March 30, 2015

Indian Defence Minister Visiting Japan Linking Soryu and Aircraft Issues?

Indian Defense Minister Manohar Parrikar (Photo courtesy ZeeNews)

Interesting report in the Japan Times, March 29, 2015 India interested in buying Japan's Soryu-class submarines :

This is just prior to Indian Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar visiting Japan including meeting with Defence Minister Nakatani.


Regarding "Parrikar noted that Japan had strict regulations on the export of defense technologies but that the rules are changing." in the article above. Japan should be well aware that India is close to Russia on high tech submarine issues. India has even financed Russian ship and submarine repairs/renovations. India is leasing a Russian Akula II class SSN (now INS Chakra - was Russian Nerpa). So future dangers might exist of Soryu materials, designs and specifications finding their way to Russia.

Japan might also wish to note India, like most great powers, plays hard-ball as a defence customer which sellers like France find difficult. India may already be playing hardball "Parrikar suggested that India is not likely to make a decision anytime soon on whether to purchase [ShinMaywa] US-2
 amphibious rescue aircraft used by the [Japanese] MSDF." This is noting that in 2014 there seemed to be assumptions (see footnotes 3 and 4 to Wikipedia article) in the press that the US-2 sale to India was a done deal.  

See more details of France's experience at Indian Possible Interest in Buying-Building Japan's Soryu Submarine - Australia, January 30, 2015 


Anonymous said...

Aussie is honest, reliable and kind people, and Australian military men and women are so brave. I really respect and proud of Australia and her people. But I must show rather unpleasant opinion in terms of information security risk. Soryu technology selling to Australia is a strategic mistake of Japan. When then- defence minister of ALP government, Mr Stephen Smith asked so called technology transfer, Japan should have refused flatly the request. At that time I expected that India would request next. Now it’s coming true. Once we accept Australia’s request, we can not easily refuse other important friendly countries’ requests. I know that Turkey will request next next. Japanese government should cancel the Submarine deal with Australia. This is best reason to refuse India’s request.

Peter Coates said...

Thankyou Anonymous

You may be right about the increasing "security risk" - although Chinese or Russian human spies or cyber intelligence may have penetrated the Soryus secrets as we speak.

Both Japan and Australia may indeed be making a "strategic mistake".

Interesting that interest in the Soryu began under the Labor Party with Stephen Smith. Do you have any sources-websites for this?

I don't know that Japan would be obliged to sell Soryus to India. Japan can always sell a lower technology submarine to India. The US has sold lower or varying technology weapon systems to other countries for decades. For example the US is offering F-18s to India but not seriously offering F-35s.

Turkey has been a German submarine buyer for decades and is most likely to buy or build more German Type 214 subs.

The extreme extra cost of the Soryu means that only Australia is seriously interested in it.

Although as India has made the mistake of operating subs from three countries (Germany, Russia and France) simultaneously it would be just like India to also buy Japanese :)



Isaac said...

Hahaha..your post and the comment are both funny.

1. Soryu class submarines have some problems which are being hidden by Japanese, in the name of protecting technology. The diesel engine is a refined French diesel engine. The AIP is a licensed version of Swedish Stirling engine. So how much freedom Japan has in transferring these technologies to other nations is circumspect.

2. No nation would buy these submarines off the shelf from Japan. Those days are gone and now all submarine customers - whether Australia, South Korea or India, want to build these submarines in their own shipyard. Japan doesn't like it, its their problem, since variety in sellers list is big. Its about keeping jobs, maintenance facility all in-house for subs' 30 year life cycle.

3. Japan is an immature and novice defense supplier and lacks any confidence in this market. There are other established and major suppliers like France, Germany, Russia, Sweden and others. So the scope of getting a sale is not an easy task and one has to compete to get a deal. So forget that Japan will get any deal on platter, it doesn't happen and it won't happen.

4. The lack of experience in defense market also makes Japan fearful of protecting its technology which is an irrelevant/unnecessary fear. There are proper licensing and tech-protection rules which are written in defense contracts. There is ITAR, an international treaty, for that so fear of protecting technology is useless and immature.

Without even selling any defense item, Japan supplied CNC machines and propeller technology to Soviet Union during 1980s to make their submarines quieter, for which an international scandal took place and several people were jailed in Japan and Norway.

Bottomline, it will be pretty hard for Japan to survive in this cut-throat defense products market. Even sympathetic countries like Australia and India will run out of patience or get better offers and move on, degrading whatever Japanese ability is left in the market and even damaging its supplier reputation.French SMX Ocean and German Type 216-218 are better options, either of which may eventually win both tenders.

Maybe Japan should stick to selling commercial products !!!

Peter Coates said...

Hi Isaac

You obviously have a good knowledge of current and past submarine matters. Japan being new on the arms selling block this may cause problems for Japan and customer countries.

However Japanese success in selling large-scale commercial equipment, whole factories and building overseas might be a good indicator of its future defence sales capacity.

As Japan starts to alter defence laws it needs to be careful this won't disable arms sales.

The ability of KHI and MHI to influence-coerce the decisions of politicians and whole governments (like Lockheed Martin in the US) may become a problem.

Germany has a deeper submarine heritage than Japan (eg. Germany in WWI) but Germany does not have the same sensitivities as Japan that may impede sub sales.

Re "There are proper licensing and tech-protection rules which are written in defense contracts. There is ITAR, an international treaty, for that so fear of protecting technology is useless and immature. "

When it comes to national security or survival issues I don't see international agreements or contracts as a powerful control on a nation's behaviour. Reverse-engineering and competing against the inventor country is quite common. For example strategic pressure and profits have resulted "Russian Nene jet engines" and China reverse-engineering and home-building Kilos and Flanker aircraft.



Anonymous said...

Hi Pete,
let me start by congratulating the aussie cricket team on the world cup victory, ok back to the discussion regarding technology from two different sources in the Indian context it has happened in the past which is why Soviet origin ships (udaloy/ Sovremenny)were based on the eastern coast and western(british leander class) were based of the west coast to keep both countries happy

Peter Coates said...

Hi Harish

Thanks for your good wishes on Australia's cricket success. Beating England (those valuable Ashes!) later this year will also be a major struggle ;-)

I see geographical separation of Udaloy and Sovremenny on one coast and British Leander class on the other as mainly symbolic. The ability of Russian submarine, including reactor, advisers to collect information on Japanese subs is a risk Japan would need to consider. With India perhaps intending to lease another Akula II Russia will continue to have unusual influence.



Anonymous said...

1) About Mr Stephen Smith:
“Japan tech deal could help power our subs” by Rick Wallace, THE AUSTRALIAN SEPTEMBER 27, 2012 12:00AM,

2) About India:
2-a) JMSDF is very nervous about security risk. I have once heard that all of the Japanese decommissioned submarines are scrapped, melted in the furnace and molded steel ingot by designated subcontractor to prevent the third party from obtaining technological or designing finger prints.

2-b) India’s technology and science are well developed and India used to be colony of UK. If Japan export lower tech subs than ones for UK’s relative, Australia without rational reasons, they may feel to be insulted.

3) About Turkey: Thank you. But I am rather doubtful about future of Type 214.

Peter Coates said...

Hi Anonymous (of April 1)

1) Thanks for the link to Stephen Smith's 2012 approach to Japan.

2-a) Thanks also for information on the fiery fate of decommissioned Japanese subs. Japan's extreme secretiveness might serve as a warning to first customerr Australia.

In contrast look how Russia's new build Kilos are transported 1,000s of miles (Russia all the way to Vietnam) by Dutch Rolldock ships. Note the detailed view of a submarine's normally secret-shrouded propeller

2-b) With Japan's trend towards secrecy maybe Australia and India will be considered too risky. Even the US with the F-22 won't sell. Germany also has features on the Type 212 sub that are not offered to foreigners like us.

3) Yes the 214 has had mixed reviews. The Type 212 U35 looks interesting though.



Gagan Kumar said...

Honable world nation
Japan is/will yet very responsible nation. ....
If Japan don't sale defence apparatus to world nation and other Nations sales then what's effect of international security treaty. Japan buildings all types of defence apparatus and sale world wide simmiler to USA. ....please world community never fear or worry because Japan news sale and transfer of technology because Japan yet well yet fully responsible and sensitive nation and always mentioned international security laws. .....ok....God Bless You. ...