Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Israelis Debut An Autonomous Robotic Submarine

 Abigail Klein Leichman, Israel 21
19 December 2017
Under the surface of waterways across the globe, small remotely operated submarines are busy checking pipelines, mapping underwater minefields, taking geological and biological samples, scouting locations for communication cables, and searching for sunken vessels. A group of 20 undergraduate and graduate engineering students from Ben-Gurion University in the Negev saw that existing autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs) have several limitations and they worked with Prof. Hugo Guterman in BGU’s Laboratory for Autonomous Robotics (LAR) to build a better model. The university’s tech-transfer company is so hyped about HydroCamel II, the resulting prototype, that it has spun out a dedicated company, BGR, to commercialize the 2.35-meter-long AUV.
Potential customers include the environmental, research, military, security, oil and gas sectors. “It’s like a car; you can use it for any application you like,” Guterman tells ISRAEL21c. HydroCamel II is equipped with an intelligent navigation system whose functions include mission planning, obstacle avoidance and decision-making. Guterman says HydroCamel II is superior to any AUV available in Israel and among the most advanced in the world. Unhappy with existing AUVs, his lab team designed a small prototype about four years ago, dubbed HydroCamel I, which could go down to a 100-meter underwater depth. Experimenting with that model led to HydroCamel II — a relatively small, cheap, easy-to-operate UAV capable of connecting among several platforms. “We wanted to build something that could be deployed from smaller ships or from the harbor without a problem. We also wanted something that could be in the water for a long time and take a large number of sensors onboard,” says Guterman.
 “The HydroCamel II AUV integrates state-of-the-art technologies including high-level maneuvering in six degrees of freedom and an ability to dive vertically or hover,” he explains. “Until now, these capabilities were limited to remotely operated underwater vehicles (ROVs), which must be tethered by cable to a host ship at all times, while the HydroCamel II is completely autonomous.” The vehicle, whose body is constructed of the same carbon compound used in airplanes, can be recharged underwater. “We have developed a lot of electronics for the inside of the HydroCamel II,” Guterman says. Cheaper and better According to the makers, the HydroCamel II AUV combines full autonomy and maneuverability while enabling quick integration of specialized payloads such as sonars, cameras, sensors and a specimen collection arm. Guterman says these payloads are more expensive than the vehicle itself. “HydroCamel II will cost less than a competitive platform but will be much better,” says Guterman. “In the future, when it is in mass production, the price could be even lower.” BGR has begun cooperation with payload manufacturers and is seeking investment partners. Tzvika Goldner, CEO of the new commercialization entity headquartered in Beersheva’s Advanced Technologies Park adjacent to the university, notes that the worldwide AUV market is expected to reach $1.2 billion by 2023.
Research shows this sector is growing annually by 22% due to increased sea-based security measures and offshore oil and gas production. “We believe HydroCamel II will expand the AUV customer base and enable us to deploy AUVs in new areas,” said Goldner. Guterman envisions a large number of the new AUVs deployed in Red and Mediterranean Seas, working 24/7 to gather and transmit a wide variety of underwater data to a wide variety of operators. He says that no matter where a commercial partner is based, production and R&D for HydroCamel II will remain in the Negev, “where we have the right manpower and knowledge.”

New Submarines, High Precision Missiles Top Priority In Putin’s New 10-Years Armaments Program

Thomas Nilsen, Barents Observer
20 December 2017

Putin will before the end of December sign Russia’s State Armament Program for 2018-2027. The program, according to information obtained by the newspaper Kommersant, comes at a budget of 19 trillion rubles.
Adjusted to inflation, this amount is more or less similar to the money spent of the current 2012-2020 program. Since Russia nowadays buys most of its weapons systems from domestic suppliers, changes in the ruble exchange rate will have little impact on the plans.
Discussing the long-awaited new armament program with the top military bosses, President Putin in late November stressed the need to provide the army and the navy with the most state-of-the-art weapons.
If we want to lead the way, if we want to win, we must be the best, Putin said as quoted by news agency TASS.
Kommersant writes that the 2018-2027 armament program will officially be signed by the President on Friday, December 22nd.
Economic troubles
The newspaper points to nuclear deterrence, high precision weapons, hypersonic [cruise] missiles and development of general purpose forces. The program was supposed to enter force in 2016, but was delayed due to the unstable economy. Russia’s economy is not better today.
Highlighting the Arctic, the program emphasis the anti-ballistic missile system S-300V4 and the Tor-M2 anti-aircraft missile system.
Northern Fleet
Important for the Northern Fleet, sailing out of the Kola Peninsula, is the final funding for the four Borei-class ballistic missile submarines and six Yasen-class multi-purpose submarines currently under construction at the Sevmash yard in Severodvinsk. Additionally, the next ten years armament program will make the start of construction of the fifth generation nuclear submarines. That goes for both an upgraded version of the Borei-class named Borei-B (Project 955-B) and a new class of multi-purpose submarines named Husky-class.
The two new submarine classes will then be the first of post-Soviet design, but although construction is believed to start in the end of the next ten years armament program, the subs will likely not be commissioned before in the 2030s.
Until then, a fleet of six Delta-IV and eight Borei and Borei-A class submarines will serve as the naval component of Russia’s nuclear triad. On the Barents Sea
coast, those submarines are based in Gadzhiyevo north of Murmansk.
Navy is the loser
With exception to the nuclear submarines, the Russian Navy stands to be the big loser in the next state armament program, according to Dmitry Gorenburg, a Senior Analyst with the Harvard University. In a memo, Gorenburg argues that after being allocated 4,7 trillion rubles in the past program, the navy’s portion of the budget now seems to be cut to 2,6 trillion rubles. This forces the navy to take away priority from the lager warships and concentrate on corvettes and less advanced frigates. A new aircraft carrier will (again) be postponed indefinitely.
Other security services
Additional to the 19 trillion rubles for military developments over the Ministry of Defense’s budget, three trillion rubles will be provided to the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MVD), FSB, SVR and the National Guard (Rosgvardiya).

Argentina Submarine: Police Raid Navy And German Company Offices

21 December 2017

Argentine police searched through navy headquarters and state-run shipyard offices on Wednesday in a bid to investigate the disappearance of a submarine last month.
A judge ordered the searches to help probe alleged irregularities with repairs on the German-built submarine.
The searches came after the navy appeared to implicate two German companies Ferrostaal and Hawker, for electrical repair problems with the submarine. Argentine authorities on Wednesday also searched the Buenos Offices of Ferrostaal.
Argentina's ARA San Juan went missing in the South Atlantic last week with dozens of crew members on board. The German-built diesel-electric submarine was commissioned in 1985, but was refitted in 2014 — leading to some concerns that a mistake was made during the renovation.

Contract irregularities

Lawmaker Elisa Carrio from President Mauricio Macri's coalition has lodged a legal complaint against two former defense ministers, alleging irregularities in the repair contract had favored the German companies.
German public broadcasters Bayerischer Rundfunk reported on allegations earlier this month that German contractors had paid hefty bribes for the lucrative contract and had installed inferior battery cells in the submarine.
The German companies were awarded contracts to supply 964 battery cells for the submarine at a cost of€€5.1 million ($6.1 million).
The San Juan reported a short-circuit problem with its batteries shortly before it disappeared in the South Atlantic with 44 people aboard. Monitoring groups reported hearing an explosion at the time.
Ferrostaal told the German DPA news agency last week that the Argentine navy had decided to replace the battery cells instead of acquiring new batteries to save costs. Ferrostaal said it did not directly participate in the repairs, only mediating a contract between Argentina and Hawker for spare parts and technical support. Ferrostaal said it was not aware of any irregularities.

Navy travels to Germany

In the first week of December, navy spokesman Enrique Balbi told the Associated Press that officials had traveled to Germany to obtain more information about the design of the submarine San Juan, which underwent maintenance and repairs between 2008 and 2014.
When asked if the repairs had been certified by the manufacturer, Balbi said there are some processes that the Germany company might have been involved in and others where it was not.
The German shipmaker said in a statement that "ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems employees haven't been in operational contact with the Argentine submarine fleet for more than two decades." The TR-1700 class submarine was commissioned in the 1980s.
Authorities have given up searching for the submarine, admitting the crew members are dead.
Judge Marta Yanez, who issued the latest warrant, is also overseeing another inquiry into "possible wrongdoing," in response to desperate pleas for answers from family members.

Russia's Undersea Naval Activity Is At Record Levels, And NATO Is Worried About A Crucial Lifeline To The World

Christopher Woody, Business Insider
24 December 2017
Russian undersea naval activity in the North Atlantic has reached new levels, and NATO is worried that the undersea cables connecting North America and Europe and the rest of the world are being targeted.
"We are now seeing Russian underwater activity in the vicinity of undersea cables that I don't believe we have ever seen," US Navy Rear Adm. Andrew Lennon, commander of NATO's submarine forces, told The Washington Post. "Russia is clearly taking an interest in NATO and NATO nations' undersea infrastructure."
Moscow's subs appear to be interested in the privately owned lines that stretch across the seabed, carrying insulated fiber-optic cables. The cables are strewn across the world's oceans and seas, carrying 95% of communications and over $10 trillion in daily transactions.
Blocking the flow of information through them could scramble the internet, while tapping into them could give eavesdroppers a valuable picture of the data flowing within. The cables are fragile and have been damaged in the past by ships' anchors, though usually in areas where repairs are relatively easy.
Air Chief Marshal Stuart Peach, the UK's defense chief, has also sounded alarm about Russia's apparent focus on the undersea cables. "There is a new risk to our way of life, which is the vulnerability of the cables that criss-cross the seabeds," he said earlier this month.
Lennon's and Peach's warnings are only the latest about Russian undersea activity in the vicinity of important underwater infrastructure.
The New York Times reported in late 2015 that increased Russian naval activity near the lines led US military officials to fear Moscow planned to attack the cables in the event of conflict. US officials said they had seen elevated Russian operations along the cables' routes in the North Sea and Northeast Asia and even along US shores.
Many undersea cables are in familiar places, but others, commissioned by the US for military purposes, are in secret locations. US officials said in 2015 that increased Russia undersea activity could have been efforts to locate those cables.
There was no sign at that time that any cables had been cut, and Lennon declined to tell The Post if the defense bloc believed Russia has touched any of the undersea lines.
But elevated Russian undersea activity comes as NATO members and other countries in Europe grow more concerned about what they see as assertive Russian activity on the ground, in the air, and at sea around the continent.
Russian planes have had numerous near-misses with their NATO counterparts over the Baltics in recent months, and Russia's massive Zapad 2017 military exercises in Russia and Belarus during September had NATO on edge.
A force multiplier
Moscow has also pursued naval expansion, with a focus on undersea capabilities. A modernization program announced in 2011 directed more money toward submarines, producing quieter, more lethal designs. Moscow has brought online or overhauled 13 subs since 2014, according to The Post.
Among them was the Krasnodar, which Russian officials boasted could avoid the West's most sophisticated radars. US and NATO ships tracked the Krasnodar intently
this summer, as it traveled from Russia to the Black Sea, stopping along the way to fire missiles into Syria. More advanced subs are reportedly in production.
Subs are seen by Moscow as a force multiplier, as rivals would need to dedicate considerable resources to tracking just one submarine.
Subs are also able to operate without being seen, to carry out retaliatory strikes, and to threaten resupply routes, allowing them to have an outsize impact.
Russia now fields 60 full-size subs, while the US has 66, according to The Post.
Adding to Russia's subsurface fleet are deep-sea research vessels, including a converted ballistic missile sub that can launch smaller submarines.
"We know that these auxiliary submarines are designed to work on the ocean floor, and they're transported by the mother ship, and we believe they may be equipped to manipulate objects on the ocean floor," Lennon told The Post.
Russian officials have also touted their fleet's increased operations.
In March 2017, Adm. Vladimir Korolev, commander of the Russian navy, said the Russian navy in 2016 "reached the same level as before the post-Soviet period, in terms of running hours."
"This is more than 3,000 days at sea for the Russian submarine fleet," Korolev added. "This is an excellent sign."
'Those ships are vulnerable to undersea threats'
Western countries have also pursued their own buildup in response.
While US plans call for curtailing production of Virginia-class attack subs when Columbia-class missile subs begin production in the early 2020s, a recent study found that the Navy and industry can produce two Virginia-class subs and one Columbia-class sub a year - averting what Navy officials have described as an expected submarine shortfall in the mid-2020s and keeping the fleet ahead of near-peer rivals like Russia and China.
The US is looking to sensors, sonar, weapons control, quieting technologies, undersea drones, and communications systems to help its subs maintain their edge. (Government auditors have said the Columbia-class subs will need more testing and development to avoid delays and cost overruns down the line, however.)
Elsewhere in NATO, Norway and Germany - the latter of which does not currently have any operational subs - recently agreed on a deal to build two submarines for each country.
The response extends to tactics as well. US and NATO personnel have dedicated more time to anti-submarine-warfare training and operations. Transponder data shows that the US Navy has in recent months flown numerous sorties over areas where Russian subs operate, according to The Post.
"It is an indication of the changing dynamic in the world that a skill set, maybe we didn't spend a lot of time on in the last 15 years, is coming back," Capt. Jim McCall, commander of the air wing on aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush, told The Wall Street Journal this fall.
As the number of sub-hunting ships that can patrol the North Atlantic, Baltic, and Mediterranean has fallen since the Cold War, NATO members are working to deploy more air and sea assets. This summer, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Spain, and Turkey signed a letter of intent to start development of new submarine-detecting aircraft.
The number of frigates - typically used for anti-submarine warfare - in use by NATO allies has fallen from about 100 in the early 1990s to about 50 today, prompting the US to rush to field more in the coming years.
Attention has also returned to the North Atlantic choke point between Greenland, Iceland, and the UK. The GIUK Gap was a crucial element of Cold War naval defenses, and US anti-submarine planes were based in Iceland for decades before leaving in 2006.
The US Navy has been upgrading hangers in Iceland to accommodate new P-8A Poseidon aircraft, however, and the Pentagon has said the US and Iceland have agreed to increase rotations of the US surveillance planes there next year.
As the Russian navy seeks to reverse the contraction it experienced after the Cold War, NATO too is looking to expand its commands after shrinking in the years since the fall of the Soviet Union.
A recent NATO internal report found that the alliance's rapid-response abilities had "atrophied since the end of the Cold War" and recommended setting up two new commands to streamline supply efforts.
One, based on the continent, would oversee the movement of personnel and material in Europe, and the other, potentially based in the US, would oversee transatlantic resupply efforts and the defense of sea lanes.
"If you want to transport a lot of stuff, you have to do that by ship," Lennon, NATO's submarine commander, told The Journal this fall. "And those ships are vulnerable to undersea threats."
Plans for the new commands were approved in early November. More details are expected in February, though current plans include embedding the NATO North Atlantic command with US Fleet Forces Command in Norfolk, Virginia.
"We are a transatlantic alliance, and we must therefore be in a position to transport troops and equipment over the Atlantic," NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said recently. "For that we need secure and open seaways."

Poland, France In Talks On Potential Submarine Deal

Staff, Radio Poland
27 December 2017

Polish Defence Minister Antoni Macierewicz has spoken with his French counterpart Florence Parly about the potential purchase and joint production of French submarines for the Polish navy.
The French Naval Group is offering to sell Scorpène-class submarines to Poland, a modern diesel-electric submarine that would be equipped with long-range missiles.
The Polish Defence Ministry spokeswoman, Col. Anna Pęzioł-Wójtowicz, said before Christmas that France would provide more details of a potential deal by the end of this year.
Pęzioł-Wójtowicz said that “a final decision concerning the production of submarines will be made by Poland in the near future, after receiving replies from France, as well as from our other potential partners.”
The discussions form part of Poland’s Orka (Orca) programme, a PLN 10 billion (EUR 2.4 billion) plan to acquire modern submarines for the Polish navy. Poland intends to purchase three to four submarines, which will be equipped with cruise missiles.
Apart from the French offer, Poland is considering bids from the German group TKMS, for Type 212 or Type 214 submarines, and the Swedish group Saab, which is offering its A26 submarine.
Macierewicz has previously stated that the French offer is attractive as cruise missiles would be included as part of the deal. However, the Polish Defence Ministry was keen to stress that no decision has been made, and that all the offers had their own advantages and disadvantages.

The Navy's High-Tech New Torpedo Is Back After Six Years

Kris Osbron, Warrior Scout
26 December 2017

The U.S. Navy is now engineering a new, longer range and more lethal submarine-launched heavyweight Mk 48 that can better destroy enemy ships, subs and incoming weapons at longer ranges, service officials said.
Many details of the new weapon, which include newer propulsion mechanisms and multiple kinds of warheads, are secret and not publicly available. However, senior Navy leaders have previously talked to Scout Warrior about the development of the weapon in a general sense.
Naturally, having a functional and more high-tech lethal torpedo affords the Navy an opportunity to hit enemies at further standoff ranges and better compete with more fully emerging undersea rivals such as Russia and China.
Progress with new torpedo technologies is happening alongside a concurrent effort to upgrade the existing arsenal and re-start production of the Mk 48, which had been on hiatus for several years.
A MK 48 ADCAP torpedo is unloaded from the fast-attack submarine USS Annapolis by Sailors from the Submarine Base New London weapons department during a snowstorm.
A MK 48 ADCAP torpedo is unloaded from the fast-attack submarine USS Annapolis by Sailors from the Submarine Base New London weapons department during a snowstorm.
Navy officials did add that some of the improvements to the torpedo relate to letting more water into the bottom of the torpedo as opposed to letting air out the top.
The earlier version, the Mk 48 Mod 6, has been operational since 1997 - and the more recent Mod 7 has been in service since 2006.
Lockheed has been working on upgrades to the Mk 48 torpedo Mod 6 and Mod 7 - which consists of adjustments to the guidance control box, broadband sonar acoustic receiver and amplifier components.
Lockheed developers told Scout Warrior last year that Lockheed is now delivering 20-upgrade kits per month to the Navy.
Part of the effort, which involves a five-year deal between the Navy and Lockheed, includes upgrading existing Mod 6 torpedoes to Mod 7 as well as buying brand new Mod 7 guidance control sections.
The new Mod 7 is also resistant to advanced enemy countermeasures.
Modifications to the weapon improves the acoustic receiver, replaces the guidance-and-control hardware with updated technology, increases memory, and improves processor throughput to handle the expanded software demands required to improve torpedo performance against evolving threats, according to Navy information on the weapon.
The Mod also provides a significant reduction in torpedo radiated-noise signatures, a Navy statement said.
Alongside Lockheed's work to upgrade the guidance technology on the torpedo, the Navy is also preparing to build new Mk 48s.
Upgrades to the guidance control section in includes the integration of a system called Common Broadband Advanced Sonar System, or CBASS - electronics to go into the nose of the weapon as part of the guidance section, Lockheed developers explained.
This technology provides streamlined targeting and allows the torpedo to transmit and receive over a wider frequency band, Lockheed engineers said.
The new technology involves adjustments to the electronic circuitry in order to make the acoustic signals that are received from the system that allow the torpedo to better operate in its undersea environment.
Upgrades also consist of movement to what's called an "Otto fuel propulsion system," Lockheed officials added.
Lockheed will deliver about 250 torpedoes over the next five years. The Mk 48, which is a heavy weapon launched under the surface, is quite different than surface launched, lightweight Mk 54 torpoes fired from helicopters, aircraft and surface ships.
The Navy's Mk 48 torpedo is also in service with Australia, Canada, Brazil and The Netherlands.
A Mk 48 torpedo is 21 inches in diameter and weighs 3,520 pounds; it can destroy targets at ranges out to five miles and travels at speeds greater than 28 knots. The weapon can operate at depths greater than 1,200 feet and fires a 650-pound high-explosive warhead.

GAO Report on Columbia-Class Ballistic Missile Submarine Technology Maturity

Staff, USNI News
26 December 2017

The following is a December 2017 Government Accountability Office report, Columbia Class Submarine: Immature Technologies Present Risks to Achieving Cost, Schedule, and Performance Goals.
From the report:
Additional development and testing are required to demonstrate the maturity of several Columbia class submarine technologies that are critical to performance, including the Integrated Power System, nuclear reactor, common missile compartment, and propulsor and related coordinated stern technologies (see figure). As a result, it is unknown at this point whether they will work as expected, be delayed, or cost more than planned. Any unexpected delays could postpone the deployment of the lead submarine past the 2031 deadline.
Further, the Navy underrepresented the program's technology risks in its 2015 Technology Readiness Assessment (TRA) when it did not identify these technologies as critical. Development of these technologies is key to meeting cost, schedule, and performance requirements. A reliable TRA serves as the basis for realistic discussions on how to mitigate risks as programs move forward from the early stages of technology development. Not identifying these technologies as critical means Congress may not have had the full picture of the technology risks and their potential effect on cost, schedule, and performance goals as increasing financial commitments were made. The Navy is not required to provide Congress with an update on the program's progress, including its technology development efforts, until fiscal year 2020-when $8.7 billion for lead ship construction will have already been authorized. Periodic reporting on technology development efforts in the interim could provide decision makers assurances about the remaining technical risks as the Navy asks for increasing levels of funding.
Consistent with GAO's identified best practices, the Navy intends to complete much of the submarine's overall design prior to starting construction to reduce the risk of cost and schedule growth. However, the Navy recently awarded a contract for detail design while critical technologies remain unproven-a practice not in line with best practices that has led to cost growth and schedule delays on other programs. Proceeding into detail design and construction with immature technologies can lead to design instability and cause construction delays. The Navy plans to accelerate construction of the lead submarine to compensate for an aggressive schedule, which may lead to future delays if the technologies are not fully mature before construction starts, planned for 2021.

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Images Show North Korea's 'Submarine Ballistic Missile Programme'

Jonathan Marcus, BBC News
19 November 2017

North Korea is on "an aggressive schedule to build and deploy its first operational ballistic missile submarine", according to an analysis of new satellite images by the expert website 38 North. The images represent a powerful reminder that, as well as developing inter-continental range ballistic missiles launched from land, North Korea has for several years been pursuing a programme to launch a long-range missile from a submarine. It already has a prototype sub and a submersible launching barge, from which it has carried out a number of test firings. But the new images show that significant work is under way at the Sinpo shipyard on North Korea's eastern coast to expand its construction facilities, and there are hints that another missile-carrying submarine may be under construction. The imagery shows two large circular objects that could be sections of a submarine's pressure hull. Size estimates suggest the objects could be for a follow on vessel to the existing prototype SINPO-class boat. Satellite images show a continued movement throughout 2017 of parts and components into and out of yards adjacent to the shipyard's large construction halls. Gantry and tower cranes have been regularly moved, all suggesting a "prolonged and active ship-building programme", according to 38 North.
Work has also been under way at a missile test stand that is apparently used to replicate the ejection of a missile from a submarine's hull. From satellite images alone it is difficult to assess how much progress North Korea's submarine-launched missile programme has made. But Mark Fitzpatrick, a veteran arms control expert with the International Institute for Strategic Studies, told the BBC that submarine-launched missiles would give North Korea a second-strike capability if it faced an attack intended to take out its nuclear forces. Mr Fitzpatrick also noted that "up to now, North Korea has frequently surprised analysts and exceeded expectations in terms of the pace of its missile development". Firing a missile from a submerged submarine poses very particular challenges. So far, the North Korea has only used a submersible testing barge, and its sea-borne missile programme remains far from operational. But the programme is a measure of Pyongyang's strategic ambitions, and another indication that it is unlikely to give up its nuclear arsenal any time soon. Photos can be seen here:

Say freeze: Navy Team Fixes Submarine Nuclear Reactor With Liquid Nitrogen

Joseph Flaig, Institution of Mechanical Engineers
28 November 2017

A Royal Navy team claimed a “world first” after freezing pipes and repairing a submarine nuclear reactor using liquid nitrogen.
Several institutions and societies, including IMechE, honoured the Submarine Mechanical Specialists team by awarding them the Churchill Medal. The accolade, named in honour of former prime minister Winston Churchill, is awarded for “outstanding achievements and contribution” in engineering and technical advancements supporting military operations.
The Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) praised the engineers for their “innovative” adaptation of freeze seal isolation, a technique which uses ultra-cold liquid nitrogen to freeze and isolate pipes, for the restricted and technically challenging space of a nuclear submarine. The successful triple freeze seal was reportedly the first ever deployment to repair a nuclear reactor, offering flexibility for submarine operations and applications across the global nuclear industry.
“We are really stunned and honoured to win this prestigious industry medal, particularly when we were up against teams who are dealing with very complex areas of engineering, such as cyber,” said commander Philip Parvin. “It is testament to the hard work and efforts of the whole team.”
The work demonstrated “technical excellence, determination and self-sacrifice,” said IET chief executive Nigel Fine.
MP Nicholas Soames, Churchill’s grandson, presented the winners with their medal. The IET, IMechE, Institute of Marine Engineering, Science and Technology, Royal Aeronautical Society, Institution of Royal Engineers, Institution of Civil Engineers, Society of Operations Engineers and the British Computer Society jointly awarded the medal

Canadian Military Seeks Underwater Sensors For Arctic Surveillance

John Thompson, Nanutsiaq News
30 November 2017

Underwater drones equipped with high-tech sensors could one day patrol the icy waters of Canada's eastern Arctic, to help keep an eye on the region's growing shipping traffic-and to be on the lookout for foreign submarines.
It's part of a plan that Canada's Department of National Defence calls its All Domain Situational Awareness Science & Technology Program. 
Last month, the department issued two contracts, worth about $7 million, to GeoSpectrum Technologies Inc. of Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, to work on two underwater projects tied to this program.
The first project aims to develop a very-low-frequency sonar system that could be used in Arctic waters to both detect ships and submarines and to transmit information via coded pulses. It would be light and small enough for an underwater drone to carry beneath sea ice, and powerful enough to detect vessels and transmit information beyond 1,000 kilometres.
The second project is a long, bendable, cable-shaped sensor rigged with special underwater microphones, designed to be towed behind an underwater drone to help detect ships and submarines across long distances.
One big question raised by these gadgets is how they could impact whales and other marine mammals in the region. Loud blasts of very-low-frequency sonar, in particular, have been blamed for spooking whales and causing them to become stranded on shore.
As a result, last year the U.S. Navy lost a court battle over its use of this technology to hunt for submarines.
But the project being designed for Canadian Arctic waters would be "orders of magnitude" less noisy and would be designed with the health of marine mammals as a top-of-mind concern, said Paul Yeatman, president of GeoSpectrum Technologies.
"We're acutely aware of the importance of the Arctic for a number of different species, and how disruptive things like seismic activity or naval activity can be. What we've been working on is coming up with ways to transmit information or do detection without putting masses of sound in the water," he said.
"The less energy you put in the water, the less impact you have."
The proposed sonar system would put roughly one watt of energy in the water, said Yeatman. "One watt is more power than your cellphone uses. But if you look at a light bulb, even an LED bulb uses more than a watt."
"If you look at traditional marine seismic testing, they're putting a megawatt of energy in the water. Or if you look at some of these super-high-power sonars, in particular that the U.S. Navy has used, it would put 100 kilowatts or so-I don't know exactly-in the water. Even then, they're being restricted from doing that anymore, and these programs are going by the wayside because of the impact they have."
GeoSpectrum Technologies specializes in building underwater sensors and has experience designing devices to limit the impact on marine mammals, said Yeatman. The company will be partnering with Hines Ocean Science and Technology, Jasco Applied Sciences and Dalhousie University for these defence projects, providing them with additional expertise in tracking whales and other marine mammals and "trying to understand how sound impacts them," said Yeatman.
GeoSpectrum Technologies will build and field test both devices as terms of the contract. But it remains to be seen whether the sonar will be tested in Arctic waters. Yeatman said this will ultimately depend on cost, logistics and winning the necessary regulatory approvals.

Lockheed Receives $71.6M Contract For Trident Missiles

James LaPorta, UPI News
30 November 2017

Lockheed Martin has been awarded a modified contract by the U.S. Navy for the procurement of the UGM-133A Trident II, or Trident D5, a submarine launched ballistic missile.
The deal, announced Wednesday by the Department of Defense, is worth more than $71.6 million under a cost-plus-incentive-fee and cost-plus-fixed-fee contract, which is a cost-reimbursement contract where the initial negotiated fee can be adjusted later to reduce the risks assumed by Lockheed.
The Trident II D5 is the submarine-launched ballistic missile deployed by both the U.S. and Britain, and is the sole nuclear weapon system deployed by Britain.
The missile has intercontinental range and can carry several nuclear warheads using multiple independent reentry vehicles designed to strike several targets with a single missile.
The Trident is the primary sea-based weapon for the triad of U.S. nuclear forces, and is currently deployed on U.S. Ohio-class and British Vanguard-class submarines. It is planned to be fielded by the Columbia-class ballistic missile submarines currently under development in the U.S. and Dreadnought-class submarines under development by Britain.
The Trident is expected to stay in service, with upgrades, for a planned 50 years or more. Lockheed Martin will perform the majority of the work on the Trident II at Cape Canaveral, Fla., and the rest at several other locations in the United States. The work is expected to be complete by Sept. 20, 2022.
The U.S. Navy has obligated more than $65.8 million in Navy weapons procurement and Navy research, development, test and evaluation funds from fiscal years 2017 and 2018 for Lockheed at the time the contract was awarded.

Taking The Heat: Navy Tests New Steam Suit For Sub Sailors

Julia Bergman, The Day
30 November 2017

The Navy is testing a new suit designed to protect sailors from steam leaks aboard its nuclear-powered submarines.
If pressurized steam lines rupture, the leaked steam is extremely hot and can result in severe injury or death. To make repairs or rescue crewmembers, sailors must wear protective suits.
Sailors complained that the existing steam suits, which went into use about 2002, are cumbersome to put on, involving two layers - one that is like a normal firefighting ensemble and then a protective suit on top of that.
The new suit, which was designed to be easier and quicker to put on, is one piece, nine pounds lighter, and easier to move around in. Improvements also were made to the gloves, which now look like lobster claws, improving dexterity.
Sailors on the Los Angeles-class attack submarine USS Toledo (SSN-769), which returned to Groton on Wednesday from a six-month deployment, tested out the suits while at sea, and will provide feedback to the Navy. The suits also are being tested by sailors on the Ohio-class ballistic missile submarine USS Kentucky (SSBN-737), based in Bangor, Wash., and the Virginia-class attack submarine USS Missouri (SSN-780), based in Groton.
Part of the testing is to see how quickly sailors can get into the suits, said Command Master Chief Matt Matteson with the Office of Naval Research. Testing at the Naval Submarine Base in the spring showed sailors could suit up in minutes.
"The most important thing is that it's quicker for sailors to don and get to the scene of the casualty," Matteson said. "It provides a little bit more assurance that the protective gear you're wearing will actually be appropriate for that situation."
There are only a few times in the history of the Navy's nuclear power program that the suits had to be used, Matteson said. They are not intended for use by the entire crew, but those in certain jobs.
Matteson expects the new suits to be implemented across submarine fleet in a year or two. He didn't have an estimate for how much the suits will cost.
The Office of Naval Research's TechSolutions, which focuses on rapidly producing prototype solutions to problems submitted by sailors and marines, provided funding for the testing. The new suit was developed by the Naval Sea Systems Command and Navy Clothing and Textile Research Facility

Monday, November 20, 2017

Images suggest North Korea 'aggressive' work on ballistic missile submarine: institute

Reuters Staff, Reuters
16 November 2017

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Satellite images taken this month of a North Korean naval shipyard indicate Pyongyang is pursuing an “aggressive schedule” to build its first operational ballistic missile submarine, a U.S. institute reported on Thursday.
Washington-based 38 North, a North Korea monitoring project, cited images taken on Nov. 5 showing activity at North Korea’s Sinpo South Shipyard.
“The presence of what appear to be sections of a submarine’s pressure hull in the yards suggests construction of a new submarine, possibly the SINPO-C ballistic missile submarine - the follow-on to the current SINPO-class experimental ballistic missile submarine,” 38 North said in a report.
The report said that throughout 2017 there had been continued movement of parts and components into and out of two parts yards adjacent to the constructions halls in the center of the shipyard.
It said the Nov. 5 images showed two large circular objects that could be sections of a submarine’s pressure hull. It said these appeared larger than those for North Korea’s ROMEO-class attack submarine.
Images of a test stand indicated continued testing of a mechanism for ejection launch of missiles from a submarine. However, the report said no activity could be seen suggesting preparations for a new test of a submarine-launched missile.
North Korea has been working to develop a nuclear-tipped missile capable of reaching the United States, sparking a major international crisis in which U.S. President Donald Trump has said that all options are under consideration, including military ones.
North Korea is also thought to be working on a solid-fuel missile for submarine launches.
Last month, The Diplomat magazine quoted a U.S. government source as saying U.S. military intelligence had detected a new diesel-electric submarine under construction at Sinpo and dubbed it the Sinpo-C. It said the submarine was likely a larger successor to North Korea’s single experimental ballistic missile submarine.
North Korea has conducted dozens of missile tests this year and its largest and biggest nuclear test on Sept. 3. The past two months have seen a relative lull and it has not tested a missile since firing one over Japan on Sept. 15.
Another article in The Diplomat last month quoted a U.S. government source as saying that North Korea had tested a new solid fuel engine sometime between Oct. 15 and Oct. 21. U.S. intelligence officials have declined to comment on this.

There Is Only One Way America's Nuclear Stealth Submarines Could Be Made Obsolete

Drones may make it impossible for them to hide.

Michael Peck, National Interest
15 November 2017

Submarines can run—but they can't hide—from drones?
That's the contention of a new report by a British think tank, which argues that the growing numbers and sophistication of drones are depriving submarines of their stealthiness.
The report, authored by science journalist David Hambling for the British American Security Information Council, was written as a briefing paper for Britain's Parliament, which must consider whether to modernize or scrap the UK's Trident nuclear missile subs.
The report points out the century-old method of hunting subs is changing:
"In the past, antisubmarine warfare (ASW) has been carried out by a small number of highly capable ships and
manned aircraft. Their task has been like that of a handful of police looking for a fugitive in a vast wilderness. Lacking the manpower to cover the whole area, they have to concentrate their forces on the most likely paths and hideouts, and hope for a lucky break."
Now, highly expensive subs must contend with an expanding array of cheap robot sub-hunters that can blanket the ocean, sort of in the same way that German U-boat "wolfpacks" ganged up on Allied convoys in the North Atlantic. These include small handheld drones that the U.S. military is designing to operate in swarms, air-launched drones like the U.S. Coyote that can be dropped by ASW aircraft, and sonar-equipped underwater robot gliders that quietly search the ocean.
"Small unmanned platforms can carry many types of sensors active and passive sonar, magnetic anomaly detectors, wake detection LIDAR, thermal sensors, laser-based optical sensors capable of piercing seawater and others," Hambling writes. "A submarine which can be seen by any one of these will cease to be invisible. A submarine whose location is exposed is highly vulnerable to instant attack. If submarines are easily detectable, they lose all their advantages as strategic weapons platforms."
Drones versus subs is essentially an arms race, a contest between an expensive but fragile weapon pitted against hordes of cheap sensor and weapons platforms. It parallels the race between the development of stealth aircraft, and the development of sensors to detect them.
Unfortunately for the subs, it's not an equal contest. A U.S. Virginia-class attack submarine costs nearly $3 billion: a small unmanned aircraft might cost $5,000, and a swarm of thirty drones just $150,000. The drone isn't as capable as the sub, but that's not the point. Nuclear missile submarines have always been considered the invulnerable backbone of a nation's nuclear force, able to hide in the ocean unlike land-based ICBMs or bombers. If the United States, Russia, China, Britain or France—not to mention Israel—fear that their ballistic subs are vulnerable to a surprise drone attack, this could make decision-makers much more ready to pull the trigger in a crisis.
On a more human level, it would be interesting to go back in time to World Wars I and II, where a constant refrain of the sailors and airmen who hunted subs was the sheer tedium of the search. Hour after hour after hour of scanning the oceans, in the hope that a needle in the haystack would reveal itself as a sonar contact or a tiny periscope peeking above the surface. If nothing else, farming out sub-hunting to the robots will make chasing subs a bit less dull.
Either way, antisubmarine warfare will never be the same. "The oceans are becoming a 'sensor rich' environment full of drones, with eyes and ears everywhere," writes Hambling. "This will leave no hiding place for submarines."


Former SECNAV Lehman: Russian Cyber Forces Stealing U.S. Technological Edge

Sam LaGrone, USNI News
15 November 2017

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. military is losing its technological edge, in part because Russian cyber forces have penetrated the defense industry and are stealing information, former Secretary of the Navy John Lehman said on Wednesday.
“We were used, in the Cold War, to having the current edge in technology, partially because the Russians adopted a policy after World War II to draft off our technology – so they designed their fighters to use F/A-18 radar because they knew they’d be able to steal them,” Lehman said on Wednesday at a Maritime Security Dialogue event cohosted by the U.S. Naval Institute and the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
“Today their cyber is so capable, even though most of the defense industry will not publicly admit it, but they’re right in from the beginning of the program with their cyber capability, so there is almost no lag. They’re not behind us, they’re with us in our [technology development].”
In order to combat the leak of information, Lehman called for a quicker U.S. acquisition process to allow industry and the Pentagon to more quickly bring high-tech systems to the field. Lehman said while the U.S. has a 22-year process to get a major weapon system to the field, Russia and China have about a seven year cycle.
“They both, through different means, got rid of a lot of their bureaucracy and ours continues to grow,” he said.
“It’s really time that destroys [weapons development].”
He used the example of Russian submarine development in the last several years as an example of how the technology leaked out.
“If you look at their latest submarines, it’s pretty hard to project a real advantage sub-to-sub. [They] copied all of the technology off our submarine quieting, and they’re ahead in some of the offensive capabilities,” he said.
“We have really fallen behind in technology, and we need to get back into that game.”
Lehman served as the Secretary of the Navy from 1981 to 1987 and was responsible for the 600-ship navy of the Reagan administration. He was a key national security advisor to the Mitt Romney campaign in 2012. Much of the Romney national security plan was absorbed into the Donald Trump defense platform.
Office of Secretary of Defense spokesman for weapons development Adam Stump declined to comment on Lehman’s remarks when reached by USNI News at the Pentagon on Wednesday.
During the Cold War, the Russians stole major U.S. submarine secrets that were, in turn, adapted into their own submarine construction programs.
Likewise, the Chinese have had a long history of adapting Western weapon designs for their own uses – from adaptions of U.S. stealth fighters to infantry small arms.
Beijing stole terabytes of data from the F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter program in 2007 that helped in developing the People’s Liberation Army Air Force J-20 stealth fighter.

British Navy Rolls Out Red Carpet For Faslane's First 'Submarine Oscars'

Danielle Lappin, Helensburgh Advertiser
10 November 2017

HM Naval Base Clyde rolled out the red carpet recently for their first ever “Submarine Oscars”.
The award ceremony saw 12 trophies presented including the prestigious Conqueror Trophy which is given to the submarine crews which have best demonstrated operational excellence.
The celebration was sponsored by the British Forces Foundation, Babcock, Rolls Royce and the Gosling Foundation.
Master of ceremonies for the occasion was Command Warrant Officer Andy Knox and Rear Admiral John Weale OBE, who welcomed some 250 audience members to the naval base’s senior rates’ mess before presenting the awards.
The Conqueror Trophy for operational excellence was picked up by the crew of a Vanguard class submarine, in recognition of the crew’s outstanding efforts to maintain continuous at sea deterrence against material changes.
The crew of a Fleet class submarine picked up the Safe Guardian Unit Award for the outstanding planning and execution of a complex engineering task at sea.
The Safe Guarding Individual Award went to leading engineer technician (LET) weapon engineering submarine Yeats. LET Yeats’ research and analysis into equipment failure will result in a number of improvements.
Nicola Trollope and Selina Thompson each received Family Awards during the night in recognition of the contribution they have made to supporting families of serving submariners.
Nicola was rewarded for her work with families in the Dinky Dolphins Creche where she is always lending a helping hand. Selina was awarded for always being there to help support events during the year and for being instrumental in helping families to understand the community better, allowing those moving to the area to better access information on schools, housing and other essentials.
Coxswain Iain Mackenzie received the Royal Navy and Royal Marines Welfare Award in recognition of his contribution to the welfare of naval personnel and families, not only during his 27-year carer but also afterwards when he joined the RNRMW team in 2011.
The Special Recognition Award went to leading medical assistant (LMA) Matthew Greening-Jackson, who was part of this year’s Edinburgh Tattoo Support Group at this year’s Edinburgh Tattoo.
He helped save the life of a civilian caterer who collapsed during the event. While waiting for the ambulance LMA Greening-Jackson administered CPR for several minutes restoring his breathing.
The patient recovered enough to be released from hospital and the paramedics acknowledged that it was the LMA’s quick actions which saved the man’s life.
Able Seaman Peacock, currently serving on a Vanguard Class submarine, was awarded the Submariners Association Trophy for his efforts during his time in training at the submarine school, HMS Raleigh.
Three employees of Babcock Marine Clyde – Thomas Walsh, Charles Milton and Fraser Macintosh – received Industrial Partner Awards for their support to the submarine service.
Thomas and Charles were commended for their part in the delivery of submarines to operation and Fraser was recognised for his ongoing support to Rear Admiral Submariners and ensuring the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo ran as smoothly as possible from a head chef's perspective.
Rear Admiral John Weale, the head of the UK Submarine Service, said: “It was a magnificent evening. We may be known as the silent service, but the achievements of the award winners were something to shout about.
“Each, in their own way, has contributed significantly to supporting our operations, vessels, personnel and families and I would like to thank them all for their tireless work and dedication.”

The U.S. Navy's Ultimate Weapon: Hypersonic Missiles Fired from a Submarine

Zachary Keck, National Interest
11 November 2017

The U.S. Navy has conducted its first test of a new hypersonic missile.
The test was announced by Vice Adm. Terry Benedict, the director of the Strategic Systems Program (SSP), at the Naval Submarine League's annual symposium in Arlington, Virginia, on November 2. "I'm very proud to report that at 0300 on Monday night SSP flew from Hawaii [Pacific Missile Range Facility] . . . the first conventional prompt strike missile for the United States Navy in the form factor that would eventually, could eventually be utilized if leadership chooses to do so in an Ohio-class tube," Benedict said, according U.S. Naval Institute News, which first reported his remarks. "It's a monumental achievement."
Benedict refused to provide any other details of the test, but a Pentagon spokesperson later gave additional information when contacted by U.S. Naval Institute News. "The Navy Strategic Systems Program (SSP), on behalf of the Department of Defense, conducted an Intermediate Range Conventional Prompt Strike Flight Experiment-1 (CPS FE-1) test on Oct. 30, 2017, from Pacific Missile Range Facility, Kauai, Hawaii," said Cmdr. Patrick Evans, the Pentagon spokesperson. "The test collected data on hypersonic boost-glide technologies and test-range performance for long-range atmospheric flight. This data will be used by the Department of Defense to anchor ground testing, modeling, and simulation of hypersonic flight vehicle performance and is applicable to a range of possible Conventional Prompt Strike (CPS) concepts."
Hypersonic missiles are defined as those traveling at speeds between Mach 5 and Mach 10. That is, between 3,106 and 15,534 miles per hour, or one to five miles per second. China, Russia and the United States are all currently investing heavily in hypersonics, while a few
other countries are also exploring the technology to a much lesser degree.
There are two basic types of hypersonic missiles. The first are called hypersonic glide vehicles (HGVs). HGVs are launched into the atmosphere from a rocket and glide to their targets at altitudes ranging from forty kilometers to higher than one hundred kilometers. These HGVs typically fly at faster speeds than the second type of hypersonic missiles, hypersonic cruise missiles (HCMs). As their name suggests, HCMs are cruise missiles that fly at hypersonic speeds. During their entire flight, they are powered by rockets or high-speed jet engines, like scramjets.
The United States is seeking to develop both kinds of hypersonic missiles. For instance, the Hypersonic Air-breathing Weapon Concept (HAWC) program, which is a joint DARPA/U.S. Air Force (USAF) effort, is seeking to develop a HCM. On the other hand, the Tactical Boost Glide (TBG) program, also a joint DARPA/U.S. Air Force (USAF) effort, is working on HGV technology.
The U.S. Navy test would have been of the latter variety and, as Benedict noted, is part of the ongoing conventional prompt global strike (CPGS) program. That program aims to give the United States the capability to conduct a precision strike on any place on earth within an hour. Interest in CPGS dates back to the 2001 Nuclear Posture Review (NPR). Since that time, the Department of Defense and all the military services have explored various technologies for achieving that capability.
For its part, the U.S. Navy began exploring a submarine-launched intermediate-range ballistic missile (SLIRBM) to fulfill the CPGS mission around 2003. These efforts continued until Congress cut off funding for it in 2008 (all CPGS funding was combined in a single DOD-wide account instead of individual programs within the services). Still, the U.S. Navy expressed renewed interest in acquiring a sea-based CPGS capabilities around the time of the pivot to Asia in 2012. In early 2014, as I noted at the Diplomat at the time, the U.S. Navy began accepting industry proposals for submarine-launched hypersonic capabilities.
This effort got a boost later that same year, after the U.S. Army's Advanced Hypersonic Weapon program hit a snag when its second test failed. After that, according to the trade publication Inside Defense, "The Pentagon's acquisition directorate for strategic warfare then tapped the Navy to conduct the next test flight by modifying the Army-developed Advanced Hypersonic Weapon to fit in a submarine missile tube and launch the prototype weapon from a land-based test facility." The recent test is the first milestone in the U.S. Navy's stewardship of the program.
The move away from ballistic missile-based CPGS (which DOD has renamed Conventional Prompt Strike) and toward hypersonic capabilities has an important advantage: namely, an adversary won't mistake a conventional ballistic missile for a nuclear one. As a Congressional Research Service report noted: "DOD has indicated that the same would be true of a submarine-launched, intermediate-range boost-glide system. It would follow a shaped or depressed trajectory, and would not resemble the launch characteristics or trajectory of a nuclear-armed ballistic missile. Moreover, if the missile used a new booster, rather than one that had been deployed as a part of the U.S. nuclear force, the difference would likely be evident to Russia's early warning systems."
DOD has promised the Pacific and European combatant commands that certain hypersonic capabilities will be fielded within the timeframe of fiscal year 2018-22. If the Navy's sea-based hypersonic missile capabilities are realized, they are likely to be deployed on the four Ohio-class guided-missile submarines, as well as the new Virginia-class attack submarines.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Russia says its submarine fired missiles at IS base in Syria

Staff, WION
31 October 2017

Russia said Tuesday its submarine deployed in the Mediterranean fired three ballistic missiles to destroy a command post of the Islamic State group in Syria's eastern Deir Ezzor province.
"A missile strike with three Kalibr missiles destroyed a command post with large numbers of militants and armed vehicles and also a large weapons and ammunition depot," the Russian defence ministry said in a statement posted on Facebook.
It said the strikes targeted the area around the town of Abu Kamal, one of the few remaining urban strongholds of IS in Syria.
The ministry added it could confirm "the destruction of all the given targets."
It posted a video on Twitter of a missile blasting out of the sea.
There have been heavy clashes between the Syrian army and the Islamic state group in the city of Deir Ezzor, capital of the Deir Ezzor province in eastern Syria.

Russia said Tuesday that its Veliky Novgorod submarine has carried out four cruise missile strikes on terrorist groups since it was deployed to the Mediterranean in late August.
At Russia`s Syrian naval base of Tartus in the eastern Mediterranean, Russian ships have played a prominent role backing up an aerial bombing campaign in support of Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad.
The submarines are covered from Syria by Moscow`s S-300 and S-400 missiles systems and its Bastion coastal defence system.
More than 330,000 people have been killed in Syria since the conflict began in March 2011 with anti-government protests

North Korea Hackers May Have Stolen Submarine, Weapons Info From South Korea

Joe Difazio, International Business Times
1 November 2017

North Korean hackers broke into a South Korean defense contractor's computers and stole submarine blueprints and other classified military information, according to a South Korean lawmaker.
Kyung Dae-soo, a member of South Korea's hawkish Liberty Korea Party, revealed Tuesday that North Korea was most likely behind a hacking breach into Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering Co. in April.
“We are almost 100 percent certain that North Korean hackers were behind the hacking and stole the company’s sensitive documents,” Kyung told Reuters.
The hackers stole 60 classified documents that included blueprints and data for submarines and different weapons systems, according to Kyung. The latest hacking revelation comes weeks after it was disclosed that a similar hack last year allowed North Korea to steal confidential U.S.-South Korean military information including a plan to take out leadership in Pyongyang in the event of a war.
Kyung said that some of the information pertained to submarine-launched missile technology. North Korea has a fleet of submarines and tested a submarine-launched nuclear-capable ballistic missile last year. Some experts believe that North Korea’s submarines aren’t particularly reliable or advanced, however.
There have been recent reports that North Korea appears to be building its biggest submarine capable of launching nuclear missiles.
Daewoo is responsible for building 17 submarines and 44 warships for South Korea, according to the Wall Street Journal Tuesday.
Hackers also stole Aegis missile defense technology information. Aegis is a missile defense system designed to take out airborne missiles. The system is also employed by the U.S. Navy.

'We're Fed Up Of Nuclear Submarines Rotting In Rosyth' Blasts Scottish MP

Staff, Dunfermline Press
30 October 2017

Dunfermline and West Fife MP Douglas Chapman has called on the MoD to speed up a programme to dismantle seven nuclear submarines in Rosyth.
While welcoming a report from the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) which showed radioactivity doses in Scotland were well within international limits, Mr Chapman said work to rid Rosyth of the vessels was “excruciatingly slow”.
“It’s encouraging that SEPA’s latest report shows radioactivity doses are well within limits,” said Mr Chapman.
“However, Rosyth should not be a sanctuary for toxic submarines and this is something I have raised in Parliament as constituents are fed-up with the subs rotting in their own back yard.
“Yes, they are to be dismantled and removed, but the timescale is excruciatingly slow.
“I’m encouraging SEPA to progress its work with the MoD to manage the area effectively and help rid Rosyth of the subs so that the space in the dockyard basin can be used for more economically-productive uses.”
A total of seven submarines are due to be dismantled at Rosyth and work began on the first, Swiftsure, in December last year.
Once this is completed, best practices developed will be used to refine the disposal process as the programme is progressed.
An MoD spokesperson said work was well under way after initial dismantling began last year as planned. He said all the decommissioned submarines were subject to regular maintenance and checks by the MoD and regulators and pose no additional risks to workers or members of the public.
“Our priority is to ensure that submarine dismantling is undertaken in a safe, secure, cost-effective and environmentally-sound manner,” added the spokesperson.
The current estimation is that one submarine is likely to be dismantled every 18 months.
Dr Paul Dale, radioactive substances unit manager at SEPA, said their report demonstrated that Scotland’s public was protected adequately against sources of radioactivity which could impact on our food and the wider natural environment.
He added: “The report represents a collaborative effort by all agencies to carry out rigorous annual monitoring, to ensure dose levels are well within international limits and the 2016 report confirms that this remains the case.”

Sub Force of Colombia Works Deep Beneath The Sea

Yolima Dussán, Dialogo Military Magazine
30 October 2017

Its work is unseen, its operations silent, its responsibility ongoing, and its results constant: this is the Submarine Force of Colombia. This unit of the Colombian Navy, which navigates in national and international waters in the Pacific and Atlantic oceans, celebrated 45 years of operations on May 14th, 2017.
“The submarine fleet is among the highest representatives of our nation’s naval power,” Captain Rafael Aranguren Devia, commander of the Submarine Force of Colombia, told Diálogo. “The 45 years that we’re celebrating represent Colombia’s pledge to always have a strategic arsenal available, and a responsibility to keep it active, vigilant, and evolving, year after year.”
Also known as the Caribbean Submarine Fleet, the force includes four conventional attack submarines that share operations in the waters of both oceans, and extend their capabilities to other operations where needed. The fleet actively participated in multinational operations such as UNITAS exercises, Operation Pelican, and the Diesel-Electric Submarine Initiative (DESI).
Naval power projection
The submarine force has trained and exchanged doctrines with Ecuador, Germany, and Peru. “To have crew members from other navies aboard our submarines is not frequent. When it happens, it’s due to a very special operation,” Capt. Aranguren said. “We strive to maintain our strategic capacity throughout the region. To achieve that, we continually work on training our men on fleet maintenance.”
The submarine force dates back to 1972, when the Colombian Navy acquired its first two submarines. Those vessels were christened the ARC Tayrona and ARC Pijao, both names of indigenous Colombian tribes that are legendary for the strength and bravery of their men.
The submersibles have been retrofitted in the shipyard of the Science and Technology Corporation of the Naval, Maritime, and Riverine Industry Development in Cartagena, Colombia. They were completely taken apart, their parts repaired, obsolete parts replaced, and were upgraded with the latest sensors, sonar (radar), and control systems. Colombian professionals performed all the work.
“The lifespan of a submarine depends on faithfully following maintenance schedule,” Capt. Aranguren said. “The incorporation of new technology is ongoing to the extent that it has an impact on the doctrine. At this moment, the four submarines we have are highly operational.”
The submarines are 56 meters long, with a six-meter beam and a displacement of 1,200 tons. They can conduct any kind of naval operation with a crew of up to 36 men and eight officers, spending 15 to 45 days at depth.
Another two submarines acquired for $86 million in 2012 complete the fleet. They were operational in 2015, following a three-year process of adaptation to the warm waters of Colombia.
Christened with names that illustrate the operations they conduct—ARC Intrépido (intrepid) and ARC Indomable (untamed)—they can carry 23 people and 800 tons onboard. The submarines can stay on a mission for 15 days without needing to be resupplied. As of 2017, the ARC Intrépido, with a 500-ton displacement, has already navigated 10,000 miles.

A costly dream

In February 1975, three years after the creation of the Submarine Force of Colombia, the Submarine School was established. The center trains officers and non-commissioned officers who man the Colombian Navy’s submarine fleet.
Many men yearn to become submariners. To be a part of a strategic arsenal that heavily influences the nation’s naval and sea power is the dream of many sailors, but not all can achieve it.
“The school only admits sailors who are able to pass the [mandatory] test—a psychological examination. Candidates must meet a specific profile to be able to endure the tremendous psychological pressure experienced in a confined space,” explained Captain Luis Felipe Rojas, director of the Colombian Navy’s “CFESU César Neira Mora” Submarine School, to Diálogo. “After passing that exam, you are then faced with 30 more medical tests in which your overall health is [examined].”
Only five officers and 15 non-commissioned officers are admitted to the course—two years of training. As of today, 300 sailors have achieved the goal of becoming a part of the submarine force. “The knowledge, use, and operation of submarines is highly restricted, which is why there are no exchanges with other countries,” Capt. Rojas explained.
Submariners spend a long time in this unit, nearly 16 years of continuous work in the depths of the ocean, with very little rotation due to the highly specialized nature of the work. There, at the bottom of the sea, they follow a rigorous protocol, working two six-hour shifts with a strict duty log, a balanced dietary program, and recreation spaces—all within the framework of the learned culture that teaches crew members to look after one another, in a cohesive chain of work.

All trained equal

The submariner course has four phases. The first phase consists of physical training and submarine evacuation techniques. In this basic phase, submariners also learn the basic workings of the various onboard systems. The advanced phase involves knowledge and specific use of the equipment. Finally, in the practical phase of boarding, students apply theoretical knowledge and come into permanent contact with navigations.
“There are no specialties,” said Colombian Navy Petty Officer Third Class Robinson Montalbán, who is in the final phase of the course. “The training requires that each submariner learn how to do his colleague’s job. It’s a way of being completely integrated.”
“After 45 years of continuous operations for the [submarine] fleet, the first thing one feels is great pride—group pride, because this is a unit of the Colombian Navy with a lot of esprit de corps and a high degree of teamwork,” Capt. Rojas said. “Having to live together during long deployments closed up in a 56-meter space, where each crew member knows that the crew’s survival depends on him executing his duties, carries with it a high degree of cohesion and professionalism.”

Lockheed Designing US Navy’s XL Unmanned Sub

Robert Brooks, American Machinist
30 October 2017

Lockheed Martin Corp. has a $43.2-million contract from the U.S. Navy to develop a design for the Extra Large Unmanned Undersea Vehicle (XLUUV, known as Orca), a long-haul, long-distance unmanned submarine capable of carrying various types of payloads, such as sensors or weapons.
Lockheed Martin workers in Palm Beach, Fla., will work on Orca, with additional support operations in Manassas, Va., and Syracuse, York, and Owego, N.Y. The timing of the design phase was not announced.
The contract covers the design phase of a two-stage development program. What follows will be a competitive, production phase for up to nine unmanned undersea vehicles.
Earlier it was reported that Boeing Co. also would be participating in the design-phase XLUUV/Orca program, though it has not confirmed its participation.
The Orca will have a reconfigurable payload bay, up to 325 cubic meters, according to some reports. As described by Lockheed, the vessels’ missions would see it transit to an area of operation, and “loiter with the ability to periodically establish communications, deploy payloads, and transit home.” Navy personnel would launch, recover, operate, and communicate with the vehicle in safety, from a home base.
“With each new undersea vehicle that Lockheed Martin designs, we bring to bear the state-of-the-art in technology, and innovative system integration of those technologies, to increase the range, reach, and effectiveness of undersea forces and their missions,” stated Frank Drennan, director, submersibles and autonomous systems, business development. “With decades of experience supporting the U.S. Navy’s mission, our engineers are approaching this design with a sense of urgency and continued agility.”

Israel Is a Military Superpower for This One Simple Reason: Nuclear-armed Subs

Kyle Mizokami, Scout
28 October 2017

Israel’s submarine corps is a tiny force with a big open secret: in all likelihood, it is armed with nuclear weapons. The five Dolphin-class submarines represent an ace in the hole for Israel, the ultimate guarantor of the country’s security, ensuring that if attacked with nukes, the tiny nation can strike back in kind.
Israel’s first nuclear weapons were completed by the early 1970s, and deployed among both free-fall aircraft bombs and Jericho ballistic missiles. The 1991 Persian Gulf War, which saw Iraqi Scuds and Al Hussein [3] ballistic missiles raining down on Israeli cities, led Tel Aviv to conclude that the country needed a true nuclear triad of air-, land- and sea-based nukes to give the country’s nuclear deterrent maximum flexibility—and survivability.
The most survivable arm of the nuclear triad is typically the sea-based one, consisting of nuclear-armed submarines. Submarines can disappear for weeks or even months, taking up a highly classified patrol route while waiting for orders to launch their missiles. This so-called “second-strike capability” is built on the principle of nuclear deterrence and ensures potential enemies will think twice before attacking, knowing Israel’s submarines will be available to carry out revenge attacks.
The first three submarines were authorized before the Gulf War, in 1988, though it is not clear they were built with nuclear weapons in mind. After years of delays construction began in Germany instead of the United States as originally planned, with German combat systems instead of American ones. Most importantly, the project went ahead with German financing; Berlin reportedly felt obliged to finance two of the submarines, and split the third as lax German nonproliferation enforcement had partly enabled Iraq’s nuclear and chemical weapons program.
The first three submarines, Dolphin, Leviathan and Tekuma, were laid down in the early 1990s, but only entered service between 1999 and 2000. The submarines are 187 feet long, displace 1,720 tons submerged and have an operating depth of 1,148 feet. Sensors include the STN Atlas Elektronik CSU-90-1 sonar suite with the DBSQS-21D active and AN 5039A1 passive sonar systems. The Dolphin class also has PRS-3-15 passive ranging sonar and FAS-3-1 passive flank arrays.
Each has ten torpedo tubes in the bow, six standard 533-millimeter standard diameter tubes and four larger 650-millimeter torpedoes. The larger torpedo tubes are more than two feet wide, and reportedly double as ingress/egress chambers for divers. Armament is a mixture of German, American and Israeli weapons, including Seahake heavyweight wire-guided torpedoes and Harpoon antiship missiles. The authoritative Combat Fleets of the World claims the Dolphin subs may have the Triton fiber-optic guided-weapon system. With a range of more than nine miles, Triton allows submarines the ability to attack helicopters, surface ships and coastal targets.
The four large torpedo tubes are the key to Israel’s sea-based deterrent, and without them it’s unlikely the country would have nukes on submarines. The large tubes are used not only for laying mines and sending and receiving divers, but also to launch nuclear cruise missiles. In 2000, the U.S. Navy observed a missile launch from off the coast of Sri Lanka that traveled an estimated 932 miles. Exactly what this missile was is a matter of speculation, but the leading candidate is some advanced form of the Popeye missile.
Popeye was originally an air-launched ground-attack missile. Developed in the late 1980s, Popeye originally used a television camera or infrared seeker to deliver a 750-pound warhead to ranges of up to forty-five miles. The United States Air Force bought 154 Popeye missiles to arm B-52 bombers for conventional attacks, renaming them the AGM-142 Raptor. Israel’s nuclear deterrent is thought to be based on cruise missile version of Popeye, Popeye Turbo, which has a turbofan engine for long.

Russia's Stealth Submarines Have a Problem

Sebastien Roblin, Scout Warrior
29 October 2017

Moscow failed to develop key AIP propulsion technology for its “new” diesel submarines.
Russian media has been trumpeting plans to launch two additional Lada-class diesel-electric submarines, two decades after the hull of the lead boat, the St. Petersburg, was laid down. Left delicately unstated in some of the press releases is that these new boats will lack the Air Independent Propulsion (AIP) systems that were intended to be the class’s defining feature.
Nuclear-powered submarines can easily cost four to eight times more than traditional diesel submarines—but they come with tremendous advantages in quietness, speed and range, plus virtually unlimited underwater endurance. Not only are air-breathing diesel engines noisier, but they require a submarine to periodically surface or snorkel to regenerate the air supply—placing them at great risk of detection. Still, economic and technological considerations dictate that most countries operate mostly or exclusively diesel submarines. Besides, a diesel sub’s short range is less of a problem when employed to patrol local waters rather than cross transoceanic distances.
However, new submarines in the 1990s and 2000s introduced a variety of Air Independent Propulsion systems that allowed them to operate more quietly, and with underwater endurance measured potentially in weeks rather than days—albeit only while traveling at very slow speeds. Germany [4], France, Sweden [5], Japan and China [6] have all become major producers of AIP-powered submarines, and sold them to numerous additional countries.
It made sense, then, that Russia—which historically has operated many diesel submarines alongside its nuclear-powered submarine force—would attempt to develop its own AIP-powered submarine. In 1997, the hull of the Saint
Petersburg was laid down by the Admiralty shipyards, the first of what was to be the Project 677 Lada class. Two additional boats were laid down in 2005 and 2006, the Kronstadt and Veliye Luki (formerly named the Sevastopol).
The Lada class was meant to be a fourth-generation successor to the extremely successful Kilo-class diesel submarine [9], more than fifty of which have been built in three variants and serve in the fleets of Russia, China, Vietnam, Algeria, Poland and Iran. The Project 636 and 636.3 Improved Kilo variants are amongst the quietest diesel submarines—one report [10]claims they equal improved Los Angeles–class nuclear attack submarines in noise levels. In December 2015 the Kilo-class boat Rostov-on-Don was the first Russian submarine since World War II to fire in anger when it launched a cruise missile strike targeting Syrian rebels.
Russian engineers promised that the Lada would produce 50 percent of the noise a Kilo does. The Saint Petersburg finally launched in 2004, and remains in service today as a test bed. The sixty-seven-meter-long submarine has considerably less bulk than the Kilo, displacing only 1,765 tons, and operated by crew of just thirty-five to thirty-eight. Six 533-millimeter tubes with eighteen torpedoes or missiles constitute its armament, and unlike nearly every Russian submarine since World War II, it is of single-hulled construction. Other features included a quasi-conformal Liara bow-mounted sonar, a Letiya (“Lithium”) combat-management system, sensors for detecting electromagnetic emissions (ESM), a seven-bladed propeller with a vortex-cancelling hub, and a special antisonar coating called Molniya (“Lightning.”)
However, the key innovation was intended to be a hydrogen-oxygen AIP which, according to Russian press, converts diesel fuel into hydrogen for power. A Russian designer argued these were preferable to Stirling and MESMA AIP generators, which have moving parts that produce some noise, and the quieter hydrogen fuel-cell technology used in German submarines, which requires the storage of dangerously flammable hydrogen cells. (This might seem an especially pressing concern given the frequency of deadly fires on Russian and Soviet submarines over the years.)
China, which operates Stirling-AIP-powered Yuan-class subs, declared it was interested in purchasing four Ladas. The Admiralty shipyard also floated the possibility of a smaller twenty-one-crew export variant, the Amur-950, which attracted interest from Morocco and was offered to India for its Project 75I program.
But the St. Petersburg never left its sea trials. A November 2011 article [11] by the Russian periodical Izvestia reported that the St. Petersburg’s smaller D49 generators, combined with 2,700-horsepower motors, could only produce half of the power required. Other key systems, including new torpedoes and sonar were reportedly still under development. Construction was abandoned even though Izvestia claimed the hulls of the other two were “almost complete.” Later, Adm. Vladimir Vysotsky groused [12] that the Lada class was on the power level of a “World War II–era” submarine. “Who needs it?”
However, in 2013, Itar-Tass announced that work on the Lada class had resumed. However, actions speak louder than words. In the same time period, the Russian Ministry of Defense ordered six additional Improved Kilo Project 636.3 boats to serve in its Pacific fleet. Most experts agree that Russia simply wasn’t able to develop an effective AIP propulsion system, in part due to a pervasive lack of funding and a tendency to promise big new projects that frequently fail to materialize.
Though Russian officials have occasionally talked up the benefits of AIP-powered submarines, necessary research and development funding has been concentrated on two nuclear-powered submarine projects, the Yasen-class attack submarine and the Borei ballistic-missile submarine.
In 2014, the Russian defense ministry announced it was going to pursue a “fifth-generation” AIP-powered Kalina-class diesel submarine to succeed a “fourth generation” that hadn’t materialized. Among the few details available concerning the Kalina is that it will be able to operate underwater for twenty-five days and feature a modular propulsion unit that “can be replaced at any stage,” suggesting they may begin service with conventional engines until effective AIP can be developed. Though some reports claim new propulsion tech is already well under development, a Russian officer in naval construction stated [13] that a new AIP drive is only likely to come around in 2021–22.
Russian designers have also spoken about developing lithium-ion-battery-powered submarines as an alternate means of extending underwater endurance. However, currently only Japan[14] and South Korea [15] are at all close to implementing this technology on operational submarines.
Ultimately, construction finally did resume on the Lada-class boats, with the Kronstadt and Veliye Luki expected to launch in 2019 and 2021 [16] respectively—without AIP propulsion. After an announcement that production of the series would end after these two boats in 2016, Adm. Vladimir Korolev announced [17] in July 2017 that a fourth and fifth Lada boat would follow—possibly equipped with AIP-powered propulsion, if it were available.
The Kronstadt has already been fitted with two 1,250-kilowatt diesel generators and the same 5,500-horsepower DL42 motor as on the Kilo class. The two upcoming Lada boats will likely bring some new technologies to the table, including the Molniya antisonar coating—just not the extra-quiet AIP system intended to be their defining feature.

Time To Fast-Forward The Future Submarine of Australia

The Interpreter
31 October 2017

Australia’s future submarine program has attracted fewer headlines since the Government decided on the French Shortfin Barracuda design last year. But it was heavily criticised in a recent Insight Economics report, and on the receiving end of some speculative depth charges in a strange, testy exchange between One Nation leader Pauline Hanson and Rear Admiral Greg Sammut during Senate estimates last week.
Australia’s submarine industry is no stranger to poor publicity, attracting sustained and justified criticism throughout the painful ups and downs of the Collins class development. Submarine success stories, like the fixes to Collins’ teething problems, are harder to identify, largely because the submarine arm is publicity averse, given its stealthy line of its work. Yet the Future Submarine Program is now strategically and politically so important it has no prospect of receding into the depths of defence capability. It is simply too big to fail, both in dollar and deterrence terms. The case for a $50 billion submarine program must therefore be made, and continually scrutinised.
Last week's Australian Naval Institute Goldrick Seminar, named in honour of Lowy Nonresident Fellow, Rear Admiral James Goldrick, was an opportunity for just such scrutiny.
Admiral Sammut, who heads the Future Submarine Program, was unsurprisingly at pains to assure his audience that everything is proceeding to schedule since a treaty-level framework agreement was signed in May. A sizeable Australian cohort is already in Cherbourg, France, to participate in the preliminary design work. Sammut confirmed that the 12 new Shortfin Barracuda submarines on order from Naval Group (a specially created offshoot from France’s DCNS) will employ pump-jet propulsion, which he said is equally suited to conventionally powered submarines as it is to nuclear-powered boats.
Sammut reiterated that there are no plans to convert to nuclear power during the lifetime of the submarine program. This has been a lingering suspicion about the decision to go with a DCNS design, since France was the only one of three competitors to manufacture nuclear-powered submarines. Interestingly, Sammut added that no decision has been made on future submarine basing, holding out the possibility that some could be located on the east coast.
Much of the public controversy around the submarine program stems from its astronomical, if largely notional, $50 billion price tag. According to Sammut, this represents a ballpark estimate that extends beyond the construction phase, presumably including through-life costs, though he attached a careful caveat that 'firm cost estimates at this stage of the design process are not credible'.
I asked Sammut if the Commonwealth has flexibility to accelerate submarine delivery, including shifting a portion of the production to France, should there be a deterioration in Australia’s strategic environment. Sammut essentially gave a two-part answer: first, there are no contingency plans to advance the delivery schedule under the existing arrangements or to move it offshore; second, the service-life extension of Australia’s six Collins submarines will continue to provide an effective capability until the new boats start to arrive.
Irrespective of improvements to the Collins’ operational life span, I’m not convinced Australia can afford to wait until 2032 for the first of its 'regionally superior' submarines to enter the water. That’s 15 years from now if the planned schedule is maintained. By then, the youngest Collins hull will be almost 30 years old. Assuming retiring Collins submarines are replaced one-for-one, Australia will remain a six-submarine force for most of the 2030s.
With about half of the world’s submarines set to be concentrated within Australia’s potential area of operations by 2030, that isn’t likely to be enough. Australia’s strategic circumstances have already deteriorated since the 2016 Defence White Paper and the trend is unlikely to improve. Serious thought therefore needs to be given to accelerating the future submarine program, and towards boosting the numbers of submarines beyond the dozen currently envisaged.
According to Naval Group’s CEO, Brent Clark, it is possible to shave six months off the production schedule, from 24 months to 18 per hull, and to initiate production in parallel. Theoretically, that could bring forward the timeframe for delivering the future submarines by several years if the Government is willing to commit extra resources.
Are there other ways to increase the numbers? In September, Former Australian Public Service chief Michael Keating and Professor Hugh White argued that Australia should buy six submarines off-the-shelf to boost capability before the Collins replacement arrives in numbers. They said this would be cheaper than extending Collins into the 2030s. At the Goldrick Seminar, Sammut rejected this option on the grounds that no existing design meets Australia’s strategic requirement for a 'regionally superior' design.
Another possibility would be to supplement the Collins service-life extension by re-opening production of the Collins-class in Australia, with the goal of building up to three new boats before production of the Shortfin Barracuda ramps up. The attraction of this option, beyond delivering a capacity boost from a proven and familiar design, is the potential for flow-on benefits, since a skilled workforce could be concentrated at an earlier stage, then transition on to constructing the Future Submarine.
ASPI’s Andrew Davies also spoke, giving his assessment on the submarine’s future as a war-fighting platform. While Davies is generally sceptical about the long-term future of crewed platforms, in his view submarines remain the most survivable high-end naval platform at Australia’s disposal. In fact, as anti-access and denial technologies mature and become more prevalent across Australia’s region, submarines may become more important in the medium term and 'will have greater longevity than almost any other military platform' including the yet-to-be built future frigates. The oceans are not about to become transparent 'suddenly, or even soon'.
According to Davies, the nature of submarine operations is likely to change radically. Thus the last of Australia’s Future Submarines may be substantially different in capability and function from the first boat delivered. Large submarines will remain necessary for the type of long-distance operations Australia’s force will need to perform. But in future they will be likely to function as standoff platforms for launching underwater drones, which 'will be the platform of choice for operations in areas of significant risk, such as in littoral waters or choke points, where the adversary can focus its resources.'
James Goldrick argued against presenting submarines as a stand-alone capability solution to Australia’s strategic problems. Submarines have a high, if not unique, degree of autonomy, which gives them a 'strategic' quality in conventional deterrence terms. But they still function within a combined-arms and networked command and control environment. Submarines should not be seen as an alternative to surface ships, which are likely to have an enduring role despite their greater vulnerability to missile attack in particular.

Is It Time for the U.S. Navy to Start Building Non-Nuclear Stealth Submarines?

Zachary Keck, National Interest
29 October 2017

If Congress and the Trump administration read a recent article in the Wall Street Journal about Russia’s diesel-electric submarines, they might be thinking America needs to seriously consider acquiring its own conventional submarines.
The blockbuster article by Julian E. Barnes documents a three-month cat-and-mouse game between a Russian diesel-electric submarine and the NATO countries trying to track it. As Barnes writes, “The Krasnodar, a Russian attack submarine, left the coast of Libya in late May, headed east across the Mediterranean, then slipped undersea, quiet as a mouse. Then, it fired a volley of cruise missiles into Syria.”
Barnes shows how the NATO alliance went to great lengths to track the vessel throughout its entire journey. This began with the Dutch following it while it was in the North Sea, before a British ship took over when it approached the English Channel. Once the submarine reached Gibraltar, an American cruiser assisted by P-8 Poseidon aircraft followed the vessel into the Mediterranean.
Moscow had said the submarine was headed to Libya to conduct drills. Before it got there, however, the vessel submerged into water and began firing cruise missiles into Syria in late May. Complicating matters, a U.S. carrier strike group was headed into the same area in early June to participate in anti-ISIS operations in Syria. This made tracking the Russian submarine all the more important because, as one U.S. official explained, “One small submarine has the ability to threaten a large capital asset like an aircraft carrier.”
Barnes goes on to detail some of the various ways the United States and its allies attempt to track submarines like the Krasnodar, as well as some of the evasion tactics the sub used to thwart them. It’s unclear from the article exactly how well the Western naval forces fared in keeping tabs on the Russian sub. A U.S. naval officer does claim that the submarine’s second missile salvo into Syria was monitored by a French frigate and U.S. Navy aerial surveillance. But, if NATO struggled to track the Russian sub, it’s almost certain countries like China or Russia wouldn’t be able to track a similar U.S. submarine.
What is clear from the article is that the United States and its allies devoted extensive resources trying to track the Krasnodar. If they were able to do so, it was only with great difficult. This is important because the United States boasts the best antisubmarine-warfare capabilities in the world, and it has numerous allies and forward bases that were integral in tracking the Krasnodar. Thus, even if America and NATO were able to track the submarine fairly well, countries like China and Russia still might not be able to track a similar Western submarine.
It’s worth noting that the Krasnodar isn’t an especially advanced diesel-electric submarine. As I noted when the submarine was first launched back in 2015, the Krasnodar is a Project 636.3 Varshavyanka-class diesel-electric submarine. Although Russia claims these are the quietest submarines in the world, the Project 636.3 boats are really just upgraded versions of the Kilo-class submarines. They are also fairly cheap. In 2009, Russia signed a deal to provide Vietnam with six Project 636.3 submarines for only $2 billion (and that price included the training of Vietnamese crews and supplying spare parts). By contrast, America pays some $2.7 billion for a single nuclear-attack submarine. Even the largest and arguably most capable conventional submarine, Japan’s Soryu, only costs a little over half a million dollars a piece. Thus, America could procure anywhere from five to seven diesel-electric submarines for the cost of a single nuclear-powered attack submarine.
All this suggests that, especially as America tries to build up a 355-ship navy, it needs to consider acquiring conventionally powered attack submarines to complement its nuclear-powered ones. This would be no small change. The U.S. Navy commissioned its last diesel-electric submarine in the 1950s, and it hasn’t operated one since 1990. Still, the idea of building diesel-electric submarines has gained some steam in recent years. Earlier this year, in a congressionally mandated report on how the Navy should look in 2030, the MITRE Corporation called for fielding conventional subs.
Naturally, U.S. Navy officials pushed back against this proposal, claiming that conventional submarines had serious geographical, logistical and capability shortcomings. But, as the man formerly known as the Naval Diplomat persuasively argued, none of these challenges are prohibitive. First, James Holmes noted that geography was only an issue if the submarines were stationed in the United States. If, instead, America forward deployed them in a place like Japan, they were actually quite advantageous relative to U.S.-based nuclear subs. Similarly, Holmes pointed out that any logistical problems
with conventionally powered submarines could be overcome through some innovations involving Japanese islands. This would not only benefit the diesel-electric subs, but also better empower other naval ships.
With regard to capability, the more advanced diesel-electric subs are not excessively vulnerable. As Holmes pointed out, Japan’s Soryus only have to surface every two weeks. And, while they wouldn’t have the same endurance of nuclear-powered subs, the fact is America could buy at least five Soryus for each Virginia-class nuclear attack submarine. Even if each conventional sub isn’t as capable as its nuclear counterpart, there is strength in numbers, especially when the numbers are overwhelmingly lopsided.
To be sure, there are certain missions on the high seas where nuclear submarines’ greater endurance and deep-dive capabilities are indispensable. On the other hand, in shallow waters and closed sea areas like the Persian Gulf or the South China Sea, air-independent propulsion (AIP) submarines might be preferable. This again suggests that Congress and the Trump administration should at least seriously consider busting the nuclear-submarine monopoly

Monday, October 16, 2017

The Risks of Pakistan's Sea-Based Nuclear Weapons

Ankit Panda, The Diplomat
13 October 2017

Nine days into 2017, Pakistan carried out the first-ever flight test of the Babur-3, it's new nuclear-capable submarine-launched cruise missile (SLCM). A variant of the Babur-3 ground-launched cruise missile (GLCM), this SLCM will see Pakistan's nuclear deterrent head to sea-probably initially aboard its Agosta 90B and Agosta 70 submarines, but eventually, perhaps even on board new Type 041 Yuan-class submarines Pakistan is expected to procure from China.
In a new article in the Fall 2017 issue of the Washington Quarterly, Christopher Clary and I examine some of the novel security challenges Pakistan may experience with its sea-based deterrent. It is already well known that Pakistan has outpaced it's primary rival, India, in terms of its nuclear stockpile growth.
On land, low-yield systems, like the Nasr, have also raised concerns of a lower nuclear-use threshold in South Asia. The move to sea can have some positive effects on overall strategic stability; indeed, the perceived survivability of a sea-based deterrent can abate so-called "use-it-or-lose-it" pressures for Pakistan's land-based forces. But the story doesn't stop there.
Sea-based weapons can aggravate crisis stability concerns in the India-Pakistan dyad and present unique command-and-control challenges for Pakistan, which may be required to place these weapons at a higher level of readiness during peacetime. Finally, Pakistan's internal security environment will remain a concern with a submarine-based deterrent. The threat of theft and sabotage may be greater in the case of Pakistan's sea-based weapons than it is for its land-based forces. In aggregate, we argue that the sea-based deterrent may, on balance, prove detrimental to Pakistan's security.
Pakistan, like other nuclear states, employs a range of physical and procedural safeguards to ensure that its nuclear weapons are only used in a crisis and a with a valid
order from the country's National Command Authority (NCA). The introduction of a nuclear-capable SLCM aboard its Agosta submarines would necessitate the erosion of some of these safeguards.
For instance, some physical safeguards that Pakistan is known to use for its land-based weapons - including partially dissembled storage, separation of triggers and pits, and de-mated storage - would be impractical at sea. Meanwhile, the experience of other nuclear states, like the United Kingdom, with sea-based deterrents suggests that sea-based nuclear weapons generally see fewer use impediments. Pakistan has long asserted that its nuclear command-and-control is highly centralized, but it remains doubtful that this would remain true for its small nuclear-capable submarine force in wartime or a crisis. The temptation to pre-delegate use authorization may be too great.
Leaving aside the command-and-control and safeguard concerns, sea-based weapons may seriously aggravate crisis stability, in other words, the temptation for India to attack first as a crisis begins. The theory behind a survivable sea-based second-strike capability is more compelling assuming a large submarine force capable of maintaining a continuous at-sea deterrent presence. Pakistan's submarine force, by contrast, would likely employ a bastion model - meaning that their peacetime locations would be known and hence the submarines would be vulnerable to Indian conventional attack.
Similarly, Indian forces, unable to discriminate whether a detected Pakistani submarine in a crisis was fielding nuclear or conventional capabilities, would have to presume nuclear capability should the Babur-3 see deployment. All of this in turn not only would make Pakistan's submarine force a prime early-crisis target for Indian forces, but also aggravate use-or-lose pressures for land-based forces.
Ultimately, even if India resisted attacking Pakistani submarines to avoid unintended escalatory pressures, it would at least see value in targeting the Very Low Frequency (VLF) radar facility established at Karachi in November 2016 that would allow Pakistan's NCA to communicate with its at-sea deterrent in a crisis. This would require some confidence in New Delhi that Pakistan had not pre-delegated use authorization and that Islamabad's sea-based weapons would still require the transmission of a use-authorization code from the NCA.
Finally, a major cause for concern with Pakistan's move to the sea with its nuclear forces comes from its ongoing struggle with various radical Islamic militant groups. Here, Pakistan is somewhat unique among nuclear possessor states. While militants have mostly targeted soft targets in urban centers, the Pakistani military has endured major attacks as well. In particular, Pakistan has endured attacks and infiltration attempts at sensitive military and naval sites, some associated with its nuclear program. Then-Defense Minister Khawaja Asif acknowledged that Pakistan Navy insiders even abetted Al Qaeda attackers in the 2014 PNS Zulfiquar attack. (Similar reports surfaced around the time of the 2011 PNS Mehran attacks, too.)
Militants with an eye on Pakistan's nuclear weapons may find no better targets than sea-based systems with fewer physical safeguards. Moreover, the locations of these weapons would be well-known in peacetime, unlike Pakistan's land-based weapons. The Pakistan Naval Dockyard in Karachi or the Jinnah Naval Base in Ormara - the two known sites capable of hosting Pakistani submarines - are thus prime for attack, infiltration, and even insider risks. While many of the above risks raised by the Babur-3 are far from unique to Pakistan, no other nuclear state faces a similar level of internal militancy.
The Babur-3's introduction presents a classic at-sea deterrent dilemma for Pakistan. It can choose to have its presumed second-strike capability either totally secure or readily usable in wartime. For a range of reasons, Pakistan can be expected to opt for the latter option. This will require real compromises on nuclear weapons security that expose Pakistan's sea-based deterrent to theft and unauthorized use. Combined with the crisis stability implications and the more mundane concerns rising from costs, a sea-based leg to Pakistan's nuclear forces appears to be, on balance, a net negative for its overall security.