Thursday, September 7, 2017

Israeli Police Make Six Arrests Over ThyssenKrupp 'Submarine Affair'

Staff, Deutsche Welle
3 September 2017

Israeli police arrested six people on Sunday amid a widening corruption probe into the deals for submarines and naval vessels agreed between the government and German industrial giant ThyssenKrupp.
In a statement, police said the six suspects were detained on suspicion of "economic and integrity offenses."
Authorities did not name those in detention, but the Haaretz newspaper reported that the group included "a former senior official in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's bureau" as well as several high-ranking naval officers.
In July, Thyssenkrupp issued a statement saying it had found no evidence of corruption in its handling of the $2 billion (1.69 billion euro) contract to sell submarines and naval patrol craft to Israel. "Based on the investigative measures we were able to carry out, we found no concrete indications of corruption - neither with regard to submarine projects, nor in connection with the procurement of corvettes," it said, adding the investigation results were "provisional."
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's relative and family lawyer, David Shimron, was cited in reports of the case when retired naval captain Michael Ganor, ThyssenKrupp's former representative in Israel, claimed he was due to earn large amounts of money from the agreement to buy three submarines from Germany.
Germany then said it would not sign off on the arms deal, originally agreed in October 2016, until the investigation into possible corruption was complete. The signing of a memorandum of understanding on the German sale of the three submarines to Israel was postponed in July.
According to television reports in July, Ganor told police that Shimron's commission from the deal between the Israeli state and ThyssenKrupp was to be 20 percent of Ganor's own fee from the German company for brokering it.
The scandal has also touched Avriel Bar-Yosef, a former deputy head of the National Security Council and Eliezer Marom, the former commander of the Israeli Navy. The pair, along with Shimron, have denied any wrongdoing.
ThyssenKrupp rep and his lawyer
Ganor signed a state’s witness arrangement with Israel’s justice ministry in July. In exchange for a reduced sentence of a year in prison and a $2.8 million fine, he agreed to disclose everything he knew.
Netanyahu's lawyer Shimron also acted for Ganor and was allegedly involved in many of his business dealings. Netanyahu reportedly suggested more submarines be bought than the defense chiefs had recommended, but he has denied knowing about his lawyer’s involvement in the arms deals.
The Israeli Justice Ministry has said that Prime Minister Netanyahu is not a suspect in the case.
According to its website: "Virtually no shipyard the world over has more experience in the design and construction of non-nuclear submarines than ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems with its Operating Unit Submarines (Kiel). The Operating Unit is a partner of the German Navy and has also delivered submarines for coastal and blue water deployment to the navies of 19 other countries."

Indian Navy Bids Adieu to INS Sindhurakshak, Sinks Graveyard of 18 Navy Men

Staff, Financial Express
5 September 2017

In August 2013, a huge fire broke out on board the vessel while it was docked at the naval dockyard in Mumbai. The fire led to a series of explosions. This incident led to the deaths of 18 Navy personnel, including three officers.
The Indian Navy has sunk the Indian Naval Submarine (INS) Sindhurakshak four years after a series of explosions on board the submarine claimed the lives of 18 Naval personnel, states a report in the Indian Express. The Navy had decommissioned the submarine earlier this year after two Boards of Inquiry (BoI) stated that the submarine was ‘not seaworthy’. The submarine had been used by the Navy for target practice by the Marine Commandos (Marcos) of the Indian Navy and was sunk recently, according to an Indian Express report.
A top official of the Navy told the Indian Express, “We lost officers and sailors on board the Sindhurakshak. The vessel is akin to a grave site for us and for this reason, we will not scrap the submarine. The submarine was sunk by Marine Commandos after we tested the viability of using the submarine for target practice.” The senior naval officer went on to add that the berth occupied by the vessel on the dock has been cleared and is now being used by other vessels.
In August 2013, a huge fire broke out on board the vessel while it was docked at the naval dockyard in Mumbai. The fire led to a series of explosions. This incident led to the deaths of 18 Navy personnel, including three officers. The 3,000-tonne vessel then sank in the South Breakwater of the naval dockyard. In January 2015 the Navy contracted the Indian arm of US-based Resolve Marine to salvage the submarine. The submarine was then salvaged by the firm in June of that year and handed over to the Navy. The then Navy Chief, Admiral DK Joshi resigned from his post taking moral responsibility for a spate of incidents including the Sindhurakshak, as per an Indian Express report.

Navy Upgrades Attack Submarine Weapons Controls, Sensors

Kris Osborn, Scout Warrior
4 September 2017

Sensors, sonar, weapons control, quieting technologies, undersea drones and communications systems provide the vital arenas through which the US Navy will seek to sustain and build upon its advantage beneath the surface of the ocean.
With this in mind, the Navy’s Virginia-Class Attack Submarines are being upgraded with a new Tactical Control System (TCS) technology to provide weapons control, improved network subsystems, and faster component modernization, a Pentagon announcement said.
The idea with fast evolving TCS and other undersea controls and networking technologies is to engineer a circumstance wherein U.S. submarines can operate undetected in or near enemy waters or coastline, conduct reconnaissance or attack missions and sense any movement or enemy activities at farther ranges than adversaries can.
Along these lines, Navy leaders say the service is making progress developing new acoustics, sensors and quieting technologies to ensure the U.S. retains its technological edge in the undersea domain – as countries like China and Russia continue rapid military modernization and construction of new submarines.
A key element of improving TCS for the submarines includes ongoing Navy efforts to expedite integration of emerging commercial hardware and software.
The current pace of technological changes, including miniaturized components, faster processing speed, new undersea communications possibilities and developing quieting technologies requires submarine operators to quickly integrate the newest innovations as they emerge.
TCS integrates sensor inputs to provide a common operational picture and enhance information assurance for attack and guided missile submarines, according to statements from General Dynamics Mission Systems.
Hardening security and solidifying information assurance between sensors, electronics and data systems is a crucial component of the technical improvements being sought after for TCS. A more secure, interoperable technological system, General Dynamics Mission Systems says, “exploits the power of sonar, electronic support measures, radar, navigation, periscopes and communication."
A key reason for integrating COTS into the Virginia class submarines is because the newer submarines rely heavily on computer technology, automation and advanced sensors.
According to the Navy, TCS makes use of advanced equipment through commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) technology and upgrades it with a practice called Acoustic Rapid COTS Insertion.
“By adapting off-the-shelf technology to upgrading Virginia class, the Navy and its contractors are able to exploit the latest commercial advances while saving money. The commercial sector typically leads the military in fielding cutting-edge electronics, so it makes sense to leverage what's available in the marketplace in support of naval needs,” Loren Thompson, Chief Operating Officer at Lexington Institute, told Scout Warrior.
The Navy will continue to work with GD over a period of more than eight years to sustain the initiative to integrate COTS technologies into the submarine fleet. The most recent deal included a $36 million modification to the arrangement.
Commercially developed software and information are provided openly and freely to the TCS development community of contractors, laboratories, and universities as well as other DOD organizations and partners.
Throughout each development and integration cycle, which takes place on a biennial schedule, the software and system design information is provided at set increments.
This is designed to allow for frequent evaluation and testing by the end user, GD said.
In today’s increasingly contested undersea domain, attack submarines are increasingly performing ISR missions since they are able to reach areas closer to enemy coastline than some surface ships.
Compared to older Navy attack subs like the Los Angeles class, the Virginia class submarines are engineered to bring vastly improved littoral warfare, surveillance and open ocean capabilities, service officials said.
The Virginia-class submarines are designed with this “Fly-by-Wire” capability which allows the ship to quietly linger in shallow waters without having to surface or have each small move controlled by a human operator.
With this technology, a human operator will order depth and speed, allowing software to direct the movement of the planes and rudder to maintain course and depth.
The Block III Virginia class submarines also have a Large Aperture Bow conformal array sonar system that is designed to send out an acoustic ping, analyze the return signal, and provide the location and possible contours of enemy ships, submarines and other threats.
Recent innovations, many details of which are secret and not available, include quieting technologies for the engine room to make the submarine harder to detect, a new large vertical array and additional coating materials for the hull, Navy officials and developers have explained.
Acoustic sensor technology works by using underwater submarine sensors to detect sound “pings” in order to determine the contours, speed and range of an enemy ship, submarine or approaching weapon. Much like radar
analyzes the return electromagnetic signal bounced off an object, acoustics works by using “sound” in a similar fashion. Most of the undersea acoustic technology is “passive,” meaning it is engineered to receive pings and “listen” without sending out a signal which might reveal their undersea presence or location to an enemy, experts have said.
Described as a technology insertion, the improvements will be integrated on board both Virginia-Class submarines and the now-in -development next-generation nuclear-armed boats called the Columbia-Class. .
The Navy’s acoustic technological advancement effort is immersed in performing tactical assessments as well as due diligence from an academic standpoint to make sure the service looks at all the threat vectors – whether that be hydrodynamics, acoustics, lasers, among others.
The emerging technologies, however, are heavily focused upon sensitive, passive acoustic sensors able to detect movement and objects of potential adversary boats and ships at much further ranges and with a higher-degree of fidelity.
While high-frequency, fast two-way communication is currently difficult to sustain from the undersea domain, submarines are able to use a Very Low Frequency radio to communicate while at various depths beneath the surface.
Senior Navy officials have explained that the innovations brought to fruition with these recent efforts do, at least in part, help address an issue raised by a report more than a year ago by the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments.
The report, titled “The Emerging Era in Undersea Warfare,” says the technological margin of difference separating the U.S from potential rivals is expected to get much smaller. This is requiring the U.S. to re-think the role of manned submarines and prioritize innovation in the realm of undersea warfare, the study says.
“America’s superiority in undersea warfare results from decades of research and development, operations, and training. It is, however, far from assured. U.S. submarines are the world’s quietest, but new detection techniques are emerging that don’t rely on the noise a submarine makes, and may make traditional manned submarine operations far more risky in the future. America’s competitors are likely pursuing these technologies even while expanding their own undersea forces,” writes the report’s author Bryan Clark.
In the report, Clark details some increasingly available technologies expected to change the equation regarding U.S. undersea technological supremacy. They include increased use of lower frequency active sonar and non-acoustic methods of detecting submarine wakes at short ranges. In particular, Clark cites a technique of bouncing laser light or light-emitting-diodes off of a submarine hull to detect its presence.
“The physics behind most of these alternative techniques has been known for decades, but was not exploited because computer processors were too slow to run the detailed models needed to see small changes in the environment caused by a quiet submarine. Today, ‘big dat’” processing enables advanced navies to run sophisticated oceanographic models in real time to exploit these detection techniques,” Clark writes.
A Congressional report from several years ago states that Chinese modernization plans call for a sharp increase in attack submarines and nuclear-armed submarines or SSBNs. Chinese SSBNs are now able to patrol with nuclear-armed JL-2 missiles able to strike targets more than 4,500 nautical miles.
The Chinese are currently working on a new, modernized SSBN platform as well as a long-range missile, the JL-3, Congressional information says.

S. Korea Launches New 1,800-Ton Submarine

Staff, Yonhap News Agency
7 September 2017

SEOUL – South Korea on Thursday launched a new 1,800-ton submarine, characterizing it as a "strategic dagger" to strike precisely at a range of targets.
The launch of the diesel-electric submarine wrapped up the Navy's KSS-II acquisition program, which began in 2000, for the introduction of nine 1,800-ton 214-class submarines.
"It's a national strategic dagger capable of precisely striking not only the enemy's ships and submarines but also ground targets deep inland," Adm. Um Hyun-seong, the Navy chief of staff, said during the launch ceremony at the Hyundai Heavy Industries shipyard in Ulsan.
The Sin Dol Seok sub is named after a famous Korean admiral who led the country's fight against Japanese aggression in the late 1890s and early 1900s.
Equipped with South Korea's indigenous 1,000-kilometer-range cruise missile, it is 65 meters long and 6.3 meters wide, and it can sail at a maximum speed of 20 knots.
The Navy plans to put it into operation in 2019 after a series of tests.
It will increase the number of the Navy's submarines to 18. The Navy will begin to introduce 3,000-ton submarines in 2020.

Russia’s New ‘Invisible’ Nuclear Submarines Will Be Undetectable to Enemy Forces

Mikhail Klikushin, Observer
6 September 2017

“In the whole world, Russia has only two true allies,” Russian Tsar Alexander III “The Peacemaker” loved to explain to his advisors, “her Army and her Navy.” Almost 150 years later, Russians wholeheartedly support this motto. In 2015, Vladimir Putin happily repeated it while answering a concerned citizen’s question.
Ten years ago, Russia started to ambitiously modernize her ground and air forces. The country successfully demonstrated the results in Syria and last week declared “the end of the civil war” there.
Russia is modernizing the Navy too, with heavy emphasis on a new class of noiseless nuclear submarines.
The newest Russian nuclear submarines of the Borey-A and Yasen-M classes will soon be invisible to the sonar radars of NATO submarines, anti-submarine ships and aircraft, reports Russian newspaper Izvestia. The submarines will be equipped with new, sealed pumps. The circulation of liquids in the submarine’s reactor, the cooling of its systems and equipment, the submarine’s surfacing and diving, and, most importantly, the filling of torpedo launch tubes with water before firing all depend on the pumps.
The noise from these pumps is a major risk and detection factor for any submarine.
The technical characteristics of these new noiseless sealed pumps are top secret, since they define the physical portrait of each particular submarine. If these parameters become known, the submarine can be easily detected against the background of natural noises in the ocean.
“The amount of noise that a submarine makes is influenced by a lot of factors,” Vladimir Shcherbakov, an expert on naval weaponry, told the newspaper. “First of all, it’s influenced by the main power plant—the nuclear reactor, pumps, diesel engines, shafts, propellers and water jets. In the case of propellers and water jets, noise reduction is achieved by improving their designs. Reducing the detectability of working diesel engines or of auxiliary motors can be achieved with the help of suspension systems and rubber mats onto which they are placed. It’s more complicated with the reactor, since it cannot be placed on the vibro-platform or covered with rugs. Therefore, it’s possible to achieve noise reduction by improving the operation of the reactor’s pumps. The noise of continuously circulating liquid is the loudest sound on the nuclear submarine.”
Moscow promised to build 5 Borey-A and 6 Yasen-M class nuclear submarines by 2020.
In addition to noiseless pumps, these Russian submarines will be equipped with “wet” mufflers to fire torpedoes. New torpedo launch tubes have also been designed to make Russian submarines invisible. They work the same way as silencers on small arms; they drown out the sound of the shot.
Currently, Russian submarines’ torpedo launch tubes are built based on the air-pressure method, meaning that the torpedo’s launch is achieved by highly compressed air. The system requires several minutes to prepare and limits the depth application of torpedoes to 1,000 to 1,300 feet. It also makes the submarine visible to its enemy’s sonic radars, which easily pick up on the noise that the compressed air makes while entering and leaving the torpedo launch tubes. After the torpedo is fired, air bubbles left behind reveal the submarine’s location.
Russian nuclear submarines’ new “wet” torpedo launch tubes will operate on unique impulse-turbo-pump engines that can drive 1,321 gallons of water through their systems in a single second.
“Modern Russian torpedoes will be placed into the launch tubes already in drowned state,” Roman Pykhtin, executive director of the “Vane Hydraulic Machine”
company that produces the launch tubes, told Izvestia. “The crew just has to press the button, and our pump instantly creates the necessary water pressure. As a result, the torpedo will be propelled 23 feet from the submarine. It is the safe distance at which the torpedo’s engine turns on, and the missile starts pursuing its target.”
“Preparation for torpedo launch is a very noisy experience,” Viktor Karavaev, lead designer of the nuclear submarines, told Izvestia. “The process takes only minutes, but it is enough for an enemy to ‘hear’ that an attack is being prepared and take retaliatory measures. Under water, the opening of the torpedo launch tube alone is audible for miles. A new impulse-electronic trigger system provides the weapon’s instant launch, which remains completely unnoticed by the enemy since no preliminary steps, no ‘impulse’ of the launch, and no subsequent perturbations of the environment occur.”
Vadim Kozyulin, professor of the Academy of Military Science in Russia, said that the deployment of the “wet” torpedo launch tubes excludes the use of compressed air, which means that firing missiles will be entirely noiseless and hidden. He explains, “The maximum depth of torpedo weapons’ ‘air’ launch is 1,000 feet. Deeper, it gets impossible to produce the necessary air pressure inside the torpedo launch tube. Modern submarines descend up to 1,650 feet. Currently, a unique deep sea submarine is being created in Russia. It’s the underwater robot carrier ‘Khabarovsk.’ According to available information, the depth of her immersion is 3,280 feet. The use of the impulse-turbo-pump systems for launching torpedo weapons will allow it to shoot them without regard to the fact that the compressed air cylinders simply do not have enough power to push the robot to a safe distance from the submarine. ‘Drones,’ launched at such a depth, are completely invisible to the enemy.”
Torpedo launch tubes are used not only to launch torpedoes, cruise missiles and drones; they set mines and serve as exits for marine saboteurs.
Additionally, Russia is developing another new device to deceive the enemy that can be released from the torpedo launch tube. The device is called a “small-size hydroacoustic countermeasure device Vist-2.” It is 2.6 feet long and weighs 30 pounds. Vist creates a powerful acoustic hindrance that silences the homing heads of torpedoes and submarines’ sonar. It emits a special signal that simulates the sound of a ship or submarine. According to experts, the device, whose operation life is more than five minutes (enough to evade a torpedo or hide from the enemy’s hydroacoustic complex) seriously increases the Russian submarine fleet’s combat capabilities.
Russia’s new generation of noiseless submarines, which can be hidden anywhere around the world in the depths of the oceans—the “black holes” that carry cruise missiles or drones armed with nuclear warheads—is part of Vladimir Putin’s plan to show Washington that no Missile Defense Shield in Europe and no great ocean will protect American soil in case of military conflict.

Friday, September 1, 2017

Iranian Submarine Being Tested: Minister

Staff, Tasnim News
30 August 2017

TEHRAN – Iran’s homegrown military submarine Fateh (Conquerer) has been put through tests for final results, Defense Minister Brigadier General Amir Hatami said.
Speaking to reporters on Wednesday, the defense minister said the Iranian submarine is undergoing tests, whose results will determine when the vessel would enter service.
The 527-ton Fateh submarine is considered a semi-heavy undersurface vessel whose weigh at depth increases to 593 tons. The submarine is equipped with an advanced sonic radar system for identifying enemy vessels and uses a missile defense system.
Thanks to Fateh, the Iranian Navy is now equipped with a full range of light, semi-heavy and heavy submarines.

An Interview with Gen John E. Hyten, Commander, USSTRATCOM

Strategic Studies Quarterly
28 August 2017

General John E. Hyten is Commander of US Strategic Command (USSTRATCOM), one of nine Unifi Commands under the Department of Defense. USSTRATCOM is responsible for global command and control of US strategic forces to meet decisive national security objectives, providing a broad range of strategic capabilities and options for the President and Secretary of Defense.
SSQ: What do you see as the top three challenges for USSTRATCOM?
General Hyten: Challenge number one is, are we ready to execute our mission right now? So readiness must remain the first challenge. But, being “ready” means more than the nuclear business. It means being ready with a decisive nuclear response, it means being ready in space, ready in cyber, ready in global strike, and ready in missile defense. All of the elements—are we ready tonight if the worst day in our country’s history starts.
The second priority is the need to be ready tomorrow. That means modernizing our forces. I talked about the nuclear modernization piece during the USSTRATCOM Deterrence Symposium, but we have a very similar challenge with space modernization. Our current space infra- structure is not built for the contested space environment that exists today, so we have to modernize our space capabilities. Similarly, cyber- space abilities need to be modernized because cyber is still being created and is evolving rapidly. Finally, our missile defense capabilities must be improved. So my second priority is to make sure the commander who comes after me is as ready as we are now.
USSTRATCOM’s third priority is to make sure we always take care of our people. About a decade ago, the ICBM business was almost broken. The morale was low and we lost focus on the most important element of our business, and that’s the nuclear enterprise. And that’s when we started having problems. But, if you go out into the field now you will find a force that is unbelievably motivated and ready. Sometimes I think caring for people is really priority one, because without people we don’t have anything. When the entire security of the nation is at risk, being ready has to be job one. Because if for some reason that readiness goes away, then all of us have a problem.
SSQ: When you look at the breadth of the USSTRATCOM mission, what threats concern you most?
General Hyten: I’ve talked about the threat that concerns me most: can we go fast enough? Somewhere we lost the ability to rapidly adapt and stay ahead of our adversaries. It’s an indictment of every one of us, because we’re all part of the buying process. It’s a threat of ourselves. That’s where my head goes first. People always expect me to talk about an adversary, but that’s my biggest concern, because we are ready today for any adversary we would face. I have ready forces on alert right now that can handle any threat that comes against the United States. And I have no doubt that over the next three years we’re going to work and we’ll stay ready. But, can we go fast enough to make sure it stays that way in the future?
When I look at our adversaries, the biggest concern has to be Russia because it is still the only existential threat to the United States. And then below that, it depends on the specific question, because China, North Korea, Iran, and violent extremism all become great concerns depending on what part of our enterprise you consider. North Korea jumps out right now because they’re the most uncertain. China jumps out for what they’re doing in space. Iran jumps out for what they’re doing with missiles, and violent extremism for the fight that is around the world today, in scattered places. So all of them, depending on the specific question or issue. But, it starts with, we have to go fast enough and we’ve got to make sure we always take care of Russia.
SSQ: When you compare those threats to capabilities, are you satisfied with the current state of the nuclear force?
General Hyten: The current state of the nuclear force is just fine. It’s ready. It’s on alert. It’s ready to perform. The Airmen in the missile fields, the Sailors in the submarine force, the Airmen that operate the bombers and the tankers—they are all ready, right now. The equipment they have is ready right now and they can do the job right now. The equipment they have is ready right now, but the equipment is quite old. This goes back to my priorities. First priority is, can we do it today? And we always have to be, so whoever the commander is, from now for the next 20 years, that’s going to be the top priority. I have a job to make sure that I advocate for resources and capabilities to make sure the commander 20 years from now is as ready as we are today. And unless we modernize our forces, that commander will have a problem. That can’t be allowed to happen.
SSQ: The Nuclear Posture Review (NPR) and the Ballistic Missile Defense Review (BMDR) are both in progress right now. What are your expectations for those reviews?
General Hyten: While both are under way, I would say the Nuclear Posture Review is probably a little ahead of the Ballistic Missile Defense Review, but they’re both in good shape. US Strategic Command is involved in both of those efforts and we understand where they are. I don’t want to share where I think the reviews are going to go because those are the policy of the administration. The president of the United States has the final vote, and he hasn’t voted yet.
So we’re putting together all the work that needs to be done, both on the nuclear side as well as the ballistic missile defense side. Our recommendations will be presented to the administration and ultimately to the president for a decision. I don’t want to assume where either one of those reviews will end up. I’m pretty confident that we will end up with a very strong approach to nuclear deterrence, which will include modernization of our forces.
SSQ: Would you characterize the NPR or BMDR changes as evolutionary or revolutionary?
General Hyten: I would say evolutionary. I don’t think when it comes to our nuclear deterrent, there’s a revolutionary change about to happen. It won’t include space and cyber, but coming out of the Nuclear Posture Review we will broaden our discussion of what strategic deterrence really is in the twenty-first century. The nuclear enterprise is the backbone of strategic deterrence and where deterrence starts. But now we need to build on that and create a multi-domain deterrence structure that delivers integrated effects. Integrated effects means we’ll bring all the capabilities of US Strategic Command against any adversary, anywhere in the world, in any domain, at any time.
SSQ: The Russians have effectively violated the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty. What should the United States do now?
General Hyten: Since Russia violated the INF Treaty, I believe it is in our nation’s best interests to somehow work to bring them back into compliance. That includes a range of options, with our partners and allies, and all the instruments of US government power. I give my recommendations to my leadership, who is the secretary of defense. The secretary of defense, the secretary of state will give their recommendations to the president. The president has the opportunity to make a number of decisions based on our recommendations and he will.
But my desire, and I think the desire of our country right now, is to bring the Russians back into compliance with the INF Treaty because it provides a certain amount of stability we need in the intermediate- range nuclear force regime. It’s the same with the New START Treaty. I support the New START Treaty, particularly the force levels in the New START Treaty because that allows me a clear idea of what it takes to deter Russia. My first job is to provide strategic deterrence. If I know specifically what the Russian capabilities are, and it’s verifiable under a treaty, then I know the force I have to have prepared and ready to provide that deterrence. If that goes a different direction, then it becomes a much more difficult problem for US Strategic Command and all our forces.
Our job as a nation—not just my job, but our job—is to bring them back into compliance. I’ll give my military recommendations and the State Department will give their recommendations and the president will decide the way forward. That will also be part of the Nuclear Posture Review.
SSQ: Very recently you ordered some changes to the organization of USSTRATCOM. Can you share some of the details and explain why you made those changes?
General Hyten: We are making these changes to arrive at a simpler structure. When I took command in November 2016, I sat down with all my commanders—18 of them. And I had four-stars, Navy admirals on my left, Air Force generals on my right; and all my task force and functional component commanders around the table. The agenda had all my component and task force commanders talking to me, but not the four-stars. I realized that all the component commanders and task force commanders worked for those four-stars. So I asked myself, why aren’t they the components, and I’ll just ask them and they can reach out to the guys that already work for them and fix the problem?
We started working through this restructure, and it became part of a larger effort to make sure everybody that works in this command understands it’s a war-fighting command with a normal structure. And that means we should have a war-fighting construct. A war-fighting construct means we’ll have an air component, a maritime component, a space component, and right now, a missile defense component, pending the outcome of the BMDR. But it’s just a war-fighting structure. Everybody who comes into this command comes from a background accustomed to having an air component, a maritime component, a land component—it is a familiar structure.
The only part that is a little different is the space component, since space is part of the command. We need somebody focused on space, and I have a four-star in Colorado Springs in the job I used to be in, that wasn’t the component. He’s the one who knows more about space than anybody and all the space professionals for the most part work for him. So we’re just structuring to focus on war fighting when we come in every morning. It is simpler. I understand why the old structure may have made sense 15 years ago. But to me, the way the world has changed and the threats out there right now require us to focus on war fighting.
SSQ: When you thought about making these organizational changes, were there some missions that needed to be moved into USSTRATCOM or maybe separated from USSTRATCOM?
General Hyten: The only issue that was really on the table was the nuclear targeting piece that was in the Joint Functional Component Command for Global Strike. When it comes to execution of the nuclear mission, that is executed by the president through the commander of STRATCOM and not through a component. So that targeting function needs to be in STRATCOM. I haven’t made the final decision there yet, but the one thing I can tell you is it’s going to come back inside the STRATCOM staff. And again, it’s just going to be normalized.
SSQ: We don’t hear much of anything on civil defense anymore. Should the United States focus more on it?
General Hyten: The Russians did a civil defense drill last year as part of their big exercise with 40 million Russian citizens. Not many people heard about that but you can’t keep something like that secret. Forty million people were involved, responding to a simulated attack. Th attack has to be from the United States.
This is a complicated question but an important one for our citizens. A big part of me, the American citizen part of me, loves living in a country where people don’t worry about that stuff. But there has to be a balance where the people understand they don’t worry about nuclear attack because they support the readiness of the capabilities that allow them not to. That’s the balance we have to find as we go forward.
So I don’t want to scare people. I don’t want to go back to the place where we’re under imminent threat of complete destruction. I want my kids and your kids to be able to live a life where they don’t worry about that stuff in the future. But I also want citizens to be aware that we have to have these capabilities and they have to be ready all the time. For our part, we need to educate the public that a large number of Americans and our allies spend their entire lives creating the environment where others can be free from that type of worry. So that’s the balance I would like to get back to. We’re not going to build giant, million-person civil defense shelters. The public needs to understand that they’re safe and secure because we are ready for the worst day if it comes.
SSQ: If you could change three things within the DOD that affect USSTRATCOM, what would you change?
General Hyten: I would change the buying process we have. Note I said buying process, not acquisition process. One of my big pet peeves is when people hear my speech on modernization challenges they say I’m slamming the acquisition community. I’m not. It’s the buying process that we have across the board. It’s from budget to requirements to acquisition to test—every part of the process. Why I tell the story of the Minuteman I program is because the one thing Gen Bernard Schriever had that we do not have today is all the authority and responsibility to execute a program and a budget on the first of the year. When you have those two pieces, you have the ability to go fast. And oh, by the way, if you fail there is no doubt who’s accountable. If you succeed, there’s no doubt who’s accountable. I would like to reestablish accountability back in the program, which would lessen a number of the bureaucratic layers we have built—not just in the Pentagon, but across our service structure, our buying structure, our contracting structure, everything. I’d like to put those authorities back in the right place.
People think I’m trying to eliminate the Defense Acquisition Executive but that is not the case. I want that oversight. I want the authorities out there in the field, but everybody has a boss. I’m not trying to eliminate bosses, but I would really like to get authority and responsibility back to the field. That’s probably the biggest change I would make.
Next, I would have a budget on the first of the year every year. That would be enormously beneficial. And I’ll just keep it at those two.
SSQ: Twenty years from now, do you envision the command being different than it is today? And if so, how?
General Hyten: Twenty years from now. Well, Cyber will have stood up as a unified command. I expect to have a very interesting command relationship with US Cyber Command because we’re going to have to integrate the information component of our nation, and that’s going to require a very tight partnership between Cyber Command and Strategic Command.
I also see 20 years from now a Space Command that’s probably either under as a subunified command or a separate command. And we’re going to have to figure out how to integrate those pieces together.
So I see some changes happening. It will be interesting 40 years from now to see whether all that stuff comes back together. But, in the near future the cyber and space elements—because of their importance— standing up and being focused on. Then the job of Strategic Command will be to integrate all that together to provide a strategic deterrent for the nation across all the capabilities that we have. But the mission will remain the same, with more modern capabilities, and I still see the priorities being the same.
SSQ: General Hyten, on behalf of the Strategic Studies Quarterly team and the entire SSQ audience, thank you for your time and for sharing your thoughts and ideas. We wish you all the best as commander of USSTRATCOM.

India’s Second Nuclear-Armed Submarine, ‘Aridaman’, Ready For Launch


Staff, Swarajyamag
25 August 2017

Aridaman, India’s second nuclear-armed submarine of the Arihant class, could be launched as early as in the next six to eight weeks, reported Manu Pubby for The Print.
Directly monitored by India’s National Security Adviser, the development of the nuclear submarine was kept under wraps “with no Indian official authorised to talk about the project”, said the report.
According to Pubby, “it will be a while – a year at the earliest – for the boat to be ready for sea trials”.
India's indigenously built first nuclear submarine INS Arihant was quietly inducted into the strategic force command, completing the nuclear triad, in October last year.
India is among a select group of countries which has a nuclear triad, i.e., capable of delivering nuclear weapons by aircraft, ballistic missiles and submarine-launched missiles.
India also has plans to develop six nuclear-powered but conventionally armed submarines at a likely cost of over $12 billion.

Solving The Mystery Of What Killed A Civil War Submarine Crew

Michael Nedelman, CNN
23 August 2017

The dead submarine crew hadn't moved from their stations for nearly 150 years when the vessel was raised from the ocean in 2000. Whatever killed them happened so suddenly that they never made a run for the escape hatch. What's more, they had no obvious physical injuries.
There was no major damage to the hull that could be definitively traced back to the day the H.L. Hunley, a 40-foot-long Confederate submarine, sank to the ocean floor off Charleston, South Carolina, on February 17, 1864.
Researchers had unsealed the crew compartment of the submarine, but they have yet to find conclusive evidence of how the eight men aboard died.
A number of theories have tried to explain the mystery of the Hunley: Maybe the crew went too deep, misjudged their oxygen supply and got trapped by the current. Maybe a nearby ship collided with the sub, throwing it off balance into chaotic waters. Maybe a bullet made through a porthole, killing the captain and leaving a beleaguered crew adrift at sea.
But in research published Wednesday in the journal Plos One, one group of scientists thinks they've finally cracked the case of what killed the crew so swiftly.
The Hunley became the first sub to sink an enemy ship in battle: the USS Housatonic. But sometime after, it went down, too.
It sank the enemy ship with a 135-pound torpedo, which was filled with black powder and attached to a pole 16 feet from the ship's hull. The study authors say the torpedo is the key -- but many have wondered how an explosion could've killed the entire crew without leaving a trace.
To answer this question, biomechanist Rachel Lance designed a model of the Hunley, one-sixth the length of the 40-foot-long submarine. The model, built by Durham-based sculptor Tripp Jarvis, was christened the CSS Tiny.
Lance, then a graduate student at Duke University and an engineer with the Naval Surface Warfare Center, decided she would set off test explosions next to the model submarine. So she found an eight-acre pond on a family-run farm in St. Louis, North Carolina. Bert Pitt of Pitt Family Farms agreed to let Lance use the pond to conduct her experiments.
"Initially, when she was talking about blasting, I was a little concerned," said Pitt, 65, a sixth-generation family farmer, whose grandchildren now make eight generations.
Pitt recalled the wires snaking into the lake and the charges that detonated beneath the surface, splashing water into the air like a large firecracker, he said. One of his grandkids got to press the button. "It had a little geyser to it," he said. "It was neat to see."
Pitt, a self-proclaimed history buff, had always been interested in the Civil War. He has ancestors who were in the North Carolina Regiments, and at least one of them is buried in their own family graveyard. The house he lives in was built in 1830, before the Hunley sank.
He keenly eyed reports about the Hunley on the History Channel and the National Geographic Channel.
"They were sitting perfectly still in that submarine," Pitt said. "I think people would like to know what did happen to the crew. Everything about the story is intriguing."
Suspended inside the CSS Tiny was a small pressure gauge, which revealed how the sub's own torpedo blast could have killed the Hunley crew without leaving a lasting mark: the shock wave created by the blast.
The shock wave hit the Hunley's hull, which was less than an inch thick, said Lance, lead author of the new study. The metal bent ever so slightly but fast enough to transfer the blast wave to the inside of the cabin.
That wave then traveled through the cabin, hitting each of the eight crewmembers, traveling through their bodies. But the real damage, Lance said, probably occurred when the pressure wave reached their lungs.
"The issue is when it's passing through (the tissues) and it suddenly hits air," she said.
Shock waves, like sound waves, travel quickly in water and solids but not air. The wave slows as it hits the lung, Lance said, and "that energy has to transmit somewhere."
The end result: The blood vessels in the lungs can rupture, known as a pulmonary hemorrhage.
"It was ... noted that men could be killed or disabled at considerable distance" from an explosive, Dr. Thomas Chiffelle, a pathologist from Albuquerque, New Mexico, wrote in a 1966 report for the US Department of Defense. "The man or animal may be killed outright, without external signs of injury, but often with blood-tinged froth or frank blood appearing in the nose and mouth."
It is possible to survive a blast wave from far enough, according to Chiffelle's accounts. Witness accounts from the night of the Hunley's sinking claimed that there was a blue light coming from the ocean. Some speculated that it was the Hunley crew signaling that they'd accomplished their mission.
But Lance, who is working on a book about the Hunley, said that she has doubts about inconsistencies in these testimonies.
It is virtually impossible to know how powerful the Hunley's torpedo blast was, even with the amount of black powder used. The blast can also change with how tightly the powder is packed and how fine the grains are, according to the Naval History and Heritage Command. Replicating the black powder explosion, Lance said, was the trickiest part of the experiment.
So Lance lowballed it, testing several blasts in the process. She concluded that the shock wave would have instantly killed those aboard the Hunley, based on her calculations and a wealth of prior air blast experiments on large animals.
"Any explosive we've seen in the field ... would definitely create a lethal wave," Lance said.
"These types of injuries are not subtle," she added. "The damage is immediate."
There was another piece of evidence that stood in her favor: a gold pocket watch that belonged to the Hunley's captain, Lt. George Dixon.
The watch had stopped at 8:23, about the time of the Hunley's attack, historians believe.
"Most importantly, it appears it didn't wind down naturally," according to a 2007 update by a research partnership known as the Hunley Project. "Something traumatic -- perhaps water, a shock wave, or some other intervening force -- caused it to stop at that precise time."
Friends of the Hunley -- part of the Hunley Project, which was not involved in the new research -- declined to comment on the research. The organization maintains and researches the original submarine.
Prior naval research has concluded that "neither phase of the explosion was severe enough ... to have significantly impacted Hunley."
"We had a lot of submariners survive being depth-charged at very close quarters during WWII," said Paul Taylor, a spokesman at Naval History and Heritage Command. "You sort of wonder how they did OK, but supposedly the folks in the Hunley didn't."
The Navy researchers who have been examining the Hunley for over a decade declined to comment on Lance's study while their own research on the crew deaths is ongoing.
But Lance, for one, said she feels like this part of the mystery has been solved.
"This project was originally intended to be a side project, and then it spiraled out of control when we realized we could do actually do it," she said.

What We Know About the U.S.'s New Nuclear Missile

Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics
23 August 2017

The U.S. Air Force has awarded contracts to Northrop Grumman and Boeing to build a new long-range intercontinental ballistic missile. This new missile, called the Ground-Based Strategic Deterrent (GBSD), will replace the 45 year old Minuteman III.
America's strategic nuclear arsenal is built on a "triad" model—nuclear warheads are distributed among a force of bombers, ballistic missile submarines, and intercontinental ballistic missiles, each with their advantages and disadvantages. Bombers are slow but can be retasked, have a "man in the loop," and can be recalled if necessary. Ballistic missile submarines launch missiles that are less accurate but nearly undetectable when submerged. Finally, land-based intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), sitting in reinforced underground concrete silos, carry larger warheads and are highly accurate, capable of taking out enemy ICBMs in their own silos if necessary.
America's current ICBM is the LGM-30 Minuteman III, and about 400 of them sit below ground in silos scattered across the Midwest. Each Minuteman has one, two, or three thermonuclear warheads, each with an explosive yield of 350 to 475 kilotons. For reference, the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima that killed up to 126,000 people had a yield of just around 15 kilotons. With an estimated range of 8,100 miles (the exact range is classified), the Minutemen III is accurate enough to place fifty percent of its warheads within 200 yards of their targets.
The Minuteman III was introduced in the 1970s, outlasting even the famous M-X "Peacekeeper" missile. While the Minuteman III has received a steady stream of upgrades over the years, the Air Force says Minuteman was originally designed with only a 20-year lifespan and the time for replacement is now, though the new missiles won't enter service until the 2030s.
So what do we know about the GBSD? Very little. The Department of Defense Request for Proposal for the missile program was top secret, with only two employees of companies bidding on it allowed to access the government request online and distribute to the rest of their teams—and they needed secret clearances.
According to Northrop Grumman literature, GBSD will involve a total overhaul of the entire ICBM system, including new missiles, new launch control buildings, and the logistical and communications infrastructure that supports the ICBM fleet. As the General Accounting Office pointed out in 2016, the Minuteman III fleet still requires 8-inch floppy disks to operate.
But not everything in the ICBM fleet will be replaced. The missile warheads containing the actual thermonuclear explosives will be recycled from the Minuteman III, as will the launch silos.
In terms of performance, GBSD will likely be nearly identical to the Minuteman III. The 8,100 mile range of the Minuteman III ensures the U.S. can strike any nuclear-armed adversary in the northern hemisphere, and the U.S. has no nuclear enemies in the southern hemisphere. Treaty obligations limit the number of warheads each U.S. missile can carry, so there's no need to make the missile bigger.
Instead, the focus on GBSD will on making the missiles upgradeable and reliable. The Air Force wants the new missile to remain in service until 2075, and making it future-friendly, with open architecture engineering that allows easy component upgrades is essential to keeping them in service for an estimated 45 years. The missiles will constantly be on alert, and need a high level of reliability, especially if nuclear disarmament doesn't quite work out.
The Congressional Research Service, in its breakdown of costs for the GBSD, says the Air Force is planning to purchase around 642 missiles, with 450 missiles in the same silos that keep today's Minuteman IIIs warm. The remaining 192 missiles would be used for test flights, kept in storage as replacements, and periodically launched as a spot-check to ensure the viability of the overall force.
As you'd expect, 642 nuclear missiles doesn't come cheap. The Air Force's estimate for the entire program, from support buildings to the missiles themselves, is $63 billion, while the Pentagon's Cost Assessment and Program Evaluation office has estimated $85 billion. The latter number is about one-seventh of the entire defense budget for 2016, spread out over 20 years. As much as that is, Boeing claims a new missile solution is actually cheaper than continuing to support the existing Minuteman III force.
But the real question is if the Air Force even needs these weapons. Arguably, advances in submarine-launched ballistic missile technology have made them the equal of land-based missiles, but submarine launched missiles are not available to launch 24 hours a day, seven days a week, within minutes of a red alert. Russia has been shifting more of its own ICBMs to a truck transporter-based launch mode, with Moscow's Topol-M and Yars missiles capable of scattering across Russia's vast wilderness in roving, heavily armed convoys. Against constantly moving targets, bombers might be a better choice.
In the meantime, Northrop Grumman and Boeing each have been awarded just under $350 million to churn out Technology Maturation and Risk Reduction (TMRR) studies before the Air Force picks a single winner.
For now, a new ICBM is in America's future.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

First of Andreyeva Bay Fuel Reaches Mayak

Charles Digges, Bellona
17 August 2017


The first of 22,000 spent nuclear submarine fuel rods arrived Wednesday at the Mayak reprocessing facility in the Ural Mountains after traversing thousands of kilometers by water and rail from the Russian Arctic.
The spent fuel comes from Andreyeva Bay, a Cold War nuclear junkyard fraught with radioactive leaks located just 55 kilometers from the Norwegian border.
Since the 1980s Andreyeva Bay has been a worry to Moscow and the West alike. After the fall of the Soviet Union, Bellona and the Norwegian government led the
charge to call for a cleanup of the submarine maintenance yard.
On June 27, their efforts yielded success when a ship called the Rossita sailed away with the first of some 50 loads of spent nuclear fuel bound for Murmansk. Once there, the fuel was transferred to a train and shipped 3000 kilometers to the Mayak Chemical Combine in the Chelyabinsk region.
The removal is being funded by the Northern Dimensions Environmental Partnership, an enormous Russian nuclear cleanup fund managed by the European Bank of Reconstruction and Development.
The cleanup follows on a 2007 mechanism worked out by Russian state nuclear corporation Rosatom to decommission and rehabilitate sites formerly operated by Russia’s nuclear navy.
“The shipment of the fuel to Mayak was an historic occasion,” Anatoly Grigoriev, who heads up Rosatom’s international technological assistance program, said. “We checked the whole transport technological plan for the delivery of the spent fuel from the pier at Andreyev Bay, through Murmansk to Chelyabinsk.”
Grigoriev said that removing the remaining fuel from two large storage tanks at Andreyeva Bay would take the next five years. Another tank, which holds fuel rods that were damaged and are hard to remove, could take another five years on top of that.
“That the first load of fuel was delivered to Mayak safely is very good news,” Nils Bøhmer, Bellona’s managing director said. “Unfortunately, not much is known about how they will handle the fuel in Chelyabinsk – Bellona hopes Rosatom will be more open about this issue, and will soon invite international experts to visit Mayak.”
“We have to know that solving radioactive legacy problems in one area doesn’t create another problem in another area of Russia,” he added.
Bøhmer’s words strike a chord hit on by many Russian activists. The Mayak Chemical Combine is routinely cited as the most radioactively contaminated place on earth. In 1957, a radioactive waste tank at Mayak exploded, forcing the evacuation of 17,000 people.
When the site began reprocessing fuel in 1977, the contamination only grew. Radioactive byproducts arising from the separation of plutonium and uranium have been dumped into local rivers and lakes. Cancer rates among the local population continue to rise.
In a release, Mayak said it had been preparing for the Andreyeva Bay fuel for several years. Mayak chief engineer Dmitry Kolupaev said the site had modernized its storage facilities for damaged fuel rods and beefed up fuel transport security.
“In the 1980s our enterprise reprocessed a large amount of conditioned spent fuel from nuclear submarines and other nuclear vessels,” said Kolupaev in a statement. “Now we’ve moved on to the finishing decisions to problems of reprocessing damaged fuel assemblies.”
He added that dealing with the ecological issues around the fuel removal had long been under discussion at Mayak, and that throughout the process, he and his technicians would gain valuable experience that would benefit other such projects that the government may undertake.
Rosatom’s Grigoriev said the next shipment of fuel to Mayak will leave Andreyeva Bay in 2018.
Andreyeva Bay had been piling up spent nuclear submarine fuel for more than two decades when its troubles began in earnest in 1982.
That year, a crack developed in its now-notorious Building 5, a storage pool for thousands of spent fuel assemblies. The ensuing leak threatened to dump a stew of plutonium, uranium and other fission products into Litsa Fjord, fouling the Barents Sea.
The water was drained and the fuel painstakingly moved, but that revealed other problems. The fuel elements from Building 5 needed somewhere to go, so they were rushed into hastily arranged storage facilities that were supposed to be only temporary. The temporary storage solution has now spanned the last 30 years. Meanwhile the leaking radioactive water contaminated much of the soil around Building 5.
It took the government years to catch up to the problem. In 1995, the Murmansk regional government paid it first visit to the secretive military site and, based on what it saw, shut down its operations. Five years later Moscow finally got involved, taking Andreyeva Bay out of the military’s hands and giving it to Rosatom.
Finally, in 2001, an enclosure was built over the three storage buildings to prevent further contamination while technicians worked to remove the spent fuel and load it into cases. Roads were built and cranes were brought in. Personnel decontamination posts went up, along with a laboratory complex and power lines.
A host of nations pumped funding into the burgeoning city whose central industry was safely packing up decades of nuclear fuel from Russia’s past nuclear soldiers. Starting in 2003, France, Germany, Japan, Italy, Canada and Great Britain, joined by Finland, Denmark, Sweden, and the European Commission pooled resources for a total contribution of $70 million over several years.
But Norway has led the pack by far, contributing some $230 million over the past 20 years toward safely removing Andreyeva Bay’s spend nuclear fuel – a national movement spawned when Bellona published its first report on Northwest Russia’s nuclear hazards in 1996.

Trump Mulling Lifting Status Of Cyber Command: Sources

Idrees Ali and Warren Strobel, Reuters
17 August 2017


WASHINGTON – U.S. President Donald Trump is close to making a decision to elevate the status of the Pentagon's Cyber Command, signaling more emphasis on developing cyber weapons to deter attacks, punish intruders and tackle adversaries, current and former officials told Reuters on Thursday.
A current U.S. official, who was speaking on condition of anonymity, said Trump could make a decision as early as Friday. The official added that the timeline could be pushed back if the White House was dealing with more pressing issues.
The Pentagon and White House declined to comment.
Two former senior U.S. officials with knowledge of the plan said that the proposal awaiting Trump's approval would elevate Cyber Command and lead to a 60-day study to determine whether Cyber Command would be separated from the National Security Agency, a spy agency responsible for electronic eavesdropping.
That would lead to Cyber Command becoming what the military called a "unified command," equal to combat branches of the military such as the Central and Pacific Commands.
It would give Cyber Command leaders a larger voice in arguing for the use of both offensive and defensive cyber tools in future conflicts.
Currently, the NSA and Cyber Command organizations are based at Fort Meade, Maryland, about 30 miles north of Washington, and led by the same officer, Navy Admiral Michael Rogers.
NSA's focus is gathering intelligence, officials said, often favoring the monitoring of an enemy's cyber activities. Cyber Command's mission is geared more to shutting down cyber attacks and, if ordered, counter attacking.
The NSA director has been a senior military officer since the agency's founding in 1952. Under the plan, future directors would be civilians, an arrangement meant to underscore that NSA is not subordinate to Cyber Command.
Established in 2010, Cyber Command is now subordinate to the U.S. Strategic Command, which oversees military space operations, nuclear weapons and missile defense.
Stratcom Commander Describes Challenges of 21st-Century Deterrence
Cheryl Pellerin, DoD News, August 17

WASHINGTON — Strategic deterrence starts with nuclear capabilities because nuclear war always has been an existential threat to the nation, but deterrence in the 21st century presents new challenges and integrates new capabilities, the commander of U.S. Strategic Command said during a recent interview with DoD News at his command's Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska, headquarters.
Air Force Gen. John E. Hyten said his three priorities for Stratcom are simple: one, above all else provide a strategic deterrent; two, if deterrence fails provide a decisive response; and three, respond with a combat-ready force.
But unlike in past decades, the 21st century presents more than one adversary and more than one domain, he said.
"It's now a multipolar problem with many nations that have nuclear weapons, … and it's also multidomain. … We have adversaries that are looking at integrating nuclear, conventional, space and cyber, all as part of a strategic deterrent. We have to think about strategic deterrence in the same way," Hyten said.
The vision for Stratcom, he added, is to integrate all capabilities -- nuclear, space, cyberspace, missile defense, global strike, electronic warfare, intelligence, targeting, analysis -- so they can be brought to bear in a single decisive response if the nation is threatened.
"We can't [assume] that having 1,550 deployed strategic nuclear weapons under the New START Treaty somehow deters all our adversaries. It doesn't," the general said. "We have to think about all the domains, all the adversaries, all the capabilities, and focus our attention across the board on all of those."

Modernization

Modernization is critical to the future of the U.S. deterrent capability, Hyten said, because all elements of the nuclear triad -- bombers, intercontinental ballistic missiles and nuclear submarines -- will reach a point within about 15 years at which they're no longer viable.
"They are viable today. They are safe, secure, reliable, ready, [and] they can do all the missions they need to do today," he said. "But in the not-too-distant future, that won't be the case. Sadly, we've delayed the modernization of those programs really too long. And now if you lay all the modernization programs out on a single table and you look at when they all deliver, they all deliver just in time."
The next intercontinental ballistic missile delivers just in time to replace the Minuteman, and the Columbia nuclear submarine delivers just in time to replace the Ohio-class sub, he added.
"Any one-year delay in Columbia means the future Stratcom commander is going to be down one submarine. And any future delay in the ICBM means we're going to be down a certain number of ICBMs," Hyten said.
It's the same with the nation's B-52 and B-2 bombers, the general said. The B-52 is an old but amazing weapon delivery platform that will have no penetration capability because of evolving penetration profiles. The B-2 is aging out and must be replaced by the B-21. The B-21 will come along just in time to provide the bomber capabilities the nation needs, he added.
"I don't want a future Stratcom commander to ever face a day where we don't have a safe, secure, ready and reliable nuclear deterrent," he said. "It has to be there."

Extended Deterrence

Extended deterrence is another critical job for Stratcom, Hyten said, noting that assurance is one of the most important things the command does for U.S. allies.
"When you look at our allies like the Republic of Korea or Japan, we have capabilities here that provide an extended deterrent for those two allies and a number of other allies around the world," he said. "It's important that the United States always assure them that we will be there with the capabilities that we have if they're ever attacked with nuclear capabilities. That's what extended deterrence means."
Assurance can come through demonstrations, partnerships and exercises, he noted.
"There is a challenge right now with North Korea, and it's very important for the Republic of Korea and for Japan to know that we will be there. And we will be," he said.

Stratcom's Strength

Stratcom's strength lies with the 184,000 people who show up and do Stratcom business every day, Hyten said.
"The best part of being a commander is actually seeing the young men and women who do this mission every day," the general said. "The soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines sign up to do some of the most difficult jobs that our country has, and man, they do it, they love it and they're good at it."
Hyten said he can't emphasize the importance of Stratcom's people enough. "Sometimes it brings tears to your eyes when you see the quality of the people who come, who raise their hand and want to come and serve our country," he added.
The general said he loves the fact that Stratcom's people raise their hands and swear an oath to support and defend the U.S. Constitution, an ideal written down on a piece of paper more than 200 years ago. That ideal still is what drives men and women of the nation to want to serve, he added.
"The people of this command take that very seriously," Hyten said, "and they are just remarkable in what they do."

China's Quantum Submarine Detector Could Seal South China Sea

David Humbling, New Scientist
22 August 2017


On 21 June, the Chinese Academy of Sciences hailed a breakthrough - a major upgrade to a kind of quantum device that measures magnetic fields. The announcement vanished after a journalist pointed out the invention's potential military implications: it could help China lock down the South China Sea.
"I was surprised by the removal," says Stephen Chen of the South China Morning Post, who raised the issue. "I have been covering Chinese science for many years, and it is rare."
Magnetometers have been used to detect submarines since the Second World War. They are able to do this because they can measure an anomaly in Earth's magnetic field - like one caused by a massive hunk of metal.
But today's devices can only detect a submarine at fairly short range, so tend to be used to home in on the location once the sub has already been spotted on sonar.

Superconducting fix

You could widen their range if you had a magnetometer based on a Superconducting Quantum Interference Device, or SQUID. Superconducting magnetometers are exquisitely sensitive, but their promise has been limited to the lab. Out in the real world, they are quickly overwhelmed by background noise as minuscule as changes in Earth's magnetic field caused by distant solar storms.
Given that level of sensitivity, you can forget about mounting such a sensor on an airplane, for example. The US Navy gave up work on superconducting magnetometers to pursue less sensitive but more mature technologies.
The new magnetometer, built by Xiaoming Xie and colleagues at the Shanghai Institute of Microsystem and Information Technology, uses not one SQUID but an array of them. The idea is that by comparing their readings, researchers can cancel out some of the extra artefacts generated by motion. This "would be relevant to an anti-submarine warfare device", says David Caplin at Imperial College London, who works on magnetic sensors.
Although the announcement concerning Xie's work has been removed, several of the previous papers culminating in this breakthrough are still available.
The achievement points to an airborne device that can detect submarines from several kilometers away rather than just a few hundred meters. This would be catastrophic for NATO submarines, which have been honed to run ever more quietly, using clever technology that prevents them from being heard or detected on sonar. Their magnetic signature is much harder to eliminate.

Noise problem

Could China soon have the most sensitive submarine detector in the world? No Western navies are known to have SQUID detectors.
Researchers estimate that a SQUID magnetometer of this type could detect a sub from 6 kilometers away, and Caplin says that with better noise suppression the range could be much greater.
Not everyone is convinced the Chinese magnetometer is ready for deployment. Cathy Foley at CSIRO, the Australian government research agency, says there are several difficulties with turning a SQUID into a sub-hunter - for example dealing with background magnetic noise. Nobody has yet solved all of these problems, although she says the rate of Chinese progress means they may well be first to succeed.
SQUIDs are only one of the ways that China has been upgrading its anti-submarine capability over the last few years. The "Underwater Great Wall", a string of submerged sensors, buoys and drone submarines, is thought to be close to completion. The project will help China extend its offshore surveillance zone.
Beijing has long wanted to change the rules of engagement in its waters. Earlier this year it drafted new laws requiring any foreign submarine to get approval before entering Chinese waters, and once there, to stay surfaced and display its national flag. "Can the Chinese make these systems work reliably while in motion in the air or underwater? We'll be watching their progress closely," says Foley

Navy Extends, Upgrades Sub-Launched Nuclear Weapons to 2080

Staff, Scout Warrior
20 August 2017

The Navy has already been working on technical upgrades to the existing submarine-launched Trident II D5 nuclear missiles in order to prevent obsolescence and ensure the missile system remains viable for decades to come.
Lockheed Martin Space Systems has received a $22.2 million contract for material, labor and support services for the U.S. Navy's Trident II D5 submarine-launched ballistic missile production.
The US Navy is accelerating upgrades to the nuclear warhead for its arsenal of Trident II D5 nuclear-armed submarine launched missiles -- massively destructive weapons designed to keep international peace by ensuring and undersea-fired second-strike ability in the event of a catastrophic nuclear first strike on the US.
Navy Strategic Systems leaders have emphasized the need for long-term sustainment of the triad's sea-based leg, creating a need to maintain submarine-launched nuclear weapons to 2080.
The Navy has also been working on the missile's MK 6 guidance system to continue specific work on the weapon's electronic modules.
As part of the technical improvements to the missile, the Navy is upgrading what's called the Mk-4 re-entry body, the part of the missile that houses a thermonuclear warhead. The life extension for the Mk-4 re-entry body includes efforts to replace components including the firing circuit, Navy officials explained.
Navy and industry engineers have been modernizing the guidance system by replacing two key components due to obsolescence - the inertial measurement unit and the electronics assembly, developers said.
The Navy is also working with the Air Force on refurbishing the Mk-5 re-entry body which will be ready by 2019, senior Navy officials said.
Navy officials said the Mk-5 re-entry body has more yield than a Mk-4 re-entry body, adding that more detail on the differences was not publically available.
The missile also has a larger structure called a release assembly which houses and releases the re-entry bodies, Navy officials said. There is an ongoing effort to engineer a new release assembly that will work with either the Mk-4 or Mk-5 re-entry body.
The Trident II D5, first fired in the 1990s, is an upgraded version of the 1970s-era Trident I nuclear weapon; the Trident II D5s were initially engineered to serve until 2027, however an ongoing series of upgrades are now working to extend its service life.
The 44-foot long submarine-launched missiles have been serving on Ohio-class submarines for 25 years, service leaders explained.
The missiles are also being planned as the baseline weapon for the Columbia-class ballistic missile submarines.
Under the U.S.-Russia New START treaty signed in 2010, roughly 70-percent of the U.S.' nuclear warheads will be deployed on submarines.
Within the last several years, the Navy has acquired an additional 108 Trident II D 5 missiles in or
Trident II D5 Test Firing from the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Florida in recent years, a specially configured non-armed "test" version of the missile was fired from the Navy's USS Maryland. This was the 161st successful Trident II launch since design completion in 1989, industry officials said.
The missile was converted into a test configuration using a test missile kit produced by Lockheed Martin that contains range safety devices, tracking systems and flight telemetry instrumentation, a Lockheed statement said.
The Trident II D5 missile is deployed aboard U.S. Navy Ohio-class submarines and Royal Navy Vanguard-class to deter nuclear aggression. The three-stage ballistic
missile can travel a nominal range of 4,000 nautical miles and carry multiple independently targeted reentry bodies.
The U.S. and UK are collaboratively working on a common missile compartment for their next generation SSBNs or Columbia-Class ballistic missile submarines.
The 130,000-pound Trident II D5 missile can travel 20,000-feet per second, according to Navy figures. The missiles cost $30 million each.
The "Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists" further describes the weapon -- "The Trident D5s carry three types of warheads: the 100-kiloton W76/Mk-4, the 100-kiloton W76-1/Mk-4A, and the 455-kiloton W88/Mk-5 warhead, the highest-yield ballistic missile warhead in the U.S. arsenal."

Pentagon Narrows Competition For The Next Big U.S. Nuclear Missile Deterrent

Aaron Gregg, The Washington Post
321August 2017

A high-stakes competition to rebuild a critical component of America’s aging nuclear arsenal was narrowed down to two companies on Monday, as the Air Force awarded Boeing and Northrop Grumman the next phase of a contract to replace the Minuteman ground-based inter-continental ballistic missile.
In a contract award announced by the Air Force on Monday afternoon, the two companies were awarded $349.2 million and $328.6 million contracts respectively for improving upon the key strategic deterrent. The decision effectively rejected a bid by Bethesda-based Lockheed Martin, which also had competed for the work.
Boeing and Northrop now have three years to develop the next ground-based strategic deterrent missile, after which a single company is to be selected to run the program.
“The Minuteman III is the enduring ground-based leg of our nuclear triad. However, it is an aging platform and requires major investments to maintain its reliability and effectiveness,” Air Force Gen. Robin Rand, commander of Air Force Global Strike Command, said in a statement. Producing an advanced ground-based missile “is the most cost-effective ICBM replacement strategy, leveraging existing infrastructure while also implementing mature, modern technologies and more efficient operations, maintenance and security concepts.”
Inter-continental ballistic missiles produced and maintained by Boeing under the Minuteman program have been at the center of the U.S. military arsenal since the late 1950s. The weapons make up one leg of the United States’ so-called nuclear triad, which includes the capability to launch nuclear missiles on a moment’s notice from air, ground and submarine.
“As the Air Force prepares to replace the Minuteman III, we will once again answer the call by drawing on the best of Boeing to deliver the capability, flexibility and affordability the mission requires,” Frank McCall, Boeing’s program manager for the effort, said in a statement.
In a statement posted Monday, Northrop Grumman chief executive Wes Bush emphasized his own company’s past experience with missile programs.
“As a trusted partner and technical integrator for the Air Force’s ICBM systems for more than 60 years, we are proud to continue our work to protect and defend our nation through its strategic deterrent capabilities,” Bush said in a statement.
But the U.S. arsenal is aging, and the Pentagon has been working to overhaul all three legs. The Navy’s Columbia-class nuclear submarine is slated to replace the older Ohio-class submarines sometime after 2020. And a contract decision on the more-controversial long-range stand-off missile, meant to be launched from a B-52 bomber, is slated for later this week.
For the ground-based version awarded Monday, whichever company comes out on top will be the recipient of a windfall of defense spending from the U.S. military that could continue to pay dividends for decades to come. Costs of the program have been estimated to be at least $85 billion.
The Defense Department’s decision Monday comes as a blow to Lockheed Martin, which is still smarting from a major loss on the B-21 stealth bomber. The firm had put together a star-studded list of subcontractors that included defense manufacturer General Dynamics to build the missile’s various control systems, Bechtel to control its launch systems, and Orbital ATK and Aerojet Rocketdyne to jointly handle propulsion. Boeing and Northrop have declined to name their partners on the contract bid.
“We are disappointed with the outcome of the Ground Based Strategic Deterrent competition, and we look
forward to a debrief about the selection with the Air Force,” said Sydney Owens, a Lockheed Martin spokeswoman, in an email. “We are confident our proposal delivered an affordable GBSD solution that meets all mission requirements. We remain fully committed to supporting the Air Force on our existing strategic deterrence programs.”
Asked whether Lockheed Martin would protest the decision, Owens responded: “We will determine next steps following a debrief from the Air Force.”
Loren Thompson, a defense consultant whose firm gets funding from several of the firms involved in the competition, said the contract award is a sign that the Trump administration’s Pentagon would continue many of the previous administration’s plans with respect to the long-term health of the nuclear arsenal.
“President Trump ran for the White House saying he was going to modernize the U.S. nuclear arsenal, and now he is following through on the Obama Administration’s plans to do just that,” Thompson said. “The replacement of Minuteman missiles eventually could be a hundred-billion-dollar program, so staying alive in the competition was crucial to all of the competitors.”

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Amid Doklam Standoff, Chinese Submarines Spotted Near Indian Coast


Staff, Times Now,
15 August 2017
Forays into the Indian Ocean by Chinese submarines is on the rise. On April 22, a Yuan class diesel-electric submarine was spotted in the Indian Ocean. This is one of the more modern and dependable Chinese submarines; they have a reputation of being "quiet."
The Yuan class boat visited Karachi on May 26 and left on June 1 and then, again on July 11 for six days. Karachi is perhaps a natural destination for a Chinese submarine as Pakistan is a close ally. In recent times, Sri Lanka has not been keen to host Chinese submarines or as the Lankans say, submarines from any countries. The submarine was also accompanied by a PLA vessel.
The official reason for the presence of the PLA Navy has been "anti-piracy" missions. But surely, a submarine, and one as advanced as this one, isn't the best way of fighting pirates off the coast of East Africa.
The Chinese submarine was also spotted near the Indian coast. Intelligence sources say it was about 300 nautical miles off Kanyakumari.
The presence of the Yuan class boat comes while the Indian and Chinese armymen are involved in a face-off in Doklam. The eyeball to eyeball moment has stretched for two months now. In the past Indian and Chinese troops would have less worrying faceoffs; just waving flags at each other and sometimes, ‘wrestling’ with each other. But there are about 3000 troops on both sides in Doklam and no diplomatic solution is evident. Diplomatic efforts to end the crisis have failed, so far.
There is also increased activity in other border areas. The Chinese troops had entered Barahoti in Uttarakhand but that was dismissed as just ‘soldiers coming in and going out.’ There is also an indication of increased activity by Chinese air force fighter planes in the airfields of Tibet, but there is usually a spike with the onset of summer.

Russia’s Ministry of Defense Confirms Construction of 2 Advanced Attack Subs

Franz-Stefan Gady, The Diplomat
15 August 2017

The Russian Ministry of Defense has confirmed the expected delivery date of two new Project 636.3 Kilo-class (aka Vashavyanka-class) diesel-electric attack submarines in a August 14 statement. “Two Project 636.6 Varshavyanka-class diesel-electric submarines named Petropavlovsk-Kanchatsky and Volkhov will be added to the Russian navy by the end of 2020, provided that their in-plant and state tests go well,” the statement reads.
As I reported earlier this month, the two new submarines are destined for Russia’s Pacific Fleet. The two boats were laid down at the Admiralty shipyards in Saint Petersburg on July 28 in the presence of Russian Deputy Defense Minister Yuri Borisov. The first submarine will likely be delivered to the Pacific Fleet in 2019 with the second boat expected to arrive in the Russian Far East the following year.
“The decision to accelerate the construction of Kilo-class subs was partially made due to delays in the Project 677 Lada-class diesel-electric attack submarine program,” I reported earlier this month. “Although, the Russian Navy expected to operate three Lada-class subs by the end of 2018, so far only the lead boat of the class has entered service and is currently undergoing operational testing.”
The Project 636.3 Kilo-class is an improved variant of the original Project 877 Kilo-class design (nicknamed “Black Holes” by the U.S. Navy). The updated version is slightly longer in length, and features improved engines and noise reduction technology. Project 636.6 boats are also extremely quiet. Among other things, the sub features a special anechoic coating applied on the outer hull surface to reduce noise emanating from the boat’s interior. Furthermore, the sub’s main propulsion plant is isolated on a rubber base preventing vibrations that can be picked up by enemy submarines.
The submarine’s range is over 7,500 nautical miles and it can stay submerged for almost two weeks. It can operate for up to 45 days before needing to be resupplied. However, the sub still lacks an air-independent propulsion (AIP) system. Russia has so far not successfully tested an AIP system aboard a submarine. According to experts, the first AIP system for Russian subs will not be available for testing until 2021-2022.
The improved Kilo-class can fire both torpedoes and cruise missiles, launched from one of six 533 millimeter torpedo tubes. Project 636.3 Kilo-class subs have been primarily designed for anti-submarine and anti-surface ship warfare. However, over the past two years, Project 636.3 subs have repeatedly attacked land targets with M-54 Kalibr (NATO designation: SS-N-27A “Sizzler”) cruise missiles in Syria.

Northrop Grumman to Demonstrate Autonomous Networked Unmanned Vehicles

Stephen Carlson, UPI
16 August 2017

Northrop Grumman will demonstrate autonomous unmanned undersea and unmanned surface vehicles at the Advanced Naval Technology Exercise at the Naval Surface Warfare Center this week.
The demonstration will coordinate multiple undersea and surface autonomous vehicles alongside an aerial vehicle to collect targeting data for enemy seabed infrastructure, followed by an undersea vehicle engaging the target.
The unmanned vehicles will be operated by a single management command and control in accordance with the Navy Common Control System requirements.
"Executing undersea strike with existing technology using multi-domain autonomous platforms equipped with networked sensors and advanced mission management for command and control provides significant offensive and defensive capability in the maritime environment," Northrop's undersea warfare director Jeff Hoyle said in a press release.
Previous demonstrations last year showed undersea vehicles providing targeting information for air-dropped weapons, but the current exercise will apply toward engagement by the undersea vehicle directly in a test environment.
ANTX is an annual three-day event designed to test new technology with academic, industry and Navy participants.
Networked unmanned vehicles autonomously coordinating their data-sharing and movements is a key part of future strategy for the Navy, as well as other services. Networks of drones could be deployed for sea mine hunting, clearing underwater obstacles, and detection of enemy submarines and other threats.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Why U.S. Stopped Building One of Best Subs Ever Made

Kyle Mizokami, Scout
6 August 2017
The Seawolf-class submarines were envisioned as the best submarines ever built. Designed to succeed the Los Angeles–class attack submarines and maintain.

The Seawolf-class submarines were envisioned as the best submarines ever built. Designed to succeed the Los Angeles–class attack submarines and maintain America’s edge in the underwater domain, the class suffered from cost overruns and the collapse of the Soviet Union. While still some of the best submarines ever built, they were built at reduced numbers. In many respects, they are the F-22 of submarines: widely considered the world's best, but costs made wide their wide usage a major challenge.
In the late 1980s, the U.S. Navy was faced with a crisis. In 1980, the Soviet Union had received information from the Walker family spy ring that the Navy could track its submarines through excessive propeller noise. As a result, the Soviet Union went looking for advanced Western machinery to make better propellers. In 1981, the Japanese company Toshiba sold propeller milling machinery—now relatively common nine-axis CNC milling machines—to the Soviet Union via the Norwegian Kongsberg Corporation.
By the mid-1980s, the Soviet Union’s new machinery began to make itself felt. The new Akula-class submarines had a “steep drop in broadband acoustic noise profiles”. One government source told the Los Angeles Times, “the submarines started to get silent only after the Toshiba stuff went in.” On top of running silent, the Akula class could
dive to depths of up to two thousand feet—while the U.S. Navy’s frontline submarines, the Los Angeles class, could dive to only 650 feet.
To combat the threat of the Akula class, the U.S. Navy responded with the Seawolf class of nuclear attack submarines. The Seawolf submarines were designed with HY-100 steel alloy hulls two inches thick, the better to withstand the pressures of deep diving. HY-100 steel is roughly 20 percent stronger than the HY-80 used in the Los Angeles class. As a result, the submarines are capable of diving to depths of up to two thousand feet, and crush depth estimates run from 2,400 to 3,000 feet.
At 353 feet, Seawolf subs were designed to be slightly shorter than their predecessors, by just seven feet, but with a twenty percent wider beam, making them forty feet wide. This width made them substantially heavier than the subs before them, topping the scales at 12,158 tons submerged.
The Seawolf submarines are each powered by one Westinghouse S6W nuclear reactor, driving two steam turbines to a total of 52,000 shaft horsepower. The class was the first class of American submarine to utilize pump-jet propulsors over propellers, a feature that has carried over to the newest Virginia class. As a result, a Seawolf is capable of eighteen knots on the surface, a maximum speed of 35 knots underwater, and a silent running speed of about 20 knots.
The Seawolf class is equipped with the BQQ 5D sonar system, which features a twenty-four-foot-diameter [9] bow-mounted spherical active and passive array as well as wide-aperture passive flank arrays. The submarines are being refitted with TB-29A thin-line towed array sonar systems [10]. Rounding out sonar systems is the BQS 24, for detection of close-range objects such as mines.
The ship’s original combat data system was the Lockheed Martin BSY-2, which uses a network of seventy Motorola 68030 processors—the same processor that drove early Macintosh computers—and is now being replaced with the AN/BYG-1 Weapons Control System.
The submarines were designed to be true hunters, and as a result have eight torpedo tubes, double the number of earlier submarines. It has stores for up a combination of up to fifty Mark 48 heavyweight torpedoes, Sub-Harpoon antiship missiles, and Tomahawk missiles. Alternatively, it can substitute some of this ordnance for mines.
The resulting submarine is according to the U.S. Navy ten times quieter over the full range of operating speeds than the Improved Los Angeles submarines, and an astonishing seventy times quieter than the original Los Angeles–class submarines. It can run quiet at twice the speed of previous boats.
This formidable increase in performance came at formidable increase in cost. The total Seawolf program was estimated at $33 billion for twelve submarines, an unacceptable cost considering the Soviet Union—and the threat of the Akula and follow-on subs—ended in 1991. The program was trimmed to just three submarines that cost $7.3 billion.
The extreme quietness of the Seawolf class gave the Navy the idea of modifying the last submarine, USS Jimmy Carter, to support clandestine operations. An extra one hundred feet was added to the hull, a section known as the Multi-Mission Platform [11] (MMP). The MMP gives Carter the ability to send and recover Remotely Operated Vehicles/Unmanned Underwater Vehicles and SEALs and diving teams while submerged. It includes berthing for up to fifty SEALs or other attached personnel. Carter also features auxiliary maneuvering devices fore and aft for precise maneuvering in situations such as undersea cable tapping and other acts of espionage.
The Seawolf-class submarines are outstanding submarines, but the Cold War mindset at the time of development accepted high performance and consequently high costs to meet a high-level threat. The post–Cold War Virginia class forced the Navy to rein in costs while still producing a progressively better submarine. While unsuccessful as a class, the tiny Seawolf fleet is still a very useful part of the U.S. Navy submarine force, giving it capabilities not even the Virginia class can match.

Nuclear-concerned Norway wants to give iodine tablets to citizens


Staff, The Local
8 August 2017

NORWAY -- The presence of nuclear submarines along the coast of Norway means an increased risk of accidents, according to Norwegian authorities.
Maritime visits such as those from the 172-metre-long Russian sub Dmitry Donskoi, the world’s largest nuclear submarine currently sailing off Norway’s coast, are no longer a rare event, according to the Norwegian Radiation Protection Authority (Statens strålevern, NRPA).
The Russian vessel can carry up to 200 nuclear warheads and is powered by two nuclear reactors.
“We have seen an increasing number of nuclear submarines off Norway’s coast – both visiting allies and Russian submarines patrolling off the coast all the way to Great Britain,” NRPA section manager Astrid Liland told NRK.
Increased numbers of nuclear submarines along the coast of Norway increase the risk of radioactive accidents, say authorities, who have now decided to assess the viability of distributing iodine tablets to parts of the population.
“An accident of this kind with a nuclear-powered submarine could actually occur anywhere along our coast,” Liland said to NRK.
A study group has been assigned to analyse how iodine tablets, sometimes used as a preventative measure against thyroid cancer in children and young adults after nuclear accidents, can be made available to that group, as well as to women who breastfeed.
For the tablet to have any effect, it must be taken within hours of any exposure to radioactive iodine.
43 crates containing a total of three million iodine tablets are already being stored at a depot in Oslo as one of Norway’s nuclear contingency precautions.
These tablets could be distributed to municipalities in the relevant areas.
Nuclear submarines are not the only reason for the Norwegian authorities’ increased concern over radioactive accidents.
Aging nuclear power plants across Europe as well as increasing tensions between Russia and the West also concern Norwegian authorities, writes NRK.
The Dmitry Donskoi sailed through Danish territorial waters in July as part of a joint exercise between the Russian and Chinese navies.

Sea, Air, Land and Space Updates

Jack Viola, Real Clear Defense
8 August 2017

Sea state:

Russia has laid down the hulls for two new diesel-electric submarines to be deployed in the Pacific. The Varshavyanka-class subs, due to be completed in November 2019, are ‘primarily designed for anti-submarine and anti-surface ship warfare’. Submarines have become an increasingly important element of the Russian Navy since its rate of shipbuilding slipped behind that of other powers in the region, particularly China. Its existing surface ships are predominantly Cold War remnants.
China and ASEAN have adopted a framework for negotiation for a code of conduct in the South China Sea (SCS). The framework seeks to build on the 2002 Declaration of conduct for parties in the SCS and was hailed by Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi as ‘really tangible progress’ in SCS negotiations. Many pundits do not share Mr Wang’s optimism and see the adoption as a time-buying measure from China. The adoption comes after Vietnam’s ‘kowtow to Beijing’ over drilling activities in the South China Sea last week.
The Chinese flotilla that conducted joint drills in the Baltic with the Russian Navy has now docked in Finland. The Finnish defence minister welcomed the arrival as a sign of Finland’s ‘friendly relations with China’.

Flightpath:

The economic sanctions on Qatar have forced Doha to consult the International Civil Aviation Organization about accessing flight paths over international waters. Qatar has been unable to fly in airspace belonging to Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt or Bahrain since June, when they cut ties with Qatar.
Russian jets were intercepted flying close to Estonian airspace on Tuesday, just hours after US vice president Mike Pence visited Estonia and pledged support to the Baltic States in overcoming ‘aggression from your unpredictable neighbor to the east’. Russia sent two MiG-31 jets and an aircraft carrier into the region, for reasons that remain unknown.
Romania plans to acquire 36 F-16 fighter jets in the next five years, as part of its US$11.6-billion defence upgrade. The plan also involves purchasing a High Mobility Artillery Rocket System, missile launchers, and other vehicles and equipment.
The US is proceeding with plans to sell 12 A-29 Super Tucanos to Nigeria, a deal that was halted after the Nigerian Air Force mistakenly bombed a refugee camp. The deal will proceed in an effort to help defeat Boko Haram, on the understanding that the fighter operators will also be trained in ‘human rights and the law of armed conflict’.

Rapid fire:

The cause for the crash of a Tiger helicopter in Mali last week that left two German soldiers dead continues to remain unclear. The Australian Army is probably watching closely, as it already has a list of issues with its own 22 Tigers, including running ‘seven years late in achieving final operating capability (FOC) and only then with a series of caveats’.
As we’ve observed before, the battlefield of tomorrow is being studied intensely. Captain Ted Taber from the US Army School of Infantry says that infantry ‘requires a capability beyond the reach of its infantry fighting vehicle (IFV) and 7.62mm machine gun’. Here in Australia, Major Troy Mitchell looks at the potential of (and need for) an Australian amphibious strategy that ‘enables anticipating, preparing, and organizing for forward power projection to support national interests and security’.
Armies from 28 countries have taken to Siberia: Russia is staging the third International Army Games, which began last Friday. Russia sees the games as an ‘opportunity to demonstrate that Russia has international partners’ despite cooling relations with the West. Commander-in-Chief of Ground Forces Salyukov claims that invitations were sent to NATO members, but Greece was the only one to accept and participate.
Video footage of an obstacle course for tanks? You’re welcome.

Zero gravity:

The US Department of Defense has been investing in various Silicon Valley satellite technology startups, through its Defense Innovation Unit Experimental (DIUx) branch. These public–private investments could potentially assist in defence of the US mainland in the case of a North Korean missile strike. DIUx has been actively supporting the development of new technologies and companies since August 2015, serving a similar role to the CIA’s venture capital firm In-Q-Tel. Such partnerships are often mutually rewarding. NASA backed Space X in a private–public arrangement under its previous administrator, Mike Griffin (also previously president of In-Q-Tel). Space X is now valued at $21.3 billion. Australia should consider developing its own DIUx—or its own In-Q-Tel, as Brendon Thomas-Noone argued on The Strategist.
More information has emerged about Russia’s latest ICBM, the RS-28 Sarmat. The new weapon improves on older Russian ICBMs, with additional penetration aids and the ability to withstand a first strike. The Russian media has claimed that the weapon is a replacement for the SS-18, a huge ICBM given the NATO codename Satan (video). Experts in Washington believe the weapon is more likely to be a replacement of the SS-19, a significantly smaller missile (video). This news comes as a shock for those among us who thought SS-18 referred only to next year’s spring/summer fashion collections.

Russia’s arms sales weaken China in the Indo-Pacific area

Emanuele Scimia, Asia Times
8 August 2017

CHINA -- Recent joint naval exercises conducted by Russia and China in the Baltic Sea caused considerable alarm to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. But despite all the hype around the alleged expansion of military cooperation between Beijing and Moscow, there is no sign the Sino-Russian comprehensive strategic partnership of coordination – the highest level of diplomatic relationships for the Asian giant – is evolving into a full-blown formal alliance.
As Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments senior fellow Toshi Yoshihara put it, speaking to Asia Times: “Sino-Russian military drills are mostly about political signaling, even though Chinese naval reach will increase as Beijing maintains a permanent presence in the Indian Ocean.”
During a visit to Finland on July 27, which coincided with the end of the drills in the Baltic waters, Russian President Vladimir Putin said Sino-Russian military exercises were not aimed at any third country, noting that
Moscow and Beijing did not establish military blocks or military alliances.
Putin was right, though some might be tempted to think that he simply offered platitudes. China and Russia are not allied, and the most striking evidence of this comes from Moscow’s arms sales to rivals of Beijing in Asia.

The South China Sea’s defense market:

A number of countries that have overlapping claims with Beijing in the South China Sea are important customers for Russian defense manufacturers. Among them, Vietnam is by far the largest buyer of weapons produced in Russia.
Last January, the Vietnamese navy completed the induction of six Russian-built Kilo-class submarines designed to operate in “green” (shallow) waters against enemy surface and underwater vessels. Hanoi has also shown that it could deploy its Russian-made K-300P Bastion-P coastal defense system on some of the larger islands it controls in the disputed Spratly chain.
As well, Russia is expected to deliver two more Gepard-class frigates to Vietnam by the end of the year. It has already supplied the Vietnamese naval forces with high-speed Svetlyak-class frigates and Tarantul-class missile corvettes.
Further, Hanoi ordered 64 Russian T-90 main battle tanks last month, is discussing with Moscow the acquisition of four S-400 Triumf missile defense systems, and was offered MiG-35 fighter jets to replace its retired fleet of MiG-21 aircraft.
Malaysia, the Philippines and Indonesia are intensifying defense ties with Russia too. In July, Moscow signed a deal with Kuala Lumpur to modernize Russian-produced MiG-29 fighters in service with the Malaysian air force.
For its part, the Philippines is not currently a recipient of Russian arms systems, but it is seeking a loan from the Kremlin to buy them in the near future. In May, during a trip to Moscow by Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, the Russian government appeared ready to meet Manila’s demand and urged its Southeast Asian counterpart to submit a weapons wish list, according to media reports.
In contrast to Malaysia and the Philippines, Indonesia has generally maintained a low profile in the South China Sea. However, Chinese claims to waters around the Indonesian archipelago of Natuna, and related fishing rights in the area, are a source of concern to Jakarta, which is turning in part to Russia to improve its defense capabilities. In particular, the Southeast Asian nation will buy 11 Sukhoi Su-35 fighters and could acquire the Varshavyanka-class diesel-electric submarine.
Arming India:
India remains the top destination of Russian-manufactured weapons amid continued tensions between New Delhi and Beijing in the Himalayan region. The two Asian powers are currently skirmishing along the border dividing the Indian state of Sikkim and the Donglang (or Doklam) Plateau, an area controlled by China but claimed by Bhutan.
India started negotiations to buy five S-400 batteries last year. New Delhi is also in an advanced stage of discussions with Moscow for the purchase of four Grigorovich-class stealth frigates and will jointly produce Kamov-226T light helicopters with the Russians.
Last July, at the MAKS air show in the Moscow region, the chief executive of Russia’s Rostec Corporation, Sergey Chemezov, told Indian media that cooperation between India and the Russian government on the T-50 PAK FA fifth-generation fighter jet was moving forward – the two parties still disagree on key components such as the aircraft’s engine.
In addition, Russia is poised to lease a second Akula-class nuclear-powered submarine to India after the INS Chakra and is negotiating the sale of 48 Mi-17 military transport helicopters to the Indian Air Force.
Indo-Russian defense cooperation is also focused on joint development of advanced arms systems like the BrahMos anti-ship and land-attack supersonic cruise missile. New Delhi is now developing an air-launched version of the BrahMos (the BrahMos-A), which is designed to be mounted on to its Sukhoi Su-30MKI fighters.
It is said Russia and India might start marketing and selling BrahMos cruise missiles in third countries, with Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines and Singapore being indicated as potential purchasers in Southeast Asia.

Brothers-in-arms sales:

Common aversion to the US for its meddling in what Russia and China view as their own geopolitical domains – the former Soviet space for Moscow and the China Seas for Beijing – keeps the Sino-Russian strategic partnership going.
China is making the best out of a bad situation. It probably believes Russia’s arms sales to India and Southeast Asian nations are not changing the military balance in the Himalayas and the South China Sea at the moment. The Kremlin in essence uses the same argument to justify its transfer of weapons to countries that are at odds with Beijing.
Thus tactical contingency is prevailing in China against strategic calculus. However, this could be a mistake by Beijing. Relations between Moscow and Washington have plunged to a perilous low, but in their competition to place arms orders with India and Southeast Asian countries the two powers are separately contributing to the weakening of China’s position in the Indo-Pacific region.
Paradoxically, the US and Russia have become “brothers-in-arms sellers” to Beijing’s potential enemies. And Malaysia’s recent adaptation of its Sukhoi Su-30 combat aircraft to drop US laser-guided bombs gives the best snapshot of this accidental Russian-US collaboration.