Saturday, 21 April 2012

Life as we know it!

April 22nd - On This Date - RN Submarine Service

1909 C27 Submarine HMS C27 launched
1909 C28 Submarine HMS C28 launched
1943 Shalimar Submarine HMS Shalimar launched
1944 Shalimar Submarine HMS Shalimar completed
1943 HMS Saracen HMS Saracen torpedoes and sinks the Italian merchant Tagliamento about 35 nautical miles south of Pianosa, Italy.
1943 HMS Rorqual HMS Rorqual lays 50 mines off Isola Favignana west of Sicily, Italy.
1944 HMS Sea Rover HMS Sea Rover sinks a Japanese coaster with gunfire north of Sumatra.
1944 HMS Taurus HMS Taurus sinks the Japanese salvage vessel Hokuan I-Go and a tug with gunfire off Malaya.

Falklands War - Operation Paraquat the attack on South Georgia - Part 4

Finally on 23/24 April night Antrim picked up the SBS signal and after some discussion Endurance was ordered to rescue the isolated marines from Barff Peninsula. Barker's two small utility helicopters, piloted by Ellerbeck and Finding, removed the men minus their wretched Geminis and mal functioning motorsto Endurance' warmth; a second reconnaissance effort had misfired(52). The communications debacle that had marooned the SBS team ashore on Barff Peninsula was only a part of the muddle that permeated Young's operations. In separating Tidespring to refuel from Brambleleaf and in dividing his force up into two sub units: Plymouth and Endurance; and Antrim and Tidespring, Young lost defensive advantage against the putative diesel submarine, communications among the forces he was supposed to put ashore and Barker's and his pilots' valuable advice. Discreet military accomplishment would have justified this maritime hurly-burly, but by 24 April 1982 nothing of value had been gained, no ground recon completed and certainly no military objective gained. In fact only the prodigious flying feats of his helicopter pilots had saved Young's force from disaster. Sheridan remained a ship's guest rather than the commander of a landed infantry force.

D Squadron had one more reconnaissance card to play. Captain Timothy Burls' Boat Troop set out from Antrim at 0300 on 22 April 1998. They were to reconnoiter Leith, Husvik and Stromness from positions on Grass Island. A small but potentially bothersome garrison was thought to be guarding Leith Harbor and its disused whaling station. Because reconnaissance of Leith from Fortuna had failed an observation of Leith from Grass Island, a few thousand meters west in Stromness Bay seemed a good alternative especially as the presence of kelp precluded other feasable landing sites. Fifteen men deployed in five boats. Remember helicopters had come into short supply. Immediately after launching, three motors failed and the two working Gemini that remained took the three stalled boats in tow. When Endurance and Fort Austin had met at sea on 12 April Boat Troop had exercised its Gemini inflatables and their motors had also failed at that time. The continued failure of these motors in critical evolutions stymied the efforts of hundreds of millions of dollars of complex military equipment manned by thousands of trained operators. It remains a mystery why the SAS chose to go to war with a system of proven unreliability.

About 0400 wind and water combined in a ferocious storm that nearly swamped all the boats. Tow lines were broken, each crew struggled on its own. Three boats, including Captain Burls', made Grass Island and were buried. The nine men then established an OP from which they could see Leith and Stromness and Burls radioed his reports back to Antrim. At this point he had lost two of his five boats with no knowledge of whether they had drowned, put up on a distant shore, blown out to sea or been captured by the Argentineans. The control team on Antrim feared the worst. Because of a waterlogged motor and fierce winds one lost boat, Delta, was blown far off the route to Grass Island and just managed to paddle to safety near Larsen Pt. Inexplicably this Gemini lacked a radio beacon and could not transmit the crew's location. The other stray, Bravo boat, its motor inoperative and its crew exhausted, blew steadily eastward away from South Georgia out to sea. It, too, lacked a rescue beacon with enough range to contact Antrim but by luck contacted Burls on the troop's tactical network. He in turn radioed Antrim whose pilots and meteorological officers worked out Bravo's possible position. The ever resourceful Ian Stanley took off at 0800 in his Wessex 3 and at altitudes under two hundred feet conducted a classic box search. Just as his fuel supply left him no choice but to return to Antrim, Stanley's crewman Fitzgerald spotted the drifting raft, winched up its crew and returned them to the comforts of Antrim's wardroom. There Bravo boat's crew owned up to the fact that the troop had enjoyed no pre mission inspection of equipment and did not have an agreed upon rendezvous point (RV).

Yet much had been accomplished. Now one recon team of nine SAS men could observe, without discovery, Argentine activity in and around Stromness Bay. But this view from afar did not afford an accurate count of the Argentinean soldiery. At night on 23 April the Burls' nine men attempted to cross from Grass Island to the mainland, a few hundred meters. Again two of the three motors failed and the Geminis returned to Grass Island. A second try failed for the same reason and in the end the team crossed by paddling. That early morning Boat Troop or three teams of it completed the task towards which so much effort had been directed. Doing what it does best Burls' diminished troop reported back to Delves aboard Antrim the existance of a garrison of sixteen Argentinean marines and no supporting artillery. One sentry stood languid watch during the dark hours(53).

By the afternoon of 23 April 1982 Endurance's listeners and Spanish language translators had intercepted transmissions from an Argentinean C-130 to and from a submarine whose signal strength indicated it was a hundred miles from Endurance(54) and perhaps closer to Antrim. This information prompted Northwood and Young to send the two tankers, escorted by Plymouth, 200 miles NE out of harm's way. Antrim followed shortly. This decision left Endurance unprotected and the main assault force aboard Tidespring heading away from South Georgia(55). True HMS Conqueror was headed south to intercept the Santa Fe but the meeting would take many hours. Simultaneously Northwood detached and sent to South Georgia HMS Brilliant with its 1st class sonar and two ASW helicopters. Further intercepts by Captain Barker's crew disclosed that the Argentine submarine was to attack Endurance and deliver reenforcements to the Garrison at Leith.

Here both sides erred. At 0300 on 24 April 1982 Young ordered his force to clear South Georgia's waters and to rendezvous two hundred miles NE(56). This odd direction scattered Young's force and lost its ability to bring the fight to the Argentinean submarine. Antrim, Brilliant, Plymouth and Conqueror acting in concert could have destroyed or sent away the Santa Fe in very short order. The Argentine navy's move was equally strange. Knowing that sooner or later the Royal Navy would have at least one nuclear sub in the area the Argentinean navy imprudently sent only one antiquated submarine without air cover to target a non-combatant when it should have sought to destroy a ship, either Antrim or Plymouth, that could destroy it. Santa Fe's small size, its slow underwater speed and the onset of nasty winter weather mandated only one mission at a time, transport troops or find and kill Endurance, not both. There is little doubt that HMS Conqueror working alone could have made short work of a WW2 diesel submarine(57).

On the British side Young had lost the capacity, at least for the moment, to deliver Sheridan's force to the beach --- his sole reason for being around South Georgia. At 1600 on 24 April 1982 Captain Barker communicated to Vice-Admiral David Halifax at Northwood his concern about being the Santa Fe's target and was told: "There's really very little to worry about."(58) Northwood, now aware of the Santa Fe's approximate position and certain that the tankers carrying the force's fuel and assault force lay out of harm's way, ordered Plymouth to return from its protective duties. Barker's concern for his ship's safety was justified but by this time the six helicopters on Brilliant, Antrim, Plymouth and Endurance, however underequipped to prosecute an attack on a clever sub skipper, were positioned to search for Santa Fe as it brought its troop reenforcements to Cumberland Bay. Their home ships were still too distant from Grytviken to form the ASW screen that would bar Santa Fe from landing its troops.

helicopter and boatAt dawn on the 25th the helicopters began their search. Once again Ian Stanley from Antrim found the target, dropped two old fashioned depth charges and damaged the Santa Fe enough to make her an easy surface target for machine gun, missile and ASW torpedo attacks by any British ship or helicopter in the neighborhood. Santa Fe did not dive; Stanley's depth charge attacks were so accurate that the sub's ballast tanks were terminally damaged and she became easy prey for ensuing attacks by Young's helicopters. Captain Bicain limped back into Grytviken harbor, tied up his boat alongside the BAS jetty at King Edward Point and watched as its flooded stern sank below the surface. This drama fit the bizarre side of the Falklands war. Submarines are accurately typed; in war zones they navigate under water where layers of differing salinity and temperature protect them from direct observation and hostile sonar. That Bicain did not take advantage of the hundred or so fathoms of cold water under his keel in order to elude British attackers meant that he could not dive because his boat had ovewhelming mechanical failure(59). Nor did his limited speed allow him to break off the action. Bicain could not fight, hide or run; he was a sitting duck. He could honorably have struck.

The helicopters' attacks proved equally odd. Bicain's boat was initially and as it turned out terminally damaged by depth charges so named because they function best at depths of water where an explosion close to a hull causes water pressure to burst the hull. The trick is to get this very low tech weapon to explode near the sub's hull. Used against a surfaced craft much of a depth charge's force vanishes ineffectually into the air. Ian Stanley's splendid airmanship and good fortune continued. Battered into unseaworthiness Santa Fe turned back to port and on the way got hit by helicopters' AS -12 missiles whose fuzes did not detonate their missiles' warheads because the sub's plastic sail did not offer sufficient resistance. ASW torpedoes fired at Santa Fe's screws were ineffective because these do not detonate unless the target is more than thirty feet underwater and Santa Fe was surfaced. The British attacks had laudable intent --- the idea behind war is to destroy the enemy --- but the better part lay in getting Bicain to surrender his boat and crew intact once he began his limp back to shore. Code books, live prisoners and captured weaponry are far more valuable than bodies and metal on the sea bottom.

Prior to this dramatic diversion Northwood had repeatedly taxed Sheridan, the land force commander, for his lack of progress in recapturing South Georgia. The reasons for Sheridan's restraint were clear. Delves and Hamilton, not Sheridan, made the decisions, calamatous as they turned out, about SAS' insertions, a condition precedent to the main landing. While wishing a speedy end to South Georgia's recapture Northwood had ordered the bulk of Sheridan's landing force away from the landing sites to protect it from the Santa Fe, reconnaissance had not been completed and two of his helicopters had been lost on on imprudent mission that he had opposed. In this instance the Royal Navy had showed greater concern for a wimpy submarine threat that did not exist anyway than for its task of getting a coherent body of troops ashore. Indeed up to 25 April Sheridan had not had Antrim and Plymouth together for gun fire support on Argentinean positions. By 1100 on 25 April 1982 everything had changed. Plymouth with its twin 4.5" guns stood offshore nearby Antrim. Sheridan sensed that the defeat of the Santa Fe, now a leaking hulk at Grytviken, would have demoralized the original garrison and that the reenforcements just debarked from Santa Fe would be in no condition to fight.

Sheridan knew that disabling the Santa Fe was only an intermediate step and not the victory he had been sent to obtain. The jackpot was ownership of Grytviken. He waited upon Young, the amphibious force commander, outside his cabin door to ask that the ships be positioned so that helicopters could lift a scratch force of seventy five men to attack and seize Grytviken. Tidespring carrying his main assault force was more than fifty miles away and the remnants of Boat Troop remained esconced on Grass Island. Sheridan judged that his command element, the mortar teams, Delves' few SAS men, the marines from Endurance and SAS men from Plymouth could break the Argentinean defenses if landed quickly with naval gunfire support. It was a bold judgment made without computers or any other form of high technology; rather it was the gut feeling of a long time infantryman, comfortable in his own skin, who knew what heartens or demoralizes green troops holding positions against whom or what they could not know. Delay in landing British troops could mean hardened Argentinean defenses. Sheridan had to wait for three hours for Young's approval - he remained overall commander until the troops landed - while Young and his aviators replayed the attacks on Santa Fe, ascertained who engaged first, (it was Stanley) and who might get the decorations if any. The helos had returned victorious from their attacks by1030 but it was not until 1330 that Young agreed to put ashore the landing force. Without the formality of an O Group, Sheridan gave hasty orders to his officers at 1345.?

Sheridan's plan was simple and quick of execution. His landing force, seventy-five men, was less than half its intended size. Because he had only five helicopters --- two were destroyed on Fortuna Glacier but two small Lynx had arrived on HMS Brilliant --- he could land only twenty men at a time. Landings are best made at dawn to use a full day's light; circumstances gave Sheridan at most five hours from takeoff to win the battle. He had, however, regained one precious asset, the four naval guns on Antrim and Plymouth.The marine's plan encompassed two pieces of vital high ground: Brown Mountain is eleven hundred feet high, it lies south from Grytviken and a few hundred yards across King Edward Cove; and Bore Valley Pass that lay west and behind Grytviken. Seizure of these two dominating points virtually guaranteed Grytviken's submission. Sheridan ordered Delves' SAS group to secure the landing site, Hestesletten a morain at the base of Brown Mountain. As soon as the second wave had landed and established its position Delves was ordered to "advance to contact" that is engage hostile forces and seize the top of Brown Mountain. Sheridan and his command element would land after the second group had secured the landing site from which Delves should already have pushed off. At this point helicopters would lift the remaining troops from Plymouth and Endurance to Bore Valley Pass in order to give supporting fire to the main body as it advanced from Brown Mountain into Grytviken.

GunfireSheridan's fire plan, worked out with LtCol Eve RA, was critical to his mission's success. The four guns on Antrim and Plymouth were his only artillery. Ten minutes before the first element landed, at1335, British 4.5'' shells rained in great profusion on Hestesletten, the landing site, a flat patch of rocky earth at the foot of Brown Mountain. Hestesletten though small was the only flat surface close to Brown Mountain that was suitable for helo landings and troops' assembly. It had to be made safe. Fifteen minutes later the fire switched to the top of Brown Mountain as the SAS men emerged from the helos to secure the landing site. No enemy fire greeted Delves' men then or later that day. The naval gunfire killed no one and destroyed no positions but it was a precisely timed demonstration of accurate shooting well seen and heard by the Argentinean garrison(60). Sheridan ordered in his second group, Royal Marines, and then arrived himself at1535 with his command element and medics. Already short of daylight Sheridan was livid with rage at Delves who had not obeyed orders to advance to contact enemy forces in the direction of Brown Mountain and to seize its summit. Delves replied that an Argentine position lay at the mountain's top. Sheridan ordered Delves again to advance and Delves moved forward over stony ground onto and up Brown Mountain. As a preliminary to their attack, the SAS men fired Milan missiles at a suspected enemy position only to discover that they had killed two seals who were disporting themselves on the banks of the Penguin River. No Argentinean troops awaited Delves and his men on Brown Mountain.

Sheridan's advance met no opposition nor was a hostile shot fired at the advancing British troops. While the British scurried to the top of Brown Mountain naval gunfire shifted to its third phase. Sheridan had been ordered to avoid whereever possible damage to BAS buildings and to persons. Accordingly his fire plan's third phase directed ships' gunfire to land over and behind the BAS buildings and the Argentinean defensive positions. The defending Argentinian troops then realized that only a slight adjustment meant heavy fire onto them. Before South Georgia the Argentine marines had never been under fire let alone that of accurately registered naval guns. At 1705, ninety minutes after his arrival, Sheridan saw two white flags fluttering from the main buildings in Grytviken. He called off the landing in Bore Valley Pass and began the three kilometer march in Grytviken. Delves' SAS men leaped forward and he declined to answer Sheridan's call to halt. Sheridan called Antrim for a helicopter that took him into Grytviken to accept the surrender from the Argentinean commanding officer, LtCdr Luis Lagos. Sheridan took the surrender himself ashore as light failed.

Signing of the surrenderOn 26 April 1982 a bare three weeks after Port Stanley fell, the commander of Argentine forces on South Georgia Lt Cdr Lagos had signed the formal instrument of surrender in the BAS base at King Edward Point. Dispite the delays, the navy's unfamiliarity with amphibious operations, the failed reconnaissance, the threat real or imagined of submarine attack, the ramshackle command structure, the dispersion of his assault force, the SAS' faulty motors on their gemini boats and the near disaster of Fortuna Glacier Sheridan put the best face on the nasty business of war. He had completed his military mission with no casualties to his own men or to the enemy either(61).

Just after Lagos' surrender of all Argentine forces (130+ Men) on South Georgia, Lcdr. Astiz who commanded the fifteen Argentinean marines at Leith was told to lay down arms prior to the arrival of a British force on the morning of the 26th or to accept the consequences. The surrender of the main Argentinean garrision, the sound and fury of the naval guns and the certain presence of British troops quickly extinguished his prolix bravado and he yielded. The picture shown in the world's press of Astiz signing an instrument of surrender aboard Plymouth in Leith gave a false impression that Astiz was surrendering Argentinean forces on South Georgia. In fact the garrison's surrender under law took place on the previous day ashore in BAS quarters. Astiz signed only for the fifteen Argentinean marines in Leith; his act duplicated unecessarily Lagos' capitulation to Sheridan of all Argentinean forces on South Georgia the day before(62). Even in defeat Astiz sought and was granted the limelight.

ThactherSheridan the land force commander was stunned to receive from Northwood a message asking his list of those to be decorated for the victory. Thatcher held a jubilant al fresco press conference outside No 10 Downing Street: "Just rejoice at that news and congratulate our forces and the marines ... Rejoice"(63). South Georgia was not a victory for which combat decorations might have issued because there was no ground combat. Sheridan's landing force had received no incoming fire and suffered no casualties(64). In fact the operation was a string of blunders rescued from utter disaster mainly by the moral and physical courage of Major J. M. G. Sheridan RM and Lcdr. Ian Stanley RN. True many others had been cold, wet, tired and in danger of losing their lives to the weather but none had shown valor in the face of enemy fire because there had been no military opposition. That would come later.

Operation Paraquat was a slip shod affair conducted by a high command that did not pair adequate human or material resources to the task. It diverted resources from the main goal, seizure of Port Stanley. The excuse could be made that a first try at amphibious warfare was bound to be difficult but that does not vindicate dispersing the assault force before a World War 2 diesel submarine away from its target beach nor does it justify the poor decision making that went into the Fortuna Glacier incident or the Grass Island reconnaissance. The SAS failed in South Georgia because they used equipment known to be faulty, because they did not credit mountain men with more experience than they and because fate and nature do not care how clever or strong humans claim themselves to be.

Flag raisedSheridan's capture of Grytviken and Leith showed the many sides to this small war. A small and bloodless military affair metamorphosed into a major political victory. If ever the Royal Marines had proven their worth to the politicians this was the occasion. Thatcher was not yet the Warrior Queen, that would take blood, time and Port Stanley's seizure, but she had restored British sovereignty to a tiny bit of hijacked property. She could, moreover, hold a cabinet together long enough to gain a much needed victory because a few Royal Marines took the initiative and won a dicey military engagement 8000 miles from home. For the first time since Suez a British Prime Minister undertook diplomatic/military responsabilities outside NATO, risked blood, treasure and her job and prevailed dispite a clumsy military command and control system about which she knew very little. British professional military, especially pilots and infantry, finished the job, heroically so in some instances, despite their seniors' lapses. The Argentine military, on the other hand, had no rationized plan for the defense of their new holdings. The Argentine Navy demonstrated strategic and tactical incompetence in the loss of Santa Fe. It would not come out again to fight in the face of submarine and surface opposition.

Systemic flaws surfaced, too. The reconnaisance practices of the Special Warfare units needed refinement and equipment up to their tasks. The SAS was willing to overman an operation, compromise the operation's command and control system, overburden ships and logistics and risk incomprehensably in order to gain a place in the sun. Too many of those involved refused to accept perfectly good intelligence because it did not oringinate from within. The Royal Navy did not have a grip on the essence and purpose of amphibious operations, getting troops ashore. Yet these shortcomings did not overwhelm. Down deep in the Corps of the Royal Marines, far from desks and parade grounds, rather junior officers and enlisted men possessed a competence and an obduracy that would overcome enormous obstacles even those posed by their own side.

Falklands War Documents - U.S. Embassy Buenos Aires, Confidential cable

April 22, 1982 – A Considered Argentine View of the Situation
U.S. Embassy Buenos Aires, Confidential cable

The U.S. Embassy sends a report containing numerous fine tuned perceptions by a secret Argentine source of how the crisis will unfold in Argentina and the repercussions for Galtieri's future. Among other things, the source, 

"A well informed politician who has served in and generally supports the military government" speculates, "If there is a major incident  in which large numbers of Argentines are killed ("A ship is sunk and 400 die") the public will be uncontrollable. Among their targets will be the U.S. Embassy, he said."

Images From Indo-US Naval Exercise Malabar

The ships involved in Exercise Malabar 2012 were Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson, Ticonderoga-class guided missile cruiser USS Bunker Hill, Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer USS Halsey and Supply-class fast combat support and logistics ship USNS Bridge. Los Angeles-class nuclear fast attack submarine USS Louisville, Lockheed-Martin P3C Orion and Northrop-Grumman E-2 Hawkeye AEW aircraft were also fielded. The Indian Navy fielded indigenously-built Project 17 stealth frigate INS Satpura, Kashin-class guided missile destroyers INS Ranvir and INS Ranvijay, guided missile corvette INS Kulish and fleet replenishment tanker INS Shakti. 

U.S. Army Places $20.4 Million Order for AeroVironment RQ-20A Puma AE Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems

• Puma production milestone achieved with 1,000th air vehicle
• United States Air Force assigns Mission Design Series designation RQ-20A to Puma AE system

AeroVironment (NASDAQ: AVAV) today announced it received a firm fixed-price order valued at $20,430,433 from the U.S. Army for RQ-20A Puma AE™ small unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) on March 27, 2012. The Puma AE systems will provide intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities for security, route clearance operations and overall battle space awareness to U.S. forces in Afghanistan. Delivery is scheduled within 30 days.

Separately, AeroVironment announced the production and delivery of its 1,000th Puma AE air vehicle, reflecting strong interest in and demand for the capabilities provided by the Puma AE system. In parallel, the United States Air Force approved the Mission Design Series designation RQ-20A for the Puma AE UAS. This designation establishes the Puma system alongside AeroVironment’s RQ-11B Raven®; system as a designated military aircraft.

“The Puma AE system continues to provide critical force protection and force multiplication capabilities to our military at a fraction of the cost of larger manned and unmanned aircraft systems,” said Tom Herring, AeroVironment senior vice president and general manager of its Unmanned Aircraft Systems business segment. “Our small unmanned systems are ideal as they give small tactical units eyes in the sky surveillance and intelligence over a broad area.”

The United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) selected the Puma UAS in 2008 for its AECV program after a full and open competition, the fourth U.S. Department of Defense competition for programs of record involving small UAS and the fourth such competition won by AeroVironment. In 2011 the United States Army assumed management of the AECV program. Each Puma system consists of three air vehicles and two ground control systems. The air vehicle carries an integrated electro-optical and infrared gimbaled video camera, is designed for enhanced survivability in land and maritime environments, and can operate effectively in foul weather and over rugged terrain. Its quiet operation, stabilized imagery and precision landing capability make Puma systems easy to operate and recover. The Puma air vehicle weighs 13 pounds, is battery powered and has a flight endurance of two hours.

Lockheed Martin F-35 Carrier Variant Completes First Formation Flight

For the first time, two Lockheed Martin [NYSE: LMT] F-35C Lightning II carrier variant test aircraft launched together and conducted formation flying at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Md., Wednesday. The test aircraft, known as CF-1 and CF-2, were piloted by Navy Cdr. Eric Buus and Marine Corps Lt. Col. Matt Taylor, respectively. The mission tested flying qualities of the aircraft while taking off, landing and flying in formation for more than one hour.

Headquartered in Bethesda, Md., Lockheed Martin is a global security and aerospace company that employs about 123,000 people worldwide and is principally engaged in the research, design, development, manufacture, integration and sustainment of advanced technology systems, products and services. The Corporation's net sales for 2011 were $46.5 billion.

US Navy to start P-8 operational tests in the summer

The US Navy is set to start operational testing of the Boeing P-8 Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft this summer.

"What we're looking forward to this year, really, is our initial operational test and evaluation of the programme," says Captain Aaron Rondeau, the USN's Poseidon programme manager.

Those formal operational tests will start this summer and should take about six months, but could run through to the end of the year. There have already been some operational evaluation activities that have been completed thanks to the integration of the developmental and operational test teams. Should that all go according to plan, the P-8 will be declared operational in the third quarter of 2013.

Once the fleet starts transitioning to the new jet, operational squadrons will convert over to the Poseidon every six months with Increment 1 aircraft.

 us navy p-8 poseidon, boeing

While the current Increment 1 capability on the P-8 will be an improved version of what is on the upgraded Lockheed Martin P-3 Orion-which the Poseidon will replace, there are a host of improvements that are planed for the new Boeing 737-based jet.

The first major upgrade will be Increment 2, but that effort has been split into two parts, says Boeing's P-8 business development director David Robinson. The incremental upgrade is being developed with Australian participation.

The first part of that effort is to equip the aircraft with a new Multi-static Active Coherent (MAC) system, which has been accelerated to be fielded in fiscal year 2014. That will enable the fast, high-flying jet to search for enemy submarines over a much larger area with a network of active and passive sonar buoys.

"The major focus is on the anti-submarine warfare," Robinson says. "MAC is a major portion of Increment 2."

The other part of the Increment 2 upgrade includes the Automatic Identification System, which would allow the P-8 to read ships' transponders, a new computer architecture to add rapidly add new capabilities, a new tactical operations centre (TOC), and a high altitude anti-submarine warfare (ASW) system.

The high altitude ASW system, which is a collection of sonar buoys, would enable the P-8 to take a closer look at "areas of interest" generated by the MAC, Robinson says. "You'd be able do both [MAC and high altitude ASW] at the same time," he says.

The TOC would allow a MQ-4 Broad Area Maritime Surveillance (BAMS) drone to coordinate seamlessly with the P-8, and would allow the Poseidon to better manage its various ASW activities and sensors. Those capabilities should become operational around fiscal year 2015.

A follow-on Increment 3 capability is not yet been fully defined, but will include the ability to have some level of control of the BAMS, Rondeau says. It would also have further architecture improvements to allow for roll-on/roll-off capabilities that might enable the jet to take over certain intelligence-gathering missions currently assigned to the Lockheed Martin EP-3 Aries, he adds. It would also have a new high-altitude ASW weapon and a new "digital, net-ready" anti-surface ship weapon that would improve upon on the existing Harpoon missile.

It might also incorporate J-series inertially-guided satellite-correct weapons and the advanced airborne sensor (AAS) littoral surveillance radar.

India's new frigate INS Teg to be inducted April 27

To give a boost to its naval warfare capability, India will induct on April 27 a new warship into its fleet, when INS Teg, built in Russia, is handed over to its crew, a senior Indian Navy officer said here Friday.

"The first of the three Teg-class frigates will be inducted into the Indian Navy April 27," Chief of Material Vice Admiral Ganesh Mahadevan said here.

INS Teg is the first of three guided missile frigates of the modified INS Talwar-class that India commissioned Russian shipyard Yantar to build.

INS Teg will be followed by induction of INS Tarkash and INS Trikand in the next one year or so.

Russia had taken out INS Teg for sea trials earlier this year in the Baltic Sea and completed the tests between March 5 and April 7 this year.

The Yantar shipyard had said earlier this month that all on-board systems on INS Teg including armaments were tested in the presence of Indian Navy officers and the frigate proved to be fully ready for final stage of acceptance trials.

The three Teg-class frigates have modern technologies on board, Mahadevan said, noting that these warships have been modified from the original three-ship Talwar class.

Talwar, Trishul and Tabar are the three first modified Krivak-III class frigates that India ordered from Russia and these three ships have been doing service, having made a mark during the anti-piracy patrols in the Gulf of Aden and achieving "kills" of pirate mother ships.

India's order for the Talwar-class ships was placed with Russia in 2006 for $1.6 billion.

INS Teg was laid down at Yantar in 2007. INS Tarkash and INS Trikand are at various stages of construction

Boustead showcasing a DCNS Gowind corvette tweaked to Royal Malaysian Navy needs at DSA 2012

Navy Recognition team who was attending the DSA 2012 Defense exhibition in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia was able to gather fresh information regarding the future Gowind corvettes of the Royal Malaysian Navy. While the negotiations are still ongoing, signature of the contract should happen soon according to an official from Boustead. The same person gave us an updated list of systems that will likely be found on those new corvettes.
Navy Recognition team who was attending the DSA 2012 Defense exhibition in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia was able to gather fresh information regarding the future Gowind corvettes of the Royal Malaysian Navy. While the negotiations are still ongoing, signature of the contract should happen soon according to an official from Boustead. The same person gave us an updated list of systems that will likely be found on those new corvettes.

Gowind model at Boustead stand during DSA 2012

According to this source, the Gowind corvette for Royal Malaysian Navy will likely sports the following weapons:

    Bofors 57 mm Mk 2 for main gun
    MBDA Mica VL for air defense in the VLS cells
    MBDA MM40 BlkIII anti-ship missiles
    2x 30mm guns from MSI-Defence Systems Ltd located on top of the helicopter hanger

Navy Recognition team who was attending the DSA 2012 Defense exhibition in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia was able to gather fresh information regarding the future Gowind corvettes of the Royal Malaysian Navy. While the negotiations are still ongoing, signature of the contract should happen soon according to an official from Boustead. The same person gave us an updated list of systems that will likely be found on those new corvettes.

Regarding sensors, the Malaysian Gowinds should come with:

    TMEO Mk2 - TMX/EO Electro-optical tracking and fire control system by Rheinmetall
    SMART-S Mk2 3D multibeam radar by Thales
    Thales Captas for sonar (We could not get confirmation on the type: Nano or another model)

As expected, the combat managed system will be the SETIS by DCNS.
Navy Recognition team who was attending the DSA 2012 Defense exhibition in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia was able to gather fresh information regarding the future Gowind corvettes of the Royal Malaysian Navy. While the negotiations are still ongoing, signature of the contract should happen soon according to an official from Boustead. The same person gave us an updated list of systems that will likely be found on those new corvettes.

The generic Gowind designed by DCNS is a multi-mission corvette (100 metres, over 2,000 tonnes), A fully militarised platform, she has a comprehensive Mission Management System for full-scale multi-threat missions, including a complete ASW suite with towed array sonar and improved stealth and survivability.
Navy Recognition team who was attending the DSA 2012 Defense exhibition in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia was able to gather fresh information regarding the future Gowind corvettes of the Royal Malaysian Navy. While the negotiations are still ongoing, signature of the contract should happen soon according to an official from Boustead. The same person gave us an updated list of systems that will likely be found on those new corvettes.

Specifications of the Boustead built vessels (as of now) are as follow:

Length: 107 meters
Breadth: 16 meters
Full load displacement: 2,730 tonnes
Max speed: 28 knots
Crew: 106
Range: 5,000 nm
Endurance: 21 days

We were told however that these figures were subject to change (as well as the final hull design) depending on the final configuration picked by the Royal Malaysian Navy. First cut of the head of class is expect for early next year (2013).

Argentine Woe Continues - Fitch warns Argentina on “growing diplomatic isolation” and “investment shortages”

In an article posted on the Fitch Wire credit market commentary page the rating agency slammed Argentina for its government’s decision to seize a majority stake in YPF from Spain’s Repsol as announced by President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner on Monday.

 “Western oil firms are likely to view expansion in Argentina with extreme caution”

Fitch expressed on Friday its concern over what it called Argentina’s “a growing diplomatic isolation” and warned the country could face investments shortages.

“We do foresee increased regulatory uncertainty, growing diplomatic isolation, and the potential continuation of unorthodox government policies. We expect this to curtail foreign direct investment (FDI) in key sectors such as energy, utilities, and telecom,” alerted Fitch.

Fitch stressed the government move generates insecurities amongst investors. “This week's move to nationalize YPF, formerly majority-owned by Repsol of Spain, introduces another layer of uncertainty for foreign companies contemplating investment in Argentina,” said the article. “

“Foreign firms already face big hurdles related to foreign exchange controls and restrictions on dividend payments,” Fitch added.

The rating agency pointed out that, even though Argentina is reaching out for the Chinese, Western powers are to remain extremely caution and hesitant to invest in Argentina.

“Possible investment shortfalls in the oil and gas sector could in part be addressed by increased investment by Chinese companies such as Sinopec, which has already invested heavily in Latin American energy projects. However, Western oil firms are likely to view expansion in Argentina with extreme caution, not only as a result of the YPF nationalization, but also because of the government's ongoing intervention in the domestic market through subsidies and price controls.”

Additionally, Fitch also blasted the Argentine government’s trade barriers and other “protectionist measures.”

“In the wake of Argentina's recent moves to tighten import licensing requirements and restrict foreign exchange outflows, any additional protectionist steps could force foreign companies operating in the country to limit new direct investment further, potentially eroding the government's efforts to boost investment and production in strategic export-oriented industries,” it concluded.

Argentine Woe - Argentina minimizes impact of Spain’s first retaliatory measures

Argentine President Cristina Fernández minimized Spain’s decision to reduce the bio-diesel imports as a retaliation over the expropriation of YPF and called for “calm” after assuring that Argentina “is in condition to absorb” that production in the domestic market.

CFK replied saying that EC bio-diesel is dearer than Argentina’s and will impact in the Spanish economy

“We won’t question Spain’s sovereign decision, no matter which one it takes. They are going to pay their businessmen a more expensive bio-diesel and I don’t know how that will impact their economy. But I want to tell the Argentines to remain calm, we are in conditions of producing and absorbing that production” the Head of State continued.

Argentina produces three million tons of bio-diesel annually and “at a cheaper price than Spanish manufacturers”.

During a rally in Santa Cruz on Friday, Cristina Fernández reminded that she is “granddaughter of Spaniards” and highlighted the “generosity” with which Argentina received the immigrants from that country after the civil war. “We are always going to answer with that exact generosity,” she assured.

Earlier in the day in what was considered a first measure of retaliation against Argentina Spain announced the restrictions on bio-diesel imports.

“Spain's industry ministry will sign the plan today (Friday), Deputy Prime Minister Soraya Saenz de Santamaria said after the weekly cabinet meeting”.

Spain has been threatening retaliation against Argentina's decision to expropriate a majority stake of oil company YPF from Spanish-owned Repsol.

Santamaria also thanked the “enormous support” Spain received from the international community and reaffirmed the Spanish government disposition to “keep looking for new measures” to put pressure on Argentina.

According to official data, Argentina is the world’s main supplier of bio-diesel almost exclusively from soy oil, and last year exports reached 1.7 million tons of which 700.000 tons, equivalent to 985 million dollars were exported to Spain.

Cristina Fernandez said Argentina would not be presenting any claims before international organizations because of Spain’s retaliatory decision.

“We’re not going to appeal to the World Trade Organization nor are we going to complaint about the decision to block Argentine exports. We don’t act that way”, said the Argentine president adding that “we are hard working people and very respectful of other peoples’ sovereignty”.

Argentine Woe - Astori tells Spanish businesses “Uruguay, an attractive and safe” country for investors

Vice president Danilo Astori currently on a business trip to Spain described Uruguay as an “attractive and safe” country to invest given its macroeconomic solidness, strength of its institutions and stimuli for investors, both domestic and from overseas.
Uruguayan Vice president Astori is a special guest of the real estate conference in Madrid.
“I invite Spanish businesses to invest in Uruguay, a country with a long term strategy which is based on an open economy to the world”, said Astori who is visiting the International Real Estate conference (SIMA) in Madrid, in which Uruguay this year is a special guest.

The four day event which has 150 stands and almost 400 promotion desks offers real estate opportunities in such distant places as Uruguay, Florida in the US, Dominican Republic and Russia.

“Uruguay has all the conditions that make an ideal country to invest, not only its proved and sustained macroeconomic policies but also strong institutions and a whole range of stimuli for investors in different fields”, underlined Astori.

The Uruguayan leader said that real estate is one of several other areas which are promising for investors: he mentioned infrastructure, tourism, transport, energy and services.

“Uruguay has ample spaces to expand investments”, pointed out Astori who revealed that Spanish energy companies have shown a big interest in Uruguay and “we hope to see them sometime in the near future”.

“It’s quite clear, Uruguay is safe and is profitable for investments; just ask those who preceded you, but we want more investments, there’s much to be done and we appreciate Spanish expertise”.

Finally Astori said that bilateral relations with Spain “couldn’t be better” and recalled that Spain figures among the main investor countries in Uruguay.

Astori also had an interview with Spanish Vice-president Soraya Saenz de Santamaria and acknowledged all the support Spain has always provided in areas such as institutional and cultural cooperation.

Argentina - CFK assures Spain's biodiesel imports restriction will not affect the country

President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner minimized Spain’s decision to reduce the biodiesel imports as a retaliation over the expropriation of YPF and called for “tranquility” after assuring that Argentina “is in condition to absorb” that production in the domestic market.

“We won’t question Spain’s sovereign decision, no matter which one it takes. They are going to pay their businessmen a more expensive biodiesel and I don’t know how that will impact their economy. But I want to tell the Argentines to remain calmed, we are in conditions of producing and absorbing that production,” the Head of State continued.

During a rally in Santa Cruz, Fernández de Kirchner reminded that she is “granddaughter of Spaniards” and highlighted the “generosity” with which Argentina received the immigrants from that country after the civil war. “We are always going to answer with that exact generosity,” she assured.

Language-labeled: Estonia brands inmates ‘Nazi-style’?

A scandal is brewing in Estonia, where inmates are reportedly labeled according to how fluent they are in the national language. The practice is reminiscent of how Nazi Germany marked Jews, homosexuals and other categories of people in death camps.

Some Estonian inmates now bear the letters A, B or C on their clothes, representing the level of their language skills, says Director of the Institute of the Estonian Language Urmas Sutrop. Those barely able to communicate are labeled with “A”, “B” is reserved for those with average level, while fluent speakers are tagged with “C”.

Inmates who cannot speak Estonian at all are not marked in any way, Sutrop told the Postimees newspaper, citing a letter he had received from a prisoner.

The tags are an addition to the usual ID badges that inmates in Estonia have to wear.

“The inmate says this is very humiliating. I asked the Justice Ministry if it was true. They said it is. They said the initiative was sponsored by the inmates themselves. I asked the language inspection and they agreed with me that such labeling is wrong. They browsed through legislation and failed to find a law that would justify such actions,” he said.

Sutrop did not specify which Estonian prison labels people in that way. He stressed that the practice “is reminiscent of the Holocaust times, when Jews had a yellow Star of David attached to their chests. They branded Jews in Estonia this way from September 11, 1941.”

In addition to marking the Jewish civilian population, Nazi Germany used a color-marking system at its concentration camps. Prisoners had triangles sewn to their clothes. For instance, political prisoners wore red triangles, forced laborers wore blue ones, homosexuals and rapists wore pink marks and so on.

The Estonian government has been actively promoting the national language since the Baltic country became sovereign in 1991. The drive however came at a cost of alienating its large Russian-speaking minority. They either have to pass a rigorous language test to be granted citizenship or remain stateless.

 At the same time, use of Russian has been discouraged, provoking numerous conflicts both on everyday relations level and in the diplomatic sphere.

China says India is a 'partner, not rival' after missile launch

China downplayed India's successful missile launch this week, saying that the two sides are not rivals but cooperating partners.

"China and India are both emerging countries, we are not rivals but cooperation partners," said Liu Weimin, China's foreign ministry spokesman, on Thursday. "We believe the two countries should cherish the hard-won momentum of sound bilateral relations, promote bilateral friendship and cooperation and make active contributions to regional peace and stability."

India's government touted the successful Thursday launch of the Agni V missile -- with a range of 5,000 kilometers (3,100 miles) capable of hitting cities as far as Shanghai -- as a milestone for the country.

"This launch has given a message to the entire world that India has the capability to design, develop, build and manufacture missiles of this class, and we are today a missile power," VK Saraswat, chief of the Defence Research and Development Organisation, told India's Economic Times.
What India missile test means for region
India tests long-range rocket

The Agni V missile is a 17.5-meter-tall (75-feet), three-stage missile designed to carry a 1.5-ton nuclear warhead and is expected to be ready for use by the armed forces in 2014 following a series of tests, the report said.

India's major media outlets touted the launch as India's entry into an elite club of countries, including the United States and Russia. But China's state-backed Global Times newspaper reported in an editorial that, "India shouldn't overestimate its strength."

"India should be clear that China's nuclear power is stronger and more reliable," the editorial said. "For the foreseeable future, India would stand no chance in an overall arms race with China."

While China has not perceived India as a threat, experts say India has boosted military spending in recent years in part due to China's increasing dominance in the Indian Ocean. The two sides fought a war in 1962 over border issues.

"This launch is a part of India's development and modernization," said Ye Hailin, an international relations expert at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. "Some reports of the perceived threats have been exaggerated and I think we should take a step back from this rather than jump to conclusions."

Australia - Obsolete Collins fleet 'a lost cause'

Commander Harrap, a 20-year navy veteran, said Australia's submarines had 'the least reliable diesel engines ever built'. 

A SUBMARINE commander has quit the navy, describing the Collins-class fleet as obsolete and unsustainable and saying the boats are kept running only by the "sheer determination of the crews at sea".

In comments that will rattle the Defence hierarchy, Commander James Harrap, a 20-year navy veteran, said Australia's submarines had "the least reliable diesel engines ever built", and attempts to upgrade the boats would be a waste of money because their performance would only get worse.

"I don't believe the Collins-class are sustainable in the long term and many of the expensive upgrade plans which have been proposed would be throwing good money after bad," he said in a written account of his time as commander, obtained by Submariners World.

Commander Harrap, who has commanded both HMAS Waller and, until last month, HMAS Collins, said: "Lack of available stores inventory, increased equipment failure rates and submarines living with reduced capability is something I expect will persist for the remaining life of the class.

"I do not believe we have the capability to independently design and build our own submarines."

Commander Harrap's comments contradict a message sent to all sailors at sea yesterday by navy chief Vice Admiral Ray Griggs, who staunchly defended the performance of the fleet.

In a signal sent to all ships, Vice Admiral Griggs said "ongoing and concerted efforts to improve overall reliability" of the boats were succeeding.

"I remain confident in the capacity of the submarine force to meet the operational requirements of government," he said.

Vice Admiral Griggs was responding to a report released this week by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, which raised questions about the war-fighting ability of the submarines given their history of chronic problems.

Commander Harrap says that despite the unreliability of the submarines, he believes the Collins-class boats had "serviced the navy well and achieved much", including many unheralded successes.

However, the bulk of his five-page account of his experience is sharply critical of the submarines.

"Over the last two years, I believe these problems have become worse," he wrote. "Throughout my command of both Collins and Waller, full capability was never available and frequently over 50 per cent of the identified defects were awaiting stores.

"Collins has consistently been let down by some fundamental design flaws, leading to poor reliability and inconsistent performance. The constant stream of defects and operation control limitations makes getting to sea difficult, staying at sea harder and fighting the enemy a luxury only available once the first two have been overcome."

Falklands War - Argentine Occupation Forces Photos - Gallery 3