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.



MHalblaub said...

Dear Pete,
Germany and France are building the next tank together:

Expect a German diesel, French autoloader and some other features.

Peter Coates said...

Hi MHalblaub

I recall a multinational tank venture didn't work in the case of German-US https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MBT-70

The French desire for control over what goes into the tank vs probably greater German expertise (and expectation of exporting all over NATO) may well split them.

But KANT is worth a try, I spose.

At least the Swedes, with S Tank ideas https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stridsvagn_103 are not in the KANT venture.



Josh said...

The US isn't moving out of the Pacific. Even Trump wouldn't be able to stop that, and Trump, if he does get nominated, will not win the election and were by some miracle (or more accurately curse) he did, he would be impeached inside six months by two political parties that equally hate him. That said I'm all for Japan selling whatever it wants to its allies.

While China is ramping up, they still are the small dog even in the SCS. The real danger is that they might not know this or might not care. They might be perfectly willing to lose a war if it meant that the Chinese nation was united behind the party. The whole 7% economic deal that the CCP has made with the population is how the CCP justifies itself; if that economic justification goes to the wayside (and it will, at some point...7% is unsustainable in the long run even ignoring the cooked books, horrible demographics, and lack of indigenous consumer market) then any other event that makes the population support the CCP is perfectly acceptable as a replacement. Including war, even if it is tactically a 'loss' - the strategic goal, as always for China, will be focused inward and any conquests will be garnish. I will bet a paycheck that there will be some conflict between the PRC and some other pacific nation in the next 20 years. There economy is unsustainable and their demographics mean that their workforce is going to have a huge drop, on top of already being 5-6 times more expensive than it was ten years ago. Then there is that problem of there being 20% more men of fighting age then there are women to mollify them. That place is in for some changes.


Ztev Konrad said...

Pete, I was curious about your comment about the japanese submarine design in the last post.

"Officials feared there was less enthusiasm in the Japanese bureaucracy for the deal and that would undo it
in the long run…”

Seems a strange way to eliminate a proposal, about unstated beliefs about something the bureaucracy may or may not do. As we know MHI Shipyard and Kawasaki have a long defence production history, are private corporations and connected to conglomerates with an outstanding export pedigree.

There seems to be a lot of 'assumptions floating around':
that no previous export of subs means problems for Japan ( wasnt an issue from the experience with Kockums

that ACS is 'more familiar' with DCNS or TKMS- when the main contractors they have worked with are Kockums and Navantia.

Bureaucracy problems as mentioned above, when its well known that Australia is the place for slow bureaucratic dead hand in naval programs as this informed comment about the Anzac upgrades shows

"Amazingly – by Australian standards – the New Zealanders have undertaken this impressive engineering feat with a programme management team of two people.

The Australian ANZAC frigate system programme office in Freemantle employs 106 people, plus some contractors. The difference between the approaches of the countries is stark. New Zealand has contracted four companies to manage the work: Noske Kaiser (NZ); Siemens (NZ); Australian Marine Technologies (AMT) and Thyssen Krupp Marine Systems Australia. All four companies have been involved in the project even before the acquisition contract was signed in 1989. Australia has opted for a far more heavily bureaucrat approach to supporting the ships, characterised by high costs and slow decision making."


Peter Coates said...

Hi Ztev

Re my post http://gentleseas.blogspot.com.au/2016/04/submarine-decision-soon-narrowing-down.html . It was ABC that talked about the Japanese bureaucracy not me. I don't agree with ABC on that.

Australian ABC News, April 20, 2016 [ http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-04-20/submarines-announcement-expected-next-week/7340996 ]...

[ABC said] “...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…”

By all means argue with ABC.



imacca said...

" I recall a multinational tank venture didn't work in the case of German-US https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MBT-70 "

Ahhhhh...the one with the driver placed IN his own little counter rotating station the turret...specifically to make him vomit i reckon. :)

Muther of a gun and fairly hopped along though. :)

Peter Coates said...

P.S. Ztev [at 23/4/16 8:45 AM]

The inefficiency of Australian weapons buying decision-making may be about standard for a country that takes unusual risks in buying very advanced often untested weapons or makes the mistake in trying to modify already efficient weapons. Certainly there seemed to be intent in selecting complex problematic systtems to give medium-senior program managers jobs for life.

APDR is probably the most useful journal around including http://www.asiapacificdefencereporter.com/articles/152/ANZAC-Frigate-upgrade

NZ is probably much more efficient because has been buying a limited group or usually low tech, thoroughly tested weapons.

Australia may rate well compared to countries like the US, UK and India that have huge private industry and government bureaucracies that take years-decades to finalize weapons buys eg. F-35, Osprey, F-22, India's decision to slow motion the Project 75 Scorpene sub projects, UK's Trident replacement program. India's MMRCA fighter-bomber project.

NZ has been ultra-efficient in its Main Battle Tank, jetfighter and submarine buying programs by having no intention of buying any - though relying on countries that do.

Still NZ realises that it has no internal economies of scale so it would be very inefficient to buy penny packets of complex items like just one squadron of F-16s. It was foolish to buy a squadron of clapped out Skyhawks that after sale remained based in Australia anyway. Also Australia's offer to sell 2 Collins to NZ - if sold would have embittered cross Tasman relations for years.

NZ needs to re-equip though eg. transport aircraft to repalce the old C-130s and possibly Orions. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Royal_New_Zealand_Air_Force#Current_inventory

In Australia the disolving of DMO is probably a good efficiency measure and splitting ASC into seperate submarine and surface-ship companies may probably be a good thing.



Ztev Konrad said...

The upgrade of the Anzac class should be in the low risk category, same goes for the upgrade of the FFGs ( which was an expensive excise to add an existing weapon Standard SM 2 and Evolved Sea Sparrow in a new VL box.
details are covered here

Originally the NZ version of the Anzac was substantially the same as Australias for all the usual reasons, from memory when you sees them side by side, NZ had Phalanx but Australia did not but they had an EO surveillance/ targeting system but NZ did not. But now NZ has opted not to follow Australias Anzac mid life upgrade for the main weapons systems. NZ has opted for the European/British Sea Ceptor , a follow on to Sea Wolf, while Australia sticks with the SSM. The radars are different too.

Strangely NZ bought the Kaman Sea Sprite to ensure compatibility with Australia who had chosen it first, this was a existing weapon system which was flying around the time of the Vietnam war. Once again Australia chose a unique combat system, which was beyond the local capability to build and eventually ditched the whole project.

In spite of NZ buying new build Seasprites , they sold them off and bought Australias refurbished ones and now have a helicopter which can be used by frigates, OPV and logistics ships.
Australia has a mixed fleet for the RAN , Seahawks and NH90s, and in spite of now wanting larger 90m OPVv doesnt have a heliccopter to fit ?

MHalblaub said...

The MBT-70 was over ambitious and failed on many big points e.g. 153 mm gun. Germany left the project first.

Maybe it is time for Australia to leaf the still not working F-35 and buy some new build F-22.

Peter Coates said...

Hi MHalblaub [at 25/4/16 4:22 PM]

2 issues MBT-70 then F-22

Yes Germany and the US were wise to end the MBT-70 project.

The 152mm gun was clearly built at an oversize diameter to permit the option of firing the Shillelagh missile. America was for a time intereted in that missile. But the missile was slow compared to a normal tank shell, which would put the tank firing the missile at a disadvantage in the hit-first contest. A tank should take advantage of its heavy weight to fire high velocity rounds.

Large 152mm ammunition would have also meant fewer shots - leading to ammunition shortages.

Its oversize gun meant an oversize breach which clearly restricted the turrents up/down freedom of movement as can be seen toward the end of https://youtu.be/YE7CUO0yuMo . What is commented as an advantage of using the suspension (like a S -Tank) to elevate the gun may have been a necessity. As guns get larger they make the "tank" more a self propelled gun.


A US law prevents the export of the F-22 on security grounds. Also LockMart, which builds the F-22 and of course F-35, has closed the F-22 production line. Seems to be complex Pentagon-LockMart industrial and political reasons for closing the F-22 production line early.

Closing down the F-22 option promotes the F-35 market-control campaign of being too big to fail.
See my 2008 article on that http://www.onlineopinion.com.au/view.asp?article=7401 noting the lack of F-35 operational progress since then.



Anonymous said...

Never says never. US House is looking into re-starting the F-22 production.

Ztev Konrad said...

The F-22 production restart is just an election year headline grabber, wont be funded and wont happen. the other thing to remember its a low level sub committee thing so far. The US problem isnt that Lockheed needs more defence spending , its Boeing has nothing much for its factories, as it missed out on F35 and LRB.

As for the Australian submarine final two pick, ignore newspaper puffery based on gossip, as its clear the only two manufacturers with a capable design that is in production and have an 'architecture' that can be modified to meet RAN needs, is France and Japan. TKMS might have had a chance if they still owned Kockums but they are starting from scratch whereas the others have their 'concepts' in the water and in use for some time. The French are a bit behind MHI as they have to downsize in speed and endurance to fit a non nuclear vessel, and then upscale their diesel design.