June 16, 2015

Lack of Japanese legislation could slow Soryu sale

A Soryu submarine. Soryu means "blue" or "green dragon". More Japanese legislation and public support are needed for the sale of an enlarged Soryu to Australia.
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Yuki Tatsumi for The Diplomat, has written an interesting article (June 16, 2015) indicating that Japanese Prime Minister Abe is having difficulty pushing through crucial alliance legislation. Implicitly this legislation is necessary to justify the sale of enlarged Soryus to Japan’s emerging ally Australia.

It appears that pushing the legislation through Japan’s Parliament (“Diet”) will not happen next month, as hoped, but maybe next year. The political hesitation is, in part, prompted by legal arguments that difficult constitutional change is necessary earlier than first thought. Also too many of the Japanese public remain hesitant about the Japanese military becoming more active as an alliance partner (regionally and further afield).

This complicates the Soryu sale because Abe has been painting the sale as an alliance cementing activity with Australia. 

This political uncertainty in Japan makes it difficult for Australian selectors to choose the Soryu, or eliminate one of the contenders, early next year after the “competitive” evaluation process is completed. On a favourable note for Abbott a Soryu decision is better made AFTER the next Australian election, which may be as late as November 2016. Choice of the Soryu is likely to be politically unpopular in Australia as it is strongly assumed to mean fewer submarine building jobs for Australians.

Pete

17 comments:

Anonymous said...

"Also Australian Soryus would be more inter-operable with Japanese Soryus in coordinated patrols."

[Surely you jest oh Pete!]

Even the identical submarines will not make Navies compatible. They need to train together. That is it.

Why are the Australian Hobart-class destroyers not build like the US Arleigh Burke-class destroyer as Japanese Kongo- or Atago-class? Is the Aegis system enough to be compatible?

Not even that is necessary. The key is called LINK 11 or LINK 16. In 2013 the German Sachsen-class frigate "Hamburg" did protect for about 2 months the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower by controlling the airspace around the strike group. No need for Aegis to do this. Link 16 and proper training was sufficient.

Regards,
MHalblaub

Peter Coates said...

Hi MHalblaub

I deleted "Also Australian Soryus would be more inter-operable with Japanese Soryus in coordinated patrols." from the text - because my article emphasises Japanese legislation and the Soryu.

Regards

Pete

subdriver said...

Japan is certainly finding it difficult to push through the necessary legislation. I was there at MAST in Japan in May this year which was covered by the global media as the first arms expo in Japan and a sign of the changing outlook. During that period itself, the Diet passed important legislations allowing Japanese participation in multi national operations and cooperative engagement. However arms sales are a totally different cup of tea fraught with political overtones and a possible political backlash over sovereignty issues as well as jobs, industrial capability etc. Australia would do well to keep its options open. personally I feel that as a first world country and with adequate industrial capability, Australia must insist on the submarines being built in Australia itself - if not all then most. The Indian approach is worth a look - the first Scorpene built in Mumbai will be floating by Oct this year and will be commissioned next year followed by five more at nine months interval each.

Regards,

Anonymous said...

Dear Subdriver,

I have not much confidence in the Indian submarine program. I do not believe it will take India just one year to get a new submarine class into service. So much things are going wrong there with military equipment. The indigenous tank program, the French fighter aircraft, ...

There are just two companies with solutions worth looking at DCNS and TKMS. Both have a good record for license building of submarines (India is special...). A straight forward solution would be an enlarged Scropene or Type 214/Dolpin 2. First submarine to be built in France or Germany to train engineers and workers. The following submarines will be built in Australia (without ASC).

The problem with Japan is governments can change. For Type 214 submarines 3 countries can provide assistance: Germany, Turkey and South Korea (Greek is special...).

Regards,
MHalblaub

Anonymous said...

Hi Pete

Participaition of Japan in the competive evaluation process was legally approved based on the “The Three Principles on Transfer of Defense Equipment and Technology” by National Security Council including Prime Minister as a chairman, Chief Cabinet Secretary, Foreign Minister and Defense Minister in May 18th 2015.

In terms of collective defense, in May 30th 2015 Diet, Prime Minister Abe stated that the right of collective defense would be applied to the minesweeping in international sea lanes of Arabian Gulf.

I do not think that this type of activity affects the sale of submarine technology. The former administration party, Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) does not also oppose the sale. Generally speaking, policy making of Japan is slow, but the decided policy is realized very steadily.

Regards
S

Peter Coates said...

Hi SubDriver

Yes I agree that pushing through the alliance legislation is a necessary preliminary and gauge of getthing moderate and leftwing Diet politicians onside with the ruling LDP (Abe).

Also the alliance legislation is needed to convince many in the Japanese Navy who oppose transferring Soryu secrets to Australia. If Japan is in formal alliance with Australia transferring is more paletable.

Regards

Pete

Peter Coates said...

Hi MHalblaub

You speak truth. India takes longer than scheduled for practically all weapon systems. eg. the AIP that India has been developing for years may never by installed in the last 2 future Scorpenes.

I agree - the Australian Navy's dreams of having VLS doesn't justy having 4,000 ton (surfaced) subs. Just going for large versions of the Scorpene or 214/Dolphin 2 makes much more practical and financial sense.

Regards

Pete

Peter Coates said...

Hi S

Yes I agree you are legally and technically correct that the legal instruments are in place for Japan to sell Soryus to Australia. However popularity and political credibility of a Soryu sale are also important and are still in doubt.

If Abe is unable to have his 11 bits of security-alliance legislation passed until January 2016 or later this undercuts Abe's overall push for a new functional Japanese defence stance. This stance includes a functional alliance with Australia. Lack of legislation passed would not convince many Japanese public and politicians that Abe's ideas (including Soryu sale) are going in the right direction.

More crucially the very vocal Japanese Navy needs convincing that Abe is in a firm position to transfer Japans sovereign defence secrets to a functional ally, Australia. Lack of legislation would mean that Japan cannot form additional, functional alliances (including fast alliance decisions) with Australia.

Also Abbott-Australia cannot make the unpopular decision of "Yes to Soryu" when political support for the sale may be in doubt from the Japanese end.

Regards

Pete

Anonymous said...

Hi Pete

JMSDF (Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force) is not “very vocal” at all, and is perfectly under the civilian control. JMSDF members are not allowed to express any political opinions. Vice Admirals Masao Kobayashi and Yoji Koda are retired people. As freedom of speech is one of the most important values of ours, we can not and will not control their voices at all. Retired Aussie admirals are also very vocal.

The Soryu sale is the result of Prime Minster Abe’s security-alliance legislation, but not the object of the legislation. If Prime Minister Abe fails to security-alliance legislation and Australia finds difficulty in buying Soryu, we have to accept Australia’s decision, there is no other choice.

By the way, Socceroos won Kyrgyzstan World Cup qualifying match. Well done. I always support Socceroos except matches with Japan, because Socceroos play fair by the rules and are good rival of Blue Samurais.

Regards
S

Peter Coates said...

Hi S

Yes I agree - that Australia has many good prospects (like Krgios https://youtu.be/FJRz5MTACYs ) lining up for Wimbledon.

Regards

Pete

Nicky said...

It Makes me wonder why Australia doesn't have a back up in case the Soryus deal falls through. I would think the Type 214, Type 214 or the A26 is one option.

Peter Coates said...

Hi Nicly

You are right - the Soryu is looking more problematic with every passing minute.

Aus does have a backup plan to buy a (hopefully small 3,000 ton?) version of the TKMS 216.

TKMS 214 and Dolphin 2 also look nice.

The vaporware A26 (built in Australia) might too likely be a repeat of the Collins experience.

Pete

Nicky said...

Hi Pete,
The Soryu are looking more problematic for Australia. That's why the need to have an alternative for if the Soryu deal falls flat. One thing that Canada and Australia should have done is looked for Alternatives to the Victoria and Collins class SSK. Though for Canada they need an SSK that can punch through an Ice Pack and have the endurance to patrol under an ice pack.

I do think for Canada and Australia, the should have gone with the Type 214 SSK, Dolphin-class submarine, A26 SSK and the S-80 Submarine. Though I think the Scorpene class SSK is out of the question because of France's reputation, but I do think the SMX Ocean is worth considering as well. For Australia, they need an SSK with Endurance and for Canada, they need one with the ability to punch a hole though an Ice Pack.

Though If the Australian's and Canadian's can convince the US on selling Virginia class SSN to Australia and hold them to the same requirement's and arrangements that the British have on the Nuclear technology. Then I think the Virginia class SSN is a Viable option. The Agreement that got the UK into the Nuclear Submarine game with the US was via the Nassau Agreement and the Polaris sales agreement. In effect, the UK paid for the development cost of the Missiles in exchange for US being granted basing and port rights.

In that version, I would think the US can make a deal where they can create an SSK version out of the Virginia class SSN and the Australian and Canadians can pay for the development cost and have to incur some backroom agreements.

Peter Coates said...

Hi Nicky

Yes Prime Minister Abbott is taking a risk backing Abe’s Soryu – as Abe’s defense legislative program slows down. Japan not even wanting Australia to cut or weld Soryu hulls indicates Japan doesn't get it.

Canada does need a sub large and hardened enough to punch through the Ice Pack covering much northern Canadian sea area. Also a sub operating for extending periods submerged-under this Pack.

I’ve been thinking that increasing emphasis should be placed on actual designs that already exist in shipyards and sub-builders with proven performance.

There are 214s and Dolphins. The A26 doesn't exist and has not even been ordered by Sweden yet. The S-80 have never been launched and are unproven. The "Spanish" subs being reliant on French input needs to be recalled.

There are also large versions of the Scorpene with AIP and the the SMX Ocean hull in the form of Barracuda SSN is due to be launched soon. France and the US are fellow members of NATO so share much sensitive software and hardware.

The high reactor cost, size and 250 man crewing requirements of the Virginias and Los Angeles may rule them out as practical options. Also the US Congress has a bad reputation of holding up sensitive weapon sales – even to allies.

The US may want to retain its monopoly as the only Western power in the Asia-Pacific with nuclear subs. Perhaps Australia should persuade the US to base 3 or 4 of its SSNs and SSGNs at Fleet Base West, Rockingham, Western Australia as these US nuclear subs are already visiting that base?

If the US made a SSK version of the Virginia it would likely cost more than the Virginia – with the same excessive crewing requirement. Maybe Australia could afford 2.

Meanwhile Canada is tossing up whether to have NO SUBS after the Victorias – not even 214 or Scorpene medium sized SSKs.

Regards

Pete

Peter Coates said...

Hi Nicky

On the possibility of the US supplying conventional Virginias to Australia:

I should add that the US avoids building any SSKs because the US Navy wants to maintain a staunchly nuclear powered submarine service.

The US Navy knows that if, for example, US suppliers built updated https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barbel-class_submarine SSKs to meet:

- Dutch demand for more https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zwaardvis-class_submarine or

- more Taiwanese demand for more https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hai_Lung-class_submarine

there is a risk US polliticians would see merit in the US Navy having a force of some far cheaper, far less able SSKs. US submarine suppliers also would not want the US Government to buy subs from US suppliers at much lower prices.

So even supplying US SSKs to Australia won't happen. The US wants its specifically Pacific ally, Japan, to supply SSKs to Australia instead.

Regards

Pete

Nicky said...

Hi Pete,
That's why I think for Australia and Canada, they should team up on a group buy for Submarines. I can see Both with either the Dolphin class SSK, Type 214 or an enlarged Scorpene. Though the Type 212 SSK is great, but I don't see Germany selling them. What both Australia and Canada needs to do is be more hands on in submarine construction and let TKMS build it.

Peter Coates said...

Hi Nicky

There indeed could be greater-consumer-power and economy of scale advantages of Australia teeming as buyers with Canada. Such arrangements don't appear to happen often with Australia (due to our geographical isolation) and weapon sellers see benefit in maintaining the usual seller (divide and rule) market power.

European countries though are much into joint building ventures - in part for regional NATO and EU solidarity. Bilateral ventures particularly Concorde (UK, France) didn't succeed much while multilateral Airbus has been a major success for Euro builder-sellers.

Regards

Pete