August 10, 2018

Artificial "Whiskers" to Detect Submarine and AUV Movement

An image from The Economist article is above. Clearly in submarine, UUV, AUV, seabed or harbour defense applications, "whisker" sensors may be useful to detect unnatural water flows. This may particularly be regular propeller movement vortices. "Whiskers" may be most useful in places like the Baltic Sea, where AIP is frequently used by Sweden and Germany, to minimize passive sonar detectable diesel emissions.

Whiskers are so prominent and regular on seals that they must be very valuable in detecting fish movement in totally opaque (eg. muddy) and low or no light environments. 

A disappearing Economist paysite article on artificial seal whiskers and submarine movement detection prompted Pete to find similar information on a free site.

So I located a 3DPRINT.COM article of January 17, 2018. The following is an abridged version which begins:

“3D Printed Sensor Mimics Seal Whiskers to Detect Underwater Vortices
by Clare Scott | Jan 17, 2018 | 3D PrintingScience & Technology |

The word pinniped refers to semi-aquatic fin- or flipper-footed mammals, including to seals, sea lions and walruses. These creatures also have whiskers, which...serve an important purpose – they help the pinnipeds track their prey underwater by sensing the vortices left behind by the movement of said prey. A group of researchers in the Department of Mechatronics Engineering at Jeju National University in South Korea believe that a sensor based on the pinnipeds’ method of hunting could be valuable for soft robotics and underwater exploration, [Pete Comment: And to detect submarine and AUV water movement] they set out to create one using 3D printing.

The research was described in a paper entitled “Fully 3D Printed Multi-Material Soft Bio-Inspired Whisker Sensor for Underwater-Induced Vortex Detection,” which you can read here...” The artificial whisker was 3D printed with polyurethane as well as graphene, which was printed in four patterns using a multi-head 3D printer.

“The four graphene patterns (90° apart) on the polyurethane cylinder enable the flow detection in all directions (0–360°). The length and diameter of the polyurethane cylinder and graphene patterns are 160 × 8 mm and 60 × 0.3 mm, respectively,” the researchers explain. “The conductivity of the printed graphene pattern is 0.6 Ω-cm. With a maximum deformation distance of 5 mm in any direction (0–360°), a substantial change in resistance is observed (from 5.09 × 103 to 6.03 × 108 Ω). The change in resistance in four directions (up, down, left, and right) is studied in an underwater environment.”

“.. The dual-extruder 3D printer was used to print the sensor itself, using the first head, out of polyurethane purchased from Fotopolymer, while the second head printed the graphene patterns from filament bought from Black Magic 3D. After printing was complete, the base and the patterns were connected using copper tape. Copper tape was also used to solder signal wires, and a final 1mm water protection polyurethane layer was dip coated and cured with UV light.

The researchers then tested the sensors, using them to detect the vortices by digitizing the analog signals that indicate resistance changes and sending them to a microcontroller. They concluded that the design and fabrication of the whisker sensor is simple, quick, low cost, and easily deployable in commercial applications, as well as delivering good sensitivity and mechanical reliability. Some further development is needed; however, the study was overall a successful one...

Authors of the paper include Jahan Zeb Gul, Kim Young Su, and Kyung Hyun Choi.”


In 2015 Dr. Heather Beem explained the mechanics of artificial whiskers.

August 7, 2018

Lockheed Martin Likely Helping With Taiwan Future Submarine Project

Pete has been working with Sebastien Roblin to produce a The National Interest article of 
August 4, 2018, which includes the points: 

"...the United States, is willing to assist in building submarines [for Taiwan]. Indeed, in April 2018 the State Department approved a marketing license for submarine parts to Taiwan, including a Combat Management System. Taiwan already possesses licenses for Mark 48 torpedoes and Harpoon missiles." but 

"European countries are wary of inciting Beijing’s wrath, though the Dutch RH Marine [see ISM article] did recently agree to overhaul Taiwan’s Zwaardvis[/Hai Lung]-class submarines in 2022".


Yes US, European and Asian companies are pretty reticent about publicising that they have helped or will help Taiwan. Since April 4 I've located an additional company that already has an export license to help Taiwan on submarines, hence can help the future submarine project.

This DefenseNews article of April 4, 2016 indicates:

"... Taiwan Navy sources say that Navy leadership are leaning towards an off-the-shelf solution, such as that being proposed by Lockheed Martin based on its SUBICS (SUBmarine Integrated Combat System) system, instead of an indigenous combat system solution to be developed by CSIST, presumably with foreign technical assistance." 

[And the following is pretty definitive for the 2016 AND most probably also the future Taiwanese submarine project]

"US Government sources confirm that Lockheed Martin had received the export license earlier in [2016] to assist Taiwan in submarine combat system and other submarine-related work."


August 6, 2018

Russia to Help Philippines in Submarine Operations & Maintenance

The announcement that Russia will train some Philippine naval personnel to be future submariners opens many opportunities for cultivation towards eventual recruitment by Russian intelligence (by GRU?). Significantly, prospective Philippine submariners may need to stay in Russia for several lonely years in order to be properly trained.

More officially Russia might hope to sell a Kilo class conventional submarine to the Philippine Navy.  Kilos are now the only full sized conventional submarine class that Russia operates, builds  and sells. However Kilos may be too large, at 2,325 ton (surfaced), for the Philippines' first sub.

A smaller alternative? Russia, has, in the past, produced the 218 ton (surfaced) Piranha (NATO designation "Losos") mini-submarine. A modernized Losos may be adequate for training and be useful as a first Philippine sub (for a few years).

Compared to the Kilo China may also be offering the cheaper, smaller 1,850 ton (surfaced) S20 submarine.

Many different submarine types and sizes may possibly be availabe from European, (especially) South Korean and (less likely) Japanese firms.


China's Xinhua news reports August 4, 2018, along the lines - The Russian Navy has agreed to help the Philippine Navy in submarine training, maintenance  and sustainment of future subs as the two countries seek to strengthen their bilateral military ties. This was announced by Philippine Navy spokesman Commander Jonathan Zata on Saturday August 4, 2018.

Zata said that the commitment was made at the meeting on July 29, 2018 in St. Petersburg, [Pete comment - this is where Russia bases some Baltic Fleet submarines and builds them at Admiralty Shipyards].

China's Xinhua further reported that the Russian and Philippine navies, on July 29, discussed a future draft MOU for deepening bilateral security cooperation. No specifics were published although broad issues like humanitarian assistance, disaster response training and regular port visits of Russian naval ships to the Philippines were mentioned.

Apparently Russian warships have made four port visits to the Philippines since Philippine President Duterte came to office in June 2016. From that time Duterte has generated many new approaches to Russia and also China.  

Russia expressed its appreciation for the upcoming port visit of a Philippine naval vessel to the Russian Pacific Fleet Base of Vladivostok.


August 3, 2018

Facebook calls efforts subverting next US elections a ‘new arms race’

In preperation for US November 2016 Presidential Election

Diagram below illustrates how Cambridge Analytica, on behalf of Trump and Russia, hijacked 50+ million Facebook profiles prior to US 2016 Election. (Diagram courtesy The Guardian March 18, 2018  )


2018 July

Facebook, in dramatically creating the national security sounding “arms race” tag, clearly wants to rehabilitate itself in the eyes of the US security and intelligence community as well as the US public and political establishment. "Arms race" would particularly appeal to the US Department of Defense run National Security Agency (NSA) (specifically the NSA's Information Assurance mission).

The piece of Facebook publicity campaigning below comes too late after Facebook profiles were far too easily exploited by Cambridge Analytica to get Trump elected in 2016.


INTELNEWS August 1, 2018 has produced an interesting article titled Facebook says efforts to subvert upcoming US elections resemble ‘new arms race’

Facebook has said it is involved in an “arms race” against “bad actors” as it announced on [August 31, 2018] the removal of accounts that allegedly tried to subvert the upcoming mid-term elections in the United States. The social-media giant said its security division had identified 32 profiles and pages that were set up for the sole purpose of disrupting, subverting or otherwise influencing the American political process. At least seven more accounts were shut down on the Instagram platform –which is also owned by Facebook– for the same reasons. In the past 14 months, the suspect accounts generated nearly 10,000 posts and were liked or followed by over 290,000 users, said Facebook ...

July 31, 2018

US diplomats secretly meet Afghan Taliban. What of Afghan IS?

Illustrating the Taliban is not the only insurgent force in Afghanistan is the US Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI's) 2017 map of other Islamist groups in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Middle East, Africa and ISIS in the Philippines. (See much larger on page 9 of this ODNI Report).

The INTELNEWS, July 31, 2018 article US diplomats secretly met with Taliban without Afghan government is interesting.


The US and coalition allies have been faced with a never ending war in Afghanistan since 2001 which has cost $Billions, maybe one US$Trillion. “The estimate for the cost of deploying one US soldier in Afghanistan is over US$1 million a year.

As one response to 9/11 Afghanistan has also cost the lives of 3,405 Western troops (see right sidebar “Casualties and losses”) including 2,271 Americans, 456 British and 41 Australians.

A problem with the US negotiating with an enemy to end a war (eg. Vietnam and now Afghanistan) is responding to US public questions “why did our loved ones die fighting?” A Government response along the lines of “Peace with Honour” or this is part of the "War on Terror" wears thin.

But how do you stop an unconventional war without clear enemy combatants, with no clear territory to take and without an enemy government to surrender?

Also the Taliban are not the only enemy in Afghanistan. Other anti-Western, Islamist, or "terrorist", insurgents operate in Afghanistan including Islamic State. Will or can the US Government negotiate with Islamic State forces in Afghanistan?