Sunday, April 23, 2017

India Seeks Submarine Upgrade To Plug Scorpene Data Leak

Staff, Defense World
18 April 2017

India will push for several upgrades in the proposed three new Scorpene submarines it is discussing with France to address concerns of any compromise in the submarine’s capability following the leak of its technical specifications in Australia last year.
“We will look at the cost of the upgrades based on which we will take a call whether to go for the additional ones or carry on with the acquisition of the next line of submarines as planned,” a senior defence official was quoted as saying by the Hindu Tuesday.
Mazgaon Docks Ltd. (MDL), Mumbai, is manufacturing six Scorpene conventional submarines with technology transfer from DCNS under a $3.75-billion deal signed in October 2005.
The detailed discussions pertaining to the additional buy would be held during the India-France strateigic dialogue around December. As per plan, all submarines are expected to be launched from MDL by 2020 and both sides are on to firm up a deal before that to keep the production line running and preserve the expertise, another official said.

Moroccan Navy Shows Interest in Greek Submarines

Staff, North African Post (Via Far-Maroc)
18 April 2017

Senior commander of Morocco’s Royal Navy had talks with Greek peers on a set of issues of mutual interest, on top of which the possibility of acquiring Submarines used by the Greek navy, said the website Far-Maroc specializing in military issues.
The same source reported that commanders of the Tarik Ben Zyad and Sultan Moulay Ismail frigates raised during a visit to Greece the prospects for strengthening cooperation between the two countries’ navies as well as the possibility of acquiring used Greek submarines.
Since last year, negotiations have been ongoing between Morocco and Russia on the delivery of the Amur-class 1650 super-quite submarine, which will be the Kingdom’s first submarine.
Russia’s Amur-1650 diesel-electric powered submarine will significantly boost Morocco’s capabilities, as it will carry Club cruise missiles in addition to featuring air-independent propulsion (AIP). With a length of 66.8 meters and a beam of 7.1 meters, the submarine can sink into a depth of 250 meters.
The acquisition of submarines will also boost the capabilities of the Royal navy in its protective mission of the 2952km coastline stretching from the strait of Gibraltar to the Mauritanian coast on the Atlantic and from Tangier to the Algerian coast on the Mediterranean.
The main Atlantic bases of the Moroccan navy are found in Casablanca, Agadir and Dakhla, while the Mediterranean bases are located in Ksar Sghir and Al Hoceima.
Although it was established in 1960, the Moroccan navy traces its roots back to the 11th century with the rise of the Al Moravid dynasty, and during the era of the Almohad dynasty, which stretched through the Maghreb, the Moroccan navy was the mightiest in the Mediterranean.

Submarines of the Future Could Be Piloted Using Virtual Reality

Luke Dormehl, Digital Trends
18 April 2017

When it comes to exploring groundbreaking new technologies with the potential to shape our future, few companies can measure up to United Kingdom defense giant BAE Systems. From military drones that can be “grown” using chemistry in large-scale labs to energy-scattering deflector shields, BAE has long played a role in bringing sci-fi-sounding tech to life.
Its latest concept? A method for controlling submarines using virtual reality headsets.
The tech would collect data from the various sensors dotted around a submarine, and then relay this information to the submarine captain in the form of a detailed VR simulation, created using the Unity graphics engine. The idea is that this would allow the captain to “teleport” themselves around a simulation of their submarine to get multiple different views of it as they pilot it, a bit like switching perspectives in a racing game — but with the benefit of real-time information.
This could be done either with the captain on board, or from elsewhere, with the craft controlled remotely.
It could also provide additional information about different systems within the sub, thereby making analyzing this data more intuitive. This wouldn’t have to be limited to navigation purposes. For instance, in one example given, VR could be used to check details of the submarine in the event that a pipe or piece of material has to be replaced — such as whether a replacement will fit in particularly narrow parts of the sub.
A demo of the tech was shown off last week at the U.K.’s Virtual Reality World Congress in Bristol. However, don’t necessarily expect it to arrive any time soon. Speaking to the U.K.’s The Sun newspaper, a BAE Systems representative said the project could take decades to be fully completed and implemented, by which point VR technology will have moved on significantly from where it is today.
As the group has told Digital Trends previously, BAE’s work is to keep an eye on the future and make sure it is anticipating where things will go.
“One of the things that we do within BAE Systems is to carry out trend analysis — whether those are political, sociological, environmental or technological,” Nick Colosimo, BAE Systems’ futurist and technologist, told us. “What these trends do is to tell us something about the future, and from that we can generate a series of ‘so what?’ questions about the difference this will make to those of us in defense. What are the things we need to worry about or be aware of, and how do we best stay on the front foot?”



Egypt Receives Second Type-209/1400 Submarine From Germany

Al-Masry Al-Youm, Egypt Independent
19 April 2017

Egypt will receive a German-made 209/1400 Submarine at the Ras al-Tin base on Wednesday.
The submarine can sail for 11,000 miles with a speed reaching 21 knots. Its length is 60-73 meters. Missiles and turbids can be launched through the submarine, which has been provided with modern navigation and telecommunication techniques to protect regional waters as well as national security.
The Navy has qualified a technical staff to work on the new submarine using recent submarine technologies, in accordance with a timeline set between Egypt and Germany.
In December, Egypt received the first 209/1400 Submarine at the German city of Kiel. This comes as part a deal made between the two nations for four submarines to help protect Egypt's national security through supporting the Navy’s technical and combat capabilities.
Egyptian technical teams traveled to Germany last year for training on operating these new submarines.


BAE Systems To Build Sixth Astute-Class Submarine For Britain

  Richard Tomkins, UPI
19 April 2017

BAE Systems in Britain has received a $1.77 billion Ministry of Defense contract to build a sixth Astute-class nuclear-powered submarine for the Royal Navy.
The Agamemnon will be about 318 feet long, have a submerged speed of 30 knots and an endurance of 90 days. It can carry Tomahawk missiles as well as torpedoes.
Securing the contract for the sixth Astute class submarine is a significant milestone for BAE Systems, and the result of many years of hard work by our highly skilled workforce.
"Securing the contract for the sixth Astute-class submarine is a significant milestone for BAE Systems and the result of many years of hard work by our highly skilled workforce," Will Blamey, managing director of BAE Systems Submarines, said in a press release.
"The Astute class submarines are among the most highly capable and technologically advanced in the world and we're immensely proud to build them for the Royal Navy."
BAE Systems is the prime contractor for the seven-ship program. It constructs the vessels at its facility in Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria.
The first three Astute submarines are already in service.
"These are the most advanced submarines ever operated by the Royal Navy and are already providing unprecedented levels of stealth and attack capability across the world," said Defense Secretary Sir Michael Fallon.

US Navy Redesigning its Submarines to Accommodate Women

Jennifer McDermott, Associated Press
19 April 2017

PROVIDENCE, R.I. – Every submarine in the U.S. fleet was designed with the height, reach and strength of men in mind, from the way valves are placed to how display screens are angled.
That's going to change.
With women now serving aboard submarines, defense contractor Electric Boat is designing what will be the first Navy subs built specifically to accommodate female crew members.
The designers are doing the obvious things, such as adding more doors and washrooms to create separate sleeping and bathing areas for men and women and to give them more privacy. But they are also making more subtle modifications that may not have been in everyone's periscope when the Navy admitted women into the Silent Service.
For example, they are lowering some overhead valves and making them easier to turn, and installing steps in front of the triple-high bunk beds and stacked laundry machines.
The first vessel built with some of the new features is expected to be delivered to the Navy in 2021, the future USS New Jersey.
The Navy lifted its ban on women on submarines in 2010, starting with officers. About 80 female officers and roughly 50 enlisted women are now serving on subs, and their numbers are expected to climb into the hundreds over the next few years.
For now, the Navy is retrofitting existing subs with extra doors and designated washrooms to accommodate women. But Electric Boat in Groton, Connecticut, is at work on a redesign of the Navy's Virginia-class fast-attack
subs and is also developing a brand-new class of ballistic-missile submarines, relying on body measurements for both men and women.
"We have a clean sheet of paper, so from the ground up, we'll optimize for both men and women," said Brian Wilson, Electric Boat director of the new ballistic-missile sub program.
Electric Boat officials had no immediate estimate of how much the modifications will cost.
As anyone who watches war movies knows, submariners are always turning valves, whether to operate machinery, redistribute water between tanks or isolate part of a system that has been damaged.
On the Columbia-class boats, valves will generally be placed lower, Wilson said. Sometimes there will be an extension handle, and some will be easier to turn. Sailors will be able to connect their masks into the emergency air system at the side of passageways, instead of overhead.
Emergency air masks are being moved on fast-attack submarines, too, but the bulk of the changes on those subs are to ensure privacy.
Seats in the control room on the ballistic-missile submarines will adjust forward a little more so everyone can touch each display and reach every joystick. Steps will be added so shorter people can climb into the top bunk or see into the washers and dryers, since clothes that get stuck in the machines are a fire hazard.
The first Columbia-class ballistic-missile sub is scheduled to join the fleet in 2031.
At 5-foot-6, Lt. Marquette Leveque, one of the first women to serve on a submarine, said that she didn't have any trouble reaching valves and other equipment but that the ergonomic changes will be helpful for shorter crewmates.
Leveque was assigned to a compartment with two other female officers on the USS Wyoming. They shared a washroom with male officers. A sign on the door could be flipped to show whether a man or woman was using it.
With so few women on board, the timesharing worked, she said. But with more on the way, the need for separate spaces is greater, she added.
"Privacy is important anywhere you are," she said. "We live on this boat, as well as work there."

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Turkey’s Golcük Shipyard & TKMS Jointly Market Type 214 Submarine to Indonesia

Bilal Khan, QUWA
16 April 2017

Turkey’s Golcük Shipyard and ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems (TKMS) are reportedly offering the Reis-class variant of the Type 214 diesel-electric submarine (SSK) to the Indonesian Navy (TNI-AL).
As per IHS Jane’s, TNI-AL officials will be meeting with representatives from Golcük Shipyard and TKMS at the forthcoming International Defence Industry Fair (IDEF), which will take place in Istanbul in May. TNI-AL officials will also visit Golcük Shipyard’s production site to observe the progress being made on the Turkish Navy’s first Type 214, the Pirireis.
The Type 214 is derived from Howaldtswerke-Deutsche Werft GmbH’s (HDW) highly popular Type 209 SSK. Featuring design innovations from the HDW Type 212 and optionally powered by a fuel-cell based air-independent propulsion (AIP) system, the Type 214 displaces 1,700-tons (surface).
It has eight torpedo tubes which can deploy heavyweight torpedoes – such as the Atlas Elektronik SeaHake – and anti-ship missiles, such as the Harpoon and Exocet.
The Turkish Navy currently plans to procure six Type 214TNs. Under the original 2.5 billion Euro contract, the ships are being built in Turkey with a mix of subsystems drawn from Turkey’s domestic industry and Germany. Aselsan is supporting the Type 214TN program by providing electronic support measures (ESM) and sensor systems, while Havelsan is developing an integrated command and control suite.
The Indonesian Navy currently has three Type 209 Chang Bogo-class SSKs on order (for U.S. $1.1 billion) from Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering (DSME) in South Korea. The Chang Bogo-class SSK is a variant of the HDW Type 209 built under license by DSME. The second TNI-AL ship was launched for sea trials in October. PT Palindo Marine is also developing a 22-metre miniature submarine which it hopes could form the basis of a littoral seas patrol submarine.

Taiwan's Home-Grown Submarine to Cost Less

Aiswarya Lakshmi, Marine Link
16 April 2017

Taiwan's shipbuilder CSBC Corp's chairman Cheng Wen-lon said that a home-grown submarine will cost less than NT$100 billion (US$3.29 billion) to build. 
According to a report in Taipei Times, chairman of the local shipbuilder commissioned to plan and design the vessel  also said that much depends on the Navy’s demands: Planned crew sizes, mission length and strategic and tactical requirements would all determine the eventual size of the submarine.
Nationally developed ships would be crucial to the company’s future operations, Cheng said, pledging to place the company’s best personnel on the program.
Eariler, all attempts by Taipei to buy a conventional submarine from other countries have been thwarted by a litany of threats from China. Beijing takes a hard line at any country that supplies arms to what they consider their own territory. 
So, the President Tsai Ing-wen said Taiwan had no choice but to build its own submarine fleet as she promoted a deal to deploy the first vessel in less than a decade. 
Tsai touted the contract with CSBC Corp., as a necessary step to improve the island’s defenses. 
The company plans to deliver the first diesel-electric model in 2024, with deployment expected a year or two later.
The Taiwanese Navy has a requirement to replace two inoperable World War II-era Guppy-class attack submarines as well as the life extension program for its two Dutch-built Sea Dragon-class (Zwaardvis Mk 2) submarines built during the early 1980s.

Friday, April 14, 2017

North Korea’s Hidden Submarine Threat Is Another Worry  As Regime Warns It’s ‘Ready’ For War

Jeff Daniels, CNBC
12 April 2017 

A nuclear attack threat from a North Korean submarine is one of the nightmare scenarios facing Japan and South Korea.
The chilling thought of North Korea’s fully submersible submarines firing a nuclear ballistic missile isn’t as far-fetched as some might think. Pyongyang has made major advances in weapons in recent years and shown a willingness to use its submarines for offensive military actions.
Indeed, last month was the seventh anniversary of the sinking of South Korea’s Cheonan navy ship by a North Korean submarine torpedo attack. That aggression killed 46 sailors and wasn’t the first time the reclusive North had made incursions into South Korean waters.
The submarine threat adds to growing fears in the region as North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s nuclear weapons ambitions show no signs of slowing. It also comes as a U.S. carrier strike force led by the USS Carl Vinson sailed toward the Korean Peninsula.
Not surprisingly, North Korea decried the deployment of the American carrier task force to the volatile region. “If the U.S. dares opt for a military action ... the DPRK is ready to react to any mode of war desired by the U.S.,” the state-run Korean Central News Agency said Monday. DPRK is short for the North’s formal name, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
Experts believe North Korea’s navy has around 70 submarines in its fleet, although only a handful today are believed to be capable of firing submarine-launched ballistic missiles or so-called SLBMs. What’s more, defense analysts believe Pyongyang has the capability today of building a nuclear warhead small enough to arm a submarine missile.
Last August, North Korean media showed off video of a so-called KN-11 submarine missile being launched from eastern coastal waters. Images of the North Korean dictator pointing to the missile launch were shown on the state television network.
The submarine-launched missile flew about 310 miles toward Japan. The test set a new distance record for Pyongyang’s SLBM program, and experts suggest the ballistic missile has the capability to travel more than 600 miles.
“The problem with the SLBM is that it exposes South Korea’s flanks to attack,” said Bruce Klingner, an Asia and national security specialist at the Heritage Foundation, a Washington-based conservative think tank.
Klingner, a former CIA deputy division chief for Korea, explained that the THAAD anti-missile system deployed last month by the U.S. in South Korea is focused on identifying missile threats from the North. As a result, a submarine missile from the North Korean navy could be launched behind radar and evade defense systems.
Similarly, missiles fired by North Korean submarines off the east coast of Japan might be able to dodge detection from Japan’s Patriot anti-missile system by launching from behind radar.
Joint U.S.-South Korea military exercises this year included drills on destroying the North’s submarines.
Klingner said some people have been dismissive of the Pyongyang submarine threat by maintaining that the North’s vessels are “old and noisy.” The noise comes from the submarine’s diesel-powered engines.
Yet in 2015 South Korean defense officials reported a sudden disappearance of around 50 of the North’s submarines.
“We didn’t know where they were at the time,” said Klingner. “One would hope that we would keep very close tabs on those that could launch the SLBM.”
Advances in North Korea’s land-based weapons development have been helped by its submarine program.
As an example, Pyongyang in February showed off a new medium- to long-range ballistic missile that is capable of carrying a nuclear warhead and uses solid-fuel technology. The land-based ballistic missile is believed to use the same technology of the KN-11 solid-fuel submarine missiles.
Solid fuel offers significant advantages over liquid-fuel rockets because it makes the missile easier to hide, requires less support and allows for faster launches.
“All of that is very worrisome because that may very well have a nuclear weapon someday,” said Klingner.
He said the North Korea’s liquid propellant ballistic missiles, such as the so-called No-Dong medium-range, road-mobile system already is believed to be nuclear capable “so that means Japan and South Korea are under nuclear threat today.”
The secretive regime also is working to build an intercontinental ballistic missile that can reach North America. In January, NBC News reported that Pyongyang could test-fire the ICBM “at any time, at any place,” quoting a senior regime official in North Korea.
The U.S. has a ground-based interceptor missile and radar system designed to detect and kill ICBM missiles. Thirty-six such interceptors are stationed in Alaska and California, and the military expects to have a total of 44 in place by the end of this year, according to a defense official.
“Their conventional forces maybe not very capable at the moment, but they have a lot of weapons of mass destruction,” said Nicholas Eberstadt, a researcher at the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank based in Washington. “Even if they would end up losing a war, ... they could kill an awful lot of people on our side.”
President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping held talks last week and discussed North Korea. Trump tweeted about the meeting Tuesday and also had words for Pyongyang.
Analysts say China wants to prop up the rogue nation to keep it as a buffer zone between the communist North and U.S.-backed South Korea. China represents the lion’s share of North Korea’s trade.
Meantime, the sudden rerouting of the Navy’s Vinson carrier strike group over the weekend led some to question whether U.S. military action against North Korea could be imminent. Beijing urged “all parties remain calm and observe restraint,” according to a story from China’s state-owned CCTV.
“I don’t want to speculate about North Korea military actions,” Defense Secretary James Mattis said Tuesday in response to a question from reporters. “We owe some confidentiality as we discuss with our allies this situation that we face up there.”

Sea Change Defence Giant BAE Reveals Tech that  Allows Submarines to be Piloted Using Virtual Reality

Margi Murphy, The Sun
13 April 2017

BRITISH defence giant BAE Systems has developed an innovative new system that allows operators to control the submarine they are travelling in using virtual reality headsets.
The system, which uses a design engine called Unity, collects information from sensors on the sub’s outer shell as well as ocean data and sends it to the captain.
The person wearing the HTC Vive headset is immersed in a simulation of what’s in front of them, but can ‘teleport’ themselves to different cabins or even outside the ship, using real-time information.
They are presented with several screens, showing them the submarine’s exterior, as well as different cabins and a host of mechanics and “sub health information”, effectively giving turning them into a virtual “ship brain”.
The system allows soldiers to “see” what’s in their midst using sensors and computer simulations.
This cutting edge technology, which was on show at Virtual Reality World Congress in Bristol on Wednesday, could also become a crucial tool for managing maintenance and repairs.
For example, if a pipe or piece of material needs to be replaced, the operator can use the headset to virtually take it where it needs to go, and check whether it will fit down the notoriously tricky spots in the submarine chamber.
This cuts costs and speeds up operations, BAE Systems researchers believe.
The military is already using its virtual reality pilot flight training system.
RAF and Navy pilots have started “flying” a F-35 Lightning II simulator as they prepare for flight trials on the UK’s new Queen Elizabeth Class aircraft carrier next year.
The bespoke £2m simulator facility offers a 360-degree immersive experience for pilots to fly the jet to and from the UK carrier.
It will test pilots’ skills to the limits as they practice landing on the deck of the new aircraft carrier in a
range of difficult sea and weather conditions provided by the simulator.
But more funding is needed to develop the virtual reality operations for submarines, a BAE spokesperson told The Sun Online.
It's a long-term project, which could take thirty to forty years to complete, but the military need to be fast if it is to stay ahead of the curve and ensure it is well positioned as weapons and military operations become more advanced.
The British company, known for building warships and weapons, has a cutting edge research team.
It recently revealed it was designing a directed energy laser system which could be used by military commanders to spy on enemy activities from space.

India Plans To Buy Three More Scorpenes

Dinakar Peri, The Hindu
13 April 2017

India and France will step up negotiations to expand the Scorpene submarine contract after the presidential elections in France in May. India will push for incorporating several upgrades in the proposed three new submarines that the two sides would be discussing, a senior defence official told The Hindu.
"We will look at the cost of the upgrades based on which we will take a call whether to go for the additional ones or carry on with the acquisition of the next line of submarines as planned," the official said.
Mazgaon Docks Ltd. (MDL), Mumbai, is manufacturing six Scorpene conventional submarines with technology transfer from DCNS under a $3.75-billion deal signed in October 2005.
After a series of delays, the first submarine Kalvari  is now in advanced stages of sea trials and expected to be commissioned in a few months. The second submarine Khanderi  was launched in January and is undergoing sea trials.
Another official said that detailed discussions would be held at the India-France strategic dialogue, which is expected to take place around December.
As per plan, all submarines are expected to be launched from MDL by 2020 and both sides are on to firm up a deal before that to keep the production line running and preserve the expertise.
The upgrades will help address concerns of any compromise in the submarine's capability following the leak of its technical specifications running into several thousands of pages in Australia last year.

Portsmouth Naval Shipyard Delivered USS Providence (SSN 719) 23 Days Ahead Of Schedule

Portsmouth Naval Ship Yard Public Affairs, Navy.mil
13 April 2017

PORTSMOUTH NAVAL SHIPYARD, Maine - Portsmouth Naval Shipyard delivered USS Providence (SSN 719) back to the Fleet 23 days ahead of schedule and on budget April 7.
USS Providence arrived at Portsmouth Naval Shipyard Dec. 4, 2015, for a Pre-Inactivation Restricted Availability (PIRA). The project team and ship's crew worked seamlessly throughout the maintenance availability to meet the Naval Sea Systems Command's mission priority of the on-time delivery of ships and submarines.
"As a team, the shipyard with the captain and crew of Providence, focused on the positive plan forward," said project superintendent, Mark Ayotte. "Together we reached our goal of getting the warfighter underway to do what they do best for the Navy and our country."
The project team and crew thrived in an environment that promotes increased levels of collaboration, innovation and high velocity learning. Their teamwork coupled with the shipyard's collective commitment to excellence ensured non-stop execution of work.
"Portsmouth is committed to safely delivering first-time quality work, on time and on budget," said shipyard commander, Navy Capt. Dave Hunt. "It is our commitment to safety and quality that enables us to deliver these submarines on or ahead of schedule and provide the combatant commanders with the assets they need, when they are needed."
Providence's PIRA was approximately 200,000 mandays of work scheduled for a 15.7 month time frame. The project team and crew completed the complex work package more than three weeks ahead of schedule.
The on-time completion of submarine availabilities is critical in the maintenance of today's fleet and is essential to maintaining maritime superiority and expanding the advantage. PNSY, a field activity of NAVSEA, is the Navy's center of excellence for attack submarine overhaul, repair and modernization.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Taiwan Navy Expansion: Plans to Build 8 Submarines Creates Tension in Asian Waters

Staff, Reuters
5 April 2017 

“In our indigenous submarine project, we hope to be able to make eight submarines,” Lee Tsung-hsiao, navy chief of staff, told lawmakers, confirming publicly for the first time the number of vessels being planned. 
Cheng Wen-lon, the chairman of state-controlled shipbuilder CSBC Corp Taiwan, which has been contracted to build the submarines, also told lawmakers that the initial design will be fully completed by early 2018. 
Military and defence industry officials in Taiwan have said the first submarine is expected to go into operation within 10 years.
Lee's comments come ahead of the first meeting between leaders of the United States and China this week that Taipei has fretted could harm its interest.
China regards democratic Taiwan part of its territory and has never renounced the use of force to take control of what it sees as a wayward province. 
The United States is obligated by US law to help Taiwan defend itself, but its arms sales to Taiwan angers Beijing and has slowed down the pace of sales, defence experts said. 
Taiwan and the United States, its sole arms supplier, are currently engaged in fresh arms sales talks.
Last month, Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen vowed that her administration would see through the indigenous submarine programme as she toured one of the navy's four ageing submarines, purchased from the United States and Netherlands at least 30 years ago. 
Taiwan has never built a submarine before and will need to rely on foreign technology support to make an advanced vessel, defence experts have said. 
Taiwan's submarine project is in the middle of a four-year design contract phase budgeted at £79.34billion that began in 2016.

N. Korea Still Years Away From Developing Submarine Missiles: U.S. Pacific Fleet Chief

Lee Chi-dong, Yonhap News Agency
4 April 2017 

SEOUL – A top U.S. naval commander said Tuesday that North Korea appears to still be years away from fully developing the technology needed for submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs).
“To launch those missiles from under the water is very, very complicated,” Adm. Scott Swift, who commands the U.S. Pacific Fleet, said in an interview. “I think it’s still years away before that technology is developed.”
He cited what the U.S. military has “seen and knows” but would not specify the grounds of his assessment.
The admiral stressed the seriousness of the North’s general ballistic missile capability coupled with its nuclear program. It has carried out five known underground nuclear tests and stated the goal of miniaturizing nuclear bombs to fit on to various types of missiles in stock.
“That’s what main concern is,” he said, speaking at a meeting with a small group of reporters at the U.S. military base in the Yongsan district of Seoul on his third trip here as the leader of America’s naval forces in the Pacific.
His remarks indicated the Pentagon’s move to focus, for now, on countering growing threats from nuclear and ground-based ballistic missiles, rather than being distracted by the Kim Jong-un regime’s possible bluff.
Last year, the North’s media announced the success of a ballistic missile launched from a submarine, releasing some photos of the experiment.
Swift reassured South Korea and other allies about the U.S. security commitment to Asia under the Donald Trump administration.
Aides to Trump have distanced themselves from the Barack Obama administration’s policies to “pivot” or “rebalance” to Asia.
It does not mean an end to the U.S. focus on the defense of Asia itself, and the Pentagon maintains a plan to deploy 60 percent of U.S. naval assets to the Asia-Pacific area by 2020, the admiral said.
There has been no change to any guidance from Washington for him and Adm. Harry Harris, the commander of the U.S. Pacific Command, he added.
“We are still being robustly resourced and we will remain committed to the whole Indo-Asia-Pacific region,” he pointed out.
He added that probably 57 or 58 percent of U.S. naval firepower was already positioned in the theater.
Swift said his fleet plans to introduce more strategic and most modern weapons, including the USS Zumwalt (DDG-1000), a guided missile destroyer designed as a multi-mission stealth ship with a focus on land attacks.
Among others are the EA-18G Growler, a carrier-based electronic warfare aircraft, E-2D Advanced Hawkeye airborne early warning and control aircraft, and new littoral combat ships.
He was cautious about South Korean media reports that a Zumwalt-class destroyer may be ported in the country’s naval base in the southern island of Jeju.
In a meeting with Adm. Harris, who heads the Pacific Command, in Hawaii earlier this year, some South Korean lawmakers proposed the deployment of the American Navy’s newest destroyer there. They later told media that Harris showed a positive response, if not a clear yes.
“As a naval officer, I think it is little premature to discuss what the future plans are” for Zumwalt, said Swift.
He said it would take several years to complete the weapon systems of the “very unique” ship and decide on the details of its tactical use after testing. The U.S. Navy plans to have only three Zumwalt destroyers deployed.
Asked about the likelihood of the state-of-the-art warship being deployed in or near South Korea in the future, he said, “Anything is possible.”
He also did not rule out the possibility of sending more high-profile warships to East Asia in addition to the two nuclear-powered super carriers, USS Carl Vinson and the USS Ronald Reagan, in Japan.
“There might be three sometimes, there might be four,” he said. “One of the great advantages of naval power is its flexibility to deploy.”
The challenge, though, is the capacity of the facilities that the Pacific Fleet has for maintaining and sustaining warships, he said.
The admiral has commanded the Hawaii-based Pacific Fleet for nearly two years. He describes his troops as the “most capable, ready and significant naval force in the world.”
He met with South Korean Defense Minister Han Min-koo on Monday and attended the annual Pacific Amphibious Leaders Symposium (PALS).

Russia Launches Most Powerful Nuclear Attack Submarine Yet

Loulla-Mae Eleftheriou-Smith, Independent
5 April 2017

Russia has unveiled its army’s most powerful submarine to date, capable of carrying hundreds of torpedoes and reaching speeds of up to 31 knots.
The new Yasen-class nuclear powered attack submarine, called the Kazan, is armed with torpedoes and long-range Kalibr cruise missiles. The ship was launched at the Sevmash shipyard in Severodvinsk, northern Russia.
According to Russia’s state news agency TASS, the new submarine has been designed to destroy an enemy’s submarines, surface ships, naval bases and ports, among other targets.
The ship reportedly carries a crew of up to 90 men and can be at sea for 100 days. It measures at around 139 metres long and can reach depths of around 600 metres underwater.
The vessel has space for eight Oniks and Kalibr cruise missiles and 300 torpedoes, and can reach speeds of up to 31 knots.
A single-shaft steam turbine nuclear power unit is understood to be part of the ship’s design, giving it a capacity of 43,000 horse power, and its arsenal is thought to be capable of hitting targets up to 1,500 miles away, The Mirror reported.
The Russian military had fallen on hard times after the 1991 Soviet collapse when it was forced to scrap many relatively new ships and keep most others at harbor for lack of funds. The military has revived its strength thanks to a sweeping arms modernization program amid tensions with the West over Ukraine.
At the launch of the new submarine, Admiral Vladimir Korolyov claimed the new ship is the most modern in the world, emphasising how hard it is to track due to its low-level noise.
“It represents the cutting edge of nuclear submarine design,” he said.
The launch comes at a time when Russian submarines combat patrols have reached levels not seen since the Cold War. Crews spent more than 3,000 days on patrol last year, which Admiral Korolyov called “an excellent level”.
The submarine is expected to be placed in service by next year and Russia’s navy intends to commission a total of seven of the submarines to be put into service by 2023.

Ohio-Class Subs Could Be Unfit Underwater In A Decade, STRATCOM Warns

Leo Shane III, Military Times
4 April 2017 

WASHINGTON — Navy officials may have as little as a decade before their Ohio-class submarine fleet won’t dive beneath the waves anymore, the head of U.S. Strategic Command warned lawmakers on Tuesday. 
“Each submarine is built to go down, under pressure, a certain number of times. Once you reach the end of life, you can't go down any more,” said Air Force Gen. John Hyten, STRATCOM commander, in testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee. “And a submarine on the top of the water is not an effective deterrent.”
The comments came as Hyten detailed the need for stable and sufficient funding for nuclear modernization efforts, including the military’s submarines. Navy officials have already begun a $100 billion-plus plan to replace the aging Ohio-class submarines with the Columbia-class in coming years, but the STRATCOM commander warned that recent budget fights could jeopardize that progress. 
“Every year [of] that program, if it slips one year then the future commander of STRATCOM is down one nuclear submarine,” he said. “Two years, two nuclear submarines.
“We know that because there's a certain time in the future where Ohio-class submarine just will not go under the water anymore, just the pressure on the vessel itself will not allow it to go down. (The Columbia-class program) has to stay on time.”
Hyten would not detail exactly when military officials predict the older subs will become obsolete, but said the problem will start “towards the end of the next decade.”
Lawmakers at the hearing called that alarming. Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., called it “a very precipitous risk” for the country if a replacement isn’t prioritized.
Hyten’s comments were the most recent of a series of dire predictions from military officials about looming defense budget issues, as lawmakers try and find a solution for federal spending for the remainder of the fiscal year. 
Most federal agencies, including the Department of Defense, have been operating off fiscal 2016 spending levels since last fall as Congress tries to work out a long-term spending plan for the government. If a solution is not found before the end of April, the country will face another partial government shutdown. 
In recent days, lawmakers have discussed the possibility of another continuing resolution to push the funding fight to October, but military leaders have warned that plan will leave them short on a number of multiyear procurement and planning priorities, including the Columbia-class subs 
Last week, Marine Lt. Gen. Jon Davis, deputy commandant for aviation, said he would be forced cut all flying hours for several F/A-18 Super Hornet and Harrier squadrons under a continuing resolution. Service officials are expected to outline other possible training and personnel cuts at a House Armed Services Committee hearing Wednesday.
Hyten said the continued budget confusion is taking a toll on his service members. 
“They are dealing with very old equipment,” he said. “We have a commitment to them, as a nation, that we need to give them the tools they need in order to do their job. Their enthusiasm can only last a certain amount of time, and if we don't follow through on that commitment, that morale will be brought into question.” 
Lawmakers have been unable to reach a long-term funding deal balancing military and non-defense funding since 2011, when they passed 10 years of budget caps designed to reign in the federal budget.

Dreadnought: What We Know About Britain’s Next Nuclear Submarine

Chris Smith, BT News
6 April 2017

The secretive HMS Dreadnought will replace the Vanguard as Britain’s subsurface nuclear deterrent.
Around 15 years from now, the Royal Navy’s newest submarine will come into service.
The first Dreadnought, one of four new ships currently under construction at an estimated cost of £31 billion, will replace the existing Vanguard class that has defended the UK since 1994. Details are in short supply, but here’s what we know so far.
Previously known as the Successor program, Dreadnought will consist of four submarines. The first of the Dreadnought class will come into Royal Navy service in the early 2030s.
The Dreadnought class will carry the Trident nuclear missiles, Britain’s nuclear deterrent. The measure to renew Trident passed in the House of Commons in July 2016 by a majority of 355 votes.
The Dreadnought name has plenty of history. Nine Royal Navy vessels have already carried the moniker. The HMS Dreadnought of 1906 (below) brought in a huge shift in naval warfare as, amongst other features, it was the first battleship to have a main gun battery. Ships named Dreadnought also sailed during the Spanish Armada in 1588 and the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805.
Britain’s first nuclear submarine was also called Dreadnought and was launched by the Queen in 1956 (bottom
picture) from the same yard in which the current class is being constructed.
Work on the concept design has been underway since 2007, according to BAE, while the Government approved the business case in 2011.
The Dreadnought class submarines will be built at BAE System’s site in Barrow-in-Furnace, Cumbria.
In October 2016, the Ministry of Defense committed £1.3 billion to the project to get building work underway. The total cost is estimated at £31 billion.
It’ll be the first Royal Navy British submarine with lighting capable of simulating night and day.
The Dreadnought will be 152.9 feet long, which is around the size of 3 Olympic swimming pools, almost ten feet longer than the V-boat.
It’s also the largest ever built for the navy, displacing 17,200 tons, that’s 1,300 more tons than Vanguard
While details are still vague on the specifics, the Dreadnought will manufacture its own fresh oxygen and water.
There’s 42.5km of piping and 20,000 cables (347km). There’ll also be 13,000 electrical items on board the ship.
The UK Defense Journal offers insight into Dreadnought’s Common Missile Compartment. It writes: “While details remain sketchy at best regarding the Dreadnought class, one of the key features the new boats will have is a Common Missile Compartment (CMC). CMC aims to define the missile tubes and accompanying systems that would be used to launch new ballistic missiles, successors to the current Trident II/ D5 missile fleet used by the USA and Britain.”
There’s room on board for 130 crew members; three of whom are chefs.
It’s also the first Royal Navy submarine that will offer separate quarters, washing facilities and toilets for male and female crew members.
According to the 2010 Strategic Defense and Security Review, each of the Dreadnoughts will carry eight operational missiles and no more than 40 warheads.
Whether you’re a bookworm or a gym-rat (or both), the Dreadnought has you covered. There’ll be a classroom and study area, and also modern gym facilities. A treadmill is useful as crewmembers can’t exactly go for a long run on a submarine.
More than 2,600 people are currently working on Dreadnought, with BAE predicting up to 7,800 employed each year, throughout the 2020s
‘Delivery Phase 1’ commenced in October 2016 with the cutting of the first steel. However, although there was union dismay over reports that French, not British, steel would be used in the construction, the MoD responded by confirming British steel would be used ‘in the process’.
Several hundred suppliers will be involved, 95% of whom will be from the UK.
Dreadnought submarines are being designed to meet and deter security threats well into the 2050s.

China Advances a Sea-Based Nuclear Deterrent

Renny Babiarz, The News Lens
6 April 2017 

According to recent media reports, China may have initiated its first sea-based nuclear deterrence patrols with Jin-Class ballistic missile nuclear submarines (SSBNs). If true, this operational deployment demonstrably improves the credibility of China’s strategic nuclear deterrent. While some may characterize China’s sea-based nuclear deterrence patrols as a new security threat, China’s emergent submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) capability has long been expected. It represents a significant technical advance, but not an alarming one. Facing geographic and technical constraints, the submarines’ activities in the Pacific Ocean will remain limited in the near term.
The historical trajectory of China’s nuclear weapons program, including the development of an SLBM capability, reflects an incremental approach to strategic nuclear weapons development and modernization. China initiated its SLBM research during 1958 with the code name “1060” (later renamed Julong Yihao, or JL-1, in 1964), and received technical assistance and equipment from the Soviet Union. Budgetary constraints, historical events (such as the Great Leap Forward, the Sino-Soviet split, and the Cultural Revolution), restricted access to oceans, and periodic strategic reassessments limited the development of this system throughout the Mao era. It was not until 1982 that China successfully test-launched a JL-1 missile from a submerged SSBN. China’s first generation of operational SSBNs, the Xia-Class (or Type 092), began development in the mid-1960s and entered into service in the 1980s; yet the Type 092 reportedly never conducted a nuclear deterrence patrol on account of the high level of noise the submarine generated while sailing.
China’s current generation of SSBN, the Jin-Class (or Type 094), began development in the mid-1980s and was designed to carry the longer-ranged JL-2 missile. After extensive missile ejection system testing, Type 094 entered into service around 2014. If true that Type 094 SSBNs have conducted their first nuclear deterrence patrol, this has come approximately 60 years after the initiation of China’s SLBM program, 35 years after China’s first successful test launch of a ballistic missile from a submerged submarine, and about 30 years after the initiation of the Type 094 SSBN program. This time scale underscores the incremental pace of development for China’s SLBM capability. In contrast, the United States initiated its own SLBM program (Polaris) in the mid-1950s and first deployed the Polaris system about five years later in 1960. Further, China’s research and development of SLBM capability have been well documented since at least the mid-1990s, and China’s recent possible SSBN nuclear deterrence patrol has been long anticipated by Western defense communities. While China’s sea-based nuclear deterrent may have achieved a new operational status, this development does not by itself constitute a ‘new’ security threat.
According to multiple sources of information, China’s Type 094 SSBN is probably a “plug” design fitting a Type 093 nuclear attack submarine with 12 ballistic missile tubes towards the stern of the main sail. This gives the Type 094 a visible topside ‘hump’ shape and may increase the vessel’s noise while sailing. Recent reports suggest the development of new variants of Type 094, with changes in the sail and front top of the vessel that may be intended to reduce the noise of the vessel while sailing. Type 094 is designed to vertically carry 12 JL-2 missiles, each with a range of approximately 7,200 kilometers, according to conservative estimates. There are probably about four Type 094s currently in service, and the U.S. Department of Defense estimates there could be a total of eight in service by 2020. A number of Type 094 SSBNs are most likely stationed nearby the Yulin Naval Support Base on Hainan Island as part of China’s South Sea Fleet.

New Navy Class III Undersea Drone To Be In The Water By 2019

Katherine Owens, Defense Systems
6 April 2017 

The Navy has designated the Snakehead Large Displacement Unmanned Undersea Vehicle (LDUUV) for accelerated acquisition, NAVSEA announced at the Navy League’s Sea Air & Space Exhibition on Monday.
“We are leveraging mature, proven technologies to…move quickly on the Snakehead LDUUV program and get it in the water as quickly as possible. Get it into the hands of our sailors, and get feedback that will feed our future LD UUV acquisition program,” said Howard Berkof, Unmanned Maritime Ship Deputy Program Manager at PEO Littoral Combat Ship.
Once approved for accelerated acquisition, Snakehead LDUUV program approvals will be streamlined and program heads will have a direct line to top officials. Program of record requirements will still be followed, but progression will be faster, according to Berkof.
Unmanned maritime systems are part of the Littoral Combat ship portfolio, the first class of ship designed from initial construction for unmanned vehicle integration. LDUUVs in the Class III Large category, which the Snakehead is part of, are about 48 inches in diameter.
The Snakehead LDUUV is intended to have long-range and high endurance capacity and designed for surface or submarine launch. It is able to be recovered and stored on littoral combat ships, Virginia-class submarines, and Ohio-class submarines, according to an earlier NAVSEA release.
Overall, NAVSEA has three phases planned for the Snakehead LDUUV program. Phase One focuses on Concept of Operations (CONOPS) and Initial Preparation of Environment (IPOE) development, along with preliminary Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR) capacity. 
Phase Two of the Snakehead LDCUU program will expand the range of the Phase One IPOE and increase ISR capabilities. Finally, according to NAVEA’s exhibit presentation, the Snakehead INC 1 phase will explore payload integration, electronic warfare, anti-submarine and anti-surface warfare, and Mine Integration Warfare (MIW).
The Snakehead LDUUV’s MIW functionality is part of the larger littoral combat CONOPS that ensures that Navy amphibious operations can be conducted in littoral and beach zones. The U.S Naval Transformation Roadmap states that by deploying mine detection and countermeasure UUVs like the future Snakehead, the Navy can create a “protected passage” of mine-free routes in high-risk areas.
The incremental approach allows what Berkof calls fast arming for the Snakehead LDUUV. The sooner it is in developmental testing, the sooner NAVSEA and developers can “understand how this thing is going to operate, how it’s going to be integrated with our undersea and our surface platforms, understand how sailors are going to operate it,” he said.
One key area of focus for the LDUUV program is energy storage.
“We are using mature technology [and] energy, whether it is silver zinc or lithium ion, most likely silver zinc in the first phase… we still have a little way to go on lithium ion, but we are still exploring what is the most mature technology that we can integrate onto existing platforms,” explained Berkof.
According to Berkof, the Navy is also exploring whether to focus development on purpose-built UUVs or on creating unmanned or “optionally manned” versions of existing manned vehicles. Another challenge for the future will be integrating Unmanned Surface Vehicles with UUVs and getting multiple unmanned systems to work together.
As for the Snakehead LDUUV program, Berkof said, “we are focusing on IPOE in Phase 1 and it will add additional missions and payloads as we progress into the future.” The feedback from Snakehead testing will inform and strengthen Navy UUV development as a whole.
The Navy expects to award the contract for Snakehead LDUUV development by the end of this year, with the goal of having a prototype by 2019.  

Submarine Washington Completes Initial Sea Trials

Hugh Lessig, Daily Press
9 April 2017 

A Virginia-class submarine that encountered a problem during sea trials last month recently returned to sea and successfully completed its initial at-sea tests, Newport News Shipbuilding said.
The submarine Washington had encountered "a material issue" during sea trials in March that required a return to port, the Navy had said. The boat had already missed a September 2016 date and was scheduled to be commissioned March 25.
The problems were not related to the submarine's integrity or nuclear propulsion plant.
During its follow-up run at sea trials, the submarine and crew "performed exceptionally well," said Matt Needy, Newport News' vice president of submarines and fleet support, in a company news release.
The submarine submerged for the first time and ran at high speeds on the surface and underwater, the company said. It completed the trials April 3.
A second round of trials is required before the Navy accepts delivery of the submarine from Newport News.
The shipyard, a division of Huntington Ingalls Industries, builds Virginia-class submarines in a teaming arrangement with General Dynamics Electric Boat of Groton, Conn. Each yard builds components of the submarine, then take turns in final assembly and delivery to the Navy.
The two yards are exclusive builders of nuclear-powered submarines for the Navy.
The construction of the Washington began in September 2011. It marked the start of a two-submarine-per-year build rate for Newport News in the Virginia-class program.
The program is cited by the Navy as one of its most successful, both in terms of cost and schedule. Washington's late delivery will break a streak of ahead-of-schedule deliveries that began in 2008. Budget-wise, the Washington should be completed at or under the Navy's target cost.
The subs are popular with Navy commanders, who say it gives them an advantage over countries such as Russia and China. Costs and schedules have come down partly due to the Navy's practice of buying the boats in "blocks" — bulk purchases that allow the shipyards to plan ahead.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Russian Submarine Patrols Match Cold War-era Intensity

Staff, The Canadian Press
1 April 2017 

MOSCOW –  Russian submarines have increased combat patrols to the level last seen during the Cold War, the navy chief said Friday.
Adm. Vladimir Korolyov said that Russian submarine crews spent more than 3,000 days on patrol last year, matching the Soviet-era operational tempo.
"It's an excellent level," he said in remarks carried by state RIA Novosti news agency.
The Russian military had fallen on hard times after the 1991 Soviet collapse when it was forced to scrap many relatively new ships and keep most others at harbor for lack of funds. The military has revived its strength thanks to a sweeping arms modernization program amid tensions with the West over Ukraine.
Korolyov spoke after attending the launch of a new Yasen-class nuclear-powered attack submarine called the Kazan. He hailed the new ship as the most modern in the world, emphasizing its low noise level making it hard to track it.
"It represents the cutting edge of nuclear submarine design," Korolyov said in televised remarks.
The navy plans to commission seven Yasen-class submarines that are armed with torpedoes and long-range Kalibr cruise missiles, which for the first time have been tested in combat during the Russian campaign in Syria.

China Prepares To Ramp Up Its Shipbuilding Process

Lyle J. Goldstein, The National Interest
2 April 2017 

A decade ago, myriad questions hung over the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN). The only modern vessel it seemed capable of building in a hurry was a coastal fast attack craft, hardly the stuff of a world-class fleet. Where were the large surface combatants or even the frigates that are the workhorses of any sea service? And then there was the biggest question of all: would China actually go all in for the “holy grail” of naval prestige and build an aircraft carrier? Things look very different from today’s vantage point.
Not only are China’s simultaneous destroyer and frigate (and cruiser and cutter) programs the envy of the world, Beijing’s aspiration to wield “super carriers” is no longer a laughing matter at all.
On the other hand, media attention focused elsewhere seemed almost to suggest that the Chinese submarine force might have been marginalized by the glitzy carrier program, not to mention the shiny new airstrips dotting the South China Sea. The new leader of the PLAN, Shen Jinlong, is yet another surface warfare officer rather than a member of the undersea service. However, there are some palpable signs that the PLAN submarine force might be seeking a return to the limelight after some years in the shadows. First, my colleague Conor Kennedy has unearthed an article on the China Strategic Emerging Industry website that suggests that China is in the process of completing perhaps the world’s largest nuclear submarine fabrication facility. Second, additional bombshells have emerged from the February 2017 issue of Naval & Merchant Ships, which quite casually announced that Beijing might opt to forward base some submarines at Gwadar in Pakistan, while also letting it be known that one of its new Type 093 nuclear-powered attack submarines had been active as recently as December 2016 in a continuing escort mission in the Gulf of Aden. Finally, this edition of Dragon Eye also examines some developing discussions among Chinese naval strategists reflecting an apparently new doctrinal concept for the modernizing PLAN submarine force of power projection “from the sea...”
According to the article from the China Strategic Emerging Industry site, “Many media outlets are reporting that China’s Bohai Shipbuilding Heavy Industry Co. has built a new large-size factory.” Later, the new facility at Huludao is described as a “super factory” and it is noted with great pride that that the fabrication shed was erected in just one year. In terms of size comparisons, this piece asserts that it is the world’s largest: “Western production lines for the most part can only build one submarine, and only the U.S. is capable of building two submarines simultaneously, but China is now capable of building four!”
According to this article, China already has at least four type 094/094A ballistic missile submarines and at least five Type 093/093G attack submarines, so it is speculated that the new facility is to build the successor third-generation classes of Type 096 ballistic missile submarines and Type 095 attack submarines. The new submarines will be built using modular fabrication techniques. The projection is made that Chinese nuclear submarine production will double its rate within two to three years. The advantages of the new facility for production in all-weather conditions, and in terms of hiding the building from U.S. spy satellites, are duly noted. The author reveals that within Chinese Navy circles the question of whether to prioritize the aircraft carrier, or large surface ships or
nuclear submarines, has formed a “focal point of debate,” but concludes that there is a consensus behind “balanced development” and nuclear submarines are a key part of that balance.
Two other recent revelations from Chinese-language sources may be almost as significant. Both are in small news tidbits from the front material in the February 2017 edition of the Naval & Merchant Ships, a Chinese naval magazine published by the shipbuilding conglomerate China State Shipbuilding Company. The lead headline item on the list, perhaps suggesting its importance, is as follows: “China Might Send Submarines to Guard the Port of Gwadar.” These submarines would work together with the Pakistan Navy to protect the port and also “maritime trade routes.” The report also says there is a possibility that the Chinese Navy will build a base there and use it to “support the activities of its fleet in the Indian Ocean.” True, the source of this information is revealed to be the Pakistan Navy, but it would be quite unusual for this Chinese navy-affiliated magazine to lead with such a headline if there was no basis to it. Moreover, another news item further down the list seems to offer some evidence for the above assertion in relating how a Type 093 nuclear submarine took part in a Gulf of Aden escort during December 2016. The headline reads simply “Navy Type 093 Conducts Escort in the Gulf of Aden.” A small photo accompanying the item shows a surfaced submarine in the foreground with a merchant ship and two warships in the background. Not much additional information is provided, but the report follows others that suggest that Beijing is routinizing nuclear submarine patrols in the Indian Ocean. One can only smirk at the supposed naval logic for employing nuclear submarines to escort merchant ships and deter a pirate attack.
A still more disconcerting part of this emerging puzzle is an October 2016 headline from a report in another Chinese naval-affiliated magazine, Shipborne Weaponry: “Developments in Chinese Navy’s Land Attack Capabilities.” Not surprisingly, the article has a picture of the new Type 052 destroyer and discusses the developing Type 055 program with its enormous number of Vertical Launching System (VLS) tubes. It also prominently features a rare photo of the 093B nuclear submarine, which has a “relatively large protrusion behind the sail, thought by foreign observers to be a VLS compartment.” Reaching out to a hypothetical land attack cruise missile range of 1,500 kilometers, such undersea forces afford “the Chinese Navy a non-aircraft carrier battle group attack capability that is extremely feasible, and also amounts to a huge breakthrough in combat capabilities...”
The developments related above should raise some eyebrows in Washington, New Delhi and elsewhere. In some ways, they are wholly expected and need not be greeted with excessive alarm. After all, plenty of naval analysts (both Chinese and Western) have long identified the vulnerability of Chinese maritime supply lines crossing the Indian Ocean. On the other hand, American naval strategists may be rather perturbed to contemplate how much closer Chinese submarines at Gwadar could be to reaching waters proximate to the American homeland. After all, the only potential antisubmarine barriers between Pakistan and the U.S. East Coast are thousands of miles wide. southern Africa (and even the Azores) may once again become hot real estate in an emergent Cold War. Is this one critical segment of Beijing’s long awaited strategic riposte to the American pivot?
At the very least, the Washington strategic studies community might want to shift some of their ample attention from scrutinizing satellite photos of reef outposts to examining the industrial activities around an exceedingly large shed on the Bohai Sea.
Lyle J. Goldstein is associate professor in the China Maritime Studies Institute at the U.S. Naval War College in Newport, RI.

S. Korea, U.S., Japan Set For Joint Drills Against N. Korean Submarines

Lee Chi-dong, Yonhap News Agency
3 April 2017 

SEOUL – South Korea, the United States and Japan on Monday began a combined naval exercise against North Korea's growing submarine threats, Seoul's defense ministry announced.
The three-day training was kicked off in the waters between South Korea and Japan near Jeju Island, involving an Aegis system-equipped guided missile destroyer, several other warships and military choppers, according to the Ministry of National Defense.
It's aimed at securing an “effective response” by the three countries to the North's submarine threats, especially as it's developing submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs), it added.
South Korea's Navy has dispatched the 4,500-ton Kang Gam Chan destroyer and a Lynx helicopter, with the U.S. sending the USS McCampbell, a destroyer armed with the Aegis ballistic missile defense system, an MH-60 anti-submarine chopper and a P-3 Orion patrol plane. Japan's copter-carrying destroyer, the Sawagiri, also joined the drill.
In the practice, they will “search, detect and track a mock submarine, and exchange relevant information,” it said.
“The anti-submarine training of the three countries is the first since it was discussed in their Defense Trilateral
Talks (DTT) in December,” the ministry said, adding it represents their strong determination against North Korea's nuclear and missile threats.
The move comes amid reports that the North is apparently preparing for another nuclear test and more missile launches.
The secretive nation is seen as trying to miniaturize nuclear bombs to fit into its missiles. SLBMs have emerged as a key concern for the South's troops working to establish the Korean Air and Missile Defense (KAMD) system.
The South's arms procurement agency said it's pushing for the purchase of early warning radars in addition to the two Green Pine land-based radars in operation.
“The existing radars are meant mainly to detect ground-launched missiles,” a defense official said. “Additional radars are necessary to counter attacks from the enemy's submarines in the West Sea and East Sea.”
The Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) is also considering leasing a military spy satellite from Israel, France or Germany, according to defense sources.
Meanwhile, Seoul and Tokyo signed an agreement last year on sharing military information, called the General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA).
Japan's media reported earlier that Tokyo and Washington had made an offer for such a joint anti-submarine training shortly after the deal but Seoul turned it down.
The report triggered speculation that South Korea made the reported decision in consideration of relations with China.
But South Korean officials said it was just a matter of timing, not because of Seoul's rejection.
Seoul and Tokyo have been in a renewed diplomatic stand-off for months over the installation by civic activists of a girl statute in front of Japan's diplomatic mission in Busan to commemorate Korean women forced to serve as sex slaves for Japanese troops during World War II.
In January, Japan recalled its ambassador from Seoul over the incident. He has yet to return.

Connecticut's Sub Suppliers Preparing For Construction Boom

Stephen Singer, Hartford Courant
3 April 2017 

In its 71 years in business, Collins & Jewell Co. Inc. has operated at three sites in eastern Connecticut, moving twice in search of more space. The supplier for Electric Boat is now considering expanding at its Bozrah location to keep up with rising U.S. military demand for submarines.
Electric Boat, the Groton-based subsidiary of General Dynamics Corp., is ramping up to build two subs a year, with the start of design of the Columbia-class ballistic missile submarine. More than 5,000 firms in the U.S., including nearly 450 in Connecticut, supply parts.
"We've really been growing like gangbusters," said Chris Jewell, chief financial officer. "Electric Boat, it's unbelievable."
Collins & Jewell's workforce of 70 is up from 50 three years ago — a painter and an entry-level worker were hired recently — and more than a dozen jobs could be created in the next year, Jewell said. A third shift also could be added, he said.
In Connecticut, where the number of low-paid jobs are increasing faster than work with higher compensation, defense industry manufacturing jobs are prized for their pay. For example, Collins & Jewell pays $13 an hour for entry-level jobs, rising to as much as $35 an hour for skilled labor, Jewell said.
The privately held Bozrah manufacturer, with its 35-foot high ceilings and a cavernous factory floor, is well-suited for the manufacture of massive structures used by Electric Boat workers to build submarines. Other equipment at Collins & Jewell include heavy rigging equipment that can hoist up to 100,000 pounds.
"Everything we've built for the Virginia class they'll need for the Columbia," Jewell said. "That's great for us."
Thousands Of Suppliers
As suppliers such as Collins & Jewell benefit from an increased workload, the manufacturer of the submarines — among the most complicated machines — is juggling demands for more workers and an increase in suppliers.
Rep. Joe Courtney, D-2nd District, said a recent Washington, D.C., gathering of submarine contractors drew the biggest crowd ever, with some companies turned away. Electric Boat and its partner, Huntington Ingalls-Newport News Shipbuilding in Virginia, rely more on outside suppliers than on work done in their shipyards that was typical of the Cold War era, said Courtney, whose district includes EB's Groton site.
That's shifting attention to thousands of companies supplying parts for Electric Boat to ensure availability of contractors, workers and materials.
William Lennon, vice president of the Columbia program at Electric Boat, said it's developing plans to accommodate increased manufacturing and assembly, such as new facilities for construction, timing of the various stages of work and the mix of work skills needed to support construction.
EB President Jeffrey Geiger told local officials and others in January that the submarine maker plans to spend $1.5 billion in Rhode Island and Connecticut to increase assembly and other space in the coming years.
EB is looking to expand its base of suppliers by finding companies that can apply their commercial products to submarine manufacturing, Lennon said.
"We look at people who do the commercial equivalent of making a mousetrap or could expand into the marketplace," he said.
Each Virginia Class submarine costs about $2.7 billion to build, according to the Congressional Research Service. It contains 1 million or more parts, including an antenna and receiver to detect radar, cameras that replaced optical periscopes, air turbine pumps to propel torpedoes, air conditioning, seawater desalinization equipment and components for electrical systems and power generators.
Electric Boat will invest in companies to help the businesses meet qualifications such as welding, he said. And compliance with cybersecurity measures also is a "big piece" of the effort to sign up new suppliers, Courtney said.
The No. 1 issue, however, is a workforce ready to fill jobs at Electric Boat, said Courtney, a member of the House Armed Services Committee. A jobs pipeline linking EB with vocational schools, community colleges and training and recruitment centers helps match jobs with employees, and he said funding is being sought for apprenticeships for small companies.
Electric Boat is working with Connecticut and Rhode Island education and labor officials on workforce training "to make sure they understand what our demands will be," Lennon said.
EB now has about 14,800 employees, hired nearly 1,600 last year and is projecting a workforce of about 18,000 in the next 15 years in Groton and Quonset Point, R.I. Not all hiring brings in new workers, but replaces those who quit or retire.
Keith Macdowall, vice president for sales at Prime Technology, a North Branford manufacturer of devices that measure temperature, pressure and other conditions in submarines, said suppliers must coordinate purchasing of materials with funding from the submarine maker.
"Government spending is up and down," he said. "You never know when money is going to be spent."
Valuable Jobs
Mark S. LeClair, a professor of economics at Fairfield University, said manufacturing jobs producing submarine parts are among the most valuable in
Connecticut, comparable to workers who produce Sikorsky helicopters. The impact of increased hiring on the state's economy "would be substantial," he said.
A submarine building boom also would boost the value of the submarine base in Groton, protecting it from a possible shutdown, LeClair said. "That's a really big deal," he said.
Then-Gov. M. Jodi Rell and Connecticut's congressional delegation successfully overturned a federal recommendation in 2005 that the base be closed.
Driving the increase in jobs and workers is a shift in U.S. military strategy to counter moves by China, Iran and Russia. The U.S. Navy last year called for a nearly 15 percent increase in the number of ships, to 355, with an increase of 18 attack submarines, to 66.
Robert Mongell, founder of Micro Precision, a South Windham manufacturer of hydraulic systems for submarines, said Connecticut's sub industry has risen and fallen in response to shifts in defense policy, changes in congressional spending, weaknesses or strengths in the economy and the availability of capital.
"It's very hard when you have periods of boom and periods of bust to maintain a viable business unit," he said.
The collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 and a recession at the same time hit Connecticut manufacturers hard, Mongell said.
"For defense contractors in Connecticut and elsewhere, the amount of work just plummeted," he said. "You couldn't diversify because the economy was so weak."
Right now, however, Collins & Jewell and other manufacturers are anticipating strong business for years to come. "It's a good future for us," Chris Jewell said.

Helping Submarines "See": UTC Aerospace Systems Begins Production Of  First Large Vertical Array For Virginia Class Subs

Staff, Yahoo Finance
3 April 2017

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – UTC Aerospace Systems, a unit of United Technologies Corp. (UTX), announced today that manufacturing has begun on the first Large Vertical Array (LVA) for Virginia Class submarines at its Aerostructures Engineered Polymer Products (EPP) division in Jacksonville, Florida. The start of production follows several years of collaboration between EPP, the U.S. Navy and prime contractor General Dynamics Electric Boat on a design and development program.
EPP's LVA is a hull-mounted acoustic array which, along with other onboard systems and sonar processing capabilities, allows a submarine to "see" other submarines and surface ships in its vicinity. The LVA develops a detailed tactical picture that allows the submarine to perform its full array of missions. 
"Our proven ability to provide advanced acoustic products that maximize sonar system performance gives our sailors a significant at-sea advantage," said Aerostructures President Marc Duvall. "Our dedicated team of engineers and manufacturing experts is committed to delivering superior acoustic technologies while exceeding expectations on cost, quality, schedule and performance. We look forward to building on our longstanding relationship with the U.S. Navy and General Dynamics Electric Boat."
For more than 50 years, EPP has developed expertise and gained experience supporting the U.S. Navy's undersea warfare mission. Initially, the legacy rubber expertise of the B.F. Goodrich Company was utilized in surface warship sonar domes. Then in the 1990s, EPP began designing and manufacturing a wide variety of polyurethane products for the commercial, space and defense industries. This newly developed expertise in polyurethane design and manufacturing allowed EPP to begin supporting U.S. Navy efforts in 2000 by conducting early studies of hull array materials and technologies. In 2008, EPP began working alongside the Navy to build two prototype LVAs designed for two different classes of submarines. Lessons learned from the prototypes were then leveraged in the design and manufacture of the Virginia Class LVA.

U.S. Navy Contract for XLUUV Development Expected This Year

Deployment of the "Snakehead" Extra-Large Unmanned Udnerwater Vehicle is being speeded up.

Richard Burgess, Seapower Magazine
3 April 2017 

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. — The Navy expects to award a development contract for the Extra-Large Unmanned Underwater Vehicle (XLUUV) this year with the initial mission focus of mine warfare, a Navy official said.
“By the end of 2017 we expect to award [a contract],” said Howard Berkof, deputy program manager for Unmanned Maritime Systems, speaking to reporters at the Navy League’s Sea-Air-Space Exposition.
The long-endurance XLUUV will be a UUV too large to be carried by a platform such as a submarine or a littoral combat ship, for example, compared with the smaller Large-Diameter UUV (LDUUV), which will be able to operate from those platforms. The XLUUV will be able to deploy independent of another platform.
The LDUUV — the Snakehead — is being developed by the Naval Undersea Warfare Center in Newport, R.I., which is the government system integrator.
Berkof said the LDUUV program “was recently designated for accelerated acquisition … to get it into the water as quickly as possible,” the goal of which is 2019. He said the XLUUV is not an accelerated program, “but we’re following a similar model” as with the LDUUV.
Potential missions for the XLUUV include strike, anti-submarine warfare, anti-surface warfare, electronic warfare, mine countermeasures, mining, and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, Berkof said.

Virginia-Class Submarine Washington (SSN 787) Successfully Completes Initial Sea Trials

Staff, Huntington Ingalls Industries
3 April 2017

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. – Huntington Ingalls Industries (NYSE:HII) announced today that the newest Virginia-class submarine (VCS), Washington (SSN 787), successfully completed its initial sea trials on Sunday. Sea trials test the submarine’s capabilities at sea. Washington was built as part of a teaming agreement between HII’s Newport News Shipbuilding division and General Dynamics Electric Boat.
“The ship and its crew performed exceptionally well,” said Matt Needy, Newport News’ vice president of submarines and fleet support. “It was truly an amazing process to see the hundreds of suppliers and the many thousands of shipbuilders from both Newport News and Electric Boat work closely with the ship’s crew to bring this great warship to life.”
All systems, components and compartments were tested during the trials. The submarine submerged for the first time and operated at high speeds on the surface and underwater. Washington will undergo a round of acceptance trials before delivery to the Navy by Newport News.
Construction of Washington, which began in September 2011, marked the beginning of the VCS program’s two-submarines-per-year build plan for Newport News.
About Huntington Ingalls Industries
Huntington Ingalls Industries is America’s largest military shipbuilding company and a provider of professional services to partners in government and industry. For more than a century, HII’s Newport News and Ingalls shipbuilding divisions in Virginia and Mississippi have built more ships in more ship classes than any other U.S. naval shipbuilder. HII’s Technical Solutions division provides a wide range of professional services through its Fleet Support, Integrated Missions Solutions, Nuclear & Environmental, and Oil & Gas groups. Headquartered in Newport News, Virginia, HII employs nearly 37,000 people operating both domestically and internationally. 

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Russia Plans To Build 1st-Ever Civilian Nuclear-Powered Submarine For Arctic Prospecting

Staff, RT
29 March 2017

Russia has a project for a nuclear-propelled submarine, which would carry seismological equipment instead of missiles, an advanced research official said. The vessel would be used to explore the Arctic’s mineral riches. 
The project of the first-ever nuclear sub for civilian use was revealed by Viktor Litvinenko, head of a project group at the Advanced Research Fund, a state agency with close ties to the military.
“It would be a civilian nuclear submarine, but instead of missile launchers it would have tubes with a robotic submersible, which would conduct seismic prospecting, search for minerals,” he told RIA Novosti on Wednesday.
The preliminary specifications of the vessel as voiced by Litvinenko are 135.5 meters long, 14.4 meters wide, 12.6 knots submerged speed and a test depth of up to 400 meters, roughly equivalent to Borey-class submarines. The submarine would have a crew of 40 and be capable of diving on missions lasting up to 90 days, he added.
The project is currently in its early design stage, the official said.
Advanced navies use nuclear submarines for long missions that require them to spend months submerged. It allows them to hide from enemy reconnaissance and ensure that a retaliation nuclear strike would be delivered in case of a global nuclear war, thus deterring such a development.
No civilian submarines use nuclear power plants, but Russia famously has a fleet of nuclear-propelled icebreakers, which it uses in the Arctic region. While requiring significant investment and technological expertise, such ships do not require regular refuel like traditional vessels, allowing long autonomous missions in the region, famous for its unpredictable weather.

US Navy ROV Gets a New Assignment

Eric Haun, Marine Technology
29 March 2017

A U.S. Navy remotely operated vehicle, designed and built by Phoenix, has been transferred to Undersea Rescue Command.
 Tasked by the Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) Office of the Director of Ocean Engineering, Supervisor of Salvage and Diving (SUPSALV) to design and build a remotely operated underwater vehicle (ROV) to conduct salvage operations to water depths of 2,000 feet of seawater (fsw), Phoenix International Holdings, Inc. took the vehicle, originally named Hydros, from a “blank piece of paper” to a completed ROV ready for at-sea testing within the span of 10 months.
 The ROV employs a robust aluminum inner frame encased in a black polymer outer frame. To support subsea recovery tasks, it is fitted with a lifting fixture capable of hoisting up to 1,000 pounds, two five-function manipulators made of titanium and a user friendly control system that employs programmable logic controller (PLC) technology with graphic user interface software capabilities.
 Soon after the ROV’s completion, representatives of the U.S. Navy’s Undersea Rescue Command (URC) and NAVSEA Submarine Escape & Rescue Program Office (PMS 391) were briefed on Hydros as a potential replacement for the Navy’s one-atmosphere diving system (ADS2000) for assessment of a disabled submarine, rescue hatch clearance and attachment of the submarine rescue chamber’s downhaul cable. Subsequently, Phoenix personnel deployed with Hydros to San Diego to conduct at-sea demonstrations and acceptance trials. The vehicle successfully performed submarine rescue training tasks; including, inspecting a seafloor based submarine simulator, clearing debris and attaching specialized rigging to the simulator. The success of this demonstration led the URC to request transfer of Hydros from SUPSALV to the U.S. Navy’s Submarine Rescue Program. 
 Following transfer approval, the URC renamed Hydros the BM2 Sibitzky ROV, in honor of Boatswain Mate Second Class (BM2) Martin C. Sibitzky. After the sinking of USS Squalus (SS 192) in 1939 off the coast of Maine in 243 fsw, Navy Diver BM2 Sibitzky connected the downhaul cable to the submarine’s escape hatch. This action allowed the Submarine Rescue Chamber to reach the escape hatch and bring trapped sailors to the surface. Due to the heroism of BM2 Sibitzky and many others, 33 sailors were rescued from the downed submarine. Tragically, 26 sailors lost their lives.
 Today the Sibitzky ROV is undergoing final testing prior to becoming a permanent part of the Navy’s submarine rescue capability.

U.S. Navy Expects to Field Winged ASW Torpedo by 2020

Richard R. Burgess, Seapower Magazine
29 March 2017

ARLINGTON, Va. — The Navy’s program to develop an anti-submarine torpedo launched from high altitude from a P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft is on track to field the weapon to fleet units by fiscal 2020, a Boeing official said.
The High-Altitude Anti-Submarine Warfare Weapon Capability (HAAWC) program is being put through separation tests with 100 percent success so far, Cindy Gruensfelder, director of Direct Attack programs for Boeing, told reporters March 28.
The HAAWC is a combination of a Mk 54 anti-submarine warfare torpedo with a folding wing and Global Positioning System guidance kit — called the Air-Launch Accessory, or ALA — attached. The weapon is launched from the weapons bay of a P-8A at altitudes up to 30,000 feet. The weapon glides to the target datum using the wings and precision guidance system and the wings detach upon water entry. The torpedo uses active or passive homing to the targets submarine. The HAAWC gives the P-8A the option of remaining at fuel-efficient altitudes and at standoff ranges to attack submerged submarines.
Currently, P-8s must descend to low altitudes of 500 feet or less to launch a parachute-retarded Mk 54 torpedo.
The ALA is not equipped with an inflight data link to enable target position updates, but that could be added in future versions of the HAAWC.
Development testing of the HAAWC will be finished this year, Gruensfelder said. Integration testing is continuing this year, with a flight of the HAAWC scheduled for later this year as well. Operational testing will be conducted before the fielding of the weapon.
Gruensfelder expects a government decision for Low-Rate Initial Production (LRIP) later this year. The first and second lots of LRIP are expected to total 140 weapons.
The HAAWC will be made available for procurement by the foreign nations that have or are procuring the P-8, including Australia, India, Norway and the United Kingdom, said Capt. Tony Rossi, the Navy’s maritime patrol reconnaissance aircraft program manager, also speaking to reporters at the same event.

Massive Corruption Stalls Production of Russian Nuclear Attack Submarines

Arthur Dominic Villasanta, China Topix
26 March 2017

Rampant corruption in its submarine building industry has forced Russia to limit production of its new Yasen-class nuclear-powered multipurpose attack submarine (SSN) and complement it with a cheaper and smaller SSN called the Husky-class.
This untrammeled corruption involving contractors building the Yasen-class has caused the cost of each of the two submarines built to date to skyrocket. Only one Yasen-class SSN, the K-560 Severodvinsk, is in active service with the Russian Navy out of a planned fleet of 12 of these subs.
A second Yasen-class SSN, the K-561 Kazan, is building and is scheduled for commissioning into the navy by 2018.
The cost of building the Severodvinsk is estimated to range from $1.6 billion to $2 billion, making this sub the most expensive submarine in the world, and a massive drain on cash-starved Russia.
The Severodvinsk costs as much as two Borei-class nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines (SSBN), the first of which (K-535 Yuriy Dolgorukiy) entered service with the navy in 2013.
The Kazan is even more expensive. It's expected to cost anywhere from $3.5 billion to $4 billion in 2011 dollars.
In 2011, Anatoliy Serdyukov, the Minister of Defense at the time, criticized the non-stop cost of the Yasen-class and Borei-class submarines. He described the stupendous increase in cost between the Severodvinsk and Kazan as "incomprehensible."
Officials from the United Shipbuilding Corporation (USC), which builds the Yasen-class, laid the blame for the incomprehensible rise in costs on contractors. USC officials said its work accounts for only 30 percent of the submarine's completion cost. The remaining 70 percent is linked to suppliers and contractors paying kick-backs to Russian government officials.
Russian media said that because of the massive cost of the Severodvinsk and Kazan, the Husky class SSNs will be smaller and will feature reduced armament.
Russia will start building the Husky-class in 2020 after four more Yasen-class subs are built. This will bring to six the total number of Yasen-class SSNs built out of 12 originally planned.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Tasmania Secures Role In Future Submarine Program

Amelia McMahon, Defence Connect
23 March 2017

The University of Tasmania (UTAS) has signed a memorandum of understanding with four French defense and maritime technology institutions for work on the $50 billion DCNS project.
Although the fleet will be built in Adelaide, the Australian Maritime College (AMC) in Launceston will deliver teaching and research to the manufacturers that will build the 12 Shortfin Barracuda submarines.
UTAS deputy vice-chancellor Professor Monique Skidmore signed the MoU with the four French institutions: ENSTA ParisTech, École Centrale de Nantes, CentraleSupélec and École Polytechnique.
"This MoU will result in the university working with our French partners to deliver teaching and research which will inform the delivery of the next-generation submarine fleet for the country," Professor Skidmore said. "Universities such as the University of Tasmania, South Australian universities and the French consortia will together create the new generation of highly skilled workers required to research, design, build and maintain the next generation submarine fleet."
Professor Skidmore said the memorandum recognized the world standing of the university’s AMC in both teaching and research, and underlined the considerable promise of defense and design to northern Tasmania’s future.
"Arrangements such as this provide a platform upon which we can expand our existing strengths, along with the development of completely new economic sectors for the region and the state," said Professor Skidmore.
"This agreement has come about because of our university’s capacity for interdisciplinary research and our highly-regarded pedigree in the STEM disciplines of science, technology, engineering and mathematics. It is why the university is pursuing a vision for a STEM Precinct in Hobart, which would considerably enhance these strengths, which could then be leveraged for the benefit of the entire state."
The institutions will all work with DCNS on the project and the programs are due to start in September next year.
The contract for the design and construction of the Future Submarines was awarded to the French government-owned DCNS in April 2016 and signed in September 2016.
The French company was selected by the Australian government for the contract over German TKMS and Japanese Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and Kawasaki Shipbuilding Corporation offerings.
DCNS has stated that the Shortfin Barracuda pushes submarine stealth capabilities into a new realm, using pump-jet propulsion instead of the traditional propeller. To add to its stealth capabilities, hydroplanes on the submarine will retract to reduce drag and noise.
The fleet will replace the six Australian-built Collins Class submarines that have been in service since 1996.
Tasmanian Minister for State Growth Matthew Groom gave a statement explaining the government wanted to ensure Tasmania was not missing out on its share of defense spending.
"In order to increase our share of defense spending, we need to ensure that we have the skills and the linkages with the defense sector to contribute to significant national projects such as this," he said.
"It will put the university's [AMC] at the forefront of the teaching and research work that will inform the delivery of Australia's submarine fleet."

U.S. Navy, Congress Eye Buying Carriers in Blocks of Two, Folding in Submarine Material Purchase

Rick Burgess, Seapower Magazine
22 March 2017 

WASHINGTON — The Navy and Congress are actively looking at building aircraft carriers in sets of two to reduce acquisition costs and grow the fleet to 12 carriers, as well as considering including purchases of submarine materials with them to achieve cost reductions over three programs. 
“We’re going to try to buy carriers in blocks of two,” Vice Adm. David C. Johnson, principal military deputy to the assistant secretary of the Navy for Research, Development and Acquisition, said March 22 at a Defense Programs Conference sponsored by McAleese and Associates. 
In the Navy’s 2016 Force Structure Assessment, the number of carriers needed by the Navy was set at 12, two more than the current 10, a number which that climb to 11 this year with the commissioning of Gerald R. Ford, the lead ship of a new class planned to begin sea trials this spring. 
Affording the fleet growth to 355 ships, including the carriers, is a challenge acknowledged by Congress.
“We have to get the glide path to 355 [ships] right,” Rep. Robert J. Wittman, R-Va., chairman of the House Armed Services seapower and projection forces subcommittee, said at the conference. “We cannot afford anything less. If we don’t, we create additional challenges going forward.”
Wittman said the subcommittee “will come back at this to purchase two [carriers] at a time.”
Johnson also said that it would be advantageous to include in the buys the procurement of materials for the Columbia-class ballistic-missile submarine and the Virginia-class attack submarine to achieve economies of scale over all three nuclear-powered ship programs.
The Navy has been looking at procuring the next ships of the Gerald R. Ford class in a two-stage strategy, buying two hulls in advance to save material procurement costs and then installing combat systems on the ships when the latest systems are available closer to the commissioning date. 
Wittman said Congress needs to look at “incrementally funding ships,” while acknowledging, “I know the appropriators don’t like that.”

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Taiwan Has to Build its Own Submarines Because Nobody Is Willing to Anger China

Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics
21 March 2017

The president of Taiwan has announced the conclusion of the nation's disappointing, decades-long search for someone—anyone—to sell the country attack submarines for its defense: Nobody will, and so the island country will build its submarines. USNI News, citing the Japanese Kyodo News Agency, reports that Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen announced the start of the submarine program today at a Republic of China (Taiwan) Navy base.
Lying just 120 miles from mainland China, Taiwan, or the Republic of China, has been under threat of invasion since splitting from Communist China in 1949. As China's military strength has grown in recent years, the threat of invasion has increased and Taiwan has sought to build a fleet of diesel electric submarines. Submarines are an ideal weapon of defense for Taiwan, capable of sinking invasion fleets and breaking any blockade China might impose on what it considers a "breakaway province".
In theory, Taiwan's plan shouldn't be a problem. There is a vibrant non-nuclear submarine industry worldwide, with Russia, Japan, France, and Germany all leaders in diesel electric attack submarine design. Unfortunately for Taiwan, as China's economic power has increased, Beijing has used that power to discourage other countries from selling submarines to Taiwan. Today, no one will sell the country submarines for fear of retaliatory economic action by China.
What about American shipyards? Some, such as the Connecticut-based General Dynamics Electric Boat, produce only nuclear-powered submarines. That is way too much submarine for Taiwan, which doesn't need large ships with the ability to circumnavigate the globe. The long range of nuclear subs would make them offensive weapons, and Washington is committed to selling Taiwan only defensive arms.
In 2001, the Bush Administration promised to build diesel-powered submarines for Taiwan, but that never happened, for a number of reasons. The move would have deteriorated U.S.-Chinese relations. Plus, the U.S. Navy does not want domestic shipyards to produce diesel-powered subs. The Navy prefers an all-nuclear force and is afraid that if local shipyards made the less desirable (but cheaper) alternative, Congress may actually force the American Navy to buy them.
In the meantime, Taiwan's navy has just four submarines. The two newest subs Hai Lung ("Sea Dragon") and Hai Hu ("Sea Tiger") were ordered from the Netherlands in 1980 and delivered by 1988. Even older are the Hai Shih (ex-USS Cutlass) and Hai Pao (ex-USS Tusk), which were built for the U.S. Navy during World War II. The submarines were transferred to Taiwan in the early 70s with their torpedo tubes welded shut. Each is more than 70 years old, making them the oldest submarines in service anywhere. The two geriatric attack boats are too old for frontline service and are instead used to train anti-submarine warfare forces.
This new effort to make homebuilt subs will be a joint project between the CSBC shipbuilding corporation, the Taiwanese government and navy, and the National Chung-Shan Institute of Science and Technology. Taiwan reportedly wants a submarine in the 1,200 to 3,000-ton class, which is a reasonable size considering the main mission of the sub fleet is to defend a relatively small island. The only submarine the U.S. currently builds, by comparison, is the 7,800-ton nuclear powered Virginia-class attack sub.
Taiwan will probably get guided torpedoes such as the Mark 48 ADCAP anti-ship/anti-submarine torpedo, from the United States. According to USNI News, Taiwan expects the process to take ten years to mature consisting of "four years (for design), four for construction and two additional years of testing."
Taiwan will basically start from square one in designing this submarine. The country is so bereft of submarine design experience that in 2015 it was reportedly ready to tear down one of the World War II-era subs to figure out how to build modern submarines. Taiwan will lean heavily on outside help. It was reported in 2015 that "more than twenty US and European companies" have expressed interest in working with Taiwanese companies on the submarine project.
If Taiwan's effort to build submarines is successful, then Beijing's pressure to halt sales from other countries could backfire. Taiwan could build submarines with features other countries might be reluctant to sell, such as vertical launch silos for long-range missiles that could hit the mainland, giving the island country a retaliatory strike capability that Beijing would prefer Taiwan didn't have.