February 11, 2016

Japan would benefit from US Combat System when selling Submarines to Australia

Just some of the components of the US AN/BYG-1 combat system. Australia is already using it in the Collins and will use it in the future submarine. Japan is also interested in using more AN/BYG-1 parts for its own submarines. See this image much larger and readable here.

This diagram Australian Defence Force slide display (2015) explains the major elements of a Combat System.

The following are snippets of an article by Greg Sheridan, Foreign Editor for The Australian, February 11, 2016. I've hyperlinked and bolded some parts:

“Japan building Australian submarines is a match made in heaven

The $50 billion-plus program to replace our six Collins-class submarines, with up to 12 new subs, may have at its heart a dynamic which has barely featured in the discussion so far. That dynamic is a Japanese interest in acquiring the US combat system on the Collins, and the related [Mark 48] heavy torpedo.

The Japanese Soryu subs...have a capable combat system but it is not as good as the US system. From the beginnings of the strategic discussions between Canberra and Tokyo, and at the highest levels of government and the bureaucracy, there have been quiet discussions that out of this process the Japanese could eventually acquire the US combat system for their own subs.

…The Americans also harbour the greatest concern about the ability of European defence companies to keep their technology secure from Chinese industrial espionage. Partly to reassure the Americans on this score, the Turnbull government is conducting a separate limited tender between two American companies, Lockheed Martin and Raytheon, as to who will be the combat system integrator on our new sub.

 given that the Soryu actually exists, whereas the German and French subs are completely new builds and exist so far only on paper, there is less technical and commercial risk with the Japanese as well…[see WHOLE ARTICLE]


The Australian is Australia’s most influential newspaper on national security issues – so it is impressive that it has substantial things to say about US and Japanese submarine combat systems. Combat systems are arcane to most newspapers.

The possibility of Japan adopting all of the elements of the US AN/BYG-1 combat system (not just some of them as at present) deepens the mutual benefits of a Japanese submarine sale to Australia. The extent of US influence on the submarine sale has been long covered by Submarine Matters here, here and here.

More recently see Submarine Matters Chart of Japan’s Soryu Submarine Combat System, and AN/BYG-1 Integration of January 27, 2016 where I wrote:

“If Japan is chosen in the CEP the US companies and Australian companies will need to work with Japanese companies to replace the Japanese combat system (below) or adapt parts of the Japanese combat which are already the same or similar to parts of the AN/BYG-1 combat system.”

Japan (with US agreement) using more of the concepts and technology in the US combat system makes sense. 

Japan, the US and Australia would all benefit if Japan pooled research and production resources by adopting the US Mark 48 heavyweight torpedo.

This Japanese Soryu submarine Combat System flow chart is on Japanese technologist  wispywood2344's website, passed on by S. Note that this combat system works to Japan's Type 89 heavyweight torpedo rather than the US Mark 48 torpedo. (Chart first published in Submarine Matters on January 27, 2016)



SPI said...

Hopefully US won't threaten to block RAN subs from facilities as with Collins Class.

BK said...

Hi Pete,
what is so impressive about Greg's article? He is merely repeating what he and his entourage have been writing the last 365 days.
To the "highlights":
First, I would argue that the Japanese might not be of the opinion that the US Combat System is superior to theirs - why haven't they been using it in the past? Obviously, everybody was quite happy being interoperable so far, so what's the news? And by the way, the German Combat System ISUS was in the past always rated as superior to the US System. I wonder if it still is...

Second, I think that the Europeans can keep their secrets from espionage just like everybody else. Greg has a very unsubstantiated argument here which lacks every basis and proof.

Third, the Australian Soryu variant does not exist - full stop. And the technological and commercial risks are always higher, not lower, if you try to do business with somebody who is yet to export a single piece of defence equipment, let alone the most complex system of systems - a submarine.

Kind regards,

BK said...

Oh, and to argue that Japan was a more intimate ally of the US than France or Germany is a rather funny argument: ever heard of NATO???

Peter Coates said...


Wrong! Japan has exported defence equipment (actual subs). They were the https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Matchanu-class_submarine to the Thais in 1938. The Thais had no real plan for them and Japan couldn't support these subs after 1945 - but who's counting!?



Peter Coates said...


My recall of Collins class history may be deficient.

In what way did the US "threaten to block RAN subs from facilities as with Collins Class."?



BK said...

Hi Peter,

really? Got me: I should have excluded Imperial Japan ....



Anonymous said...

If Australia selects the Japan LIB Soryu, then there is a clear business and financial reason for Japan to select the US combat system. They save on R&D if they design in the US system only and not both the Japanese and US combat management systems. Japan defense budget is cash trapped given the financial state of the government budget. And looming on the horizon are other programs requiring heavy investment such as the stealth F-3 for example. One could argue that given the future in warfare is the networked battle space and all sorts of networked unmanned vehicles, there could be valid technical reasons to acquire the US system. After all Japan AEGIS destroyers are tightly integrated with USN Aegis ABM network where Japan is a co-developer of the SM-3 block 2x.

Anonymous said...


This is not related to submarines. A week ago, there is an article by Catherine Dill on Arms Control Wonk providing a great analysis of the recent PLA launch of a DF-21D so called carrier killer MRBM. Reader comments provided additional geolocation details.


This type of weapon may have a bearing on (a greater emphasis with) forward deployment of submarines. Such a hearing was held recently at the US Senate.

Peter Coates said...


1. Another aspect to Japan's stealth F-3 program is probably national pride and economic competition. This is in the sense that Japan would wish to stay ahead of South Korea's semi-stealth https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/KAI_KF-X project.

Both projects are in the can't buy F-22 market.

To break even on the F-3 Japan may want to sell the F-3 in the longer term (say 20 years) to countries that can pay. Australia, UK and Canada may be possible markets. Maybe joint venture with France.

2. Given South Korea's surprising proximity to Russia in advanced SAMs I wonder if South Korea may associate itself with PAK FA?



MHalblaub said...

Ever heard about gravitational waves?
Well, some scientists from the US and Germany detected them and made it public yesterday.

You may check the different size of the systems used. Reminds me somehow to AN/BYG and ISUS.

I doubt that any nation could learn something from the US System except how you should not do it.

The only interesting things are the transmission codes. Such codes can be implemented on every system even after commissioning.

Josh said...

RE: ROK and PAK-FA; Korea I believe is committed to buying a new aircraft much sooner than PAK-FA will be ready and already had a competition to purchase a foreign design - which was then rescinded. Cynical people might say that the answer the ROK military wanted was 'F-35' and when the competition didn't make that determination due to cost reasons, the plug was pulled. It seems likely F-35 will be adopted, and minimally some other aircraft in production or LRP will be chosen. Working with Russian SAM designers makes sense; they're practically the gold standard. Signing on in anyway to the debacle that is PAK-FA is probably something the Koreans will leave to the Indians.


Peter Coates said...

Hi MHalblaub

Australia's "choice" of the US combat system (including weapons) is a done deal.

I only hope the US will permit Australia to choose the other two thirds of the submarine.



MHalblaub said...

Does Australia wants "just" the combat statem or the complete system including the sensor suits?

I guess each vendor will offer the inherent system and additionally the US system.

My estimation for the price tag
Submarine with inherited system: X
Submarine with US system: X * (1 + 1/3)
According to your calculation:
Australia could get 3/2 submarines for one submarine with an US system.

In other words the US system makes the difference between 8 or 12 submarines. Is the US system really so valuable?


Peter Coates said...

Hi MHalblaub [16/2/16 12:01AM]

Australia probably wants all/most of the combat system items, sensors and weapons that are already in the Collins. Lockheed Martin is talking to Saab and Thales (and presumably General Dynamics) to offer the whole package http://www.lockheedmartin.com.au/au/news/press-releases/2015/25092015.html

Here's a funny from Aviation Week, Feb 16, 2016 extending its expertise to subs http://aviationweek.com/singapore-airshow-2016/submarines-dominate-australian-defense-plans:

"The German team – led by ThyssenKrupp Marine Services – have devised the new Type 216 design, a diesel-electric version of the nuclear-powered Type 214 in service with the navies of Portugal, Greece and South Korea."

Obviously Aviation Week fact checked that the 214 is "nuclear-powered".