October 31, 2014

France's DCNS announces the SMX OCEAN large conventional submarine

The SMX OCEAN concept is fitted with an impressive load of up to 34 weapons for action in the four domains: anti-air, anti-surface, anti-submarine & action against land targets.
DCNS concept submarine, the SMX OCEAN, is fitted with an impressive load of up to 34 weapons for action in the four domains: anti-air, anti-surface, anti-submarine & action against land targets.
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PETE'S COMMENTS (revisions on Lithium-ion batteries and range)

DCNS's campaign launch for the SMX Ocean (more recently called "conventional Barracuda") coincides with Australia's long heralded desire to buy 6 to 12 large SSKs under project SEA 1000. Australia has not put forward a tender process making it difficult for the main European contenders (France and German) to know what Australia precisely wants. Australia's semi-secret negotiations with Japan (which builds the Soryu submarine) are putting all outside the loop on edge. 

The way DCNS explained the SMX at EURONAVAL 2014 as a submarine with a long rapid transit capability, long endurance and large warload, appears to be closely tailored to Australia's needs. The DCNS claim that the SMX is just a conventional (SSK) version of the not yet completed Barracuda SSN is an oversimplification.


DCNS has been unwilling to publically put forward any unit or program price for Australia. Perhaps DCNS will propose a program price to any Australian delegation at the Euronaval 2014 which ends on October 31, 2014?

Although DCNS is marketing the SMX Ocean as being an conventional (SSK) version of the Barracuda SSN there are sufficient differences for these to be considered distinctly different submarines.

As well as the propulsion and propeller differences the Barracuda would have major differences in buoyancy dynamics. This is in terms of the many diesel fuel tanks needed for an SMX but not included in the nuclear propelled Barracuda. These diesel fuel tanks would need to be emptied during a voyage and then presumably progressively filled with seawater to maintain balance and buoyancy. The lack of a heavy reactor (with lead shielding) in the SMX would also make for major differences in center of gravity-balance compared to the Barracuda.

The SMX's reliance on large banks of Lithium-ion batteries (LIBs) would also make for a fundamentally different electrical network setup and weight-balance distribution than the Barracuda. This is assuming the batteries in the Barracuda are lead acid.

The Barracuda would be mostly designed for Atlantic temperature and salinity conditions rather than any Australian SMX's Indian-Pacific Ocean only conditions. An Australian SMX would have far different air-conditioning and other tropicalisation needs to a Barracuda mainly operating in the cold North Atlantic Ocean.  

It is very unlikely Australia would adopt a French submarine combat system (sensors, data management and weapons). Australia is likely to stick with the present-evolved US combat system already used on the Collins.  

A vertical multi-purpose lock (VMPL) or VLS is not worth the weight penalties if mainly used to launch (around) 6 SLCMs. The weight tradeoff is also negative if, in addition to a VMPL-VLS, there is a horizontal diver vehicle or Large Diameter UUV pod (behind the sail) - fitted or retrofitted.

The extended development-building period for the not yet completed Barracuda may indicate uncertainty, risk and trouble for the SMX (and of course the not even started German TKMS-HDW 216). A big disadvantage of the SMX and 216 may also occur for any major repairs needed in France or Germany compared to repairs in much nearer Japan (for the Soryu).

The SMX's almost all new diesel-electric propulsion system sounds problematic to be used for the lead and perhaps only customer. There are insufficent details concerning the "second generation" AIP. The SMX's proposed "six" (high number of) diesel engines sound risky and likely to increase the chances of malfunctions. 

Returning to the LIBs - it would be much better if France itself trials the proposed LIBs under operational condition for years - making the LIBs a more mature and less risky technology if used in any Australian SMX. 

In contrast the Soryu is known to have a diesel engine arrangement Japan itself has been using for years and the Soryu Mark 2s will have used LIBs for years before Australia becomes a customer (assuming Australia does). 

The greater weight of 4,700 tons surfaced (?) for the SMX (compared to the 3,000 ton surfaced Soryu and 4,000 ton surfaced (?) 216) will almost definitly make the SMX much more expensive. The SMX would likely become another Australia only orphan design like the 216 but unlike the existing Soryu. Australia cannot rely on other countries (like Canada or India) to buy the SMX or 216 so as to avoid the Australian orphan result.

Although the future SMX may contain enough diesel fuel for a range of 18,000 nautical miles this may be more than Australia wants or needs and not worth the cost in weight or likely price. This is noting that the current Collins class has a range of 11,500 nautical miles. Admittedly because  Australia has not issued tender documents Australia's true range preferences are mysterious. 


It appears overall that DCNS has developed the SMX sales campaign rapidly to head-off any final Australian decision in favour of Japan's Soryu or, less likely, the 216. The Pacific regional alliance benefits of Australia selecting a Japanese submarine are greater than any alliance benefits concerning France or Germany which are basically North Atlantic powers. 

FRENCH DCNS SMX OCEAN SSK PROPOSAL 

"[For EURONAVAL 2014] Hervé Guillou, DCNS CEO, explained that SMX Ocean is basically the Barracuda submarine with conventional instead of nuclear propulsion. He said such a vessel could be of interest for Australia's future submarine requirement as it is a large submarine with a very long range of 18,000 nautical miles (33,336km) at 10 knots and has an autonomy of 90 days.

SMX Ocean not only incorporates all the newest technological bricks [components?] available, even if some of them are not fully mature, but the 4,700 ton [surfaced?], 100m long submarine could also stock five different types of weapons: torpedoes, anti-surface missiles, anti-air missiles, cruise missiles and mines for a total payload of 34 weapons.

The concept behind SMX Ocean is that it could have a very mixed navigation program: it could sail at an average speed of 14 knots one week, then spend a month on patrol with no snorting period (snorting is when a submarine rises close to the sea surface in order to raise a pipe through which it draws in the air necessary to run its diesel engines that in turn recharge the batteries that power the submarine when it is fully submerged; this process is also sometimes called snorkeling) and then spend another week sailing back to its harbour at 14 knots.

Ocean would have a maximum operating depth of up to 300m and maximum diving speed of up to 20 knots." see http://aviationweek.com/blog/not-just-concept-smx-ocean-dcns  .

The SMX OCEAN may deploy and recover a new UUV DCNS is working on, as well as deploy a UAV acting as remote sensor for intelligence gathering.

VIDEO ANNOUNCING THE SMX OCEAN

Navy Recognition later reports, October 10, 2014,  http://www.navyrecognition.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=2052 : 


Xavier Mesnet, Marketing Director (Export of Submarines) at DCNS, gives Navy Recognition an exclusive preview of the SMX OCEAN that will be unveiled at Euronaval 2014. The interview was conducted at the confidential site of Bagneux where DCNS develops its combat management systems and conduct some research and development on future projects.

Xavier Mesnet presents the SMX OCEAN heavy SSK to be unveiled at Euronaval 2014.

The focus of DCNS engineers in developing this submarine was put on endurance and high sustained speed. The 4,700 tons SSK was designed for an endurance of 14,000 nautical miles (3 months autonomy) and a continuous transit speed of 14 knots for 1 week.

To achieve such performance, the propulsion system is based on DCNS' revolutionary second generation fuel cell. It consists in the combination of a diesel reformer (therefore only diesel is used for both the diesel engine and the AIP) with air fuel cell technology.

More details on this second generation fuel cell (which has already been tested by DCNS) as well as on the SMX OCEAN will be disclosed during Euronaval 2014.


The SMX OCEAN SSK is DCNS answer to the recent emergence of several heavy SSK projects such as the Type 216 by TKMS (~4,000 tons ), the KSS III project from South Korea (~3,000 tons) or the Soryu class of Japan (~4,000 tons).

DCNS already has the know how to design heavy submarines (few shipyards in the world are capable of designing and producing SSBNs and SSNs) and DCNS insists SMX OCEAN is more than a concept: Construction could start fairly rapidly since it is based on the already under production Barracuda SSN.

October 30, 2014

France's (part concept) SMX Ocean SSK at Euronaval 2014

The SMX Ocean exhibit at EURONAVAL 2014 (27-31 October 2014)

DCNS unveiled the SMX Ocean conventionally powered attack submarine. The new vessel draws on the design of the Barrracuda SSN, with a number of innovations.


The way DCNS explained the SMX at EURONAVAL 2014 as a submarine with a long rapid transit capability, long endurance and large warload, appears to be tailored to Australia's needs. DCNS clearly wants to be seen as a serious contender for Australia's SEA 1000 large SSK selection (against  Japan's Soryu and Germany's TKMS 216). The DCNS claim that the SMX is just a conventional (SSK) version of the not yet completed Barracuda SSN is, of course, at variance to my comments that they are distinctly different submarines.

DCNS SMX Ocean showcased at EURONAVAL 2014


DCNS SMX Ocean  showcaised at EURONAVAL 2014


DCNS SMX Ocean showcased at EURONAVAL 2014  

For more detailed analysis of the DCNS SMX Ocean, see my http://gentleseas.blogspot.de/2014/10/revised-frances-dcns-announces-smx.html . 

Pete

October 29, 2014

Russia exhibiting the concept Amur-1650 conventional submarine (SSK) at Euronaval 2014

Russia is relatively unpopular in Europe at present (Crimea-Ukraine crisis) however France did not cancel Russia's invitation to Euronaval 2014 currently being held on the outskirts of Paris.

At Euronaval 2014 Russia's defence export state company Rosoboronexport, October 28, 2014, presented the Project 677E Amur-1650 diesel-electric submarine (SSK) http://worlddefencenews.blogspot.com.au/2014/10/rosoboronexport-presents-its-new-naval.html 

Russia's test submarine for the Amur (so far concept only) submarine is the (officially one existing) Lada class submarine.


Project 677E Amur-1650 diesel-electric submarine exposed at EURONAVAL 2014 
Read more"

BACKGROUND ON RUSSIA'S AMUR-1650 SSK [often called "Lada" - when deployed in the Russian Navy]

Drawn from Russia's Rubin Design Bureau website on October 28, 2014 http://www.ckb-rubin.ru/en/projects/naval_engineering/conventional_submarines/amur_1650/

"Based upon a multi-year experience of operating diesel-electric submarines of Projects 613 (Whiskey), 641 (Foxtrot), 641B (Tango) of Kilo class by Russian Navy and by Navies of other countries, Rubin has developed the fourth generation conventional submarines of the Amur class (Amur 1650 and Amur 950).

Compared to Kilo class submarines, the Amur 1650 submarine features a reduced displacement. The boat is distinguished by the capability of firing up to 6 missiles in a salvo against targets at sea and on shore, state-of-the-art electronic warfare systems and a sonar with a unique passive antenna to detect silent targets at a large range.

Acoustic signature of the Amur 1650 submarine is several times lower compared to Kilo class submarines which are currently considered to be the most silent in the world. The submarine is equipped with electronic warfare systems of new generation based on the recent hi-tech solutions.

The provision is made for the boat to be fitted with an air-independent propulsion plant with electrochemical generators to considerably increase submerged endurance and cruising range. The plant with stock of reagents is located in a special compartment module, which can be incorporated into the submarine during construction or repair / refit. 

The submarine can be operated in any oceanic area, except for the regions with extensive ice fields, at any weather, and in shallow and deep waters. For the submarine, the equipment and weapons of Russian production, as well as by the Customer country, or by other countries can be used.




Pete

October 26, 2014

Seaweb Undersea (and broader naval) Surveillance Network


Operators of Seaweb increasingly use unmanned undersea vehicles (UUVs) and autonomous undersea vehicles (AUVs) including Wave Glider, seen above. 
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SeaWeb comes in many sensor technologies and host platforms - US and other Western. Seaweb harnesses vast resources of data memory and processing power provided by the US Navy and  Western naval partners. Diagram sourced from http://www.docstoc.com/docs/146099687/Seaweb.
Seaweb includes a vast range of communications and surveillance systems and platforms - from satellites to sensors buried in the sea-bed and every platform in between, including Western submarines. 

Perhaps Seaweb's highest priorities are to track submarines of countries hostile to (or competing with) the West - including Russia, China, Iran and North Korea. Surface ships and on-shore naval transmitters would also be of interest.


(Diagram courtesy of the US Navy Undersea Warfare magazine http://www.navy.mil/navydata/cno/n87/usw/issue_30/art.html )




For possible positions of the SeaWeb as it covers East Asia see Submarine Matter's How to Trap the Chinese Dragon - SeaWeb's Fixed Undersea Array, September 4, 2015.

The Wall Street Journal, October 24, 2014, reported on the multi-platform Western alliance Seaweb underwater surveillance network.  


Underwater Drones Join Microphones to Listen for Chinese Nuclear Submarines
By JEREMY PAGE

 SINGAPORE—Last November [2013], an unusual experiment took place in the congested waters of Singapore just a few weeks before a Chinese nuclear attack submarine passed through the adjacent Malacca Strait

U.S. and Singaporean researchers used an underwater drone named Starfish [autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV)] to explore ways to monitor subsea activity in an experiment sponsored by the U.S. military and Singapore’s defense ministry, say people involved.

The goal of the operation, named Project Mission, was to link a Singaporean underwater surveillance system to an American one that is designed to track potentially hostile submarines. The trial was also part of a broader U.S. effort to use its own underwater drones, combined with data from friendly countries, to enhance a sub-snooping system that dates back to the early years of the Cold War.
From the 1950s, the U.S. listened for Soviet subs entering the Atlantic and Pacific oceans by stringing underwater microphones across the seabed around its coast and in strategic chokepoints, such as between the U.K. and Iceland.

These cable-linked “hydrophones” were part of a secret global network called Sound Surveillance System, or Sosus. The U.S. declassified Sosus in 1991, making it available for civilian purposes such as tracking illegal fishing or whales.
But in recent years, the U.S. and its allies have reactivated or upgraded elements of the system in Asia, partly in response to renewed Russian undersea activity, but also to monitor China’s expanding submarine capabilities. “It never went away per se, and so we—if you will—revitalized all the attributes or assets,” says Adm. Jonathan Greenert, the U.S. Chief of Naval Operations.
The U.S. is now attempting to combine those fixed seabed systems, as well as sub-hunting ships and aircraft, with mobile networks of sensors, some mounted on underwater drones that can be deployed by ships, planes or subs, say officers familiar with the plans.
At the same time, those officers say, the U.S. Navy is exploring ways to tap data from sensors used by other countries in the region, especially around chokepoints that Chinese subs must pass to reach the Pacific and Indian Oceans.
“We’re very close with the Australians in this regard, very close with the Japanese in this regard, working to a greater degree with the Koreans in this regard, the Singaporeans,” says Adm. Greenert. “The Malays, the Indonesians, are increasing their interest and willingness.”
The exact location of Sosus hydrophones in Asia remains classified. Researchers and former submariners familiar with the system say there are several arrays around Japan, which played a key role hunting for Soviet subs in the Cold War, and around Australia’s Christmas Island.
The problem with cable-based hydrophones is that they require regular maintenance and shore stations in friendly countries. Fixed seabed hydrophones can only act as a virtual trip wire, signaling that a sub is passing at that moment. They are also most effective in relatively deep water with little congestion.
Recent U.S. efforts have focused on developing mobile undersea surveillance networks for congested and shallow waters like those near China’s coast.
The U.S. Navy has deployed one such network—the Persistent Littoral Undersea Surveillance, or PLUS, system - which uses seabed sensors and unmanned vehicles that relay data via satellite. “We’ve deployed PLUS,” says Adm. Greenert. “We sent it out on a mission—I can’t tell you where—and it was effective.”
He says that PLUS requires further testing but that the Navy is already using some small undersea drones for anti-sub warfare.
The biggest obstacles: Most underwater drones run on batteries that last only a few hours, and communicating with them is tough, given how slowly data passes through water.
A U.S. Navy Bluefin-21 underwater drone — similar to those used for sub-hunting — goes into action in the search for missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370.ENLARGE
A U.S. Navy Bluefin-21 underwater drone — similar to those used for sub-hunting — goes into action in the search for missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370. REUTERS
“You can think of underwater telecommunications as being roughly where the Internet was 30 years ago,” says Mandar Chitre, an expert in underwater acoustics at the National University of Singapore who took part in the November experiment.

Singaporean developed and deployed UNET naval surveillance system

Singapore has made significant advances in underwater acoustics in recent years, developing a system called UNET that monitors undersea activity off Singapore using a network of seabed sensors, undersea drones and surface nodes that relay data over a mobile-phone network.
Singaporean waters are considered especially challenging because of varying depth, busy shipping and the snapping shrimp—a creature whose distinctive noise has long troubled undersea-warfare specialists.
The experiment in November was to link the Singaporean network to a U.S. system called Seaweb, which is being developed by the Naval Postgraduate School with funding from the Office of Naval Research. “The results were very good,” Prof. Chitre says.
A spokeswoman for Singapore’s Defense Ministry confirmed that it had co-sponsored the experiment on linking UNET to Seaweb, but didn’t respond to questions about its broader purpose or applications to anti-submarine warfare.
Public information about Seaweb shows that it aims to create a new global network of submarine sensors from the U.S., its NATO allies and other friendly countries.
“The idea behind Seaweb,” says Rear Adm. Philip Sawyer, commander of U.S. submarine forces in the Pacific, is “to network various nodes through the undersea environment and be able to tap that data and bring it where you want, whether it’s Singapore or San Diego.”
“To be able to watch and monitor everything, we need a networked system,” he says" 
The U.S. Navy is also testing another mobile sub-surveillance network, called PLUS, which uses a drone called the Remus 600, seen here.E

The U.S. Navy is also testing another mobile sub-surveillance network, called PLUS, which uses a drone called the Remus 600, seen here. KONGSBERG MARITIME
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BACKGROUND

The article confirms Submarine Matters earlier Seaweb article of May 20, 2014 at http://gentleseas.blogspot.com.au/2014/05/us-navies-seaweb-undersea-warfare.html 

A longer description  of Seaweb is at http://calhoun.nps.edu/bitstream/handle/10945/40397/Rice_Undersea_Networked_Acoustic_Communications_UUST2002.pdf?sequence=1 .


Other "inhouse" acronyms for Australia's communications links with the US include  FORCEnet, which may mean the same thing. In the NATO context Link 22 (see large pdf document) may indicate the complexity of links for sea, land, and air communications-sensor network between the US and its North Atlantic allies - with Australia of course being geographically separated from it. Australia and the US would most probably have submarine communications-sensor links under the AUSCANNZUKUS naval Command, Control, Communications and Computers (C4) interoperability structure.


Perhaps indicative of the importance of SeaWeb “Big Data” to the functioning of Australian submarines Australian Vice Admiral (retired) David Shackleton indicated in the Lowy Interpreter, February 16, 2016: “Submarines are supported by intelligence before they deploy and continuously throughout their mission. Intelligence can come from a wide range of sources with different levels of importance, but often from highly sensitive sources that need to be protected and need special communications handling. Some elements of the combat system have to be certified to handle such sensitive information so that it can be integrated with its own onboard data, and some members of the crew need to have the appropriate access rights for its use.

Pete

October 25, 2014

Suspected Russian Mini Submarine, Divers? in Swedish Waters


The red pointer marks the site of suspected Russian submarine and/or diver activity in mid October 2014. The close proximity to Stockholm may indicate this is part of a agent drop-off or pick-up activity. Or it maybe connected to Russian electronic monitoring of nearby naval exercises, monitoring Stockholm's own telecommunications grid or tapping an undersea cable.

The many rocks and islets in Swedish waters mean complex and dangerous undersea obstructions and currents for any submarine crew unfamiliar with the conditions.  
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The Piranha ("Losos") class mini submarine (or an updated version) may displace 220 tons surfaced - making it suited to closed waters - although more susceptible to currents. 
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More detail on Piranha (Project 865, NATO - Losos). Photos courtesy of Covert Warfare Naval Blog.


An interesting feature of Piranha-Losos is the two tubular storage bins for diver propulsion devices (2 divers per device) which give the Piranha-Losos a characteristic hump back. It can also launch two torpedo-like diver propulsion devices . Such devices (see Sirena UME in diagram above) are suited to even shallower water and for easy diver deployment onto rocks, islets or into inlets and beaches near Stockholm.  

With Piranha-Losos entering service in the the early 1990s, these were purpose built special operations craft. The post-Soviet Russian Navy did not see the need to operate dedicated craft and they were discarded in the early 2000's after attempts to sell them abroad were unsuccessful despite considerable interest in the design. 

However Russia's resurgent military and intelligence goals under Putin may have included new mini-submarine and diver propulsion device projects. New, more stealthy, developments of the Piranha may have been completed. The necessary development trials may well have required increasingly realistic exercises. 

Was the activity off Stockholm one such evercise or was it a full operation?

Two Piranha-Losos mini-subs - with the load carry storage bins very obvious.  As well as diver propulsion devises such storage bins are capable of carrying torpedos or mines.
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The starboard storage bin tray is seen with two Protei-5 diver propulsion devices. Photo: rcmodelsubmarines.co.uk
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Characteristics of the Piranha-Losos mini-submarine: Length - 28.2 meters, Width - 4.8m, Displacement - 218 tons surfaced, 319 tons submerged, Speed - 7 kts surfaced, submerged speed unknown. Crew - 3 submariners + 6 (divers, other special forces or agents).

PETE'S COMMENT

I think it very likely Sweden and NATO early on had a clear idea of what type of Russian submarine(s) or divers-frogmen (if any) were involved in this latest embarrassment. Active sonar on many platforms and many other types of sensor modes would have effectively "shaped" the Russian underwater activity. Also the many technical characteristics of the Russian emergency transmissions would have pointed to the type of Russian sub or diver modes involved. 

It is more a Swedish-Russian diplomatic matter that Sweden has not divulged full details. Many of the details will be authorised-leaked in time - maybe years. 

The suspected Russian submarine (or divers) that making a distress call in Swedish waters may be a Russian  Piranha mini special forces submarine, Triton-NN or other mini submarine. Swimming divers in trouble?

The close proximity to Stockholm may indicate:

-  this is part of a agent drop-off or pick-up activity or

-   maybe connected to Russian electronic monitoring of nearby naval exercises, of Stockholm's own telecommunications grid or monitoring an undersea cable.

Less likely are full sized submarines being directly involved rather than acting as mother-ships, launch points for a diver-propulsion vehicle:

- a Russian Kilo class conventionally propelled submarine somehow involved? A Russian Kilo Class submarine - at up to 2,350 tons surfaced probably too large to operate safely in  the restricted littorals off Stockholm. Russia's more advanced Lada class submarine(s) are likely to be equally large. or

- a Lada class submarine (B-585 Saint Petersburg) involved. In which case its developing Air Independent Propulsion (AIP) system may have technically malfunctioned? or

- much less likely a nuclear propelled submarine such as the Akula class SSN involved.

Any Kilo, Lada or special forces mini-submarine would likely be from Russia's Baltic Fleet base at the enclave of Kaliningrad Oblast (bordered by the Baltic, Poland in the south and Lithuania in the north) and fairly close to Stockholm.

BACKGROUND

Suspected Russian submarines have made many embarrassing forays into Swedish waters in the past.

As usual Wikipedia proves invaluable - see entry within  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Swedish_submarine_incidents#List_of_major_reported_incidents:








"October 17-23, 2014
A large military operation is launched to search for an allegedly damaged submarine in Kanholmsfjärden in the Stockholm archipelago. Encrypted transmissions sent on an emergency radio frequency used by Russian units were recorded. The sources of the transmissions were identified as a submarine and a military site in the Kaliningrad region.[13][14][15][16] On 19 October the military said there had been three separate sightings and released a picture of the unidentified submarine to the public.[17] There were also suggestions that the Russian Oil-tanker NS Concord was involved as a mother-ship for smaller underwater vehicles as it maintained a pattern of criss-crossing outside Stockholm during the investigation.[18] 

Several days later, the hunt was still on as officials were certain that foreign underwater operations were still ongoing.[19] More than 100 sightings were now reported, said Supreme Commander Göransson.[20] Paul Schwartz at Center for Stategic International Studies, CSIS, said the photograph could be a Russian Lada-class submarine.[21]"

Pete

October 20, 2014

India's Nirbhay Cruise Missile 2nd Strike Weapon


A Nirbhay cruise missile prior to testing.
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A test of the Nirbhay cruise missile - most probably the October 17, 2014 test. 
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PETE's COMMENT

Following a successful second test of India's Nirbhay cruise missile on October 17, 2014 it is a good time to discuss the Nirbhay's role. This second test follows the first test on March 12, 2013. Being a relatively small missile the Nirbhay (Sanskrit for "fearless") can potentially be launched by any means including land-mobile launchers, fighter-bombers, surface ships or (nuclear or conventionally propelled) submarines. The Nirbhay's warhead may be conventional high explosive, nuclear or chemical (biological is possible but increasingly unlikely). The inherent vulnerability of this subsonic cruise missile to anti-aircraft or dedicated anti-missile defences makes it less suitable as a nuclear delivery vehicle only. The dual-use or triple-use ambiguity makes it inadvisable to fire a Nirbhay as a first strike against a nuclear armed country. 

The Nirbhay might fit well into India's second strike only strategy against the most likely aggressors (Pakistan and China).  The Nirbhay's estimated range of 1,500 km would permit any part of Pakistan to be hit from Indian territory or perhaps from the Arabian Sea. From the Bay of Bengal some Chinese targets could be hit. With difficulty Nirbhay armed Indian subs could cross into the Western Pacific in order to hit some of China's major coastal cities. If fired by submarine the Nirbhay's 0.52m diameter makes it deliverable from a conventionally powered submarine's (SSK's) standard 0.533m torpedo tubes - thus giving SSKs a more potent nuclear warfare role than shorter range nuclear tipped Klub or Harpoon SLCMs allow. 

Alternatively Nirbhays could be fired from a future Indian SSN's or SSGN's vertical launch tubes - thus eventually giving India a dual-use capability for those two submarine classes. In the Indian Ocean most of India's potential targets will be non-nuclear armed countries making these dual-use subs more economical than nuclear weapon only K-15 or K-4 armed future Indian SSBNs.

Further details on the second test and comments on the Nirbhay's strategic role are at http://thediplomat.com/2014/10/meet-indias-new-nuclear-cruise-missile/ .

Pete