Tuesday, 3 April 2012

April 4th - On This Date - RN Submarine Service

1916 E46 Submarine HMS E46 launched
1942 Stonehenge Submarine HMS Stonehenge laid down
1944 Astute Submarine HMS Astute laid down
1944 Auriga Submarine HMS Auriga laid down
1918 HMS C26 Scuttled at a point 1.5 miles south of Grohara Light, Helingfors, to avoid capture by the Germans after a Peace Treaty was signed between Russia and Germany. The submarine was subsequently salvaged in August 1953
1940 HMS Narwhal HMS Narwhal lays minefield FD 1 (50 mines) in the North Sea.
1944 HMS Ultor HMS Ultor sinks a sailing vessel with gunfire in the Aegean north-east of Monemvasia, Greece.

Russian Media Report - Damascus: Syrian troops start withdrawal

Syrian troops have begun withdrawing from some cities and returning to their bases, Damascus says. 
This comes as a part of the UN-Arab League plan to stop the bloodshed in the country and get the government and opposition to the negotiation table.

­The government’s forces have only retreated from the calmer cities, reports the Associated Press quoting a government official, while hotspots have only seen redeployment as soldiers took positions on the outskirts.

The news comes several days after Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad accepted a peace plan requiring forces loyal to him to cease fire and withdraw from cities by April 10. If this is implemented, rebel fighters will have 48 hours to halt military operations. The aim is to bring all hostilities to an end by April 12.

The plan, brought to Syria by UN and Arab League envoy Kofi Annan, also calls for an immediate daily two-hour halt to fighting so that aid groups can reach suffering civilians.

It remains unclear whether the Free Syrian Army, one of the major opposition groups battling Assad’s forces in Syria, will abide by the ceasefire.

Russia's Foreign Ministry said on Tuesday that Syria had informed them that it has started implementing the peace plan.

A draft statement endorsing Annan’s road map and the April 10 ceasefire deadline was circulated among Western nations on Tuesday. The UN Security Council is set to discuss the plan over the next two days. The statement could be approved by Wednesday night, said French UN Ambassador, Gerard Araud.

Despite Assad appearing to yield to the mediating effort, UN diplomats were unhappy on Tuesday that no public comment on the ceasefire deadline has yet followed from the troubled country.

"Let me say that from the US point of view and, I think, the point of view of many member states, what we have seen since April 1 is not encouraging," US Ambassador Susan Rice told reporters, referring to the stream of reports by Syrian opposition activists claiming the crackdown is continuing. 

France, disturbed by the claims, is set to prepare another round of sanctions for the leadership of the Arab country. Paris wants sanctions implemented in the next two weeks – ahead of the next "Friends of Syria" meeting due to be held in Paris, the French Foreign Ministry said on Tuesday.

At the same time, Turkey has accused the UN Security Council of indirectly supporting the "oppression" of the Syrian people by its lack of unity.

"In not taking a decision, the UNSC has indirectly supported the oppression. To stand by with your hands and arms tied while the Syrian people are dying every day is to support the oppression," Erdogan told members of his party.

The first peaceful protests against the ruling regime hit Syria in March 2011and grew into a military stand-off between the regular army and rebels. The UN estimates that over 9,000 people have been killed in the conflict.

India - In arms way: India's 'hollow' army to buy in bulk

As a recently-leaked letter scandal reveals the Indian army, one of the biggest in the world, is virtually “naked”, foreign weapons producers cast longing looks at the country’s never-shrinking military budget: over $100 billion to be spent by 2020.

­India's entire tank fleet is out of ammunition, air defenses are "97 per cent obsolete" and the elite forces are "woefully short" of "essential weapons," reads a leaked letter Army Chief Vijay Kumar Singh sent to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in March.

"The state of the major (fighting) arms i.e. mechanized forces, artillery, air defense, infantry and special forces, as well as the engineers and signals, is indeed alarming," adds Singh, as quoted by the DNA newspaper.

The "hollowness" of the fourth-largest army in the world, according to the general, lies with the slow procurement process and lack of urgency among bureaucrats.

Heavy corruption remains a major plague for India. In March alone, six arms companies were barred by the Defense Ministry for 10 years for alleged graft, all in the case involving a former director general of Ordnance Factories. The sanctioned companies include producers from Israel, Switzerland, Singapore, Russia and two local facilities.

All the factors combined, first, signal prospects for huge military contracts to follow, as the Defense Minister A.K. Antony, lashed by the uproar in the parliament, has vowed to “speed up the modernization of the armed forces” and ensure defense capabilities of the country. Then, international arms producers can line up for meaty contracts, for the market is to see a further reshuffle among arms suppliers.

India, with its 1.13-million-strong military staff, has announced this month the government has announced a 17 per cent rise in defense spending for 2012-2013, up to $40 billion. Given the tendency, Delhi is likely to spend over $137 billion on foreign contracts between 2013 and 2022, forecasts the Wall Street Journal website.

India has already overtaken China as the world’s largest military hardware importer: the latest estimates show it accounts for 10 per cent of global market sales.

This is creating opportunities for US and European manufacturers – as well as for Russia, India’s long-standing military supplier. After the arms exhibition in Delhi, Moscow stated it is capable of delivering some $3 billion in arms to India each year.

The current stock of contracts between the two countries already exceeds $10.8 billion, including orders for long and medium range missiles, warships and helicopters.

Plutonium to Pluto: Russian nuclear space travel breakthrough

A ground-breaking Russian nuclear space-travel propulsion system will be ready by 2017 and will power a ship capable of long-haul interplanetary missions by 2025, giving Russia a head start in the outer-space race.

The megawatt-class nuclear drive will function for up to three years and produce 100-150 kilowatts of energy at normal capacity.

The new project proposes the use of an electric ion propulsion system.   The engines exhaust thrust will be generated by an ion flow, which is further accelerated by an electric field.  The nuclear reactor will therefore “supply” the necessary amount of electric power without unwanted radioactive contamination of the environment.

Xenon will serve as the working body for the engines.

It is under development at Skolkovo, Russia’s technology innovation hub, whose nuclear cluster head Denis Kovalevich confirmed the breakthrough to Interfax. "At present we are testing several types of fuel and later we will start drafting the design," he said.

While the engine is expected to be fully assembled by 2017 the accompanying craft will not be ready before 2025 former head of Roscosmos, Anatoly Perminov, told Interfax.

Scientists expect to start putting the new engine through its paces in operational tests as early as 2014.

The Russian government began the ambitious project in 2010 with an investment of approximately $17 million dollars and is expected to shell out $247 million over the next five years to complete the engine.

The idea of using a nuclear propulsion system to power space missions is not altogether new. It came about in the 1960s and was the brainchild of three Russian academics, Mstislav Keldysh, Igor Kurchatov and Sergey Korolev in the Soviet Union.

Research into the field was subsequently carried out not only in the Soviet Union, but also in the US, although with a view to creating a new weapon rather than the advancement of space travel.

The stumbling block that has faced scientists over the last couple of years is that as a craft travels further away from the sun’s rays, solar energy weakens and cannot produce the necessary energy to power electric engines.

Nuclear power has generally been considered a valid alternative to fossil fuels to power space craft, as it is the only energy source capable of producing the enormous thrust needed for interplanetary travel.

NASA embarked on a project to develop a nuclear engine capable of powering a space craft, but funding was cut in 2003.

The revolutionary propulsion system falls in line with recently announced plans for Russia to conquer space.  Last month, the Russian Federal Space Agency released its ambitious scheme to explore our solar system in the coming years. Entitled Space Development Strategies up to 2030, Russia aims to send probes to Mars, Jupiter, and Venus, as well as establish a series of bases on the moon.
The Soviet RD-0410 nuclear thermal rocket engine, which was developed between 1965-1985.

India to Miss Its Own Defense Spending Target: Report

Corruption is one of the major obstacles that hampers development of local-foreign joint ventures in defense production, a new report has said.

India will miss its own target of buying 70% of its defense equipment locally over the next decade due to a lack of local capability combined with bureaucracy and corruption, according to a new report by information provider IHS Jane’s.

Instead it will likely only be able to remain at current levels of 30%, meaning some $137 billion of the $195 billion India plans to spend on defense equipment between 2013 and 2022 will go to foreign firms.

This is likely to create opportunities not only for Russia, India’s long-term military supplier, but also for U.S. and European manufacturers, the report said. It noted that India had selected French aerospace company Dassault in February as its preferred bidder for a $10 billion contract to supply fighter jets.

India has been attempting to ratchet up domestic production but –as the report states- a combination of bureaucratic paralysis, corruption and lack of domestic industrial capability. Jon Grevatt, IHS Jane’s defense industry analyst for the Asia-Pacific region, and author of the report, comments, “The maze of administration is obstructing the global defense industry, its local industry and the potential economic benefits.”

One example of India’s failure are delays over plans to locally produce six new-generation submarines. Delays in getting the project up and running have led India’s navy to push for the government to instead import submarines.

Corruption is another major obstacle that hampers development of local-foreign joint ventures in defense production, the report said. The largest such scandal in India’s history dates to 1987 over the import of 410 howitzers from Bofors of Sweden – a scandal that many say led to former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi’s failure to get reelected two years later.

Fresh allegations from outgoing Indian army chief Gen. V. K. Singh that he was offered a $2.7 million bribe to clear the purchase of substandard military vehicles show that concerns over corruption have not gone away.

The IHS report says that concerns over graft have in fact made getting defense deals cleared even more difficult, with bureaucrats unwilling to make decisions, leading to further delays.

Defense Ministry “vigilance officers” now monitor every step of an acquisition. However, increased oversight has led to greater bureaucracy and a genuine fear among officials of making decisions. Accusations of “procurement irregularities” have been common and have caused several procurement programs to be severely delayed or cancelled, the report said.

India’s Comptroller and Auditor General criticized a number of New Delhi’s procurement programs in July 2009, prompting the Defense Ministry to investigate allegations of irregularities. Project cancellations resulted from the allegations, such as the Indian army’s tender for 197 Eurocopter AS550C3 Fennec light observations helicopters, the report noted.

Falklands War - Britisk Task Force Build-up


Culdrose (HMS Seahawk)
Devonport (HMS Drake)
Faslane (HMS Neptune - SSN's)
Gosport (HMS Dolphin)
Portland (HMS Osprey)
Portsmouth (HMS Nelson)
Rosyth (HMS Cochrane)
Yeovilton (HMS Heron)
Arbroath (45 Cdo RM)
Plymouth (3 Cdo Bde RM, incl. 40 & 42 Cdo)
RM Poole

Aldershot (2 & 3 Para)
Church Crookham (1/7 Gurkhas)
Hereford (SAS)
London (2 Scots & 1 Welsh Guards)
Marchwood (RCT)
Middle Wallop (AAC)
Netheravon (AAC)
Sennybridge (5th Inf Bde training)

Brize Norton (VC10’s)
Coningsby (Phantoms)
Kinloss (Nimrod MR2’s)
Lyneham (Hercules)
Marham (Victors)
Odiham (Chinooks)
St Athan (maintenance)
St Mawgan (Nimrod MR1’s)
Waddingtons (Vulcans)
Wittering (Harrier GR3’s)
Wyton (Nimrod R1’s)

Summary of Main British Commanders (Honours awarded in brackets)

Admiral of the Fleet Sir (later Baron) Terence Lewin, Chief of the Defence Staff,
Admiral Sir Henry Leach, Royal Navy,
General Sir Edwin Bramall, Army,
Air Chief Marshal Sir Michael Beetham, Royal Air Force

Admiral Sir John Fieldhouse (GBE), Task Force Commander,
Major General J J Moore (KCB) MC and bar RM, Land Forces Deputy,
and later
Lieut General Sir Richard Trant,
Air Marshal Sir John Curtiss (KBE), Air Commander,
Vice Admiral P G M Herbert, Flag Officer Submarines

Rear Admiral J F Woodward (KCB), Carrier Battle Group,
Commodore M C Clapp (CB), Amphibious Task Group,
Brigadier J H Thompson (CB) RM, Landing Force Task Group and 3 Commando Brigade RM,
Followed by:
Major General Moore RM, Land Forces Falklands Islands,
Brigadier M J A Wilson MC, 5th Infantry Brigade

Eventual British Casualties and Losses in Major Equipment

$ warships and a landing craft,
1 fleet auxiliary
1 merchantman,
23 Navy, 7 RAF, 3 Marine and 1 Army helicopters and aircraft.
1,000 of the men taking part were killed or wounded.

British Aims and Outcome
Once the decision was taken to launch "Operation Corporate" and dispute the Argentine invasion by force if necessary, Britain's military power was rapidly mobilised. Commanders were appointed and from bases thoughout the country, the highly technological ships and aircraft were readied and despatched to transport and support a limited number of professional Marines, Paras and Guardsmen. Fighting as infantrymen, they re-took the Falklands the hard way, and at the end of an 8,000 mile long logistical nightmare and lengthy chain of command. Directly responsible to the British Cabinet for all military aspects was the Defence Staff at Whitehall not far from Downing Street with its Chief, Admiral of the Fleet Sir Terence Lewin and the other service heads. Working out of Northwood, Middlesex, just outside London were the Task Force Commanders led by Admiral Sir John Fieldhouse, Commander-in-Chief Fleet, who in turn controlled events in the South Atlantic through the commanders on the spot. Taking part in this vast undertaking were nearly 30,000 men and a few women, and a large proportion of Britain's Navy and Marines, fleet auxiliaries and merchantmen, aircraft and helicopter squadrons, plus five Army battalions and supporting arms.

Nuclear-powered hunter-killer submarine HMS Conqueror, one of the first Royal Navy warships to reach South Georgia and then the Falklands area. She torpedoed and sank the Argentine cruiser "General Belgrano" on the 2nd May 1982

Up to the final Argentine surrender, each of the ships, aircraft squadrons and main military units, as they entered the South Atlantic for the FIRST time in the campaign are introduced below.

Submarines reaching the Falkland's Area, early April to May

Nuclear submarines "Spartan", "Splendid", "Conqueror", "Courageous"(?), "Valiant" and conventionally powered "Onyx", with some SBS.

RAF Squadrons reaching or deploying to Ascension, early April to May

VC.10 transports of 10 Sqdn, Hercules transports of 24, 30, 47 and 70 Sqdns,
Nimrod maritime reconnaissance aircraft of 42(TB), 51(?), 120, 201 and 206 Sqdns,
Victor tankers of 55 and 57 Sqdns
Vulcan bombers of 44, 50 and 101 Sqdns,
Harrier GR.3 attack aircraft of 1(F),
Chinook helicopter of 18 and a
Sea King of 202,
Phantom fighters of 29(F) Sqdns,
Units of the RAF Regiment.

South Georgia recaptured ("Operation Paraquat") on 25th April

Naval forces - Destroyer "Antrim", Frigates "Brilliant", "Plymouth", Ice patrol ship "Endurance", RFA's "Tidespring" and (earlier) "Brambleleaf" and "Fort Austin".

Land forces - M Coy 42 Cdo RM, SBS RM and D Sqdn 22nd SAS.

Carrier Battle Group starting attacks on Falklands, 1st May

Naval forces - Carriers "Hermes", "Invincible", Destroyers "Glamorgan", "COVENTRY", "Glasgow", "SHEFFIELD", Frigates "Broadsword", "Alacrity", "Arrow", "Yarmouth" and RFA's "Olmeda" and "Resource". Joined later in May by destroyer "Exeter", frigate "Ambuscade" and RFA "Regent".

Carrier aircraft - Sea Harriers of Nos.800 and 801, anti-submarine and assault Sea King helicopters of Nos.820, 826 and 846 NAS; and later, Sea Harriers of No.809 and RAF Harrier GR.3's of 1(F) Squadrons.

Land forces
SBS RM, D and G Sqdns 22nd SAS.

Amphibious Group reaching the TEZ, followed by Landings in San Carlos Water ("Operation Sutton") on 21st MayNaval forces - including Assault ships "Fearless", "Intrepid", Frigates "ARDENT", "Argonaut" and later "ANTELOPE", RFA's "Stromness", "Tidepool", LSL's "SIR GALAHAD", "Sir Geraint", "Sir Lancelot", "Sir Percivale", "Sir Tristram" and (later) "Sir Bedivere", Transports "Canberra", "Elk", "Europic Ferry", "Norland", and Aircraft and helicopter support ship "ATLANTIC CONVEYOR".

Land forces
3 Commando Brigade RM including 40, 42 and 45 Cdo RM and 2 and 3 Para, and 3 CBAS Gazelle and Scout helicopters.

Other Ships and Helicopter Squadrons supporting the Task Force up to the End of May

At Ascension

RMAS mooring vessel "Goosander" and Tanker "Alvega"; also Detached despatch vessel "Dumbarton Castle"

Tanker Holding Areas in the South Atlantic and in Tug, Repair and Logistics Area (TRALA)
RFA tankers "Appleleaf", Pearleaf and "Plumleaf" plus Tankers "Anco Charger", "Eburna", Eight British Petroleum "British" tankers, and Water tanker "Fort Toronto".

Operating in Falklands area Hospital ship "Uganda" and Ambulance ships "Hecla", "Herald" and "Hydra" in Red Cross Box (RCB), Repair ship "Stena Seaspread" and Tugs "Irishman", "Salvageman", "Yorkshireman" in TRALA.

 Reaching South Georgia
Requisitioned minesweepers "Cordella", "Farnella", "Junella", "Northella" and "Pict", RFA tanker "Blue Rover", RMAS tug "Typhoon", Detached despatch vessels "Iris" and "Leeds Castle", Ammo ship "Lycaon" and Stores ship "Saxonia".

 Other Helicopters
Sea Kings of No.824 and also 846, Wessex of Nos.737, 845 and 848, Lynx of No.815 and Wasps of No.829 NAS on warships, RFA's and merchantmen, together with one RAF Chinook of 18 Sqdn.

"Bristol" Group arriving in TEZ, late May
 Destroyers "Bristol", "Cardiff", Frigates "Active", "Avenger", "Andromeda", "Minerva", "Penelope", RFA's "Bayleaf" and "Olna".

5th Infantry Brigade reaching South Atlantic late May to join Advance on Stanley, early June

Land forces
5th Infantry Brigade including 2 Scots and 1 Welsh Guards, 1/7 Gurkha Rifles and Gazelle and Scout helicopters of 656 Sqdn AAC.

Transports - 
"Queen Elizabeth 2", "Baltic Ferry" and "Nordic Ferry".

Other Ships and Helicopter Squadrons arriving to support Task Force up to Surrender
RFA's "Engadine" and "Fort Grange", Merchantmen "Atlantic Causeway", "Balder London", "Contender Bezant", "Geestport", "St. Edmund", "Tor Caledonia" and "Wimpey Seahorse",

Sea Kings of No.825 and Wessex of No.847 NAS.