January 31, 2014

Indonesia revisits buying Kilo submarines.

Several countries operate Kilos - main users being India (pictured), China, Iran and of course Russia.
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This website has looked at many Asia-Pacific submarine forces, including those of:
- Australia - http://gentleseas.blogspot.com.au/2014/01/balanced-article-on-aus-future-sub.html
- Singapore - http://gentleseas.blogspot.com.au/2013/12/singapore-buying-two-hdw-218sg.html, 
- Vietnam - http://gentleseas.blogspot.com.au/2014/01/vietnams-first-kilo-submarine-arrives.html
 Malaysia - http://gentleseas.blogspot.com.au/2009/09/malaysias-first-ever-submarine-scorpene.html

and http://gentleseas.blogspot.com.au/2009/06/indonesia-gets-apology-from-malaysian.html

Indonesia currently has two Type 209 (Type 1300) submarines of the Cakra Class. These are KRI Cakra and KRI Nanggala, both were launched around 1977 and entered Indonesian service in 1981. Both boats have been non-operational for long periods since 1981. Both are recorded as being refurbished in South Korea by early 2012. The refurbishment included strengthening structures and steel sheets, modernization underwater weapons and sonar systems.

Though reportedly refurbished it is unclear whether KRI Cakra or Nanggala are operational. Submarines have a limited service life of usually 30 years or less. This is due to salt water induced corrosion, expansion/contraction causing metal fatigue, other technical problems and obsolescence compared to other submarines. The latter is particularly regarding stealthy characteristics (eg. acoustic noise). So Indonesia has been casting around for replacements for her 36 year old subs.

Indonesia's non-aligned status, experience receiving Russian arms in the 1960s and a low price offer in 2007 from Russia originally suggested Indonesia might acquire Russian Kilo submarine . Presumably Russia would recoup the low selling price by padding out the deep service, upgrade and spare part costs during the Kilo's service lives.

In 2007 Russia agreed at that time to extend a $1.2 Billion line of credit to Indonesia to buy Russian weapons including two Kilos. However this offer lapsed because Russia probably could not afford to extend the credit. The 2008-2009 GFC-subprime crisis and consequent drop in the price of oil (Russia's main export) moved Russia from being a cashed-up oil boom economy in 2007 to being cash-strapped.

A June 23, 2009 article by Richard A. Bitzinger (Air-Independent Powered Submarines in the Asia-Pacific: Proliferation and Repercussions, page 3, at http://www.isn.ethz.ch/Digital-Library/Publications/Detail/?ots591=0c54e3b3-1e9c-be1e-2c24-a6a8c7060233&lng=en&id=102465 ) also indicates:

"Indonesia had once considered acquiring several Russian submarines, but this deal fell apart over infrastructure financing ([Indonesia] wanted to use Russian export credits to build a sub[marine] base, which [Russia] refused to fund)."


Note that in late 2011 it was apparent Russia had lost in Indonesia's selection process for three NEW submarines.  Indonesia announced it would buy three South Korean "Improved Chang Bogo Class" variants of the German HDW 209 design. One of the Chang Bogos would be built in Indonesia: see http://gentleseas.blogspot.com.au/2014/02/indonesia-to-build-chang-bogo-submarine.html of February 18, 2014 and 
http://gentleseas.blogspot.com.au/2011/12/indonesia-decides-to-buy-korean-made.html 

By late 2013 Indonesia was again considering whether to buy Kilos or a proposed-advanced Russian development of the Kilo called the Amur Class. On December 7, 2013 the Jakarta Post reported the following [I've bolded interesting parts]  http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2013/12/07/ri-looks-russia-submarines-with-multi-role-missile-systems.html :

"RI [Indonesia] looks to Russia for submarines with multi-role missile systems"
Indonesia is in talks with Russia on the purchase of a number of Kilo Class submarines, as the country expands its deterrent capabilities in anticipation of future regional disputes. 

Defense Minister Purnomo Yusgiantoro said on Friday that a team of officials, led by Navy chief of staff Adm. Marsetio, would head to Russia at the end of this month to initiate a deal and assess the technical capabilities of the arsenal. 

“There is a plan for a massive build-up of our submarine fleet,” Purnomo said in a press conference after an hour-long closed-door meeting with Russian Ambassador to Indonesia and ASEAN Mikhail Galuzin.

Purnomo said he could not provide more details as the ministry was still awaiting reports filed by Marsetio regarding his planned visit to Russia. “Further to his report, we can then decide whether to buy new submarines or modernize used ones.”

According to Marsetio, Indonesia required “at least one submarine to cover each sea choke point” (a strategic narrow point of passage). 

He said in total, the country needed a minimum of 12 submarines, as laid out in the Defense Ministry’s Minimum Essential Force strategy.


The ministry refused to detail the allocated budget for the submarines. 

Between 2008 and 2013, defense spending has increased by an average 22 percent to Rp 81.5 trillion this year, according to the Finance Ministry. The budget is slated to rise to Rp 83.5 trillion next year. 

The planned submarine purchase will be in addition to the three [Chang Bogo] U-209 submarines currently being built by South Korea’s Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering (DSME) and state-owned shipyard PT PAL Indonesia.

The three submarines will be delivered between 2015 and 2016, and will add to the existing two [HDW 209 Class. Jakarta Post wrongly said the were "Kilo Class"] submarines procured in 1978 from the former West Germany.

Purnomo said the ministry’s interest in Russian submarines was based on their advanced cruise-missile system, with which they can accurately target an object at a range of 300 to 400 kilometers. 

Submarines are known to be effective war machines that can act as a deterrent because of their capacity for stealth. 
The ministry is also considering a number of weaponry options to be fitted on the existing submarines, such as procuring the Klub-S [or "Club S "SS-N-27A" with the NATO reporting name of "Sizzler"] 
missile system, as well as fitting them with the supersonic, anti-ship Yakhont missile [aka P-800 Oniks NATO reporting name "SS-N-26 Strobile" related to Indian-Russian BrahMos] .

Indonesia has a long history of operating submarines from the former Soviet Union, now Russia. In 1967, it acquired 12 Whiskey Class submarines from the Soviet Union. 

The new submarines may well be housed at a newly established naval base in Palu, Central Sulawesi, of which only 2.8 hectares of its total 13 hectares have so far been developed.

Natural protection against extreme ocean currents is also considered to be a necessary requirement for a submarine base.


The Palu Naval Base will in the future not only serve as a forward base but also a main naval base [see more information on Palu Naval Base at http://gentleseas.blogspot.com.au/2014/01/southeast-asian-states-buying.html ]..." ENDS


COMMENT 

In any submarine purchase the cost of training and maintaining multiple crews is high. The program cost of maintenance, basing, spares and upgrades, over and above upfront purchase price, must also be considered. Some Indonesians may have visions of an Indonesian Navy operating more than 10 submarines. This may be unrealistic given the problems Indonesia has had fully utilising and maintaining the current two submarines (Cakra Class).

A similar situation exists in Australia. We can only man around three submarines of six available - but our Admirals and Defence Department wish to expand the fleet to a (probably unrealistic) twelve subs.

Indonesia increasing to three submarines from the current two sounds more likely in terms of naval budget and Indonesia's economic growth.

BACKGROUND
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Submarines provide a relatively inexpensive (asymmetric) way to undertake blue water tasks. Their stealth makes up for the raw combat power of more numerous blue water surface ships (which are greater in tonnage and cost). Indonesia's submarines would represent the major means to wage medium intensity (conventional) war at sea - as well as peacetime intelligence gathering/counter-piracy/counter-terrorism.

The Indonesian Navy became a separate service in 1946, after the Indonesian National Revolution (ejecting the Dutch) began. The Navy was initially stocked primarily with craft once operated by European or the Australian navies. Beginning in 1959, the navy began to acquire a large number of craft from the Soviet Union and East European nations.

In the aftermath of the abortive 1965 coup, however, the navy suffered a decline in influence within the armed forces and the nation because of suspected involvement in the coup attempt (particularly by the marine corps) and because of the navy's small size in comparison with the army.

A large portion of its vessels of Soviet or East European origin were quickly rendered non-operational owing to a lack of spare parts and lack of maintenance expertise. Until the late 1970s, the only major replacements were four frigates acquired from the United States Navy in 1974.

Since that time, the navy has embarked on an upgrading program designed to develop a balanced fleet suited to operations in archipelagic waters. The navy's mission was to act as a territorial force responsible for the patrol of Indonesia's immense coastline. The vast majority of operational ships are stationed at the main naval base at Surabaya, East Java. Whereas the 1970s saw an increase in the fleet's ship inventory, the 1980s witnessed a major effort to improve the navy's armament posture through the purchase of the Harpoon weapons system and the MK-46 torpedo. Purchase of Russian missiles would not come with the political restrictions that come with US weapons.

Structurally, the navy comprises the headquarters staff at Jakarta under the overall command of the navy chief of staff, two fleet commands (the Eastern Fleet in Surabaya, the Western Fleet in Jakarta), the marine corps, a small air arm, and a military sealift command.

In the early 1990s, naval warships generally were not deployed to a particular region but were grouped in mobile flotillas, to be dispatched where needed. One mission concerned patrolling the strategic straits through which foreign ships enter and exit the Indian Ocean, particularly the Strait of Malacca. The other mission centered on halting smuggling and illegal fishing, considered to be problems particularly in the areas near the Natuna Islands and in the seas between Kalimantan and Irian Jaya. In support of the second mission, the navy announced plans to construct a number of limited-role bases in isolated areas in the eastern and western sections of the national territory. Patrol activity also increased in connection with the flow of refugees from Southeast Asia, particularly in the area near the Natuna Islands.
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Indonesia's main naval priorities are probably anti-smuggling, anti-piracy, refugee boat interception, and protecting territorial boundaries and undersea oil claims (eg. Ambalat) against neighbours like Malaysia. This suggests low intensity conflict patrol boats of 100 to 500 tons should represent the vast bulk of surface ships.
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The most recent surface ships acquired by the Indonesian Navy appear to be:

- the Bung Tomo class corvettes - built in 2001-2002 and commissioned into the Indonesian Navy in 2014.

- the four Diponegoro class corvettes commissioned between July 2007 and March 2009, modified versions of the Dutch Sigma class.

- the six Ahmad Yani class frigates were originally launched in Dutch service in the 1960s and commissioned in the Indonesian Navy in 1986.

- four Makassar class landing platform dock ships each displacing around 11,000 tons full load and able to take 5 helicopters.

- Dated but also significant was the Indonesian purchase in 1992 of 16 ex East German Parchims anti-submarine corvettes now given the Indonesia classification Kapitan Patimura Class.


Under Indonesia's new President Joko Widodo (appointed October 2014) Indonesia is also commissioning stealth trimaran patrol craft KCR-60/KCR-40 missile attack craft also at - see August 7, 2015 update) and AS565 Panther helicopters with anti-submarine warfare (ASW) capabilities.

Also see Indonesian Navy Submarine details here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Current_Indonesian_Navy_ships#Submarines
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Pete

January 30, 2014

Australian interest in Japan Soryu Submarine's Propulsion System

 A Soryu Class submarine - in this shot visiting the US Guam naval base.
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A diagram of some Soryu Class features.
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Mentioning the Soryu see the latest of June 11, 2014’s Australia's Future Submarine - Swedish vs German Claims http://gentleseas.blogspot.com.au/2014/06/australias-future-submarine-swedish-vs.html . It is unclear whether Germany or Sweden hold the strongest intellectual property rights to the Soryu's Stirling AIP. While Germany seems to have the strongest licensing rights over the Soryu's diesel. 

For the latest specifically on the Soryu see:
If Australia were to consider buying some features of Japanese submarines - such as the Soryu's propulsion system - Australia would need to be confident Japan could make this politically and economically possible. To date Japan has never exported a major weapons system. However it was reported on January 29, 2014 that Japan will complete its sale to India of Japan's indigenously developed US-2 amphibious aircraft in 2014. This US $1.65 billion export of the ShinMaywa built amphibious aircraft will be Japan's first since Japan's self-imposed ban on arms exports began in 1967. If this deal is completed smoothly Australia might have greater confidence in possible future negotiations with the Japanese Government and Japanese arms companies.

On December 7, 2013 The Australian reported:

"AUSTRALIA has asked Japan to consider providing highly advanced propulsion technology to be used in the navy's planned 12 new submarines.
[Australian] Defence Minister David Johnston has told The Weekend Australian Japanese officials had visited submarine maintenance facilities in Adelaide and talks were continuing.
In a speech to the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, Senator Johnston spoke about the Abbott government's wish to cement closer defence ties with Japan, including much closer defence-industry ties.
Senator Johnston said later he was particularly interested in the use of Japan's extremely effective submarine technology in Australia's future submarine, which is most likely to be an evolution of Australia's existing Collins-class vessels.
Japan's Soryu-class is the world's biggest and possibly the best diesel-electric submarine and Senator Johnston is particularly keen on its "drive train" - the whole propulsion system, from the propeller through to the electric motor and the diesel engine that charges the boat's batteries." See the rest of the article at

SORYU DETAILS (Pete's Comment)

The Sōryū-class are diesel-electric (SSK) submarines, with AIP, that entered service with the Japanese Navy "Maritime Self-Defense Force" in 2009. Five have been built (since 2005) with all five operational in Japan's Navy. Four more await completion. The design is an evolution of Japan's Oyashio class submarine. Eleven Oyashios have been built since 1994 and all eleven are still operational.

The Sōryūs have a very large displacement for a diesel-electric sub (2,900 tonnes surfaced and 4,200 tonnes submerged). This compares to the Collins (3,050 tonnes surfaced and 3,350 tonnes submerged) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Collins-class_submarine.

Significantly the Soryu carries a higher weapons payload than the Collins which is an important endurance-operational advantage. The Soryu carries 30 "reloads" (torpedos/Harpoon missiles) compared to 22 for the Collins.

The Soryus are fitted with air-independent propulsion (AIP) based on Kockums Stirling engines license-built by Kawasaki Heavy Industries . The diesel-electric range surfaced may be around 11,000 km with AIP range 1,000+ km. Range (how much on diesel, batteries and AIP?) is one of the most complex issues involving submarines. The Soryu is mainly heavier than the Oyashio's tonnage (2,750 tonnes surfaced and 4,000 tonnes submerged) due to the addition of the AIP.

See also Kawasaki is involved in producing "more than 80" Japanese submarines http://www.khi.co.jp/english/ship/product/submarine/index.html .

Possibilities of technology Soryu transfer from Japan to Australia particularly concerning the propulsion system were described at Japanese Media Now Openly Talking about Japan-Australia Soryu Deal, February 17, 2013 http://asw.newpacificinstitute.org/?p=11560 .

According to http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/world/japan/2900ton.htm: The Soryu features higher automation (particularly in combat systems) and computer-aided X control planes. The X rudder configuration was first developed by Kockums for the Gotland. The X rudder provides the submarine with greater manoeuvrability and also enables operation close to the seabed. As with most modern submarines the Soryu's hull is clad in anechoic coating (to reduce sonar and other forms of detection) and the interior features sound isolation of loud components. The hull is HY-80 alloy (the same as the USN's Los Angeles class SSN) steel. 

Japanese subs have a short service life averaging around 20 years compared to 30 years for most SSKs. It is not known whether the Soryu's propulsion system is designed for a less than 30 year service life.

Japan's lack of experience in exporting submarines or other major weapons systems has many political, legal and technical support implications that Australia would need to resolve and feel confident about.  Japan's US-2 amphibious aircraft sale to India provides a limited test of Japan's ability to export arms. A Collins II deal might test Japanese companies ability to integrate their product in simultaneous negotiations with Australian, European and US submarine arms companies.

But then again the political, strategic, and repair-maintenance advantages of choosing a propulsion design from an Asia-Pacific ally like Japan must be factored in. Such advantages would not be present if Australia purchased propulsion systems from more distant Germany (HDW), Spain (Navantia), Sweden (Kockums) or France (DCNS). Japan and Australia also have a joint interest in containing China.

One confidence booster is that the main builders and presumably sellers of the Soryu, which are Mitsubishi and Kawasaki, are highly export and customer support orientated. Such confidence would assume that the corporate culture in Mitsubishi's and Kawasaki's defence product divisions are similar or the same as their civilian product divisions.

As the Soryu combines many of the best European technological features and in a design near to SEA 1000's Asia-Pacific endurance requirements the Soryu Class propulsion system looks a promising option for Australia.

Pete

January 29, 2014

Site-Meter Collection of Iranian Nuclear Program

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The whole issue of whether or not Iran has nuclear weapon intentions is dominated by right-wing US and Israel academics. Repetition of "when not if we should bomb Iran" commentary is usually unhelpful in the absence of first hand data. By the time data reaches these commentators it is often highly distorted and third or fourth hand. The following research and some analysis is intended to fill part of the void in knowledge.

This website's information on the Atomic Energy Organisation of Iran (AEOI) reflects Iran's interest in nuclear weapons research as an option for Iran or an intention. The AEOI is active in many university institutes, cities and isolated sites in Iran, particularly in Tehran and Isfahan (aka Esfahan) a large city about 350 km south of Tehran.

The Isfahan University of Technology (IUT) is closely related to AEOI. IUT includes the Nuclear Technology Center (INTC) (run by the AEOI) with an estimated 3,000 scientists   http://www.nti.org/facilities/237/ . INTC has many nuclear functions including Uranium enrichment. INTC operates three small nuclear research reactors supplied by China.

Like all research communities the Iranian nuclear community uses internet searches for general and specific purposes. Internet search for sensitive nuclear topics involves inherent security risks for searching organisations - so sensitive internet searches require good reasons. One of those reasons from mid 2006 was Divine Strake. In mid 2006 the US Government announced that it intended to conduct a large, non-nuclear, high-explosive test known as "Divine Strakehttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Divine_Strake at the US Government's Nevada (nuclear) Test Site. The test would use hundreds of tonnes of conventional explosive to simulate a low nuclear yield bunker buster test of the type that might be useful one day against deep dug Iranian nuclear facilities.

The prospect of a Divine Strake test created considerable interest in the Iranian nuclear community in 2006-2007. The point of interest for Iran was probably that Iran might be the likely target of US weapons. Iran might also benefit from conducting conventional explosive simulations itself along with computer simulations. These simulations might be one of a number of productive avenues for Iran's own nuclear test program as they might partly avoid the need for Iran to conduct actual nuclear tests, down the line, if it wanted to. 

The Iranian nuclear community therefore began to conduct some pointed internet searches to discover what the American's were doing. Using my website and a simple, free site-meter, Submarine Matters began to detect and collect some searches by employees of Iranian Atomic research institutions. Although the US Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) officially canceled Divine Strake in February 2007 some interesting Iranian Google search results were gathered as detailed below. If readers are accustomed to using simple site-meters or even professional metadata collection they will have a handle on the significance of the following.

Iranian Google keyword searches detected on this website include:

- July 21, 2006 (IP 80.191.142.11) "Esfahan", conducted Google search for "deep bunkers MOP" MOP means Massive Ordinance Penetrator see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Massive_Ordnance_Penetrator  

- October 30, 2006 (IP 217.218.11.165) "Atomic Energy Organisation of Iran" "Tehran"  employee googled "what is nuclear simulation". 

Comment - the October 30, 2006 literal use of "Atomic Energy Organisation of Iran" as the Iranian ISP is clearly poor security. One can now conclude that 217.218 is an "Atomic Energy Organisation of Iran" IP number even if "Atomic Energy Organisation of Iran" is disguised with other ISP names.  

- November 19, 2006 (IP 217.218.64.202) Atomic Energy Organization of Iran disguised as "Area No 6 Partition" "Tehran", conducted a Google search for "nuclear explosion simulation".

Comment - Use of the very innocuous term "Area No 6 Partition" has some precedents for nuclear organisations in other countries. For example Russia (which has been assisting Iran to complete the Bushehr reactor complex) used the term "Laboratory No. 2" for Russia's nuclear weapons organisation in 1943 ( see Jeffrey T. Ricelson's "Spying on the Bomb" page 67,   http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0393053830/ref=olp_product_details?ie=UTF8&me=&seller=  )  

- March 4, 2007 (IP 213.176.127.82) from - "Iranian Research Organization" employee googled key words "simulation underground nuclear explosion".

- September 9, 2007 (IP 217.218.64.202) Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, employee googled information on "nuclear weapon effects computer".

- October 23, 2007 (IP 217.218.64.202) Atomic Energy Organization of Iran employee googled information on "nuclear weapon effects computer".

- November 13, 2007 (IP 217.218.64.202) Atomic Energy Organization of Iran employee googled information on "underground nuclear explosion"

- November 22, 2007 (IP 217.219.18.13) Isfahan (aka Esfahan) University of Technology, Tehran campus, reading information on this blog concerning Indian and Pakistani nuclear missiles.

- June 3, 2010 (IP 83.147.213.101)  Isfahan (aka Esfahan) Googled for information on the SILEX laser uranium enrichment process.

Information collected above on Iranian interest in "nuclear weapon effects computer" prompted me to do further research on supercomputer upgrades at the Isfahan University of Technology. In 2011 the then President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad reportedly unveiled a supercomputer at Isfahan University of Technology  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Isfahan_University_of_Technology#Research_.26_Facilities  . A supercomputer has many uses including complex physical and chemical reactions that occur in nuclear explosion simulations. Such simulations demand the enormous speed and capacity of supercomputers. By 2011-2012 the Iranians are likely to have conducted nuclear explosion simulations using the supercomputer.

PETE'S COMMENT
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As at January 2014 Iran is at or near breakout status - with the three components being:

- substantial stocks of semi-enriched uranium (LEU or MEU), which could become bomb grade (90+%) HEU within a couple of months using Iran's thousands of centrifuges and possible hidden laser enrichment capability.

- delivery means - in the form of Sejjil http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sejjil solid fuel IRBM and the  Shahab series liquid fueled IRBMs, and

- enough nuclear device plans and components acquired from Pakistan's A. Q. Khan network to have constructed crude fission devices (minus the HEU and/or Plutonium explosive) around 8 years ago.


The Saudis using their own info and that shared by Israel and the US, would be very aware of Iran's nuclear status. If Iran moved from breakout to fully assembled warheads on missiles the Saudis would probably rely on the US and Israel to strike Iran.

Meanwhile the Saudis might complete there own nuclear capability mainly by purchasing it in cash and oil from Pakistan and China. The Saudis have possessed now obsolete Chinese made CSS-2 IRBMs since around the 1987 and on January 29, 2014 it was reported that China had sold more advanced DF-21 (CSS-5) MRBM to the Saudis - see http://www.newsweek.com/exclusive-cia-helped-saudis-chinese-missile-deal-227283 .

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Pete

January 28, 2014

Vietnam's First Kilo Submarine Arrives

Vietnam's first Kilo submarine Hanoi about to be floated off heavy lift vessel Rolldock Sea.
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Vietnam's first Kilo submarine Hanoi with Cam Ranh port (naval base) in the background.
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South China Sea confrontation, centered around disputed islands, with Vietnam and China being two of the major adversaries.
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The Vietnamese Government's Website VietNamNet, reported on January 6, 2014, that the first of six Kilo submarines has been delivered from Russia. See http://english.vietnamnet.vn/fms/government/93138/in-pictures--hanoi-submarine-arrives-at-cam-ranh-port.html :


"In pictures: Hanoi submarine arrives at Cam Ranh port"
VietNamNet Bridge - On January 3, Vietnam’s first Kilo-636 submarine named Hanoi ["HQ182"] entered the military port of Cam Ranh [use to be called Cam Ranh Bay during the "American War"]  in Khanh Hoa province.
Heavy lift vessel Rolldock Sea, carrying the submarine, arrived at the port on the first day of the year after a six week voyage from St Petersburg .
The submarine is scheduled to be handed over to the Vietnamese side on January 10 [2014].
The second, to be named Ho Chi Minh, is expected to arrive at Cam Ranh by March [2014].
The submarine is the first of six diesel-powered 636 Varshavyanka (kilo)-class submarines that Viet Nam bought from Russia to modernise its navy, enhancing the country's capacity to defend its territorial waters.
The other submarines are being built at Admiralty Verfi Shipyards in St. Petersburg .
The 73.8m-long submarine can operate at a maximum depth of 300 metres and at a range of 6,000-7,500 nautical miles for 45 days and nights with 52 crew members. It has the quietest engine in the world [debatable] and is the best choice for reconnaissance and patrols.

COMMENT

The agreement to sell six Kilos to Vietnam, was announced in mid December 2009. The Kilo 636 is not the world's most advanced conventional submarine (that title may go to late model HDW 214s) however the Kilo's up front price is relatively inexpensive. Vietnam's Kilos will not have AIP. Vietnam also benefits from strengthening its political, economic and strategic relationship with Russia. 

Vietnam is courting closer relations with Russia, India and the US as a counterweight to the China threat (on land and sea) to Vietnam. The asymmetric power of Vietnam's submarines will provide limited defence of Vietnam from the risk of Chinese sea-based invasion.

Vietnam is also competing with China and other nearby countries for resources under the South China Sea. Submarines provide a cheaper alternative to expensive surface ships (like aircraft carriers) for Vietnam in that competition. Vietnam has no submarine tradition outside of owning two old midget Yugo Class submarines. It will take years of Russian training to make Vietnam's submarine flotilla efficient. Russia will regain some of the naval intelligence and military power it lost when Russia withdrew from Cam Ranh Bay.

Connect with:

Vietnam's Kilo Subs Steadily Being Built By Russia, July 7, 2013 http://gentleseas.blogspot.com.au/2013/07/vietnams-kilo-subs-steadily-being-built.html and

Vietnam's Evolving Nuclear (Energy) Program (with close Russian involvement), October 12, 2013  http://gentleseas.blogspot.com.au/2013/10/vietnam-signs-ambiguous-nuclear.html 
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Pete

January 27, 2014

Balanced article on Aus Future Sub - "evolved Collins"

Plan of the current Collins submarine. What will an evolved Collins look like?
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Might an evolved Collins look like this? With a VLS cruise or ballistic land attack capability.
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I've bolded some interesting parts of Australian David Wroe's article in The [Melbourne] Age, October 19, 2013, page 17. He wrote http://newsstore.fairfax.com.au/apps/viewDocument.ac;jsessionid=F30A70117F5FF6C3877A4684855752C8?sy=afr&pb=all_ffx&dt=selectRange&dr=1month&so=relevance&sf=text&sf=headline&rc=10&rm=200&sp=brs&cls=3105&clsPage=1&docID=AGE1310191FEJ46QP3QT

"Defence all at sea on new submarines"

Submarines are the stealthy killers in maritime warfare. They are the queens on the chessboard, the strategic game-changers. Any country has to think long and hard about messing with another country that has an advanced submarine fleet. You can't be sure there isn't one sitting quietly off your own coast or waiting in hiding to sink your ships.
That Australia needs a fleet of reliable submarines is beyond doubt to our military planners. [Former Prime Minister] Kevin Rudd's 2009 defence white paper promised to build a dozen of these killers to replace the trouble-plagued Collins-class fleet of six. The paper vowed the new fleet would have "greater range, longer endurance on patrol, and expanded capabilities compared to the current Collins class".
But four years on, Defence boffins are still wrestling with the complex task of figuring out just what kind of submarine we want - and what we can afford. Time is not their friend; the Collins class is due to start being retired in just over a decade [2025], giving rise to fears of a "capability gap" in which we have too few subs - or none at all - while the new fleet is still being built.
It will be a further 18 months [2015] before the new government decides which of the two leading design options [HDW, DCNS, Navantia?] to go with, during which Australians can expect to hear much more furious argument. There is much at stake, not least an estimated $36 billion of taxpayers' money, thousands of jobs in Adelaide and Australia's current technological superiority in a rapidly changing region where Asian countries are investing heavily in their militaries.
The popular thinking in defence circles is that the new fleet should be very much Australia's own submarines, its sovereign asset. In the grandest iteration, this is nothing less than a nation-building project.
"It's going to be hard. Things will go wrong," said Rear Admiral Rowan Moffitt, the outgoing head of the future submarine program. "But it's right up there with our biggest ever national undertakings, along with the Olympics, the Harbour Bridge and the Snowy scheme."
The quickest and cheapest option would be to buy an off-the-shelf European design, which would be small but modern and reliable. But this has been effectively ruled out on strategic grounds. Most experts say Australia needs a long-range submarine that could, say, patrol the South China Sea in the event of territorial disputes there or to protect shipping lanes. That means a big submarine with a big crew that can range far and wide and stay at sea for months.
The rule of thumb, says Moffitt, is that a submarine can stay at sea for about a day for each crew member on board. The Collins has a crew of 60 and can easily go to Hawaii and back. The European off-the-shelf designs accommodate crews of just 27 to 30.
"What we know with absolute confidence is that the performance of those submarines for our application ... falls dramatically short of even what Collins does. They don't have the endurance," Moffitt said.
James Brown, says our neighbours to the north are making strides in acquiring submarine fleets - not just big players such as China and Japan but also Indonesia, Singapore, South Korea and Vietnam.
"In 20 years' time there are going to be a lot more submarines in the region. We have to respond to that in some way and that means having a decent submarine fleet of our own."
They are also an effective deterrent to protect Australia itself, he says. If Australia were threatened, it could use its long-range submarines to launch land-attack cruise missiles at the aggressor's homeland. Then there are intelligence missions - submarines are good for sitting quietly and listening, but only if they have the range and endurance to travel far and wide.
Or as Andrew Davies, a leading submarine scholar at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, puts it, submarines are what you use when you want to take the war up to the enemy. Nazi Germany couldn't match the British and US navies on the surface, but the legendary German U-boat took the fight right up to the east coast of the US.
"Submarines are not crocodiles you leave in the moat," he says.
Having ruled out a nuclear design, Australia will return to some form of conventional submarine that, like the Collins, uses diesel engines to charge batteries which in turn power motors for propulsion.
That leaves two options: a totally fresh design, or a so-called "evolved Collins", which takes the existing fleet, irons out its flaws and modernises parts that would otherwise become obsolete.
The smart money seems to be on the evolved Collins. ASPI's Davies calls it "sort of a no-brainer". Defence Minister David Johnston was quoted in media reports this week as saying the evolved Collins was the "leading option" - though his office afterwards played down the remarks.
It might all sound strange to the average Australian taxpayer who's been reading for years about the Collins' many flaws and annual support costs thought to be about $500 million.
But experts both inside and outside Defence say that, after years of repairs and adjustments, the Collins is now a formidable submarine. The combat system and sensors have been fixed, though the propulsion system still needs work. In recent weeks, the ASC - formerly the Australian Submarine Corporation, the government company set up to build and sustain the Collins - has cut open the hull of one boat to completely remove the engine, so it can be thoroughly overhauled.
As you read this, three Collins are at sea, which meets the benchmark for 50per cent of the fleet being operational at a given time. That's a success.
Whether the government decides on an evolved Collins design or the rival option of starting with a blank sheet of paper, [nothing is "blank". Existing Collins are full of corporate knowledge/lessons and future refinement expectations] carry corporate Australia's submarine industry has learnt from the Collins mistakes, said David Gould, the Englishman recruited to head up Australia's submarine program at the Defence Materiel Organisation.
That includes how to work with other countries, whose help we will inevitably need in designing the new submarine. As a 2011 RAND Corporation report found, we don't have the depth of expertise to design submarines ourselves, meaning we will need help from a country that specialises in conventional subs - Sweden [after the HDW 218SG decision Sweden is no longer an option] Germany, Spain or France.
Last time, the commercial agreement with the Collins' Swedish designer Kockums left Australia in a weak position with a lack of clarity as to what our rights were in regard to the intellectual property and the expectations on the Swedes.
"We won't be doing that again," Gould said. "This is about sovereignty - our sovereign ability to have the submarine that does what we demand of it ... so that when we put the crew into danger, we really do understand what we're doing. We haven't delegated that understanding to someone else."
And while we won't be designing everything ourselves, we will need the expertise to oversee and integrate all the work, says Rowan Moffitt - that means a generation of naval architects, systems engineers and systems integration experts.
"That's a quarter of a century of submarine building ... in which we will have to have an education and TAFE system producing the people we need through that period," Moffitt said.
Meanwhile, the clock is ticking on two fronts. First, the Collins will almost certainly need to continue service for an average of seven years beyond its original retirement date to avoid a capability gap around 2030. Gould maintains this can be managed.
There is also the question of the industry "valley of death". Whatever design Australia chooses, the submarines will be built in Adelaide, at the ASC. The industry association, the South Australian Defence Teaming Centre, this week welcomed [Australia's Defence] minister Johnston's apparent preference for the evolved Collins on the ground that work would start sooner.
The association's chief executive, Chris Burns, said unless the industry was "cutting steel" by early next decade, the Adelaide workforce, which is currently working on the Air Warfare Destroyer project, will find itself idle and those skills will be lost.
"The average age of a welder is about 50," he said. "It's very complex, specialist work and ... our true concern is that that work and those skills will be lost if there is a large gap between the end of the AWD [in 2019
 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hobart-class_destroyer#Construction and the start of the future submarine."
Moffitt points to an assessment by the Australian Industry Group that the future submarine program would employ about 5000 workers and 1000 Australian businesses, most of them small and medium-sized enterprises.
"It's not a one-off, stop-start project. By the time the 12th submarine is finished, it will be time to start looking for a replacement fleet. It could conceivably have no end so long as we seek to have 12 submarines in our inventory."
It nonetheless hinges on a future government being willing to commit the tens of billions of dollars necessary. That won't happen unless the Coalition starts to get defence spending back on track towards the target of 2 per cent of GDP.
With his cabinet colleagues desperate for budget savings, David Johnston will need every ounce of his strength for that fight."
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Pete

January 24, 2014

Australian media debate on efficiency of Collins submarine

Steve Ludlum,  Managing Director and Chief Executive of the Australian Submarine Corporation (ASC).
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A Collins submarine at the Australian Submarine Corporation's (ASC's) shipyard in Adelaide, South Australia.
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The Managing Director and Chief Executive of the Australian Submarine Corporation (ASC), Steve Ludlum, has rebutted January 2014 criticism from Australia's Fairfax media group ( Future Submarine project a farce...and ...the Fleet of Foolishness...) regarding the Collins submarine. The Collin's high maintenance costs and problems through much of its career probably places it efficiency wise between the January Fairfax criticism and Ludlum's comments.

 Ludlum's comments Collins Class submarines are performing, despite naysayers of January 22, 2014  are as follows:

"Collins Class submarines are performing, despite naysayers"

It may not suit naysayers to hear it, but Australia's fleet of Collins Class submarines is actually performing at world class standards.

Yet myths about “dud subs” and poor maintenance performance continue to be perpetuated.
As the Collins Class submarine maintenance contractor, ASC is meeting the Royal Australian Navy's expectation of availability.

Recent maintenance have been completed above expectations with the number of days the submarines are available exceeding targets. As the Sydney Morning Herald itself reported last October, “experts inside and outside Defence say that, after years of repairs and adjustments, the Collins is now a formidable submarine".

Last September, Chief of Navy Ray Griggs said: “The Collins Class submarine remains one of the most capable conventional submarines in the world. There has been significant improvement in submarine availability over the last 15 months.”

Even so some in the media appear fixated on the design and number of the proposed new submarine fleet even though the most important issue is the talent pool needed for such a building project.

Commentators pushing for future ships and submarines to be built offshore seem to think a domestic naval industry is beyond Australia's capabilities. Yet Australia is capable of building large scale defence projects; Australian workers do have the skills to achieve complex engineering tasks.

Preparations are under way to equip a workforce of thousands to design, build, operate and sustain a fleet of submarines to protect and defend Australia's interests.

ASC won't advocate what should be built but we have the talent to build anything the government needs.
The Future Submarines project – from construction through to maintenance - is expected to last half a century or more. Today's 10-year-olds could expect to work on the project, provided they make the appropriate subject choices and receive the proper education.

The Australian Industry Group predicted 5000 permanent jobs will be created during the construction phase and servicing of the new submarines, involving more than 1000 Australian companies.

Despite assertions by some, Australia's Future Submarines is not a program we expect to fall in our laps. ASC is committed to showing that we'll be ready for this challenge and we will be efficient.

Steve Ludlam is the managing director and chief executive of ASC.

the article is at http://www.canberratimes.com.au/comment/collins-class-submarines-are-performing-despite-naysayers-20140122-318pi.html
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Pete