February 28, 2019

TKMS & Navantia Likely Dropped in Walrus submarine replacement competition

For business, political and technical reasons it appears that the Dutch have dropped Germany's TKMS and Spain's Navantia from the Walrus submarine replacement competition. This is for 4 new medium-large conventional submarines, for delivery by the late 2020s-early 2030s.

Supporting this contention my thanks to Anonymous for the February 20, 2019 comment which provides this link. This is further supported by this Dutch article (right-click mouse to translate).

POSSIBLE DUTCH REQUIREMENTS

For the Walrus replacement I'm estimating the Dutch want to continue to retain performance achievements of the Walrus, which include:

-  a 2,200+ tonne (surfaced) submarine for oceanic travel. This is larger than the normal European
   1,600 tonne (surfaced) mid-size submarines (adequate for European waters). 

-  long range 10,000+nm (18,500+km), up to 70 day mission endurance. adequate for: 

   :  Netherlands to the Dutch Caribbean and Return missions and  

   :  Netherlands through the Mediterranean or even around Africa. This is to monitor Middle
      East/North African nations/pirates/smugglers/terrorists and Return missions. This is on behalf of 
      the Western alliance eg. NATO). Such monitoring might be closer inshore than already 
      over-tasked US SSNs are willing to go.

-  submarine size, range and possibly Lithium-ion Batteries (LIBs) supported by a
    3 x diesel solution instead of Euro subs 1 or 2 diesels. Three diesels increase safety if one breaks
    down on a long mission.

-  Complement of 50 to 55 officers and "men" to operate on a 3 watch system to reduce long mission
   fatigue, handle some illness, and increase safety by providing larger damage control crew
   measures. 

 More living space is needed. Some female submariners are expected from 2019 ie. "mixed
   crews". The hardship of hot bunking (aka hot rackingis increasingly unacceptable. Also Dutch are
   statistically taller - all meaning greater facilities for bunks/showers/toilets are required.

-  perhaps retaining the Walrus's no AIP characteristic. The replacement may have no AIP due to
   AIP's diminishing utility on long missions. Even the Collins and the newest Soryus fave no AIP.
   AIP's LOx and especially Hydrogen are fire/explosion hazards. Buoyancy changes are more major
   than usual as LOx is expended. There would be little or no AIP chemical refueling facilities on long
   range missions (eg. in the Dutch Caribbean). 

So for Dutch requirements the AIP (even the most advanced working AIP that Germany-Spain provide) isn't so important. This might explain why TKMS and Navantia have. according to rumour-int, been dropped.

Also the rumoured or actual corporate change in ThyssenKrupp effecting the status of its submarine division is unsettlingLack of spare parts and perhaps underbudgeting of Germany’s own Type 212A squadron would not have boosted Dutch courage. Concern is even greater in that the Netherlands wants an extended joint venture with a winning main foreign supplier.

Meanwhile Navantia has not launched a new submarine since the 1980s Agostas and even those were French designed and mainly French developed. The problems experienced by the not-yet-launched S-80 (aka "Isaac Peral class") have not inspired confidence. Also the possible Spanish strength of advanced SENER-TKMS AIP is not a benefit if the Dutch don't need AIP.

SO WHY IS THE SHORTLIS POSSIBLY REDUCED TO NAVAL GROUP AND SAAB/DAMAN

Naval Group (NGpartnered on February 7, 2019 with Royal IHC (a Dutch ship and other marine components builder) for the submarine competition. NG are used to building Scorpenes and larger nuclear submarines (also now designing the Shortfin). These larger subs are capable of operating further than relatively short European distances. If the Walrus replacement does not require AIP then the lack of operating advanced AIP on NG subs is not a problem. Hence NG is still on the Dutch reduced shortlist. 

Saab's Stirling AIP may also be of low Dutch interest. However Sweden is significantly not a powerful neighbour (unlike Germany and France). Larger countries sometimes exhibit an overbearing attitude (reflecting economic reality?) inevitably making the small Netherlands a junior partner in a Walrus replacement joint venture. 

After Sweden's Saab builds its first 2 x A26 submarines to be delivered in 2022 it will need 2 more in late 2020s to replace the (30yo by 2025) Gotlands, thus making a 4 x A26 force. If the Netherlands' Damen want to work with Saab (see Damen website) to build 4 x even larger Walrus replacement then that represents a fair bit of economic equality with consequent shared decision making. 

Maybe Damen is looking at a: 


-  a smaller version of the Saab Type 612 design. 


Computer Artwork comparing the Dutch Walrus (left) to Saab's A26 Oceanic ER (extended range). (Courtesy Armada International, October 24, 2018)
--- 

So the ongoing Walrus replacement competition throws up many submarine business, political and technical issues and realities.

Pete and Anonymous

February 27, 2019

Hot Competition as US-Australian "Loyal Wingman" UCAV "drone" unveiled

The US Boeing - Australian Loyal Wingman Unmanned Combat Aerial Vehicle (UCAV) has been unveiled Avalon Air Show near Melbourne, February 26/27 2019. It is also being called the "Boeing Airpower Teaming System". Their is stiff US, UK and European competition to it.

Loyal Wingman is a fighter sized "drone" that can work with manned aircraft (eg. Australia's
F-35As, P-8A Poseidons, Super Hornets and AEW&C E7 Wedgetail aircraft) and can operate individually as a remote guided drone or as a loitering missile.

Until the February 26/27, 2019 unveiling its development was secret. Joint development is by the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF), Australia's DoD, Boeing operating in Brisbane, Australia. Also US Kratos Defense & Security Solutions is involved. See the latest on the Kratos XQ-58A Valkyrie on June 18, 2019.

Having no onboard pilot or life-support systems Loyal Wingman's projected range may be twice that of an F-35A with a similar weapons load. Specifications for the prototype are few but Loyal Wingman may be currently 11.7 metres long and have a range of 2,000+ nautical miles (3,700+ km).

Loyal Wingman's uses could include:

-  electronic warfare, ie "jamming" which makes F-35s even more difficult to detect

-  optical and radar reconnaissance and sigint intercepts

-  on remote human orders dropping guided bombs, air to ground missiles, and firing air-to-air
    missiles, and as

-  a loitering kamikaze "cruise" missile which, with a large warhead, could be ordered to crash itself
    into high value targets (hopefully not being 5G hacked to crash into Australian "targets").

As there is no onboard pilot it can operate in higher risk environments, read China and China's SAM  armed South China Sea islands. The US could also use it against Russia and Iran.

Apparently no figures on project cost have been published but it is supposed to be Boeing's largest investment in drones outside the US.

Fullsize mock-up (Courtesy Boeing via FlightGlobal) of Loyal Wingman at Australia's Avalon Air Show (?) February 2019. It looks swept back enough to go supersonic, maybe cruise supersonic(?). Drone maker Kratos Defense & Security Solutions (see Kratos website) is also working with Boeing on Loyal Wingman.
---

Artwork of the Loyal Wingman UCAV (Courtesy Boeing and the Australia's DoD via Australia's ABC)
---
AUSTRALIA ALSO BUYING OTHER DRONES

Australia is also buying 2 other cutting edge US drone types, including:

-  6 x Triton (Global Hawk derivative large long range, unarmed UAVs) for a $7 Billion project.
   The Tritons will be capable of flying over China’s South China Sea islands where (given the
    Triton’s unmanned nature) they may be shot down by China in times of tension. and

-  12 to 16 x Reaper armed UAVs in a $400 million project. These may be particularly useful to
    Australian forces in the perpetual Afghanistan and Middle East conflicts.

It is likely Australia’s purchases of the Reaper, and especially the far more expensive Tritons, eased US Government permissions to transfer highly sensitive Loyal Wingman technical details to Australia.

COMPETITION

As I guess-stimate the Australian domestic market would be less than 100 Loyal Wingmans in the 2020s it will need to be exported to other nations. This is especially to the US Airforce and maybe USN, to be commercially viable and to enjoy the most advanced US software and hardware sensor and avionics upgrades. By restricting Loyal Wingman to Five Eye customers there may, or may not be, some commercial advantage.

Some more technically mature(?) competitors include:

-  the US Kratos XQ-58 Valkyrie - first flight May 5, 2019. US Airforce interested. May just beat
   Loyal Wingman to market or it may be rolled into the Loyal Wingman Project?

-  the US Northrop Grumman X-47B that first flew in 2011. The US Navy has been interested in
   using the X-47B for carrier operations.

US General Atomics Avenger - first flew 2009. Hot competition as General Atomics is already the
    popular and trusted Predator A and Reaper builder.

- the British BAE Systems Taranis (aka "Raptor")France may also supply some components.
   Flight testing has actually taken place in Australia, in South Australia's Woomera Test Range in
   2013.

Boeing's own Phantom Ray, first flew 2011. Also Boeing's X-45, flew 2002.

France's Dassault eEUROn - first flew 2012, and

Germany and Spain's EADS Barracuda - first flew 2006.

-  there would be several very new commercially unflight-tested Western, Russian and Chinese
    projects and more established but "black projects" ie. secret defined by their "black budgets".

-  for example there are few hard details on the US Lockheed Martin (LM) RQ-170 Sentinel - first
    spotted 2007. Follow on LM projects would be/are black.

-  China and Russia are working on their own projects with Western customers unlikely, eg:

   :  Russia's Sukhoi Okhotnik (aka Sukhoi S-70) - first flight expected 2019. Shares some
       technologies with Russia’s not yet ready 5th gen Sukhoi Su-57 fighter, and

   :  China's AVIC 601-S, no reported test flights, maybe early days yet.

SOURCES

I looked at media reports including Australia's ABC DefenceConnect and FlightGlobal February 26/27, 2019 and many of my own ideas.

Pete

USS Santa Fe SSN exercises with 4 Aussie Collins class submarines

USS Santa Fe following the 4 Collins class subs.
---

The US Government Defense Visual Information Distribution Service (dvids) reported February 26, 2019 that https://www.dvidshub.net/news/311919/uss-santa-fe-arrives-stirling-australia  

“The Los Angeles-class fast-attack submarine USS Santa Fe (SSN 763) [above] arrived at HMAS Stirling, Australia for a scheduled port visit this week”

“Santa Fe’s port visit followed the completion of a joint training exercise with four Royal Australian Navy Collins-class submarines, HMAS Collins, HMAS Farncomb, HMAS Dechaineux and HMAS Sheean [see photo above], in waters around Australia. 

The exercise, which was designed to enhance anti-submarine warfare abilities, gave the crews of both navies the opportunity to employ and experiment with real world tactics. Pulling into port, however, gave the crews the opportunity to meet each other face-to-face and forge greater ties.”


PETE COMMENT

HMAS Stirling is an Australian naval base, known as Fleet Base West, at which all 6 of Australia’s Collins class submarines are home based. HMAS Stirling is situated at Rockingham, near Fremantle, near Perth, Western Australia. 

USS Santa Fe (SSN 763) is home ported at Pearl Harbour.

It is heartening that 4 of the 6 Collins class submarines (given past crew shortages and past maintenance issues) were available for the exercise with USS Santa Fe.

Pete

February 26, 2019

MTU 4000s maybe on Type 218SG & future Type 212CD submarines

After use since the early 1980s of MTU 16V 396s on TKMS built submarines and even non TKMS (Chinese Ming and Song class subs?) the MTU 4000 may at last being introduced on TKMS subs.

Since 1996 more than 37,000 MTU 4000s have been sold for surface ship, train, mining, industrial and energy-pump uses.

Lower range 600 kW MTU 12V 4000s may already serve as emergency backup/return-to-port diesels on nuclear powered Astute class SSNs.

The MTU 4000s for submarine are reportedly more fuel efficient and have higher peak power than MTU 396s.

The TKMS future Type 212CD may use 2 x MTU 4000s. 

Two MTU 4000s may be used in Singapore's new Invincible class Type 218SG. Anonymous in February 21, 2019 noticed 2 x MTU 4000s on a Type 218SG  youtube diagram 42 seconds in, here https://youtu.be/I_poBnLJMew?t=42s

As MTU 4000s are mass produced in Yulin, China they may be used about China's latest Yuan class conventional submarines.

MTU 4000s may possibly be used for the major 2020s Collins mid-life upgrade (also see) and Australia's future Attack-class submarines.
-------------------------------------------

On the MTU 4000 for submarine, see Arndt von Drathen’s, Applications Battery Charging Technologies for Advanced Submarine Requirements, MTU, 2011 https://mtu-online-shop.com/print/3100721_MTU_General_WhitePaper_SubmarineChargingUnit_2011.pdf see page 2:

"Since the introduction of the Series 396 in the early 1980s into the submarine application...Conventional submarines have grown in size over the last decades to meet increased transit distance requirements to the operational areas and to accommodate various Air Independent Propulsion technologies into the hull. 

Despite hydrodynamic improvements of the hull shapes, the larger displacements have led to higher power demands. This trend for more power will be even further accelerated by new Li-Ion battery technologies. Li-Ion batteries are going to increase underwater endurance and performance of submarines significantly. However, the diesel engine driven charging unit technology needs to adapt to the new requirements: firstly, more electrical power and secondly, provide rated power almost the entire operational time to fully utilize the Li-Ion advantages." 

Looking at the red "submarine-specific" portion on the page 2 diagram of the MTU 4000 is the portion on top, showing a large cylinder. Is this a muffler for quieter operation of the diesel engine?

The available photo below of an MTU 4000 for submarine shows muffler? cylinder in unpainted metal color.


Pete

February 22, 2019

What Singapore's Type 218SG Submarines Might Be Used For (Part 2)

The most official 18 February 2019 indicator of what Singapore's new Invincible class Type 218SG submarine will be used for is less controversial non-state threats: terrorists, pirates, smugglers of arms, drugs, [slave-prostitutes] and WMDs. 

But much more should be added (below) including Singaporean submarines defending against and monitoring Chinese ship, submarine and land targets. 

The emphasis given to AIP in Singapore's current 2 x Archer class (Stirling AIP) and 4 future 218SGs (fuel cell AIP) suggest short to medium range missions will be common. This is because AIP is heavy and of diminishing utlilty on longer range missions. 

SENSORS

The 218SG's Atlas Elektronik combat system, with some US add-ons, will retain many existing capabilities and add new ones. Many missions around Singapore Island (map below) and the Malacca Strait will be on AIP (for around 2 weeks) only. Much of this short range work is (will be) for electronic warfare (eg. signals interception). Such interception "targets" can more publically include the non-state actors (eg. detecting short range terrorist/pirate/smuggler radio signals).

Once a submarine senses a target a submarines weapons are too heavy and expensive (more than 
US$1 million per torpedo or missile) to destroy a small boat. Also you'd blow up people who may only be suspects and blow up all evidence! Instead a submarine (using tethered signal buoy beaming to satellite?) may alert a Singapore Police Coast Guard boat or Navy patrol vessel (maybe launching a smaller rigid hulled boat) to deal with the target boat more "gently".

With only 28 officers-sailors needing accommodation on 218SGs, on special missions there may be space for:

-  around 6 intercept operators/linguists with 6 work stations 
or
-  around 10 divers-special forces and their equipment (one mission fighting terrorists).

Networked with Singapore's submarines in combatting and monitoring threats includes other Singaporean, US and other allied platforms. Platforms include land based or connected sensors, seabed (long range SOSUS) broader ocean sensors and shorter range (RAP/FDS) sensors strung across the Malacca Strait seabed and nodes on/near Singapore main island and islets. On seabed sensors see https://gentleseas.blogspot.com/2019/01/possible-sosus-rapfds-arrays-western.html .

Possibly networked with and informing subs are human intelligence/police/border/customs, overt press, patrol boats, frigates, LCSs, aircraft/UAVs, land-based radar and intercept stations and satellites. 

PATROLS - TAILING

All these networked sensors can help cue submarines to tail Chinese submarines on surfaced "innocent passage" through the Malacca Strait and more so Chinese subs who decide to pass through submerged. 

SSKs like the 218SG are too slow to shadow Chinese SSNs and SSBNs. But (with Japanese submarines doing the northern leg shadow) 218SGs could do the southern leg shadow of Chinese Song and AIP Yuan class SSKs.  

Only at long ranges into the Pacific (including South China Sea) and Indian Ocean would Singapore's submarines be a little more autonomous of all this network help. Looking at Germany's Type 212A as a minimum, the 218SG may have a range of around 8,000nm at around 4 to 8 knots combined snorting and surfaced. Such a range would allow a 218SG to:

-  patrol oil strategic lines of communication (SLOCs) between the mid-Indian Ocean
    (eg. Diego Garcia or India's east coast bases) and Singapore.
 or
-   Singapore to Taiwan and return (maybe keeping an eye on the southern China
    coast) using aerials extended from the fin/sail, tethered buoys or work-to-submarine UUVs.

Singapore's submarines (as with the surface navy) all the way to the Persian Gulf oil area, can contribute to longer range protection of the oil/gas/chemical tanker route. This includes tankers eastwards across the Indian Ocean to Singapore's refinery/chemical facilities.


Map of Singapore. Consisting of one main island and 62 islets. Ongoing land reclamation projects have increased Singapore's land area from 582 km2 in the 1960s to 724.2 km2 in 2018. This geography provides many places for 218SG to sit waiting on the seabed, between islets while monitoring many things. (Map courtesy Geology(dot)com)
---

Broader map of the Strait of Malacca/Malacca Strait (of great strategic and economic value) and the much smaller Strait of Singapore(Map courtesy welt-atlas).
---

WEAPONS HELP

Another way to estimate what the 218SG may be used for is to look at the Combat System - Weapons suite.

Singapore does not appear to be using the submarine weapons of its main ally, the US, other than possibly the US made Harpoon anti-ship and land attack missile. Singapore’s Air Force and Navy use the Harpoon. In the submarine launch mode the Harpoon is called UGM-84 with a range of up to 140 km (75 nm) against ship and land targets.


Other than the Harpoon it is more likely that Singapore is using weapons compatible with its Atlas Elektronik Combat System. Judging by the weapons on the top of the TKMS line German Navy Type 212A, Singapore’s Type 218SG will use:
-  the Atlas Elektronik developed DM2A4 "SeaHake mod 4" 533mm heavyweight torpedo (HWT).
    This is noting Singapore is not listed as a US Mark 48 HWT operator.
-  With 8 torpedo tubes this provides room for deployment of at least 16 naval mines and/or 
-  8 or more medium sized UUVs (which can be weaponised, making them highly mobile very smart
    mines to defend Singapore or to block Chinese access to the Strait of Malacca and other
    chokepoints).
-  Germany (including TKMS) is developing the small short (20km) range missile known as
    the IDAS (Interactive Defence and Attack System for Submarines) used for surface to air, 
     anti-ship (eg. anti-pirate smuggler boats) and (light) land attack.

I see no evidence Singapore is using the US made Tomahawk longer range cruise missile, for submarines and other platforms (yet). There is a possibility the 218SG already has, or can be retrofitted with, a vertical multi-purpose lock (VMPL). This could vertically launch 6 Tomahawk cruise missiles (or similar), launch a large UUV, diver delivery vehicle or be used for special forces equipment storage.

SOME USEFUL SOURCES

- Submarine Matters' February 19 and 20 2019.

Sebastien Roblin at The National Interest. March 2, 2019, with cited halfway down Sebastien's
   article.

- Singapore's Straits Times, Feb 18-20, 2019.

Wikipedia to Feb 19, 2019 including

Janes Feb 19, 2019.

The Independent, Feb 19, 2019.

Singapore’s Ministry of Defence, February 18, 2019, including:

Pete

What Singapore's Type 218SG Submarines Might Be Used For (Part 2)

The most official 18 February 2019 indicator of what Singapore's new Invincible class Type 218SG submarine will be used for is less controversial non-state threats: terrorists, pirates, smugglers of arms, drugs, [slave-prostitutes] and WMDs. 

But much more should be added (below) including Singaporean submarines defending against and monitoring Chinese ship, submarine and land targets. 

The emphasis given to AIP in Singapore's current 2 x Archer class (Stirling AIP) and 4 future 218SGs (fuel cell AIP) suggest short to medium range missions will be common. This is because AIP is heavy and of diminishing utlilty on longer range missions. 

SENSORS

The 218SG's Atlas Elektronik combat system, with some US add-ons, will retain many existing capabilities and add new ones. Many missions around Singapore Island (map below) and the Malacca Strait will be on AIP (for around 2 weeks) only. Much of this short range work is (will be) for electronic warfare (eg. signals interception). Such interception "targets" can more publically include the non-state actors (eg. detecting short range terrorist/pirate/smuggler radio signals).

Once a submarine senses a target a submarines weapons are too heavy and expensive (more than 
US$1 million per torpedo or missile) to destroy a small boat. Also you'd blow up people who may only be suspects and blow up all evidence! Instead a submarine (using tethered signal buoy beaming to satellite?) may alert a Singapore Police Coast Guard boat or Navy patrol vessel (maybe launching a smaller rigid hulled boat) to deal with the target boat more "gently".

With only 28 officers-sailors needing accommodation on 218SGs, on special missions there may be space for:

-  around 6 intercept operators/linguists with 6 work stations 
or
-  around 10 divers-special forces and their equipment (one mission fighting terrorists).

Networked with Singapore's submarines in combatting and monitoring threats includes other Singaporean, US and other allied platforms. Platforms include land based or connected sensors, seabed (long range SOSUS) broader ocean sensors and shorter range (RAP/FDS) sensors strung across the Malacca Strait seabed and nodes on/near Singapore main island and islets. On seabed sensors see https://gentleseas.blogspot.com/2019/01/possible-sosus-rapfds-arrays-western.html .

Possibly networked with and informing subs are human intelligence/police/border/customs, overt press, patrol boats, frigates, LCSs, aircraft/UAVs, land-based radar and intercept stations and satellites. 

PATROLS - TAILING

All these networked sensors can help cue submarines to tail Chinese submarines on surfaced "innocent passage" through the Malacca Strait and more so Chinese subs who decide to pass through submerged. 

SSKs like the 218SG are too slow to shadow Chinese SSNs and SSBNs. But (with Japanese submarines doing the northern leg shadow) 218SGs could do the southern leg shadow of Chinese Song and AIP Yuan class SSKs.  

Only at long ranges into the Pacific (including South China Sea) and Indian Ocean would Singapore's submarines be a little more autonomous of all this network help. Looking at Germany's Type 212A as a minimum, the 218SG may have a range of around 8,000nm at around 4 to 8 knots combined snorting and surfaced. Such a range would allow a 218SG to:

-  patrol oil strategic lines of communication (SLOCs) between the mid-Indian Ocean
    (eg. Diego Garcia or India's east coast bases) and Singapore.
 or
-   Singapore to Taiwan and return (maybe keeping an eye on the southern China
    coast) using aerials extended from the fin/sail, tethered buoys or work-to-submarine UUVs.

Singapore's submarines (as with the surface navy) all the way to the Persian Gulf oil area, can contribute to longer range protection of the oil/gas/chemical tanker route. This includes tankers eastwards across the Indian Ocean to Singapore's refinery/chemical facilities.


Map of Singapore. Consisting of one main island and 62 islets. Ongoing land reclamation projects have increased Singapore's land area from 582 km2 in the 1960s to 724.2 km2 in 2018. This geography provides many places for 218SG to sit waiting on the seabed, between islets while monitoring many things. (Map courtesy Geology(dot)com)
---

Broader map of the Strait of Malacca/Malacca Strait (of great strategic and economic value) and the much smaller Strait of Singapore(Map courtesy welt-atlas).
---

WEAPONS HELP

Another way to estimate what the 218SG may be used for is to look at the Combat System - Weapons suite.

Singapore does not appear to be using the submarine weapons of its main ally, the US, other than possibly the US made Harpoon anti-ship and land attack missile. Singapore’s Air Force and Navy use the Harpoon. In the submarine launch mode the Harpoon is called UGM-84 with a range of up to 140 km (75 nm) against ship and land targets.


Other than the Harpoon it is more likely that Singapore is using weapons compatible with its Atlas Elektronik Combat System. Judging by the weapons on the top of the TKMS line German Navy Type 212A, Singapore’s Type 218SG will use:
-  the Atlas Elektronik developed DM2A4 "SeaHake mod 4" 533mm heavyweight torpedo (HWT).
    This is noting Singapore is not listed as a US Mark 48 HWT operator.
-  With 8 torpedo tubes this provides room for deployment of at least 16 naval mines and/or 
-  8 or more medium sized UUVs (which can be weaponised, making them highly mobile very smart
    mines to defend Singapore or to block Chinese access to the Strait of Malacca and other
    chokepoints).
-  Germany (including TKMS) is developing the small short (20km) range missile known as
    the IDAS (Interactive Defence and Attack System for Submarines) used for surface to air, 
     anti-ship (eg. anti-pirate smuggler boats) and (light) land attack.

I see no evidence Singapore is using the US made Tomahawk longer range cruise missile, for submarines and other platforms (yet). There is a possibility the 218SG already has, or can be retrofitted with, a vertical multi-purpose lock (VMPL). This could vertically launch 6 Tomahawk cruise missiles (or similar), launch a large UUV, diver delivery vehicle or be used for special forces equipment storage.

SOME USEFUL SOURCES

- Submarine Matters' February 19 and 20 2019.

Sebastien Roblin at The National Interest. March 2, 2019, with cited halfway down Sebastien's
   article.

- Singapore's Straits Times, Feb 18-20, 2019.

Wikipedia to Feb 19, 2019 including

Janes Feb 19, 2019.

The Independent, Feb 19, 2019.

Singapore’s Ministry of Defence, February 18, 2019, including:

Pete

February 20, 2019

Singapore’s Alliance Anxieties and Submarine Setup (Part 1)

With February 18, 2019's launch of Singapore's first Invincible-class Type 218SG submarine I think it time to talk about some more general Singaporean alliance issues and some submarine aspects.

ALLIANCES

Singapore’s highly strategic geographical position (Map below) and political maturity means it is an integral member of the Western Alliance. Singapore is at one end of the Strait of Malacca choke-point and at the southern end of the South China Sea. So, despite its minute size, Singapore is a highly valued country in military, economic and intelligence terms. To top it off Singapore’s good command of English may make it the:

-  the country in Southeast Asia most trusted by Fives Eyes (Japan, Germany, the Netherlands and
    Israel might also be associate members), and
-   an associate member of the still loose US, Japan, Australia, India “Quadrilateral
     eg. a Singaporean frigate was at MALABAR 2007 

Singapore is therefore a trusted owner of the (almost) most sensitive Western weapons:


-  including the US tailor-made made Boeing F-15SG,
-  In January 2019, Singapore announced its plan to buy a small number of F-35As for an evaluation
    of capabilities and suitability before deciding on more F-35As to replace the aging F-16 fleet.
-  Up to 4 x US Navy Littoral Combat Ships operate out of Singapore Harbour under US 7th Fleet,
    Task Force 73 command.
-  US nuclear submarines visit Singapore around every 2 years (eg. 2015 and 2017).
-   Singapore has a close intelligence, including Special Forces, relationship with Israel. This is partly
     because Singapore like Israel, is a small nervous nation in a region of large Muslim countries. 
     Singapore like Israel also faces regional Islamic terrorism.

Singapore defense anxieties explain why it is the 5th highest defense spender, per capita, in the world.

SINGAPORE'S SUBMARINES

Germany’s TKMS has tailor-made Singapore's 218SG submarine with a more advanced than usual Atlas Elektronik Combat System. TKMS has also supplied the German (Siemens' (?)) air independent propulsion (AIP) system (tailored to Singapore's warm water enviroment). This is all highly sensitive and very expensive equipment. Looking 42 seconds into the Youtube below, the 218SG is also likely to use 2 x MTU 12V 4000 diesels. 


Singapore has maintained a 4 submarine navy of the Challenger class, part replaced by 2 x Archer class, for 22 years. As the first 2 x 218SGs are delivered/commissioned in 2021-2022 (see graphic) the remaining 2 Challengers will be retired. When the second tranche of 2 x 218SGs are commissioned in the mid-2020s the 2 x Archer class will be retired, thus forming an all 218SG force of 4. There are many tactical, logistical and safety advantages in having an all-the-same submarine force.

To prepare for the 218SGs Singapore has been given better access than usual to the Type 212A’s of the German Navy and I suspect access to Israel’s Dolphin 2 (AIP) submarines. This is given the Dolphin 2’s share very similar specifications and some tasks with the 218SG. While the Dolphin 2 has nuclear armed Tomahawk-like missiles (forget the "Popeye Turbo" cover...) the 218SG won’t have any, of course.  


Model of  TKMS Type 218SG taken at IMDEX ASIA, Singapore, May 19-21, 2015 (Photo of model courtesy Defense Studies blog)
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Official Singapore Navy Youtube.
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SUBMARINE GEOGRAPHY





The islands and undersea rocks on the approaches (like the Singapore Strait) to the Strait of Malacca provide many places for experienced Singaporean submarine captains to sit, hiding, on the shallow seafloor. (Map courtesy welt-atlas).

-  Air independent propulsion (AIP), that Singpore has heavily invested in, is a major tactical and
    safety advantage, when hiding motionless.
-  Note the reinforced hull bottom of the TKMS built Israeli Dolphin 2 - much like the 218SG, 
    I expect. 
-  In the Photo and (official) Youtube above can be seen the 218SG’s X plane rudder. The rudder is
    ideal for tight turning and gentle maneuvering in the tight seafloor spaces, rocks and holes.  

The shallows increase the likelihood of Singapore's subs colliding with rocks, seafloor, ships and with other subs. Submarine sonar for navigation is more than usually distorted in the shallows, so the Singaporean Navy's decades of experience is very important. 

See What the 218SG is used for? (Part 2) which includes weapons details, on Friday, 22 February 2019.

Pete