Thursday, 22 December 2011

Why Australia needs Nuclear Submarines

Buying American  Virginia Class SSN's is a possibility

The Australian Government is courting disaster with its approach to this country’s largest-ever defense program, the purchase of new submarines. The government seems determined to spend over $30 billion designing and building in Australia 12 new submarines that will almost certainly have serious flaws, will be delivered late, will be unnecessarily expensive and will be inadequate for our defense needs.

How could the government get itself into such a bad position? Some key decision-makers have failed to appreciate that Australia now faces a much more demanding security future. As the Pentagon’s recently released annual report on China’s military development makes clear, Beijing’s surveillance, missile, air and naval developments are transforming the strategic balance in the Western Pacific. Indeed, by 2025 China’s military power will be predominant in parts of our region.

There’s also a need to take account of China’s much more aggressive recent military operations, especially in disputed areas of the South and East China Seas. Australian security planners should do everything in their power to negotiate peaceful resolutions of these issues. They would, however, be naive to neglect strong investment in defense capabilities that can deter coercion against us in the 2025-2050 timeframe.

Advanced submarines offer special strategic leverage in the more demanding security environment that’s in store. The best submarines are highly survivable in intense military operations and have the potential to force the leadership of even a major power to pause and think carefully before attacking Australia or our key interests. They are one of only two or three military capabilities that carry this game-changing leverage. So, while Australia will always need some surface warships, armored vehicles and transport aircraft, the truth is that advanced submarines offer unique strategic advantages for us in the troubled times ahead.

All this means we need to get the new submarine program right and do so quickly. Australia has three main submarine options. The government currently favors designing and building our own unique, rather large, diesel-electric submarines, essentially a Collins Mk 2. Second, we could purchase much smaller diesel-electric submarines that are currently in production in Europe. Third, we could purchase or lease from “hot” production lines advanced nuclear-propelled submarines from the United States or Britain.

Designing and building a Collins Mk2 would probably eventually deliver a class of the largest diesel-electric submarines in the world. However, given that the government has yet to launch even preliminary design work, the first of these boats couldn’t be delivered until at least 2028 and more likely 2035-2040. Because they would be a completely new design, they would inevitably experience technical problems, would probably possess some unreliable systems and we should expect them to have relatively low availability. As these Australian-designed boats would be “orphans,” they would also be expensive to maintain and update.

12 Months ago Vladimir Putin visited Sevmash, a major shipbuilding company in Russia. His visit was timed to coincide with a significant addition to Russia's strategic nuclear naval forces.
In the last few days, the company has released two strategic ballistic missile submarines (SSBNs) - the overhauled K-407 Novomoskovsk and the newly built K-550 Alexander Nevsky.
The Novomoskovsk is part of Project 667BDRM and the Alexander Nevsky is part of Project 955. These two types of submarines will form the basis of strategic nuclear naval forces in the foreseeable future.

The Alexander Nevsky is the second submarine of its project to be built by Sevmash. The first, the Yury Dolgoruky, took 11 years to build, from 1996 to 2007, and is now undergoing the final stage of testing. The Alexander Nevsky was built in six years, starting in 2004. Construction of the Vladimir Monomakh started in 2006 and is currently in progress. It is scheduled to be commissioned in 2012. The St. Nicholas is also being built. Work began on a fourth submarine in 2009 and should take five years to complete.

This trend of shorter submarine construction times has been made possible by the resumption of regular funding of defense contracts and newly established industrial cooperation. Vladimir Putin had also identified minimizing construction times as a goal. Ideally, the construction of SSBNs should take four to five years, and these timeframes appear to be achievable.

The main problem with the Dolgoruky, the Nevsky and similar missile submarines is the missiles themselves. Ongoing tests of the Bulava have not been been terribly successful. The next launch of the Bulava will take place in coming weeks on board the Yury Dolgoruky. If it is successful, it will be the third successful launch in a row, which will mean that the major issues involved in the production of Bulava missile can be resolved.

A total of eight Project 955 SSBNs are to be built in the next 10 years. Starting with the hull of the fourth submarine, missile submarines will be based on the improved design of Project 955U. Based on available information, the first submarines manufactured under the project will carry 20 missiles instead of 16.

The Novomoskovsk: Proven reliability
Unlike the modern submarines of Project 955, the upgraded submarines of Project 667BDRM were tested and adopted by the fleet a long time ago - in the second half of the 1980s - and they represent the latest stage in the development of the large Project 667 family. Currently four out of six of the Project 667 submarines have been re-armed with Sineva missiles - an improved version of the previously tested R-29RM missiles. Two more submarines will be re-equipped with Sineva missiles in the next three to four years.

Sineva missiles have a much larger range than the basic R-29RM missile (over 11,000 kilometers versus 8,300), greater accuracy and a more advanced set of tools to penetrate anti-missile defense. The standard version of the missile is equipped with four warheads with a capacity of 100 kilotons each. Additionally, these missiles may be equipped with new generation sub-kiloton warheads having a yield of several dozen tons of TNT, which enables pinpoint targeting.

Project 667BDRM submarines with the new missiles will remain in service for another 15-20 years, making them, along with new Project 955 submarines, the foundation of strategic nuclear naval forces for the near future.

Submarines are key to nuclear capability
By 2020, the Russian Navy will have a total of 14 ballistic submarines from Projects 955 and Project 667BDRM. They will carry 244 ballistic missiles and about 1,000 warheads, which will make up approximately half of Russia's entire strategic nuclear arsenal in terms of the number of delivery vehicles, and two-thirds of the number of nuclear warheads. This means that for the first time in Russian history, the submarine fleet will form the foundation of Russia's strategic nuclear forces. This imposes a great responsibility on the rest of the fleet's forces, which must ensure the battle-readiness of missile submarines and protect them from possible attacks.

Great responsibility also rests with the Navy's support system - in order for the "strategics" to effectively perform their tasks, they have to regularly sail out to sea and stay there most of the time. In order to keep such a schedule, large-scale investments in infrastructure will be needed, from educational centers to maintenance plants that will keep the submarines in a state of constant readiness.

A base for new SSBNs is being built in Vilyuchinsk, on the Kamchatka Peninsula, where the Pacific Fleet's nuclear submarines are based. Investments in infrastructure may be just as costly as the submarines themselves (the Dolgoruky and Nevsky cost about 25-30 billion rubles each), but due to heavier use of these submarines, the cost will be recouped many times over.

Iran to mass produce new submarine
 Iranian Navy Deputy Commander Rear Admiral Gholam-Reza Khadem Bigham

Bigham also unveiled a submarine simulator dubbed Tareq which has been designed for pedagogical purposes, adding that the mobile simulator would soon be off the assembly line and used in the waters off Iran's northern coasts.
Iran's navy plans to launch assembly lines for submarines capable of covering long distances across the ocean and to deploy more warships in the Persian Gulf.

Iranian Navy's Deputy Commander Rear Admiral Gholam-Reza Khadem Bigham said on Friday that submarines and other vessels of various classes and capabilities are under construction in cooperation with the Defense Industries Organization, Fars News Agency reported.

Bigham also said the port town of Jask has been chosen in line with the aim of creating more harbors in the country's southern waters. More military establishments are being set up there to host more naval units, he added.

"Soon another fleet [of warships] will officially start its activity in Jask … and another subsurface fleet will be assigned to the [Western coastal] region of Konarak."

The admiral said the Islamic Republic's military doctrine is a defensive one and we have designed our defense systems, which are under construction and will be deployed in the region, based on our familiarity with the region and the enemy.

He said the domestically-built Jamaran destroyer has been employed in the ongoing patrolling and monitoring missions in the Northern Indian Ocean.

"One of the navy's prime missions is to monitor trans-regional fleets because any one of them can be a potential enemy for the country," he explained.
Arihant N-Sub to be ready in 2012

India's indigenous nuclear-powered submarine INS Arihant will be ready for deterrent patrols in 2012, completing the nation's capability to deliver strategic weapons from land, air and undersea. Navy Chief Nirmal Verma said at his annual press conference in New Delhi that the Arihant, which was a top secret project till its launch at Visakhapatnam last year, will be ready for operational patrols by 2012 and the project itself was making good progress. “We have a declared policy of no-first-use...but we have Arihant. It is there. We have a triad in place now, but we have to use it as effectively as possible. We will have Arihant going within two years and there is progress in the project, despite some hiccups," he said when asked to react to nuclear weapons that Pakistan is amassing in recent years.

The nuclear triad, he said, would be complete only when India has strategic nuclear missiles that could be launched from land, air and sea. “You are absolutely right. It is a triad only when you have a strategic weapon on the platform. Yes, it (nuclear triad) is there. When it (Arihant) is commissioned and goes to sea it will be on deterrent patrol. The triad would be there when Arihant is commissioned," he said. Explaining the hiccups in the project, he said there were some delays with regard to indigenous equipment that would be fitted on the submarine. "But I think we will be within time and commission the vessel by 2012," he added.

On strategic nuclear deterrence, he said India had taken "a whole lot of action" and that explained the construction of INS Arihant. "We have Arihant, fortunately, one can talk of now. This option is there. We have the triad in place and the idea is to use it as effectively as possible," he added. India had formally launched INS Arihant in July last year and it would be the first in the series of three nuclear-powered submarines that India is building indigenously with some help from the Russians.

It already possesses or is in the process of possessing a family of nuclear-tipped missiles including the Agni series, Prithvi variants, naval missile Dhanush, and submarine launched Sagarika. Asked about media reports from Russia openly talking of India leasing its Akula-II 'Nerpa' nuclear powered submarine for 10 years, Verma refused to say anything. The reports have said that India was getting the Nerpa by March next year and would operate it for 10 years to train its naval personnel to work on the nuclear-powered submarine fleet it is building starting with Arihant.

In the late 1980s, India had operated another Russian nuclear submarine by christening it as INS Chakra for about three years, again on lease. Verma said the Scorpene submarine project, currently under construction at the Mumbai-based Mazagon Docks Limited (MDL) to build six submarines, would be completed and the vessels inducted into the fleet by 2015. The government, he said, had also given approvals for six more conventional second line of submarines to be constructed partly with MDL and the Visakhapatnam-based Hindustan Shipyard Limited (HSL) that Defence Ministry acquired from the Shipping Ministry last year.

“For the last 17 years, we did not construct an indigenous submarine and for the first time we took up Scorpene construction. That's why we have had some delays in some equipment for the project. But with the second line of submarines, it will help us to reduce the gap (in the fleet)," he said. The Navy currently operates 15 conventional submarines, but these are soon approaching their obsolescence stage. Of the existing fleet, 10 are Kilo class submarines, four HDW submarines and the last belongs to the Foxtrot class. He said India hopes to begin construction of indigenous submarines and the idea of building the Scorpene and the second line of vessels was to develop that capability for future exploitation, as envisaged by the Cabinet Committee on Security in 1999.

China's Navy Gets Bigger, but Why?

John Browne Report - December 22, 2011

Conditions -- and human intentions -- can change quickly, but creating capabilities takes time.
This applies in virtually every realm of human endeavor. The global recession has required painful economic adjustment that in the case of a nation like Greece may take decades to repair. An epidemic can strike, but a vaccine or cure may take years to develop.

 It takes years to develop military capabilities, to include weapons technology and training people to use them. In the mid-1930s, Winston Churchill saw Germany expanding its military capabilities.

Churchill warned that Adolf Hitler intended to start another European war, but he was ignored. All too often, one man's prescience is another man's paranoid fantasy. Great Britain entered World War II with a small air force, despite the documented expansion of Nazi Germany's Luftwaffe. The British just managed to win the Battle of Britain, but it was a near thing.

Building a navy requires a particularly long lead time. The designing, financing and building of ships requires thinking in terms of at least two decades. Providing experienced commanders and trained crews takes longer.

The Chinese Navy's expansion program began in the 1990s, as China's fleet began to venture away from China's coast and develop blue water (open ocean) capabilities. Now Chinese submarines encounter U.S. Navy task forces, and Chinese warships turn up in the Indian Ocean. China may launch its first aircraft carrier in 2011. It will take years to produce carrier pilots and crew comparable to those in the Navy, but acquiring the technology is a huge step.

What does China intend to do with its carrier? The rest of Asia, from India to Japan, wants to know. For example, Chinese maritime claims in the South China Sea conflict sharply with those of Vietnam and the Philippines. A carrier extends China's offensive reach in this contested sea zone.

The carrier is one piece of a complex puzzle that includes new surface ships, aircraft and missiles. This week, U.S. Pacific Command commander Adm. Robert Willard told a Japanese newspaper that China's Dongfeng 21D anti-ship ballistic missile (ASBM) had achieved "initial operational capability."

The DF-21D gives Chinese land forces a weapon that can sink a U.S. carrier at long range. This means U.S. naval forces supporting South Korea, Japan or Taiwan face higher risks as they approach the mainland, which U.S. analysts conclude is China's intention. The acronym for this strategy is A2/AD, for "anti-access/area denial," which is more diplomatic than calling it "U.S.-Japan, go away."

Chinese naval theorists discuss extending China's reach beyond "the first island chain" (roughly Japan, Taiwan and the South China Sea) to the second (a wide arc running from Singapore through Guam and then north to Japan). Some U.S. analysts conclude this translates as "U.S. Navy, go further away."

Are these new Chinese naval, air, space and land forces necessarily directed at the U.S.? The Chinese point out that India sits astride China's sea lines of communication (SLOCs) with Southwest Asia and Africa. The Chinese economic miracle requires Middle Eastern energy and African minerals. The Indian Navy could quickly cut the supply chain, unless China has a navy capable of protecting it.

A war in Asia, with Japan, the U.S. or India, even one with Taiwan, puts the Chinese economy at risk. China's leaders claim their biggest problem is creating 25 million new jobs a year. China's economy depends on global trade. Which leads to another line of analysis: China does not seek a war, but it wants to guarantee its own maritime trade security and does not want to rely on the U.S. Navy to protect it. Hence, the increase in capabilities.

But if and when conditions change? The Japanese note that Japan is the fulcrum for both Chinese island lines. Theoretical chatter is one thing, but the emerging Chinese capabilities are beyond dispute. The Japanese believe they need capabilities. Tokyo recently announced it will more fully integrate its military forces with American forces and will develop mobile forces capable of defending its southern islands.
December 22nd - On This Date

1914 E43 Submarine HMS E43 laid down
1917 L7 Submarine HMS L7 completed
1924 L33 Submarine HMS L33 completed
1942 Sturdy Submarine HMS Sturdy laid down
1941 HMS Torbay HMS Torbay sinks a Greek sailing vessel with gunfire off Cape Methene..
1942 HMS Taku HMS Taku sinks the Greek sailing vessel Nikiwith gunfire in the Potidea Channel.
1944 HMS Terrapin and HMS Trenchant HMS Trenchant and HMS Terrapin together sink the Japanese tanker Yaei Maru No.6 with gunfire off the south side of the Japanese Fleet anchorage at Lingga Roads.
1944 HMS Tudor HMS Tudor sinks a Japanese sailing vessel with gunfire of the west coast of Burma
December 21st - On This Date

929 Odin Submarine HMS Odin completed
1934 Sealion Submarine HMS Sealion completed
1936 Thetis Submarine HMS Thetis laid down
1936 Thunderbolt Submarine HMS Thunderbolt laid down
1942 Sportsman Submarine HMS Sportsman completed
1944 Spearhead Submarine HMS Spearhead completed
1961 Opossum Submarine HMS Opossum laid down
1982 Torbay Submarine HMS Torbay laid down
1986 Pactolus Depot Ship HMS Pactolus launched
1942 HMS Safari HMS Safari sinks the Italian auxiliary minesweeper Rosina S. about 5 nautical miles south of Hammamet, Tunisa.
1943 HMS Sportsman HMS Sportsman attacks and damages the Greek sailing vessel Spiridon with gunfire south of Lemnos island.
1944 HMS L26 HMS L-26 paid off Halifax NS
1944 HMS Trenchant HMS Trenchant sinks two Japanese landing craft with gunfire off the eastern coast of Sumatra.

Inferior metal used on Navy subs

Search under way for affected boats as fraud charges are leveled against Pennsylvania firm
The Navy is searching for metal used in submarines that fails to meet military specifications and was supplied by a Pennsylvania contractor who recently pleaded guilty to one count of major fraud against the U.S. government.

In a statement provided to The Day, the Navy called the fraud "calculated and widespread."
The search has so far cost the government more than $1.3 million, and the Navy said it may take years to determine the scope of the problem.

The Navy did not respond to a question about the safety implications, saying only that the service is "committed to ensuring the safety of its crews and ships."

Bristol Alloys Inc. and its president, James Bullick, admitted in court last week to selling metal that had not been heat-treated to be used in Virginia-class submarines to meet the contract's requirements. Heat treatment is used to make metal stronger. The company also admitted that it provided counterfeit certifications that the metal had been treated.

The major fraud charge dealt with parts and materials associated with Virginia-class submarines, but many classes of submarines and the aircraft carrier Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) are also affected, according to the Navy.

"The fraud perpetrated by Bristol Alloys, Inc. and Mr. Bullick was both calculated and widespread," according to the Navy's statement. "Implications from Bristol Alloys, Inc. and Mr. Bullick's scheme to defraud the government have the potential to take years to fully investigate, inspect and adjudicate."
Bullick faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and a $5 million fine at his sentencing on Jan. 31, according to the Office of the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. The company also faces a possible $5 million fine.

Assistant U.S. Attorney John J. Pease, the prosecutor in the case, said Tuesday he plans to ask the court at the sentencing to require restitution for the cost of locating the metal and replacing parts.
Dozens of examples of metal supplied by Bristol that does not meet military specifications have been found in Navy ships in the past year, Pease added. He could not say how many ships were involved since the effort to find where the metal has been used is ongoing.

Electric Boat in Groton and Northrop Grumman Shipbuilding in Virginia build Virginia-class submarines under a team agreement.

EB referred all questions about the case to the Navy.

Northrop Grumman purchased various metal components from Garvey Precision Machine Inc. in New Jersey, a company that had bought metals and other parts from Bristol Alloys, a metal and steel parts broker.

Bristol Alloys created numerous fraudulent heating-test certifications supposedly issued by another company instead of complying with the Navy's requirements in the purchase orders from Garvey from about 2004 to the fall of 2009, according to court documents. Garvey paid Bristol about $500,000 during that time, with much of that money paying for the metal that did not meet the specifications, Pease said.

Piston tailrods, which indicate fluid capacity and align piston travel, were made using this metal, according to U.S. District Court documents.

Bristol also provided counterfeit certified material test reports for metal used to make other parts in the hydraulic system as well as other components, the documents state.

EB found problems with the material certification reports in the spring of 2009 and asked Garvey to evaluate the products it supplied for the submarine program. Northrop Grumman also investigated the problem that summer.

Bristol refused to provide EB and Garvey with the original copies of the mechanical and heat test reports, the documents state. Garvey stopped doing business with Bristol, and Northrop Grumman informed the Navy of the discrepancies in October 2009.

Agents from the Naval Criminal Investigative Service searched the Bristol Alloys building in Fairless Hills, Pa . The Navy is working with both shipbuilders to determine the impact of the scheme.

USS Olympia Finishes Magnetic Silencing Treatment

Pearl Harbor -- Los Angeles-class submarine USS Olympia (SSN 717) finished undergoing deperming at the new drive-in submarine magnetic silencing facility (MSF) at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam's Beckoning Point, Dec. 15.

Olympia is the first submarine to complete this treatment at the facility.

"After a culmination of 11 years of work by numerous Department of the Navy civilian contractors and Navy personnel, the completion and success of this treatment marks a milestone for future evolutions of this type," said Aaron Leong, MSF Pearl Harbor project lead supervisor. "With the certification of this facility and the USS Olympia, we now are prepared to continue operations for all types of submarines."
Due to magnetic fields that are constantly being encountered during normal ship operations, ships and submarines build up a magnetic signature. The earth's natural magnetic fields between the North and South poles are being crossed routinely while the vessels are underway.

The traversing of these natural fields and vessels lying dormant for extended periods of time during scheduled maintenance results in changes to a vessel's magnetic signature. Correcting those changes requires a thorough treatment process to minimize the level of permanent magnetism.

Deperming is performed at the submarine MSF by temporarily surrounding a submarine with coils and supplying current to those coils to create high magnetic fields. By cycling the coil field, the permanent magnetization of the submarine is manipulated.

The magnitude of the coil-induced magnetic field starts high and then is decreased with each cycle. When the process is completed, the magnitude of the permanent magnetization is equal to the ambient field. The MSF can control the ambient field to desired magnitudes.

A closed-wrap MSF requires the submarine to be manually wrapped with heavy copper cables whereas the cables at a drive-in MSF are built into the facility; suspended above, below and on the sides of the submarine. The Pearl Harbor MSF, managed by Commander Navy Region Hawaii and operated by personnel from the Naval Undersea Warfare Center Detachment Pacific is capable of deperming all classes of U.S. submarines including Virginia-class submarines.

"Our main concern was the safety of the crew and the integrity of the components inside the submarine," said Cmdr. Michael Boone, USS Olympia commanding officer.

"The treatment process was a complete success, and I am proud of everybody who helped out in making Olympia capable of anything required by her to complete future mission tasking."

Olympia is the United States Navy's 104th nuclear powered submarine and the 95th of the attack submarine fleet. She is the 29th of the Los Angeles nuclear powered fast attack submarine class to be delivered to the Navy.
Call to sent Nuclear Submarine to the Falklands

A nuclear submarine should be used to show Britain's determination to protect the Falklands following "aggressive" moves by Argentina, a former head of the Navy urged today.

Lord West also suggested carrying out a military exercise rehearsing reinforcing the South Atlantic islands to leave Buenos Aires in no doubt that the UK is prepared to defend them despite military cutbacks.

The peer branded a new agreement by Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay to ban ships flying the Falklands flag from their ports as "outrageous behaviour".

Condemning Argentina, Lord West told the Standard: "They are basically becoming more and more aggressive. I find that very worrying.

"Far from trying to settle in a grown-up way and having better and better relationships with the Falkland islanders, they are upping the ante and becoming very confrontational."

Lord West does not believe Buenos Aires will order another invasion nor that the UK should despatch more ships, planes or troops. But he suggested that a nuclear submarine patrolling the area should "stick its mast up" to signal Britain still has the military power and intention to safeguard the islands. "When one is there, we should make a point of making it clear that it is there," said the former First Sea Lord, who commanded HMS Ardent on which 22 crew were killed when it was hit by Argentinian planes in the Falklands conflict nearly 30 years ago.

The Foreign Office also condemned the port restriction deal by the South American trading bloc, Mercosur, which was agreed at a summit in the Uruguayan capital Montevideo.

"We are very concerned by this latest Argentine attempt to isolate the Falkland Islands people and damage their livelihoods, for which there is no justification," said a Foreign Office spokeswoman. "No one should doubt our determination to protect the Falkland islanders' right to determine their own political future."

British officials are still examining the practical impact of the Mercosur statement which is said to "mirror the language" used by the Union of South American Nations last year.

The dispute involves the fishing trade and a vast area of potentially mineral-rich South Atlantic waters. It has created a fresh diplomatic headache for Britain before the 30th anniversary next year of the recapturing of the islands following the Argentinian invasion. Roger Spink, president of the Falklands Chamber of Commerce, said they felt increasingly under blockade. He told the BBC: "If we were Palestine, the European Union would be up in arms."

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Russians Moving ‘Carrier Killer’ Cruiser to Pac Fleet AO



Not sure why, but for those of you who track foreign military moves, it seems that the Russian navy is planning to move one of its most modern and powerful guided missile cruisers out of the Northern fleet operations area and into the more dynamic — and contested — Pacific fleet AO.

The Russian missile cruiser Marshal Ustinov may reinforce Russia’s Pacific Fleet in 2013 after repairs, a high-placed official of the Russian Navy said on Sunday.

The Ustinov is the second of four Slava class guided missile cruisersand is now stationed in Severomorsk in Murmansk. It’s unclear why the Russians want to move the Ustinov to warmer Pacific climes, but if the armaments on this ship are any indication, it’s going to be a major influence on the sea lanes — that is if the Russian government has enough cash to fill ‘er up and let her leave Vladivostok.

The Marshal Ustinov cruiser has been designed as a surface strike ship with some anti-air and ASW capability. It is fitted with sixteen SS-N-12 Sandbox nuclear-capable supersonic anti-ship missiles, which are mounted in four pairs on either side of the superstructure

In addition, the cruiser reportedly carries 64 SA-N-6 Grumble long-range surface-to-air missiles (SAM) and 40 SA-N-4 Gecko short-range SAMs.

NATO experts had dubbed Russian combat ships of this class “the killer of aircraft carriers,” as it can carry 1,000 kg of high-explosives, or a tactical nuclear warhead, out to a range of 300 nautical miles.

Russia will never give up its naval base in Ukraine's port of Sevastopol on the Crimean peninsula, ex-commander of the Russian Black Sea Fleet Adm. Igor Kasatonov said.
Russia's Black Sea Fleet is stationed in Crimea under a lease agreement with Ukraine. On April 21, 2010, Moscow and Kiev signed a deal extending the lease on the fleet's base in Sevastopol for 25 years after the current lease expires in 2017.
"The year 2042 is not the final date of the Black Sea Fleet's presence in Crimea. The Russian Navy will stay in Sevastopol forever," Kasatonov said in a recent interview with the Kiev-based Expert magazine.
"Russia will never give up either Sevastopol or the Kuril Islands," the admiral said, adding that the naval base in Sevastopol played the utmost strategic role in the protection of Russia's southwestern border.
Kasatonov said that the Black Sea Fleet must be equipped with advanced weaponry as soon as possible to counter effectively the existing and emerging global threats.
At present, the Black Sea Fleet has about 40 operational vessels, including a single diesel-electric submarine, but most of them are slated for decommissioning.
Russian Navy Commander Admiral Vladimir Vysotsky said last year that the fleet would be reinforced with 15 new combat ships and diesel-electric submarines by 2020, and could become a formidable force by 2035.

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Taiwan Brings It All Back Home

December 20, 2011: For over a decade, Taiwan has been trying to buy new submarines to replace its existing, and rapidly aging boats. The latest solution is to build the boats in Taiwan. The rumors coming out of European shipyards is that Taiwan is quietly arranging to have European submarine building experts accept contracts to discreetly work in a Taiwanese shipyard for a while. Meanwhile, some European builders have agreed to train Taiwanese welders in the specialized type of welding used on submarines. Other negotiations are under way to purchase a wide array of specialized components needed for diesel-electric submarines. Some shopping has been done in the United States, but the Americans have only built nuclear subs for the past half century, and the best technology for diesel-electric sub construction is now found in Western Europe. 
  Taiwan is running out of time to find replacements for its aging submarine force. Taiwan currently has four boats. Two are 70 year old American Guppy class subs. These are used only for training, and are increasingly difficult and expensive to maintain. The two Hailung class subs were built in Holland and entered service in 1986. These 2,500 ton boats are armed with twenty torpedoes and Harpoon missiles (launched from the torpedo tubes.) But there's a new problem as well, because of plummeting morale among the 200 sailors who run these boats. Years of delays in obtaining new subs, and dim prospects of ever getting them, discourages qualified young sailors from volunteering for the submarine service, and many old hands are retiring as soon as they are eligible.
The search for a shipyard willing to build, for Taiwan, eight diesel-electric submarines failed. None of the European shipyards that specialize in this sort of thing would do it, as they feared economic retaliation from China. The United States had not built a diesel electric sub since the 1950s. Getting an American shipyard up to speed on building diesel electric subs would be expensive, and no one is sure exactly how expensive. Moreover, the uncertainty of how much it might cost is scaring many Taiwan supporters in the U.S. government. 
Alternative solutions were investigated. Publicly, Taiwan says it wants the subs for anti-submarine work. But it's been pointed out that there are cheaper and more effective anti-sub capabilities available via helicopters, aircraft and UAVs. What is left unsaid is that the subs could also be used to shut down China's ports, crippling the economy and causing lots of political problems for China's leaders. It's also possible to shut the ports without using subs (air dropped naval mines, or just threatening to attack any merchant ship entering Chinese waters), but nothing does this sort of thing as effectively as a submarine, especially a very quiet diesel-electric sub.
Ideally, Taiwan wants eight new diesel-electric boats, preferably with AIP (air independent propulsion). This would drive the price up to nearly a billion dollars a boat. In addition to building them in Taiwan, there are two other potential sources.
One prospect was India, which has become quite alarmed at China's growing naval strength. India is building its own subs, with six French Scorpene class diesel-electric submarines under construction there. The Scorpene is a very modern design (and the result of cooperation between a French and a Spanish firm) that displace 1,700 tons, and with a crew of 32. It has six 533mm (21 inch) torpedo tubes, and carries 18 torpedoes and/or missiles. It is equipped with an AIP.
With well-trained crews, Scorpenes can get close to just about any surface ship, no matter how good the defender's anti-submarine defenses are. But it's the AIP that makes these boats real killers. Without AIP, subs spend most of their time just below surface, using their diesel engines (via a snorkel device that breaks the surface to take in air, and get rid of the engine exhaust.) Snorkels can be spotted by modern maritime patrol aircraft, and both nations are getting more of these.
India is supposed to get its first Scorpene in 2015, with one a year after that. Only the last three will have AIP. The price of the contract is quoted as $300 million for each boat. That could include AIP, because the boats are being built in Indian yards, which have much lower costs. European built AIP boats go for about half a billion dollars each. Typically, AIP adds about $100 million to the cost of a sub. But there have been construction and management problems in the Indian shipyards. So the schedule, and ultimate costs, is uncertain.
Since the Scorpenes are being built with Spanish and French technology, China could still pressure those nations to forbid India to build any of these boats for Taiwan. But India is also building nuclear subs, using Indian technology. At the moment, India is building all these nukes for their own use. But a Taiwanese order for over $10 billion worth of nuclear boats could change that. There are no active discussions with India on this matter. But the Taiwanese have approached Russia on the matter of collaborating in submarine construction. These discussions are still underway, and apparently not come to fruition.
So Taiwan seems determined to build the subs locally. While European firms won't sell Taiwan submarines, they are apparently less reluctant to sell components and training. That might be enough for Taiwan to build its own.

Indian President to sail on warship

December 20th, 2011

MUMBAI (PTI): Indian President Pratibha Patil will sail on warship INS Subhadra to receive a salute from a flotilla of 81 ships and 44 aircraft lined up in the harbour and get a glimpse of the country's growing Naval might during the Presidential Fleet Review (PFR) here on December 20.

The Navy will display its strength by showcasing its fleet of battleships such as the aircraft carrier INS Virat, Kilo-Class submarines, its aerial assets including the MiG-29K, helicopters and 8,000 men, an Indian Navy spokesperson said.

"On December 20, 76 warships of Indian Navy and Indian Coast Guard (ICG), three merchant marine vessels, one training ship SCC Jaanu and Navy's only sail ship INS Mhadei will salute the President in a gala ceremony," he said.

The PFRs are only next to the Republic Day parade where the Supreme Commander reviews the combined strength of all the three services.

Mumbai-based Western Naval Command which is conducting the PFR, has already turned Mumbai coast into a fortress.

"PFR is a rare occasion where all the warships, submarines and aircraft assemble together. A lot of security arrangement is also put in place using all the available reconnaissance and surveillance assets," a Navy official said.

On December 20, the programme will begin with the customary 21-gun salute to the President upon reaching the Naval dockyard in Mumbai.

After receiving the gun-salute, the President will embark on INS Subhadra which has been designated as the Presidential Yacht for the occasion.

On INS Subhadra- a Sukanya-Class offshore patrol vessel- the President will sail past the warships anchored in the sea, covering an area of 20 square nautical miles approximately.

In the reviewing coloums, the ships will have its crew positioned on its sides and as the President passes by the personnel will take off their caps in unison and will salute the President by shouting 'Jai'.
Along with the INS Viraat, Rajput-class destroyers, Shivalik, Godavari and Brahmputra class frigates, Khukri-class missile corvettes, fleet tankers and landing ships will salute the President.

The submarine column will include the Sindhughosh and Shishumar-class submarines, followed by Fast Attack Crafts (FAC), minesweepers vessels and missiles and torpedo boats.

The hydrography survey vessel, ocean-going tugs, sail ships and several coast guard patrol vessels will also be there to salute the President.

The fly past consisting of 44 fighter jets will be led by the recently inducted MiG-29K aircraft, followed by Sea Harriers. The fighter planes will be followed by choppers and surveillance aircraft of the Navy and Coast Guard.

During sunset, a firework will be displayed by the ships after which these vessels will switch on their deck lights marking their silhouettes in the darkness.

Inherited from the Royal British Navy, PFR takes place once during the tenure of a President. So far nine such reviews, including the International Fleet Review (IFR) in 2001, have taken place.
Dr Rajendra Prasad reviewed the first PFR in October 1953. In 1956 and 1964, the reviews were carried out by the Shah of Iran and by then Defence Minister Y B Chavan, respectively.

Presidents Dr Zakir Hussain, N Sanjiva Reddy and Dr Shankar Dayal Sharma did not review the fleet during their tenure.

The last fleet review was conducted by President A P J Abdul Kalam in 2006 at the Eastern Sea Board in Visakhapatnam.