April 29, 2016

Shortfin's Pumpjet Propulsor - A Sales Feature?

Note that a Scorpene (2,000 tonne "small" conventional submarine (SSK)) is depicted with a pumpjet. Was the Scorpene pumpjet only an idea in 2005 that was phased out/cancelled? Or is pumpjet a possible future inclusion for Scorpene? Pumpjets have been on French submarines since the first Triomphant class SSBN was launced in 1994. (Artwork courtesy DCNS Australia)

Here the Scorpene has no Pump Jet, on the Shipbucket graphics website (circa 2010).

Shortfin concept displaying its proposed pumpjet. Also note its X-plane rudders. (Artwork courtesy Navy Recognition)

DCNS' 2016 "pitch" for the Shortfin stated: "Pumpjet propulsion means the Shortfin Barracuda can move more quietly than submarines with obsolete propeller technology. In a confrontation between two otherwise identical submarines, the one with pumpjet propulsion always has the tactical advantage.

Will a pumpjet (which appeared then disappeared from DCNS' Scorpene SSK) disappear from the Shortfin SSK? Will the Shortfin then have the bare propeller which practically all SSKs have?  

The submarine speed threshold (14 knots? 20 knots? somewhere in between?) of when a pumpjet becomes tacticly advantageous depends on the situation and needs to be weighed against the downsides of pumpjets.

High pumpjet weight compared to a bare propeller is a common downside. But wouldn't pumpjet weight be scalable? That is would a pumpjet for an average 1,800 tonne SSK be proportionatly smaller and lighter than a pumpjet for a 5,000 tonne Shortfin?

If the scalability argument is valid - what is the main thing distinguishing SSKs from SSNs? Engine power and resulatant speed.

An SSN can operate at 20+ knots for weeks-months while a SSK fully submerged on battery (and even AIP) can only operate at 20+ knots for (probably) 2 days or less. 



-  In the rare but crucial tactical situation where high speed is required to fight another submarine or flee from a surface ASW threat, a pumpjet can allow a higher speed before the onset of cavitation. This means lower acoustic signatures.

-  the shroud of a pumpjet can protect the rotating element (the impeller) from striking hard objects (like rocks or the seafloor). This can assist littoral, shallow water operation.

-  If the pumpjet is steerable it may make the submarine more maneuverable at slow speeds. 

Disadvantages compared to Bare Propeller

-  Can be less efficient than a propeller at low speed, leading to higher consumption of limited fuel (not a concern for unlimited nuclear reactor). This may well include an SSK's typical efficient submerged speed (5 knots?) on battery or AIP.

-  Inability to efficiently reverse or reverse at all to slow down or reverse the submarine? Therefore the sub needs a bow thruster? Or would there be a bow thruster anyway for a Shortfin?

-  heavier, more expensive, complex?

-  Punp jet intake grill can become clogged with debris; e.g., seaweed. (Can be mitigated by being able to reverse?)

The Kilo submarine B-871 ("Alrosa") (launched in 1989 (with pumpjet? or retrofitted?) has a large pumpjet with 7 stators and 11 propulsors. It spends more time in dry dock for repairs and upgrades to its pumpjet than at sea.  The pumpjet appears to be of excessive size - perhaps implying Alrosa is a test vehicle for a pumpjet intended for much larger SSN's or SSBNs. 


It is unclear why pumpjets have not been used for SSKs - leading to more questions than answers, at this stage:

-  are the usual 2,000 tonnes or less size SSKs too small?
-  do the relative lower power of SSK diesels limit their ability to reach pumpjet effective speeds?
-  only used once(?) for a larger 2,350 tons (surfaced) SSK (that being Kilo B-871 Alrosa)
-  artwork of a pumpjet included on a DCNS Scorpene (2,000 tonne SSK) but no evidence (?) it has been adopted for Scorpene.
-  are pumpjets are a recent, expensive, high end, technology only used in already expensive nuclear submarines?
-  pumpjets have not been retrofitted on DCNS' small (2,400 tonne surfaced) Amethyste-Rubis class SSNs, so does that prove small size eliminates pump jets or cost of retrofitting on Amethyste-Rubis would be too high?

It is very difficult to nail down whether the pumpjet proposal for the Shortfin is of sales value but a technology that may be of marginal practical value.

There is the argument that the Barracuda SSN can serve as a prototype to iron out any technical problems before the Shortfins are built? But then, will the speed envelope of the Shortfin be similar enough to the Barracuda for Barracuda to be a pumpjet prototype for Shortfin? Ultimately much will rely on how many knots Shortfin can reliably move - something that may only be apparent in about 2031.

Artwork courtesy DCNS.

Sources included:

-  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pump jet and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Propulsor


April 28, 2016

Specifications Table - Shortfin Barracuda Block 1A

After internet searching no current, precise, detailed, list of DCNS Shortfin specifications has been located. Instead I've drawn together (and sometimes inferred) specs from a variety of internet sources (see links in Table). Some details are available through DCNS Youtubes, diagrams and pictures.

DCNS has limited the publication of Shortfin’s projected specs as keeping the specs secret was a requirement of the CEP. Detailed specs would reflect Australia’s detailed needs. Some/most specs will remain secret.

Also experienced arms sellers (like DCNS) don’t telegraph all the particulars of their product offers.

Now that DCNS has won, it and Australia are likely to be more forthcoming with the specs.

Specs and shapes for other French submarines are also useful indicators. These subs include the Scorpene SSK (2005-present), Triomphant SSBN (1997-present), the 2014 SMX Ocean concep and, of course, the Barracuda SSN (due to be launched 2017).


Shortfin Barracuda Block 1A - Figures at 28 April 2016
Class overview
DCNS Shortfin Barracuda Block 1A
Only envisaged is the  Royal Australian Navy (RAN)
12 to be commissioned:
Approx. commissioned and operational 2030–2070. [may be an initial batch of 6 diesel-electric. By 2040s serious planning for 6 SSNs may occur - depending on strategic threats.]
Preceded by:
[Likely to be 100 HLES high-yield pressure hull steel, roughly equivalent to US HY-130 - see Submarine Matters article Table that uses Japanese document.]
60 + around 16 divers/special forces (depending on mission)
Transit speed 10 to 14 knots (kt) over [12,000?] to18,000 nautical miles (nm).
Maximum submerged speed 20+ kt. Endurance at sea 90 days depending on fuel, food and crew exhaustion. Max range at achieved at constant speed approx 10 kt.

Typical mission profile maybe mix of Transit at average speed (snorting or surfaced?) of 14kt for a week, one month Patrol, Transit back to Fleet Base West at 14kt for week.
 4,500 tonnes (surfaced) [numerous sources including]
 5,000 tonnes (approx) (submerged) [numerous sources]
94 to 97 meters (see DCNS Marketing Director give length 55 seconds into this Youtube)
Diameter (Beam)
8.8 meters
15.5 meters (hull + fin/sail)
Pumpjet propulsion
[Important to use the same pumpjet tried and tested on the Barracuda rather than a special new propeller only developed to the Shortfin. Pumpjet superior at higher submarine speeds but may have downsides at typical low Patrol speeds]
Acoustic stealth
Rubber/elastic mountings for moving and reverberating parts inside.
Capable of projecting
Unmanned underwater vehicles (UUVs), 
Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs)
Underwater decoys (against torpedoes and mobile mines)
On hull behind fin/sail.
Dry dock shelter for divers, diver delivery vehicles and large displacement UUVs (LDUUVs)
·4 [?] × 533 mm (21.0 in) tubes. Around 30 heavyweight shots. As US Combat System is compulsory US weapons are compulsory, that is Tomahawk cruise missiles (for land attack and long range anti-ship) Harpoon anti-ship missiles, Mark 48 torpedoes, mines.
Sonars from Thales and other makers. “The sonar suite performance provided by Thales will be the best available ever for a submarine this size.”
Combat System
Updated AN/BYG-1 (the network of sensors, databases and weapons costing about one third of the upfront price of the submarine)
Max Depth
300+ meters (operational)
Exterior stealth
Anechoic coating on hull to deflect and dampen sound waves inside and mainly outside the sub
 Likely 6 x MTU 12V 4000 diesels
  [note Chilean, Indian and Brazilian Scorpenes have 4 x MTU 16V 396 SE]
  7 MW (9,400 hp). Jeumont Electric claims it is supplying the electric motor and some other electrical fittings. 
French battery company SAFT may supply Lithium-ion or Lead-acid batteries (depending what Australian customer wants) see APDR May 2016, page 19. Also see a 2008 DCNS Media Release about SAFT Lithium-ion research and Scorpene.


As this is a very recent (April 14, 2016) DCNS Youtube the claims/comments in it are useful. I have recorded most word-for-word and how many seconds in:

0:20 - Stealth capabilities from France’s nuclear submarine program,  

0:24 - pumpjet propulsion [important to use the same pumpjet tried and tested on the Barracuda rather than a special new propeller only developed to the Shortfin]

0:27 - “Hydroplances can retract to reduce drag and noise.”

0:32 - “Most powerful sonar ever produced for a conventional submarine” [Conventions sub’s sonar are less powerful because the sub’s are smaller with no reactor to produce high amounts of electricity for sonars.]

0:42 - “As new technology is developed between France, Australia and the United States upgrades are easily made via quick access tech insert hatches”

0:47 - “By adopting DCNS’ technology Australia will join an elite club which includes only the UK, US and France.” [thats the Western nuclear submarine hull club].

I'll add more details to the Shortfin Table as these details are published on the internet.


April 27, 2016

Why DCNS Won.

Shortfin Barracuda Block 1A (Artwork courtesy DCNS).
In the avalanche of DCNS win articles over the last 2 days Hans J. Ohff has written this excellent explanation in The Conversation, of April 26, 2016. This is republished in full under The Conversation's generously provided Creative Commons Licence. The string is https://theconversation.com/why-the-french-submarine-won-the-bid-to-replace-the-collins-class-58223:

"Why the French submarine won the bid to replace the Collins-class

France will be awarded the contract to partner with Australia to build the next generation of submarines to replace the Collins-class, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull announced today.
But what was at stake in this A$50 billion program? What were the real technological differences between the submarines on offer?
In early 2015, the Department of Defence issued invitations to Thyssenkrupp Marine Systems (TKMS) of Germany, Direction des Constructions Navales Services (DCNS) of France, and the Japanese government – represented through Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) and Kawasaki Heavy Industries (KHI) – to submit concepts for a submarine design by November 30, 2015.
The proposal was also to address the construction and managing of Australia’s most complex defence project ever undertaken. Sidestepping competitive tendering, the government opted for a competitive evaluation process (CEP) to determine its overseas partner(s) for the future submarine program (FSP) project SEA1000.
Headed by Rear Admiral Gregory John Sammut, the Commonwealth’s CEP evaluation team was scheduled to submit its recommendation to an expert advisory panel by early June 2016.
This process has been brought forward in order for the government to announce the overseas submarine design house and, importantly, where FSP will be built before the Senate and the House of Representatives are dissolved for a double-dissolution election.

The French option

DCNS’s Shortfin Barracuda Block 1A, a derivative of its Barracuda nuclear-powered attack submarine currently under construction in France, has turned out to be the winner.
Because of the endurance and long range stipulated by the Royal Australian Navy (RAN), the French have selected the Barracuda as their design reference. The Shortfin Barracuda will be equipped with four diesel alternators to generate electricity, a >7 megawatt permanent magnet motor and ample battery storage.
These should allow it to meet or exceed the RAN’s requirements of range, endurance and indiscretion rate, which is the time the submarine spends exposed while recharging its batteries.

A video by DCNS profiling the Shortfin Barracuda Block 1A.

The Shortfin Barracuda uses a pump-jet propulsor that combines a rotor and stator within a duct to significantly reduce the level of radiated noise and avoids cavitation.
The aftcontrol surfaces on a single propeller submarine are likely to disturb the water flowing into the rotating blades. This, according to DCNS, will generate cavitation, which is best mitigated by the introduction of a propulsor where the rotor and stator are shrouded.
DCNS also claims it has incorporated the most sensitive passive sonar ever offered with a conventional submarine. Matched to the US AN/BYG-1 combat system requirements and equipped with sophisticated above-water sensors, the French claim that the Shortfin Barracuda will offer operational capability beyond the RAN’s requirements..

The Japanese option

Buttressed by a handshake between then-prime minister Tony Abbott and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzō Abe, the Japanese were sure that MHI/KHI would secure Australia’s largest-ever defence contract. The companies began to work on their evolved Sōryū-class submarine for the RAN, called the Goryu-class, or “Australian Dragon”.
The agreement signed on July 8, 2014, by the governments of Australia and Japan for the joint development of submarine technology, and more specifically the Marine Hydrodynamics Project, provided the Japanese with the requisite peace of mind to work on an optimal Australian submarine submission.
The introduction of the CEP in early 2015 did not unsettle the Abe government unduly as long as Abbott was in charge in Canberra. However, the ousting of Abbott and the appointment of a new defence minister, Marise Payne, meant Japan could no longer be assured of automatic selection. The CEP for the FSP became thoroughly and hotly contested.

The Japanese Soryu-class submarine Hakuryu was to be adapted for Australian use. United States Navy

Caught by surprise when Germany and France were invited to compete for the coveted submarine contract, the Japanese government countered by agreeing to build all 12 submarines in Australia and use the construction facilities in Adelaide as a future base for a major innovation centre.
In a further move, it indicated its preparedness to share its most secret submarine stealth technology with the RAN. And to demonstrate the unique capabilities of the Sōryū-class, the Japanese Maritime Self Defence Force was sending the JS Hakuryu to take part in Exercise Nichi Gou Trident with the RAN and RAAF off the Sydney coast.
Not to be distracted by this move, the opponents of the Japanese option let it be known that the RAN would not attain regional superiority even with the evolved Sōryū-class.
Critics asserted that the lack of Japanese submarine technology and know-how meant that the Sōryū offered less capability than the existing Collins-class. It was a deficiency so fundamental, they claimed, that the lengthening of the Sōryū by six-to-eight metres for improved crew habitability and increased range made little difference to the Goryu-class when matched against the submarine designs of the French and the Germans.
The Japanese had planned to install proven high-tech lithium-ion battery technology in numbers 11 and 12 of their current class, and claim that their submarines are quieter and dive deeper than any other conventional submarine in service.

The German option

Arguably the German Navy’s submarines are among the world’s stealthiest underwater platforms. Aside from their traditional combat roles, they are employed as “vehicles of position” that gather intelligence, perform surveillance and reconnaissance at maritime choke points, shipping lanes and harbours.
The design philosophy of “as small as possible and as large as necessary” has so dictated the Type 212A submarines of the German and Italian navies. It also uses air-independent propulsion, which is quieter in operation than conventional diesel-electric.
The latest submarine of the world’s most prolific submarine builder remains small at 1,660 tonnes submerged displacement. Yet the new class is more than three times larger than its predecessor, the Type 206A.

The compact German Type 212A submarine. United States Navy

With this successful upsizing, TKMS answered the sceptics who claimed that the Germans would have found it difficult to evolve their existing submarines designs to the >3,810 tonnes Type 216 Australian variant.
In conjunction with Siemens, TKMS also offered the integrated 3D Digital Shipyard. The application of simulation software was to ensure issues that could affect construction were identified before the first steel is cut. They claimed it is a risk mitigator in the evolution and up-scaling of an existing design.
In this regard, the Germans were countering DCNS’ propulsor with Siemens’ Permasyn propulsion motor and MTU’s proven submarine diesels. While the drive train on the Type 216 required up-scaling of the main motor to over 6MW, Siemens believed that this would have been accomplished without undue difficulty.

Strategic outcome

All three companies have proven track records in submarine design and construction. Building overseas would have seen the Japanese leave their comfort zone. However, they brought defence and geostrategic advantages to the negotiation table. Offering the RAN supply and repair bases in Japan was one of their most persuasive arguments.
The Germans pushed their vast submarine design and building experience – more than 160 submarines delivered to 20 navies over the past 50 years. This experience, TKMS claimed, would have put the FSP in a “safe pair of hands”.
The French Navy operates submarines across the five oceans. DCNS argued that the experience and propulsion technology they transferred from their conventional and nuclear submarines made them the preferred candidate for the FSP. And they turned out to be right."

April 26, 2016

Naval Group (was DCNS) wins Australia's Future Submarine contest - Youtubes, Diagrams, Picture, Anthem.

Youtube 1. featuring the winning DCNS Shortfin contender.

Diagram A. Approximate DCNS Shortfin Barracuda's specifications. Displacement of 4,500 tonnes (surfaced) is indeed likely. Displacement submerged may be 5,100 tonnes. DCNS estimate a length of 97 meters. Diagram courtesy of Financial Times.

Diagram B. Details courtesy DCNS - via Sydney Morning Herald, April 26, 2016

DCNS artist's conception of the clean lines of the Shortfin Barracuda.

Midday 26 April 2016 - Announcement by Australian Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull

- DCNS is the preferred bidder [comment - Australia to build 12 DCNS Shortfin Barracuda's]

-  Most of build to take place in Adelaide, South Australia

-  US submarine experts a big part of CEP submarine selection process


-  Most of the submarine design work will take place at the DCNS submarine shipyard at Cherbourg, France and in Adelaide

-  Australian made steel will go into submarine, The Collins steel was mainly made in Port Kembla-Wollongong, NSW, not in South Australia. So Shortfin steel likely to be made in Port Kembla-Wollongong, NSW (which is also the State where Defence Minister Senator Marise Payne comes from).

-  DCNS is mainly French Government owned

-  There will now be intense media interest before the 2 July 2016 Election, on everything DCNS especially DCNS Australia says and writes on DCNS build details. See DCNS Australia "pitch" on Shortfin.

See dcns australia submarine on Twitter.

More Australian Government detail from the Prime Minister and Defence Minister is in today's Joint Media Release.

Youtube 2. Short NavyRecognition and DCNS presentation at PACIFIC 2015 Trade Show in Sydney, October, 2015.

Youtube 3. DCNS's Shortfin concept was, in 2014, called SMX® Océan.

Vive la France!


Joint Media Release, from PM and MinDef Future Submarine Program

Prime Minister, Minister for Defence – Joint media release – Future submarine program

The Turnbull Government today announces that the next generation of submarines for Australia will be constructed at the Adelaide shipyard, securing thousands of jobs and ensuring the project will play a key part in the transition of our economy.
DCNS of France has been selected as our preferred international partner for the design of the 12 Future Submarines, subject to further discussions on commercial matters.
Along with our recent naval shipbuilding announcements, the commitment to an Australian build will create a sustainable Australian naval shipbuilding industry and provide the certainty that industry requires to invest in innovation and technology and grow its workforce.
The Future Submarine project is the largest and most complex defence acquisition Australia has ever undertaken. It will be a vital part of our Defence capability well into the middle of this century.
This $50 billion investment will directly sustain around 1,100 Australian jobs and a further 1,700 Australian jobs through the supply chain.
Today’s announcement follows the comprehensive Competitive Evaluation Process (CEP) involving DCNS, TKMS of Germany and the Government of Japan. Each bidder submitted very high quality proposals and the Australian Government takes this opportunity to thank both TKMS and the Government of Japan for their ongoing commitment to Australia and their participation in the process.
The CEP has provided the Government with the detailed information required to select DCNS as the most suitable international partner to develop a regionally-superior future submarine to meet our unique national security requirements, as detailed in the 2016 Defence White Paper.
This rigorous and independent process was led by Head of the Future Submarine Program, Rear Admiral Greg Sammut AM CSC, and General Manager Submarines, Rear Admiral Stephen Johnson USN (retired), who was previously in charge of the program to replace the Ohio Class ballistic missile submarines.
The process was overseen by an independent Expert Advisory Panel, chaired by former Secretary of the United States Navy, Professor Donald Winter. It was peer reviewed by Vice Admiral Paul Sullivan USN (retired) and Rear Admiral Thomas Eccles USN (retired).
This decision was driven by DCNS’s ability to best meet all of our unique capability requirements. These included superior sensor performance and stealth characteristics, as well as range and endurance similar to the Collins Class submarine.  The Government’s considerations also included cost, schedule, program execution, through-life support and Australian industry involvement.
Subject to discussions on commercial matters, the design of the Future Submarine with DCNS will begin this year.
The Turnbull Government is also conducting a strategic review of the workforce, skills and infrastructure needs to deliver this key capability as part of its Naval Shipbuilding Plan, to be released this year.  The Plan will bring together the requirements for the Future Submarine program, along with the more than $35 billion Future Frigate program and the more than $3 billion Offshore Patrol Vessel program, as part of the broader continuous naval shipbuilding philosophy to which the Government is committed.
The Turnbull Government will maximise Australian industry involvement in the program and will work closely with DCNS to identify opportunities for local businesses to integrate into the supply chain."

April 25, 2016

What should be in a Brief to Cabinet on the Future Submarine Decision

After looking at only unclassified material on the Australian Future Submarine issue what I would put in a Brief to the National Security Committee of Cabinet on the Future Submarine Decision is the following [no doubt reams of attachments on bid technical and other comparisons would go in a real one].  The brief below has been placed on the internet now to give time for Prime Minister Turnbull/Cabinet to study it before he announces a submarine decision on any day from 26 to 29 April 2016.

ISSUE:  Gaining pre-electoral benefits through a future submarine announcement


1.  Most of the Future Submarine build will take place in Adelaide

2.  All States will benefit from the Future Submarine build. South Australia and all other States will supply parts and services for the submarines in the building and sustainment phases.

3.  Australia deeply values its strategic and trade relations with Japan.

4.  Two finalists will be chosen by mid-2017 after further consideration of the bids.

5.  If thought advantageous to say at this stage, but this holds dangers the two finalists in the 
    Competitive Evaluation Process are TKMS and DCNS in no particular order at this stage.


[Regarding Talking Points 1 and 2]

Our Government has decided to "call" (ie. once authorised by the Governor-General) (between 4 May and 8 May 2016) a Federal Election to be held on 2 July 2016.

It is important/essential to secure at least 6 of the 11 Electorates in South Australia (SA) and at least
5 (of 12) Senate positions in SA .

“Swinging” (non-aligned) voters in SA and other shipbuilding States (NSW, WA, QLD, Tasmania and Victoria, in that order of likely obtainable vote importance) see the submarine build as a major, federal expenditure, business and job generator on practical and core-value (faith) levels.

Regarding Point 2 - even if all submarines are built in Australia around 50% of the parts will be primarily sourced from overseas but then assembled into submarines in Australia.

[Talking Point 3]

A previous Prime Minister made pre-emptive statements which unhelpfully raised Japan’s/Prime Minister Abe’s hopes, eg. in Parliament when an Australian said "the Japanese make the best large conventional submarine in the world." 

The leak over the last two weeks has caused deep offence in Japan. Abe considered the submarine sale to Australia as a special symbol and export project for Japan's evolving change of defence outlook. It was also to be a symbol of, almost, an alliance with Australia. 

Japan and Abe would lose more prestige (“face”) by being publicly told before 2 July 2016 that what Abe sees as his Japanese submarine project has been lost. It is recommended that any announcement implying winners/losers take the form of announcing two finalists around mid 2017. A further selection process could then take place with a decision point as distant as 2018.

The leak indicating Japan is third is a sufficient message which requires no further public comment. It is recommended the PM, Defence and Foreign Minister should eventually travel to Japan (if invited) (or meet at a regional/G20? Conference) to explain (apologise for) the leak. The frequent mentions of Japan in the 2016 Defence White Paper DWP can in retrospect be seen as a consolation prize - that Japan remains an important partner of Australia strategically and economically.

[Talking Points 4 and 5]

It is recommended any announcement on winners/losers can take the form of announcing One Winner in 2018.

-  There is little to be electorally gained by announcing, before the 2 July Election, one CEP
    winnerEvery utterance/Media Release by a declared winner, or two finalists, could become
    an uncontrollable feature of the 2 July Election campaign.
-  There is time to further assess the two finalists (TKMS and DCNS) with a view to announcing the
    winner by 2018. This consideration can include build in Australia industry plans proposed by
    the bidders.
-  Announcing a winner or the two finalists now would focus intense 
   media/public scrutiny on the business/location/build plans of that winner or the two finalists. 
-  More time is genuinely needed to technically compare the bids of the two finalists.
-  There is time because the mid-life Collins submarine upgrade will extend the working life of the 
   Collins through to the early-mid 2030s. This permits the time extension of the CEP through to
   2017-2018 as the first Future submarine only needs to be built from 2027. 

Not declaring one winner or the two finalists can be justified in that the much earlier Future Frigate and Offshore Patrol Vessel Programs are themselves only at the shortlist stage

That extended CEP timeline being the case bipartisan agreement from the ALP Opposition (as the ALP may actually win the 2 July Election) should be secured if Cabinet makes decision to announce an actual winner before the Election.

As US companies Raytheon or Lockheed Martin need also to be selected to supply the highly classified combat system (most of the database/weapons/sensors) the US DoD should continue to be copied into the selection process.

April 22, 2016

Japanese weapon sales - Many future possibilities.

The MHI designed and produced Type 10 Main Battle Tank. Its relatively light 44-48 tonne weight eases transportation. It uses less fuel and one would expect that it can be produced and marketed at a lower price than competing, much heavier, Western tanks (like the M1 Abrams and Leopard 2) It can be seen as primarily defensive when destroying other tanks.

I thought I should write a few broad thoughts about Japan and weapon selling.

If Japan has not won the Australian future submarine competition
-  and last minute phonecalls between Prime Ministers Abe and Turnbull have not restored Japan to
   the competition.

Then Japan's evolution to being a country with a normal defense force and a normal defensive weapons exports sector offers other opportunities:

Considerations include:

The rising threat from China appears to be increasing the interest of Southeast Asian (SEA) countries in re-equipping their defense forses with more modern weapons 

-  Chinese military power in the region is rising more quickly than any US pivot.

-  There is also concern (certainly in Australia) as to whether the US pivot can be sustained. 
    =  there is a future possibility of US isolationism, if Trump becomes President
    =  a partial US withdrawal from Japan/Okinawa may occur for military reasons, to put US forces
        out of range of Chinese fighter bombers and conventional missile strikes. 

-  in terms of market competition South Korea and the US are the major Western competitors to
   Japan in the supply of weapons to SEA countries

-  of hostile countries Russia and China are also export competitors

-  as current political and legal-constitutional sensitivities diminish Japanese arms sellers and
   politicians will feel less inhibited about selling weapons 

-  Japanese weapons may currently have many components licenced from the US, which may limited
   the ability of Japan to export these weapons. Increased Japanese development of components
   should reduce this limitation.

-  China's rise, nuclear North Korea, and a more unpredictable Russia probably justify an increase in
    Japanese GDP devoted to Defense. The current 1% of Japanese GDP is too low for a normal 
    Defense Force. 

-  A higher percentage of Japanese GDP allocated to Defense will fund a larger domestic market for
   Japanese weapons. This can flow on to more competitive pricing and economies of scale for 
   weapons production for export.

This "Defense" section of the MHI website is one indication that Japan may be able to export many weapons types in future.


April 20, 2016

Submarine Decision "soon". Narrowing Down to TKMS and DCNS?

Youtube featuring the DCNS Shortfin contender - published April 14, 2016.

This Australian ABC News, April 20, 2016 report strongly eliminates Japan from being the winner, but offers few indicators as to why.

“The Federal Government is preparing to announce the successful bidder for Australia's new fleet of submarines next week.

Key points:

-  Unknown if a final decision on the subs contract has been made
-  Coalition MPs and senators in SA have been pressing the Government for a decision
-  Window for announcement narrows with Budget looming
-  The ABC understands Cabinet's National Security Committee discussed the three international bids
    for the $50 billion contract last night [the night of April 19, 2016]

While it is not clear if the committee has made a final decision, it has all but eliminated the Japanese bid to build a fleet of 12 submarines to replace the Royal Australian Navy's ageing Collins Class subs.

That leaves France and Germany still in the race.

Defence department officials have had reservations about the Japanese bid from the outset, because it emerged as an understanding struck between former prime minister Tony Abbott and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

[ABC also said] Officials feared there was less enthusiasm in the Japanese bureaucracy for the deal and that would undo it in the long run…”


Announcing the submarine decision "soon" appears essential to the Turnbull Government's political prospects in South Australia in the runup to the 2 July, 2016 Election. It is still unclear whether one clear "Winner" will be announced or a shortlist of two.

1. If the Japanese flotilla (Soryu submarine + 2 destroyers) leaving Sydney is a consideration in this timing then an announcement after Tuesday 26 April (on the 26th the flotilla is due to leave) is likely. A decision from 27 to 29 April would mean less embarrassment/less a snub for Japan and less embarrassment for the Turnbull Government/Australia. 

If the Japanese flotilla leaving is a consideration this suggests Japan has not won.

2. Fridays for announcements are usually considered politicly advantageous here in Australia - so a Friday 29 April submarine announcement might be likely.

3. The announcement (if made) would very likely be before the Federal Budget Day (3 May) and before Caretaker Period (with Caretaker probably 4 May onward). 


One indicator though may be that Australian Defence Minister and the Chief of Navy have seemingly ignored the presence of the Japanese (almost an ally) flotilla in Sydney Harbour. Maybe ignoring Japan’s flotilla indicates correct procedural neutrality or maybe this is to minimise embarrassment to a losing contender. The Defence Minister has recently released Media announcements on several much more minor issues than an important flotilla in Sydney (see some minor issues at http://www.minister.defence.gov.au/marise-media-releases-archive/).

Another circumstantial indicator is the decision of the Prime Minister’s wife, Lucy Turnbull AO, to stand down as Honorary President of the German-Australian Chamber of Industry and Commerce. This was announced on April 13, 2016. Perhaps a consideration in separating from the Chamber was that TKMS is a Member of the Chamber. Lucy Turnbull’s timely and correct decision was mentioned by Sky News on April 19, 2016 and by the (Adelaide) Advertiser on April 18, 2016