September 4, 2015

How to Trap the Chinese Dragon - SeaWeb's Fixed Undersea Array

What may be past or current SeaWeb undersea array positions (eastern Asia - inner western Pacific sub-section). Map already on Google images as at August 4, 2015 at 2.40 PM Eastern Australian time - courtesy of " 733 × 858" and "japanfocus 683 x 800"


Submarine Matters has focussed on the SeaWeb all platform sea surveillance system since May 2014. Also see October 2014 and May 2015. SeaWeb is not only about surveillance but a system that relies on a huge electronic database with most of the data stored in the US. The closest allies of the US can access and benefit from SeaWeb through a variety of means including installing hardware and software portions of submarine combat systems. 

These “keys” are expensive but may well be worth it. It is important to the US that allies pay “rent” for the installation and maintenance of SeaWeb. SeaWeb is provided not only by US Navy activities and the Navy budget but relies on the legitimate military role of the NSA.

SeaWeb has many mobile and fixed platforms. Mobile include submarines and fixed include undersea arrays. Where the arrays may be historically and/or currently is part of the article below. The article is based around the work of two of Australia’s most resourceful academics, who published a more complete text earlier in 2015. See the article below.


On April 18, 2015, Hamish McDonald published an excellent essay on the Saturday Paper . While the following is just a portion - here is the string for the whole article :

"Japan and US enclose Chinese coast within sensor net

“The US and Japan have quietly cornered the Chinese navy with an undersea surveillance ring that is framing Australia’s defence policy.

…'Fish Hook' line

…a new study by two Australian experts suggests it is the Chinese who are cornered. Desmond Ball, the Australian National University nuclear strategist and analyst of electronic spy craft, and Richard Tanter, of Melbourne University, an expert on North-East Asian security and nuclear issues, suggest Japan and the US have China’s forces surrounded by trip-wires.

Their book, The Tools of Owatatsumi, reported here for the first time, details the networks of undersea hydrophones and magnetic anomaly detectors that, combined with data collected by ground stations, patrol aircraft and satellites, make it virtually impossible for Chinese ships and submarines to break out into the wider ocean undetected. In effect, a line of sensors has been drawn in the sea.

The trip-wire around the Chinese navy extends across the Tsushima Strait between Japan and Korea, and from Japan’s southern main island of Kyushu down past Taiwan to the Philippines. When first revealed, in a little-noticed article by Taiwan military intelligence official Liao Wen-chung in 2005, it was described as a “Fish Hook Undersea Defence Line”.

Controversially, the curve of the hook stretches across the Java Sea from Kalimantan to Java, across the Sunda Strait between Java and Sumatra, and from the northern tip of Sumatra along the eastern side of India’s Andaman and Nicobar island chain. Unlike the northern stretches around Japan and Taiwan, these extensions into South-East Asia would be largely American installed and operated.

Indonesia and India, both historic adherents of non-alignment despite recent warming to the US in the face of rising Chinese power, would be loath to admit to allowing the Americans to wire up their nearby waters, and would be perhaps even more embarrassed to learn that it had been done without their permission or knowledge.

Ball himself is not sure whether these South-East Asian sections of the line consist of fixed acoustic surveillance arrays in the manner of the long northern sections from Tsushima down past the Philippines. “I would expect the more southern segments to have been fully surveyed and prepared for expeditious deployment of other elements of the integrated undersea surveillance system in contingent circumstances,” he told The Saturday Paper.

These include towed arrays trailing behind surface ships and small acoustic sensors that can be scattered across the seabed unobtrusively at short notice in a program called the Advanced Deployable System.

“Outward movement of the Chinese subs based at Hainan would be very closely monitored, whether they headed south or north,” Ball said.

Information sharing between the US and Japan joins the undersea defence line up, effectively drawing a tight arc around South-East Asia, from the Bay of Bengal to Japan. Chinese vessels, above or below water, can’t move in or out of this net without being spotted by their rivals.

It is with all this in mind that one might reconsider the purpose of the US-led Exercise Balikatan in the Philippines – and the presence of the RAAF’s AP-3C Orion. It is for fishing inside the net.

The undersea system has not gone unnoticed by the Chinese. Their surveillance ships have sailed close to the Japanese shore stations where data from the arrays is processed. In 2006, Japan arrested for espionage a naval petty officer at its Tsushima Island anti-submarine base. He had made eight trips to Shanghai and been compromised by a relationship with a hostess from a karaoke bar.

In July 2013, Chinese newspapers reported that Japan and the US had built “very large underwater monitoring systems” north and south of Taiwan, and that large numbers of hydrophones had been installed “in Chinese waters” close to Chinese submarine bases.

…“The underwater approaches to Japan are now guarded by the most advanced submarine detection system in the world,” Ball and Tanter write. In addition, the “Fish Hook” ensures that Chinese submarines are unable to move undetected from either the East China Sea or the South China Sea into the Pacific Ocean. “It suggests that even without recourse to the overwhelming US assets, Japan would be ascendant in any postulated submarine engagement with China,” they said.

…Risk of escalation

However, it raises two uncomfortable conclusions. One is that the US and Japan now have more reason than ever to discourage Taiwan from reunifying with the Chinese mainland, because it would irreparably break the trip-wire.

…This vulnerability brings pressures to escalate any clash – on Japan to take out Chinese naval forces before the ability to track them is lost, on China to take out the shore stations first. Some facilities, such as the Japanese naval data processing centre at White Beach, Okinawa, “might be regarded as sufficiently important to warrant pre-emptive nuclear attack”, they write.

The US could not avoid entanglement. Aside from its treaty obligations to Japan, its own surveillance systems are co-located with Japan’s and the northern sections of the “Fish Hook” are as vital to US interests as those of Japan.

“The US Navy could not abide its degradation,” Ball and Tanter said. “At a minimum it would be compelled to attempt to destroy any Chinese missile-carrying submarines while aware of their locations, before they are able to pass through a broken ‘Fish Hook’ line and come within firing range of the continental United States.”

This is the standoff that our own defence forces are equipping themselves to join – with procurements of advanced submarines, air warfare destroyers, large amphibious ships, Poseidon and F-35 aircraft and drones – backed by “interoperability” with US and Japanese forces, and participation in exercises such as Balikatan.

At least we are starting to get a better idea of what type of engagements Australia should be preparing for, and what kind of conflicts might be regionally ignited.” SEE WHOLE ARTICLE

September 3, 2015

Key TKMS Type 218SG details revealed after partial unveiling (REVISED)

Model of  TKMS-HDW Type 218SG taken at IMDEX ASIA [Singapore, May 19-21] 2015 (Courtesy Defense Studies blog)

Type 218SGs X-plane rudder is similar to the Type 212A's. Photo of model May 2015 (Courtesy "Coffee and Bullets" and Defense Studies blog).

Predictions that the TKMS-HDW Type 218SG would be a renamed Type 214 have been scuttled. TKMS has indicated the 218 weighs around 2,000 tons surfaced and is 70 meters long (while the 214 is up to 1,700 tonnes surfaced and 65 meters long).

MHalblaub correctly pointed out several times a year ago that the combined purchase price of the 2 x 218s was less than US$ 2 Billion - a sum only enough for a slightly evolved design. My original prediction of a much larger 3,000 ton (surfaced) design was incorrect - as a radically new 218 design would have cost considerably more. 

Singapore ordered the 218s in November 2013. The Type 218SGs are being built at TKMS-HDW shipyard at Kiel in northern Germany

Both TKMS and Singapore kept these details secure until May 19, 2015. "Autumn Leaf" in Comments on August 27, 2015 6:32 PM delicately pointed out on Singapore's Submarine Service - from Sweden to Germany, April 27, 2015 what I should have spotted months ago. That is at IMDEX ASIA [Singapore, May 19-21] 2015 TKMS unveiled a model of the 218 along with some major details.

Autumn Leaf identified two references:

From the photos and briefing information (see below) the 218 appears to have features evolved from several TKMS-HDW designs including Types 212A, 214 and Dolphin 2. As they are all SSKs built by TKMS-HDW this evolutionary heritage is not unexpected. 

The 70 meter long 218 is approximately 2,000 tons (surfaced). For comparison the 69 meter long Dolphin 2 is 2,050 tons surfaced.

The 218's beam (width) is 6.3 meters and the 214's beam is also 6.3 meters. The 214's draught is 6.0 meters and the Dolphin 2's draught is 6.2 meters making it likely that the 218's draught is in that narrow range - perhaps 6.1 meters.

One might plausibly describe the 218 as a:

-  214 with a long, 5 meter, plug and a 212A X-plane tail OR

-  a slight derivative of the Dolphin 2 (without the Dolphin 2's cruciform tail but retaining the Dolphin 2's X-plane rudder tail portion.

From Defense Studies the figures TKMS indicated have been bolded here: 

Armament - eight 533-mm torpedo tubes - heavyweight torpedos unknown and cruise missiles.

“torpedo tubes will be used for landing troops and deep sea submersible vehicles for special forces”

The mention of "8 x 533mm torpedo tubes" with part job "used for landing troops and deep sea submersible vehicles for special forces." is contradictory given 533mm's narrowness for troops and vehicles. While 6 tubes may be 533mm one the two remaining tubes might need to be of greater diameter (650mm (as in the Dolphin 2). Or perhaps the 7th and 8th tube places could accommodate what I call a 1.5(?) meter horizontal multi-purpose lock (HMPL) a large diameter tube. A HMPL is seen on the 1,000 ton Type 210mod design (below) which - in design - sacrificed 4 or its previous 8 torpedo tubes.

The 210 (Ula class) is an operating submarine. The diagram depicts a new possibility in a future 210mod - that is a 1.5(?) meter horizontal multi-purpose lock (HMPL) in the torpedo section. This HMPL feature may become part of other new build subs or be retrofitted into existing subs. (Diagram courtesy TKMS website for 210mod)

So the 218s 5 meter plug may enable or be ready for many things including a much larger torpedo room for fitting the HMPL. This enables easier, more rapid operations for swim out divers/special forces, diver delivery vehicle(s), large diameter LDUUV(s), or rapid fire of 6 cruise missiles (+ 6 more in the 6 torpedo tubes).

The 5 meter plug may also or alternatively:

-  provide room in the 218's mid-section behind the sail for diver/special forces accommodation and diver wet-dry chamber

-  and/or vertical multi-purpose lock or provision for a future one OR

-  extra room for a variety of purposes (eg. extra diesel fuel, extra batteries, extra AIP capacity, extra crew accommodation for longer missions).  


The first Type 218SG submarine will be completed in 2020. To enter service two years later, after passing through the sea acceptance tests and final test, as well as the completion of the training program for the crew. Both units should be in line [commissioned by?] 2025.

Length - 70 meters

Width/beam - 6.3 meters

Draught - unknown (but perhaps 6.1 meters)

Displacement (surfaced) - approximately 2,000 tons (submerged displacement unknown - but based on Dolphin 2 figures the 218 submerged displacement may be 2,400 tons) 

Crew/complement - 28 officers and sailors

Diesel Engines - unknown (although likely an MTU product)

Electric motors - unknown (although likely Siemens Permasyn)

Batteries – unknown (lead acid or Li-ion)

Speed and range - unknown.

It has been previously reported the combat system is being developed by Singapore Technologies (ST) Electronics and Bremen, Germany based Atlas Elektroniks.

PEM fuel cell AIP

Pressure hull steel - unknown (may be the same non-magnetic steel used in the 212).


Note that TKMS and Singapore do not compare the 218 to the Dolphin 2. This may be due to the greater secrecy involving the Dolphin 2 which is widely seen as designed for nuclear cruise missile delivery from its 650mm tubes. Singapore via the 218 similarity would not want to associate itself with such Dolphin 2 capabilities.

A half century of close Israel-Singapore military relations remains obscure. Both Israel and Singapore are surrounded by much larger, majority Muslim countries. Both Israel and Singapore have higher GDPs per capita than almost all of their neighbours. This has encouraged both countries to buy or build higher quality weapons than their neighbours including buying the most advanced conventional submarines available.

The 218 may have a reinforced bottom like the Dolphin 2's.This would allow the 218 to sit on the seafloor (important for the 218 in/around Malacca and Singapore Straits). 

The 218s will replace the 2 remaining Challenger class submarines (RSS Conqueror and RSS Chieftain). Singapore also has two Archer class submarines which will continue to operate until they to will likely be replaced by 2 more 218s.

Note that what became TKMS previously built another large design -  2 x 2,000 ton TR-1700s for Argentina in the 1980s (after the Falklands War). 

BACKGOUND - Singapore Strait and Malacca Strait

The Singapore Strait is the most immediately important body of water for Singapore in military and economic terms. This Strait is the deepwater approach for warships, cargo ships and tankers to the port of Singapore. The Singapore Strait is 16 km wide and lies between Singapore Island (north) and the Riau Islands (south) which are part of Indonesia.

It includes Johore Strait (around 12 meters deep max - unnavigable by submarine), Keppel Harbour, and many small islands. The Singapore Strait is a channel extending for 105 km between the Strait of Malacca (west) and the South China Sea (east).

The southern part of the Malacca Strait closest to Singapore rarely exceeds 37 meters deep. The Malacca Strait is up there with the Strait of Hormuz, Suez and Panama canals as being the world's most impotant narrow waterway. 

The islands and undersea rocks on the approaches (like the Singapore Strait) to the Malacca Strait provide many places for experienced submarine captains to hide on the shallow seafloor. The shallows are also dangerous if subs collide with rocks and the seafloor and due to the increased danger from ASW platforms. Air independent propulsion (AIP), that Singpore has heavily invested in, is a major advantage. (Map courtesy welt-atlas).


August 31, 2015

Will the Shortfin Barracuda Design Be Too Heavy = Costly?

In Comments for, August 21, 2015 2:54 PM, "HK" discussed the French (DCNS) entrant for Australia Future Submarine Competitive Evaluation Process (CEP)):

“HK” wrote:

"Contrary to popular opinion, my assessment is that Shortfin Barracuda may only require fairly minimal changes from the [Barracuda SSN]:

1) Essentially half the hull modules would be unchanged. This includes the SSN's entire forward section, up to right behind the sail.

2) Behind the sail is the standalone nuclear reactor module. This module is of similar length (~8m) to the equally standalone fuel cell module. They can be switched, much like inserting MESMA before. The fuel cell module will also have space for fuel and ballast tanks.

3) Which leaves the rear propulsion module, where most of the changes will happen. The good news is that scaling-up Scorpene's diesel-electric propulsion should be straightforward. Diesels are a lot more compact than the nukes' steam/electric turbines + generators, so there is plenty of space in Barracuda for 3 diesels side-by-side, with batteries/fuel tanks below deck. 

I have checked versus Scorpene's detailed plans to confirm (these plans are available online... but hush that's a secret!).

So all in all, the biggest challenge with Shortfin Barracuda is not going to be the conventional propulsion. The real potential show-stopper is the U.S.'s willingness to allow the integration of a US combat system [see AN/BYG-1] and weapons [within the Shortfin], and to a lesser degree questions about whether the fuel cell technology is ready for prime time (but the [Australian Navy] may not even have a requirement yet)."


It is nice to hear from the French side. What immediately worries is that while Australia has an admittedly vague requirement for a 4,000 ton submarine the Shortfin Barracuda may be over-weight with a surfaced displacement of "4,765" tons (see right sidebar) and a submerged displacement of 5,300 tons. Presumably to maintain "minimal changes" the Shortfin Barracuda will need to retain the displacement figures of the SSN. 

With a heavier displacement than its 4,000 ton competitors the Shortfin Barracuda may suffer from higher up-front costs, higher diesel fuel usage and higher maintenance-spares costs.

Also the Shortfin's buoyancy dynamics will be very different from the SSN due to the need to place diesel oil in several (many?) fuel tanks around Shortfin - then the need to backfill them with seawater. 

Yes having an American, Donald C. Winter, as the most senior member of the Submarine Advisory Panel not to mention, hidden negotiations, may well work against DCNS. Fuel cell AIP may well become a requirement when/if Australia recognises the need to have a backup for the new technology risks of Li-ion Batteries (batteries presumably in all three contenders' bids).

However the Shortfin's higher displacement may accommodate much large fuel capacity than the Japanese and German competitors. This might translate to longer range (18,000 nm?) or the same range (11,000 nm?) at higher snorting speeds than the competitors. Of course Australia will need to decide whether higher cost is worth the speed-range advantages. There are also many comparative factors that are important, including stealth, crew size and common maintenance facilities. Notably Malaysia in Australia's region operates DCNS Scorpenes and India will soon. Japan operates Soryus. Indonesia and South Korea operates German designs and Singapore will operate larger than usual Type 218SGs in the 2020s.

The photos above and below may be the only photos of the Barracuda SSN (also called Suffren (first of) class in existence. It shows the submarine(s) under construction at the DCNS shipyard in Cherbourg, France. This may be for French national security and/or commercial security reasons. The photos may be of the Suffren and/or the Duguay-Trouin (second of class)) under construction - perhaps taken earlier than February 2015. Photo appeared in the February 2015 article foXavier Vavasseur of Navy Recognition’s  interview with the Barracuda Program Manager.


If this is the actual and final shape of the Barracuda (Suffren class) it has much in common with the hull shape of the US Virginia class SSN. (Artist's impression courtesy Navy Recognition

Here is a youtube animation of the "SMX Ocean" now the Shortfin Barracuda proposal, showing some future capabilities.


August 27, 2015

Soryu Double and Single Hull Sections Diagram

Assembling detailed information on submarines is a “bit at a time” job. At comments “August 25, 2015 at 6:31 PM” for “S” provided the Soryu structural diagram above.

S accompanied the diagram (made open source at ) with the following notes:

The Soryu hull structure consists of six sections. From right-hand side head to left-hand side tail the:

i)  first section (head) has double and single hull structures [Pete Comment – complicated due to varying loads/considerations as bow streamlining, sonars, torpedo tubes, front escape tube and hatch to sail];

ii)  second, third and fourth sections have a single hull structure;

iii)  fifth and sixth sections have double hull structures. [Pete Comment – complicated due to rear escape tube and rudder-propeller hydrodynamics considerations]

The double hull consists of the outer non-pressure hull (non-magnetic alloy) and the inner pressure hull (magnetic NS-80). The inner pressure hull (NS-80) is not as strong as the single pressure hull (NS-110), because the outer hull (alloy) shows high strength.

The single pressure hull is made of low magnetic NS-110, in S’s opinion.

At a comment on August 28, 2015 at 12:38 AM S added – Earlier post WWII Japanese submarines has been using double hull structures, but from 1994 Oyashio class submarins adopted a hybrid single and double hull structure. In part this facilitated the introduction of further sound absorber material and a long flank sonar array.

S added comments commented about the German designed Type 214 submarine that also use a flank sonar array. The 214’s single hull structure is made of HY-100 [1] or HY-80/HY-100 [2]. S also noted that in the 1980s DSTO of Australia’s Department of Defence reported properties of HY-100 and highly appreciated it [3]. But, I worry about the combination of following two factors which may make a HY100 hull relatively higher magnetic. These factors are: i) relatively low contents of Ni (2.67-3.57%) and Cr (1.29-1.86) (see Table 1a, page 10) and concerning the same DSTO document [4], ii) single hull structure in which hull is directly exposed to surrounding water without shielding by a non-magnetic alloy. At present HY-100 may be adequate but we should think of future advances in ASW magnetic detection technology.

[For a future Australian submarine] To achieve overall low magnetism for this submarine (as it will not use NS-110) new low magnetic and high strength steel is needed for the single pressure hull, i.e. first partial area and second/third/fourth areas.

Please connect with - Submarine Matters' Japanese Submarines - Critical operational life and hull cutting issues, August 7, 2015

Pete Comment

So given hybrid single-double designs the difference between “double-hulled” and “single-hulled" submarines is not as distinct as is generally thought. Rather it is as complex as most other submarine matters. In the absence of NS-110 use there are various steels from HY-100 and approaching NS-110/HY-156 that may be appropriate.


August 26, 2015

Japan On Steep Learning Curve to Sell Submarines

The Japanese submarine delegation for the briefing in Adelaide, August 26, 2015. Admiral (ret.) Takashi Saito is in the center.


With Germany and France having been engaged in selling weapons to Australia since the 1950s  Japan is feeling the competition. Arms sellers have to sell to many interest groups. The arms buying public are concerned about jobs and taxpayer's money. Arms buying governments, like the Abbott Government, also need to play a positive role in selling. The Abbott Government's reputation has been changing every 3 months or so - some times for the worse.

Below are some snippets reflecting what the Japanese submarine delegation experienced in Adelaide today.


UPDATE 1-Japanese officials struggle to woo Australia over 

submarine contract

Aug 26 (Reuters) - Japan's effort to charm Australian politicians and the public over its bid for a A$50 billion ($35.60 billion) submarine project appeared to stumble on Wednesday, with officials from Tokyo resisting pressure to commit to building the vessels in Australia.

Japanese defence officials and executives from Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and Kawasaki Heavy Industries made their first major pitch to build 12 stealth submarines for Australia's navy during public briefings for defence contractors and the media in Adelaide, a ship-building hub.

Once seen as the frontrunner to win the contract, the Japanese bid has since come under scrutiny because of Tokyo's unwillingness to commit to building any submarines in Australia, where manufacturing jobs are a hot-button political issue.

Rivals ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems (TKMS) of Germany and France's state-controlled naval contractor DCNS have both said they would build entirely in Australia, targeting members of the Australian government with the economic and political benefits of their proposals.

Both European firms have also courted the Australian defence industry and media in key cities.

Two sources present at separate meetings between the Japanese delegation and Australian officials said the Japanese did not seem to have much understanding of the political sensitivities and appeared to have lost ground to the rival bidders.

They said the delegation gave few details about the Japanese proposal beyond reassurances they would adhere strictly to the rules of the process.

"It seems like the (Australian) federal government just told them that they had to come down here and talk to us," one source told Reuters under the condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to speak to the media.

"I think they're really struggling to connect to the public. It's just not in their DNA to speak publicly about defence issues."

A defence industry source in Tokyo said the German bid was shaping up as the one to beat…..WHOLE ARTICLE

Natalie Whiting for Australia’s ABC, August 26, 2015 reported

Submarines contract: Japanese delegation in Adelaide for public relations offensive

A Japanese defence adviser has conceded the country needs to improve its public relations in order to win the contract to build Australia's next fleet of submarines.

…Japanese defence adviser and former submarines commander Yoji Koda said Japan initially failed to understand the public relations game its competitors were playing.

French and German companies bidding for Australia's $20 billion submarine contract have been courting both the Federal Government and public opinion via the media.

Japan had been avoiding that second battleground, but the current delegation will hold a news conference today in Adelaide, ahead of meeting industry officials and a visit to the defence construction facilities in Adelaide's north-west.

Retired rear admiral Yoji Koda now works as an adviser to one of Japan's shipbuilding companies and for the national security secretary.

It is the first time the pacifist country has competed in a defence bid such as this and he said being "rookies" had posed some problems.

"[The] Japanese team is gradually solving those problems, but still there are some areas [where] Japan is not so doing well," he said.

Public relations the new submarine battlefield for the Japanese

The Japanese have been criticised for being secretive, an issue which has been amplified by the PR offensive their German and French competitors launched.

Mr Koda said the Japanese team was now learning that approach.

"I strongly believe [with] the engineering capability or technology ... of building the larger submarine, I think Japan is still in the lead," he said.

"But at the same time there are several other things we need to take into consideration. One is the public relations so, yes, for the first time the Japanese team shows up at Adelaide and speaks to the public and also have a conference with [the] Australian team and I hope that will be convincing to the Australian people." WHOLE ARTCLE

In another ABC article of August 26, 2015, Leah MacLennan reported

Japanese submarine bid delegation visits Adelaide, denying any secret deal to win contract

…Masaki Ishikawa from the Japanese defence ministry said speculation of a secret deal had not come from Japan.

"We are not the one to be blamed for ... others speculating there may be a secret deal," he said.

"[We are] a little bit confused and perplexed why such speculation is still amongst the people's voices."

…At a news conference held during a visit to Adelaide, the Japanese delegation sought to end speculation a secret deal had been made even before the Federal Government mounted what it called a "competitive evaluation process".

The Japanese said they would ensure the Government had full details of their bid by the end of November.

Asked if construction in Adelaide was his preferred option, Admiral Takashi Saito said three options all were under serious evaluation.

"We are requested from the Australian Federal Government to come up with all three build options - Japanese, hybrid and Australian build options," he told reporters.

"Team Japan are considering and investigating all the possibilities to come up with all three build options and in that effort we are also seriously considering the Australian build option."

…South Australia's Defence Industries Minister Martin Hamilton-Smith…met Admiral Saito and said he made that position clear.

"He was very respectful, very receptive and the Japanese contingent under Admiral Saito made it very clear that they were considering all three options, including an Australian build and I commend them for it, as I did the Germans and the French," he said.

Chris Burns from industry body the Defence Teaming Centre said the push for a 100 per cent local build was "well received" when discussed with the Japanese delegation.

"They fully understand that we have to be part of the process from the outset and why we want to build our own submarines," he said.

"It's not just about jobs, it's about ensuring our security and the security of our country."

The contract for the future submarines is expected to be awarded by the Federal Government next year."


August 25, 2015

Analysis - Morocco may become First Buyer of Russian Amur 1650 Submarine

Drawing board Amur 1650 with its very large, heavy, looking AIP system (Diagram courtesy Aviation Forum). Morocco may be buying an Amur 1650. See reference to "Russian" AIP.

The drawing board Amur 950 showing 5 of the 10 vertical launch tubes behing the sail (Courtesy Russia's Rubin Design Institute)


It appears the World Tribune, August 9, 2015 gained a scoop - that the King of Morocco, Mohammed VI, will visit Moscow in late 2015 to sign a contract for one Amur-1650 submarine. Other news agencies picked up the story and some added important details.

Russia’s Russia Behind The Headlines (RBTH), August 21, 2015 advises that one reason Morocco is buying the Amur is due to a submarine arms race with neighbouring Algeria (which is relatively oil rich). Algeria already has two Russian made Improved Kilos (Project 636) submarines, two older model Kilos (Project 877s) submarines and has two more Improved Kilos on order (due 2017). RBTH advises that Algeria and Saudi Arabia have had a falling out over Saudi actions against rebels in Yemen. The upshot is that Saudi Arabia may be financing Morocco’s purchase of the Amur – “my enemy’s enemy is my friend.” 

Saudi Arabia may well be paying the upfront price for Morocco's future Amur 1650 but Morocco might be surprised how high the downstream maintenance, spare parts and crew costs will be. mentions that Russian-Algerian relations are frosty due to their divergent positions with regard to the energy strategy of the European Union.

The Amur (Russian 4th Generation SSK) is a development of Russia's 3rd Generation SSKs - the Kilos and Improved Kilos. See Russia's-Rubin's five SSK Generations concept at  .

Russia has been attempting to sell the Amur conventional submarines for years. The never built Amurs (smaller 950, larger 1650) might be seen as export versions of the Lada class (1 completed so far) built for the Russian Navy. A weak point of the Amur-Lada has been the under-developed or non-existent air independent propulsion (AIP) system. Either Russia has had difficulty developing AIP or Russia is satisfied with nuclear propulsion (which could be seen as “super AIP”) for its own navy.

The US$342 million (€300 million) being quoted for the Amur 1650 sale to Morocco is remarkably lower than the usual cost for conventional submarines of around US$500 million. Note that the Wikipedia entry (presumably from Russian sources) quotes US$450 million for an Amur. A number of possibilities may explain the low price to Morocco:

-  China (with its US$333 million AIP “Yuan” S-20) has also been competing to sell to Morocco.
-  Russia wants to secure its first sale of an Amur with a very low price.
-  Russia will apply add-on costs for training, advisers and spare parts and eventually overhauls to recoup the sale price.
-  If the Saudis are financing the Morocco sale this may be part of a larger Saudi arms buy from Russia (giving Russia room to reduce the Moroccan submarine price).
-  Russia wishes to generate more sales from prospective buyers inside the region (expanding the arms race) and/or outside the region.

The smaller Amur 950 is marketed with the extraordinary capability of 10 vertical launch tubes (VLSs) – presumably for Klub missiles. Perhaps weighing 1,100 tonnes (surfaced) depending on whether it has AIP. This is at the expense of only 4 horizontal torpedo tubes – only 2 of which have reloads – meaning a total of 16 torpedos/missiles for the Amur 950.

The Amur 1650 Morocco may perhaps have 10 VLS but not 6 torpedo tubes that all have 2 reloads  = 18 torpedo/missiles horizontally fired. The resulting total of 28 heavyweight shots could not in practice be fitted in a 1,800 ton (surfaced) submarine. So it is more like that a 1650 would have 10 missile VLS + 8 torpedos (6 in the horizontal tubes with 2 of the tubes having 1 reload).

Nicky has provided some useful Youtubes concerning the Amurs - and . The Youtubes mention the Amurs' diesel-electric propulsion. As well as doing extensive engine development themselves the Russians would draw hardware testing and reverse engineering opportunities from Western marine engines sold to Russia. Russia's efficient technical intelligence gathering system would also help.

Its notable that the video portion of doesn't mention or show AIP at all. The other Youtube also doesn't mention AIP. Yet it is AIP that has been the biggest new development in non-Russian SSKs in the last 20 years or so. Russian marketing staff may claim AIP is part of  Russia's Lada (St Petersburg) and therefore an option for the Amurs but where is the working proof?


Russia’s Sputnik News International, August 22, 2015 refers to the original World Tribune report but also adds extra submarine details from its own Russian sources :

"Morocco to Buy Russian Amur-1650 Superquiet Submarine

Morocco and Russia are close to reaching a deal on the delivery of a Russian-made Amur 650 (project 677E) submarine which would be the kingdom’s first submarine, World Tribune reported.

The contract is expected to be signed during King Mohammed VI’s trip to Moscow later this year. The two countries have been in talks on the issue in several stages since 2013, according to the media outlet.

The sum of the deal may be €300 million ($342 million), reported.

During the DSA-2014 international arms forum in Malaysia, the Malaysian navy also expressed interest for the submarine.

"Malaysian navy commander visited our display and expressed interest in our Amur 1650 submarines," a Rosoboronexport spokesman told Rossiskaya Gazeta.

The Amur 1650 diesel-electric powered submarine was developed by the Rubin design bureau. In addition to an air-independent power plant, the submarine is equipped with a regular diesel generator and a set of accumulator plants. While surfaced it is propelled by the diesel-electric power plant, and by the accumulators and the air-independent power plant while submerged. Thus, the submarine has the technical specs close to a nuclear-powered one.

In comparison with its predecessors, the Amur 1650 submarine is capable of multiple missiles firing (up to six missiles at once) and has a hydroacoustic system with unique sonar for detecting low-noise targets at various distances.

The main feature of the Amur 1650 is its extreme quietness. According to experts, the new submarine outperforms the submarines of Varshavyanka (project 636) class which are now believed to be the most silent submarines in the world.

The Amur 1650 [specifications] has a length of 66.8 meters and a beam of 7.1 meters. While submerged, the submarine can reach speed of 21 knots (39 kmh) at a distance of 650 miles. The submarine can submerge at a depth of 250 meters. The armament includes 18 torpedoes and 10 vertical silo-based missiles."[It is unclear whether the submarine Morocco is buying will have the vertical launch feature.]


S's response to "7 Problems With The Japanese Option"

Japan had a submarine building industry for 100 years before it began to build the Soryus. The class immediately preceeding the Soryus are the Oyashios. Above is Oyashio class submarine SS-599 (Setoshio) being fitted out at MHI shipyard, Kobe in 2006. SS-599 was commissioned on February 28, 2007.

Little is known publically in Australia about Japan’s submarine building concerns. Submarine Matters provides one forum for discussions. To that end Japanese concerns are being highlighted. I have clarified the English in some sentences [...] brackets - hoping this remains faithful to S's intended meaning. 

At in Comments “S” commented on August 21, 2015 at 12:54 AM. In "S's response... S provided additional  information on August 25, 2015 6:31 PM, regarding to Australian Made Defence’s "7 Problems With The Japanese Option":

"Requirements for submarine performance significantly depend on design concept which is based on various factors such geopolitical situation, geographical conditions, technological issues and diplomatic relations. Therefore, the ideal design concept of submarine becomes highly country specific. The design concept of the Soryu is continuous improvement of performance by batch building [in order to respond to a highly defense-oriented policy of surveillance of the sea around Japan]. The operational period and range of the Soryu are purposely set to be short [with the design  concept optimised for this]. [Introducing quality upgrades and extra fuel will make the submarine design heavier (i.e. increase in size, therefore increase in water resistance). This will lead to performance degradations].

The design concepts of the Collins, Type 216 and Conventional Barracuda are long [range], [high endurance] and multi-purpose functions including deployment of special forces. [These] are very different from design concepts [for the] Soryu. But, I think Japan can achieve many capabilities in the table “How They Compare” [see].

I think there [are] two key issues, i.e. 1) development of new hull materials and 2) establishment of submarine building management system in Australia should be addressed. 
1)    I do not think that the JSMDF agrees with a NS110 very high yield pressure hull steel  technology transfer. So new low magnetic and high strength steel for a single pressure hull [rather than the Soryu's double hull design] should be developed, but evaluation and testing will be very time-consuming.

2)    There are some shortcomings in the quality management system. Part of this is information security management concerning top secret Japanese technology transfer to Australia. Many people, including a former executive of ASC, indicate ASC has considerable skills and self-reliance, but  ASC can strengthen its management planning with regard to aims, training and internal checks. Some strengthening of performance measures to achieve customer requirements would be advantageous.

3)   Apparently Germany is finding that the CEP is a creative   challenge


Just as Japan builds cars for Australia's specific requirements Japan can build subs for Australian requirements. Japanese car exports to Australia far outstripped German + French exports, of course.

As Australians often do not know what they want at the beginning of a submarine batch - Japan's "continuous improvement of performance" procedures should do nicely. 

The Super SoryuAU (term first used here) will be heavier than subs for the Japanese Navy but greater engine power and a more hydro-efficient shape should maintain performance for the Super SoryuAUs.

Yes 1. new pressure hull steel for Australian welders is important and 2. the establishment of a submarine building management system in Australia that is up to Japan's high standards is important (a bit like the former Mitsubishi car factory in Adelaide) 


"1)" Yes NS110 should not be transferred as it is difficult to reweld and Australia's security system is not like Japan's.

"2)" ASC management system standards have indeed been poor as shown in the Collins and now in the AWDs. Appointing a Japanese senior executive would be a good idea for a start.

Thankyou for passing on Germany's frustrations. I'm sure Germany appreciates the kind gesture.