Tuesday, June 20, 2017

The Allure of Supercavitating Torpedoes

Appears 230mph super-torpedo tech is making comeback.


Dr. Gareth Evans, Naval Technology
20 June 2017

Alongside directed energy weapons and electromagnetic rail guns, supercavitating torpedoes repeatedly feature at the top of the wish list of must-have capabilities for any self-respecting navy of the future – and it is easy to see why. The allure of a rocket propelled super-weapon capable of delivering a nuclear or conventional warhead at speeds in excess of 200 knots is pretty self-evident, unless, of course, you are the one on the receiving end.
First developed into a workable design for the Soviet navy during the Cold War, the concept of supercavitating torpedoes has fascinated military engineers ever since, although little practical headway seems to have been achieved subsequently, aside from a number of stalled projects and aborted attempts over the years.
Now that may be about to change with the news that Russian scientists are once again looking at supercavitation and Iran is apparently getting in on the act, too. Back in October 2016, accounts began to appear of a program to develop a new weapon named Khishchnik (‘Raptor’), while on 7 May this year, Iranian forces reportedly test fired a Hoot high-speed torpedo – thought to be a reverse-engineered version of the original Soviet design – in the Strait of Hormuz.
It seems 230mph super-torpedo technology could be set for something of a revival.

What a drag

The speed of any torpedo is constrained by two fundamental factors – its method of propulsion and the laws of physics. Conventional versions are driven by propellers or pumpjets and although the fastest of these are undeniably swift, and considerably quicker than most ships, in the world of weapons where even the humble bullet flies supersonic, they are definitely more tortoise than hare.
One obvious way around that is to change the method of propulsion; swap electric motors and propellers for a rocket engine, and at a stroke you turn your torpedo into an underwater missile. The only problem is, doing that runs you headlong straight into the laws of physics, and that is a drag – quite literally.
Drag is the counter force that acts against any object moving through the water, and the greater the velocity, the greater the drag, which means that the constraints of fluid dynamics impose an effective speed limit of around 50 knots. Now, while as the Starship Enterprise’s fictional chief engineer Montgomery Scott was wont to say, “you cannae change the laws of physics”, you can sometimes get around them, and in this case, that involves wrapping your torpedo in a giant bubble of gas.

Supercavitation

The fundamental idea behind supercavitation is surprisingly simple. When water is forced around an object, such as a ship’s propeller, at high speeds the pressure drops around the trailing edge, and if it drops below the water’s vapor pressure, bubbles are formed in a process known as cavitation. Traditionally, it has been a problem for engineers because when the bubbles strike the propeller itself they then implode, damaging the material and leading to serious cavitation erosion over time.
However, in the late 1940s Soviet scientists began to wonder if by deliberately manipulating this effect to create a huge, sustainable mega-bubble, and then encasing a torpedo body within it as it hurtles through the water, hydrodynamic drag could be largely overcome. Two decades and six prototypes later, their work was to see practical supercavitation realized, and the emergence of a new weapon class, capable of remarkable submerged speeds.

Soviet Squall

For the Shkval (‘Squall’), which entered service in 1977, this was achieved by a specially designed flat nose cone, which deflects water outwards and initiates the supercavitaiton bubble. The envelope is then further extended and sustained by gases from the torpedo’s engine. Fired from standard 533mm torpedo tubes at a conventional 50 knots, the Shkval’s solid fuel rocket booster subsequently ignites and accelerates it to supercavitating speed, before a hydrojet sustainer kicks in to propel it on the final part of its way to the target.
Despite the obvious appeal of the technology, supercavitating torpedoes do have some major limitations. The need to keep as much of the torpedo body as possible out of contact with the water means that steering surfaces cannot protrude far out of the cavity, so course corrections are difficult, and any major change of heading would force part of the body out of the bubble, instantly increasing drag, and risking collapsing it altogether. Although with a maximum range of just 15km, the short transit time to target mitigated this potential problem in the Shkval, it could be more challenging for any torpedo intended to be fired from further away.
Additionally, rocket and hydrojet propulsion at velocities in excess of 200kts involves a huge amount of vibration and a great deal of noise. While a submarine firing a torpedo capable of that kind of speed probably has little to fear from a counterattack from its target, it will have betrayed its position very loudly to any other enemy vessels in the area and moreover, all that background racket renders the weapon itself as deaf as the proverbial post.
Using any type of sonar guidance at supercavitating speed is clearly a complete non-starter.

Enduring appeal

Nevertheless, the appeal of this submarine super-weapon is proving to be an enduring one for countries on both sides of the old Cold War divide.
In 2004, Diehl-BGT Defense announced the start of a supercavitating technology demonstrator program in cooperation with the German Navy. Barracuda was intended to have both submarine and surface launch capabilities, and be able to travel along both straight and curved attack paths, although ultimately the program ended without producing a deployable weapon.
Two years later, the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) commissioned General Dynamics to look into the technology. It seems that they were exploring the possibility of overcoming the sonar limitations by changing the design of the cavitation disc, altering the location of the transmitters and developing special noise-cancelling filters to cut out interference from the engine. Just how far they got along that particular track remains unknown, except to say that the project folded after a year, and US research into the technology effectively came to a halt five years later, in 2012.

Rise of the Raptor

Little is officially known about the new Russian Khishchnik, but there has been speculation that it will set out to overcome two of the principal shortfalls in the previous Shkval design – range and guidance.
Developing the Shkval’s hydrojet – essentially an underwater ram-jet burning a hydro-reactive metal fuel – back in the 1960s was arguably then as difficult a technical challenge as managing the supercavitation itself. While it enabled the weapon to outrun even the fastest conventional torpedoes four or five times over, it left it with less than a third of the range enjoyed by the best American versions. Hailed as the ‘killer of aircraft-carriers’, in reality Shkval required a launching submarine to penetrate so far into the carrier group’s anti-submarine coverage area that its own survival would have been put in question.
Roll on fifty years, however, and improved motors and better fuels could give the next generation of supercavitating torpedoes perhaps ten times that range, and possibly ten times the speed. Add to that a guidance system along the lines of what the DARPA/General Dynamics program envisioned and the Khishchnik would be a very potent beast indeed.
It remains to be seen whether this latest Russian project ultimately succeeds, or falters like others before it, but if it does, there will be some very big ticks appearing on those wish lists, as the world’s navies set out to arm their warships of tomorrow.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Boeing Testing Cutting-Edge Submarine Off Palos Verdes Coast

The unmanned, ocean-spanning craft can reach a depth of 11,000 feet.

Staff, ABC 7
8 June 2017

RANCHO PALOS VERDES, Calif. – There's been a strange sighting off the Palos Verdes coast. It looks a little like a futuristic version of the Loch Ness monster.
But upon closer examination, it turns out to be a 50-ton, 51-foot-long monstrous underwater robot. It's the Boeing "Echo Voyager."
The unmanned undersea vehicle is now going through several months of trials at sea before setting off on its own with no crew and no tether to a support ship.
Powered by a hybrid electric battery system, it periodically surfaces to snorkel depth to recharge its batteries by raising a mast.
The Echo Voyager can reach an impressive depth of 11,000 feet.
It will be used for months-long surveillance and reconnaissance missions for defense, commercial and scientific customers.


Boeing, HII to Team on Unmanned Undersea Vehicles

Staff, Seapower Magazine
8 June 2017 

ARLINGTON, Va. — Boeing and Huntington Ingalls Industries (HII) are teaming on the design and production of unmanned undersea vehicles (UUVs) in support of the U.S. Navy’s Extra Large UUV program, Boeing said in a June 8 release.
“This partnership provides the Navy a cost-effective, low-risk path to meet the emergent needs that prompted the Navy’s Advanced Undersea Prototyping program,” Darryl Davis, president of Boeing Phantom Works, said in the release. “We are combining Boeing’s preeminent UUV maritime engineering team with our nation’s leading shipbuilder and Navy technical services company to get operational vehicles to the Navy years ahead of the standard acquisition process.”
Boeing currently is testing its newest and largest UUV, Echo Voyager, off the Southern California coast. The vehicle is designed for multiple missions and could include a modular payload bay of up to 34 feet, offering enhanced endurance and increased payload capacity over traditional UUVs. Echo Voyager is fully autonomous, requiring no support vessel for launch or recovery, enabling operation at sea for months before returning to port.
“We look forward to a long relationship with Boeing as we embark together to field this unmanned force-multiplier for the Navy,” said Andy Green, executive
vice president of HII and president of the company’s Technical Solutions division. “I am confident this team will continue redefining the autonomy paradigm for UUVs.”
The partnership will leverage design and production facilities in Huntington Beach, Calif.; Newport News, Va.; and Panama City, Fla., and will offer access to all the expertise and capability of Boeing and Huntington Ingalls Industries.

USM Makes History with First Graduating Class of Unmanned Maritime Systems Course

Erica Davis, WDAM 7
8 June 2017

The University of Southern Mississippi made history on June 1 with 15 students completing a first-of-its-kind certification in Unmanned Maritime Systems (UMS).
“This is akin to what NASA first did with spaceflight,” Rear Admiral Timothy Gallaudet said. “This class should be mighty proud because the national impact of this certification and the skills taught throughout the course will be felt for decades.”
The UMS program spanned over an intensive five weeks with students studying nautical science, 3-D positioning, ocean policy, and autonomous systems.
“This program was designed to provide a rigorous, hands-on academic program to introduce the students to unmanned maritime systems and the decision processes needed to operate them, “ said Monty Graham, Director of USM’s School of Ocean Science and Technology (SOST). “Students developed skills in disciplines such as electronics, programming, policy and application.”
The 15 students were made up of civilian and military personnel from the Naval Oceanographic Office, Fleet Survey Team and Naval Oceanography Mine Warfare Center based at the John C. Stennis Space Center; Submarine Development Squadron 5 based in Bangor, Washington; Naval Oceanography Special Warfare Center based in San Diego; the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in based in Norfolk, Virginia; and the Naval Undersea Warfare Center based in Newport, Rhode Island.
The class’s instructor, SOST’s Dr. Vernon Asper, was challenged with packing 10 semester hours of teaching into just five weeks of class time.
“Scheduling was crucial because of how intensive the nature of the class is,” Asper said. “Seeing how quickly the students began to grasp the concepts and truly grow their understanding of the unmanned systems was incredibly gratifying as their teacher.”
In the five weeks, students learned core fundamentals of using gliders, powered unmanned underwater vehicles, and autonomous surface vehicles. Not only were students responsible for learning how to chart and pilot these vessels, but they also learned how to build them.
“Building the glider really brought a lot of the topics together for the class,” Asper said. “Seeing how the vehicle you’re using is made from inside to out put everything into perspective for them.”
Graham applauded the graduates as they received their certificates from USM President Rodney D. Bennett and Rear Admiral Gallaudet.
“In a normal academic world, 18 hours takes about 15 weeks,” Graham said. “These graduates worked every day, all day, for five weeks. Each of you should be very proud of the hard work you’ve put in to earn these certificates.
The UMS class is the first tier in a 3-tier program. Students going through the entire tier structure will graduate with a full graduate degree.
“Look around the room at your fellow graduates,” Gallaudet said. “Each of you has embarked on a journey no one else has attempted. The work you have put in for the last few weeks has advanced the defense of the United States immensely and we can’t wait to see what you do next.”


Russia’s Navy to Operate 7 Next-Generation Ballistic Missile Subs by 2021

Franz-Stefan Gady, The Diplomat
12 June 2017 

The Russian Navy is expected to operate seven Project 955 Borei-class (“North Wind”) aka Dolgorukiy-class nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines (SSBNs) by 2021, Russia’s Defense Minister, Sergei Shoigu, told the upper house of the Russian Parliament at the end of May.
“By 2021 the naval strategic nuclear forces are expected to have 13 submarines in their combat structure, including seven promising Borei-class submarines with new Bulava missile systems,” Shoigu said, according to TASS news agency.
The modernization of the Russian Navy’s aging fleet of SSBNs remains one of the top priorities for the government and despite fiscal constraints and various technical challenges (and unlike other weapons programs) there have not been major delays in the floating out of Borei-class boomers.
“The Borei-class is the new sea leg of Russia’s nuclear triad and is slowly replacing obsolete Soviet-era Project 941 Typhoon-class and Project 667 BDRM Delta IV-class submarines,” I noted in March.
The first advanced variant of the Borei-class, dubbed Project 955A Borei II-class, is expected to be floated out in June of this year. The Russian Navy plans to operate eight Borei-class SSBNs–three Borei-class and five advanced Borei II-class subs–by the 2020s. As I explained elsewhere (See: “Russia Will Start Constructing New Ballistic Missile Submarine in December”):
In comparison to the Borei-class, Borei II-class submarines are fitted with four additional missile tubes, boast smaller hulls and cons, and feature improved acoustics and lower sound levels, next to a number of other technical improvements.
Both variants of Borei-class subs will be armed with Bulava (RSM-56) intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs). The Borei-class will be capable of carrying up to 16 Bulava ICBMs, whereas the improved Borei II-class can carry up to 20 ballistic missiles.
The improved variant of the Borei-class will be capable of launching 96-200 hypersonic, independently maneuverable warheads, yielding 100-150 kilotons apiece. 
The exact status of the Bulava ICBM remains unclear as a number of tests of the missile system have ended in failure. “Since 2004, the missile has been tested 25 times, with varying degrees of success. The last five tests, conducted between September 2014 and September 2016, were reportedly all successful,” I explained in September of last year. However, Russia’s MoD acknowledged that of the two missiles fired during last year’s test, only one hit its designated target with the second missile self-destructing in midflight.
Three Borei-class submarines have been commissioned so far. One boomer, the Yuri Dolgoruky, currently serves with the Russian Navy’s Northern Fleet, while the remaining two–Alexander Nevsky and Vladimir Monomakh—have joined the Pacific Fleet. The first improved Borei II-class SSBN, christened Knyaz Vladimir, is expected to be commissioned in 2018, following a two-year delay due to contract disputes.

Is India's Submarine Fleet Defenseless?

Franz-Stefan Gady, The Diplomat
12 June 2017

With the recent cancellation of a $200 million contract for 98 Black Shark heavyweight torpedoes at the end of May, the Indian Navy’s new submarine fleet continues to lack adequate defense capabilities against enemy subs and surface warships in the event of a conflict.
India’s Ministry of Defense (MoD) has canceled the order for Black Shark heavyweight torpedoes, built by torpedo maker Whitehead Alenia Systemi Subacquei (WASS), a subsidiary of Italian arms manufacturer Finmeccanica, due to corruption allegations involving another Finmeccanica subsidiary, Agusta Westland. According to the Indian MoD, Agusta Westland representatives allegedly paid bribes for a 2010 purchase of 12 AW medium lift helicopters, which resulted in the termination of the contract in 2014 and the purported blacklisting of the company.
The recent cancellation of the torpedo order was a direct result of the corruption allegations involving the European defense contractor and the Indian National Congress political party. The Black Shark torpedo was specifically purchased for the Indian Navy’s future fleet of six Scorpene-class (Kalvari-class) diesel-electric attack submarines. A second batch of 49 Black Shark torpedoes was also to be installed aboard India’s domestically developed and built Arihant-class of nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines.
According to Indian media reports, at least three of India’s future fleet of four to five Arihant-class SSBNs were expected to carry the new torpedoes. The cancellation of the order could mean a two- to three-year delay in the launching of the second sub of the class, the Aridaman, due to torpedo tube modifications. Alternatives to the Black Shark torpedo are the German-made SeaHake heavyweight torpedo and France’s F21 Artemis. Given the lack of transparency regarding the Indian’s MoD blacklisting policy vis-à-vis, the Black Shark torpedo could also participate in a new bid. Furthermore, the Indian Navy inducted the domestically-produced Varunastra 533 millimeter heavyweight torpedo last summer. The Indian-made weapon is currently adopted to fit the torpedo tubes of Indian submarines. (The Indian Navy has ordered 73 Varunastra torpedoes.)
Senior naval officials say that it will take time to select a new heavyweight torpedo and an interim solution will be sought. “There will be some alternate torpedoes as an interim solution. The heavy weight torpedoes will take some time. Those which are already in use in other platforms will be used in these (Kalvari-class) submarines,” a senior Indian naval official told The Economic Times in early June. However, the Indian Navy’s existing stock of Russian-made torpedoes (as well as the Varunastra) cannot be fired from subs of the Arihant-class or Kalvari-class without substantial hardware and software modifications.
As I reported last week, the second Scorpene-class (Kalvari-class) diesel-electric attack submarine, christened Khanderi, has recently begun sea trials off the coast of Mumbai. The lead submarine of the class, Kalvari, is expected to be commissioned in July or August following the successful completion of sea trials and weapons tests, which includes the test firing of a German SeaHake torpedo and French-made Exocet SM39 anti-ship missiles. As I explained elsewhere:
The acquisition of the Exocet came under intense scrutiny following the August 2016 disclosure of a data leak at French shipbuilder Direction des Constructions Navales Services (DCNS), which publicly revealed sensitive details on the anti-ship missile including launch details, the number of targets the missile is capable of processing, and how many targets could be downloaded before firing.
Nevertheless, the Indian MoD insisted that the leaked data does not constitute a security compromise and reiterated its intention to procure the missiles for the Kalvari-class.
The INS Arihant was secretly commissioned in August 2016. The lead ship of the Indian Navy’s new class of SSBNs primarily serves as a technology demonstrator. “In comparison to the lead ship of the class, subsequent boats will be larger (e.g., they will boast eight rather than four launch tubes), operate a more powerful reactor, and feature a host of other technical improvements,” I explained in October 2016. Arihant-class subs are expected to be armed with K-4 and K-15 Sagarika nuclear-capable submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBM).

Can The U.S. Afford Modern Nukes?

Matthew R. Costlow, Wall Street Journal
14 June 2017

When President Obama left the White House, he punted on a tough choice: how to modernize the U.S. nuclear force. In the coming weeks, the Congressional Budget Office is expected to release a report that estimates modernization as currently proposed would cost $1.2 trillion over 30 years, or about $40 billion a year. Congress and the Trump administration shouldn’t be intimidated by the ostensibly big number.
The plan analyzed by the CBO would replace the nuclear delivery systems of bombers, missiles and submarines with new ones that incorporate the latest safety and survival features. These changes would enable some systems to perform well into the 2080s. It’s ambitious, but this program isn’t the budget buster nuclear disarmament supporters describe.
Under the plan, spending on the nuclear arsenal would peak in the late 2020s at about 6.5% of the Defense Department budget, up from 3.2% today. Recall that military spending consumes only about 15% of the federal budget.
But determining whether modernization is affordable involves more than cost considerations. The Pentagon simultaneously has to consider its priorities and the costs of weapons systems when determining the best way to protect U.S. interests. According to the Defense Department, the two highest priorities of U.S. strategy are “the survival of the nation” and “the prevention of a catastrophic attack against U.S. territory.” The Pentagon’s Quadrennial Defense Review lists “a secure and effective nuclear deterrent” at the top of a list describing how to achieve such priorities.
Given that the U.S. nuclear arsenal helps to deter the only existential threat to the U.S., major nuclear war, its value can’t be measured by traditional dollar metrics alone. Budgets are about trade-offs and priorities. As the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Paul Selva, testified earlier this year, “We are emphasizing the nuclear mission over other modernization programs when faced with that choice.”
Critics will cry that every dollar spent on nuclear weapons, which have not been set off in anger since World War II, is a dollar taken from those who are fighting wars right now. But as then-Defense Secretary Ash Carter explained in a speech last year, U.S. nuclear forces are the “bedrock” of American security and the “highest priority mission” of the Defense Department. They enable current war fighters to achieve their missions.
Even those in the military who could stand to miss out on spending increases because of nuclear modernization efforts, like U.S. Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Milley, support modernization: “It’s not even an Army system and it needs to be overhauled and brought back up to the level of readiness.”
The federal government can afford to spend less than 1% of its multitrillion-dollar budget on nuclear modernization. And with Russia, China and North Korea all upgrading their nuclear weapons capabilities, just about the only thing the U.S. can’t afford is to end its modernization efforts before they begin.

General Dynamics Unit Wins $25M Nuclear Submarine Deal

Zacks Equity Research, Nasdaq.com
14 June 2017

Defense behemoth General Dynamics Corp. 's GD business division, Electric Boat Corp., secured a modification contract worth $25.1 million from the U.S. Navy to provide additional Long Lead Time Material (LLTM) related to fiscal 2019 Virginia Class Submarine (SSNs 802 and 803).

Details of the Deal

Per the agreement, Electric Boat will provide LLTM for steam and electric plant components, and miscellaneous hull, mechanical and electrical system components. The contractor will also offer efforts in connection with the main propulsion unit and ship service turbine generator.
Work related to this deal is scheduled to be completed by Jan 2018. Majority of the work will be executed in Coatesville, PN, while the rest in various locations across the U.S. The company will utilize fiscal 2017 shipbuilding and conversion (Navy) funds.
A Brief Note on Virginia-Class Submarines
The Virginia-class program comprises nuclear-powered fast-attack submarines serving the Navy. These submarines are designed for a broad spectrum of open-ocean and littoral missions. Notably, Virginia-class submarines are designed for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) operations as well as mine warfare.

Current Scenario

Attack submarines are designed to seek and destroy enemy submarines as well as surface ships. Currently, the Navy has three classes of nuclear-powered attack submarines - Virginia-class, Ohio-class and Los Angeles-class. These submarines will be operational through 2070.

Our Take

As one of the only two contractors in the world equipped to build nuclear-powered submarines, General Dynamics enjoys a dominant position as a Navy contractor. The company continues to be a prime contractor for the development of Virginia-class submarines, with Huntington Ingalls Industries Inc. HII acting as the subcontractor.
The fiscal year 2017 spending bill, approved by Obama government, includes $582.7 billion in funding for the Pentagon, which comprise $71.4 billion for R&D and $8.1 billion for submarines (with over $40 billion in the next five years). We believe this will definitely drive growth at General Dynamics' nuclear submarines division, going forward.
General Dynamics' revenue exposure is spread over a broad portfolio of products and services that will keep the overall growth momentum steady. Electric Boat is a unit of Marine Systems, which is a leading U.S. shipbuilder, designing, building and supporting a diverse portfolio of ships for the Navy and commercial customers. In partnership with the Navy, Electric Boat has been successfully pursuing its goal to reduce ship costs while focusing on improving overall efficiency.

Price Movement

Shares of General Dynamics have rallied 43.8% in the last one year, outperforming the Zacks categorized Aerospace-Defense industry's gain of 25.4%. This could be because General Dynamics consistently maintains a strategic alliance with the U.S. Department of Defense, which allows it to enjoy a steady flow of contracts. Consistent deal wins also allow its peers like Lockheed Martin Corp. LMT and Northrop Grumman Corp. NOC keep up their industry-leading performance.

‘We Are Looking at the Next Order For Submarines From the Indian Navy’

 Nayanima Basu, The Hindu
14 June 2017

CNS India Managing Director Bernard Buisson said the French shipbuilder is now looking at the next order from the Indian Navy to build at least three more submarines in India. In an interview with BusinessLine, he said the company is on track to deliver the remaining five Scorpene submarines even as the first one —INS Kalvari — is ready to be inducted into the Navy’s submarine fleet next month. Excerpts:
The first Scorpene-class submarine, INS Kalvari, is finally going to be inducted in Navy’s fleet next month. What has been your experience?
Mazagon Dock Ltd (MDL) built the submarines with DCNS as a technology partner. The program has been a major success given the extreme complexities and technical challenges of building a submarine.
The inevitable teething problems and other difficulties which MDL had to face, as there was a gap of several years since it had first produced submarines, were tackled successfully. Further, challenges of sourcing and inducting complex material were also achieved efficiently.
When will INS Khanderi, the second submarine, be delivered?
The sea trials have started last week. But now the tests will slow down because of the monsoon. But our target is to have this delivered by the year-end.
But, these submarines are defenseless as the contract to procure the Black Shark torpedoes was cancelled and Navy is now looking at German SeaHake …
We have successfully test fired a torpedo from the Navy’s current inventory. If the Navy has a requirement for additional torpedoes, DCNS will be offering the new generation French F21 torpedo. But DCNS is also fully prepared to help in integrating any other heavy weight torpedo if the Navy so chooses.
When do you plan to deliver the remaining four submarines?
Those will come at an interval of eight to nine months. The third one will be launched very soon. The remaining ones are all under different stages of construction.
What about the maintenance of these submarines?
We are in discussion with the Navy for maintenance through technical assistance and provision of additional tools and infrastructure specific to this modern submarine.
So what next now on the P75 program?
We are now looking forward to the next order after P75 from the Navy for three or more submarines. Those will be the upgraded version of Scorpene submarine, which is more evolved and has enhanced features.
DNCS faced a massive data leak last year that almost jeopardized the Scorpene program. How will you ensure this will not happen again?
The information that got leaked is not sensitive.
The final performance data of the Kalvari, which is the actual data, is securely maintained by the Navy. Even we do not possess it. The leak is now being looked at the highest levels of both governments of India and France. In addition, we are now re-enforcing our existing cyber security measures to put in place best in class data and more advanced security at base and on naval platforms.
P75(I) is going to the first project under the Strategic Partnership policy …
The government wants two lines of submarines. The second line is expected to be with a private shipyard.
Now under the SP, we have understood that within the submarine segment two partners will be selected, L&T and Reliance, because today only these two companies can build submarines. Then the potential OEMs will be selected, which can be the French, German or Russian. Then after final selection, it will be up to the SP to select and tie-up with the OEMs.
But if Reliance is selected then it will obviously select DCNS as you are already collaborating on the LPD (Landing Platform Docks) project …
We are working for four years with Reliance for the LPD project due to which we have known their shipyard and their capability. So it seems natural that when the RFP for P75(I) will be issued, they will consult us. But we will be the Navy’s and MoD’s guide, as they are our customers.
The LPD program has again been revived by the government after it faced initial hiccups. How are you viewing the opportunity?
Well, DCNS along with Reliance is going to submit its bid on June 22. We are offering the Mistral solution. We hope to win the program and emerge as the L1.
What happened to your FDI proposal to bring the Air Independent Propulsion (AIP) technology for submarines to India?
The proposal has been deferred by the government. We have tried to explain it to MoD and Navy that we wanted to have a subsidiary to have at least 51 per cent in order to have control over it as far as intellectual property is concerned.
The government told us we are bringing a technology which is already with the DRDO. The idea is not to compete with the DRDO at all but to bring the knowledge here.


Liberals to Spend Nearly $2.5B to Keep Used Canadian Subs Sailing Past 2030

Lee Berthiaume, The Canadian Press
16 June 2017 

OTTAWA – The Trudeau government is planning to spend billions more on the navy's four wayward submarines to keep them operating into the 2030s.
The plan to extend the lives of the troubled vessels is included in the Liberals' new defense policy and comes following calls from senior naval officers to save the controversial ships from the scrap heap.
The actual price of the plan was not revealed in the policy document, which was released to much fanfare last week, and National Defense refused to provide a price tag following multiple requests.
That is despite assertions from the Liberal government that the defense policy was fully costed and following promises of full transparency when it came to the overall plan.
"Detailed costing will be provided in the Defense Investment Plan to be published in due course," National Defense spokesman Daniel Le Bouthillier said in an email.
Defense sources, however, have told The Canadian Press that keeping the submarines in the water for another decade will cost upwards of $2.5 billion.
Without upgrades, the first of the submarines will reach the end of its life in 2022, according to documents obtained last year through Access to Information, with the last retired in 2027.
Some have questioned the wisdom of spending more money on the four vessels, which have been plagued with problems since Canada bought them used from Britain in 1998.
While the Chretien government said at the time that it was getting a bargain by paying only $750 million, the ships have required constant repairs and upgrades just to make them seaworthy for a limited time.
And while a number of experts have called for Canada look to purchase new submarines, rather than upgrading the ones it has, others have said the country doesn't need such expensive vessels.
Defense Minister Harjit Sajjan this week emphasized the Liberal government's view, previously expressed by senior naval officials, that subs are necessary for protecting Canada's security and sovereignty.
"No other platform in the Canadian Armed Forces can do what a submarine can do," Sajjan said during an event in Halifax on Monday.
"No other platform has the stealth, the intelligence-gathering, surveillance and reconnaissance capability and the deterrence to potential adversaries that a sub does."
Sajjan added that the government decided upgrading the existing subs -- HMCS Chicoutimi, Victoria, Corner Brook and Windsor -- was more "prudent" than purchasing new vessels.
The Liberals promised in their defense policy to invest an additional $62 billion in the military over the next 20 years, which includes increasing annual defense spending by 70 per cent over the next decade.
A large chunk of that new money will end up going towards replacing the navy's 12 frigates and three recently retired destroyers with 15 new warships at a cost of between $56 billion and $60 billion.
Previous estimates had pegged the cost of those vessels at $26 billion.
The four submarines continue to generate headlines for the wrong reasons, with the most recent Thursday when HMCS Chicoutimi was hit by another naval vessel while docked at CFB Esquimalt in B.C.
But Rob Huebert, an expert on maritime security at the University of Calgary, said the other three have been
involved in a variety of tasks and mission in recent months -- even if most Canadians don't realize it.
"The very nature of what they do means that (the military) can't talk about it," he said.
"They're actually exceeding what the navy was expecting them to do in terms of time at sea, interdiction of drugs and co-operation with the Americans. You can't talk about any of that, but it is occurring."
Rather than extend the lives of the submarines, Huebert said he would have liked to see the government start looking for replacements, but that wasn't possible given the huge costs of replacing the frigates.
"What we saw was the defense review was an intelligent decision to do what was necessary to lengthen the life of the subs while making sure the (new warships) are built," he said.

Interview: NAVSEA 'Headed in the Right Direction'  After Years of Maintenance Backlogs

Megan Eckstein, USNI News
15 June 2017 

WASHINGTON NAVY YARD — The Navy has faced massive backlogs of submarine and aircraft carrier maintenance work at its four public shipyards in recent years, at times pushing nearly ten percent of its workload into the next year.
But if 2017 was the year that bow wave of deferred maintenance caught the attention of lawmakers, it was also the year the Navy made great strides in addressing the problem – despite having a ten percent higher than average workload this year, the yards will end the year with about a quarter of the maintenance backlog they began the year with, the Naval Sea Systems Command commander Vice Adm. Tom Moore told USNI News.
2017 had all the markings of a tough year as it approached. The Navy had scheduled 5.4 million man-days of work across the four naval shipyards, above the average workload from 2013 to 2016 of 4.9 million man-days. As much as 400,000 man-days of work on the 2016 schedule were being deferred to 2017, which was pretty consistent with the backlog being carried over from year to year recently. The four yards were still short of their manpower goal of 36,100 workers. And several “problem children” attack submarines were still on the books, in some cases years after they were first brought into a shipyard for the start of a maintenance availability, due to a lack of available workers to complete those jobs.
Despite all those challenges the shipyards had to face this year, they will leave 2017 in better shape than they came in, Moore assured. Less than 100,000 man-hours of work will be pushed into 2018. The workforce stands above
34,000 already and will continue to grow closer to the 36,100 target. And four of the “problem children” will complete their availabilities and return to the fleet this year, ending the strain they put on the yards by continually upping the backlog size and lowering on-time completion rates.
In the midst of such an unusual year at the shipyards, Moore sat down with USNI News to explain how the Navy found itself in this situation, how it is digging its way out, and what it means for the aircraft carriers and submarines that are maintained and refueled at these four yards.

Renewed Focus on Work Planning

Moore said the key first step to a successful maintenance availability is proper planning, with a detailed and accurate understanding of what people and material will be needed at each step along the way. For the recent availabilities that most went awry, such as attack submarines USS Albany (SSN-753) and USS Asheville (SSN-758) that will finish their work this year around 570 and 670 days late, respectively, he said it should have been apparent from the start that the plan wouldn’t lead to a successful availability.
“I went back and looked at Asheville and Albany, and they were built with curves where you could tell that they needed this number of people but [the yards] were only able to put this number of people on. So obvious that, if I could rewind history and they were to give me a workload curve like that, I could look at it today and say, you’re not going to be able to do this in 22 months,” he said.
On Asheville, the yard planned for needing 300 to 500 people a day, which Moore said couldn’t possibly keep the work on schedule – but given the shipyard’s overall workload, that was all yard leadership could allot at the time.
“That’s why we’ve started to go look at these people-versus-time schedules. And when we stick to the schedule, we finish on time,” he said.
“if you fall too far behind, it doesn’t matter how many people you throw at it, eventually then it becomes a butts-per-cubic-inch thing; you can only fit so many workers on the ship at any given time, and it’s not a very productive way to do the work.”
Moore has started asking the shipyards to make more of a commitment to those resource plans they submit to NAVSEA. Several months before the availability starts, he said, “I want you to commit to me that you have a resource plan – in other words, these are the people I need, when I’m going to need them, over the six months – and that you are committing to me, if you give me these resources I will finish on time. And I’m making them sign up to say, yes, that plan will work and I have the resources.”
On the carrier side, Moore has been holding weekly 30-minute calls with each shipyard commander to get an update on the carriers’ progress and to find ways to empower the yards to do what it takes to deliver the carrier on-time or early.
“It’s to get a quick update on where they are, where they’re having challenges, and then where can headquarters provide help in terms of, do you need my help in getting material, do you need my help in clearing some technical issues that you need adjudicated before you can get back to testing. So that’s all been helpful,” he said.
“There are things we can do up at headquarters to, if it’s a technical issue I can give them additional technical resources. I can provide them some focused effort from the headquarters; if I have my chief engineer sitting there with me and the shipyard commander brings an issue up, it cuts through the normal layers that these things have to get through. I think it has created – if you listen to the CNO talk about the key ingredients for the future Navy, one of them he first talks about is, time matters, and have a sense of urgency. So again, I don’t want to overstate the importance of those reviews because I’m not about to claim I’m the reason these things have gotten better, but I do think it does provide the shipyard commanders with an additional level of a sense of urgency, that hey, this has got headquarters’ attention; headquarters is here to help me; that if they’ve got a problem that they’re having a problem getting solved, then we can muster some resources to get them solved probably quicker than they can get them solved in the normal way.”
Moore said these focused leadership reviews contributed to delivering USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-71) on time in December and keeping USS Harry S Truman (CVN-75) on track today.
That weekly drumbeat currently only takes place for carrier availabilities, but Moore said he plans to add focused leadership reviews for submarine availabilities where it makes sense.

Manning Levels Steadily Rising

Having a solid plan only helps if the yards can actually adhere to it, and in many cases the number of workers at the yards has been an issue. Moore believes the 36,100 public yard workforce will support a “win them all” philosophy for delivering ships on time.
“36,100 is enough to do the work that’s on the books right now. We will have enough of a workforce, given the workload as I know it now between 2022, to also allow me to work off the backlog,” he explained.
“I will stop growing the backlog, which is step one, and then I will start to work that off. So you should expect to start seeing most or all of the availabilities finish on time starting by about ’20. And we’re starting to see that trend right now, the carriers are going first and I think you’ll start to see the SSNs” increase their on-time delivery rates.
For now, while still short of the 36,100 figure, Moore will still have to use other levers, such as increasing overtime, asking the fleet to postpone an availability, or putting some attack subs into Huntington Ingalls Industries’ Newport News Shipbuilding or General Dynamics Electric Boat to be worked on my private industry. But he said he
can make the best of the situation until he reaches 36,100 workers and stops adding to the backlog by 2020.
“So what we do in the interim is, if we have backlog, we have to work with the fleet to move availabilities around so that we have the capacity to do the work, for instance like USS Boise (SSN-764); or we have to go back to the private sector and see if they’ve got some capacity, like with Columbus (SSN-762) or Helena (SSN-725) or Montpelier (SSN-765), the three submarines we have planned to do in the private sector,” he explained.
“By the time we get to ’20, we start working that backlog off and we won’t have to do some of the things we’re doing today, and we should be able to just take the [Global Force Management Process] schedule and let the fleet go work, and we would get the work done in the year we were expected to get it done.”

Other Levers To Pull

For the time being, overtime is the biggest lever for Moore to adjust, but he said it can really only fine-tune how many man-days of work get accomplished and cannot compensate for major workforce shortages. The four shipyards rely on overtime for about 12 percent of their work, Moore said, which could be increased a bit more – though the Navy’s focus now is making each employee more productive in the hours he or she puts in.
The Navy has hired executive coaches to work with naval shipyard leadership to help them become better supervisors at the deckplate, Moore said. And initiatives are being put in place to help new hires start contributing to the workload even before they’re qualified to work on the ship.
“We actually can take somebody that just came into the yard and we can train them on some basic stuff – so for instance, we could train an electrician how to tear down and rebuild a circuit breaker; now, they may not be able to go on the ship to work, but if we’re pulling circuit breakers off to be overhauled, we can, earlier than we would have in the past, take our worker and let them do something that’s productive,” he said.
“For instance, we can take a pipefitter, and while they’re not ready to go on the ship and fit pipe and weld it up, they can take pipe in the shop and we can teach them how to bend it properly. So we’re getting more utility out of the workers faster than we were getting it previously, and that’s one of the other things we’re going to need to do.”
NAVSEA headquarters is also working with the four yards to share best practices and reduce the variance in how work gets done across the four locations.
All told, Moore said, “an availability that today might take 250,000 man-days to execute, maybe we do the exact same work for 225,000 because the workers are more productive.”
That increased productivity will be important because the next few years look pretty similar to 2017’s higher-than-average workloads.
Fortunately, sending some work to the private yards should remain an option for the next couple years, until the Navy can start working off its backlog. Moore said that, for now, “we’re watching pretty carefully to see if there’s any other submarine work out there that we may have to consider making available to private sector as a way to balance the workload out. The private sector has made clear to us they’re ready if we’d like to provide them more work.”
USS Montpelier (SSN-765) is at Electric Boat, and Newport News is taking USS Columbus (SSN-762) and USS Helena (SSN-725), with USS Boise (SSN-764) being competed for work in 2019.
With an upcoming boom in new-construction submarine work, though – and the 20-percent-higher price tag for work at private yards – this isn’t a viable long-term solution to addressing maintenance backlogs at the public yards, but it may be good enough to keep work moving along until the public yards have the capacity to sustain themselves.
Moore said NAVSEA and the shipyards will have to make future decisions about sending an attack sub to the private yard much earlier than they have recently. With Boise, which was supposed to go to Norfolk Naval Shipyard in Fiscal Year 2016 and will now wait until FY 2019 for work, Moore admitted “we just waited so long that we kind of ran out of trade space” to do anything other than defer the maintenance availability indefinitely. Talks about how to handle lack of capacity – by either putting a submarine into the private yard or sliding an availability to the right – should be taking place 12 to 18 months ahead of the planning start of maintenance, Moore said, adding that NAVSEA was working hard now to try to avoid another Boise situation.

The Effect on Aircraft Carriers

The last three aircraft carriers have delivered on time from their planned incremental availabilities, and a fourth, USS John C. Stennis (CVN-74) is also tracking on time. But Moore said NAVSEA and the public yards couldn’t declare victory yet on the carrier side.
“Now, they have been the six-month variety, not the docking ones. So [USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN-69)] will come in for a docker here in the fall, and then we’ve got on the West Coast USS Nimitz (CVN-68) when she comes back, she’ll be going back in the dock. So I’m pleased with the progress we’re making, the track record on the carrier side of the house has been good this year. In fact, the number of lost operational days on the carrier side is almost zero, and that’s what we want it to be,” he said.
“I think the CVNs are in the box. Again, we’ve got some docking availabilities coming up and those are significantly harder, so we have to prove that we can do the docking availabilities just as well as we do the shorter planned incremental availabilities.”
The Effect on Submarines
The submarine side is where it will become apparent if Moore’s plans – his focus on advanced planning, the growth in the workforce, worker-efficiency initiatives and more – are actually successful.
The admiral said the ballistic-missile submarines (SSBNs) are the Navy’s top priority and almost always deliver back to the fleet on time. The only recent exception is USS Nebraska (SSBN-739), which just finished up sea trials but had been slightly delayed by indigenous razor clams getting into the seawater-side condenser tubes, which had to be cleaned out.
Of the 21 ships in maintenance at naval shipyards now, 11 are on track for on-time delivery – and of the 10 that are not, one is Nebraska, and the other nine are attack submarines.
Four of those nine attack subs have faced continual delays over the past years and are the “problem children” Moore refers to. Those will all wrap up by the end of the year. Five SSNs will be part of the backlog pushed into 2018.
“The SSNs have really been the Achilles’ heel, and that starts with capacity,” Moore said.
“The SSNs is really where I would expect, as we head into Fiscal Year 2018 and ‘19 and ‘20, they are going to be the ones that gain the most benefit of adding capacity at the shipyards.”

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Russia's Northern Fleet Won’t Receive Any More New Warships and Submarines

Arthur Dominic Villasanta, China Topix
7 June 2017

The cash-strapped Russian Navy recently received the last new warships for the Northern Fleet it's likely to get over the next decade following deep cuts in warship building announced by president Vladimir Putin last month.
Russian state-controlled media said the Northern Fleet, which operates the most number of submarines in the Russian Navy, "has received two nuclear-powered submarines -- the Yuri Dolgoruky and the Severodvinsk), a diesel-electric one (the Saint Petersburg) and the Yuri Ivanov medium reconnaissance ship."
It also said the fleet's largest warship, the aircraft carrier RFS Admiral Kuznetsov (63), will be upgraded with advanced electronics, radars and onboard navigation gear. The fleet's flagship, the nuclear-powered, 20 year-old Kirov-class battlecruiser RFS Pyotr Veliky (099), or Peter the Great, will also be overhauled.
Both the Kuznetsov and Pyotr Veliky were part of the battle group sent by Russia to the Mediterranean Sea in October 2016 to provide combat support for Syrian president Bashar al-Assad.
The Pyotr Veliky like the RFS Admiral Nakhimov (080), another Kirov-class battlecruiser, will receive multipurpose launchers capable of firing cruise missiles and anti-ship missiles. The Nakhimov is scheduled to return to service before 2020.
Russia said the strengthening of the Northern Fleet is intended to phase "NATO out of (the) Arctic."
The Northern Fleet is believed to have an inventory of 38 surface combatants and 42 submarines (diesel-electric and nuclear-powered)
The fleet won't be receiving any more new warships. Putin last in May admitted the economic sanctions imposed by the European Union and the United States have forced Russia to officially postpone the development of a new aircraft carrier and a new class of nuclear-powered destroyers for the Russian Navy.
Putin announced the postponement of both flagship projects, making the navy the service hardest hit by the new and huge budget cuts.
Russian media describes the Northern Fleet as more than just a fleet since it comprises missile and artillery divisions; a motorized infantry brigade; an air-defense division and a number of other land-based units. It said the fleet controls the entire Arctic region, with the exception of its eastern part, which is dominated by U.S. forces based in Alaska.

India Navy Eyes Advanced Subs

Dinakar Peri, The Hindu
6 June 2017

With the Strategic Partnership model for procurement of defense platforms now official, the Navy is not interested in ordering additional Scorpene submarines, a senior naval source told The Hindu. Six Scorpenes are now under construction, and the Navy is keen to accelerate the tender for a new line of advanced submarines under Project-75I. “It is logical that we want to go in for new submarines under Project 75I as they are more advanced,” one officer said.
Another officer observed that the Scorpene program was already delayed and the technology would be so much older. “Why get more of them when the more advanced ones are already in the pipeline,” he said.
Mazagon Docks Ltd., Mumbai, is manufacturing the Scorpene conventional submarines with technology transfer from DCNS of France under a $3.75-billion deal signed in October 2005. The first submarine Kalvari is set to join the Navy in August and all six are expected to be inducted by 2022.
India and France have held informal discussions for three additional Scorpenes as a follow-on contract.
With the SP policy delayed, the discussions were expected to gain momentum during the strategic dialogue at the end of the year. However, there is a change of thought with the government notifying the SP model as a chapter of the Defense Procurement Procedure.
The P-75I submarines will be more modern and advanced with all of them equipped with Air Independent Propulsion modules to enhance the reach and stealth characteristics. AIP modules were not part of the Scorpene deal, and the Navy is trying to have them fitted on the last two Scorpenes. That is contingent on the timely delivery of the AIP being indigenously developed by the Defense Research and Development Organization. The deal for six submarines under P-75I is expected to cost about ₹50,000 crore and the tender process will begin soon as per the guidelines of the SP model.

Pentagon: Beijing Strengthening Military Grip On South China Sea Islands

Elizabeth Ship, UPI
7 June 2017

China is expanding its presence in the South China Sea with new buildup on disputed islands, according to the Pentagon's 2017 survey of the Chinese military published Tuesday.
Beijing's People's Liberation Army Navy is also expanding its fleet of submarines and aircraft carriers.
China's submarine force is likely to grow to nearly 80 submarines by 2020, and Beijing's aircraft carrier Liaoning is expected to reach "initial operational capability" around that time, the annual report states.
But China's militarization of the disputed Spratly Islands in international waters is of greatest concern to the Pentagon.
U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis recently criticized China's land reclamation activities in the disputed Spratly Islands, describing the activities as a demonstration of "China's disregard for international law" and its "contempt for other nations' interests."
China swiftly protested the statement, and accused the United States of harboring "ulterior motives."
The defense paper states China added 8,800 feet of runways on new airfields, after adding more than 3,200 acres of land across the Spratlys, including the Fiery Cross, Subi and Mischief Reefs.
"China was constructing 24 fighter-sized hangars, fixed-weapons positions, barracks, administration buildings and communication facilities at each of the three outposts," the report states.
Three regiments of fighter aircraft can be housed in the facilities.
The goal of making improvements to "military and civilian infrastructure in the South China Sea" is to "bolster de facto control" of the maritime region, according to the Pentagon.
The Chinese navy has also built 10 nuclear submarines since 2002. The four nuclear Jin-class submarines, the Type 094, can be equipped with submarine-launched ballistic missiles, or SLBMs, and more developments may be on course.
"China's next-generation Type 096 [nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines], will likely begin construction in the early 2020s, and reportedly will be armed with the JL-3, a follow-on SLBM," the report states.
China retains a total of 63 submarines, including diesel-electric attack submarines and advanced, anti-cruise ship missile-capable submarines, according to the report.

Undersea Arms Race Looks Set To Hot Up

Crispin Andrews, Institution of Mechanical Engineers
7 June 2017

On Monday 29 May, British nuclear submarine HMS Torbay surfaced not far from Gibraltar in an apparent show of military strength, amid fears that the Spanish government might use Brexit as a pretext to stake a territorial claim on the Rock.
The following day, in Bremen, Germany, naval officers from all over Europe gathered for the first session of the annual Undersea Defense and Technology exhibition and conference. For three days, suits mingled with military uniforms, a few smart casuals, and a lot of security guards. 
Academics and industry representatives were there to consider how the latest technology might affect, or even change, the role of undersea defense, with international relations increasingly unpredictable. 
To the casual observer, the event, held at the Messe Bremen exhibition halls and the OVB Arena, which stages music and sports events as well as conferences, exhibitions and trade fairs, looked like any other trade show. There was no space for submarines or warships, but plenty of exhibition stands and meeting areas. And lots of banners proclaiming cutting-edge technology, market-leading innovation and other corporate buzz phrases that would have had George Orwell cringing over the death of his beloved English language.
Conference chairman Peter Hauschildt, from ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems, explained that recent geopolitical changes – conflicts in the Middle East, confrontations in the Far East, and nationalist voting in Britain and the US – provide opportunities for new underwater defense technologies.
What does the future hold?
Defense budgets are set to rise, according to conference speaker Rear Admiral Thorsten Kähler, chief of staff of the German Navy, as the US keeps pressing its European allies to do more around the world. Eighty exhibitors were there to take advantage. 
Delegates discussed the role of unmanned vehicles, network capability, platform design, sensors, processing technologies, materials, new ways of storing and exploiting energy underwater, and operator and system performance. There were also experts at the conference talking about, and trying to sell, weapons systems. Just in case, with all the talk of defense and security, we forgot that submarines actually carry highly sophisticated and very deadly offensive weapons.
Tom Avsic, a hydro-acoustics engineer at ThyssenKrupp, spoke about how active sonar helps to detect submarines that give off less radiated acoustic noise. Henrik Berg, from the Norwegian Defense Research Establishment, introduced his country’s operational simulation framework, Rattus. Matthew Gleed, an engineer from BAE Systems, shared his views on the challenges of operating submarines in an age when information and cyber warfare is increasingly common. 
Reports last month claimed that several Asian navies – from Thailand, India, China, and even Myanmar – are expected to put 250 high-tech submarines into the west Pacific in the next eight years. Russia has in production the world’s largest submarine, apparently for Arctic research. And the Australian government recently said that it needed more submarines to ensure free passage for commercial vessels in the south Pacific, in the event of any future conflict. Then there’s President Donald Trump and his (alleged) gunboat diplomacy in North Korean waters.
Captain Herman de Groot, head of the submarine service of the Royal Netherlands Navy, told the conference that in the future submarines would need to be less like fast jets and more like aircraft carriers able to deploy on-board systems. Rear Admiral Kähler explained that navies would need submarines that can adapt to a variety of threats, both immediate and future. 
And that’s just the tip of a very big and very lucrative iceberg.

For First Time in 153 Years, Public Will See Inside Civil War Submarine

Staff, WYFF4
6 June 2017

CHARLESTON, S.C. — The inside of a Civil War submarine, shrouded in mystery since it vanished with its crew of eight 153 years ago, will be viewed by the public for the first time on Wednesday.
The H.L Hunley was the world’s first successful combat submarine.
The innovative hand-cranked, single-propeller sub was built in Mobile, Alabama, for the Confederate government.
The Union fleet had blockaded Charleston Harbor, and the Confederacy was desperate to restore the shipment of vital military supplies. The Hunley was ordered to
Charleston, along with other ships, to challenge the Union blockade.
On the evening of Feb. 17, 1864, the 40-foot Hunley sank the Union Army’s USS Housatonic.
After completing the mission, the Hunley mysteriously vanished, remaining lost at sea for more than a century.
Many searches over the decades were unable to locate the submarine.
In 1995, the National Underwater and Marine Agency, led by New York Times-bestselling author Clive Cussler, finally found the Hunley.
The Hunley was raised in 2000 and delivered to the Warren Lasch Conservation Center at the former Charleston Navy Base, where an international team of scientists is working to conserve the submarine for future generations and piece together clues to solve the mystery of her disappearance.
Initial theories were that the Hunley sank because of collateral damage caused by the spar torpedo used to sink the Housatonic, but others argued, based on historic anecdotes, that the sub might have survived for more than an hour after detonating the torpedo.
After the sub was raised, a team of historians examined it, and theorized that a crewman on the Housatonic fired a rifle round into the Hunley’s viewing ports, causing it to sink.
Archeologists in 2013 announced new evidence indicating that, as was initially theorized, the Hunley might have been closer to the detonation than realized, and the sub was damaged by the explosion and sank.
Other theories include the sub being trapped by tides and the crew suffocating or the Hunley being clipped by another vessel and taking on water through an open hatch.
Scientists are continuing to work in the cramped confines of the Hunley’s roughly 4-foot-tall hull. They are slowly breaking off a layer of sand, sediment, shells and corrosion products, called concretion, that built up on the Hunley while the sub was lost at sea.
“The work has offered stunning new views of the Hunley, unearthed human remains and offered operational and design discoveries,” a news release from the Warren Lasch Center said,
“Tomorrow, an exclusive photography and filming opportunity of the recently exposed Hunley crew compartment will be held. For the first time in over a century, you can actually see portions of the inside of the world’s first successful combat submarine.”

U.K., France, U.S. Sign Submarine Agreement

Staff, The Maritime Executive
5 June 2017

Navy leaders from the U.K., France and the U.S. signed an agreement on June 1, designed to increase coordination for anti-submarine warfare activities in the Arabian Gulf, Gulf of Oman and Red Sea. 
Naval chiefs from the three navies affirmed their commitment to enhanced interoperability in the area encompassing the U.S. Navy's 5th Fleet area of operations.
"We believe this increased trilateral cooperation will help secure a future that is not only in the interests of our three nations, but in the common interests of our allies, partners and all like-minded nations who are committed to peace, prosperity and maritime security," an excerpt from the statement read.
The U.S., U.K. and French navies regularly operate together in the region. France has deployed its nuclear aircraft carrier FS Charles de Gaulle twice to the Arabian Gulf in support of Operation Inherent Resolve aimed at defeating ISIS in the region.
In 2015, a French admiral, embarked on Charles de Gaulle, commanded NAVCENT's Task Force (TF) 50, a U.S. task force. A Royal Navy admiral also assumed command of TF 50 last November while embarked aboard the amphibious helicopter carrier HMS Ocean. Additionally, both navies have had ships serving as part of TF 50 and with the Combined Maritime Forces in the region.
In May, the International Maritime Exercise 2017, led by U.S. Naval Forces Central Command, was held to promote interoperability in all facets of defensive maritime warfare. The exercise included personnel from the U.S. and more than 20 partner nations, as well as representatives from the civilian shipping industry group Oil Companies International Marine Forum. 
Participants took part in field exercises simulating realistic scenarios that have occurred in or threaten the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations. Situations included a simulated missile attack, mine threats, a mine strike on a naval vessel and a fast attack craft threat. 
U.S. 5th Fleet's area of operations encompasses about 2.5 million square miles of water area and includes the Arabian Gulf, Gulf of Oman, Red Sea and parts of the Indian Ocean. The expanse is comprised of 20 countries and includes three critical choke points at the Strait of Hormuz, the Suez Canal and the Strait of Bab al Mandeb at the southern tip of Yemen.

Realistic Submarine Bridge Trainer Opens at Trident Training Facility Bangor

MC1 Amanda Grey, DVIDS
5 June 2017

The new Submarine Bridge Trainer (SBT) officially opened at Trident Training Facility (TRITRAFAC) Bangor during a ribbon cutting ceremony, June 5.
 Rear Adm. John Tammen, commander, Submarine Group 9, Capt. John Fancher, commanding officer of TRITRAFAC Bangor, and Rear Adm. Moises DelToro, commander, Naval Undersea Warfare Center, cut the ribbon to officially open the new trainer. 
“What we are doing here today, is making the long-term investments needed to making sure that we stay at the top of our game,” said Tammen. “Today’s strategic deterrence is not what it was in the 80s, there are a lot more adversaries out there, and we are not resting on our laurels as we wait for Ohio replacement. What we are doing is continuing to invest in our future and the most important part of our future is the people. So we are making this investment into this state of the art bridge trainer, to make sure that our crews, when they throw off that line, are ready to do their mission.”
The SBT gives submarine bridge team members the ability to navigate, pilot and moor the boat to and from a pier, while interacting with a complex visual and auditory environment, with all of the relevant ship sensors and systems. 
“Our job here at Trident Training Facility Bangor is to provide premiere world-class training to the submarines stationed in the Pacific Northwest,” said Fancher. “What you see here today is a new incredible facility that blows me away. I am so excited about the capability this new trainer brings to the submarine force and the increased ability that they will have to maintain their proficiency and safely navigate out of port.”
In this near life-size mockup of a generic submarine sail, Sailors are surrounded by a 360-degree horizontal and 70-degree vertical dynamic environment that includes 18 channels of visual imagery and 16 channels of 3D sound. A dual attack center has also been completed that will provide ship systems and periscopes required for surfaced events.
“One of the most important, dangerous and critical times when driving a submarine is navigating on the surface, because you are close to land and other surface contacts,” said Capt. John Fancher, commanding officer of Trident Training Facility Bangor. “It is not only one of the most critical things that we do, but it is also one of the things that we actually do the least amount of times during a deployment. This trainer allows us to practice piloting, navigating and managing surface contacts in real life scenarios. This allows us to practice it to a fidelity that is just about as good, and in some respects better, than actually being on the boat.”
Construction for the SBT began October 2015, with the actual trainer installation beginning October 2016. Construction for the trainer was completed May 26, 2017. The total cost for the new trainer, including the development of trainer and building construction, cost $7 million. 
“This innovative trainer allows submarine crews to safely navigate through challenging environments in a realistic training scenario which closely emulates what they would actually see from the bridge of a submarine,” said Cmdr. John Correll, Training and Readiness officer at commander, Submarine Group 9. “This realistic trainer is vital to maintaining proficiency and certification on a two-crew submarine, while one crew is assigned ashore.“
Four Submarine Bridge Trainers have been approved for construction throughout the fleet. The first trainer is located at the Naval Submarine School (NAVSUBSCOL) located in Groton, Connecticut, and was ready for training in August 2012. The second trainer was built in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, and was ready for training in October 2013. Trident Training Facility Bangor was the third site, and the fourth site will be King’s Bay, Georgia in 2020. 
“This is the first guided-missile (SSGN) and ballistic-missile (SSBN) SBT design; the sail and dome are larger than the two previous SBTs and the engineering development model,” said Steve Stephenson, the Technical On-Site Agent for Naval Sea Systems Command. “King's Bay will begin construction of the same design next year, once the facilities are modified. This is also the first SBT to receive the new laser projectors, which operate up to 30 times longer than the previous projectors with significantly less maintenance.”
SBT instructors were required to learn all of the SBT's functions. Training included two classroom sessions, to familiarize themselves with the functions of the trainer, and three hands on training days, to apply the lessons learned. According to Chief Electronics Technician James Short, SBT instructor, the most beneficial training was when they ran the SBT in all modes with the Ohio’s Gold crew prior to the ribbon cutting, as it showed the trainers the systems limitation and gave in-depth, hands on training to both staff and the crew.
 TRITRAFAC Bangor plans to have the Blue and Gold crews assigned to the guided-missile submarines USS Ohio (SSGN 726) and USS Michigan (SSGN 727) certified through the SBT this year. The 16 SSBN crews will certify in the SBT based on the needs of Commander, Submarine Squadron 17 and Commander, Submarine Squadron 19 along with various SSBN upgrade plans. 
“This is by far the most advanced trainer that I have experienced at TRITRAFAC Bangor,” said Fire Control Technician 2nd Class Christopher Goetz, assigned to Ohio’s Gold Crew, the test submarine crew for the Submarine Bridge Trainer. “With the 360-degree view, the vibrations you feel while on the bridge, the realistic wind and climate changes and the high tech binoculars that let you see into the distance, it really prepares you for being on a real submarine.”
Currently, Submariners use two separate trainers to get the experience and training necessary for certification: the Submarine Piloting and Navigation (SPAN) 2000 Trainer and the Virtual Environment Submarine Ship handling Trainer (VESUB). The SPAN Trainer equipment has representative controls, alarms, displays and indications of actual shipboard equipment, including the periscope, primary navigation plotting table, and a secondary plotting table, and the VESUB system consists of a head-mounted display, PC graphics (beyond entertainment) and automated environment data base generation. The new Submarine Bridge Trainer combines and expands upon these two trainers to allow for better communication between the bridge and the control center, in a much more realistic and advanced environment. The new trainer also allows commanding officers to fully participate in the team training. 
“To me, there are few things as important as this bridge trainer and I really want to highlight that,” said Tammen. “I want our adversaries to know that we are investing just as much into people as we are into the platforms, and quite frankly, the excellence that our Sailors provide with strategic deterrence in the SSBN world and conventional deterrence from the SSGN world is so very important. I can’t overemphasize how important this trainer is to our Sailors which results in global stability overall.”

China Attempting to Leap Beyond Current US Technology with  First Electric Drive On A Military Submarine

Brian Wang, Next Big Future
4 June 2017

Chinese state media has reported that the China is fitting its newest nuclear sub with an electromagnetic engine that sounds a lot like Tom Clancy’s fictional Red October engine.
Rear Admiral Ma Weiming, China’s top naval engineer, is notably responsible for the development of multiple Chinese naval electromagnetic programs, including the electromagnetic catapult and railguns. He said the Chinese navy is adding a “shaftless” rim-driven pump jet, a revolutionary and silent propulsion system to their newest attack submarine, the Type 095 SSN.
This electric drive is an attempt to leap beyond current submarine technology to technology with a long history of attempted development. This is similar to China making a stronger commitment to develop a submersible arsenal ship. China is taking technology and designs with decades of history and actually implementing them.
Previous submarine pump jets are “shrouded propellers,” which consist of a tubular nozzle covering the propeller. By removing the shaft of the propeller, the reduction in the number of moving parts decreases the noise made by the pump jet, as well as saving hull space. Smaller civilian rim driven electric pump jets are easier to maintain, and have less cavitation (bubbles that form during propeller movement), which make them even more quiet.
CCTV13 had a “Focus on the interview” segment on May 30,2017. They discussed the of electric propulsion technology power of Admiral Ma Weiming. There was some discussion of the technology and spin about how China was moving beyond copying to attempt to create breakthroughs. The first few minutes of the video discussed telecommunication switching work of Zhang Ping.
Integrated Electrical Propulsion System (IEPS) turns all the output of the ship’s engine into electricity, unlike traditional propulsion designs, which convert engine and reactor output into mechanical action to turn the propeller shaft. The high electrical output can also be used to power motors for the propellers or potentially high-energy weapons. Additionally, IEPS has far fewer moving parts, making them quieter, and thus ideal for use on submarines. When coupled with quieter reactors like the Type 095’s reported natural circulation reactor, the rim-driven pump jet and IEPS can drastically reduce the acoustic signature of any SSN.
Westinghouse, the leading U.S. advocate, gave up in the late 1960s — because the weight required to create a sufficiently powerful magnetic field would sink most ships.
In the early 1990s, Japan succeeded in making a 100 foot long 8 mph prototype surface ship called the Yamato. A group of Japanese physicists and naval architects quickly realized that the powerful magnetic coil made possible by superconductors could transform the MHD ship from old dream to new reality. A consortium of universities and major high-tech firms here committed about six years ago to forge ahead with a $40 million-plus project to build the propeller-less MHD ship.
US and UK have tried to get electric drive to work but have not committed to it for their next generation submarines
The US Columbia submarine and UK Dreadnought will not start construction for a few years and the first unit will be ready around the 2031. They have not decided to use electric drive and may choose more conventional propulsion systems.
The US and UK military and researchers have been working on electric drive propulsion tests for at least two decades. The RED-I motor used a wet gap permanent magnet motor to turn a ring of propeller blades. Two RED-I motors are mounted in free flood areas in the submarine mud tank, forward of the stern planes. The permanent magnet motor employed is large enough to permit a four feet diameter UUV to internally pass through the RED-I propulsor system in order to deploy from the stern of the submarine.
There has been general acceptance that there is potential benefit for quieter submarines using this technology but the US has opted for more conventional approaches for quieter submarines.
Various electric motors are being or have been developed for both military and non-military vessels. Those being considered for application on future U.S. Navy submarines include: permanent magnet motors (being developed by General Dynamics and Newport News
Shipbuilding) and a high-temperature superconducting (HTS) synchronous motors (being developed by American Superconductors as well as General Atomics).
More recent data shows that the US Navy appears to be focusing on permanent-magnet, radial-gap electric propulsion motors (e.g. Zumwalt-class destroyers use an advanced induction motor). Permanent magnet motors are being tested on the Large Scale Vehicle II for possible application on late production Virginia class SSNs as well as future submarines. Permanent magnet motors (developed by Siemens AG) are used on Type 212 class submarines.
Reports on the Royal UK Navy Dreadnought-class submarine (i.e., the class that will replace the Vanguard class SSBNs) state that the submarines may have submarine shaftless drive (SSD) with an electric motor mounted outside the pressure hull. SSD was evaluated by the U.S. Navy as well but it remains unknown whether the Ohio class replacement will feature it. On contemporary nuclear submarines steam turbines are linked to reduction gears and a shaft rotating the propeller/pump-jet propulsor. With SSD, steam would drive electric turbo-generators (i.e., generators powered by steam turbines) that would be connected to a non-penetrating electric junction at the aft end of the pressure hull, with a watertight electric motor mounted externally (perhaps in an Integrated Motor Propulsor arrangement) powering the pump-jet propulsor, although SSD concepts without pump-jet propulsors also exist. More recent data, including an Ohio Replacement scale model displayed at the Navy League’s 2015 Sea-Air-Space Exposition, indicates that the Ohio Replacement will feature a pump-jet propulsor visually similar to the one used on Virginia class SSNs. The class will share components from the Virginia class in order to reduce risk and cost of construction.

Russia’s Pacific Fleet To Upgrade 4 Subs With Supersonic Cruise Missiles

Franz-Stefan Gady, The Diplomat
5 June 2017 

Russia’s Pacific Fleet plans to upgrade four Project 949A Oscar II-class nuclear-powered guided missile submarines (SSGN) with 3M-54 Kalibr cruise missiles, Russia’s Deputy Defense Minister Yuri Borisov said during a visit of the Zvezda shipyard in the Russian Far East on June 3.
“We plan modernization of the multi-purpose nuclear submarines of Project 949,” Borisov said, according to TASS news agency. “The outdated Granit missiles will be replaced with Kalibr missiles, which have demonstrated themselves well, including in the Syrian conflict.”
In December 2015, an improved Project 636.3 Kilo-class (aka Vashavyanka-class) diesel-electric submarine of the Russian Navy fired four Kalibr land-attack cruise missiles from a submerged position in the Mediterranean Sea against targets near the city of Raqqa in Syria.
The 3M-54 Kalibr, a supersonic cruise missile available in land-attack, anti-ship, and anti-submarine variants, has been specifically designed to evade active air defenses and electronic countermeasures. The submarine-launched anti-ship variant of the missile, dubbed 3M54K, has an estimated range of 270 to 410 miles.
“There are over a dozen variants in the Kalibr missile family (some nuclear-capable), and the subs could also likely be equipped with a land-attack version of the weapon system, dubbed Kalibr 3M14T and 3M14K (NATO designation: SS-N-30A), with a substantially larger range estimated between 1,000 and 1,500 miles,” I explained in March.
The Project 949A submarines will also be upgraded with a new navigation and life support systems. “In fact, the old submarine will have new qualities,” the deputy defense minister said. “This work is under the current state program (…) The Irkutsk submarine is modernized now, and it is due in 2021, now we consider modernization of another three submarines under the future state program for 2018-2025.” However, so far it has only been confirmed that there are plans to upgrade two boats, as  I reported in March:
It is still unclear how many Project 949A submarines will be upgraded in the coming years. The Russian Navy officially has eight submarines of the class in service at the moment. In 2015, it was announced that all
eight will be upgraded for an estimated $180 million per boat. However, this number was later reduced to two: The Irkutsk and the Chelyabinsk.
Furthermore, I explained:
The status of a third Project 949A submarine, the Oryol, currently being retrofitted at the Zvezdochka shipyard in the Arkhangelsk region in Northern Russia, remains unknown. As I reported previously, the submarine caught fire during maintenance work at a dry dock in April 2015. The boat was supposed to rejoin its submarine squadron by the end of 2016, but this appears to not have been the case.
Project 949A submarines were built from 1985 to1999, and are primarily designed to attack U.S. carrier strike groups as well as coastal targets. Project 949 subs are the largest cruise missile submarines currently in service in Russia capable of carrying up to 24 P-700 Granit (NATO designation: SS-19 Shipwreck) anti-ship cruise missiles. The Russian Navy currently operates two Project 949A subs in its Northern Fleet and five with the Pacific Fleet.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Polish defense giant buys shipyard, eyes submarine procurement

Jaroslaw Adamowski, Defense News
30 May 2017

WARSAW, Poland — Poland’s defense giant PGZ has signed a preliminary contract to buy Naval Shipyard (SMW) from the Polish Treasury, the Defense Ministry said in a statement. 
 The acquisition is estimated to be worth 224.9 million zloty (U.S. $60.1 million). Based in Gdynia, on the Polish Baltic Sea shore, the shipyard has been in insolvency proceedings since 2011. Its takeover by the state-run group will allow to maintain the operational capacities of the SMW, which specializes in performing vessel upgrades and overhaul contracts. 
 Polish Deputy Defense Minister Bartosz Kownacki said that after the shipyard’s finances are overhauled, it will take part in the “project to build submarines, an undertaking worth 10 billion zloty. This will be followed by other projects that must be implemented … worth hundreds of millions, and perhaps billions of zloty.” 
Last March, Michal Jach, the chairman of the Polish parliament’s National Defense Committee, said that the ministry is expected to decide this year on the supplier of three new submarines for the country’s Navy. Three companies have applied to take part in the procurement procedure: France’s DCNS, Sweden's Saab and Germany’s ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems, but ministry officials have emphasized they expect the selected supplier to closely cooperate with Poland’s defense industry on the contract.  
 Based in Radom, in central Poland, PGZ consists of more than 60 companies with an aggregate workforce of 17,500. The group’s total annual revenues are about 5 billion zloty.

Australia's Barracuda submarines: too expensive and too little, too late

Andrew Clark, Financial Review
1 June 2017

AUSTRALIA - It sounds like something out of Monty Python. A crime wave hits a neighborhood and the police can't cope. A delegation from plodders' HQ asks the crimes to hold off until local police numbers are adequate.
Bizarrely, Australia could face a similar dilemma with its mother-of-all-defense-purchases – the $50 billion (and counting) order for 12 French-designed long-range submarines.
Among other things, the original impulse to order the subs was to bolster Australia's maritime capacity for a worst-case scenario where conflict arises with China in the South China Sea.
However, the first of the French-designed, Australian built Short-fin Barracuda subs will not be ready until mid-way through the 2020s – at the earliest. The last one may not be finished until well into the 2050s.
To understand how different the world could be by then, consider that in the time it took from deciding that Australia needed new subs, to inviting bids and finally making a decision, China has grown about seven times over as an economy and now rivals the US.
According to Hugh White, Professor of Strategic Studies at the Strategic and Defense Studies Centre of the ANU, "both sides of politics carry a lot of blame" for the long delay. "We lost a decade stuffing around."
Moreover, White says, "we have accepted a very protracted acquisition process" at a time when "the strategic environment" – a la the South China Sea – is becoming more problematic".
In an article on the snail-like progress of Australia's submarine replacement program headlined "Shakespearean Tragedy", the Pacific Defense Reporter pointed out that in 2012 Singapore "initiated a program to replace the oldest of its six submarines".
"Less than two years later it had entered into a contract with Germany's TKMS for the supply of two highly capable Type 218SG submarines for delivery to the island state by 2020/21."
This compares with an Australian time frame of more than a half a century from first deciding to commission a new generation of subs to the projected delivery of the last of the Shortfin Barracudas. Our "Shakespearean tragedy" is part government-bureaucratic muddle, but also due to the demand that Australia retain a significant local ship-building capacity for Navy vessels – one that shores up employment in marginal government-held seats in Adelaide.
Critics argue there are no significant defense reasons for building naval platforms in Australia. Australia does not manufacture jet fighters or build tanks for the army; in fact, we do not produce any significant weapons systems.
The same critics argue a sensible defense acquisition policy should focus on value for money. This appeared to be the initial approach taken by the Abbott government when it indicated a preference for buying Japanese Soryu class submarines off the shelf. 
Apart from its cost, the DCNS proposal involves significant risks. The slow delivery schedule means the
existing Collins-class submarines may require major upgrades, costing about $15 billion. There are also safety concerns, including the need to convert a submarine designed for nuclear propulsion to diesel-electric, involving substantial technical risks.
At the same time, Defense rejected a $20 billion proposal from the German company TKMS. It guaranteed the cost of building 12 submarines in Adelaide would be no higher than in Germany and offered a fixed-price contract with a delivery schedule that would remove the need for the costly Collins-class upgrade.
On paper, this seems like a better option. But Australian defense planners wanted a big, long-range sub, one capable of travelling 7000 to 8000 kilometers into the northern reaches of the Pacific off the coast of China, monitoring movements in the waters near major Chinese ports like Shanghai, even moving near the Russian seaport of Vladivostok.
Indeed, the interminable bid process spawned a virtual sub-industry of submarine experts furiously working out the reasons why the government's decisions are wrong. They have many strong points in argument, but what is glossed over in this mine's-better-than-yours rhetoric is that in the end the decision must be based on a series of judgments about the future which may prove to be right, or way off the mark.
Shorn of the jargon littering Defense documents, the French subs were preferred because they are big, have a long range, will carry a big delivery platform, are backed by a major defense-ship building-submarine construction company with experience dating back more than a century, and, crucially, they are quiet and can therefore avoid detection.  
At the same time "it's not hard to identify what's driving the project's cost, risk and schedule", White has written. "At 5000 tons, the boat is very big.
"We're aiming so big for two reasons: range and roles. We're after a boat that can operate for a long time, far from home and we want it to do many things when it gets there, including intelligence collection, land strike missions, special forces support, and to operate autonomous underwater vehicles, as well as traditional anti-surface and ASW operations."
While "longer range and diverse capabilities are good", projected benefits "have to be set against their costs and risks. Prudent capability development means trading off what we'd like against what we can afford, what has a reasonable chance of actually working in service and of being available when we need it."
"Minimizing cost and risk is always important, but it's critical here because submarines are so central to Australia's defense and because our strategic risks are rising sharply," White points out
However, as the old Rolling Stones songs puts it, time waits for no one. The Australian Strategic Policy Institute's Defense Budget brief, released early last month, warns about rising world tensions. According to the Pacific Defense Reporter, the Australian Defense Department is working behind the scenes and responding to this tension by "modelling a range of contingencies/conflicts in which Australia might see itself facing off against the People's Liberation Army (PLA) – or more likely its Navy cousin, the PLA(N)."
"No one would suggest that Australia would become involved in a bilateral confrontation with China. But a multilateral confrontation is not beyond the probability horizon.
"A number of events could trigger a multilateral conflict; the invasion of Taiwan or a miscalculation over a disputed island between, say, China and Japan, or any of a number of countries who lay claim to some of the disputed islands in the South China Sea."
However, underlining the exposed nature of Australia's position, there is no record in the history of warfare of one party holding back until another is combat ready.
ASPI's Defense Budget Brief says the federal government has surrendered Defense policy to the "jobs and growth" mantra. "There's a lot of debate going on about Defense, but none of it addressing the issue of Australia's security," ASPI's Dr Mark Thomson says
In fact, we may be well past the use-by date for such distractions. Earlier this week US Republican Senator John McCain visited Australia and urged the government to join America in challenging Chinese claims to islands in the South China Sea.
There's a huge difference between joining patrols through contested waters in the South China Sea and armed conflict involving superpowers, and possibly Australia, over the same issue. But any prudent defense force would ensure it was combat ready before making such a commitment.
The US Trump administration's decision in May to carry out its first freedom of navigation exercise, sailing within 12 nautical miles of the Chinese-occupied Mischief Reef in the South China Sea, increased tension in the region. It will dominate Friday's Asian defense summit in Singapore – the Shangri-La Dialogue – where Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull will ­deliver the keynote address. Among other speechmakers will be US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis.
For Australia the issue is whether to commit to sailing within the 12-nautical-mile territorial zone around Chinese-claimed reefs which have been rapidly converted into virtual, stationary aircraft carriers, complete with landing strips, aircraft hangars and assorted weaponry.  
Australian defense officials and commentators are divided over what to do, but, whatever one's view, an inhibiting factor is lack of local preparedness.
One of the Royal Australian Navy's largest warships, HMAS Adelaide, has been dry-docked as naval engineers scramble to fix engine problems with the $1.5 billion vessel. As this article goes to press, it is unknown how long it will take to repair the Landing Helicopter Dock (LHD) vessel, which was commissioned only 18 months ago.
HMAS Adelaide's sister ship, HMAS Canberra, is also out of action and is berthed at Sydney's Garden Island Naval base. Reports first emerged more than two months ago that both ships had been sent to Garden Island after problems were identified with their propulsion systems.
At the very least, the hobbling of two frontline Australian Navy vessels crimps our possible involvement in joint allied patrols in the South China Sea. McCain, who is chairman of the US Senate Armed Services Committee and a one-time Republican Party presidential candidate, said in Sydney this week the US and allies like Australia "should be doing joint military exercises" in the region.
Short term, the problem may be frontline stricken Australian Navy ships, a la the Adelaide and the Canberra. Longer term, a 35-year plus projected turnaround time in the subs' project is a significant limitation.
Whatever the final release date, the delay also prompts a question about the role of submarines. According to conventional defense doctrine, submarines have five significant operational characteristics – stealth, endurance, freedom of movement, flexibility and lethality.
In times of peace they also contribute to prevention of conflict, naval diplomacy and offshore, lower-level police-style tasks.
Australia has a chequered submarine history and spent much of the 1950s and 1960s without subs. Delivery of six Oberon class subs coincided with the Whitlam Labor government in the 1970s.
The impressive operational record of the Oberon subs meant they played a significant, though largely undocumented, role in cold war monitoring. This included shadowing Soviet nuclear subs in the northern Pacific off the port of Vladivostok, and even shadowing Chinese vessels around Shanghai.
Later the Oberons were replaced with the Collins-class subs, which were based on a Swedish design. Australian Defense officials began working on a replacement for the troubled Collins class as far back as 2003, or four years before the defeat of the Howard government.
During the six years of the Rudd-Gillard-Rudd Labor governments, the matter was effectively dispatched to the too hard-basket. In the almost two years of the Abbott-led Liberal government that followed, the Japanese Soryu-class sub proposal received strong prime ministerial backing prior to any formal bid process being undertaken.
It was not until late 2016, or one year into the Malcolm Turnbull-led government, that the venerable and impressive French ship and submarine builder, DCNS, stunned competitors and observers to emerge with the contract.
But in what has been a 13-year contract preparation, review, bidding and awarding process, there are still no firm prices, only estimates about the final completion dollar numbers.
Professor White says DCNS is an impressive military contractor, renowned for building "very good subs". According to the Pacific Defense Reporter, members of its highly skilled, highly motivated workforce "are bound together for a common goal and sustained over time".
A senior DCNS executive, Michel Accary, told a recent conference on submarines hosted by ASPI that "all these players must be able to exchange information and take decisions rapidly and efficiently at the right level during the detailed design, building, setting to work and test process".
However, Hugh White points out that "we still don't have any price on these subs. They're all just estimates. They'll come to us and say 'here's the design and here's the price' and they have us over a barrel. I can't fathom how the Commonwealth can think this is a prudent practice."
Instead, White says, the government should have introduced a competitive design process, technically known as a "Funded Competitive Project Definition Study".
According to the current contract, DCNS is in charge of the design of the 12 new subs, and will be heavily involved in the building process, although the actual construction work will be based at the government-owned Australian Submarine Corporation (ASC) shipyards in South Australia, and not in the DCNS complex at Cherbourg, on France's western Atlantic seaboard.
Under a competitive design structure, White says the government would impose "huge competing pressure on both players". However, under the current structure, "it's pumpkins to peanuts they'll screw us if they can."
Time – about 35 years and counting – will tell.