Friday, January 29, 2016

The indelicate balance of nuclear modernization

Other countries understand that the nuclear balance is not so delicate that gaps or compromises in their force structure will prove catastrophic—and they don’t even have the United States’ overwhelming conventional capabilities. At a time when China’s capabilities are expanding dramatically and when nuclear planners are unlikely to receive all the funding they request, the United States can and must learn to live with a level of nuclear risk.

Adam Mount, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientist
28 January 2016
In 1983’s The Wizards of Armageddon, journalist Fred Kaplan describes the grim work of the RAND Corporation at the end of the 1950s. Over the course of that decade, RAND analysts had warned that US Strategic Air Command forces were dangerously vulnerable. The analysts cautioned that bombers stationed overseas were at risk of being hit by a Soviet first strike before they could reach their targets, and that therefore it was necessary to disperse and defend them. These arguments were instrumental in shaping modern nuclear strategy and the US arsenal throughout the Cold War.
The goal behind these arguments was to establish what the eminent RAND systems theorist Albert Wohlstetter called “the delicate balance of terror.” This phrase served as the title of a classic 1958 article in which he argued that the American public and US defense planners had been dangerously sanguine about the nuclear balance. Wohlstetter reasoned that a country’s possession of nuclear weapons was not sufficient to establish deterrence if the adversary had a reasonable expectation of limiting damage from those weapons. As technology evolved and countries improved their nuclear arsenals, the delicate balance of terror tilted constantly, and therefore nuclear deterrence had to be assiduously maintained.
Today, many observers continue to think of the nuclear balance as delicate. There is a strong impulse in the United States to maintain capabilities that mirror those of its adversaries and materially respond to new developments. Concerns that New START may be in Russia’s favor, calls to react to Russia’s violation of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, and proposals to build new nuclear weapons all imply anxiety that the nuclear balance could tilt abruptly and give an adversary an advantage. Many share the concerns of Alabama Republican Rep. Mike Rogers, chairman of the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Strategic Forces, who said at a December hearing that he is “greatly worried that the United States stands the risk of losing the next arms race to Russia and China.”
A belief in the delicacy of the nuclear balance is also behind efforts to reduce and eliminate gaps in US capabilities. For example, some are calling to accelerate procurement of the new long-range stand-off missile to cover a hypothesized gap in the US Air Force’s ability to strike certain targets in highly defended areas with a lower-yield warhead than those found on ballistic missiles. (Brookings Senior Fellow Steven Pifer recently referred to the long-range stand-off missile as “an insurance policy for the insurance policy.”) The gap could arise just prior to 2030 if the new B-3 bomber is delayed and the B-2 bomber is incapable of reaching certain targets. How much should the country be willing to spend to diminish the risk of this gap? If the balance of terror is delicate, perhaps quite a lot.
But is the balance of terror still delicate? If it were, it would be essential for the United States to precisely calibrate its arsenal to its adversary’s capabilities every year. Modernization would be a perilous period, creating gaps in capabilities that would have to be filled. Strategic considerations would tend to override political, diplomatic, and fiscal concerns. The fact is, though, that the nuclear balance is not as delicate as it once was, and we are living in a time of acute fiscal austerity and manifold military priorities. Risk, moreover, is an inherent part of nuclear strategy. If Washington can’t learn to live with risk, the cost of closing small and hypothetical gaps in the nuclear arsenal will be paid in harsh currency: by sacrificing conventional military priorities, the welfare of citizens, and the country’s long-term ability to compete in a changing world.
A different world. A great deal has changed since Wohlstetter’s essay appeared in the 1950s, at a uniquely transformative time for the nuclear balance. The United States was only beginning to construct the triad of nuclear systems—bombers, land-based missiles, and submarines—that serve as the framework of the modern arsenal. Whether these procurement efforts would succeed was, Wohlstetter wrote, “wildly uncertain.” The first US intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), the Atlas, had been test-flown the year before. Just six years later, the Atlas was obsolete, replaced by the Titan II. At sea, the United States was regularly deploying a small handful of rudimentary Regulus cruise missiles; the Polaris missile would enter service in 1961, improving on its predecessor’s range by a factor of five. In the skies, the Air Force had just deployed the B-52, its first intercontinental bomber, and was exploring radical new aircraft concepts.
In short: in the late 1950s and early 1960s, the nuclear balance was rocked by major qualitative changes to delivery systems. Nuclear deterrence theory was still highly unsettled, with strategists struggling to understand the consequences of the missile revolution. Even as they were preparing for a protracted competition with the Soviet Union, US defense planners could not reliably estimate the price, capabilities, or reliability of their new systems.
This kind of uncertainty is difficult to imagine today. Today’s nuclear triad has changed little in the quarter century since the end of the Cold War. It is made up of a few highly reliable systems that each serve a defined purpose. Each leg of the triad is meant to serve as a hedge against the catastrophic failure of another, and for the most part there are hedging options within each leg. Though every system in the US arsenal will have to be modernized in the coming years, the new systems will mostly replicate existing capabilities.
This strongly suggests that the nuclear balance is far less delicate than when Wohlstetter wrote. There are few uncertainties about any country’s nuclear systems and how they interact with one another; each nuclear power has a valid expectation that it can deliver a nuclear strike against an adversary that attempts a first strike.
Living with risk. There is additional evidence that the nuclear balance is no longer delicate. Other countries tolerate significantly higher margins of risk in their nuclear operations. Among the nine nuclear weapon states, only the United States and Russia believe that they need more than a few hundred warheads to deter their adversaries. France operates a sea- and air-based nuclear dyad, while Great Britain relies on a monad that consists of a single type of warhead attached to Trident II missiles leased from the United States. China’s development of nuclear capabilities has been gradual and minimal; only now is it approaching an assured second-strike capability.
Even Russia seems comfortable accepting significant risk. Consider, for example, its early-warning capability, a complex system of satellites and radars aimed at providing advance warning of incoming nuclear strikes. Russia allowed the system to deteriorate. Though it is actively upgrading its early-warning ground-based radar network, for more than a year, it had no functioning early-warning satellites, let alone a complete constellation that would have afforded global coverage. The last remaining satellites of the old Oko system both failed to maintain their orbits in the fall of 2014. While Russia had intended to begin deploying its new system, EKS, in 2009, it finally did so only in November, 2015.
As nuclear physicist Pavel Podvig has written, though “the stated goal of the program was to ... provide comprehensive coverage, the objective at the level of practical decisions seems to have been …more limited. “The Russian early-warning system has sporadically had the ability to detect a massive missile attack, but has never been able to provide assurances against limited strikes or weapons with uncertain trajectories like submarine-launched ballistic missiles. Russia has accepted significant and protracted gaps in its early-warning coverage.
Contrast Moscow’s approach to Washington’s. The US early warning system, the Defense Support Program, has provided continual coverage for 30 years. It is now being replaced by two upgraded systems, the SBIRS (space-based infrared system) constellation in geosynchronous orbit, and the low-Earth orbit STSS (space tracking and surveillance system). The SBIRS will be
supplemented by both the STSS and an ongoing effort to develop defensive systems against niche capabilities. For example, JLENS—the joint land-attack cruise missile elevated netted sensor system—aims to install blimps above Washington to guard against the possibility of nuclear cruise missile attacks launched from submarines offshore. (A JLENS blimp recently escaped its mooring.)
Russia’s greater propensity for risk acceptance is also reflected in other areas of its arsenal. For example, it operates only about 70 percent of the number of launchers the United States does, largely because it chooses to maintain several warheads on each of its ICBMs, a practice the United States ended in July 2014. The pattern also extends to submarines: Russia plans to build only eight next-generation Borei submarines, whereas the United States plans 12 replacements for the Ohio class. And Russia’s smaller fleet also reportedly undertakes less frequent and shorter patrols over a limited area.
False mathematics. These contrasts show that the way the United States interprets the demands of deterrence is exceptionally stringent. This rather luxurious understanding is the result of a favorable strategic situation: Technological sophistication and economic predominance mean that the United States can produce and maintain a larger and more capable force than any other country on the planet.
There are two separate questions at stake here. The first is whether rote qualitative or quantitative parity between the United States and Russia is a requirement for deterrence. Few observers truly believe this, but sometimes the thought slips into rhetorical statements. At a December Congressional hearing on Russia’s violation of the INF treaty, Principal Deputy Undersecretary of Defense Brian McKeon seemed to point to nuclear modernization as a way of addressing Russian provocations, saying, “we are investing in the technologies that are most relevant to Russia’s provocations.”
In fact, the United States sets requirements for its nuclear force structure in a more objective fashion. In discussing the Obama administration’s preparations for the 2010 Nuclear Posture Review and subsequent employment guidance, both White House and Pentagon officials describe an iterative process in which proposals passed back and forth between the two sides. Accounting for extended deterrence requirements, expected arms control efforts, commitments to reduce the size and salience of the US arsenal, military advice, and other concerns, military officials then provided the political leadership with a targeting analysis for a proposed force level. Parity is a useful rule of thumb, but the most important requirement for nuclear forces is that they be able to threaten those targets necessary to deter an adversary. Former Secretary of Defense Bill Perry told Arms Control Today that he doesn’t think parity “has anything to do with deterrence…that is a political argument. “It is this perspective that allowed the Pentagon to assert that Russia “would not be able to achieve a militarily significant advantage by any plausible expansion of its strategic nuclear forces.”
The second and more interesting question is how much risk the United States is willing to tolerate. Nuclear weapons necessarily involve risk—that a system will malfunction, an accident will occur, or deterrence itself will fail. In 1958, Wohlstetter warned that the country was unintentionally incurring enormous amounts of risk. Today, however, the US nuclear arsenal operates with a far lower level of risk than other countries.
In Washington these days, one hears the refrain that the United States can afford its extensive nuclear modernization plans if it makes them a top priority. This is quite right: The United States could take on new debt and sacrifice other conventional procurement programs in order to devote more funding to nuclear modernization. If accelerated, the new long-range standoff missile could plug a narrow gap between retirement of the old air-launched cruise missile and procurement of the new penetrating stealth bomber. An expensive life-extension program for the B61 gravity bomb and the nuclear-capable variant of the F-35 could preserve the modest deterrent and assurance benefits of a mere 180 weapons stationed in Europe. The country could build 12 new ballistic missile submarines to preserve its ability to strike promptly from both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans—rather than just eight, which would allow it to strike promptly with fewer warheads from both oceans.
It is prudent to monitor and maintain the nuclear balance, as Wohlstetter exhorted us to do. But it is also prudent to examine the requirements of deterrence in the context of existing strategic and budgetary realities. Other countries understand that the nuclear balance is not so delicate that gaps or compromises in their force structure will prove catastrophic—and they don’t even have the United States’ overwhelming conventional capabilities. At a time when China’s capabilities are expanding dramatically and when nuclear planners are unlikely to receive all the funding they request, the United States can and must learn to live with a level of nuclear risk.
If Wohlstetter interpreted deterrence as demanding careful and constant cultivation of a delicate nuclear balance, diplomat and political scientist George Kennan encouraged a different interpretation. Writing four years before Wohlstetter, Kennan decried a sort of “false mathematics” that understood nuclear deterrence as a precise and calculable endeavor. “The sooner we can free ourselves from the false mathematics involved in the assumption that security is a matter of the number of people you can kill with a single weapon, the better off, in my opinion, we will be.”

Robot subs, electronic warfare & cyber: U.S.Navy's role in offset strategy

Sydney J. Freedberg Jr., Breaking Defense
28 January 2016
ARMY & NAVY CLUB: As the Pentagon prepares to roll out its 2017 budget, one strategically crucial piece is the so-called Third Offset Strategy. That’s the US military’s high-tech, high-stakes plan to keep our edge over Russia, China, and other rapidly advancing rivals. This morning, the Chief of Naval Research outlined some of what the Navy’s piece of that strategy would be.
“The Navy’s engagement is predominantly in UUV (Unmanned Underwater Vehicles), cyber, and EMW (Electromagnetic Maneuver Warfare),” Rear Adm. Mat Winter said — but the greatest of these is the UUV effort. “We’ve been able to provide that as a cornerstone…. one of our primary contributions.”
The Navy is the most sophisticated service in electronic jamming and deception. It’s also making a major contribution in the related field of cyberspace. And autonomy, cyber and electronic warfare are all high priority parts of the Third Offset Strategy. But the other services also have significant cyber/EW efforts, whereas unmanned underwater vehicles (UUVs) are unique to the Navy. UUVs also exist on the intersection of two strong interests of the offset strategy’s coordinator, Deputy Defense Secretary Bob Work: robotics and undersea warfare.
“We are knee-deep in the Third Offset Strategy discussion… along with our army and air force and DARPA leadership in supporting the DepSecDef’s focus [on] man-machine interface with cyber, EW, and unmanned systems,” Winter told a National Defense Industrial Association breakfast here. “There was a whole spectrum of initiatives when we first started talking, and then you had to get down to something that was fundable, feasible, and executable.”
Various small, short-ranged robo-subs were rushed to Bahrain-based 5th Fleet in recent years to counter Iranian threats to mine the Persian Gulf. But Work’s offset strategy calls for larger, long-range UUVs that can operate autonomously with little human intervention and deliver “payloads” — e.g. weapons — as well as scout for mines and other threats below the waves.
“Payload delivery capability [is something] we’ve demonstrated…and was embraced by senior leadership as part of the go-forward Third Offset Strategy,” Winter said. As for long-range autonomous operations by larger vessels, he said, the experimental Large Diameter Unmanned Underwater Vehicle (LDUUV) will test its skills this summer in open ocean navigation and the endurance of its new advanced fuel cell in a trip from San Diego to San Francisco.
“We are going to have unscripted obstructions and barriers, and we are going to see can it sense and avoid those,” Winter said.
In contrast to his enthusiasm about UUVs, Winter didn’t offer any details about the Navy’s contribution in cyber warfare, a highly classified field. But he did discuss the slightly less secretive subject of electromagnetic maneuver warfare.
“EMW is going to be a game changer in our ability to operate in the denied [environment], for the deceptive
engagement that we’re really going to need to fight that high-end fight,” Winter said. “What’s exciting there,” he said, is giving commanders the ability to increase, decrease, and alter their emissions to best fit the mission, rather than the old binary choice of either transmitting noisily in all directions or shutting everything down to avoid detection. “It’s not just EMCON or all on,” he said, using the Navy contraction for “emissions control.”
“I used to do EMCON[:] That’s probably scaredest flying you ever do, right, turn everything off and find the ship,” Winter said. But since the Soviet Union fell, the Navy has neglected EMCON training even as it has packed ever more electronic gadgets onto ships: “We’ve been loud and proud for 20 years.”
The Office of Naval Research is already providing “actual products,” mostly to the surface fleet, that let commanders “truly understand and characterize their electronic spectrum as they are operating and be able to manipulate it” to deceive or hide from the enemy, Winter said. Rather than shutting down all emissions and losing radar and radio in the process, he said, they can “keep mission capable but also reduce their footprint.”
Interestingly, Winter did not mention laser weapons — another area where the Navy has lead the way — as one of the service’s principal contributions to the offset strategy. That said, he certainly touted directed energy. The Navy has a 30-kw laser in the Persian Gulf aboard the USS Ponce and has contracted with Northrop Grumman to build a “leap ahead” solid state laser in the 150-kilowatt range. There are “exciting” advances in energy density, energy storage, and advanced optics that will make high-power lasers more feasible, Winter said.
The Navy will release a new directed energy roadmap after the budget is released, Winter said. An all-service report on potential tactics and concepts of operations for future laser weapons, based on discussions between technologists and warfighters, is due to the Joint Staff in August.
But for all that progress, “we can’t just push this out there and put a laser in every pot,” Winter warned. “You can’t just plug and play.” Integrating lasers into existing ships and tactics will require serious study and major modifications, he said.
By contrast, “the core to the Third Offset Strategy in my mind is more along the lines of…looking at what we have today….and repurposing [it],” Winter said. His top example was the Tomahawk, a venerable weapon predating the 1991 Gulf War of which there are over 4,000 in the fleet. While the Navy is developing a new Long-Range Anti-Ship Missile, as a near-term expedient it’s found a way to trick the Tomahawk Land Attack Missile into thinking a moving ship is a stationary land target, essentially by updating target position at a faster rate. “You hit that moving ship with a land attack missile,” Winter said. “We’ve already demonstrated that.”
Overall, “one of the things we’re encouraging is repurposing [existing] capabilities, versus always searching for the new shiny object,” Winter said, with one eye clearly on the tightening budget. “We can turn around and repurpose already established and fielded capabilities with a very minor, minor technical update but a whole[sale] repurposing of TTPs [tactics, techniques, and procedures] and CONOPs [concepts of operation].” A little new technology plus a lot of new ideas can make a big difference.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Australia narrows sub construction contract to Japan, France bidders

The competition for a US$34.55 billion contract to build Australia's next submarine fleet is narrowing to a race between Japan and France as a bid from Germany's TKMS loses ground over technical concerns.

Channel News Asia
22 January 2016
TOKYO/SYDNEY: The competition for a AUS$50 billion (US$34.55 billion) contract to build Australia's next submarine fleet is narrowing to a race between Japan and France as a bid from Germany's ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems (TKMS) loses ground over technical concerns, multiple sources said.
Australia is expected to decide the winner of one of the world's most lucrative defence contracts within the next six months, ahead of a national election in which the deal and the jobs it will create is expected to be a key issue for the conservative government.
TKMS is proposing to scale up its 2,000-tonne Type 214 class vessel, while Japan is offering a variant of its 4,000-tonne Soryu boats made by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and Kawasaki Heavy Industries .
France's state-controlled naval contractor DCNS has proposed a diesel-electric version of its 5,000-tonne Barracuda nuclear-powered submarine.
Australia has said it wants a boat in the 4,000-tonne class.
Scaling a submarine to twice its original size presents exponential technical challenges, experts say.
That puts TKMS furthest from having the experience to offer what Australia wants in a large, long-range, stealthy submarine to replace its aging Collins-class fleet, said six industrial sources in Asia and Australia with knowledge of the situation.
"The German proposal is an enlarged version of a smaller existing submarine, and that technically is risky," said one source.
TKMS and one of the sources in Australia, who has decades of experience in the global arms industry, cautioned against jumping to conclusions as each side jockeys for the best outcome in what may ultimately be a political decision.
Australia wanted a partner to design and build a new submarine, which neutralizes any perceived advantage with existing bigger boats, said TKMS Australia Director Jim Duncan.
"The rumors could well be right. Who knows," Duncan told Reuters when asked to respond to what the industrial sources said. "My only advice, having spent many years in this environment is: believe nothing that you hear and only half of what you see."
Officials at the Future Submarine Program at the Australian Department of Defence did not respond to a request for comment.
DCNS Australia CEO Sean Costello declined to comment on his competitors, but said experience in large submarine design was critical for the Australian project.
Tokyo was initially seen as the frontrunner, partly due to close ties between Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and former Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott, who was ousted in a party coup by Malcolm Turnbull last September.
With Turnbull quiet on the matter, Japan is touting its offer as a way to build military ties between two allies in Asia, something U.S. officials have said they want to see as China emerges as a regional power.
But Tokyo, which until two years ago had a decades-long ban on arms exports, has been hobbled throughout the process by a lack of experience in managing overseas defence contracts and the shifting political tide in Canberra.
With Australia facing an economic slowdown, that has put job creation and innovation atop the political agenda.
Japan was slow to commit to build all vessels at South Australian shipyards, a politically significant pledge that both DCNS and TKMS made quickly.
At the same time, DCNS and TKMS pledged to share sensitive technology with the Australian government and promised packages of economic incentives.
Australia's Defence Department is formulating a recommendation based on materials submitted by the bidders late last year and is expected to give that to cabinet as early as March.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Australia weighs South China Sea exercises to challenge China on freedom of navigation

26 January 2016
The Turnbull government is considering formal freedom of navigation exercises to dispute Chinese territorial claims in the South China Sea.
The national security committee of cabinet has, over a period of months, been briefed on all the available options and combinations possible for such an exercise by Australian planes or ships.
The Turnbull government has not decided whether to conduct such an exercise, and if it did so, when and exactly what form such an exercise would take.
Sources have told The Australian that freedom of navigation and overflight in the South China Sea were discussed by Malcolm Turnbull in his recent trip to the U.S. Both the Americans, and a number of Southeast Asian nations, have communicated to Canberra their support for a separate Australian freedom of navigation exercise.
According to sources, the Japanese have offered to participate in such an exercise in partnership with U.S. naval vessels, but Washington’s judgment, at this stage, is that any circumstance that brings Chinese and Japanese vessels into potential unfriendly contact is best avoided.
Washington, Tokyo, Canberra and a number of Southeast Asian capitals have called for freedom of navigation and overflight in the South China Sea, and have criticised Beijing’s massive land reclamation activities and installation of potentially military bases in the disputed region.
A freedom of navigation exercise would involve sailing or flying within the 12-nautical-mile territorial waters zone of a disputed territory. Under international law, an artificial island cannot generate territorial waters.
Therefore, even if Beijing’s broad territorial claims in the South China Sea were valid, the artificial islands they built do not legally generate a 12n/m territorial waters limit.
Beijing has created several such artificial islands in the South China Sea. Under its “nine dash line” maps, Beijing claims almost all of the South China Sea as Chinese territory.
In October, Washington sent the USS Lassen into a claimed Chinese 12n/m zone as part of a formal FON exercise. The U.S. also sent vessels through the territorial waters of land-reclamation structures created by The Philippines and Vietnam to demonstrate that it was not objecting only to China’s activities, although China’s land reclamation efforts dwarf all activities of other regional nations.
In November, an Australian air force plane flew over disputed waters in the South China Sea and was challenged by the Chinese navy, which advised the RAAF plane it was “threatening the security of our station” and told it to “leave immediately”.
The RAAF pilot involved radioed to the Chinese: “We are an Australian aircraft exercising freedom-of-navigation rights in international airspace.” The RAAF plane was not flying directly within the 12 n/m territorial water zone. Depending on the altitude of a plane involved, it can be difficult to triangulate its exact position in terms of territorial waters. The lower the altitude of the plane, the easier it is to make such calculations.
The Chinese are known to challenge planes and ships well outside the 12n/m limit of any of their claimed territories. Nonetheless, sources say both the number of RAAF patrols and their tendency to fly within areas where the Chinese don’t want them to fly has increased markedly over the past 12 to 18 months.
The Australian military routinely patrols in the South China Sea, under Operation Gateway. The flights typically take place from Butterworth base in Malaysia, and are normally undertaken by P3-Orion aircraft.
Although these planes have a role in anti-submarine warfare, the primary purpose of their patrols over the South China Sea is intelligence-gathering as part of the “five eyes” intelligence and surveillance operations.
The tempo of these operations had declined in recent years because so much of Australia’s military effort was devoted to the Middle East. This has been reversed in part to respond to Chinese activities in the South China Sea.
If the Turnbull government decides to conduct a formal freedom of navigation exercise, the Orions would be a likely way to do it.
However, Australia also frequently sends frigates, and occasionally supply ships, through the South China Sea on their way to port visits to friendly Asian nations.
Sources suggest the government directed that these missions go through the South China Sea when possible, rather than by any other route, to reinforce Canberra’s insistence on the rights of free passage and over flight in the South China Sea.
Australia traditionally sends its submarines into the

German submarine lost in action over a century ago found in North Sea

Alexandru Micu, ZME Science
25 January 2016
A North Sea wreck has been identified as a German world war one U-boat, announced ScottishPower Renewables. The vessel found its resting place 90 kilometers (56 miles) off the Norfolk Coast.
SPR workers first detected the wreck while surveying the area for a windfarm development back in 2012, submerged under 30m (98 ft) of water.
A team of Dutch Navy divers was sent to investigate the site, as it was believed the wreck might be Netherland’s last missing submarine from world war two, lost in 1940. However, after several dives it was eventually found to be a much earlier German submarine. A Lamlash North Sea Diving team managed to get some clear footage of the U-boat, allowing accurate identification as U-31.
The Imperial German Navy commissioned 11 Type U-31 submarines between 1912 and 1915. U-31 was the first of 11 Type U-31 submarines (the first one named U-31 all through to U-41) to be commissioned by the Imperial German Navy between 1912 and 1915. Three of them surrendered and eight of them sunk by the end of the war.
But up to now no one knew where two of the ships were, including U-31, said marine archaeologists Mark Dunkley.
U-31 left port from Wilhelmshaven and last transmitted on the 13th of January 1915. It’s believed the ship hit a mine and sank with all four officers and 31-man crew. And although scans in the last two years have found more than 60 wrecks in this area, this submarine was “entirely unexpected”, an SPR spokesperson said.
“After being on the seabed for over a century, the submarine appears to be in a remarkable condition with the conning tower present and the bows partially buried,” Mr Dunkley said.
“The discovery serves as a poignant reminder of all those lost at sea, on land and in the air during the first world war,” he added.
As an official military maritime grave, the wreck of U-31 will remain in its final resting place. SPR has given assurances that if the development of the area goes through, U-31 will remain undisturbed.
“It’s heartening to know that the discovery will provide closure to relatives and descendants of the submariners lost who may have always wondered what had happened to their loved ones,” Jordan concluded.

Electric Boat to add 800-plus jobs in Connecticut this year

Electric Boat's Groton submarine construction yard

Stephen Singer and Alban Murtishi, Hartford Courant
25 January 2016
Electric Boat will add more than 800 new jobs in Connecticut this year thanks to robust military spending on the U.S. submarine program, the manufacturer said Monday. At its annual outlook meeting in Groton, Electric Boat executives said the company will hire 1,500 workers in Connecticut in 2016, with a net overall increase of about 840 because of attrition. The company will also hire 300 workers for its Rhode Island facilities.
The Groton-based company is in a "very enviable position," with a backlog representing more than $21 billion in contracted work, Electric Boat President Jeffrey Geiger said. Sixteen Virginia-class attack submarines are under contract and 10 of those submarines are under construction.
"All in all, it's a very positive picture for the long-term health of our business and employment prospects for the region," he said.
Spending for programs such as the Virginia class submarine, Virginia payload module and Ohio replacement program are expected to increase 11 percent, to about $8 billion, from $7.2 billion this year.
Electric Boat, a subsidiary of General Dynamics Corp., employs 14,100 people, mainly in Connecticut
Employment is projected to grow to 18,000 by 2030 to build a new class of ballistic-missile submarines.
"That's a huge number," said U.S. Rep. Joe Courtney, D-2nd District, whose district includes Electric Boat. "The numbers this year are very good for Connecticut."
"The growth in investment in submarine programs over the last several years — and more ahead — is driving growth not just at Electric Boat and the southeastern Connecticut region, but across the statewide network of suppliers and manufacturers that support this critical work. At a time when some question the future of our state's economy, today's news is a positive signal,'' Courtney said.
The increase, which included a 10-year contract in 2014 for five submarines, has "been building up over a number of years," he said.
"What you're seeing is a strong demand for the things that submarines do for national security," said Thomas Plante, director of strategic planning at Electric Boat. "The strong appeal of subs is their stealth, their ability to go where other platforms can't."
After a prolonged and slow recovery from the recession, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said the state is now seeing some of the most significant job growth since the 1990s.
"This announcement by Electric Boat is no doubt great news,'' he said in a statement. "We've done much to support our manufacturers as well as align workforce training to meet the needs of our employers. We know the economy is adapting – and that state government needs to adapt with it. Nonetheless, this is clearly an announcement to celebrate and it will build on the already substantial job growth seen over the past few years."
Three major contracts are behind Electric Boat's demand for workers. The first is for 10 Virginia-class submarines that have engaged Electric Boat since 2008 and could be completed by 2013. The contract for the first five submarines was valued at $14 billion and a second group of five is valued at $18 billion.
Two other contracts are in the engineering and design phase and are important for the long-term prospects of Electric Boat, keeping the company busy into 2033.
The Virginia payload module will extend the hull capacity of submarines, while the Ohio replacement project is a larger effort, developing and building 12 submarines to replace the 14 Ohio-class subs Electric Boat built in the 1970s. Construction is expected to begin in 2021.
Nearly 500 suppliers in Connecticut work on the submarine programs at Electric Boat, representing a five-year investment of nearly $580 million for suppliers and manufacturers across Connecticut, Courtney said. Federal spending will have an impact throughout the economy in southeastern Connecticut.
"You're in a position where decisions to hire and make investments in Groton and Quonset are feasible," he said.
Despite the rising demand for work expected over the next decade, Electric Boat is not worried about production bottlenecks. Plante said the company's peak workforce was 27,000 in the early 1980s, nearly twice the payroll now.
Before the start of additional production in 2021, employment is expected to drop in 2019 unless Electric Boat can find additional work to keep employees busy, Plante said. The company is working to get contracts for submarine maintenance and modernization.
To find and train qualified workers, Electric Boat works with community colleges and vocational schools.
"We actively recruit in colleges and we have a robust trade recruitment effort," Plante said.

U.S. nuke modernization means upgrades for workforce too, says STRATCOM admiral

Scott Maucione, Federal News Radio
25 January 2016
The nuclear realm is feeling the impact of the military's retention problem, according to U.S. Strategic Command leader Adm. Cecil Haney.
Amid the rollout of the fiscal 2017 budget, Haney is pushing for funds to upgrade the United States’ nuclear deterrent capability and retain the specialists it needs to maintain it.
“We need individuals who are willing to develop and stretch their intellect well beyond one-dimensional problems,” Haney said Jan. 22 at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington. “Capturing
attention outside [the government] community requires innovation … are we doing enough to keep those scholars in the long term?”
The Defense Department has been worried about its nuclear deterrent capabilities in recent years as nuclear sustainment of older weapons has become more expensive and the delivery methods of nuclear weapons continue to age.
Nuclear forces currently cost about $25 billion a year to sustain, coming out to about $725 billion over 30 years.
Modernization efforts, which include a follow-on to the Minuteman missile, a Long Range Standoff missile, the Ohio-Class ballistic missile submarine and the Long Range Strike Bomber, cost an extra $350 billion to $375 billion over 30 years.
Hiring and keeping the staff to modernize and sustain those weapons is a separate challenge in itself.
A RAND Corporation study from 2011 states the Air Force has low retention rates for intercontinental ballistic missile officers during peacetime. The study also states the B-52 — the current air delivery system of nuclear weapons — pilot community also suffers competency gaps due to poor retention.
The Navy is feeling retention pains too and has even given bonuses to its nuclear forces as an incentive to reenlist.
Things like a poor work-life balance, low morale and waning desire for senior leadership positions are affecting retention rates, according to a 2014 study by the Navy.
The Defense Department noticed this trend and is now implementing initiatives under its Force of the Future plan.
The reforms are aimed at making the transition from the private sector to the military easier and more attractive.
The program improves benefits for personnel. DoD officials are currently reconsidering the amount of maternity leave service members receive.
Haney said STRATCOM is trying to attract talent in its own way as well. He mentioned the Deterrence and Assurance Academic Alliance program, which generates ideas for research, venues for academic communication and collaboration and has an annual workshop.
While DoD is trying to retain employees and hire young talented ones, it also needs funds to keep the projects they will be working on up to date, Haney said.
The bulk of the $1 trillion bill for nuclear modernization would come in the 2020s. A Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments study stated a “bow wave” in spending will hit DoD in the mid and late 2020s. The cost of the nuclear triad costs about 3 percent-to-3.5 percent of the Defense budget until about 2019. The percentage then gradually increases to 5 percent in 2027 and then sinks down to about 3.5 percent in 2039.
Haney is now the third high-ranking official to stress the need to fund nuclear modernization. DoD Comptroller Mike McCord and Undersecretary for Acquisition, Logistics and Technology Frank Kendall have also been nudging lawmakers for funds.
“At the end of the day, the country can afford it, we just have to make a decision,” Kendall said to reporters in December.
Not everyone agrees that DoD needs to pay such a hefty bill for its nuclear modernization. Some experts believe some of the modernization is overkill.
William Saetren, a fellow at Ploughshares Fund, said submarines are the most survivable leg of the nuclear triad. If nuclear deterrence is necessary then submarines are the best way to go. The U.S. currently has 14 Ohio-class submarines and 12 will be replaced.
Saetren said that is excessive and can be reduced to eight.
“By reducing the current fleet from 14 to 8 and then building [only] 8 you can save $21 billion over 10 years and in the 2030s and additional $30 billion would be saved,” Saetren said. “That’s a whole lot of money the Navy could be spending on other things.”

Monday, January 25, 2016

Cautious U.S. gives Japan the edge in bid for Aussie sub construction

25 January 2016
Serious doubt that Washington will be willing to provide the U.S. Navy’s most advanced combat systems to Australian submarines if they are built by Germany or France is emerging as a trump card for Japan in the three-way battle to construct the new boats.
Australian officials at the most senior level believe Canberra could experience significant difficulty getting the most advanced U.S. combat systems for between eight and 12 new submarines unless Japan wins the lead role in the project, which is expected to cost more than $50 billion.
The German manufacturers have countered this view by pointing out that Germany is a member of NATO in good standing and that numerous German-built subs have elements of American weapons systems.
The Australian has been told the Americans harbour significant doubts about the German ability to protect critical defence technology from Chinese industrial espionage. The Americans accuse the Chinese of stealing a great deal of defence technology, mainly through cyber-espionage techniques.
The new submarines – which will replace the six Collins-class boats – were raised in discussions with Malcolm Turnbull on his trip to the U.S. last week.
They figured especially in his discussions with the U.S. Pacific Commander, Admiral Harry Harris, and a number of other senior U.S. military figures in Hawaii.
While the official Washington position is one of neutrality among the rival bids, senior Americans both in uniform and in suits have confirmed the overwhelming U.S. preference for Canberra to choose the Japanese option. The Americans are committed to providing their most advanced combat system to a Japanese-built submarine.
A senior American outlined to The Australian the reasons for Washington’s preference for the Japanese Soryu submarine to be the replacement for the Collins.
First, the U.S. military’s assessment of the three design options is that the Soryu would offer the best capability to Australia. The Americans are looking to their allies to bolster an overall alliance capability, and in Asia that means primarily Australia and Japan.
A comprehensive, Pentagon-commissioned review of U.S. policy in Asia conducted by the Centre for Strategic and International Studies concluded last week that given China’s massive military expansion and the stringent cuts to the U.S. defence budget, “at the current rate of U.S. capability deployment, the balance of military power in the region is shifting against the U.S.”
The U.S. remains overwhelmingly more powerful militarily than China but because it has to simultaneously project force around the world, in a time of heightened tension or conflict it would be stretched within Asia.
Second, the Americans believe the Soryu would offer the best interoperability between Australian and American submarines and between Australian and Japanese boats.
Third, they believe a Japanese option would greatly enhance “trilateral strategic cooperation” between the U.S., Japan and Australia. Enhancing such cooperation is a policy objective in all three capitals.
Finally, because Beijing is very much opposed to the Japanese option, Washington believes a defeat for Japan would be seen as a humiliation of Tokyo and a -diplomatic and strategic victory for Beijing.
It is a critical feature of Canberra’s plan that the new submarines have an American combat system. Australia and Britain are the U.S.’s two most intimate military allies and a certain amount of the highest-end defence technology is provided that is not given to other allies.
The combat system on the Collins-class subs, which have to be phased out of service from the second half of next decade, is among the most advanced in the world on any submarine, and has many points of resemblance to the combat system on the American Virginia-class nuclear submarines.
The Collins can fire on enemy ships at a range of tens of kilometres and possesses extraordinarily sensitive and powerful sensor and surveillance technology.
The Americans will work with Canberra to make a success of whatever sub is chosen but there are likely to be differences about what technology they would finally offer to one choice as opposed to another. They will remain officially neutral and will not directly lobby the Prime Minister or Defence Minister Marise Payne.
Sources close to the recent talks between the Americans and Mr. Turnbull suggested Washington’s official line on the submarine battle was that the U.S. respected whatever decision Canberra made and that the decision had a “strategic dimension.” The use of the term “strategic dimension” is code for the strong U.S. preference for the Japanese option.
President Barack Obama, Defence Secretary Ash Carter and other senior U.S. officials who make public pronouncements on the issue are determined not to interfere in the Australian process, and not to offer any hint the U.S. was putting pressure on Australia to choose the Japanese option.
This is a genuine and good-faith decision by the Americans not to interfere in an internal Australian process, but at the levels below cabinet they will have frank discussions with Australian officials and military personnel about their preferences.
The Turnbull government is due to announce the winner of the contest between the Japanese, the Germans and the French in the middle of the year. However, sources suggest to The Australian that instead of announcing one clear winner, Canberra may “downsource” the selection to two contenders, who will be asked to go through another round of concept development and costing.
This is because when the process goes down to just one preferred supplier, Canberra would lose much leverage over ultimate cost and even capability.
Sources close to the process suggest, for example, that the Japanese would not have come round to the idea of building the submarines in Australia, which was not their first preference, had it not been for the presence of the German and French alternatives in the process.
Although the Japanese have not exported a submarine before, many big Japanese companies have deep expertise and experience in foreign direct investment, offshore production and technology transfer.
Sources also suggest the optimistic costings being bandied about publicly – that eight submarines could be built for as little as $15 billion – are extremely unrealistic and unreliable. The building and maintenance costs of the subs will be well in excess of $50bn.
Figures such as this were starting to scare the public so the cost of maintaining the subs throughout their life, which is where the majority of the costs come in, are now routinely left off the public cost estimates for the project, which will be the biggest defence project in the nation’s history.
More generally, the costs being quoted in public today are thought by some insiders to be not much better than meaningless at this stage, in part because the German and French subs do not yet exist.
The French proposal involves converting a nuclear sub into a conventional sub, a massive engineering and design task. The German option involves an equally radical and massive upscale of a much smaller conventional sub. This is because Australia needs its subs to travel vast distances and operate in widely differing oceanic environments.
The Soryu would also need substantial modification from the sub the Japanese currently use, but sources close to the project note it is at least already the right size.
Some analysts believe the submarines are the single most important military capability Australia will possess, especially at a time of growing maritime tensions and increasingly contested waters in Asia.
The CSIS analysis of the U.S. rebalance to Asia describes the Australian subs as a “vital capability” and points out that “further delays in decision making” could risk serious gaps emerging in Australian capability. This reflects widespread concern in the strategic communities in Australia and the U.S. about the escalating costs of keeping the ageing Collins-class boats in the water.

U.S. STRATCOM commander Haney defends need to modernize U.S. nuclear triad

John Grady, USNI News
22 January 2016
Maintaining and modernizing the nation's nuclear triad isn't debatable even in times of tight budgets said the officer in charge of U.S. strategic forces on Friday. U.S. Strategic Command commander Adm. Cecil Haney, speaking Friday at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a Washington, D.C., think tank, added, "You can't just be a one-trick pony" in a world with a resurgent Russia, a rising China, an unpredictable North Korea and Iran.
“There is a lot going on here,” he said looking at the international environment that also includes threats from terrorist organizations.
“The triad [long-range bombers, land-based intercontinental ballistic missiles and nuclear ballistic missile submarines] must have effective weapons,” he said.
“Recapitalization is a requirement” and recommended against eliminating any one leg — such as the new long-range strategic bomber as is being discussed on Capitol Hill.
Most of the nation’s existing delivery systems from aircraft to land- and sea-based missiles “will be extended beyond their expected life” and must start being replaced within the 2020 to 2025 timeframe. Haney said, it was “a testament to the ingenuity of our predecessors” in building these systems that they have worked so well for so long but their age “increasingly challenges our airmen, our sailors” and maintainers to keep them operable and ready.
“Our budget has a deterrent component of its own” in signaling potential adversaries American intentions. “The choice is between replacing those forces [including the replacement for the 30-year-old fleet of Ohio class ballistic missile submarines] or not having them at all.” He called the ballistic missile subs as “necessary to provide survivable deterrence.”
Retaining and modernizing the triad means as a warfighting command, “we are not limited to a single domain or axis” in deterring potential adversaries, defending the United States and reassuring allies.
In answer to a question, he pointed to Russia’s resumption of long-range flights of its strategic bomber force, its most recent military exercises as being “disturbing.”
Haney, in his address, also pointed to Russia’s destabilizing actions in Europe, the creation of a cyber
command and its violations of the intermediate range ballistic missile treaty.
Haney said, “We want to keep from having a conflict;” but if one occurs, “keep it conventional” holding strategic forces on the sidelines. With those American strategic forces at the ready, “no adversary would think they would benefit from a failed [conventional] conflict” by threatening to use nuclear weapons.
As for China, which says it has a “no first use policy” of nuclear weapons, he noted its continued investment in military hardware to include building and testing ballistic missiles capable of carrying multiple warheads as a reason to remain vigilant.
While there is transparency in dealing with Russia through the Strategic Arms [limitation] Treaty process, “the lack of transparency [by China on its nuclear weapons and missile programs] can affect regional stability.”
North Korea’s claims on miniaturizing weapons to be carried on long-range missiles and testing of a thermonuclear bomb are “problematic” and heighten tensions in the North Pacific.
“We must remain vigilant of any shift” by Iran away from the accord it reached to suspend its nuclear program in exchange for the lifting of a number of economic sanctions against it.
Coupled with modernizing the nation’s nuclear triad is “investing in the professionals” who operate and maintain it, Haney said. He described them as needing the skills of chess players to operate in multiple dimensions simultaneously.
Saying the command is partnering with 20 universities, he said a goal in this effort is inspiring “the next Henry Kissinger” to think through strategic issues.

Friday, January 22, 2016

U.S. Navy builds new nuclear-armed submarines

Kris Osborn, Scout Warrior
21 January 2016
The Navy has begun early construction and prototyping on a new class of nuclear-armed ballistic missile submarines designed to help ensure global peace by deploying massive destructive power under the sea.
The Ohio Replacement Program, a so-called SSBN, is scheduled to begin construction by 2021. Requirements work, technical specifications and early prototyping have already been underway at General Dynamics Electric Boat.
Designed to be 560-feet– long and house 16 Trident II D5 missiles fired from 44-foot-long missile tubes, ORP will be engineered as a stealthy, high-tech nuclear deterrent able to quietly patrol the global undersea domain.
“This platform is being designed for 42 years of service life. It has to survive into the 2080s and it has to provide a survivable, credible deterrent threat,” Capt. David Goggins, Ohio Replacement Program Manager, told Scout Warrior in an interview.
Construction on the first submarine in this new class is slated to be finished up by 2028, with initial combat patrols beginning in 2031, he added.
Ultimately, the Navy hopes to build and operate as many as 12 new nuclear-armed submarines, to be in service by the early 2040s and serve well into the 2080s. The ship specifications have been completed and the program is preparing for a detailed design phase and initial production contract, Goggins explained.
“I have to make sure I have a detailed manufacturing plan that is executable. Now I’m working on the detailed construction plan,” Goggins said.
Strategic Nuclear Deterrence
Navy officials explain that the Ohio Replacement submarines’ mission is one of nuclear deterrence.
Detailed design for the first Ohio Replacement Program is slated for 2017. The new submarines are being engineered to quietly patrol the undersea domain and function as a crucial strategic deterrent, assuring a second strike or retaliatory nuclear capability in the event of nuclear attack.
The Navy is only building 12 Ohio Replacement submarines to replace 14 existing Ohio-class nuclear-armed boats because the new submarines are being built with an improved nuclear core reactor that will better sustain the submarines, Navy officials have said.
As a result, the Ohio Replacement submarines will be able to serve a greater number of deployments than the ships they are replacing and not need a mid-life refueling in order to complete 42 years of service.
“With the life of ship reactor core, you don’t have a mid-life refueling. This allows our 12 SSBNs to have the same at sea presence as our current 14. That alone is a 40 billion savings in acquisition and life-cycle cost because you don’t have those two additional platforms,” Goggins said.
Electric Boat and the Navy are already progressing on early prototype work connecting missile tubes to portions of the hull, officials said. Called integrated tube and hull forging, the effort is designed to weld parts of the boat together and assess the ability to manufacture key parts of the submarine before final integration.
In 2012, General Dynamics Electric Boat was awarded a five-year research and development deal for the Ohio Replacement submarines with a value up to $1.85 billion. The contract contains specific incentives for lowering cost and increasing manufacturing efficiency, Navy and Electric Boat officials said.
The U.S. and U.K. are together immersed in a common missile compartment effort for ORP. In fact, the U.S. and U.K. are buying parts together for the common missile compartment and working on a $770 million contract with General Dynamics’ Electric Boat. The U.S. plans to build 12 ORPs, each with 16 missile tubes, and the U.K. plans to build four nuclear-armed ballistic submarines, each with 12 missile tubes.
Next-Generation Technology
The ORP is being designed with a series of next-generation technologies, many of them from the Virginia-Class attack submarine. Leveraging existing systems from current attack submarines allows the ORP program to
integrate the most current technologies and systems while, at the same time, saving the developmental costs of beginning a new effort, Goggins explained.
In particular, the ORP will utilize Virginia-class’s fly-by-wire joystick control system and large-aperture bow array sonar.
Sonar technology work by sending out an acoustic ping and then analyzing the return signal in order to discern shape, location or dimensions of an undersea threat.
“The large aperture bow array is water backed. There is no dome and it has very small hydrophones. It is a better performing array, but more importantly it is not air backed. When you have an air-backed array, you have transducers that need to be replaced every 10 years,” Goggins explained.
Previous sonar technologies present higher maintenance costs, whereas large aperture bow arrays can bring both higher performance as well as lower life-cycle costs, he added.
“This enables lower operations and sustainment costs because these transducers and hydrophones last for the life of the ship,” Goggins explained.
The submarines combat systems from Virginia-class attack submarines are also being integrated into the new Ohio Replacement Program submarines. The subs combat systems consist of “electronic surveillance measures,” the periscope, radios and computer systems, Goggins explained.
The new ORP subs will also utilize an automated control fly-by-wire navigation system, a technology that is also on the Virginia-Class attack submarines.
“The ship’s control system allows the operator to put information into a computer about the course and depth for the submarine. A computer algorithm maintains that course and depth by sending a signal to the rudder and the stern,” Goggins said.
Goggins also explained that the shafts of the new submarines are being built to last up to 10 or 12 years in order to synchronize with the ships maintenance schedule. Existing shafts only last six to eight years, he explained.
The ORP will also use Virginia-class’s next-generation communications system, antennas and mast. For instance, what used to be a periscope is now a camera mast connected to fiber-optic cable, enabling crew members in the submarine to see images without needing to stand beneath the periscope. This allows designers to move command and control areas to larger parts of the ship and still have access to images from the camera mast, Electric Boat and Navy officials said.
The Ohio Replacement Program is also engineering a new electric motor for the submarine which will turn the shaft and the rotor for the propulsion system. The new motor will make propulsion more efficient and potentially bring tactical advantages as well, Goggins explained.
Lawmakers are working on a special fund created to pay for the Navy's expensive next-generation nuclear-armed ballistic missile submarines.
Members of Congress have recently discussed the details of the National Sea-Based Deterrence Fund, a special effort established in 2015, at a recent hearing on the topic. The fund was established as a way to allocate specific acquisition dollars to pay for the new submarines. In total, the Navy hopes to buy 12 of the new submarines to serve into 2085 and beyond.
Production for the lead ship in a planned fleet of 12 Ohio Replacement submarines is expected to cost $12.4 billion — $4.8 billion in non-recurring engineering or development costs and $7.6 billion in ship construction, Navy officials have said.
The Navy hopes to build Ohio Replacement submarine numbers two through 12 for $4.9 billion each in 2010 dollars.

Neutral U.S. remains 'quietly keen' on Japan submarine tender to Australia

Cameron Stewart, The Australian
23 January 2016
The US has given top-level assurances to France and Germany that it will remain neutral in Australia’s choice of future submarines, despite claims it wants Japan to win the bid.
Tony Abbott’s former national security adviser Andrew Shearer claimed this week that Washington believed Australia would benefit strategically and militarily if it bought submarines from Japan.
His comments have angered the French and German shipbuilders bidding for the lucrative contract, who want the US to be a neutral player in what will be Australia’s largest defence deal worth between $15 and $20 billion.
The Weekend Australian understands that in the face of persistent rumours that the US favoured the Japanese bid, both the French and German government separately sought and received assurances from Washington last year that it would remain neutral.
US officials and military leaders including US Pacific fleet Admiral Scott Swift have repeatedly stated in public that Washington has no preference for which country wins the three-nation competition.
Insiders say Washington’s main concern is for Australia to buy the most capable and reliable submarine to ensure its long-term ability to work in tandem with the US fleet at a time of a rising China.
But in an article this week for The National Interest, Mr Shearer claims Washington believes Japanese submarines would offer a superior capability for the Aus-tralian navy and long-term strategic benefits across the region.
“Appropriately, the (Obama) administration has been careful not to take sides in the intense competition among France, Germany and Japan to partner with Australia in the development of the new submarine,” Mr Shearer wrote.
“But senior US officials and military officers are in no doubt as to the superior capability of the Japanese Soryu-class and to the long-term strategic benefits to the US and the region of an inter-operable fleet of Australian and Japanese conventional submarines equipped with US combat systems.”
A US embassy spokeswoman said America supported Australia “moving forward with its procurement decisions, but we do not influence Australia’s choice of design partner, nor where or how its submarines should be built”.
As Mr Abbott’s national security adviser, Mr Shearer was believed to have been one of the key voices behind the Abbott push in 2014 to choose Japan to build -Australia’s future fleet without a competition.
Mr Abbott reversed that position under political pressure in February last year, ushering in a three-way competitive evaluation process between France’s DCNS, Germany’s TKMS and Japan.
Although the US says publicly it will remain neutral in the competition, it will take a keen interest in Australia’s choice because of the highly sensitive US technology involved.
Whichever submarine is chosen will be installed with a complex and highly secretive US combat system and US weapons.
The US will also work with the Australian navy to ensure that the new boats are as compatible and inter-operable as possible with the US submarine fleet in the western Pacific.
DCNS and TKMS declined to comment on Mr Shearer’s claims.

Russia vs. U.S.: The race for underwater spy drones is on

Dave Majumdar, The National Interest
21 January 2016
Russia is developing a family of unmanned surface and underwater vehicles, a high-ranking official in that country’s navy said this week. While the U.S. Navy has been developing naval drones for more than a decade, this is the first indication that Moscow is working on similar capabilities.
“Work will be continued in 2016 to develop unmanned boats that can be based both on ships and on the shore," Vice Adm. Alexander Fedotenkov, deputy commander-in-chief of the Russian Navy told the TASS news agency on Jan. 21.
The Russian developments include autonomous long-range reconnaissance vehicles. But it’s not clear if the Russian navy is developing an autonomous underwater vehicle or a surface vessel. It is possible that the Russians are developing both – but a long endurance unmanned underwater vehicle would make more sense from a military standpoint for its ability to avoid detection. Fedotenkov said that Russia is also working on developing tethered unmanned underwater vehicles (UUV) that could undertake complex operations at great depths.
While both the U.S. Navy and Russia are developing naval drones, the technology is in its infancy. The U.S. Navy is relying on commercially available drones until the technology matures. USS North Dakota (SSN-784) – a Virginia-class nuclear attack submarine – launched and recovered a Norwegian-built Remus 600 while submerged for the first time during the summer of 2015. “This was something they thought we could go do. We went out, and we proved that,” North Dakota’s commanding officer, Capt. Douglas Gordon, said at the time.
While the technology is still in the early years, UUVs show great promise for the future. A few months I ago I asked naval expert Bryan Clarke, a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, what the potential applications are for such systems might be. This what he e-mailed me:
“The Department of Defense (DoD) has pursued a large variety of UUVs during the past decade, mostly for mine clearing and ocean surveillance and launched from surface ships or shore. These applications did not require particular sizes of UUVs. As UUVs become more integrated with submarines as part of a family of systems, the Navy should focus on UUVs that can use the submarine’s ocean interfaces and conduct the most likely UUV missions. Specifically, the Navy should pursue the following UUV types as part of its undersea family of systems:
“Micro UUVs (about 6” or less in diameter) are inexpensive and improving in their endurance and on-board power. They could be procured and deployed in large numbers or swarms as weapons, to survey the ocean floor, or interfere with enemy ASW operations.
“Small UUVs (about 12” in diameter) are commonly used today for surveys and minehunting, such as the Navy’s Mk-18 UUV. They will be able to take on other surveillance or attack missions as part of the Fleet Modular Autonomous Undersea Vehicle (FMAUV) program and operate from submarines as well as surface ships and aircraft.
“Medium UUVs (about 21” in diameter) are the size of the Navy’s Mk-48 submarine-launched torpedo. And while the Navy is not operating UUVs of this size today, the Modular Heavyweight Undersea Vehicle (MHUV) program plans to make the torpedo of the future able to be configured to conduct a range of missions, from mining and long-range attack to electronic warfare.
“Large UUVs (about 80” in diameter) such as the Navy’s Large Displacement UUV (LDUUV) are designed to use the planned Virginia Payload Module (VPM) tubes in Block V Virginia-class submarines. The LDUUV will provide a way for submarines to increase their sensor reach, expand their payload capacity, or deliver payloads into areas that are too risky or constrained for the submarine to reach.
“Extra-Large UUVs (More than 80” in diameter) would be designed to launch from shore or very large ships with well decks or “moon pools.” They could be used for long-endurance surveillance missions or primarily as “trucks “ to deliver other payloads and UUVs. Experience with LDUUV will help inform concepts for using XLUUV.”
Essentially – once perfected – unmanned underwater vehicles could revolutionize naval warfare. But only time will tell.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Russia's Lada-class submarine project suffers further delays

Nikolai Novichkov, IHS Janes
19 January 2016
The delivery of Russia's second and third Lada-class (Project 677) diesel-electric attack submarines will be delayed until 2019, according to Russian Navy and defence industry sources.
Admiralty Shipyard, which builds the submarines, has had its contract for the project changed as a result, the company's first deputy director general, Andrei Bystrov, stated.
A source in the Russian Navy Main Staff explained that the slowed construction of the second and third submarines was so that "due account [is] taken of the shortcomings revealed during the Northern Fleet's operation of the Project 677 lead ship, St Petersburg ". In addition, although the Russian Navy has planned for the class to be fitted with an air-independent propulsion plant (AIP), this will now not be the case as development of an AIP has been pushed back beyond 2020. "We have to wait until it [AIP] has passed its sea trials," the naval staff source said.
The construction of Project 677 submarines has been under way for almost 20 years; the lead ship, St Petersburg , was laid down in 1997 and has been in operational evaluation since its service entry in 2010. Kronstadt and Velikiy Luki were laid down in 2005 and 2006 respectively. Their construction was put on hold and then restarted only in 2013. In 2015 a defence industry source told IHS Jane's that the navy would receive these two Lada-class submarines in 2017 and 2018 respectively.
The Russian Navy is counting on receiving AIP power plants for submarines in 2021-2022, the head of the Russian Navy's shipbuilding department, Captain (1st Rank) Vladimir Tryapichnikov, said. "We presume that an AIP will be developed in the near future, and the Rubin Design Bureau has started such work recently. They have laid a good foundation … Rubin's designers keep on working hard [to develop the AIP], and we believe it will be developed in 2021-2022," he said.

Navy leaders: LCS can is perfectly able to fight Russia and China

Sydney J. Freedberg Jr. BREAKING DEFENSE
20 January 2016
WASHINGTON – Is the Littoral Combat Ship a real warship? That question has bedeviled the small, sleek, lightly armed ships for years. Now it’s taken on new urgency as the Defense Department and the Navy both refocus on high-intensity, high-tech warfighting against “great powers” – i.e. China and Russia.
Defense Secretary Ash Carter wants to cut the program by a quarter to invest in heavier warships, submarines, aircraft, and missiles. LCS critics charge the ship is only useful for peacetime patrols and presence missions in low-threat areas. Navy leadership insist it can fight with the battle fleet – especially once it gets a high-powered sonar for hunting subs and long-range missiles for killing ships.
“LCS fits right in the middle of the modern warfight, great powers or not,” said the Navy’s outspoken director of surface warfare, Rear Adm. Peter Fanta, at last week’s Surface Navy Association conference.
“It is not necessarily as vulnerable [as people think],” said the more reserved Adm. John Richardson, the new Chief of Naval Operations, at a media roundtable during SNA. “It’s got survivability and lethality ... and it has a terrific role to play across that entire spectrum of operations” from humanitarian relief to major war.
“Would you want to send it solo against a high-end threat? Certainly not, but it’s not alone in that world,” said Richardson. His predecessor, Adm. Jonathan Greenert, spoke of heavy-duty Aegis destroyers providing anti-aircraft coverage and missile defense for LCS in high-threat areas – just as they do for aircraft carriers and other vessels.
“We fight as a team, and the Littoral Combat Ship has an important place in that team,” Richardson said. “It is our small surface combatant right now [for] mine hunting, anti-submarine warfare, and ... surface warfare.”
Those three roles correspond to the three interchangeable “mission modules” being developed (with much delay) for LCS, which can carry any one of them at a given time. All three are arguably auxiliary missions, at least by comparison to the airstrikes, Tomahawk missile barrages, Marine landings and missile defense provided by capital ships. But all three have the potential to be pivotal in a major war:
• Mine hunting is a long-neglected role in the U.S. Navy, currently relegated to aging MH-53
helicopters and Osprey minesweepers, even though mines have sunk or crippled more U.S. Navy ships since World War II than all other causes combined. Our potential adversaries are well aware of the damage mines can do: Iran has at least a thousand, North Korea an estimated 50,000, China 100,000, Russia 250,000. “Minesweeping alone in my opinion justifies a big chunk of the country’s commitment in the Littoral Combat Ship program,” Rep. Joe Courtney, top Democrat on the House seapower subcommittee, told SNA.
• Submarines are another rising threat, with Chinese and Russian fleets growing larger and more advanced. Aegis destroyers have significant anti-submarine warfare capacity, but both the baseline LCS (with the ASW module) and the future LCS frigate(when configured for ASW) will have something destroyers don’t: a “continuous active sonar” with a range in the tens of miles and a “variable depth” feature for finding deep-diving subs. Of course, you could theoretically retrofit these same sensors on a destroyer. But you can buy four LCS for the price of one Arleigh Burke, and when sub-hunting you want to be looking in as many places as possible at once.
• Finally, and perhaps most problematically, the Littoral Combat Ship has its “surface warfare” module. This was originally optimized to fight small boats – “fast attack craft” and “fast inshore attack craft” – of the fast-moving, hard-hitting, but painfully fragile kind favored by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps. That put a premium on relatively short-ranged, quick-firing weapons like 57 millimeter and 30 millimeter cannon.
By contrast, the Navy is still struggling to find an anti-ship missile for the LCS, with stopgaps like the Griffin and Longbow having only about a five-mile range. Compare the Russian frigate and corvettes – mostly smaller than LCS – which fired missiles from the Caspian Sea a thousand miles overland into Syria. LCS will probably never achieve that range because the Navy decided against installing its standard multi-purpose missile launcher, the versatile but bulky Vertical Launch System. Instead, the Navy is seeking a mid-range “over the horizon” missile. “We are pushing forward to install over the horizon missiles on LCS this year,” said Fanta.
Once the three modules and the new missile are in service, “LCS fits right in the middle of the modern warfight, great powers or not,” Fanta said.” LCS is perfectly capable of adding the anti-submarine capability, the missile capability, the counter-surface capability, the countermine capability,” Fanta said. “All those missions are part of the warfight. They’re not just part of skirmishes someplace.”
In fact, Fanta frequently says that LCS with medium-range missiles can “put entire enemy fleets on the bottom of the ocean.” Being smaller and less robust than destroyers, the Littoral Combat Ships do take losses along the way, Fanta admits, but in wargames the small warships converge on the enemy in overwhelming numbers, like piranhas.
In a 2014 Navy wargame where LCS was upgraded with medium-range missiles, participant Bryan McGrath told Congress, “those ships were no more capable of taking a punch than they previously were; they were capable only of delivering a punch.” But that alone radically changed the adversary’s “risk calculus,” he said.
Once the Littoral Combat Ships got upgunned, the enemy commander could no longer afford to ignore them, explained McGrath, a naval expert and former destroyer commander himself. As a result, enemy intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance assets were stretched trying to track all the little but lethal LCS. Enemy decision-makers had to confront an additional danger on every mission, potentially deterring them from aggression altogether. Turning LCS from an auxiliary to a ship-killer literally multiplied the enemy’s problems.
That said, this concept – part of what the Navy calls “distributed lethality” – is very much a work in progress. And there are limits to what even a future LCS can do.
The LCS will never be able to do significant air defense, let alone missile defense, unless the Navy reconsiders its decision not to add a Vertical Launch System. (Interestingly, Lockheed has designed a VLS-equipped variant of LCS that got serious consideration from Saudi Arabia). Nor will it ever be as survivable in the face of battle damage as a destroyer more than twice its tonnage and four times its cost. And the LCS will always have less room for weapons, sensors, and other mission systems than foreign ships its size because of its massive engines, which allow a 40-plus-knot top speed for which tacticians have never fully figured out a use.
All that said, the LCS is still a young ship with both teething troubles and potential for growth. “Our CONOPS will continue to evolve as we send this ship to sea. Every single time we build a new ship we discover new things we can do with it,” Fanta told the Surface Navy Association.
Then, to applause, the admiral quoted Ralph Waldo Emerson: “A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of

Anaylists say new, old challenges shifting Pacific military power against U.S.

21 January 2016
The regional balance of power in the Pacific is slipping away from the U.S. because President Barack Obama’s “pivot” to Asia has been hampered by budget cuts, lack of clear policy goals and China’s willingness to take risks to assert territorial claims, a new U.S. study warns.
That trend is accelerated by North Korea’s continued provocations, Russia’s growing interest in the region and the threat from the Islamic State that has drawn away U.S. military assets, according to a report prepared for the Defense Department by the Center for Strategic and International Studies, Washington-based think tank.
Unless the trend is reversed, the report warned that the South China Sea will be “virtually a Chinese lake” by 2030, capable of “overawing ... lesser powers.”
“Actions by countries in the region routinely challenge the credibility of U.S. security commitments, and U.S. capability development is not keeping pace with challenges by potential competitors, resulting in the regional balance of military power shifting against the United States,” the report said.
The Obama Administration came into office with the goal of refocusing American attention from the Middle East to the Pacific and East Asia – more than $1.2 trillion in U.S. trade transits through the Pacific each year. Then the perfect storm of budget cuts, sequestration, a rising Islamic State, Syria’s civil war, and concerns about Iran and Russia keep dragging the U.S. back into the Middle East morass.
Still, concrete military commitments have been made to the Asia-Pacific since the pivot was announced, and the CSIS report gave the Defense Department “high marks” for its efforts.
Stars and Stripes did an assessment last year. It found that the number of troops in the region rose from 244,000 to 266,000; the Navy deployed two more destroyers in Japan and a second littoral combat ship in Singapore; and the number of Marine Corps aircraft rose from 416 to 630, while the Navy’s increased from 1,056 to 1,111.
In addition, the Marines also created a rotational force in northern Australia. The Army deployed highly trained units for multiple sequential exercises with nations throughout the region under the Pacific Pathways program, providing a presence without permanent bases – and their inherent costs. An agreement signed with the Philippines in 2014 allows for an increased rotational presence and enhanced cooperation.
“Nevertheless, the implementation of the rebalance may be insufficient to secure U.S. interests,” the CSIS report said, adding that the U.S. needs to continue and “in some cases accelerate investments in regional relationships, posture, operational concepts, and capabilities.
The main issue is China’s aggressive policy toward a number of disputed islands in the South and East China seas, which threaten freedom of navigation in one the world’s most critical trade routes.
“Polls in Asian countries indicate strong support for the rebalance, with the notable exception of China,” said the report, which reflects the work of 21 CSIS contributors. “States across the region have become more sensitive to China’s growing political, economic and military power, and are potentially vulnerable to Beijing’s increasingly coercive behavior.
“The U.S. relationship with China is complex, mixing elements of cooperation and competition. Although the U.S. rebalance seeks to create space for China to contribute to peace and prosperity throughout the region, it is also important that DOD deter Chinese aggression or coercion and defend U.S. interests.”
Obama announced the Pacific pivot just over four years ago, seeing it as the region’s most critical for current and future U.S. interests. At the time, the military interventions in Iraq and Afghanistan seemed to be winding down, allowing a war-weary country to shift its priorities in security, economics and human rights.
But the Mideast has regressed and the U.S. is keeping troops in Afghanistan to avoid a similar fate. Russia’s adventurism in the Ukraine has spawned concerns about its strategy in Europe, the Pacific and the Arctic.
These every-changing situations leave questions about whether a shrinking U.S. military can handle such a variety of challenges and still stay true to the Pacific pivot. Those are complicated by the administration’s failure to come up with a clear idea what the rebalance is and how it should work; instead the focus has been on what it’s not – specifically that it’s not aimed just at China.
“Although the Obama administration issued a series of speeches and documents on the rebalance, the authors found that there remains no central U.S. government document that describes the rebalance strategy and its associated elements,” the CSIS report says.
That leaves the need for a clearly stated, coherent policy that lays out specific goals and how to meet them.
“It’s obviously a question perennially on the minds of policymakers who are stretched thin and our partners and allies in the Pacific who do get concerned with the United States’ commitment elsewhere in the world,” Mira Rapp-Hooper, a senior fellow with the Asia-Pacific Security Program at the Center for a New American Security, told Stars and Stripes.
“That said, there is a future for the Pacific rebalance, I believe, not least because the pivot to Asia was not in fact an unprecedented or strictly a new move, but a deepening and continuation of long-standing U.S. policy.”
Ending the across-the-board budget cuts known as sequestration that military leaders say are hamstringing their efforts and plans is one of the most critical issues, she said.
“There’s no question that the Pentagon and policymakers overall have to be able to walk and chew gum to make sure that the Pacific rebalance continues in its most robust form,” Rapp-Hooper said.
Both the CSIS report and other analysts also say the U.S. has to overcome the strain on already-limited resources to meet minimum goals in Europe, the Mideast and East Asia and get more support from its allies.
A report issued in November by the Center of Strategic and Budgetary Assessments think tank estimated the Navy will need to spend $4 billion to $7 billion more on shipbuilding each year just to sustain current presence levels into the future because years of underfunding and increased demand have already eroded the ability of the Navy and Marines to respond to crises and maintain a presence in the world’s hotspots.
The CSIS report, citing a “long-term mismatch” between strategy and resources, urged the Defense Department to develop a list of alternatives for the next
administration that would include tradeoffs and efficiencies to tackle the highest priorities and “make headroom” for new initiatives.
Still, outside help is clearly needed.
“A successful rebalance depends on Europe being able to do more in its neighborhood,” said Dr. James Goldgeier, dean of the School of International Service at American University in Washington and an expert in U.S.-Russia relations. “The less capable Europe is, the more attention and resources the United States must devote to Eastern Europe and the [Middle East/North Africa] region.
“The rebalance never implied the United States would leave those regions, as many incorrectly stated, but it does mean what the term implies: rebalancing U.S. foreign policy, which was overbalanced toward Europe and the Middle East.”
There also are questions about how much U.S. intervention the Middle East will accept, said Inhan Kim, assistant professor in the political science department at the University of Colorado.
“I think it is unlikely for Washington to send a large-scale ground forces to the region, so I don’t think the Middle East issues will distract the U.S. commitment to the Western Pacific,” Kim said.
Getting support in Asia may be more critical, and there are some positive signs.
The U.S. has hailed the Japanese government’s efforts to ease the restrictions on its military that were imposed after World War II. Washington has signed an agreement with the Philippines that will allow U.S. forces to use military bases there on a limited basis. Australia has mentioned the possibility of helping maintain freedom of navigation in the South China Sea. Britain is planning to send Typhoon jets to Japan for an exercise for the first time.
But more help is needed, particularly in maritime security.
“Strengthening regional security capability, capacity, resilience and interoperability requires a differentiated strategy that works with highly capable militaries like Japan, Australia, India, South Korea, and Singapore while also assisting states in Southeast Asia struggling to meet basic defense needs,” the CSIS report said.
The biggest question for the region is how to deal with China.
The CSIS report suggests a combination of engagement, confidence-building and crisis management with Beijing to prevent a flare-up from escalating into a full-blown crisis, along with deployment of more key resources as deterrence.
It suggests stationing a second aircraft carrier and its associated strike group, air wing and personnel west of the international dateline, possibly to Yokosuka in Japan, station an additional two Los Angeles-class nuclear attack submarines in Guam, making a total of six, and homeporting several Virginia-class submarines in the Indian Ocean region.
Stars and Stripes reporter Wyatt Olson contributed to this report.

Study warning: By 2030 South China Sea will be "virtually a Chinese lake"

21 January 2016
China will have so many aircraft carriers by 2030 that the South China Sea will be “virtually a Chinese lake,” a new U.S. study warns, arguing that the balance of power in the Asia-Pacific region was shifting away from the United States.
Meanwhile, President Obama’s strategic “rebalance” to Asia has neither been clearly enough explained nor sufficiently resourced to cope with rising threats from China and North Korea, the report by the Center for Strategic and International Studies found.
It said the United States should sustain and expand its military presence in the Asia Pacific, as well as accelerate efforts to strengthen the capabilities of its allies and partners.
The CSIS study was carried out after Congress required the Pentagon to commission an independent assessment of U.S. strategy in the Asia-Pacific region.
It concluded that Obama’s rebalance needed more attention and resources, especially as China has accelerated the pace of “coercive activities” and island-building in the South China Sea and the East China Sea, and North Korea has continued to develop its nuclear and ballistic missile capabilities.
“Chinese and North Korean actions are routinely challenging the credibility of U.S. security commitments, and at the current rate of U.S. capability, the balance of military power in the region is shifting against the United States,” it said.
It argued that China would have multiple aircraft carriers in the region by 2030, allowing it to overawe other nations without necessarily having to behave in an overtly menacing fashion.
China formally announced at the end of last year that it was building a second aircraft carrier, and it is expected to build more in the years ahead.
“For rival claimants in the South China Sea, this is a game changer,” the report said. “There will almost always be a Chinese CSG (carrier strike group) floating in contested waters, or within a half-day’s steaming time.”
Whether China has seized territory or negotiated a resource-sharing scheme with other claimants, “the South China Sea will be virtually a Chinese lake, as the Caribbean or the Gulf of Mexico is for the United States today,” CSIS said.
That will also make U.S. naval operations in the South China Sea a risky proposition, other than through U.S. submarines.
The rebalance was supposed to be one of Obama’s top foreign policy priorities, but other international crises, including conflict in the Middle East and the rise of the Islamic State militant group, as well as tension with Russia, have sucked up much of the administration’s attention.
This report may fuel criticism that Obama has neglected the threats posed by China’s rise and North Korea’s belligerence.
CSIS identified three main U.S. goals in the region – protecting U.S. citizens and allies, promoting trade and economic opportunity, and promoting universal democratic norms – but expressed concern that the rebalance “may be insufficient to secure those interests.”
It argued that capping military resources at budget levels set by the Budget Control Act would “severely constrain implementation of the rebalance” and called for Congress “to forge a long-term bipartisan agreement to fund defense at the higher levels for which there is a broad consensus.”
It also complained that there was confusion throughout Washington and across the Asia-Pacific region about the rebalance, as well as concern about its implementation, partly because there has been no central statement explaining the strategy.
“Addressing this confusion will require that the executive branch develop and then articulate a clear and coherent strategy, and discuss that strategy with Congress as well as with U.S. allies and partners across the world,” the report recommended.
But the United States should also build up the ability of its allies and partners in the region to respond to rising threats.
“Securities challenges are increasingly outpacing the capabilities of frontline regional states,” it said.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Russia ramps up switch to next-generation submarines

19 January 2016
Russia is scrapping its Project 677 Lada-class diesel-electric submarine program in favor of the new Kalina-class.
The Russian navy will complete the two Lada-class vessel that are currently under construction before moving on to the much more advanced fifth-generation Kalina-class boats. The first Project 677 submarine, Sankt Peterburg (pictured), is currently in service with the Russian Baltic Fleet.
“The Navy has decided to complete the construction of two Lada-class boats and stop the work on the project. All three boats of this project will join the Baltic Fleet. Funding will be directed to the Kalina project,” a Russian naval official told RIA Novosti/Sputnik this week. Construction of the new submarines is expected to start after 2020.
The cancelation of the Lada-class is not particularly surprising. Sankt Peterburg has had problems with its propulsion system and does not have an Air Independent Propulsion (AIP). The two Lada-class vessels currently under construction will probably solve some of those issues discovered on Sankt Peterburg, but apparently Moscow is not satisfied with the design.
There is very little that is known about the Kalina-class other than the fact that is a fifth-generation successor to the Project 636 Varshavyanka (Improved Kilo-class) and Project 677-class boats. The Russians are expected to fit the new vessels with an advanced AIP system, according to the U.S. Navy’s Office of Naval Intelligence.
Indeed, Russia’s navy hopes to complete development of a next-generation AIP by 2017. The new system will likely be tested onboard one of the Lada-class
submarines that is being built or on one that is currently in service. With the new AIP system installed, the Kalina would be able to stay underwater for about twenty-five days or so.
“Russia is currently designing a fifth-generation conventional submarine, dubbed Project Kalina, which will be fitted with an air-independent propulsion (AIP) system,” Russian Navy commander Adm. Viktor Chirkov told RIA Novosti in 2014. “Our industry promises to develop this AIP system by 2017 and build the first boat fitted with such a system by 2018.”
It has also been reported that Russia might export the future Kalina-class submarines to China. The addition of the Kalina would improve Beijing’s undersea capabilities in waters close to China, but it wouldn’t afford the People’s Liberation Army Navy the global reach of a nuclear-powered vessel. Chinese nuclear submarine technology remains decades behind Russian and American vessels.

India deploys new sub-killer planes to counter Chinese subs in Indian Ocean

Franz-Stefan Gady, The Diplomat
19 January 2016
India has deployed two of its most advanced maritime patrol/anti-submarine warfare aircraft, the Poseidon 8I, at a military base in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, located in the Indian Ocean, The Times of India reports.
The deployment comes as a response to repeated forays of Chinese conventional and nuclear submarines into the Indian Ocean, according to Indian defense officials who spoke to The Times of India on the condition of anonymity.
The two aircraft are just about to complete their two week deployment at India’s farthest military outpost, 1,200 kilometers (745 miles) away from the Indian mainland.
In addition, the India has also deployed drones at the island. “Navy and IAF [Indian Air Force] are also deploying their (Israeli) Searcher-II unmanned aerial vehicles to the islands on a temporary basis,” the defense official said.
The Andaman & Nicobar Command is India’s first and only theater command, yet, according to the defense official, “not much progress” has been made to expand the military infrastructure in order to accommodate a division-sized military force on the 572-island chain, which extends over 720 kilometers (447 miles).
“As of now, amid turf wars among Army, Navy and IAF as well as fund crunches and environmental concerns, ANC has just over an infantry brigade (3,000 soldiers), 20 small warships and patrol vessels, and a few Mi-8 helicopters and Dornier-228 patrol aircraft,” The Times of India reports.
As I reported previously (See: “India Inducts First Squadron of Anti-Submarine Warfare Plane”), the Indian Navy inducted its first squadron of Boeing P-8I Poseidon aircraft at Rajali Naval Air Station in southern India, about 70 kilometers off Chennai in November 2015.
In January 2009, India became the first international customer for the P-8I aircraft, an export variant of the P-8A Poseidon, designed and built by Boeing to replace the U.S. Navy’s aging P-3 fleet, with the signing of a $2.1 billion contract for the purchase of eight planes. The first plane was delivered to India in May 2013. All eight planes are currently operational and have been inducted into the Indian Navy.
In July 2015, India announced that it will acquire four additional P8-I aircraft from the United States. “The case for acquisition of another four P-8Is is in the final stages. P-8Is can operate from Port Blair (naval air station INS Utkrosh) to keep tabs on the entire region,” according to the Indian defense official.
The Indian Navy explains in a press release that the P-8I aircraft “is equipped for long range anti-submarine warfare, anti -surface warfare, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance in support of broad area, maritime and littoral operations.” The aircraft is armed with Harpoon Block-II missiles, MK-54 lightweight torpedoes, rockets, and Mark 82 depth charges.
The P-8I aircraft are also equipped with a Telephonics APS-143 OceanEye aft radar and a magnetic anomaly detector, and are data-linked with Indian submarines patrolling the Indian Ocean, to which they can pass on the location of enemy vessels in the event of a conflict.

U.S. Navy LRASM missile destroys enemy targets semi-autonomously

Lockheed Tests Ship-Fired Variant

19 January 2016
The LRASM weapon used next-generation seeker technology to allow the missile to partly discern and destroy targets by itself, once a human performing command and control provides an enemy target to hit.
Lockheed Martin is developing a new deck-mounted launcher for the emerging Long Range Anti-Ship Missile engineered to semi-autonomously track and destroy enemy targets at long ranges from both aircraft and surface ships.
The weapon, called the LRASM, is a collaborative effort between Lockheed, the Office of Naval Research and the Defense Advanced Project Research Agency, or DARPA.
The LRASM, which is 168-inches long and 2,500 pounds, is currently configured to fire from an Air Force B-1B bomber and Navy F-18 carrier-launched fighter. The current plan is to have the weapon operational on board an Air Force B-1B bomber by 2018 and a Navy F-18 by 2019, Navy statements have said.
With a range of at least 200 nautical miles, LRASM is designed to use next-generation guidance technology to help track and eliminate targets such as enemy ships, shallow submarines, drones, aircraft and land-based targets.
Navy officials said LRASM is currently developing along with what it calls Increment 1 to establish an initial air-launched missile solution for the Navy.
"The objective is to give Sailors the ability to strike high-value targets from longer ranges while avoiding counter fire. The program will use autonomous guidance to find targets, reducing reliance on networking, GPS and other assets that could be compromised by enemy electronic weapons,” a Navy statement said.
The missile has also been test fired from a Navy ship-firing technology called Vertical Launch Systems currently on both cruisers and destroyers – as a way to provide long range surface-to-surface and surface-to-air offensive firepower.
Navy officials told Scout Warrior that the service is making progress with an acquisition program for the air-launched variant of LRASM but is still in the ealry stages of planning for a ship-launch anti-ship missile. The Navy will likely examine a range of high-tech missile
possibilities to meet its requirement for a long-range anti-ship missile – and Lockheed certainly plans to submit LRASM as an option for the Navy to consider.
"The Navy is in the process of researching and defining requirements for a shipboard anti-ship missile. Competition will absolutely factor into any acquisitions strategy to ensure that we fulfill the requirement at the best value to the government," Navy spokeswoman Lt. Kara Yingling told Scout Warrior in an interview.
Yingling said requirements for a ship-launched weapon of this kind were still being determined.
"The current LRASM program is fulfilling a specific capability for an air-launched anti-surface weapon. While DARPA evaluated the feasibility of a ship-launched variant, it would be inappropriate to speculate about a ship-launched version ahead of the requirements, informed by the updated Analysis of Alternatives (AoA), and any resulting budget plans," she added.
'A deck-mounted firing technology, would enable LRASM to fire from a much wider range of Navy ships, to include the Littoral Combat Ship and its more survivable variant, called a Frigate, Scott Callaway, Surface-Launched LRASM program manager, Lockheed Martin, told Scout Warrior in an interview.
“We developed a new topside or deck-mounted launcher which can go on multiple platforms or multiple ships such as an LCS or Frigates,” Callaway said.
The adaptation of the surface-launcher weapon, which could be operational by the mid-2020s, would use the same missile that fires from a Mk 41 Vertical Launch System and capitalize upon some existing Harpoon-launching technology, Callaway added.
High-Tech Semi-Autonomous Missile
Along with advances in electronic warfare, cyber-security and communications, LRASM is design to bring semi-autonomous targeting capability to a degree that does not yet exist. As a result, some of its guidance and seeker technology is secret, developers have said.
The goal of the program is to engineer a capable semi-autonomous, surface and air-launched weapon able to strike ships, submarines and other moving targets with precision. While many aspects of the high-tech program are secret, Lockheed officials say the available information is that the missile has a range of at least 200 nautical miles.
Once operational, LRASM will give Navy ships a more a short and long-range missile with an advanced targeting and guidance system able to partially guide its way to enemy targets and achieve pinpoint strikes in open or shallow water.
LRASM employs a multi-mode sensor, weapon data link and an enhanced digital anti-jam global positioning system to detect and destroy specific targets within a group of ships, Lockheed officials said.
LRASM is engineered with all-weather capability and a multi-modal seeker designed to discern targets, Lockheed officials said. The multi-mode sensor, weapon data link and an enhanced digital anti-jam global positioning system can detect and destroy specific targets within a group of ships, Lockheed officials said.
LRASM is armed with a proven 1,000-pound penetrator and blast-fragmentation warhead, Lockheed officials said.
Distributed Lethality
The development of LRASM is entirely consistent with the Navy’s emerging “distributed lethality” strategy which seeks to better arm the fleet with long-range precision offensive and defensive fire power.
Part of the rationale to move back toward open or “blue water” combat capability against near peer competitors emphasized during the Cold War. While the strategic and tactical capability never disappeared, it was emphasized less during the last 10-plus years of ground wars wherein the Navy focused on counter-terrorism, counter-piracy and things like Visit Board Search and Seizure. These missions are, of course, still important, however the Navy seeks to substantially increases its offensive “lethality” in order to deter or be effective against emerging high-tech adversaries.
Having longer-range or over-the-horizon ship and air-launched weapons is also quite relevant to the “distributed” portion of the strategy which calls for the fleet to have an ability to disperse as needed. Having an ability to spread out and conduct dis-aggregated operations makes Navy forces less vulnerable to enemy firepower while. At the same time, have long-range precision-strike capability will enable the Navy to hold potential enemies at risk or attack if needed while retaining safer stand-off distance from incoming enemy fire.