January 25, 2016

US Quietly Pro Japan in Submarine Pick

As indicated in Submarine Matters on October 30, 2015 at least two Americans (below) hold key roles in the future submarine selection and building process. 

American, Donald C. Winter is the chairman of the Expert Advisory Panel for the Australian Submarine selection. Winter is also former Secretary of the US Navy and a former Corporate Vice President of Northrop Grumman. (Photograph Courtesy Northrop Grumman)

Rear Admiral (retd.) Stephen Johnson (above) was appointed by the Australian Government as General Manager, Submarines, in October 2015. 

Submarine Matters', September 22, 2015 article The US Continues to Influence Australia's Future Submarine Selection in Many Ways in part indicated:

"...2.  Given the highly confidential nature of combat system technology...it may be effectively up to the US which country [Japan, France or Germany] such technology can be transferred to.

- US technology transfer powers may limit Australian decision-making and also influence how our future submarines are built.

- It is widely believed in the submarine industry that the US would not wish combat system technology transferred to French submarine builders...."

On January 25, 2016 The Australian picked up this same US combat system influence dynamic with Greg Sheridan's "Cautious US gives Japan edge in subs":

"...Serious doubt that Washington will be willing to provide the US Navy’s most advanced combat systems to Australian submarines if they are built by Germany or France is emerging as a trump card for Japan in the three-way battle to construct the new boats.

...The German manufacturers have countered this view by pointing out that Germany is a member of NATO in good standing and that numerous German-built subs have elements of American weapons systems.

...A senior American outlined to The Australian the reasons for Washington’s preference for the Japanese Soryu submarine to be the replacement for the Collins.

First, the US military’s assessment of the three design options is that the Soryu would offer the best capability to Australia. The Americans are looking to their allies­ to bolster an overall alliance capability, and in Asia that means primarily Australia and Japan.

...Second, the Americans believe­ the Soryu would offer the best inter­operability between Aus­tralian and American submarines and between Australian and Jap­anese boats.

Third, they believe a Japan­ese option would greatly enhance “trilateral strategic co-operation” between the US, Japan and Australia. Enhancing such co-operation is a policy objective in all three capitals.

Finally, because Beijing is very much opposed to the Japanese option, Washington believes a defeat­ for Japan would be seen as a humiliation of Tokyo and a ­diplomatic and strategic victory for Beijing..."

There is much more in the WHOLE ARTICLE in THE AUSTRALIAN.


What the US wants is not automatically the last word. Prime Minister Turnbull has been an independent, creative thinker on many occasions in his long, non-government career. 

China still remains Australia's largest current market. China will continue to hold that position for the foreseeable future. However the Chinese economy is weakening compared to the resurgent  American economy.

Australia would not wish to be drawn into alliance obligations by the US or Japan against Chinese warships in such far flung sea-battlefields as the East China Sea.

The US may not be serious in offering Australia an SSN option from now to the medium term (2030s). If Australia bought the French Shortfin Barracuda France would probably offer the Barracuda SSN option to Australia for building in the 2030s.

Germany is likely to be offering the most efficient, compact and cost effective solution, in the TKMS 216.



Ace Pilot said...

Seems Raytheon also backing Japan heavily.
They even described Soryu class as the most capable conventional submarine in the world.

http://www.aph.gov.au/DocumentStore.ashx?id=5e717c69-0513-4da4- 8b3d-edb028ea2d68 & subId = 301983

Peter Coates said...

Hi Ace

I'm assuming you scored your five kills in the Vietnam War?

Unfortunately http://www.aph.gov.au/DocumentStore.ashx?id=5e717c69-0513-4da4- 8b3d-edb028ea2d68 & subId = 301983 yields "500 Internal Server Error" when I tried it.

I looked up http://www.raytheon.com.au/capabilities/submarines/ and it seems Raytheon combat system are so well established in Australia that Lockheed Martin has little to add except:

Raytheon Doing the Work + Lockheed managerial costs/profits = downsides for Australia



Ace Pilot said...

Oops, Sorry for the broken link, Here is a proper one :

Peter Coates said...

Thanks Ace

http://www.aph.gov.au/DocumentStore.ashx?id=5e717c69-0513-4da4-8b3d-edb028ea2d68&subId=301983 (3+MB pdf) works. Although it is dated 1 December 2014 making it under (Prime Minister) Abbott's (only look at the Soryu) Regime it does argue the alliance merits of choosing the Soryu.

Significantly "Page 6 of 18" records:

"An example of the American attitude was reported in the Australian Financial Review of 3 October
2014, when former US assistant secretary for East Asia and the Pacific, Christopher Hill, said that
an Australian choice of a Japanese Soryu class submarine would be part of a “natural deepening
of the security relationship” with Japan."



Josh said...

What is the reason for Australia being wedded to the US fire control? I'm aware that the Collins class uses a US system, and that Australian weapons (I believe) are US made except for mines (Stonefish?). Is this driving the requirement that the FCS be US made? Has any consideration been given to adopting a German or French system and weapons, or does this throw away too much inventory and investment into Mk48 Mod 7/CBASS?

It seems likely the Japan option was always going to win if a US system was an absolute requirement. I think for technical and political reasons that's actually not a bad outcome, but it seems to make the current competition somewhat of a sham.


Peter Coates said...

Hi Josh

"fire control"? lets stick with Combat System.

1. Yes Australia using US Harpoon missiles and Mark 48 torpedos even as far back as Oberon days https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oberon-class_submarine#Regional_variations would have contributed to Australia choosing the AN/BYG-1.

2. After initial attempts by Australia to develop a whole new combat system for the Collins the US used its political influence and forward thinking to make the AN/BYG-1 available to Australia in the early 2000s

3. Supposedly joint Australia-US development of the AN/BYG-1 has followed since but it seems mainly the US is keeping Australia happy to pay what are effectively high priced upgrades/licence fees for continued use of AN/BYG-1. See http://gentleseas.blogspot.com.au/2014/06/us-influences-on-australias-future.html


4. With the AN/BYG-1 comes access to the US Navy (Big Data NSA) database on "enemy" vessels and even more on sea conditions which reveal when an enemy vessel (eg. Chinese or Russian submarines) are statistically likely to be present. This database is all supported by the US and allies' SeaWeb system - see http://gentleseas.blogspot.com.au/search?q=seaweb .

I think database and SeaWeb make AN/BYG-1 worth it for Australia. Japan may well have a mainly Japanese equipment solution that amounts to similar database and SeaWeb access as Australia.



BK said...

Like so many times in the past, the word "interoperability" is used as an argument in favour of Optioni J. At the end of the day, interoperability is defined by using the same standards, the same concepts, the same C2 respectively C4ISR-Systems (at least systems that can "talk" and "understand" each other. It really does not make a difference if the boat is of French, German or Japanes origin, as long as the combat system will be able interoperable.