virtual competition against German, French and Dutch submarines.”
Another reason is the US, which rivals Russia in naval technology, does not make diesel submarines any more, leaving the waters open for Moscow’s undersea boats. Moscow’s aggressive defence export policy backed by liberal finance terms has ensured Russian-built submarines are prowling the world’s oceans. But it’s in the Asia-Pacific they are most visible – or invisible, to be more accurate.
The frenetic pace of economic growth in the region has made the security of the sea lanes a matter of vital importance to the littoral nations. Japan, for instance, imports around 96 per cent of its energy and South Korea imports 90 per cent of its food. As trading giants they are also highly dependent on export revenues.
Naval power is the key to protecting sea lanes, showing the flag and keeping out adventurists. However, most nations in Asia are too small to afford large capital ships. Those that can afford them lack the manpower to operate even a medium-sized fleet. For instance, Vietnam and Indonesia cannot hope to match China’s rapidly expanding navy ship for ship.
Submarines, however, are the great equaliser. This is because a handful of them lurking under the waves can keep the enemy’s fleet bottled up in harbour. Difficult to detect, they can destroy ships many times their own size.
Undersea race begins
Asia’s submarine race kicked off in earnest in 1997 when China struck a deal with Russia to buy the advanced Kilo class submarine. Thrilled with the performance of their Kilos, the Chinese placed an order for eight more for $1.6 billion in 2003. Although China has more submarines than US, its own subs are of shoddy build. Beijing is therefore betting the Kilos – and the much larger Russian Lada class submarines – will even the odds against the US Navy.
“China’s move is significant for economic, political, and military reasons. The Kilo-class submarine was designed for anti-submarine and anti-ship warfare in the protection of naval bases, coastal installations and sea lanes, and also for general reconnaissance and patrol missions,” explains Isenberg. “It is considered to be one of the quietest diesel submarines in the world. It is said to be capable of detecting an enemy submarine at a range three to four times as great as that at which it can be detected itself.”
As per the agreement, Russia has armed China’s Kilos with the supersonic Klub missile, presenting a major deterrent for rival navies. The St Petersburg-based Rubin Central Maritime Design Bureau is developing air independent propulsion (AIP) system – allowing subs to stay submerged longer, up to 45 days without surface – which can be retro-fitted in older Kilos.
China’s leadership realises the importance of an under-sea missile capability. In an editorial in the state-run newspaper Global Times, professor Han Xudong of the People’s Liberation Army National Defence University pointed to ongoing maritime disputes as sources of conflict that will eventually escalate into WW III.
“Judging from the contention of the global sea space, the Arctic Ocean, the Pacific and Indian Ocean have seen the fiercest rivalry,” he writes. “It’s likely that there will be a third world war to fight for sea rights.”
As the rivalry on the sea grows intense, Xudong says China’s military should shift its focus from land to maintaining its rights on the sea.
As well as Kilos, China is in talks with Moscow for the Lada class submarines. “The Ladas are designed to be fast attack and scouting boats,” says Strategy Page. “They are intended for anti-surface and anti-submarine operations as well as naval reconnaissance. These boats are said to be eight times quieter than the Kilos. This was accomplished by using anechoic (sound absorbing) tile coatings on the exterior and a very quiet (skewed) propeller. All interior machinery was designed with silence in mind. The sensors include active and passive sonars, including towed passive sonar. Russian submarine designers apparently believe they can install most of these quieting features into improved Kilos, along with many other Lada features.”
Due to their increased cruising range, the Ladas will be able to operate in the Pacific Ocean at a considerable distance from their Chinese bases. Compared with the Kilos, the Ladas have a much lower level of visibility, which
increases their chances for overcoming Japanese antisubmarine warfare vessels and aircraft.
Further, Moscow is developing a new advanced submarine class and may sell them to China, says The Diplomat. The head of the Russian Navy, Admiral Viktor Chirkov, says Russia would build new fifth-generation submarines dubbed the Kalina-class.
Domino effect
As China prepares for a high stakes naval duel, its neighbours are getting the jitters. In the South China Sea, a clutch of nations such as Vietnam, the Philippines, Brunei, Taiwan and Malaysia are seeing aggressive Chinese naval patrols. In the East China Sea, Japan and Taiwan are contesting Beijing’s claim to the uninhabited Senkaku Islands.
Vietnam has quietly got itself an insurance policy. In 2009, Hanoi signed a $3.2 billion deal that includes six Kilo class submarines and construction of a submarine facility at Cam Ranh Bay. The last of the boats is scheduled for delivery by 2016. “Up to 50 mines may be carried as an alternative to torpedoes and missiles, an important area-denial capability,” says a report by the US Navy Institute.
Indonesia’s Defence Strategic Plan 2024 calls for a fivefold increase in the number of submarines over the coming decade. The country has a long history of operating Russian submarines. In 1967 it acquired 12 Whiskey class submarines from Moscow.
Lately, Russian efforts to sell subs have foundered. In 2013, Indonesia held talks with Russia to procure a number of Kilo-class submarines but no deal was struck. But Moscow isn’t giving up. This year the Russian government has again approached Jakarta to offer brand new Kilos to bolster the country’s maritime defence.
Thailand, Malaysia and Taiwan are other nations set to expand their undersea fleets. Pro-western Thailand may be a hard market to crack but Malaysia – which operates Russian Sukhoi-30MKM aircraft – could be persuaded to look at the cost-benefit aspects and strike capabilities of the Kilos and Ladas.
Taiwan has four rust buckets and is desperate for replacements, but is finding major suppliers shying away from it because of Chinese pressure. If Russia can get around that, then it can get into the good books of one of the richest armaments buyers in the region.
Another nation in the periphery that may end up buying Russian diesel-electric submarines is Bangladesh. It had initially wanted to buy Chinese subs but India – which operates ten Kilos – convinced Dhaka to buy Russian submarines instead. Defense Radar reports that Bangladesh proposes to purchase two submarines from Russia.
The rush of new submarines into Asian waters is partly fuelled by the insecurity that results from being stuck in a crowded geopolitical hotspot. But in a region where mistrust runs deep, submarines could prove to be the one deterrent that contributes to stability.

Newport News Shipbuilding breaks ground for new sub, carrier facility

Philip Walzer, The Virginian-Pilot
23 June 2015

Newport News Shipbuilding broke ground Monday on a 250,000-square-foot "joint manufacturing assembly facility," Huntington Ingalls Industries Inc. announced.
The structure's first two phases, to open in 2017, will support work under current contracts for the Navy's new Gerald R. Ford-class nuclear-powered carriers and Virginia-class submarines.
"We aren't just breaking ground on a new facility, we're breaking the mold on how we build aircraft carriers and submarines," said Matt Mulherin, president of Newport News Shipbuilding, in a statement. The improvements are expected to increase productivity and reduce costs, Mulherin said.
The facility will be among the largest at the shipyard.

U.S. military conducting large exercise over Alaska

Mark Thiessen, Associated Press
23 June 2015

JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska – The sparse expanses above Alaska are a little more crowded this month as nearly 200 military aircraft are taking part in an annual training exercise.
Nearly 6,000 military members from all four branches of the military are taking part in Northern Edge 2015, which includes naval exercises in the Gulf of Alaska and some operations involving ground troops. The U.S. Pacific Command exercise, coordinated by command leaders in Alaska, tests the readiness of the nation's troops and isn't in response to any increased tensions with any other nation, said Lt. Col. Tim Bobinsky, who is helping lead the exercise.
Northern Edge is normally held every two years, but this is the first exercise since 2011. The government shutdown, or sequestration, forced the cancellation of exercises in 2013.
Bobinsky said Alaska offers the military a unique training opportunity, including 65,000 square miles of air space.
"As everyone knows, Alaska is very large," he said Tuesday. "And because of that we have some great opportunities to have some large training air spaces that give us awesome opportunities to conduct things that we can't do in very many other places, not just in the United States but around the world."
Alaska also offers land and sea to accommodate maritime and ground forces exercises. Three U.S. Navy destroyers and a submarine are taking part in simultaneous exercises in the Gulf of Alaska, but not without controversy. Some people in gulf towns such as Cordova and Kodiak have protested the exercises, worried about what the Navy's presence might do to salmon and other marine life.
One of those ships, the guided-missile destroyer USS Shoup, is expected to sail up Cook Inlet and dock at the Port of Anchorage on Wednesday.

Congressional chairman: Increase U.S. defense spending to counter Russian nuke modernization

Alissa Tabirian, Defense Daily
23 June 2015

The United States must ramp up spending on defense and nuclear weapons modernization to maintain technological superiority and counter increases in Russia's defense budget and modernization efforts, according to Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-Texas), Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee.
"They continue to crank out new nuclear warheads and maintain an advantage on tactical warheads about 10 times what we do," Thornberry said in his "Strategy for America" address at the Atlantic Council today.
Thornberry noted that while U.S. defense spending has been cut by 21 percent over the last four years, Russia's defense spending is increasing by approximately 10 percent and includes modernization of ICBMs and long-range cruise missiles. Russia's military also "openly discusses doctrinal changes which show a broadened use of the circumstances under which they'd use nuclear weapons," he added. Accusing the Obama administration of politicizing and "holding hostage" defense funding in the meantime, Thornberry voiced concerns about the fate of replacements for costly nuclear deterrence systems such as Ohio-class submarines. Thornberry's sentiments mirror congressional push to enhance the transfer authority for the Sea-Based Deterrence Fund. The House version of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2016 would authorize up to $1.39 billion to be moved into the fund from Navy research and development accounts as a downpayment for the costly Ohio replacement program that gets underway later this decade.
Thornberry warned that U.S. nuclear weapons and delivery systems "are all aging out at about the same time," personnel that built them are retiring and "we've let the infrastructure deteriorate." Nuclear engineers no longer consider national laboratories "desirable" places to work, "partly because they had to shoot rats off their lunch in some of the facilities that they were working in," he said. Thornberry called for "a national conversation about building new weapons" to address the challenge of "asking labs to do the impossible, which is to keep complex machines running at peak condition forever." He added that an "education campaign" is currently under way in Congress to highlight the importance of maintaining the U.S. nuclear deterrent, particularly because "we have taken for granted the systems, the infrastructure, and the people that keep those complex machines safe, reliable and effective."

Sailor not guilty of distributing nude videos, judge rules

Associated Press
23 June 2015

MAYPORT NAVAL STATION, Fla. – A military judge on Tuesday found a submarine sailor not guilty of distributing videos of female officers undressing for the shower, making him the first cleared of wrongdoing in the case.
The ruling came in a general court-martial for Petty Officer 3rd Class Samuel Buchner, the fifth sailor charged in the videotaping scandal aboard the USS Wyoming.
The women who were secretly videotaped were among the first to serve on U.S. submarines. The case has highlighted the Navy's struggles in adding women to its sub force.
Buchner was charged with conspiring to distribute videos using his cellphone and sending the videos to another sailor. His attorney said in an earlier hearing that Buchner didn't know what he was sending.
"Buchner has asserted from the beginning that he did not know what these files were before he transferred them to another sailor," said Lt. Tracy Waller, his attorney, in a statement. "We are extremely pleased that he was exonerated today, and we hope that his withheld promotion will be restored immediately."
Buchner is the first of the sailors to not plead guilty in a case that has sent four others to prison.
Navy prosecutors say the videos were shot by another sailor, Petty Officer 2nd Class Charles Greaves. He was sentenced to two years in prison and a dishonorable discharge after pleading guilty last month.
Three other sailors have also received prison time related to distributing the videos.
Prosecutors accused the men of trading the videos "like Pokemon" cards in exchange for energy drinks and other items.
All three women testified in previous trials, saying the ordeal had ruined or derailed their otherwise promising careers.
Buchner's defense attorney did not immediately return a request for comment on the judge's decision.

Kilo-class submarine to bolster Indian Navy after 10-year refit

Upgraded submarine INS Sindhukirti to boost Navy’s flagging fleet
INS Sindhukirti

Rajat Pandit/Times of India
23 June 2015
NEW DELHI: India will finally get a desperately-needed shot in the arm for its depleting underwater combat fleet. With INS Sindhukirti set for final "full-power trials" from Friday after being stuck in a refit for a decade, the Kilo-class submarine is expected to be formally handed over to the Navy next month.
The 3,000-tonne INS Sindhukirti's re-induction into the fleet is vital since the Navy is down to just 13 old diesel-electric submarines - barely half of them fully operational at present -- and one nuclear-powered submarine without nuclear-tipped missiles on lease from Russia.
A submarine's design or "prescribed life" is considered to be 25 years. But 10 of the 13 conventional boats are already older than that, with the others not being far behind. INS Sindhurakshak, which sank after internal explosions at Mumbai naval dockyard in August 2013 killing 18 personnel, was in fact one of the relatively newer submarines.
As reported by TOI earlier, the medium refit of the 25-year-old INS Sindhukirti, which was to be completed within three years, itself is a shocking story. Gross mismanagement, coupled with alleged perfidy by Russian experts, ensured the submarine remained stuck at Hindustan Shipyard (Visakhapatnam) since early 2006.
But the submarine is "as good as new" now, with hull renewal as well as new weapons, sonars, fire control systems and the like. The vessel will now also be capable of firing the almost 300-km Klub-S land-attack missiles from the six torpedo tubes fitted on its "nose". "The full-power trials, after the successful sea-trials, are meant to test the submarine to the extreme," said a source.
The NDA government, however, does not seem to be showing the requisite urgency to rescue the sinking submarine arm, much like the previous UPA regime. The tender for construction of six new stealth submarines with foreign collaboration, under Project-75India, is still nowhere close to being issued, said sources.
Once it is floated, it will take at least a decade to build the new submarines, which are supposed to have both land-attack missile capabilities and air-independent propulsion for greater underwater endurance. Project-75I gained "acceptance of necessity" way back in November 2007 at an estimated cost of around Rs 50,000 crore. The figure will now touch Rs 80,000 crore.
The six Scorpene submarines being constructed at Mazagon Docks are now finally slated for delivery from 2016 to 2020. But they will just replace the existing submarines, which are being flogged well past their operational life through life-extensions and upgrades.
Incidentally, four Sindhughosh-class and two Shishumar-class submarines are now slated to undergo mid-life upgrades and life extensions for Rs 4,800 crore, which was approved in August last year. Two of the Sindhughosh-class vessels will be upgraded in Russia, while the other four will undergo it in India. 

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

U.S. nuclear missile submarine visits S. Korea to showcase its prowess


USS Michigan is one of world's largest missile subs and is equipped with 154 tactical missiles.

Staff, Yonhap News Agency, June 22
The U.S. nuclear-powered submarine USS Michigan made a port call Tuesday in South Korea's southeastern port city of Busan to conduct diverse missions and showcase its latest capabilities, the group in charge of its operation said.
The 18,000-ton submarine, one of the world's largest, arrived at a Busan base with some 165 crew members to "conduct a multitude of missions and showcase the latest capabilities of the submarine fleet," the U.S. Navy's Submarine Group Seven said in a release.
The submarine, which is based in Bremerton, Washington, and is forward deployed from Guam, last visited South Korea in May 2011.
As one of four Ohio-class guided-missile submarines, the USS Michigan provides the U.S. Navy with "unprecedented strike and special operation mission capabilities from a stealthy, clandestine platform," the group said.
Armed with up to 154 tactical missiles and equipped with superior communications capabilities, the submarine is also capable of launching missile strikes and supporting special operation forces' missions, it added.
"The Michigan is looking forward to a chance to meet up with its Republic of Korea Navy partners and learn about the culture of Korea," Capt. Erik Burian, the Michigan's commanding officer, was quoted by its public affairs office as saying. 
The submarine's arrival here comes at a time when North Korea has been striving to beef up its underwater capabilities. Last month, Pyongyang claimed that it had successfully carried out a test of a submarine-launched ballistic missile, posing a fresh threat to the Korean Peninsula.

Espionage case: Spy's schemes could have made Navy's newest aircraft carrier more vulnerable

Peter Dujardin, Newport News Daily
21 June 2015


The aircraft carrier design schematics stolen last year by a U.S. Navy engineer from York County were not "Top Secret."
They were not "Secret."
And, in fact, according to court documents, they didn't rise to the level of "Classified" at all.
But court documents filed in the case of Mostafa Ahmed Awwad - who pleaded guilty in federal court last week to attempted espionage - paint an ominous picture of the
protected and sensitive documents getting into the wrong hands.
Before his arrest and recent conviction, Awwad, 36, lived in York County's Coventry subdivision and worked as an engineer at Norfolk Naval Shipyard. He was accused of stealing designs for the Gerald R. Ford aircraft carrier and turning them over to an undercover FBI agent he thought was an Egyptian spy.
The statement of facts agreed to last week by Awwad, his lawyer and federal prosecutors speaks of design drawings so sensitive that the warship - and its 4,000 sailors - would be more vulnerable to attack if the schematics ended up in enemy hands.
"The Navy captain responsible for the Ford's construction has indicated that a reader with the appropriate technical background viewing these schematics would be able to identify the location of the nuclear reactors on the Ford ... and other sensitive areas of the ship," the statement of facts says.
That includes the carrier's propulsion system, weapons storage areas, technology infrastructure and "defensive mechanisms" below the water line.
"Knowledge of these areas would aid foreign adversaries in discerning the ship's vulnerabilities to attack, operational functions and capabilities," the court filing says. "The plans could be used to locate relatively vulnerable areas inside or on the outside of the ship and direct a strike in that area."
"The schematics," the statement says, "would ... help a foreign government gain the advantage of the Navy's 50 years of experience operating an aircraft carrier ... The unauthorized disclosure of these plans would result in a significant military and economic advantage to a foreign adversary."
The drawings in question were generated by Newport News Shipbuilding, which is building the nearly $13 billion Ford and later carriers of its class. The Norfolk Naval Shipyard had the designs in preparation for maintenance work once the carrier is part of the fleet.
Many of the documents Awwad took from the Navy shipyard featured the following language - in all capital letters:

 "WARNING: THIS DOCUMENT CONTAINS TECHNICAL DATA WHOSE EXPORT IS RESTRICTED BY THE ARMS CONTROL ACT ... OR THE EXPORT ADMINISTRATION ACT OF 1979, AS AMENDED ... VIOLATIONS OF THESE LAWS ARE SUBJECT TO SEVERE CRIMINAL PENALTIES."

But Norman Polmar, a Navy historian and author of "The Naval Institute's Guide to the Ships and Aircraft of the U.S. Naval Fleet," said it's "total B.S." that designs showing the location of the reactors, propulsion systems and other areas would tell an enemy where to strike.
"If you want to hit an aircraft carrier, you just drop a bomb on the flight deck, and that puts the carrier out of action," he said, saying flight deck incidents have caused many deadly carrier fires over the years.
"You get a weapon - the bigger the better - and put it on the flight deck, preferably when they're launching, recovering or arming aircraft," Polmar said. Or, he added, "You knock out the propellers" with a torpedo designed to home in on their movement.
The Plea Bargain
Whatever the case on carrier vulnerability, Awwad admitted to stealing the designs - and selling them to someone he thought was an Egyptian spy. And he got what his attorney maintains is a favorable plea deal.
When asked last week why Awwad pleaded guilty, his lawyer, James Broccoletti, had a quick reply: "Have you read the plea agreement?"
Not only is the death penalty - a potential punishment for attempted espionage - off the table under the deal, but prosecutors signed off on allowing Awwad to get between eight and 11 years behind bars when sentenced in September by U.S. District Judge Raymond Jackson.
That's lower than the range of 12 1/2 years to 15 years and eight months that Awwad faced under federal sentencing guidelines.
The attempted espionage charge was added to the case in early June. The original charges against Awwad, two counts of attempted exportation of defense articles and technical data, were dropped as part of the plea agreement.
"Any time you can get the government to agree on a sentence that's less than the guidelines, it's a good agreement," said Supervising Assistant Federal Public Defender Keith L. Kimball, who represented Awwad earlier in the case. "Especially with espionage, which is obviously a very serious case."
The sentencing range agreed to in the plea - eight to 11 years - is less than what many federal defendants get in drug dealing, robbery and financial fraud cases, according to numerous federal sentencings witnessed over the years by the Daily Press.
And Awwad's sentencing range is also considerably lower than a prison term handed down in another recent local attempted espionage case.
Early last year, U.S. District Judge Robert G. Doumar sentenced former Navy Petty Officer Robert Patrick Hoffman II, of Virginia Beach, to 30 years in prison for attempted espionage.
Hoffman, now 41, was convicted after a five-day jury trial in 2013 in Norfolk. He was accused of attempting to provide technical information about Navy submarines to people he thought were Russian Federation operatives.
One big difference: Hoffman took his case to a jury, while Awwad pleaded guilty and spared the prosecution the time and cost of a trial. And Kimball pointed out another crucial difference: What Hoffman tried to give up was "Top Secret," while what Awwad tried to turn over was not.
Broccoletti said Awwad "had no access to Secret or Top Secret material." The statement of facts said he held a "Confidential" security clearance, but that the material he turned over, while protected, was not "Classified."
Sentencing guidelines go up sharply with tighter restriction levels on the documents. But given the ambiguity in federal guidelines for protected but unclassified documents, the two sides struck a deal at just below the guideline range.
U.S. Attorney Dana Boente declined to comment Friday on the reasons federal prosecutors agreed to the deal, said his spokesman, Inayat Delawala.
Life's 'Mission'
Awwad was born in Saudi Arabia, but grew up as an Egyptian. He came to the United States in 2007, becoming a U.S. citizen in 2012. He graduated from Old Dominion University in December 2013 and landed the job at Norfolk Naval Shipyard in early 2014.
He was arrested in early December.
At a bond hearing late last year, prosecutors detailed several chilling conversations - recorded by both audio and video - that they said Awwad had with an undercover FBI agent whom he incorrectly believed to be an Egyptian intelligence officer.
Some of the designs were turned over at a clandestine drop spot at the Sandy Bottom Nature Park in Hampton.
During the conversations, prosecutors said Awwad called it his life's "mission" to provide Egypt with U.S. Navy technology, saying at one point that "Allah" has "made this possible."
Prosecutors said Awwad spoke of the critical parts of an aircraft carrier that could cause the warship to sink if they were struck.
"Even if we are not able to (construct) the carrier, you will be able to see how it can be hit and drowned," Awwad told the FBI agent, according to prosecutors. "The bomb bay. The bomb storage area. That's it. Bye-bye."
Awwad also spoke of a part of the carrier that he called "the floater." "You break the floater like this, it's over," Awwad told the agent on the recording, according to Joseph E. DePadilla, the prosecutor who spoke at the December bond hearing.
Prosecutors also said Awwad boasted of how he could install "bugs" on nuclear submarines when they come through Norfolk Naval Shipyard for routine maintenance. Since they come in so often, he told the agent, after a few years "you can have a bug in every submarine."
Prosecutors said at the December bond hearing that Awwad's wife - the mother of his two toddler sons - knew nothing of his schemes. He even admitted that he maintained a secret bank account and a rented storage unit to keep things from her, according to prosecutors.
Although she is of Middle Eastern descent and wears a hijab, she was raised mostly in North America, with Awwad telling the agent his wife has become "too American." If he died, he told the agent, his mother has been instructed to "take the kids" and raise them in Egypt.
Awwad also mocked the United States for allowing citizens of foreign countries to do sensitive work here.
"They hire the Chinese, they hire the Russians, they hire us," he told the agent, DePadilla said at the bond hearing. "That's good for us."
Kimball, for his part, said Awwad didn't have the "Top Secret" level of access he boasted of and was simply "embellishing" his level of access for the undercover agent.
Sensitive Documents
Awwad was a dual citizen - of Egypt and the United States - when he was hired by Norfolk Naval Shipyard in late 2013, the statement says. But in order to obtain a security clearance, he needed to renounce his Egyptian citizenship.
The statement of facts agreed to by both sides doesn't spell out how many aircraft carrier design schematics Awwad took, but says they were all "related to the national defense of the United States."
The designs aren't "Classified," but are protected as both "NNPI" - which means "Naval Nuclear Propulsion Information" - as well as "NOFORN," which means that "no foreign nationals" can see them, the statement of facts says.
Moreover, neither the Navy nor Newport News Shipbuilding - the only entities with legal access to the documents - authorized their public release. The designs are on restricted computer systems at both the Navy and shipyard, but are accessible when necessary to yard and Navy engineers and designers.
"This document is subject to special export controls and each transmittal to foreign governments or foreign nationals may be made only with the prior approval of the Naval Sea Systems Command," many of the designs said. "No public releases or public displays of any kind are authorized without the expressed written consent of (NAVSEA) or higher authority."
The $13 billion Ford carrier includes more than $3 billion in engineering costs, to include many design improvements over the Nimitz-class carriers.
The documents Awwad took from the Norfolk Naval Shipyard are dated 2008. They are also marked "preliminary draft" because they hadn't yet received the "final signature" from the Newport News shipyard, the statement of facts says.
The designs are "not the operative schematics today." But the statement says that "knowledgeable personnel" at the Navy and Newport News yard say the designs have had "relatively minor" changes since 2008 - such as "a bulkhead might have moved slightly here and there."
"The major components of the ship's design remain the same, including the location of sensitive areas on the ship," the statement of facts says.
The statement adds: "The acts of the defendant in furtherance of the offense ... were done willfully and knowingly with the specific intent to violate the law."
Awwad will be sentenced on Sept. 21.