April 25, 2014

Saab Eyes Australian Submarine Industry

The Saab Gripen with standard camouflage? poised to shoot down Putin's Flankers.

MaritimeSecurity.Asia published the following article on April 20, 2014 which, in part, discusses Saab's possible interest in purchasing Australia's ASC (submarine building and maintenance company). Excepts [with interesting bits I've bolded in] this long article are http://maritimesecurity.asia/free-2/procurement-2/swedens-goals-fuel-saabs-acquisitions-defensenews-com/ :

Sweden’s Goals Fuel Saab’s Acquisitions – DefenseNews.com

HELSINKI — The Swedish government’s drive to rebuild core national defense capacities is pivotal to Saab’s ambitions to develop a competitive submarine branch and become a major global player in this segment, government and company insiders say.
Saab is reportedly close to agreeing to a takeover price with ThyssenKrupp for shipyards operated by the German group’s subsidiary, ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems (TKMS), in Malmö, Karlskrona and Muskö, Sweden.
The acquisition of TKMS’ yards is fundamental to Saab’s quest to acquire the design and construction infrastructure it needs to secure state contracts ahead of taking over the A26 Next Generation Submarine and Götland-class fleet modernization programs for a cost of $3.5 billion.
Capacity acquisition will also be a vital component to Saab’s pursuit of an international partner, said Peter Hultqvist, chairman of the Swedish parliament’s Standing Committee on Defense (SCD).
“The wheels have turned,” Hultqvist said. “The government, possibly in response to Russia’s aggression in Crimea and the Ukraine, has decided that a strong industrial defense capacity that is Swedish-controlled will be the cornerstone that underpins defense policy and future capability.”
The government’s view is that a Swedish-controlled submarine capacity is the best means to release TKMS’ (formerly Kockums) dormant potential to produce world-class subs and surface naval vessels. It will also enhance Sweden’s ability to pursue international contracts, such as Australia’s proposed $37.5 billion Future Submarine program, Hultqvist said.
Anders Carp, senior vice president and head of Saab’s Nordic and Baltic market area, said that the company is looking to increase its presence in Australia and has not ruled out bidding for the Australian sub-builder ASC.
“We are impressed by the company [ASC]; they have built up a very good business there, both with submarines and the Air Warfare Destroyer. But we need to look into that when it happens,” said Carp, who also is in charge of Saab’s corporate responsibility for government affairs.
The Saab-Australian connection had earlier been flagged by Lena Erixon, the CEO of FMV, Sweden’s defense materials procurement agency.
“It is possible that the work may also be shared with Australia and Poland. In Australia, there is considerable interest in a partnership regarding submarines,” Erixon said.
The Royal Australian Navy’s (RAN) existing fleet of six Collins-class submarines are based on a Kockums design. This fact, coupled with the state-held ASC’s service and maintenance contracts with the RAN, has added a new dynamic to the prospect of a future Saab bid for ASC, which continues to be the subject of sale rumors.
ASC officials have not commented.
Australia has a requirement for 12 large conventionally powered submarines under Project Sea 1000 (Future Submarine). The choice has been narrowed to either an evolution of the Collins boat or a new design.
Saab, says Carp, is interested in both options.
“Sea 1000 is one of the largest and most interesting programs and it’s Australia’s biggest program ever,” Carp said. “Being in the defense industry, you’d be kind of stupid not to be interested in it.”
Saab sees synergies between Sweden’s A26 program and Australia’s Sea 1000 Future Submarine project, and is examining a possible partnership with ASC on new submarines and the upgrade of existing boats.
Another possible fit is Sweden’s planned midlife upgrade on its three A19 Götland-class submarines and the Australian Service Life Extension Program (SLEP) for its six Collins-class boats in the same time frame.
Saab and ASC constitute natural partners, Carp said.
Defense cooperation, including collaboration on submarine capability, was discussed when FMV officials visited Australia in recent months. Japan is also exploring cooperation with Australia.

Troubled Relationship

The emergence of Saab as a global player in submarine production would not be possible unless the company had the “wholehearted support” of the Swedish Cabinet, said an insider at FMV.
“Soon after ThyssenKrupp bought Kockums in 2005, there was a sense that the state had missed the opportunity to safeguard submarine building in Sweden,” the FMV insider said. “These fears intensified when Kockums’ project bidding role was removed to Germany at a time when it was working on bids for the Australian program as well as the prospective $4 billion Ula-class replacement program in Norway.”...
Pete

April 22, 2014

Sweden's Submarine Export Behaviour


The Gotland Class sub leased to US.


An instructor for Collins Class cryptologic systems explains his job.
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With all the controversy of Saab, TKMS (and related HDW) in the news its timely to recall Sweden's submarine export activity since the 1980s. The article below of July 23, 2013 is from the Nuclear Threat Intiative (NTI) http://www.nti.org/analysis/articles/sweden-submarine-import-and-export-behavior/ :


Sweden Submarine...Export Behavior

July 23, 2013
Imports  Sweden is an exporter of submarines and does not import them.
Exports
Kockums
Producing submarines for the Swedish Navy since 1914, the Swedish shipyard Kockums did not begin exporting its vessels until the 1980s, in large part due to Sweden's policy of neutrality in international conflicts. This neutrality position, in turn, has led some countries to view Sweden as an unreliable supplier. [1] Sweden's change in export behavior in the 1980s has been attributed to increasing development costs, which were amplified by its strategy of frequently introducing new classes, but only producing a few boats in each class. To retain the ability to develop new boats continuously without facing increasingly prohibitive costs, Sweden decided to export its vessels to achieve economies of scale. [2]

In 1999, Kockums was incorporated into Germany's Howaldtswerke-Deutsche Werft (HDW), [Pete's Comment - With the end of the Cold War Sweden could no longer support Kockums through Swedish defence purchases. Kockums' export activity (including the Collins) was inadequate. Hence the Swedish government permitted Kockums to be taken over by HDW in 1999. TKMS then took over HDW-Kockums in 2005.] and as of 5 January 2005 is part of ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems (TKMS). Kockums offers three submarine classes for export:
  • Gotland-class: hybrid diesel-electric/AIP patrol submarines, with an AIP system based on the Stirling engine;
  • Västergötland-class: diesel-electric patrol submarines;
  • Collins-class: diesel-electric, ocean-going, long-range patrol submarines, designed for the Australian Navy.

Submarine Table for Sweden
 

In 1987 Kockums was granted a contract to supply the Australian Navy with six Collins-class vessels, and formed the Australian Submarine Corporation (ASC) to construct the submarines locally. Kockums held 49% of ASC's shares, while the Australian government controlled the remainder. When Kockums became part of HDW in 1999, the German company was interested in acquiring ASC as well, and nearly reached an agreement to do so with Australian authorities. [3] However, the Australian government instead decided to acquire Kockums' shares of ASC with the intent of subsequently selling the shares as a complete package in order to maintain access to the U.S. technology used in the Collins-class submarines. [4] Subsequently, Kockums and the Australian government became embroiled in a legal battle over payment for welding repairs made to one of Australia's submarines, and intellectual property rights for future upgrades. [5] The dispute was finally settled in 2004, but the Australian government has had difficulties privatizing ASC and has yet to sell the company. [6]
Kockums attempted to market an export version of the Gotland-class to Thailand, but the deal fell through as a result of financial difficulties experienced by the Southeast Asian country. [7] The company was also a finalist for a sale to India, a deal HDW later secured. [8] More success was achieved with Singapore, which acquired a total of four modernized former Royal Swedish Navy Sjöormen-class boats (Challenger-class in Singapore) in the 1990s, and ordered two Västergötland-class vessels (Archer-class in Singapore) in November 2005. [9] The two Västergötland-class boats, which first entered service with the Royal Swedish Navy in 1986 and 1987, underwent modernization with AIP systems and conversion for tropical water operation before being delivered to Singapore. [10] The contract also includes a logistics package and training for the crews by the Swedish Navy in Karlskrona. [11] In December 2011 the first submarine, the RSS Archer (ex-HMS Hälsingland), was commissioned into Singapore's Navy. [12] The RSS Swordsman was commissioned in April 2013. [13]

Kockums also refits deployed submarines with its Stirling AIP system via a plug-in. [14] For example, it refitted a former Swedish Navy Näcken-class submarine with AIP and leased it to the Danish Navy from 2001 to 2004. [15] In July 2005, Kockums announced that it would produce Stirling engines for the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF), which decided to include AIP on all new boats. [16] While Kockums is supplying the engines, Kawasaki Heavy Industries is assembling the AIP systems. [17] The first submarine of the JMSDF equipped with Stirling engines, the Soryu (SS-501) was laid down in March 2005, launched in December 2007, and commissioned in March 2009. Four more Soryu-class boats have since been commissioned at a rate of roughly one per year. [18]

In the early 2000s, Kockums developed the Viking concept, a hybrid diesel-electric/AIP (Stirling) patrol submarine initially intended to replace aging units in the Danish, Swedish, and Norwegian navies. [19] Kockums initially cooperated on the vessels with Denmark's Odense Steel Shipyard using Danish, Norwegian and Swedish funding. However, Norway opted out of the project in 2003, while Denmark decided in June 2003 to cease funding the project in its 2005 to 2009 Defense Plan, throwing Viking's financing into question. [20] In June 2004, moreover, the Danish parliament decided to stop operating submarines altogether. [21]

Although the failure of the Viking project ended the prospect of cooperation with other Nordic countries, Kockums received a contract to design a new submarine, called the A26, for the Swedish Navy. [22] The A26 features the Stirling AIP system and will be designed with advanced stealth technologies for performing intelligence missions. [23] Kockums has yet to begin construction, but if it follows through on the order for Sweden the company could market the A26 for export as well.

April 21, 2014

Cyber Warfare, Sigint "Maturity" in Some Asia-Pacific Countries


To an extent Chinese state media revealed some of the PLA's cyber warfare capabilities. Its unlikely the cyber warriors depicted above would regularly wear their helmets to work. China may have the 2nd to 4th largest cyber warfare capability in the world.
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In pursuit of Australia by the Indian Ocean’s (a non-profit nor revenue, educational site’s) interest in  non-“Five Eyes” sigint-cyber issues the following is of interest.

On April 15, 2014, ASPI’s International Cyber Policy Centre released its inaugural Cyber Maturity in the Asia-Pacific Region 2014 report (PDF). To read the complete ASPI Report see https://www.aspi.org.au/publications/cyber-maturity-in-the-asia-pacific-region-2014/ASPI_cyber_maturity_2014.pdf  

This Report analyses the ‘cyber maturity’ of some countries in the Asia–Pacific region. Cyber indicators cover whole-of-government policy and legislative structures, military organisation, business and digital economic strength and levels of cyber social awareness. The research base underpinning each of these indicator groups has collated exclusively from information in the public domain and as such this report’s conclusions are based solely on open-source material.

Page 9 of the report explains: “Military uses of cyberspace, particularly national capabilities, are a sensitive topic for all regional states, and this area requires careful consideration before engagement is sought or agreed to. What is the military’s role in cyberspace, cyber policy and cybersecurity?

Under the section What is the military’s role in cyberspace, cyber policy  and cybersecurity? for each country area the Report’s descriptions are as follows:

(page 19) Cambodia
While it appears that the Cambodian Armed Forces have at least a superficial involvement with cyber policy and security, the extent and detail of that involvement remain unclear in open-source material. Regardless of the level of defence force involvement, it’s understood that Cambodia has a ‘very limited’ capability to defend against cyberattacks.
  
(page 22) China
Open-source reporting indicates that the PLA has several bureaus that actively conduct cyber-espionage operations. The PLA has also published several doctrinal information and development articles and monographs on information warfare and the role of cyber capabilities in military operations. China’s score is reduced by the apparent lack of coordination of these activities within the PLA.

[For a long Australia by the Indian Ocean article concerning China's sigint-cyber capabilities see New US Paper on China's Defence Sigint and Infosec Service (aka PLA GSD Third Department), July 16, 2012 at http://gentleseas.blogspot.com.au/2011/11/new-us-paper-on-chinas-defence-sigint.html ]

(page 22) India
The Indian military is aware of cyber threats and has established several organs to address them, including Defence CERT, the Army Cyber Security Establishment, the Defence Information Warfare Agency, the Cyber Security Laboratory and the Military College of Telecommunication Engineering. The establishment of a Cyber Command has also been announced, although it’s unclear whether this has been implemented. India’s score reflects the Indian Defence Force’s awareness of cyber threats, but also its slow implementation and a lack of stated policy direction for military cyber capabilities.

(page 28) Indonesia
The Indonesian Defence Minister has announced the planned establishment of the Cyber Defence Operations Centre to coordinate national cybersecurity efforts, including service-specific work by the Indonesian military on cybersecurity. The centre is also slated to draft a national doctrine on cybersecurity and conduct implementation strategies across defence and other departments. The creation of a dedicated ‘cyber army’ has also been proposed. The Defence Minister explained that the force would consist of elite membership embedded in the various branches of the Indonesian military to protect domestic networks against cyberattack. It’s unclear what progress has been made on this initiative. This announcement shows that there’s awareness of cyber threats in the Indonesian military, but the response is unclear.

(page 31) Japan
The recent Japanese National Security Strategy clearly outlines Japan’s interests in cyberspace, including means to address current limitations in Japanese cyber capabilities. The Japan Self-Defense Force (JSDF) Command, Control, Communications and Computer Systems Command is charged with the development of national cyberdefence capabilities. Under the command, the JSDF established a Cyber Defense Unit. The defence force is seen to have the necessary structures in place for cyber operations. The JSDF is working to improve its capability, especially through cooperation with the US, but a shortage of qualified personnel, an inability to respond to attacks, weak capabilities and problems in information sharing within the force remain areas of concern.

(page 34) Malaysia
Reports indicate that the Malaysian Armed Forces have begun to develop capabilities to protect national assets, including from cyber threats, and the Malaysian Defence Minister has publicly supported the development of an ASEAN master plan for Southeast Asia’s cybersecurity. Malaysia’s score reflects an awareness of cyber risks within the armed forces, but is reduced by the lack of clear policy direction for the development of cyber capabilities.

(page 37) Myanmar-Burma
The Defence Services Computer Directorate, under the Army Chief of Staff, encompasses network centric warfare, military-oriented cyber capabilities and electronic warfare. The Army’s military strategy has been expanded to include cyberwarfare as part of ‘people’s war under modern conditions’. Military Affairs Security (formerly the Directorate of Defense Services Intelligence) also possesses a cyber unit, but is more politically focused, carrying out monitoring both domestically and internationally. There are suggestions that the unit’s capability has grown exponentially in recent years with the assistance of other countries in the region. Russia and China have provided training to officers, and Singapore and China have both provided physical infrastructure support.

 (page 40) North Korea
The North Korean military is believed to have highly developed cyber capabilities and a well-organised and extensive education and research program to support future operations. Unit 121 is believed to be its primary offensive cyber force; personnel estimates range from 300 to  3,000 people. It’s believed that North Korea’s military has successfully infiltrated South Korean government and private sector systems, but  there’s little understanding of the military’s defensive capabilities.

(page 43) PNG
Despite recent attempts to bolster the strength of the PNG Defence Force, which has limited capabilities and resources, cyber issues have traditionally not been a priority for the country. The 2013 Defence White Paper made reference to establishing a defensive ‘Cyber Cell’ to protect a yet to be developed ‘Integrated ICT Network’, but outlined no timelines or implementation strategies. Clear evidence of military cyber policy and capacity in cyber operations remains limited.

(page 46) Philippines
The Armed Forces of the Philippines have created a Security Operation Center with a primarily defensive role, protecting military systems. However, a higher score wasn’t given because it’s unclear to what extent the centre has been implemented.

(page 49) Singapore
The Singaporean Armed Forces have established a Cyber Defence Operations Hub, aimed at protecting domestic military networks. This indicates that there’s an awareness of cyber risks and that work is underway to address them. Singapore’s score would be higher if there were a publicly available Singaporean Armed Forces strategy or policy on how the armed forces will engage with cyber threats.

(page 52) South Korea
South Korea has a capable military cyber capacity. The Defense Information Warfare Response Center of the Defense Security Command protects military networks, while the Cyber Command unit handles wider online security. South Korea has both defensive and offensive capabilities and in February 2014 announced its intention to develop offensive cyber capabilities specifically to target North Korea’s nuclear program. However, recent allegations of military cyber unit interference in national elections reduce the country’s score for this indicator. A new Cyber Defence Department, set to be launched in May 2014, aims to halt these domestic interference issues. The new command is to be established under the Joint Chiefs of Staff, with responsibility for all cyberwarfare missions. It will also include an oversight committee and a whistleblower program.

(page 55) Thailand
The Thai military currently has limited capability and authority on cyber issues, but its leadership has expressed an interest in developing legislation to legalise the operation of a cyber army. Thailand hosted the 2013 USPACOM Cyber Endeavour program, which focused on communications and IT interoperability."


Pete

April 15, 2014

A26 Program "terminated", Now Becoming "Next Generation Submarine" (NGS)

MHalblaub kindly alerted me to an article of April 14, 2014, by the Editors of The Australian Strategic Policy Institute's (ASPI's) blog The Strategist at http://www.aspistrategist.org.au/submarines-german-swedish-tensions/ . I've republished this article under the Creative Commons licence and conditions. Note in the article Göran Larsbrink, retired Rear Admiral from Sweden, indicates:

"The submarine program A26 is terminated, but instead the project NGS—Next Generation Submarine—will arise like a bird phoenix. Furthermore, there is a political will to substantially increase Sweden’s defence budget—thank you Mr Putin—including an increase of our submarine force from four to five submarines." 

Article reads:

"Submarines: German–Swedish tensions

At last week’s submarine conference, the following exchange took place between Dr Hans Christoph Atzpodien of TKMS and RADM (Rtd) Göran Larsbrink of Sweden, prompted by a question from the floor. Given the potential contribution of German and Swedish industry players to project SEA 1000, and given recent press interest, we thought it worth presenting the discussion in its entirety.




Errors and omissions excepted
Kym Bergmann (Asia Pacific Defence Reporter):
…to Dr Atzpodien, we read in the European media that there’s a high level of unhappiness between TKMS and your Swedish subsidiary Kockums. Could you please comment on this for us?
Hans Christoph Atzpodien:
Just coming back to your question, actually as everybody knows we are the 100% owner of Kockums in Sweden, which in the meantime is renamed into TKMS AB. We have been invited to acquire it 15 years ago, and unfortunately now as Sweden has engaged in a national submarine program called A26 it seems that we are no longer wanted as a foreign owner— that is our perception. Of course we would have been open to any discussions and fair solutions to this new situation, but there was not much of talking—recently there was much more of, let’s say, force to deprive us of our basic ownership rights, and I can only hope that this will come to an amicable solution. Finally, at least I can say we are open for talks and have offered this various times, and I hope we will have a good solution for that in time because we feel first and foremost a responsibility also for the employees of the company.
Göran Larsbrink:
My name is Göran Larsbrink, retired Rear Admiral from Sweden. Normally there would have been speakers from Sweden here today, but there are reasons for not being here, and it’s just recently that the information about what’s going on has become public, and therefore I think it’s appropriate to mention a little bit about what’s going on since this has an influence on Australia’s choices.
And Sweden is today in a process to resume command over its own naval industry and thereby its own future. And this industry is classified as being of essential national security interests. As wrong as it was to sell Kockums to HDW in 1999, as right it is today to take it back and resume control. In doing so Sweden will be in control of and have the capability to design, produce and operate our own submarines, as well as to cooperate with whom Sweden wants to cooperate with in order to meet national security interests, all under the umbrella of government-to-government agreements. And in this Sweden possess all relevant IP and use it as we want, together with whom Sweden wants, and there is no one else that can use it without permission from our Government.
What is going on now is a swift and determined transition of submarine design and production competence from former Kockums to Saab. The infrastructure for production can and will be solved in different ways. The submarine program A26 is terminated, but instead the project NGS—Next Generation Submarine—will arise like a bird phoenix. Furthermore, there is a political will to substantially increase Sweden’s defence budget—thank you Mr Putin—including an increase of our submarine force from four to five submarines. And in this, the Government, the Opposition, all the defence authorities and the industry (meaning Saab) are agreed upon and are fully committed that it shall be done [inaudible] and successfully.
Hans Christoph Atzpodien:
Please allow me to just comment on this. Mr Larsbrink I think this is a surprising statement. You have to recognise first of all we are the legitimate owner of the company and we are living all together inside the EU, and I rate it quite surprising if you state here that you just take it back. We could, I was not going more deeply into that upon the question I was asked, but with this statement I have to because the measures to take it back resulted in hiring massively our skilled people without telling us, taking away the business licence or putting it on hold, not providing us with any further orders for shipyard in total and thereby destroying the industrial base and the employment base for almost a thousand people, and this is something which we cannot see in line with legal actions and we cannot see in line with responsibility for a company and for the employees.
(End)"

Other sites deal with the future Australian Submarine (SEA 1000) Debate

The news feed on the Australian Submarine Institute's website at http://www.submarineinstitute.com/ or its RSS at http://www.submarineinstitute.com/RSS-News-Feed-Submarine-Institute-of-Australia.rss adequately covers the avalanche of Australian media items on Australia's future submarine selection debate (Project "SEA 1000"). (Photo above is from Australian Submarine Institute's website Homepage).

Due to the veritable avalanche of Australian media reports on the future Australian Submarine (Project SEA 1000) debate I shall no longer post the text of Australian articles by other writers (unless I've written the articles myself). The volume of those reports will continue until an actual selection is made in the next 3 years or so.

The best ongoing news source on this debate is the moving news feed on the Australian Submarine Institute website at http://www.submarineinstitute.com/  under "OTHER NEWS" on the right hand panel. Also see its RSS at http://www.submarineinstitute.com/RSS-News-Feed-Submarine-Institute-of-Australia.rss . For April 9-10, 2014 you will see how many articles there are.

What I shall continue to do is report on: other submarine characteristics and forces (of non-"Five Eyes") in Australia's region; the Swedish-German corporate battle; and on major powers as far away as Russia. 

Reporting on foreign reconnaissance satellites will continue.

Occasional reporting on (regional relations, broadly defence of Australia, surface warships, aircraft, missiles, terrorism and non-Five Eye sigint) will also continue :)

Pete

April 13, 2014

Swedish and German Top Executives Selling Subs to Australia

Anders Carp of Vice President Saab (on left) promoting Swedish submarines for Australia
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Hans-Christoph Atzpodien, Chairman TKMS, promoting German submarines.

The corporate battle between Sweden-Saab and Germany’s TKMS is heating up. A conference held in Canberra, Australia over the last week very much concerned competition among Swedish and German participants to win Australia's future diesel-electric submarine order of up to $40 billion.

As can be seen in the article below there is a major surprise that there is no consensus among Australia's government and private industry entities on how the future submarine project should proceed.
Cameron Stewart of The Australian, April 12, 2014, reported on the Canberra conference. His article "Swedish designs on our sea power"  is long so below is just  smaller excerpts. The full article is at: http://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/policy/swedish-designs-on-our-sea-power/story-e6frg8yo-1226881310883#
"...Sweden had shot itself in the foot by previously selling the Collin-class designer Kockums to the Germans, robbing it of the capacity to design and build its own submarines.
All of a sudden, the only realistic prospect left to design the new Australian submarines were the Germans via submarine builder ThyssenKrupp (TKMS). The Germans had more than 70 years’ experience in submarine design and building and, with an eye to Australia’s program, TKMS had drawn up a design concept for a 4000-tonne submarine dubbed the 216. It was only a “paper submarine”, given Germany had never built such a large boat, but at least it was a credible option.
In February [2014] it suddenly dawned on all the players that Germany was poised to [win] the largest design contract in Australian history because all of its potential competitors had fallen over.
But then, just when the Germans could taste victory, the Swedes decided to swoop.
They launched a remarkable campaign to deal themselves back into the submarine game by sabotaging the Germans and wooing the Australians.
The Swedes’ actions in recent weeks have become the talk of the global arms trade.
Having foolishly sold off its submarine building capability to Germany in 1999, Sweden now wants it back, a desire fuelled further by Russia’s recent aggression in Ukraine.
In February [2014] the Swedish government asked its largest defence company, Saab, to study the feasibility of Sweden re-establishing its submarine capability without the Germans, who in 2010 had been asked to build Sweden’s new submarines, known as the A26.
Saab is a hugely successful Swedish institution, having built the country’s fighter jet, but it has never built submarines, does not have a shipyard and until recently had few submarine experts.
But with the hot breath of its government at its back, Saab has launched an astonishing industrial raid on workers at the TKMS-owned Kalskrona shipyard in Sweden.
It has been holding workshops after work, evoking Swedish nationalism and offering rich rewards to those who swap sides,
In the past four weeks, an astonishing 100 submarine builders have been successfully poached, doubling Saab’s potential submarine workforce.
The trouble with the Swedish plan is that Sweden will not need enough submarines to sustain its industry alone. It needs overseas work. It needs Australia.
[In March 2014] Sweden made its move on Australia, sending a powerful five-member delegation to Canberra, including its navy chief Rear Admiral Jan Thornqvist and Lena Erixon, the feisty head of its defence materiel administration, FMV.
The Swedes knocked on every door they could find, both professional and personal, selling Sweden’s dream of designing Australia’s new submarine
Thornqvist even dined at the home of Australian naval chief Vice-Admiral Ray Griggs, having previously given him a personal tour of the Vasa maritime museum in Stockholm and a wild boat ride through the Swedish archipelago.
After that dinner, Thornqvist retired to the bar of the Hyatt Hotel [in Canberra] to drink scotch with Saab executives and to reflect on events.
The Australian government was surprised and a little sceptical to hear of Sweden’s grand play for its submarine project. But the move by Sweden and Saab gives Australia more potential design options for its submarines, so Canberra did not try to dissuade the Swedes.
On March 18, only days after the group returned from Australia, Sweden formalised its divorce from the Germans. In a frosty meeting in Stockholm, Erixon called in senior TKMS executives and read to them from a prepared statement.
“It was like an execution decree,” recalls one of the German officials. “She read from a statement saying: ‘We will never do business with you, we do not trust you.’ ”
Saab has stepped up its own public relations campaign, flying The Australian to Sweden last week to visit its facilities, convey its strategy and to discuss the planned expansion of its operations in Australia.
Saab [Vice President] Anders Carp says a benefit to Australia of having Sweden as a partner is that part of Sweden’s own submarines could also be built in Adelaide, supplementing Australia’s program and helping sustain local shipbuilding.
He even implied Saab could be interested in acquiring the government-owned submarine shipbuilder in Adelaide, ASC.
But Saab is also feeling the heat on several fronts.
On April 4 its internal communications were intercepted by an unknown foreign entity, prompting a warning to its executives to be wary of industrial espionage at this heated time.
The Germans are furious about Sweden’s actions and they used an Australian Strategic Policy Institute conference in Canberra this week to fire back at the Swedes and secure their position as the design frontrunner for the $40bn submarine program.
Germany’s TKMS dispatched a powerful delegation led by its chairman, Hans-Christoph Atzpodien, to Canberra. They met Defence Minister Johnston in the Hyatt Hotel’s Murrumbidgee room and sold their wares.
The Germans also met other heavy-hitters including the Defence Materiel Organisation’s head Warren King and general manager submarines David Gould.
Just to make sure their message was heard, TKMS hosted champagne drinks at the conference dinner at the Australian War Memorial on Wednesday evening. Speaking under a suspended World War II Messerschmitt fighter, Atzpodien told Australia’s military and defence elite that his company wanted “to be partners” with Australia.
Inside the Hyatt conference room the next day, the Germans and the Swedes prowled around, carefully avoiding each other, while retreating to dark corners to brief admirals, defence officials and other policymakers about their ambitions.
Almost all of the world’s submarine builders were at the ASPI conference and, while they were too polite to say so publicly, many were dismayed by the almost complete lack of consensus among the Australians about the way forward.
Their irritation reached its zenith on Wednesday when the head of the future submarine project team, Simon Todd, stood up and advocated that Australia develop its own sovereign design submarine capability.
Word of his speech — which appeared to be at odds with the message given to the integrated project team by Johnston last December — filtered back to an unimpressed Defence Minister.
The foreign representatives at the meeting were equally stunned.
That evening, a member of the German delegation fired off an email to Johnston, warning that if Australia was moving back to a home-grown design, then the Future Submarine program was potentially the “biggest disaster” Australian defence had seen.
Defence is preparing options for the government, which has said it wants to make a final decision by early next year on who will design the submarine, although sources say this deadline will not be met.
A senior government source admits that the giant program is “in limbo”.
Sources say the government has all but dismissed the notion that the new submarines will be an evolved version of the Collins because Sweden still owns the intellectual property for the Collins and a new agreement will be too hard to negotiate.
There is also a view in Defence that the Collins technology will be too old to upgrade successfully. “You can upgrade a Toyota, but it is still a Toyota,” one insider said.
This means the new submarines will be a brand-new design, the most risky and expensive option. Johnston has at least minimised some of this risk by insisting that an experienced foreign designer such as Germany or Sweden should design the boat, notwithstanding the preferences of the utopians in Defence. But even this may not be enough.
Johnston’s office has been too scared to place the future submarine issue on the radar of Joe Hockey or Abbott, fearing that the huge sums involved will lead to the program being severely curtailed.
This week, Johnston sniffed the wind and flagged that Australia may built fewer than 12 new submarines. As one observer put it: “If you were David Johnston and you had a document on it that said $40bn, would you pass that over to Joe Hockey before you needed to?”
Johnston will need to bite the bullet at some point soon because the new submarines will need to come into service in the early 2030s to replace the Collins-class boats, which themselves will need a life-extension to cover for the slow progress in the new submarine program.
This means detailed design work will need to begin within two years, with the aim of cutting steel by 2023.
In others words, the government will soon have to pay serious money for this project and Johnston will need to make a clear and precise case to win the support of the Treasurer and the Prime Minister.
But as Australia fiddles, the world is circling. The Baltic war between the angry Germans and the sneaky Swedes is just a prelude to the dirty games that will unfold in the years ahead as Australia tries to play with the big boys of the global arms trade."

April 11, 2014

Thirteen Hundred US Marines Visiting Australia

A marine in the Australian desert sporting an M-32 grenade launcher.
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The following is my article published on Australia's On Line Opinion today, at http://www.onlineopinion.com.au/view.asp?article=16207 :

The Yanks are coming...again

By Peter Coates - posted Friday, 11 April 2014


Over the next few days around thirteen hundred US marines will begin their six month visit to the Northern Territory. This has increasing political, economic, military and perhaps social implications for the Northern Territory, Australia generally and the southern Asia-Pacific region.

An article from the US military press agency on the arrival of the marine advance guard includes unintended ironies and what has to be humour : "…Australia and the U.S have fought alongside each other in nearly every major conflict since World War II, a relationship the Australian prime minister and U.S. president make sure remains strong and productive" [followed eventually by] "A smile sat below the eyes of every Marine exiting the plane to be welcomed into Darwin, their new home for the next six months."

Most of the marines are from the 1st Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment based at Camp Pendleton in California. Ferrying them around are four very large Sea Stallion helicopters each capable of lifting 55 troops.

The six month visit (called a "rotation" by the military) of the thirteen hundred is up from 250 marines last year. By 2017 the annual visit may amount to what is promised to be a full 2,500 man Marine Air Ground Task Force. In terms of activities - some marines may attend Exercise Hamel near Townsville - perhaps in June-July 2014. Larger numbers of marines may exercise at the Northern Territory's Bradshaw field training area in August 2014. Marine training with military forces from New Zealand and southeast Asia may also occur http://news.ninemsn.com.au/national/2014/03/26/16/00/more-than-1000-us-marines-arrive-in-darwin.

In 2011, during the rapidly forgotten Gillard government, President Obama announced the marine rotational scheme. When Obama visits Australia for the G-20 Summit in Brisbane November 15–16, 2014 it's likely he will reaffirm this alliance commitment. Obama's visit to Australia and his reaffirmation that the marine's will continue to visit will provide a needed boost to the Abbott government just as it did to the fleeting Labor governments.

The visits of US marines in increasing numbers may probably provide the most visible and concrete example of America's alliance with Australia. The visits will grow in importance as the forlorn memory of the joint effort to democratise Afghanistan recedes. As a type of payment for the marine visits Australia has spent several $million upgrading facilities at Robertson Barracks in Darwin, where the marines will be mainly based. Australian purchases of US weapons, such as the F-35 joint strike fighter, are not so obviously linked, but such purchases contribute to the alliance bond that keeps the marines coming.

In terms of Obama's foreign policy platform the marine visit may also be the most tangible sign of the US pivot or rebalance to our part of the southern Asia-Pacific. The threat always exists that US attention may be distracted by its other global concerns - in Africa, the Middle East or Ukraine-Eastern Europe - instead. Keeping US attention focussed on our own region pays and also costs.

This part-time US marine presence may also be perceived as a largely symbolic counter-weight to a recent increase in Chinese naval activity close to Australia's shores. The surprising appearance in the Timor Sea, two months ago, of a Chinese flotilla of two destroyers and an amphibious assault ship was played down by the Australian and Indonesian governments. Up to eight Chinese warships off Western Australia hunting for MH370 appears excessive, even for such an important search effort. In the face of a relatively low-key (compared to China) US naval presence in the search for MH370 the marine visit is all the more important.

Australian and US authorities insist that these marine six month visits will not build up to a permanent marine base presence in Australia, but some are sceptical. Some in the Darwin community, like BaseWatch have serious concerns about the impact marines will have on Darwin. They don't want a repeat of the issues, including aircraft noise and violent crime, that residents of Okinawa face from permanent US bases. US military public affairs officer Lieutenant Savannah Moyer insists that a midnight curfew on marines, known as the "Cinderella curfew", will reduce the chance of bad behaviour. In any case the Northern Territory Chief Minister Adam Giles has underlined the economic benefits the marines bring when he estimates they contribute around $5 million to the local economy.

So the marines bring a plethora of political, military, economic and possible social issues. Their arrival may be timely for Australia or may just send the wrong signals to China. A six month presence may make more sense if it became permanent. But how important is Australia's autonomy and sovereignty?

Pete

April 8, 2014

Intellectual Property, Stirling AIP on Chinese Type 041 Yuan Submarine


The Stirling AIP of the type fitted to Kockum's submarines including the Gotland Class (Photos courtesy of  http://kockums.se/en/products-services/submarines/stirling-aip-system/the-stirling-engine/stirling-aip/ )


China's Type 041 Yuan Class submarine - with Stirling AIP?

Does the reference below to Chinese use of Stirling engines for air independent propulsion (AIP) mean:

1.  Kockums sold its Stirling engine technology (see http://www.kockums.se/en/products-services/submarines/stirling-aip-system/) to China? or


2.  Did China acquire Stirling technology covertly from current users - Sweden, Japan (Soryu Class) or Singapore (Archer Class)? or

3.  Did China develop Stirling indigenously with the help of open source information - like the Kockums Stirling photo above? 

Perhaps China used all three methods.

According to http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/world/china/yuan.htm in March 2007 Jane's Navy International reported that the Yuan class was fitted with an AIP system developed by the No.711 Ship Research Institute. Yuan is using an AIP engine of 100 kw in power, and is probably equipped with 2 such AIP engine. Sweden's Gotland Class submarines use 2 V4-275R stirling AIP units (each rated 75 kw). The larger Yuan obviously needs more powerful AIP units.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Type_041_submarine#Propulsion advises "Recent rumors stated that the [Type 041 Yuans] utilize a Stirling cycle engine, but this cannot be confirmed. It is also unclear if the incorporation of air-independent propulsion system has become the standard or just for evaluation purposes. Since the air-independent propulsion systems on board western submarines usually rate at 150 kW to 300 kW, so it is safe to assume that similar systems on board Chinese submarines would also be consisted of at least two units just like its western counterpart."


Pete