May 28, 2015

German TKMS-HDW's Bid to Build Australia's Future Submarine

Highly skilled and experienced workforce ... TKMS workers fitting out one of six new subm
Highly skilled and experienced workforce ... TKMS workers fitting out one of six new submarines now being built at the TKMS shipyard in Kiel. Supplied: German Submarine Source 

The following are excerpts from’s “Why German company ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems wants Australia’s Future Submarines contract” of MAY 23, 2015. Extra comments are in [...] brackets and links that I have added are also in [...] brackets :

TKMS has constructed 161 boats for 20 navies around the world since 1960 at Kiel including more than 50 built in customer countries that have benefited from a philosophy of total technology transfer.
The parent company [TKMS] operates in 80 countries, has a $60 billion turnover and employs 160,700 people globally. In Australia it employs 900 mainly engineers.
TKMS is the world leader in non-nuclear submarine construction and it is pushing very hard to win the contract to build Australia’s future submarine.
The navy wants to buy more than eight 4000-tonne submarines to replace its six ageing Collins Class boats from about 2026.
Germany, Japan and France are engaged in a bizarre “competitive evaluation process” by the Abbott Government for the $20 billion plus contract, which will be the most expensive and complex defence project ever undertaken to provide the nation with a vital deterrent and force multiplier for the next 50 years.
Sadly there is no “transparency” requirement in the process but that hasn’t stopped the Germans from opening their doors to share almost everything about their submarines and what they can offer Australian taxpayers.
The same cannot be said for Japan and France whose submarine proposals are shrouded in secrecy.
For TKMS this is a rare opportunity to win the biggest contract in history for non-nuclear submarines and the firm is pulling out all stops.
This week it opened its door to a group of Australian defence writers to explore in detail both its submarine and surface ship operations.
TKMS board member [Torsten Konker] described the Japanese bid as a “white elephant” because no one knew anything at all about what it is offering with its evolved Soryu Class boat.
Many observers agree and regard the Soryu as being optimised for Japan rather than Australia. They see the huge sovereign risk issues such as the lack of an export record as well as language, political and cultural differences as a bridge too far.
With nine submarines either under construction or being upgraded the Kiel facility is the world leader in non-nuclear boats.
TKMS Australia chief executive and former submarine commander [Philip Stanford] said all the German technology was exportable and the firm was willing to design an Australian built capability tailored to Australia’s needs.
“We don’t hide things,” he said.
Mr Stanford said another major advantage was the fact that the synergies between the German and Australian navies were very strong and likely to become even closer.
“The German navy is similar to ours,” he said.
That means cooperating in a variety of areas including submarine, technology and weapons development.
The company also visualises an Australian submarine and warship hub in Adelaide possibly building boats for countries such as Canada and maintaining TKMS submarines for regional nations and its bid is strongly supported by a German Government that is keen for close cooperation with Australia.
According to Mr Konker the German firm has a good record of cooperating with very different companies and diverse cultures including Israel, Turkey, Italy and Colombia to deliver cutting edge submarines.
“We have quite a good track record,” he said.
At the Kiel yard [Israeli Dolphin boats] are built alongside Greek or German submarines and when the time comes to install sensitive equipment — and there is a lot of it in an Israeli submarine — the vessel is “locked up” and everyone apart from Israeli engineers are banned from entry until the installation is complete.
Blohm and Voss sub contracts its huge yard to TKMS and today turns out hi-tech Frigates and other warships for navies around the world.
It was a robust Blohm and Voss Meko design that was chosen for the navy’s [Anzac Frigate] project that is widely regarded as the most successful Australian navy shipbuilding project ever.
According to TKMS senior vice-president of strategic sales and former South African Rear Admiral Jonathan Kamerman, the company’s key pillars that made the Anzacs such a success — such as seakeeping and fighting survivability — still applied today. TKMS has supplied 143 warships to 16 navies in 17 new classes since 1970 with half built in customer shipyards such as Williamstown in Melbourne.
He said Australia should learn the lesson from the flawed Air Warfare Destroyer alliance and look to the company that has done it before for Australia.
The man behind the Anzac ship was Dr John White who is now the chairman of [TKMS Australia]. When John White speaks governments usually take notice and he is speaking a great deal of sense when it comes to the navy’ future submarine and future frigate projects.
He was recently contracted by the government with American expert Donald Winter to examine the troubled Air Warfare Destroyer Alliance that is running years late and hundreds of millions over budget. The report remains a closely guarded secret.
Dr White sees a clear and logical path for the nation’s most important weapon projects.
He said TKMS was committed to replicating its German naval capability in Australia and specifically at Techport in Port Adelaide on the site of the taxpayer owned ASC. The company will push to take over ASC as part of its push to build subs, frigates and Pacific Patrol boats at the site.
“If not we will establish our own facilities at Techport and work with other facilities to build both Sea 1000 [submarines] and Sea 5000 [frigates] if we won them competitively,” Dr White said.
The Howard Government first raised the prospect of Adelaide becoming the national shipbuilding centre of excellence back in the late 1990s.
Sadly successive governments have been unable to make it happen, but the future submarine and frigate projects present an ideal opportunity for “national interest and sound business decisions to triumph over political bastardry and stupidity.” ENDS

May 24, 2015

Singapore Recommends Submarine Safety Regime - Exercise with India

Malacca Strait - narrow and many rocks, islands and shallows. Its at its narrowest just south of Singapore. A ship and submarine captain's nightmare (Map courtesy IMO).

About one third of oil carried by sea (worldwide) is moved through the extremely congested Malacca Strait. Large tankers and other subs can accidentally collide with subs. (Map courtesy US Energy Information Administralian (EIA))

I have reproduced an excellent commentary by Prashanth Parameswaran who wrote for The Diplomat, May 21, 2015. I have added some links bolded and some comments, bolded in [...] brackets. The link is

"A New Plan to Manage Asia’s Submarine Race?"

"This week, Singapore co-hosts the Asia Pacific Submarine Conference (APSC) with the United States. Founded in 2001, the APSC has established itself as a major forum dealing with submarine rescue, and this year reportedly saw the highest attendance with 23 navies and organizations.
At the conference, Chief of the Republic of Singapore Navy (RSN) Rear-Admiral Lai Chung Han delivered a speech, seen by The Diplomat, outlining how Asia should take multilateral submarine rescue cooperation [see last para of a 2014 Diplomat article]  “to the next bound.” More specifically, given the busyness and shallowness [eg. 20meters to 50meters in some parts of South China Sea] of some of the Asian waters as well as the rapid rise of submarines expected in the region over the next few years, Lai suggested that Asian nations should enhance submarine operational safety and proactively minimize the risk of incidents by developing a regional framework.
Such a framework, Lai argued, would comprise four elements. The first would be better information exchange. This would not involve sharing sensitive information about submarine positions and movements, but other sorts of information like the real-time movement of fishing vessels and very large crude carriers. He suggested that the effort could be supported by the Information Fusion Center (IFC) at the Changi Command and Control Center through a dedicated Submarine Safety Information Portal. In his view, the information platform, along with the extensive network of International Liaison Officers [most probably including US and Australian] at the IFC and the information technology and command and control support of the Multinational Operations and Exercises Center, would provide robust infrastructure for this information exchange to occur.
The second element would be the sharing of best practices. While he acknowledged that some of this is already being done at APSC, he encouraged such exchanges to extend beyond just submarine rescue to encompass best practices, certification, and training to enhance the safety of navies and submarine operators.
The third element, Lai said, would be the setting of common standards. For instance, he recommended leveraging an established material safety standard, such as the United States Navy’s SUBSAFE regime, to ensure that submarines are in the best technical condition for safe operations.
The fourth element, and the most ambitious one, is coming up with a Code of Conduct for submarine operations or underwater “rules of the road.” He noted that given the confined and congested waters in some parts of the Asia-Pacific, there is a need to develop regulations for the underwater domain to help avert catastrophic incidents should submarines encounter each other unexpectedly underwater.
The challenges to such a regional framework are clear, and Lai acknowledged some of these himself. First, even the more basic elements of such a framework, such as information sharing, are hard to accomplish fully because of a classic catch-22: more information is required to build greater trust, yet it’s precisely the lack of initial trust — rooted in a range of factors including history, current geopolitical competition, and unresolved disputes — that often makes parties unwilling to share that information in the first place. While that does not make this an unworthy goal to strive for, it does mean that achieving it will not be as easy as it looks, even though the infrastructure exists and it makes sense to do so.
Second, although the sharing of best practices and the adoption of common standards may seem like no-brainers, they may take time to implement fully in practice. In reality, the speed through which practices are shared and standards are harmonized is the product of a variety of factors, including the extent to which there is similarity in capabilities; the degree to which different countries exercise with each other to facilitate interoperability; and, of course, the level of willingness of the different actors to make this a priority.
Third and lastly, the wide divergence in the experience of Asian states — both in terms of operating submarines as well as cooperation on submarine safety — will likely make the specifics of a regional framework more complicated. [Singapore's suggestion might particularly be aimed at other sub owning ASEAN nations (Indonesia, Malaysia and Vietnam) also at China] While some countries have robust submarine fleets, other major states have just acquired them within the past few years and still others have plans in the pipeline to get them in the future. That has significant implications for designing a regional framework, including the dilemma usually inherent in such arrangements about how to balance inclusivity and high standards.
Given these challenges as well as others, Lai was right to note that Asia has a long way to go before getting anywhere near the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s (NATO) preventive system for submarine operational safety, which has the [NATO Submarine Movement Advisory Authority] deconflicting underwater activities as well as endorsed procedures and standards by NATO’s International Submarine Escape and Rescue Liaison Office. But he was also right to stress that while this is probably a bridge too far, that should not stop countries from taking small steps now. Otherwise, as he gloomily suggested, it may not be a matter of whether, but when, a submarine-related crisis occurs in the future in the Asia-Pacific."

Meanwhile Times of India, May 23, 2015 reports "NEW DELHI: India has dispatched four warships, including a frontline destroyer and a stealth frigate, on a long overseas deployment to the South Indian Ocean and South China Sea in consonance with the country's "Act East" policy. As part of the endeavor, two of the warships -- stealth frigate INS Satpura and anti-submarine warfare corvette INS Kamorta [against the sub RNS Archer] also kicked off the four-day SIMBEX exercise with the Singaporean Navy on [May 23, 2015]..."

May 22, 2015

UUVs Need to Complement Manned Submarines in Future

Ex-submariner and unmanned underwater vehicle (UUV) analyst Bryan Clark.

The US ONR Large Displacement (or Diameter) Unmanned Underwater Vehicle Innovative Naval Prototype (LDUUV-INP) program for missions 70+ (long requirements description) days in open ocean and/or littorals. Can be sub launched. This LDUUV's missions will include ISR, ASW, mine counter-measures and offensive ops. (Photo and data courtes

Here is an interesting 8 minute video interview (May, 21 2015) with full transcript at with Bryan Clark. He is increasingly becomming an unmanned underwater vehicle (UUV) advocate. 

Clark was the retired US submariner, top aide to the US Chief of Naval Operations and
Senior Fellow, Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, who published The Emerging Future in Undersea Warfare on January 22, 2015. While all of his comments are in the transcript I’ve summarised his more significant comments below:

-  what we're seeing is the increasing ability to take a look at large areas and amass a large amount of information at one time and then process it very quickly [My comment - This underlines the trend of navies working closely with their NSA equivalents to handle vast amounts of data and run simulations of enemy vessel signatures.]

-  new detection techniques are emerging that would allow you to find man-made objects in the water more easily

-  it is increasingly difficult for subs to operate with impunity in areas close to other countries. Manned sub coastal work is going to be come to an end against advanced adversaries in the next 20 years or so

-  with new detection technologies out to a couple of hundred miles off an adversary's coast this will demand changes in the way subs are built and operate

-  Subs may have to operate more like an aircraft carrier where they stay offshore, staying away from the threat, while subs deploy UUVs towards an adversary's coast

-  for Australia’s future submarine selection Australia must consider the “new detection technologies.” Subs “may have to be larger" with much more communications equipment using more comms methods

-  There are two big limitations to UUVs 

   :  one is short endurance, short range and slow speed on battery. Although a small diesel engine might help. 

   :  the other big UUV limitation is they don't have any accountability in terms of the human control over weapons use. And so even though you could autonomously program a UUV to go and shoot a torpedo at a target that it recognises, who will be accountable for the result if that torpedo hits a civilian ship instead of hitting a military ship? [My comment - Clark seems to be asking Will Chinese UUV attacks be less constrained morally and legally than more careful Western UUV attacks?].

-  A UUV is not going to be susceptible to the fear factor that a manned sub might be. A limitation of a manned sub is if you shoot at it, it generally has to run away because it doesn't have a lot of self-defence systems and your crew's life is at stake. The UUV will not respond in that way. A UUV will continue to carry out the mission until you physically destroy it. So, countering UUVs is going to be a huge challenge - which the US Government is looking at.

Please connect with:

 LDUUVs, UUV, AUVs and Undersea Cable Tapping, January 14, 2015 at .


May 21, 2015

India's Rising Nuclear and Conventional Submarine Force

Abhishek Saksena for the India Times, May 15, 2015, has written an excellent analysis of India's past, present and future submarine programs. So good that I've taken the liberty of reproducing it in full. The title below is courageous, but currently true of a regional power in the Indian Ocean. If India succeeds in building and fielding 6 SSNs and 6 SSBNs by 2030-35 it will probably be in the top four submarine nations, along with the US, Russia and China. By 2035 the UK and France may have dropped to 5th and 6th.

"No first use" is politically and strategically useful, but if there was proof Pakistan was about to launch a first strike in 10 minutes I think India would try to preempt it. I've added the occasional comment in [  ] brackets and added bolded links. The string for Abhishek Saksena's article is :

"Indian Navy Soon To Be The Most Formidable Submarine Force On The Planet! Here's What You Need To Know"

May 15, 2015

"The most important thing about having nuclear weapons is a second strike capability. In a nuclear conflict, one who strikes first may win the war, but one who strikes second makes sure there is no one left to celebrate the win. That’s nuclear deterrence in a nutshell. While it sounds easy in theory, building a nuclear doctrine with a working second strike capability is anything but. India, for example, has declared a no-first-use of nuclear weapons. Which means, that though India will not initiate a nuclear conflict, if attacked it will retaliate with such ferocity, that it will wipe the enemy off the face of the map. How does India intend to do this? Like any other superpower, India wants to use submarines.
Submarines for projection of power
INS Arihant
If you think about it, submarines are the perfect weapons. Lurking in the depths of the oceans, they move around without being detected and surface to launch the attack on the unsuspecting enemy. Erstwhile superpowers USA and Russia continue to use their SSBNs (ballistic missile submarines) to great effect, projecting their might even today. These SSBNs ensure that even though the land-based missiles and airplanes may have been taken out, the enemy is guaranteed a sending off that it will never forget. And if India wants to be taken seriously on the world stage, it will have to start acting like a superpower, by being able to extend the country’s power across the globe. These submarines are therefore just what India needs.
Current state of submarine force
The current state of the Navy’s underwater fleet is, for lack of a better word, worrisome. India currently has 9 Sindhughosh class (Soviet Kilo class) and 4 Shishumar-class (German HDW Type 209) diesel electric subs and a single nuclear powered INS Chakra (Akula II class) sub. For a country with a coastline that measures more than 7,500 km, a fleet of 15 submarines is just not enough. And 15 isn’t the actual number of subs available for duty, because some of them are in ports for refits and maintenance. In comparison, China has a total of 67 submarines in its Navy. [In comparison Australia has a mainland coastline of 35,876 km and only 6 subs. How do you think we feel?]
Nuclear Submarine Program
INS Arihant
India started building its first nuclear submarine, the INS Arihant, under the highly secretive ATV program. In fact the project was such a secret, that it wasn’t until July 2009, when it was actually launched, that it was even officially acknowledged to exist. Work though had started back in the 80s, with Soviet help, to build a nuclear powered hunter-killer sub. India also leased a Charlie-I sub named the INS Chakra between 1987 and 1991 to gain experience in operating nuclear subs. The ATV though moved on from being an attack sub to a ballistic missile carrier as India conducted the second set of nuclear tests in Pokhran. The biggest challenge faced was in miniaturising the Pressurised Light Water Reactor which could fit in the tight confines of the sub’s hull. Based on a Russian design, a land-based version was built by BARC before the actual reactor, of a reported 83 MW capacity, was placed in the sub.
The INS Arihant, after launch in 2009, went through an extensive set of tests including harbour acceptance trials with the on-board reactor going critical in 2013. But it was only in December 2014 that it left the harbour for its sea trials. The Navy Chief, Admiral R K Dhowan, had recently stated that the sea trials of the sub are going “very well”, but refused to give a deadline for their completion.
INS Arihant
wikimedia commons
According to reports, the Arihant should be commissioned by the end of this year, after which it can be put on active patrol duty. But before that can happen, it will have to integrate its primary weapon, the K-15 SLBM (Submarine Launched Ballistic Missile). The Arihant will carry up to 12 of these nuclear capable missiles with a range of 750 km. While this reach is quite low to hit deep inland targets from the middle of the seas, another missile, the K-4 with a range of 3,500 km is also in the works. In fact, a test of the K-4 has reportedly been carried out in secret. Beyond these, the K-5 missile, with a range of 5,000 km, is also being planned. The latter will likely be deployed with MIRVs (Multiple Independently Targetable Reentry Vehicle) which give each missile the ability to target up to four or more targets.
Although the INS Arihant can carry either 12 K-15s or 4 K-4s, the 3 boats which will follow, will be able to carry up to 8 K-4s or 24 K-15s. The next one will be christened INS Aridhaman. [I estimate Aridhaman may weigh 8,000-9,000 tons surfaced] And since the rest of the Arihant-class boats will be bigger than the lead boat, they are also expected to have a more powerful nuclear reactor. The crews for these missile carriers are gaining experience in operating nuclear boats on the Akula II class INS Chakra that India had leased in 2012 for ten years.
Future Nuclear Boats
But it doesn’t stop here. A follow-on class of 6 SSBNs codenamed S5, almost twice as big as the Arihant-class, was also approved for development. These will be able to carry up to 12 K5 intercontinental ballistic missiles with MIRV warheads. And SSBNs aren’t the only nuclear submarines that the Indian Navy will field. Early this year, the government cleared a project to build six new hunter killer boats (SSN) for the Navy. A joint Navy, BARC and DRDO project, the boats will be designed by Navy’s Directorate of Naval Design and be powered by a new reactor being developed by BARC. SSNs are as important as SSBNs as they can blockade important sea routes, denying the enemy access to important resources in an event of war, and shadow enemy ships. This new SSN will be similar in size to the Arihant-class but will carry advanced torpedoes and be able to move much quicker. Also, India is likely to lease another Akula II for 10 years in 2018, most likely the Kashalot that is 60% complete and in need of funds.
Conventional Submarines
INS Kalvari
Things are looking up for India’s conventional submarine fleet too. Under the Project-75, six French-Spanish Scorpene submarines are being constructed at Mazagon Dock Ltd. The first of these, named INS Kalvari [Scorpene], has recently been ‘undocked’ and will undergo sea trials next year and is expected to be commissioned into the Navy by September 2016. Incidentally, Indian Navy’s first ever submarine, which was a Soviet Foxtrot-class sub, was also called the INS Kalvari [Foxtrot]. The name Kalvari means Tiger Shark, and in naval tradition, the line of subs will be called the Kalvari-class. Although late by nearly four years, the Kalvari-class will add a punch to the dwindling underwater arm of the Navy. The nearly 1600-tonne subs have a complement of 31 men and can stay out to sea for 50 days. Its two diesel generation sets give it a submerged top speed of 20 knots (37 km/h). Its weapons suite includes Black Shark heavy weight torpedoes that can sink a ship 50 kms away and Exocet anti-ship missile [SM39] that travels a few feet from the surface of the sea and hits the hull of a target that’s 180 km away. It’s also one of the stealthiest diesel electric submarines in operation with emphasis on reducing hydrodynamic noise, which makes it invisible to enemy sonar. The last two boats of the class will also feature a DRDO designed Air Independent Propulsion (AIP) system which will give it longer endurance and make it stealthier because they won’t need to surface for air to charge the batteries.
Alongside the Kalvari-class will be six of the next generation P75(I) diesel electric submarines, all of which will be built in India. Apart from the ability to fire long range heavy weight wire guided torpedoes and an AIP system, this new line of subs can also feature land attack capability. For this, the submarines will have to integrate a Vertical Launching System in the hull. The VLS will allows subs (and surface ships) to carry the world’s fastest cruise missile, the Brahmos [BrahMos], with a range of 290 km and the under development Nirbhaya cruise missile which has a range of 1,000 km. The Brahmos has already demonstrated the underwater launch capability and Nirbhaya too is being designed for launch from multiple platforms. But it remains to be seen if this capability can be integrated into the boats that are likely in contention. DCNS is expected to offer the Scorpene, while Russia is pitching the Amur 1650 which is the export version of the Lada class, which itself is an advance variant of the Kilo-class already in service with the Indian Navy. Other contenders include the S-80 by Navantia of Spain and the German HDW Type 214. India has also asked Japan to participate in the competition with its Soryu-class subs.
INS Chakra
So India is likely to field nearly 28 submarines including Arihant class subs, Follow-on SSBNs, New SSNs, 6 Kalvari class SSKs and 6 more P 75(I) boats, making it the most formidable submarine force in the Indian Ocean region." ENDS
Also see Submarine Matters articles:

-  India’s Plans for 21 More Subs including SSNs, August 24, 2014

-  South Asian Submarine Issues, December 7, 2014,  concerning construction of India's emerging SSBN base at INS Varsha on the East coast below Visakhapatnam. 


May 20, 2015

North Korean Submarines - Useful Stratfor Analysis and Diagram

The following Stratfor analysis of May 19, 2015 North Korea's Submarine Problem is republished with permission of Stratfor.

"North Korea recently [claimed it] tested its new KN-11 submarine-launched ballistic missile, part of a program to develop weapons technology beyond ground-based systems.
Submarine-launched ballistic missiles would give North Korea two distinct advantages. First, they would extend the reach of North Korea's missile systems, theoretically enabling it to strike targets outside of ground-based missile range. Second, submarine-launched missiles, because they are offshore and mobile, would give North Korea a second-strike capability, allowing it to retaliate against attacks on its land-based nuclear bases and launch pads.
These benefits assume, however, that North Korean submarines have two important characteristics: sufficient size to carry ballistic missiles and an adequate level of endurance, or the amount of time a vessel can remain at sea unsupported.
The smallest submarine to ever carry a submarine-launched ballistic missile is the Soviet Zulu IV-class. It displaces approximately 2,000 metric tons of water carrying its one to two nuclear ballistic missiles. It is also heavier than the Type 033, currently North Korea's largest model. Pyongyang will need bigger vessels in the future to carry one to two missiles in an operational capacity. To carry more would require a new and entirely different class of submarine.
Submarines would also need to be able to continue without support long enough to reach targets beyond the range of land-based missiles. In order to fulfill a second-strike role, vessels would need to be deployed for months far from vulnerable ports and be ready for counterattack. Even with modifications, North Korea's Type 033 submarines cannot meet these endurance requirements.
Without an adequate submarine, the resources Pyongyang is investing in new missile technology will not improve the capability of its existing land-based missile program, and a suitable ballistic missile submarine would take several years to complete. Until then, the missiles under development will not provide the major benefits associated with a submarine-launched system."

I agree with most of the above. However some countries are developing miniature ballistic missiles and supersonic cruise missiles that can perform the role of the tradition large (Polaris and larger) SLBM. This miniaturisation can potentially allows submarines smaller than 2,000 tons to fire supersonic missiles (though not necessarily ballistic missiles). For example India is developing the mini K-15 ballistic missile for submarine. This is in addition to the supersonic BrahMos cruise missile and Klub cruise missile. The Klub is supersonic and torpedo tube launched.

It may not be essential for a submarine to be "deployed for months". If a submarine has evaded enemy sensors it might be a threat after 4 days travel - in which time an SSK might have arrived at a desired launch point 1,000 nautical miles from port.


South Korea's Undersea Anti-Submarine Sensor Network - Part of SEAWEB

North Korea Naval Bases and Fleet HQs. One might expect mini-submarines to operate out of Sagin Ni (under West Sea Fleet Command). Sinpo - Mayang Do and Chaho are listed as Submarine Bases (under East Sea Fleet Command).

The SEAWEB Network goes by other names such as Fixed Surveillance System (FSS large PDF file - see pages 128-129) (, older term IUSS and oldest (SOSUS). SEAWEB includes sonar, LIDAR, optical CCTV, infrared, chemical sniffing and SIGINT amongst other sensors. (Courtesy US Navy in 2006, but since then the revolution in sensor technology and data management and storage has made SEAWEB a major unsung Western asset. South Korea's undersea sensor network is just one local branch of SEAWEB.)

South Korea has had a fixed undersea sensor network for more than 60 years. This would have started with the US Navy installing seafloor SOSUS arrays and magnetic anomally-indicator loop technically. Two shocks, the sinking of ROKS Cheonan in 2010 and North Korean moves in May 2015 toward an SLBM capability, have increased attention on South Korea integrating its undersea sensor into the Kill Chain strategy and infrastructure.

The US Navy and the NSA with its supercomputers would have worked with South Korean equivalents on the collection and easy retrieval of vast amounts of data collected from the undersea sensor system. Data management is a major aspect of the US Navy-NSA SEAWEB network - which could provide thousands of data signatures of North Korea, Chinese and Russian submarines and surface shipping. SEAWEB might be seen as a highly secure Intranet where membership/participation is tied to alliance with the US. Sometimes the US would like allies to buy alot of American hardware as part of the alliance membership status. It may be that South Korean submarines would need enough of the correct computer hardware and software "keys" in SK combat systems to access the SK branch of SEAWEB. 

As a political reaction South Korea's leadership talks of new beginnings regarding the undersea sensor network, but the network has steadily evolved in capability and in geographical extend since the early 1950s.

The following are portions of a May 13, 2015 South Korean Korea Joongang Daily, article indicating South Korea intends to extend its undersea "Kill Chain" infrastructure to handle the emerging North Korean SLBM threat :

"South’s military says ‘Kill Chain’ can be extended under water...Defense Ministry spokesman Kim Min-seok …said the South has the capability to track down North Korean submarines in real time when they are in naval bases. “If we concluded that a SLBM-capable submarine is a threat, we can pre-emptively take it out.”

The military also decided to improve its systems to detect the North’s SLBMs and upgrade submarine warfare capabilities. A military official said the modifications will be made based on the “4D Strategy” to detect, defend, disrupt and destroy North Korean threats, introduced by Commander Curtis Scaparrotti of the Korea-U.S. Combined Forces Command.

The two countries aim to create an operational plan based on that strategy and it is expected to include a plan to shoot down an SLBM-capable submarine of the North.

“We have an underwater interception system to counter the North’s submarines,” said the official. “Our military can operate Kill Chains both in the air and under water. We will improve our sonar abilities in the future.” 


Reports of South Korean sensors to counter mainly North Korea submarine and ship incursions have concentrated on South Korea's response to the March 2010 NK midget submarine sinking of ROKS Cheonan. But South Korea and the US would have installed undersea sensors against North Korea since the early 1950s.

The fixed undersea sensor network complements mobile undersea elements including South Korean, Japanese and US submarines, AUVs, LDUUVs and air dropped sinking sensors.

As well as undersea sensors South Korea operates ground stations, naval surface vessels and aircraft as well as interacting with US satellites and stealth drones. All these that operate infrared, optical, sonar and radar sensors to detect when North Korea submarines leave North Korean naval bases or when submarines might fire missiles. SIGINT including traffic analysis would also prove productive before, during and after submarine operations. 

Strategypage has provided several articles in 2010, 2011 and 2014 on South Korea's "SOSUS (SOund Surveillance System)" but there are many more sensor types that have been installed into South Korea's sensor network over the decades. 

The undersea system would not be limited to active and passive sonar but could utilise other sensors including:

-  magnetic anomally-indicator loop sensors which has been widely used by countries since WWII onwards  
-  vapour-chemical sniffing sensors
-  fixed undersea LIDAR
-  infrared undersea CCTV, and
-  seafloor, tethered and floating SIGINT intercept.

The Cheonan sinking would have underlined the South Korean and US need to provide many more undersea sensor arrays and nodes to make the network more sensitive, and quicker reacting to  North Korea midget submarines on battery, diver propulsion vehicles, torpedos and SLBM launches. North Korea submarines and diver vehicles operate near the South Korea coast and islands with the expectation that landform and shallow water "clutter' would mask their movements.   

In January 2011 it was reported: "South Korea's military is planning to install underwater sensors near frontier islands in the Yellow Sea to guard against attacks by North Korea's submarines. "We plan to install a number of underwater sensors to beef up defence capability in strategically important north-western islands like Baengnyeong and Yeonpyeong following the sinking of the Cheonan warship," an unidentified senior military official said. The sensors will be monitored from a control centre located on Baengnyeong island, the closest one to the border with North Korea, according to Agence France Presse."

The need to detect North Korean SLBM launches from North Korean naval bases would logically require sensors to increasingly focus on submarine activities within those bases. 

Even for an individual North Korean submarine operation South Korea and the US can lay surface vessel and air-dropped sonar buoys working to ground station, vessel and satellite - and in turn tying in with undersea sensors already there. Towed sensor arrays are also used.

Seafloor-upward floating or upward propelled mines/torpedos can be launched on command (including in peacetime) of automatically be activated/tripped in time of war. The sensor signatures give off by North Korean vessels would be relevant. 

Japan's undersea sensor network also faces the North Korean menace. Some aspects of Japan's network will be described next week.


May 19, 2015

Japan Providing Information for Future Submarine Selection

A crewmen dangerously perched on a sail-plane of a Soryu (with is submarine number removed for security).

What I see as the most interesting parts of a Japan Times May 18, 2015 article are:

“The National Security Council of Japan on [May 18, 2015] approved disclosing some technical data on the nation’s submarine technology to Australia, which is conducting a feasibility study on possible joint development and production of its next-generation submarine fleet…The scope of disclosure will be decided through negotiations but it will be limited to what Canberra would need for its feasibility study, the official said. Japan plans to propose joint development and production with Australia, based on Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s earlier decision to ease the nation’s self-imposed regulations on arms exports. Complicating matters, though, many aspects of the nation’s submarine know-how have likely been classified as top secret.”


Presumably development would center on achieving longer range for “SoryuAU” and perhaps more radically a vertical launch system. I assume negotiations might be through letter/email/Embassies or Minister Nakatani talking to Minister Andrews directly at the annual 2+2 talks in Canberra or Tokyo perhaps in early June 2015. (based on last years 2+2 being in early June 2014) . 

Hours after I wrote the previous paragraph the Minister's Office or Defence advised (or confirmed to) The Australian (May 20, 12.00AM) that "Kevin Andrews will visit Japan within weeks after the country’s national security council signed off on plans to bid for the navy’s future submarine project..." This is in conjuction with the annual 2+2 talks. I'd like to think The Australian monitor Submarine Matters :-)

S has provided many useful insights and 2 internet documents - see Comments for Minister Andrews Phone Call to Minister Nakatani, May 7, 2015.

The first document was Defence Programs and Budget of Japan Overview of FY2015 Budget Request Very relevant parts of it are:

Page 4: "Construction of a submarine (1 ship: ¥64.4 billion)

Construct the 11th Soryu-class submarine (2,900t class) to increase the number of submarines from the current 16 to 22 ships. [Comment 11th Soryu is 27SS with AIP? and LIB? costing ¥64.4 billion? Will 28SS still be LIB no AIP?]

Improve underwater endurance [Comment – Yes Australia wants greater endurance] , etc. compared with the existing Soryu-class submarines by mounting lithium-ion batteries ○ Life extension of submarines (life extension work for 2 ships and parts procurement for 3 ships: ¥3.4 billion)

Implement life extension measures for Oyashio-class submarines in order to increase the number of submarines from the current 16 to 22 ships.[Comment – hopefully as Japan implements more life extensions Japan will be more able to build subs that can operate to the Australian goal of 30 years]

Page 18: “Increase the number of Defense Attachés, etc. (Ukraine, Poland and Australia)” [Comment – I wonder if the first Attaché in Canberra might be a senior Submarine Officer]

Page 20: “Promoting bilateral, trilateral and multilateral defense cooperation and exchanges, including those with Australia, ROK and India, as well as Japan-U.S.-Australia and Japan-U.S.-ROK defense cooperation”

I found Japanese language budget paper 2014 Fiscal Year Life Cycle Cost Management Annual Report (pages 77-80) too difficult to generate a useful picture. Even using Google Translate the document is in tables, columns with specialist language conventions used for Japanese government bureaucracy yearly budgeting. Japanese language newspaper articles are easy by comparison.


May 17, 2015

South Korean Submarine Launched Missiles Possibilities

(Courtesy Free Republic) Major sites of North Korean ballistic missiles with ranges of perhaps 2,000 km - capable of hitting all of South Korea and Japan. Some are in hard to penetrate silos. South Korea and the US may face restrictions on targeting sites near the Chinese border (including Chunggang-up).  This is due to the risk of SK-US warhead explosions effecting Chinese citizens as well as secondary fallout from destroyed NK warheads or nuclear facilities.  

Also high on South Korea's target list would be North Korean nuclear research and possibly reactor and reprocessing sites (although fallout may be a consideration in not attacking reactors or reprocessing sites). South Korea and the US may face restrictions on targeting sites near the Chinese border (including Yongjo-ri and Hyesan).  This is due to the risk of SK-US warhead explosions effecting Chinese citizens as well as secondary fallout from destroyed NK warheads or nuclear facilities.  

The following mainly deals with South Korean submarine launched missiles. It is acknowledged that South Korean land based missiles and a major US land/sea/aircraft launched missile and bomb  contribution would acutely influence the submarine aspects and requirements.

Indicates coverage over North Korea of South Korean missiles of 300km and 500km range. Their launch from a predictable launch point in SK runs the risk of NK destruction of the missiles at that launch point and greater effectives of NK anti-missiles-missiles shooting down missiles from that SK launch point. This underlines the value of  SK submarine launched missiles.

South Korea (SK) has been developing land based ballistic missile with ranges around 800 km sufficient to reach all of North Korea (NK) and warheads of at least 500 kg. In order to penetrate silos and bunkers SK is probably working towards 1,000 kg warhead capabilities. 

To face NK's developing submarine launched ballistic missile (SLBM) threat South Korea would also be considering building an SLBM capability. SLBM would frequently shorten SK's time to NK target capability which is so important in SK's preemptive strike “Kill Chain” strategy. SLBMs are hard to shoot down due to their speed, of 3,000+ km/h, and variable (rather than on land predictable) launch points. Variable launch points complicate an enemy's battle plan thus adding to uncertainty - hopefully promoting deterrence.

South Korea's existing submarine launched cruise missiles (SLCMs) carry disadvantages of subsonic only (around 800 km/h) speeds making them frequently too slow for preemptive strike “Kill Chain” duties and more easily shot down by North Korea’s anti-missile defences. Nevertheless SLCMs might be effective against North Korean coastal targets depending on how close South Korea submarines can get to the coast. 

However South Korea would now be seeking to make its future submarines capable of firing vertically launched ballistic missiles. This may include the four final KSS-IIs submarines (see below) to be launched by 2020 and certainly the KSS-IIIs already due to receive vertical launch systems for cruise, ballistic missiles or anti-missile missiles (BMDs). South Korea may be accelerating its KSS-III program in view of the looming North Korean SLBM threat.


South Korea has the following land based ballistic missiles that might be capable of development into a submarine launched ballistic missile (SLBM) including:

-  The Short Range South Korean Rocket (KSR) research program which has produced a missile of 800 km range perhaps with a 300 kg payload and 11.21m long. With a lot of development this may represent the closest SK built solution to its SLBM needs. See launch below. 

Launch of South Korea short range ballistic missile/rocket to deploy a satellite.

-  The US provided ATACMS (Army TACtical Missile System)  looks like it would require too much development to be modified into an SLBM. The US might also heavily restrict modifications.

-  The NHK-1/-2 (Hyon Mu 1 and 2) (which is unrelated to the Hyon Mu 3) has a length of 12.14 m which is probably too long for vertical launch from the hull of the future KSS-III. Firing through the sail/fin/conning tower might be possible. The NHK 2 (Hyon Mu 2) may now have a 800 km range and 500 kg payload. The diameter of 0.54 m would allow perhaps 6 to be carried by a 3,000 ton KSS-III.

New Foreign Missiles?

It may take South Korea too long (5 years?) to modify one of the above missiles for SLBM use. A wholly new missile might take longer. Therefore South Korea may seek foreign assistance or a complete foreign missile. Possible countries are the US - although the US might which to observe MTCR rules closely. Other countries might be:

-  France
-  Israel (Popeye Turbo - perhaps a supersonic SLCM, with the advantage of horizontal torpedo tube launch option) or
-  India (K-15 Sagarika missile?) noting Indian Prime Minister Modi's visit to South Korea on May 18-19, 2015.


South Korea has two existing types of submarine certainly capable of launching SLCMs and possibly SLBMs, including:

-  Nine  KSS-I Chang Bogo class (Type 209)(no AIP). They can would be capable of firing Harpoon missiles (220 kg warheads, 130 km range) to coastal parts of North Korea. 1,200 tons (surfaced) 8 torpedo tubes (how many can fire Harpoon missiles for land attack?). Could be retrofitted to fire South Korea's Tomahawk like Hyon Mu 3 cruise missiles (500 to 1,000 kg warheads) to any part of North Korea, and

Four KSS-II Son Won-II class (Type 214) with AIP (to remain fully submerged off North Korea’s coast for around 3 weeks). Five more KSS-IIs are due to be commissioned by 2020 which could be modified to launch SLBMs. 1,800 tons surfaced (8) 533 mm torpedo tubes, SLCMs (4?) Harpoon missile capable. Could fire Hyon Mu 3s.

South Korea is also developing KSS-III 3,000 ton submarines capable of firing Harpoons, Hyon Mu 3s SLCMs, and launching SLBMs from their vertical launch systems or anti-missile-missiles (BMDs).