May 21, 2013

Israel's Realpolitikal Concern About Syria

Rough location of Israel's January 2013 airstrike(s) on Syria.


Israel's late January 2013 airstrike(s) perhaps on a Syrian convoy with missiles for Hezbollah and/or on a Syrian chemical weapon research-production facility.


The following is an excellent commentary on Israel's recent historical and current concerns about Syria. The commentary is by Professor Itamar Rabinovich, Vice Chairman of the (Israeli) Institute for National Security Studies (INSS) Board of Directors, former president of Tel Aviv University and a former Israeli ambassador to Washington. Commentary is at

“The Devil We Know” Revisited: Israeli Thinking on the Future of the Assad Regime  INSS Insight No. 427, May 19, 2013
Rabinovich, Itamar             

On May 17, 2013, The Times of London quoted “Israeli intelligence sources” who argued that “an intact, but weakened, Assad regime would be preferable for the country and for the whole troubled region.” The paper went on to quote “a senior Israeli intelligence officer” in the north of the country: “Better the devil we know than the demons we can only imagine if Syria falls into chaos and the extremists from across the Arab world gain a foothold there.” We do not know who the Israeli sources were, but the Times story provides a window into the deliberations and disagreements within Israel’s national security establishment as to the country’s priorities with regard to Syria.
The expression “the devil we know” was famously used by former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon in 2005 when he explained to President George W. Bush why he opposed the US President’s desire to topple Bashar al-Assad. President Bush became hostile to the Syrian President who supported the rebellion in Iraq against the US occupation and opened his borders to jihadi infiltrators and military equipment in support of the rebellion. While not enamored of the Syrian President, Sharon thought that from Israel’s perspective it was preferable to have a familiar regime in Damascus rather than face an uncertain future and the prospect of the Muslim Brotherhood, the only organized opposition in Syria, taking over the country. Assad was Iran’s ally and provided it with a land bridge to Hizbollah in Lebanon and supported Hamas and Islamic Jihad. But he did maintain a quiet border in the Golan Heights and inherited his father’s reputation as a familiar, and on the whole, predictable enemy. Throughout his political career and his five years as prime minister, Sharon opposed the idea of a settlement with Syria and withdrawal from the Golan that was part and parcel of such a settlement.
Israel’s perspective changed in 2006 after the Second Lebanon War. For Prime Minister Olmert, who succeeded Sharon, the war demonstrated the severity of the threat posed to Israel by the Iran-Syria-Hizbollah axis. The conclusion he drew, with the support of the defense establishment, was that it was a high priority for Israel to dismantle this axis and to do it primarily by pulling the Syrian brick out of the Iranian dominated wall. To this end, in early 2007 he began a Turkish mediated effort to explore the prospect of an Israeli-Syrian settlement. The negotiation lasted until its collapse in December 2008, although it was temporarily suspended in September 2007 when according to foreign sources Israel destroyed the North Korean-built Syrian nuclear reactor in al-Kibar. It could be argued that there was no point in negotiating a settlement with a Syrian president capable of such radical action, but Olmert calculated that this was all the more reason to defuse the conflict with Syria. He and others were also impressed by the fact that Assad displayed maturity and self control when he refrained from retaliating after being humiliated by the attack.
Another Syrian-Israeli negotiation was conducted in 2010-2011, during the final two years of Benjamin Netanyahu’s previous tenure, through mediators on behalf of the Obama administration. According to these mediators, this was a very serious negotiation, Netanyahu’s public rejection of a withdrawal from the Golan Heights notwithstanding. The outbreak of the Syrian crisis in March 2011 put an end to this negotiation as well.
The Syrian crisis, which began as a series of demonstrations and developed into a brutal civil war and a sectarian conflict, transformed Israel’s view of Assad and his regime. The Syrian civil war soon became a focal point of regional and international conflict. On the regional level, it became a conflict between Iran and its adversaries. Iran and its proxy, Hizbollah, have invested huge efforts to protect this strategic asset. Iran’s rivals such as Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Qatar, and Jordan have extended support to the opposition. Internationally, Russia, and to a lesser extent China, are providing the Assad regime with a defensive shield in the Security Council and other forums. Russia also continues to provide Assad’s regime with sophisticated weapon systems. For Russia, protecting its investment in Syria and preventing it from falling into the US orbit is a high priority.
As a neighbor with a high stake in Syria’s future, Israel must decide on its own preferences. Early on, Israel chose a passive stance. Whatever its preferences, it calculated, correctly, that its ability to affect the outcome of the civil war was limited. It has no influence on Syria’s domestic politics and if it were to extend any support to the opposition it would play into the regime’s hands. Assad and his spokesmen argued from the outset that this was not a genuine domestic rebellion but a conspiracy hatched from the outside, and the regime would seize the opportunity to embarrass the opposition by pointing to any Israeli link or support. At the same time, Israel made it clear that it had its own red lines vis-à-vis Syria. It announced that it would interrupt the transfer of sophisticated, game changing weapon systems to the hands of terrorist groups, be they Hizbollah or the jihadi groups that have come to play an important role in the Syrian armed opposition. In January 2013, Israel reportedly destroyed a cache of missiles in the Damascus area en route to Lebanon. In order not to embarrass the regime and to minimize the risk of retaliation, Israel took no credit for this action. But in May 2013, Israel acted twice and in a manner that could not be secret. Clearly, Iran, Syria, and Hizbollah were upping the ante. So was Russia, which is about to provide Syria with sophisticated S-300 missiles whose entry into the Syrian-Lebanese arena is unacceptable to Israel. Israel may find itself in a cycle of violence in which it acts again and again against arms transfers via Syria to Hizbollah, eventually triggering a response, whether by Syria or by Hizbollah. It was in this context that an Israel official stated last week to the New York Times that should Assad retaliate, Israel will topple his regime, meaning that the destruction of Assad’s air force and armor by Israel would lead to the opposition victory. Be that as it may, Israel finds itself deeply involved in the regional and international conflict over Syria’s future as well as in the question of the regime’s future.
Indeed, there is a debate within the Israeli defense establishment as to the desirable outcome of the Syrian civil war. Some argue, in line of what was said to the London Times, that at the end of the day is it better for Israel that Assad remain in power, probably as a weakened ruler over part of the country. Their argument is that given the strength of the jihadi and Islamist elements among the militias fighting against the regime, a jihadi or Islamist takeover or a state of anarchy with jihadi elements free to launch terrorist activities is the most severe threat to Israel’s security. Against this backdrop, Assad once again becomes “the devil we know.” Others argue that the continuation of Assad’s regime in the service of Iran and in close partnership with Hizbollah presents a graver threat to Israel’s national security. They further argue that it is of course not desirable that jihadi groups take over Syria of parts of Syria, but that Syria is not the Sinai and Israel would be able to act if confronted with terrorist threats from Syria.
This latter school of thought is the more convincing. Bashar al-Assad demonstrated his ability to take radical dangerous actions when he built a nuclear reactor in league with North Korea. He demonstrated his willingness to brutalize his own population and use missiles and chemical weapons against it. He is now purely a tool in the service of Iran. This, however, does not mean that Israel should come out openly against Assad and the future of his regime. Israel’s recent entanglement in the Russian-American conflict over the future of Syria is a negative development. While protecting its vital security interests, it should seek to return to the policy it pursued during most of the civil war, i.e., refrain to the best of its ability from being drawn into the crisis and into Syrian politics, and protect its vital security interests firmly, but cautiously and discretely."


May 16, 2013

New US - Australia - Indonesian military exercises may include rising China

Visiting Indonesian ministers

Australian Defence Minister Stephen Smith, left, his Indonesian counterpart, Purnomo Yusgiantoro, Foreign Minister Bob Carr and his counterpart, Marty Natalegawa, at Parliament House yesterday. Picture: Andrew Meares Source: Agency France Press.
The Australian, March 16, 2012 reports discussion of new military exercises which may include China - hence recognising China's rising power in the region:
"All together now for military exercises
[Embattled] DEFENCE Minister Stephen Smith has confirmed that Australia and the US are actively discussing future joint military exercises with Indonesian and Chinese forces in the Top End [Northern Territory of Australia].   
Mr Smith said the possibility of such exercises was among the issues raised at yesterday's meeting of Australian and Indonesian foreign affairs and defence ministers in Canberra.
Mr Smith recalled that, after the announcement during US President Barack Obama's visit to Darwin [in 2011] that a Marine taskforce group would train in northern Australia, Indonesia's President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono suggested that Australia, the US and Indonesian forces should exercise together.
"I've also seen suggestions subsequently that maybe you could have Australia, US, Indonesia and other countries, including and, in particular, China," Mr Smith said. "We spoke about this in passing today, and we don't discount that down the track."
Mr Smith said the focus now was to use the East Asia Summit humanitarian assistance and disaster relief framework to build the necessary links with Indonesia and other nations in the region.
During last November's ASEAN summit in Bali, Dr Yudhoyono raised with Julia Gillard the possibility of Australia and the US inviting China to take part in exercises as a way to reduce tension with Beijing over the presence of marines in Darwin.
US ambassador Jeffrey Bleich told The Australian then that inclusion of units from the People's Liberation Army in exercises was the sort of co-operation that could ultimately emerge as the US military training presence in Australia was stepped up. "The more we share information, the more we train together, the more we communicate, the less likely it is that anyone's going to misunderstand one another." "And if issues do arise it's much easier to pick up the phone and talk to someone who you know, who you've worked with, who you trust to resolve those issues."
A delegation of senior Chinese officers headed by the deputy chief of general staff of the PLA, General Ma Xiaotian, visited Australia [in 2011] to discuss a plan for enhanced defence engagement over the next two years.
On Wednesday, Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa said Indonesia wanted to ensure there was no repeat in the Asia-Pacific region of Cold War-style tactics designed to contain an emerging power." Ends

May 14, 2013

Prospect of Australian basing of US UAVs and SSNs (submarines).

Route of possible US Global Hawk UAV flight from Darwin or Katherine air bases in Australia via Australia's Cocos Islands, via Diego Garcia to a US base in Yemen (shown) or other US bases nearby in the Middle East.
As Australia in the Indian Ocean reported on November 22, 2011 the US has been contemplating basing or transiting air and naval assets from Australia's Cocos Islands as well as basing US nuclear submarines at Australia submarine base, HMAS Stirling, off Rockingham, Western Australia.

The following article from The Australian, March 28, 2012 may represent a shift in US thinking away from its offer that Australia purchase or lease US nuclear submarines 'floated' several days ago (see the March 26, 2012 article on this blog). The Australian article reports:
'US seeks deeper military ties'
THE expanded US military presence in Australia is likely to include giant unmanned patrol planes using the remote Cocos Islands and aircraft carriers, and nuclear-powered attack submarines based in Perth as part of efforts to refocus American defence resources in the region.   
Top US defence officials are considering Australia's major naval base, HMAS Stirling, south of Perth, as a "sorely needed" place for the US navy to refuel, re-equip and repair its surface warships and submarines in the Indian Ocean.

The US Secretary of the Navy, Ray Mabus, is due to visit the base and facilities in Darwin shortly, and reports suggest Australia might have been encouraging the US to increase its military presence. Mr Mabus told The Washington Post: "It's fair to say that we will always take an interest in what the Australians are doing and want to do."

The Pentagon planners are considering basing manned and unmanned spyplanes in the Cocos Islands - about 2750km northwest of Perth - to carry out patrols far out over the northern oceans.
US and Australian officials quoted in the article say these arrangements are being considered as part of the major expansion of military ties between the two nations discussed in confidential talks over the past year.

A spokesman for Defence Minister Stephen Smith last night confirmed Cocos Islands was a longer-term option for closer Australian-US engagement but not one of the three priority levels of engagement.

They were the rotation of US marines through the Northern Territory; greater use of RAAF bases in northern Australia for US aircraft [possibly including B2s in transit...] ; and, in the longer term, the prospect of enhanced ship and submarine visits through the Indian Ocean Rim through HMAS Stirling. No decisions had been taken, the spokesman said.

Prime Minister Julia Gillard last night confirmed discussions were being held about plans to fly drones from the Cocos Islands but said no "progress" had been made on the issue.

The first company of about 250 US marines is due to arrive in Darwin within days. Over the past year, US and Australian officials have stressed a key focus of the military build-up was to have the necessary resources to provide humanitarian aid for natural disasters such as earthquakes and tsunamis.

The Post said while US officials insisted that the "regional pivot" was not aimed at any single country, analysts believed it was a clear response to "a rising China whose growing military strength and assertive territorial claims have pushed other Asian nations to reach out to Washington".

It is not clear what roles aircraft carriers and nuclear-powered submarines would play in humanitarian missions.

The [Washington Post] noted that the content of last year's talks between Ms Gillard and US President Barack Obama reflected how Washington was turning its strategic attention to Asia as it wound down the war in Afghanistan. It said the Pentagon was reviewing the size and distribution of its forces in northeast Asia, where they were concentrated on Cold War-era bases in Japan and South Korea. Its goal was to reduce the US military presence in those countries while increasing it in Southeast Asia, home to the world's busiest shipping lanes and to growing international competition to tap into vast undersea oil and gas fields.

The initial draft of Australia's military force posture review [see January 31, 2012 post on this blog] , released in January, noted that "the South China Sea remains a potential flashpoint in the region".

The Post quoted an unnamed Australian official saying that, in terms of overall US influence in the Asia-Pacific zone, the strategic weight was shifting south. "Australia did not look all that important during the Cold War," the official said. "But Australia looks much more important if your fascination is really with the Southeast Asia archipelago."

The review reportedly urges a "major expansion" of HMAS Stirling, which could be used for "deployments and operations in Southeast Asia and the Indian Ocean by the US Navy".

"Specifically, the review suggests that Stirling be upgraded in part so that it could service US aircraft carriers, other large-surface warships and attack submarines," the [Post] said.
US and Australian officials said the remote Australian territory of the Cocos Islands could be an ideal site for manned and unmanned surveillance aircraft, such as the latest version of the ultra long-range Global Hawk, known as the Broad Area Maritime Surveillance drone or BAMS. The Cocos would be well positioned to launch surveillance flights over the South China Sea.

In November, the Prime Minister and Mr Obama announced the deployment of 2500 US marines for training in Australia and indicated more plans were being considered. The first deployment of troops from the Hawaii-based Third Marine Regiment is expected to be based at Darwin's Robertson Barracks.

The marines will spend several months training through the dry season at the Australian Defence Force's Bradshaw and Mount Bundy training areas in the Northern Territory. The force, which will be rotated annually for training, is unlikely to reach its full strength until 2016.

By then the marines will have considerable equipment, including amphibious assault ships similar to the two giant landing helicopter docks being built for the Royal Australian Navy, along with Harrier jump jets and troop-carrying helicopters.
Mr Smith stressed Australia did not have a policy of containing China.

"It is not possible to contain China," he said. "What we do want to ensure is that China, as it emerges as a great power - to use a phrase coined by (World Bank president and former US deputy secretary of state) Bob Zoellick - is a 'responsible stakeholder' or, as the Chinese themselves describe it, 'a harmonious environment'."  Ends
Basing of US SSNs in Australia may serve to make up for the expected decline of around 15 years in Australia submarine capabilities as the Collins submarines are retired by 2020-2025 and the first new Australian built submarines come into service at what now looks like the early 2030s. The future Australian submarine project, known as SEA1000, has been politically unpopular due to the possible acquisition costs for 12 submarines of A$36 Billion and failure of the Collins program. Hence SEA1000 has moved at a snails pace, basically going nowhere for a decade.

However a better scenario might be the US basing its SSNs and building nuclear support facilities at HMAS Stirling and then permitting Australia to lease US built SSNs (probably Virginia SSNs) for at least one services life (20 years) of the subs.

Indian Agni VI range will cover all of Europe and Australia

Agni-6 above - perhaps to be test flown with MIRV in 2017-2018

Agni VI - click to enlarge. See white lines for Agni VI's potential range (above) with light payloads - covering all of Europe and Australia.

Agni-5 video (above) dated April 2012 dubbed by Indians as "India's China killer"


Agni-5 research details from DRDO.

Ajai Shukla of India's Business Standard reports from New Delhi,  May 8, 2013 :

"Advanced Agni-6 [or Agni VI] missile with multiple warheads likely by 2017

Note the Agni VI Missile may be synonymous with the "Surya"
Ending worldwide speculation about the futuristic Agni-6 missile, the Defence R&D Organisation (DRDO) has briefed Business Standard about the direction of India's ballistic missile development programme after the Agni-5 enters service, probably in 2015.

DRDO chief Dr VK Saraswat, and missile programme chief Dr Avinash Chander, say the Agni-6 project has not been formally sanctioned. However, the missile's specifications and capabilities have been decided and development is proceeding apace. Once the ongoing Agni-5 programme concludes flight-testing, the defence ministry (MoD) will formally okay the Agni-6 programme and allocate funding.

Chander says the Agni-6 will carry a massive three-tonne warhead, thrice the weight of the one-tonne warhead that Agni missiles have carried so far. This will allow each Agni-6 missile to launch several nuclear warheads -Multiple Independently Targetable Re-entry Warheads (MIRVs) - with each warhead striking a different target. Each warhead - called Maneuverable Reentry Vehicle (MARV) - performs evasive maneuvers while hurtling down towards its target, confusing enemy air defence missiles that are trying to destroy them mid-air.

The DRDO is at an advanced stage of developing these warhead technologies. But the difficult challenge is building a booster rocket that can propel a three-tonne payload to targets 5000 kilometres away. This weighs almost as much as the satellite payload carried by the Indian Space Research Organisation's much larger and heavier Global Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV).

"Our ballistic missiles must be compact and road mobile, even the Agni-6 with its heavy payload. We will do this by building the first stage with composites, fitting the Agni-6 with India's first composite 40-tonne rocket motor. This is a technical challenge but we have good capability in lightweight composites," says Chander.

The road mobile Agni-6 would also have stringent limits on its length. "It must be carried on a standard size trailer that can move from one part of the country to another, turn on our roads, cross our bridges and climb our heights. As the payload weight increases, we will require more advanced technologies to keep the missile's length constant," explains Chander.

Coaxing higher performance from smaller rockets becomes especially important in submarine launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs), which can be no longer than 13 metres so that they can fit into the cramped confines of a submarine. Even long-range SLBMs that can fly 14,000 kilometres, like the Chinese JL-2, are built no longer than 13 metres. The DRDO faces this challenge as it develops the K-4 SLBM for the country's Arihant-class nuclear-propelled ballistic missile submarines (SSBNs).

Eventually the Agni-6 will be no taller than the Agni-5, i.e. about 17 metres, says Chander. It will, however, be heavier and thicker - slightly over two metres - which will cater for the different shape of the MIRV payload.

"The timeframe for developing a new missile system is about five years and the DRDO has mostly achieved this in the Agni programme," says Chander. Calculating five years from April 2012, when the Agni-5 had its debut launch, the first test of the Agni-6 could happen in 2017.

The DRDO says the Agni-6 will have a longer range than the 5,000-kilometre Agni-5, but is not mentioning figures. "The MARVs and MIRVs will give us extended range. I will not be able to tell you how much because that is secret," Saraswat told Business Standard.

Ballistic calculations, however, suggest that at least some of the MIRV warheads on the Agni-6 would reach at least 6,000 kilometres. In a missile that travels 5,000 kilometres, the last MIRV warhead released flies an extra 1,000 kilometres.
Agni-5 Missile
Currently, the DRDO is readying for the second test next month of the Agni-5 Intermediate Range Ballistic Missile. This will be fired in the same configuration as its debut test a year ago, in order to establish the missile's reliability. A third test by end-2013 will see the missile fired from a canister.

"We will conduct at least five-six more Agni-5 tests before the missile enters operational service. After the repeat test this month or the next, we will conduct two test firings from a canister. Then the military units that will operate the Agni-5 will conduct two-three test firings as part of the induction process. Even after induction, the users conduct test firings as part of the Strategic Forces Command training plan," says Avinash Chander.

The Agni-5 is a three-stage, solid-fuel missile but its first stage consists of a metallic rocket motor, while the second and third stages have composite motors."
Connect with concerning the April 2012 first test of the Agni-5 where I raised the issue of MIRVs.

May 13, 2013

A 2nd or 3rd Agni-5 test in late 2013?


Agni-5 (aka Agni 5 and Agni-V) presentation at DRDO.


Comparing Agni-5 (Agni-V) with Agni I, II and III.

Agni-5 video (above) dated April 2012 dubbed by Indians as "India's China killer"


Agni-5 research details from DRDO.
The second Agni 5 test subsequently occurred on September 15, 2013 - see

Ajai Shukla of India's Business Standard reports from New Delhi,  May 8, 2013 . Excerpts relevant to Agni-5 include:

...the Defence R&D Organisation (DRDO) has briefed Business Standard about the direction of India's ballistic missile development programme after the Agni-5 enters service, probably in 2015.

Once the ongoing Agni-5 programme concludes flight-testing, the defence ministry (MoD) will formally okay the Agni-6 programme and allocate funding.

Eventually the Agni-6 will be no taller than the Agni-5, i.e. about 17 metres, says Chander. It will, however, be heavier and thicker - slightly over two metres - which will cater for the different shape of the MIRV payload.

"The timeframe for developing a new missile system is about five years and the DRDO has mostly achieved this in the Agni programme," says Chander. Calculating five years from April 2012, when the Agni-5 had its debut launch, the first test of the Agni-6 could happen in 2017.

The DRDO says the Agni-6 will have a longer range than the 5,000-kilometre Agni-5, but is not mentioning figures. "The MARVs and MIRVs will give us extended range. I will not be able to tell you how much because that is secret," Saraswat told Business Standard.

Currently, the DRDO is readying for the second test next month of the Agni-5 Intermediate Range Ballistic Missile. This will be fired in the same configuration as its debut test a year ago, in order to establish the missile's reliability. A third test by end-2013 will see the missile fired from a canister.

"We will conduct at least five-six more Agni-5 tests before the missile enters operational service. After the repeat test this month or the next, we will conduct two test firings from a canister. Then the military units that will operate the Agni-5 will conduct two-three test firings as part of the induction process. Even after induction, the users conduct test firings as part of the Strategic Forces Command training plan," says Avinash Chander.

The Agni-5 is a three-stage, solid-fuel missile but its first stage consists of a metallic rocket motor, while the second and third stages have composite motors."
Connect with concerning the April 2012 first test of the Agni-5 where I raised the issue of MIRVs.

May 12, 2013

A New Australian Submarine With AIP Would Only be a Marginal Improvement

Possible shape of the conventional HDW 216 which may be selected as Australia's future submarine. Note its vertical launch system for cruise missiles. The German HDW 216 or Spanish S-80 might be the best conventional choices however they would both be far inferior to an American nuclear attack submarine (SSN).
America's Nuclear Submarine Offer Should Not Be Ignored
Australia may lack a submarine capability for 15 years from 2020-2035 as the future Australian submarine project, known as SEA1000, has been politically unpopular due to the possible acquisition costs for 12 submarines of A$36 Billion and failure of the Collins program. Hence SEA1000 has moved at a snails pace, basically going nowhere for a decade.

The following (developing) article on Australia's future submarine project attempts to put the submarine propulsion debate into political and technical context.  Air Independent Propulsion (AIP), a supplementary power source, is discussed. The Australian Government is likely to 'sell' the idea of a 'Collins II" conventional submarine solution on the back of the 'new' AIP feature. AIP is actually a 70 year old feature which was found wanting by the countries that used it - they dropped AIP in favour of nuclear. AIP is not a game changer but a technical feature of marginal tactical value with severe limitations compared to nuclear.

A bit of history about an AIP technology which might fairly reflect today's AIP systems:

During World War II the German firm Walter experimented with submarines that used concentrated hydrogen peroxide as their source of oxygen under water. These used steam turbines, employing steam heated by burning diesel fuel in the steam/oxygen atmosphere created by the decomposition of hydrogen peroxide by a potassium permanganate catalyst.
Several experimental boats were produced, and one, U-1407, which had been scuttled at the end of the war, was salvaged and recommissioned into the Royal Navy as HMS Meteorite. The British built two improved models in the late 1950s, HMS Explorer, and HMS Excalibur. Meteorite was not popular with its crews, who regarded it as a dangerous and volatile piece of machinery; she was officially described as "75% safe". The reputations of Excalibur and Explorer was little better, the boats were nicknamed Exploder and Excruciator.

The issue of whether Australia should buy conventional (diesel-electric) subs off-the-shelf or partly home-developed with assistance from US AND European sub builders and/or from Japan or South Korea is examined. Arguments for buying or leasing American nuclear subs off-the-shelf is the main point of this article.

See this website (theoretically 'socialist' but very informative):

A front page article in the Australian Financial Review on February 22 [2012] reported that the US ambassador in Canberra, Jeffrey Bleich, has floated the possibility of Washington selling or leasing [by implication Virginia class] nuclear submarines to Australia—a first for any country. 

The US of course provided extensive assistance to the UK nuclear submarine program from the 1960s to the present. Such assistance included plans for nuclear submarines, training on US nuclear subs, transfer of SLBM systems and a submarine nuclear reactor. With all this the UK developed its own SSNs and SSBN which work closely with the US on a tactical and strategic level.

Long held Australian assumptions that US nuclear subs are off the buying table may therefore no longer be valid.

The Americans may have been mindful of their refusal to offer nuclear subs to Canada (and perhaps Australia) decades ago. In reaction Canada bought four conventional (diesel-electric) subs  from the UK that have never functioned in service. Australia's own attempt at a conventional submarine (the Collins) has also been dysfunctional since they were built.

The Americans may have noticed that their navy has received little or no ongoing support from the defective submarines of their Canadian and Australian allies.

Our conventional failures must be held in comparison to US nuclear submarines that are so highly functional that they are serviced by two crews (working in rotation) with minimal downtime.

What Are Australia's Real Priorities?

How can the Australian government waste another $30 billion? Australia's attempt to build a unique large conventional class of submarines (the Collins) has proven a total failure. But that may not be the point.

What is important was that the objective of making the Collins an efficient weapons system was secondary to political priorities that cannot be publicly explored by government funded analysts of military equipment. Put another way there is an intentional disconnect between the lack of military usefulness of Australia's conventional submarines and other national objectives shared by the ruling federal Labor Party and its Coalition opponents.

These objectives include substantial federal government funding to the state of South Australia where the submarines are built and maintained. This money secures votes in marginal electorates in South Australia and it is money that satisfies politically powerful trade unions involved in the design, building and maintenance of the submarines.

These are reasons that cannot be mentioned and are outside the accepted expertise of military analysts dependent on government money because mentioning these political reasons behind major military equipment decisions would most certainly put their government careers in jeopardy.

As things stand and as confirmed by Australia 2009 Defence White Paper known as Defending Australia in the Asia Pacific Century: Force 2030  see entire paper at   search for 'submarine' ) (Australia will automatically commit the same project mistakes for Australia's future submarines. This will be for the same political reasons as the failed Collins. The future submarines will again be n odd compromise between foreign designs and particular Australian requirements. The subs without doubt will again be primarily developed, constructed and maintained in South Australia.

Of course the submarines cannot have the ideal propulsion for long range operation - which is nuclear. Anyone who does not call the 2009 idea a 'Collins II' knows little about the real priorities of Australia failed submarine construction history.

The foreseeable train-wreck that is Collins II will be described below.

But Won't AIP Make Collins II A Better Sub?

After Australia's experience of severe technical problems in the Collins I involving the hull, cavitation, noise, defective electrical generators and diesel engines it is likely that air independent propulsion (AIP) will present an additional set of problems for the Collins II.

It must be remembered AIP is not a new solution. It is actually an old technology developed in the 1940s that is not a game changer in a submarine's performance or its tactical flexibility. It is significant that the US, Britain and Russia developed AIP systems from the 1940s initially on the basis of German U-Boat research. However they found that the unreliability and danger of AIP outweighed perceived performance gains. These countries, at the forefront of submarine research, decided against further development of AIP as the frontline propulsion by the 1950s in favour of nuclear propulsion. 

Its notable that countries developing conventional submarines with or without AIP do not require the long transit times as major requirements of there mission. The countries that can sell conventional subs to Australia (Germany, France, Spain, Sweden South Korea and Japan) utilise their subs on short transit journeys and generally in littoral waters where they meet their enemies.

Furthermore it must be asked whether Australia can maintain European, Japanese or South Korean AIP technology of which Australia has no experience and so far from these source countries?

US Combat System Integration With Hybrid European-Australian Subs

Australia's (then junior Defence Minister Combet) indicated in October 2009 that the US would play a big part in develping Australia's future submarine.  Combet's pre-emptive announcement appeared to be referring to America's top of the line combat system  (which coordinates sensors and weapons) which are also used by America's nuclear submarines. Australia is already using an earlier version of the US combat system in the Collins. This combat system is one of the rare strengths of the Collins which had an overly ambitious home-grown combat system until the tried and tested US replacement was acquired.

For the record of what Combet is on record as saying see
 "US 'to play key role' in new Aussie subs" October 6, 2009:

Australia wants the assistance of the United States as it looks to replace the Collins class submarines, junior defence minister Greg Combet says.

Mr Combet, in the US for talks with administration and industry officials, said the US was a leader in the design and development of submarine technology.

"I expect that Australia will look to learn from companies like General Dynamics Electric Boat and Lockheed Martin in designing and developing the Collins class replacement," he said in a statement.
Under plans outlined in the defence white paper launched in May, Australia will acquire a fleet of 12 new submarines to replace the six Collins boats in the decade from 2020. It will be Australia's biggest military acquisition.

The government was committed to ensuring that Australia obtained a world leading submarine capability, Mr Combet said.

"US technology is likely to be an important facilitator of this capability," he said.
Electric Boat designed and shared construction of the Virginia class submarines for the US Navy and had been instrumental in driving down production costs to enable the US to increase the production rate.

Lockheed Martin was a major supplier in the US Navy submarine combat system, the Collins replacement combat system and supplied submarine combat systems or components to Spain and the United Kingdom.

For further records of what Combet said:

Combet's combat system decision means their will be major task of integrating the combat system with European or Japanese developed conventional submarine designs unless Australia buys a submarine already incorporating the combat system. Spain still may use a US combat system in the immature S-80. However the mature nuclear US Virginia Class sub also incorporates the combat system Australia wants.

Australian Needs to Plan for its Subs to Operate Fully Submerged

Along with performance inadequacies the main vulnerability of a future conventional Australian submarine is its need to snorkel (take in air to run its diesel engines which in turn power its batteries). AIP is falsely described as fully submerged operation.

They major way to avoid detection is full submerged operation. This can only be achieved through nuclear propulsion. Air Independent Propulsion (AIP) is only a temporary solution which might contribute to less than 20% of a conventional submarine's voyage.

AIP might be used for several weeks but this is at a very slow speed - more of use to a loitering missile submarine that is in range of its land targets.  AIP speed limitations are less useful for an attack submarine (Australia's future submarine type)  which may need to securely chase other submarines and surface vessels. For example MESMA, one of the latest AIP technologies for sale, will keep a submarine submerged for two weeks but at an average speed no greater than 5 knots compared to 30 knots for enemy attack submarines. Five knots is of little use during the long transit stages required of Australian submarines.

At maximum speed (around 20 knots) an AIP material may last less than a day. This is in comparison to a nuclear attack submarines moving at 34 knots fully submerged for three months.

Conventional Subs Always Need Snorkels Which Make Become A Fatally Vulnerable Feature

Asia Online noted the vulnerability of Chinese submarines to US satellite detection. See February 3, 2012.As China modernises its satellites they will be increasingly sensitive to detect Australian submarine activities. Studies like this indicate the progress China is making in Electronic Intelligence satellite for the detection of submarines. This includes snorkels which already cannot be used at fast speeds because their wakes are already known to give them away to radar or electro-optical imagery.

Stealthy snorkels are also of temporary value.

Operational Realities for Australian Submarines

It is implicit in Australia's 2009 Defence White Paper that Australia's submarine forces be capable of deterring Chinese naval forces. This requires rapid and secure transit of around 4,500 kms (which, for example, might take a submarine from Fleet Base West, Rockingham, Western Australia to Darwin for partial replenishment) in the  north of Australia. Other refuelling and replenishment bases might be US bases at Guam, Okinawa, Diego Garcia, or Oman.

Rapid submerged transit requires the possibility of snorkel 'indescretion'. Indiscretion may mean the snorkel is kept on the surface too long allowing is to be seen by Chinese satellites (or other sensor platforms) or the snorkel is moving so fast through the water that is leaves a visible wake. Surface transit is no longer a secure proposition against an enemy (like China) that is increasingly well equipped with nautical sensors.

The alternative of using AIP will takes several weeks at the maximum long endurance limit of 4 knots. This compares poorly with 34 knots for months using nuclear propulsion.

Using AIP will also be inefficient if used for transit stages because this will exhaust limited AIP chemicals that might be better using in tactical movement once Chinese forces are encountered.

Nuclear Propulsion Provides Full Tactical Flexibility

The presence of US submarines cannot be perpetually counted on to perform the rapid chasing functions that only nuclear propelled submarines can perform. Australian subs need a sustained submerged speed greater than 30 knots to keep up with Chinese nuclear subs.

Conventional submarines also lack the sustained speeds to stay ahead of an Australian naval taskforce to protect that taskforce.

Problems Buying an Asian, UK or European Submarines

If China is the likely opponent then reliance on Japan and South Korea as submarine suppliers is highly problematic. Their geographical proximity to China means that they could be militarily, politically or economically pressured and rendered neutral by China.

This would prevent them supporting Australian submarines with the necessary hardware and computer software upgrades. Linguistic barriers concerning both Japan and South Korea are also considerable. Japan's lack of experience as a major weapons exporter and its peace constitution generates extra risks for Australia buying submarines from Japan.

In comparison to US nuclear submarine support facilities that are relatively close in Guam support from Japan, South Korea or Europe with specialised conventional and AIP systems are a long way.

The concerns of the US and Australia's neighbours that Australia using a new class of submarine with nuclear propulsion might be resolved through a leasing deal. Australia found anyway that it could not go it alone with Collins reliance on foreign experience and technical developments is always required in submarines as in aircraft.

We don't need 12 subs if they are nuclear perhaps only 6.

I think the naval standard of a minimum of 3 vessels (one operational, one on leave/training and one in maintenance) should be Australia's objective. But better still four or more as Chinese ASW might be unexpectedly effective.
As the US Navy phases out Los Angeles the essential software and hardware updates will become more problematic. Hence Virginia SSNs (which are more modern) whould be preferable.

Australia (an old low earthquake continent) is well place to build nuclear storage dumps for spent nuclear fuel.

Increased economies of scale for the Virginia class program will benefit the Australia but also the US.

After Canada's experince buying the 4 UK Upholder/Victoria Class subs  I think buying nuclear subs from the UK would be unwise.

Also US nuclear maintenance facilities in Guam are much closer than the UK facilities in Scotland (which in any case are far out of Australia's area of operations).

What About Jobs and Votes?

Hopefully the type of nuclear flexibility that Labor and Gillard exhibited in the 'backflip' of deciding to export uranium to India still applies.

As it is likely Australia's new subs will be operational through to 2055 Australia should at least consider the nuclear propulsion option. This force must have an effective capability against the two new nuclear submarine forces (China's and India's) that will operate in the Indian and Pacific Oceans.

It is also notable that France is building a nuclear propelled submarine for Brazil. An example of a non-nuclear armed middle power (like Australia) buying the nuclear propelled option.

In 2050 we cannot still be completely relying on US submarines to face the nuclear submarines of rising regional powers.

Buying American submarines with nuclear propulsion off the shelf with the required combat systems already integrated and tested will be a simpler and less risky choice than a purchases of conventional subs. While Australia would unlikely get offsets in nuclear submarine construction new offset deals with the US might well be negotiated in other defence sectors particularly aircraft.

South Australia, with US help, can still maintain Australia's future subs even if they are nuclear.

The major political concern of the future submarine generating money, votes and jobs for South Australia can therefore still be achieved.
Another useful article, with a difference emphasis, on the nuclear propulsion is here .
For an excellent description of the Roles and Requirements for Autralia's Future Submarine see Asia Pacific Defence Reporter, April 6, 2011 .

May 8, 2013

Australian Defence White Paper 2013

This Dance of Three Collins Submarines reflects Australia's lack of direction in deciding on a Future Submarine design to replace the Collins. There are insufficient defence funds for the foreseeable future to build a new submarine.

Here's an interesting commentary in The Conversation from Andrew Phillips, Senior lecturer in International Relations and Strategic Studies at University of Queensland. I've bolded the parts most relevant to India:

"Defence White Paper: super-sizing Australia’s strategic geography for the Asian Century

May 7, 2013

Australia’s new Defence White Paper [PDF 3 MB] reflects a revolution in the way in which Australia thinks about its strategic geography.
The “Indo-Pacific” has now decisively displaced the “Asia-Pacific” as defence planners’ preferred term for describing our neighborhood. India’s robust economic growth and likely future military heft provides a powerful reason for this change.
So too does the Indian Ocean’s growing importance as a maritime superhighway connecting “factory Asia” with resource hubs including East Africa, the Middle East and North-Western Australia. But radically expanding Australia’s strategic horizons also risks a loss of focus and spreading our resources too thinly.

The problem of priorities
The greatest danger of the Indo-Pacific concept lies in treating the Indian Ocean and East Asian regions as of equivalent strategic importance.

While the resources trade linking the Indian and Pacific Oceans is growing in importance, the inter-state conflicts that most immediately impinge on Australia’s interests remain concentrated in East and especially northeast Asia.
An increasingly poisonous Sino-Japanese relationship, and a nuclear armed North Korea, threaten stability in that part of Asia that continues to be the primary engine of Australian prosperity. Short of an Indo-Pakistani nuclear war, no security challenge west of the Strait of Malacca comes close to threatening Australia’s interests as seriously as does the spectre of a Northeast Asian Great Power conflict.

For Australia, the main security and economic game will remain centered on the Sino-Japanese-Korean triangle for at least the next decade. Thus the language we use to describe our strategic landscape should reflect this reality as faithfully as possible.

The problem of planning

In lumping the Indian and Pacific Ocean theatres together, the White Paper’s authors conflate two very different environments.
Since the 1970s, Australia has pursued a strategy in East Asia based on participation in America’s “hub and spokes” system of bilateral alliances and engagement with an ASEAN-centred regional security architecture.

The Indian Ocean presents a more complicated challenge for Canberra. It lacks a coherent US-centred alliance system for Australia to plug in to, or a local equivalent of the veritable “alphabet soup” of multilateral security fora now present in East Asia.

Australia must engage the Indian Ocean region, and the White Paper rightly prioritises turbo-charging bilateral partnerships with India and Indonesia as a means of achieving this goal. But a mere extension of Australia’s tried and tested “dual track” technique of regional order-building from an Asia-Pacific to an Indian Ocean is likely to fail.

The problem of perception

Finally, the most recent White Paper has won praise for abandoning a needlessly provocative approach of casting China’s rise as a potential source of regional instability.

But Canberra’s focus on the Indo-Pacific risks undermining this progress. This is because Australia-watchers in Beijing will be aware of the concept’s early association with voices that advocated containing China through the formation of a league of maritime democracies including India, Australia, Japan and the United States.

To be fair, most Indo-Pacific boosters – both within and outside of government – have consistently and correctly repudiated ambitions to contain China as being both unrealistic and counter-productive.

Nevertheless, in the likely event that the Indo-Pacific becomes a permanent part of Australia’s defence and foreign policy, a special effort will be needed to privately reassure Beijing that the concept includes an inclusive vision of regional order, as opposed to a dog-whistle to partisans agitating for an anti-China “Axis of Good”.

Australia’s strategic environment is changing rapidly, and the White Paper’s authors have shown considerable intellectual élan in trying to capture the changes now re-shaping our region.

An exclusively East Asia-centric conception of Australia’s strategic space increasingly sits uneasily with India’s rise, a growing Indonesia and the undeniable importance of the Indo-Pacific “energy superhighway” to regional economic development.

Nevertheless, stretching Australia’s strategic geography out to an Indo-Pacific scale carries dangers as well as opportunities – the concept requires further intellectual refinement. This is especially so in a time of tight budgets, and when Australia’s political leadership cravenly refuses to educate the public on the necessity of funding the increased defence and especially diplomatic regional capabilities we urgently need to secure our safety and prosperity.

Ultimately, unless finance and political leadership are provided, broadening Australia’s strategic focus may merely further dilute our limited resources and compromise our capacity to shape our region in the Asian century."

May 1, 2013

Singapore's Six Submarines - RSS Swordsman Commissioned

Diagram and additional specifications of Singapore's AIP equipped Archer Class Submarine (click to enlarge).

See information about Singapore's HDW 218SG Submarine (purchase announced 2-3 December 2013) at
See information about Singapore's HDW 218SG Submarine (purchase announced 2-3 December 2013) at
This website's survey of regional submarines forces, which has taken readers to Indonesia, Malaysia, South Korea, Pakistan, Israel and more frequently Russia, China India and Australia, now moves on to Singapore.

Singapore has been a shrewd buyer of used Kockums built submarines and then had them upgraded. Along with Australia Singapore is one of America's closest allies in the Southeast Asian/Oceania region. Singapore is also on good terms with India while wary of its larger neighbours Indonesia, Malaysia and further afield China.

Singapore's Modern Upgraded Archer Class SubmarinesThe two Archer class submarines are replacing the four Challenger class submarines. Singapore's Ministry of Defence maintained its relationship with Kockums and in November 2005 signed an agreement with Kockums for the supply of two Archer class (known in Sweden as Västergötland class) submarines to the RSN. Originally launched in the mid 1980s and previously in reserve with the Swedish Navy, the submarines have been transferred to the RSN on completion of the modernisation (including upgrade to Air Independent Propulsion (AIP)) and tropicalisation (including modified air conditioning, marine growth protection systems and corrosion-resistant piping).

RSS Archer (photo above) was relaunched in Sweden on 16 June 2009. The Archer class submarines  AIP system enables longer submerged endurance and lower noise signature. This makes them well suited to short-medium range operation in the narrow waters around Singapore including anti-piracy surveillance. The advanced sonar system allows the submarines to detect contacts at a further distance, while the torpedo system has a better target acquisition capability, which allows the submarines to engage contacts at a further range.

RSS Swordsman, the RSNs second Archer class submarine, relaunched in Sweden on 20 October 2010, arrived at Singapore's Changi Naval Base (CNB) from Sweden in late December 2012 and was commissioned on 30 April 2013. An RSN crew had been training in Sweden since 2008 to operate RSS Swordsman. Both Archer class submarines now also serve in 171 Squadron.


Concerning the commissioning of RSS Swordsman

Singapore's Straits Times reported, 30 April 2013, : 

The last of Singapore's most advanced submarines was declared battle-ready on [30 April 2013], sharpening the capabilities of the Republic of Singapore Navy (RSN) in underwater warfare.

The RSS Swordsman was commissioned, following more than two years of tests and torpedo-firing exercises in Sweden and in the warmer and more corrosive waters here. The 60.5m diesel-electric vessel arrived in Singapore in last December. This is the second Archer-class vessel to be added to the RSN's 171 Squadron, after the first, RSS Archer, was declared operational in 2011. The submarine squadron also comprises four ageing Challenger-class submarines.

Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam, who was at the ceremony in Changi Naval Base, said the new vessel will strengthen the navy's ability to safeguard Singapore's "continued and unimpeded access to the maritime routes".

He noted that Tuesday's ceremony also marked the end of the RSN's eight year journey to replace some of the Challenger-class submarines, which were built in the 1960s.

Archer class specifications are:
  • Length : 60.5 meters
  • Beam : 6.1 meters
  • Crew : 28
  • Speed : 8 knots (surfaced), 15 knots (submerged)
  • Displacement : 1,400 tonnes (surfaced), 1,500 tonnes (submerged)

  • With the AIP and the state-of-the-art sensors, the Archers boats are more capable than Indonesia's two HDW 209s and probably more so than Malaysia's two new but non AIP Scorpene's.

    Singapore's submarines probably operate close to home (in and close to the Straits of Malacca) and probably work in close cooperation with America's SSNs possibly Australia's Collins class SSKs and other anti-submarine assets. Little has been written in decades about submarine cooperation. 

    Singapore's Archers with AIP might be superior overall to Australia's unreliable, non-AIP Collins SSKs (although the Collins have a superior (US SSN grade Modified Raytheon CCS Mk2 (AN/BYG-1)) combat system).


    Singapore's Challenger Class submarines

    In 1995, the Republic of Singapore Navy (RSN) acquired a Challenger class (formerly known as Sjöormen class built by Kockums) submarine (RSS Challenger) from the Swedish Navy and another three (RSS Conqueror, Centurion and Chieftain)  in 1997, making them Singapore's first underwater platforms. As the submarines were designed by the Swedish for operations in the cold Baltic Sea, various modifications were required to suit them to tropical waters. A comprehensive tropicalisation programme was carried out for all four submarines, which involves installing air conditioning, marine growth protection systems and corrosion-resistant piping.

    It is believed that the Challenger class were purchased to develop the required submarine operations expertise before selecting a modern class of submarines to replace them, since all the boats were launched in the late 1960s. The four Challenger class submarines form the 171 Squadron of the RSN. On March 12, 2013 Singapore's Minister for Defence, Dr Ng indicated the RSN's ageing Challenger-class submarines are due for replacement [presumably by the two Archer class] and are coming to the end of their operational lifespan.

    Challenger class specifications are:

  • Length : 51 meters
  • Beam : 6.1 meters
  • Crew : 28
  • Speed : 10 knots (surfaced), 16 knots (submerged)
  • Displacement : 1,130 tonnes (surfaced), 1,200 tonnes (submerged)

  • The blog Defense Studies has much detail on the Archers - as does the RSN website and .

    Original COMMENTS made in September 2009 below:
    As this article's thread suggests this article was first posted by me in September 2009 and then some parts of the article updated. The September 2009 comments that were misguidedly stripped in August 2012 have now been restored and are below. I've bolded comments that since December 2013 are of particular relevance to Singapore's choice of HDW 218SGs


    I always wondered why Singapore is wary of China? Considering it's population is 60 - 70% ethnic Chinese.
    Posted by Ram on 9/22/09

    Its complicated Ram Probably a bit like Australia's relations with China - wary but not hostile. Singapore's mainly Chinese ethnicity can spin it in several directions including good relations with Taiwan. Singapore establishing formal diplomatic relations with the PRC at the late year of 1992 indicates hesitancy. Singapore has strong relations with the US. Singapore has been involved in naval exercises with the 4 countries of the on/off again quadilateral "understanding" for the containment of China. In fact just about every country in the Asia-Pacific (India included) have varying degrees of wariness about China, the next superpower. Regards Pete
    Posted by Pete on 9/22/09

    Pete, I wonder if there is a consolidation in defense contractors globally. There used to be several aircraft companies in the U.S. Now there are three Lockheed Martin, Northrop, and Boeing. Some day, there may be two if Lockmart or Boeing buys Northrop. With the acquisition of Kockrums, are countries now limited in submarine suppliers, and is this a strategic problem. For instance, if I am Singapore, and I buy HDW submarines, will there be a parts shortage if Russia is pressured by China to pressure Germany by threat of cutting off natural gas supplies, or some other commodity Germany needs and imports? Russia is vulnerable right now since they depend upon oil and gas exports for the nation's income. China has the demand and the cash to buy oil. If the world, and especially the Pacific Basin, are one big Go game, then economics, armed forces, natural resources, and people are all pieces in this game. Consolidating global arms suppliers is may be a smart business move now, but
    Posted by jbmoore on 9/23/09

    ISRO has been bashed in the Indian press following the loss of communication with the Chandrayaan probe. Lots of criticism and second guessing by reporters turned 'expert'. Looks like ISRO has had the last laugh.... India’s lunar mission finds evidence of water on the Moon
    Posted by Anonymous on 9/24/09

    Hi JB The number of submarine suppliers is so few that the market downstream may well become distorted. The economic crisis has probably accelerated the consolidation of the submarine market. Submarines are so expensive due to stealthiness and high tech electronics that some countries can no longer afford them. In the US only one submarine type is made, the Virginia SSN - only one a year with production shared by just two companies: - General Dynamics subsidiary Electric Boat in Groton, Conn., and - Northrop Grumman's Newport News shipyard. The US makes no conventional subs and Sweden's Kockums may be defunct. So the main competition is: - France and Spain building Scorpenes and - Germany HDW subs. Spain, Japan and Australia also built/are building subs but due to US electronics input carry licensing which prevent their export. Russia's Kilo's appear obsolete and an uncompetitive prospect for developed Western nations. Pete
    Posted by Pete on 9/24/09

    Hi Anonymous Thanks for the two comments on the Indian moon probe. I'll do a post on them tomorrow.
    Pete Posted by Pete on 9/24/09

    Kockums is no-where near defunct, tho they continue to be very reliant on orders from the Swedish goverment. Just this last week they got strong indications that their latest class, the A26 (no "real" name yet) would be built. Probably in co-operation with Norway, but a lot of people seem to be expecting Singapore to be interested as well. The fact that Kockums is "owned" by a german company shouldn't concern too much. All the intellectual property is still very much Swedish. Posted by Upandaway on 9/26/09

    Kockums still might be operating as usual Upandaway. My anaylsis is a little bit distorted by my expectation of HDW's and ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems' (TKMS) market behaviour. Still, when I looked on TKMS' website ( ) the link for Kockums ( ) was not functioning. Though the link was working 6 months ago. Contrary signals I think. Pete
    Posted by Pete on 9/26/09