January 28, 2021

China 096 SSBNs firing JL-3s: Strategy around 2028.

Drawing from the South China Morning Post’s, January 24, 2021 article also from Wikipedia and the US DoD's China Military Power Report 2020: 

The JL-3, China’s latest submarine launched ballistic missile (SLBM), is designed for use in China’s future Type 096 SSBN .


The Type 096 is likely to be a larger derivative of China’s existing Type 094 SSBN. Larger in part to accommodate 12-16 longer and/or larger diameter JL-3s. The 096 will also be larger as it will likely have a larger, quieter, longer fuel life nuclear reactor all pointing to a  longer, heavier, reactor space. The 096 may be launched and commissioned in the mid 2020s with integration of JL-3’s taking an extra 2-3 years. Hence China may have a mature 096 - JL-3 weapon system by 2028 (or later).


Unlike the preceding JL-2 SLBM each JL-3 is expected to have multiple MIRVed warheads. The number of warheads per missile often begins with 3. The first JL-3 test launch was in 2018.

In contrast to the JL-2’s range of around 7,200 km the JL-3 may have a range more than 10,000 km.  One US source estimates a longer JL-3 range of 12,100 km - although that figure may be an effort to claim that the JL-3 (with presumably reduced load - maybe one warhead) has a longer range that the US Trident D5’s 12,000+ km range (with reduced load - maybe one warhead). 

It is expected the JL-3’s range will be insufficient to hit the US mainland (contiguous 48 states) from a South China Sea launch point. However, from 096s operating out of China's Southern Theater naval bases (see map below) in the South China Sea JL-3s could hit 3 of China's potential enemies. That is provide a secure second strike capability against India and Russia and also psychologically threaten Australia

"Major China Naval Units" (Map courtesy US DoD's 
China Military Power Report 2020 page 49.)


094s already operate from Yulin, Hainan SSBN base, Southern Theater Navy, providing access to the South China Sea. In a “bastion” naval strategy these 094s are protected by Chinese air and surface ship bases, SSNs and SSKs in Southern bases. These defenses are augmented by sensors sited on and between China's newly built islands. Future 096s operating in the South China Sea will continue to get this protection, particularly if they are noisy, like the 094s. 

China also recognises its current submarine bases continue to be hemmed in by the First Island Chain sensors and forces, including Western fixed sensors (SOSUS open sea and smaller chokepoint nodal sensors) and mobile sensors (aircraft, ships, subs and satellites which still patrol and dominate). 

To permanently break through the First Island Chain China would need a "forward operating base" for some of its SSBNs or a neutralised ex-Western alliance archipelago. A base in the eastern Philippines or a neutralised Philippines archipelago might be ideal. Only after breaking through to the Pacific east of the Third Island Chain will a 096 - JL-3 combination be able to hit all 50 of the United States.

In part assisted by a quicker COVID recovery, by 2028, as China's nominal GDP begins to surpass the USA's, China will be able to afford the 096, JL-3 and new bases. China then will approach dominance regionally in the Western Pacific, while US naval power is diluted by US global responsibilities.


January 25, 2021

Russian APS Underwater Rifle: For Backyard Pools?

A friend from Texas has drawn my attention to the underwater assault rifle below. Every gun owner (with a swimming pool) should have one. No telling when an intruder will take a dip.

APS Underwater Assault Rifle (Photo courtesy "Remigiusz Wilk (REMOV) own work" via Wikipedia)

The video here and below struts the Soviet/Russian developed and still (perhaps restricted export) APS Underwater Rifle. This baby, with its 26 round magazine, fires bolts which work better underwater than conventional nose bullets. Range (5m deep) is advertised as 30m - and in the air, 100m. It also works much better than spear-guns.

Current and/or former users are special forces divers in Russia, its former allies, as well as China, India and Indonesia. Perhaps US SEALS  have tested it.   

Other countries make generally shorter barrelled, submachine gun or pistol sized underwater weapons like the Heckler & Koch P11 pistol. Shorter barrelled weapons do have an 2 advantages - being lighter and quicker/easier to swing around. The latter is a major issue given water resistance when more slowly swinging around a longer weapon, with a large magazine.


January 22, 2021

New “BZM evo” AIP PEM fuel cells to be on 212CD submarines?

Following this January 11, 2021 article Anonymous kindly commented [with editing and photo/artwork added by Pete]:

Siemens has developed a new AIP PEM fuel cell module, known as “BZM evo”. The BZM evo  combines the advantages of the BZM34 (34kW) module and the BZM120 (120kW) module. The BZM evo module further optimizes power density [1,2].

A TKMS Type 212A submarine is equipped with nine BZM34 modules (ie. 8 x 34kW = 272kW and 1 backup). If a future Type 212CD is equipped with 12 BZM evos (ie. 12 x 40kW = 480kW), then a 212CD may show improved underwater performance compared with the current 212A [in terms of fully submerged speed and/or longer time fully submerged].

[1] See UDT’s 2020 Presentation at entitled “The 4th generation of Siemens fuel cell modules for submarine propulsion” by Michael Moersch, who is Sales Manager, Navy Vessels, at Siemens Gas and Power GmbH & Co. KG, Erlangen.

In section 2 of Moersch’s presentation he writes “A single BZM evo provides a nominal power of 40 kW. Future plants consisting of several single units will supply a maximum power of 320 – 480 kW into the grid without exceeding the footprint of an existing BZM34 or BZM120 plant.”

In section 4 of Moersch’s presentation he concludes: “The BZM evo is a further optimized system from the SINAVY Fuel Cells family/series and already Siemens` 4th generation after utilizing the first 3 generations on the German submarine FGS U1, HDW class U212A, TKMS class 214, Dolphin AIP and others.

Finding its place both on conventional submarines and on future applications like UUVs or AIEPs [air independent emergency propulsion] what is an "AIEP"?] will be Siemens’ utmost concern for the naval market.

The BZM evo is designed to fulfil the requirements of new systems and retrofits of older AIP plants and should be available on the market from 2023, or a year earlier for UUV integration.”

UDT’s 2020 Presentation displays the photos/artwork below, including:

Fig. 2. The new BZM evo.

Fig. 1. The well proven fuel cell module BZM34.

Fig. 3. Siemens’ land based demonstrator inside a UUV application.

(and finally) Fig. 4. Live demonstration running certain mission profiles.

[2] Type 212As are equipped with 9 x BZM34s without a pressure vessel and 2 x BZM120s with pressure vessel, respectively. Therefore Wiki article https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Type_212_submarine where it states “2 HDW/Siemens PEM fuel cells each with 120 kW [on] U32, U33, U34” is wrong. That is in the “General characteristics” section and in the right sidebar.]

Pete Comment 

On balance it appears Type 214s use 2 x BZM120 modules (previously called FCM 120 modules).

See "SINAVY PEM Fuel Cells For Submarines" page 5. which states: "Submarines of Class 214 – operated by the Hellenic [Greek] Navy, Republic of [South] Korea Navy, Portuguese Navy, and in future by the Turkish Navy – are equipped with FCM 120 modules, which were developed in a later phase." and at page 9. "b: fuel-cell battery with FCM 120; coupling via converter at class 214 submarine".

Also called the BZM 120 on 214s at “Fuel Cell Propulsion of Submarines” by Dr. Albert E. Hammerschmidt, of Siemens AG, Erlangen. 

January 21, 2021

Unlikely Australia Wants to End French Submarine Deal

In response to Nicky and David Candy regarding End French Sub Deal and Sweden's latest float of a "Collins II" future submarine concept for Australia idea.

All the following concerns the French-Australian program to design, build and operate 12 future large "Attack-class" conventional, diesel-electric submarines for the Australian Navy.

It is far too early to say and probably unlikely that "Australia [is] Reportedly LookingAt An Alternative To Its Costly New French-DesignedSubmarines". 

I could write a book in response, but I note: 

The breach of contract penalties exacted by France on Australia might amount to A$500 million. Also the Australian Government most probably does not revisit Submarine Controversy after past Australian governments suffered embarrassment over the original Collins "I" Project and PR fiasco, in the 1990s - early 2000s. 

Sweden's submarine makers have had a long term "buy Collins II" campaign in the Australian press that has been less than convincing. By 2014 when Australia's DoD were finalising their future submarine shortlist (down to France, Germany and Japan) Sweden's submarine industry was still in disarray.

In 1999 main Swedish submarine builder, Kockums, had actually been sold to Germany. Germany had made sure Kockums couldn't sell submarines - including to regular Kockums' customer Singapore. Sweden/Saab legally battled to buy Kockums back in 2014.

As at 2014 Sweden had not built a complete submarine for 18 years. Even today Saab-Kockums has not completed its only order - 2 submarines for the Swedish Navy. Back to 2014 Sweden was asking/hoping Australia would make the very large financial risk of buying 12 new submarines designed by Sweden. So Australia assigned preference to fully active submarine builders Germany, Japan and France in 2014. 

Counter-intuitively France won because it offered the Highest Bid in what was really a 2016 Election winning Australian Federal Government multi-Billion dollar subsidy/promise to the key swing state of South Australia. Osborne, Adelaide, South Australia being the shipyard that will build the 12 future French designed subs.

At a rather secret level Australia most probably also opted for France as the extra $Billions to France are a down payment on possible long term future SSNs, SSBNs and even nuclear weapons from France. Germany, Japan and Sweden have no experience building nuclear subs or nuclear weapons and are less "nuclear-for-money" than France. France having designed a future SSN for Brazil (SN-BR). France having built a nuclear weapons Plutonium producing reactor and reprocessing plant for Israel in the 1950s-60s.  

On a current level the Australian Government has regularly voiced its displeasure with missed milestones and cost over-runs in France's Naval Group building Australia's future submarines. French Government owned Naval Group is distracted and late in France's Barracuda SSN and future SSBN projects. Those nuclear sub projects are higher priority for France than the conventional future sub for Australia program.  

Also how much the Australian and French Governments have spent on their domestic COVID budgets comes into it. Australia wants to deter French Government owned Naval Group from seeing the Australia future submarine program as a revenue raising opportunity to cross subsidize France's higher than expected domestic COVID-19 costs.

Returning to Saab-Kockums. Sweden wants to sell 4 Collins II-like future subs to the Netherlands. Sweden again floating a "Collins II" to Australia may give the Netherlands  hope that much design work and price reductions have been already achieved by Sweden in possible future subs for the Netherlands.

So international and domestic politics, not to mention cause and effect, regarding submarine projects, are more multi-leveled the more the projects drift into 10s of $Billions costs.

Some US Police, Soldiers: Militiamen Against US Government

US/Israel academic Arie Perliger for the Australian academic website, The Conversation, January 20, 2021, reports

"Police, soldiers bring lethal skill to militia campaigns against US government"

"Thousands of police and soldiers – people professionally trained in the use of violence and familiar with military protocols – are part of an extremist effort to undermine the U.S. government and subvert the democratic process.

According to an investigative report published in the Atlantic in November into a leaked database kept by the Oath Keepers – one of several far-right and white supremacist militias that stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 – 10% of Oath Keepers are current police officers or military members. Another significant portion of the group’s membership is retired military and law enforcement personnel.

The hate group – founded by a former Army paratrooper after Barack Obama’s 2008 election – claimed “an improbable 30,000 members who were said to be mostly current and former military, law enforcement and emergency first responders” in 2016, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center.

The Three Percenters, another militia present at the Capitol on Jan. 6, also draws a substantial portion of its members from law enforcement, both military and civilian. Larry Brock, a pro-Trump rioter arrested with zip-tie handcuffs, allegedly for taking hostages, is a retired Air Force lieutenant colonel who posted content from the Three Percenters online.

The militia movement is a militarized stream of the American far-right. Its members promote an ideology that undermines the authority and legitimacy of the federal government and stockpile weapons.

When militia members have a professional background with the military or police, it enhances the ability of these groups to execute sophisticated and successful operations. It also helps them convey a patriotic image that obscures the security threat they present.

Man in camouflage, a bulletproof vest and sunglasses stands guard with hands folded
A member of the Oath Keepers at a rally to overturn the 2020 election results at the U.S. Supreme Court on Jan. 5, 2021. Robert Nickelsberg/Getty Images

Longstanding ties

The day before the Biden inauguration, by late afternoon, 12 National Guardsmen deployed to Washington, D.C. had been removed from that duty after an investigation problems in their past; two had apparent ties to right-wing militias.

Far-right elements have always had some presence in U.S. security forces.

Throughout the 20th century, many local police departments were heavily populated with Ku Klux Klan members. The connections between terror groups and law enforcement enabled discrimination and violence against African Americans, Jews and other minorities.

In 1923, all the Black residents of Blandford, Indiana were forced out of town to an unknown location following accusations that an African American man assaulted a young girl. The unlawful “deportation” was conducted and organized by the local sheriff, a Klansman, with the assistance of local Klan chapters.

Head shot of a balding white man with a goatee against a blue background
Wade Michael Page, the U.S. Army veteran who killed six Sikh worshipers in 2014. FBI via Getty Images

Many U.S. military bases have also had cells of neo-Nazi and white supremacist groups throughout the 20th century.

In 1995, three paratroopers from Fort Bragg, in North Carolina, were arrested and charged in the killing of a Black couple in Fayetteville, Arkansas. Two were sentenced to life in prison for the murders. The Army initiated an investigation at the base, which was known for being a hub of the National Alliance, then the country’s most influential American neo-Nazi group.

The Army identified and discharged 19 paratroopers for participating in hate activities. One went on to kill six worshipers in a Sikh temple in Oak Creek, Wisconsin in August 2012. He died in a police shootout.

Growing convergence

Concerns about the penetration of far-right elements into the military and law enforcement have become acute in the last decade with the emergence of militias like the Oath Keepers, which was founded on the principle of recruiting police and military. Oath Keepers pledge to disobey orders on the job which they deem contradict the Constitution.

The militias’ success secretly infiltrating police departments contributed to the emergence of new far-right associations that openly recruit law enforcement, like the Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers of America.

Founded in 2011 by former Arizona sheriff Richard Mack, the group promotes the notion – contrary to the Constitution – that the federal government authorities should be subordinated to local law enforcement. It has more than 500 sheriffs nationwide. Just over half are currently in office.

The Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers of America has pushed its members not to enforce gun control laws and pandemic-related mask regulations that they believe infringe on civil liberties.

Skilled insurrectionists

When members of far-right groups are also professionals sworn to protect the nation or their communities, it makes those groups seem more legitimate.

Authorities may be less likely to treat them as domestic security threats, a categorization that would limit their access to firearms and sensitive locations.

Yet military and police members actually make American militias more effective, according to my research on the violent practices of the American far-right.

Glasses-wearing man in military fatigues poses with an American flag in front of a large crowd
A Texas Militia member at the pro-Trump rally in Washington, D.C., Jan. 6, 2021. Selcuk Acar/NurPhoto via Getty Images

A data set I manage with my team at the University of Massachusetts Lowell and used for my recent book on right-wing terror shows that militia attacks are more lethal than those of other far-right groups. The perpetrators are experienced with weapons and ammunition, and have at least some military training.

Attacks by other far-right groups are, in large measure, initiated by people with limited operational experience, who act spontaneously.

Militias are also more likely to attack secured, high-value targets like government facilities. Timothy McVeigh, the Oklahoma City bomber, is a prime example. He was a Gulf War veteran associated with the Michigan Militia whose bomb killed 168 people at the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in 1995.

The penetration of far-right militants into the ranks of police and the military seems to be driving an increase in direct attacks on police and military targets.

Between 1990 and 2000, 13% of U.S. of militia attacks and plots were aimed at military or police installations or personnel, our data set shows. The proportion jumped to 40% by 2017.

And with their training in surveillance, intelligence collection and public safety, the dangerous activities of militias are generally harder for federal agencies to monitor and counter.

When militias recruit professionals, they are better at waging their radical crusade."

"This story was updated to reflect developing news about security at Biden’s inauguration."