August 30, 2018

Rocket Launch Failures Only Temporary

North Korea has had a string of missile launch failures over the last decade. But Americans need to recall the rash of US launch failures in the 1950s. Failures that eventually made things safer for astronauts in Projects Mercury.

All countries' rocket launches fail many times, at first. See failures 15 seconds in.

Then things go right to a glorious soundtrack, The Planets by Holst. Hear Mars at 50 seconds, in above Youtube. Especially good with Jupiter 1 minute 30 seconds in.
(best played LOUD!).

The film, The Right Stuff, did a great job integrating music with visuals.

(with a bit of help from The Right Stuff,  Project MercuryHolst and his Planets).

August 29, 2018

Some Thinking on Australian Nuclear Weapons History - 3 of 5

Following Australia past the mid 2020s - Some Strategic Thoughts parts 1 and 2 of 5 the question is posed

North Korea and Trump's Surprises are unnerving the East Asian - Australian region towards a conclusion that Australia should nuclear arm itself. 

But where does Australia start?

Look at history and likely information already on file:

"There are many countries capable of producing nuclear weapons, or at least enriching uranium and / or plutonium. Among the most notable are Canada, Germany, and Australia.[10] Other countries include MexicoArgentinaSouth Korea, the Republic of China, and more.[11] In addition, South Africa has successfully developed its own nuclear weapons, but dismantled them in 1989."


The following is part of a anti-nuclear Friends of the Earth Australia document

The push for nuclear weapons in Australia 1950s-1970s

NUCLEAR WEAPONS FOR AUSTRALIA: [Pete has bolded very notable parts]

"...There were ongoing efforts through the 1950s and 1960s to procure nuclear-capable delivery systems [for Australia]. The 1963 contract to buy F-111s bombers from the US was partly motivated by the capacity to modify them to carry nuclear weapons. Moreover, their range of 2000 nautical miles made them suitable for strikes on Indonesia, which was seen to be anti-British and anti-imperialist under Sukarno's presidency.


In the 1960s the interest in nuclear weapons was spurred on by China's development of nuclear weapons, Britain's decision to withdraw troops from the Pacific, and American withdrawal from Vietnam.

From the mid-1960s to the early 1970s, there was greater interest in the domestic [Australian] manufacture of nuclear weapons. It is unclear why the focus shifted from attempts to purchase weapons to a greater interest in domestic production; perhaps the main reason was that so little had been achieved through negotiations with the US and the UK.

In 1965, the [Australian Atomic Energy Commission] AAEC and the Department of Supply were commissioned to examine all aspects of Australia's policy towards nuclear weapons and the cost of establishing a nuclear weapons program in Australia.

The AAEC began a uranium enrichment research program in 1965. For the first two years, this program was carried out in secret because of fears that public knowledge of the project would lead to allegations of intentions to build enriched uranium bombs. There were several plausible justifications for the enrichment project, such as the potential profit to be made by exporting enriched uranium. While there is no concrete evidence, it can safely be assumed that the potential to produce weapons-grade enriched uranium counted in favour of the government's decision to approve and fund the enrichment research.

[long term Australian Prime Minister] Menzies retired in January 1966. The new prime minister, Harold Holt, soon faced a dilemma. The US requested that a bilateral safeguards agreement between the US and Australia be transferred to the IAEA. The Australian government opposed the move for fear it would close off the nuclear weapons option. Opposition to the safeguards transfer was sufficiently strong that some Cabinet members thought it would be preferable to close the Lucas Heights research reactor rather than comply with the request. (The previous year there were Cabinet discussions on the potential for nuclear transfers from France which would not be subject to safeguards.)

Cabinet agreed to the US request in June 1966, but only after being reassured by defence officials that IAEA safeguards would not directly affect a nuclear weapons program.

Despite the glut in the uranium market overseas, the Minister for National Development announced in 1967 that uranium companies would henceforth have to keep half of their known reserves for Australian use, and he acknowledged in public that this decision was taken because of a desire to have a domestic uranium source in case it was needed for nuclear weapons.

In May 1967 Prime Minister Holt and the Cabinet's Defence Committee commissioned another study to assess the possibility of domestic manufacture of nuclear weapons, as well as "possible arrangements with our allies."

It is not known how seriously Holt might have pursued nuclear weapons. In December 1967 he disappeared while swimming off Port Phillip Bay near Melbourne. The new prime minister was John Gorton, who was on public record as an advocate of the production or acquisition of nuclear weapons.

By the mid-1960s, the AAEC had become the leading voice on nuclear affairs, thanks in large part to its influential chairman Philip Baxter. According to Walsh (1997), "Baxter personally supported the concept of an Australian nuclear weapons capability and, perhaps more importantly, viewed the military's interest in nuclear weapons as consonant with the AAEC's need to expand its programs and budget."


The intention to leave open the nuclear weapons option was evident in the government's approach to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) from 1969-71. Gorton was determined not to sign the NPT, and he had some powerful allies such as Baxter. The Minister for National Development admitted that a sticking point was a desire not to close off the weapons option.

During the election campaign of late 1969, Gorton said that in the absence of major changes, Australia would not sign the NPT. But on February 19, 1970, Gorton announced that Australia would sign, but not ratify, the treaty. He noted that the treaty would not be binding until ratified.

Why the decision to sign the NPT? Pressure from the US had an impact. In addition, there were some significant signings from countries such as Switzerland, Italy, Japan and West Germany in the months preceding Australia's decision to sign. Another possible reason was the possibility that weapons production could be pursued even as an NPT signatory. The "sign-and-pursue" option would have raised some difficulties, but it had advantages including greater access to overseas nuclear technology and less suspicion regarding Australia's intentions. The Department of External Affairs argued that it was possible for a signatory to develop nuclear technology to the brink of making a nuclear weapons without contravening the NPT.
(On the NPT saga, see Encel and McKnight (1970), Walsh (1997), Cawte (1992).)..."

More history in part 4 of 5.

August 28, 2018

Anti-Torpedo Devices

Submarines do note merely launch offensive technologies (torpedos, missiles, mines and AUVs).

Submarines, particularly in high threat environments (Mediterranean, Red and Baltic seas) utilize a number of anti-torpedo devices. 

Matthias has kindly provided the following Rafael Youtube about Rafael anti-torpedo devices:

The devices include:

-  18 seconds in, Torbuster, and

-  25 seconds in, Scutter

More details about the Torbuster and Scutter devices in the Youtube are at this part of the Rafael website

Also in the Youtube:

-  30 seconds in are details about FLOATLINK, a submarine communications buoy, and

-  36 seconds in DEEPLINK an acoustic communication network (scroll halfway down here).

These devices add higher costs to submarine functioning but protect the crew, special forces and submarine.

 Matthias and Pete

August 27, 2018

Status Quo Retained in Australia's Adelaide centric Naval Shipbuilding

After the political chaos last week - there is likely to be little disruption to Australia's Adelaide centric shipbuilding program under the new ministry selected by Scott Morrison. Facilities are being built in Osborne, Adelaide, South Australia to build the first two offshore patrol vessels, nine large frigates and twelve large conventional submarines.

On Monday August 27, 2018:
-  former Defence Minister Marise Payne was moved sideways to Foreign Minister
-  former Defence Industry Minister Christopher Pyne was appointed Defence Minister. Adelaide
   politician Pyne thus will maintain the Adelaide centric status quo. Federal money dependent
   Adelaide remains Australia's naval shipbuilding center due to the electoral voting/seats. He/she who
   pleases Adelaidians will stay in government in Canberra (Australia's capital).
-  rising politician Steve Ciobo from Queensland has been appointed Defence Industry Minister.

Of other Ministers with influence over shipbuilding:

-  Prime Minister Morrison will likely maintain the policy settings of his former Treasurer role in
   retaining most naval shipbuilding in Adelaide.

-  this is cemented by Mathias Cormann retaining his Finance Minister role with strong influence
   over shipbuilder and submarine maintainer ASC's role in Adelaide.

Potential disruptor Tony Abbott remains in backbench limbo with no ministerial power to alter the naval shipbuilding mix. So far Prime Minister Morrison has resisted any rightwing factional pressure to return "Mad Monk" rival Abbott to the Ministry.

Returning to submarines tomorrow.


August 24, 2018

Scott Morrison May only be Temporary New Prime Minister of Australia

Ex-Prime Minister Turnbull (left) replaced by Scott Morrison (right)
(Photos courtesy Agency France Press via the BBC

Carrying on from yesterday, today potential for further instability in the Australian Government remains high.

1.  Centrist Treasurer Scott Morrison has now been voted Leader of the Liberal Party meaning he is the Prime Minister designate. His job will be confirmed today.

But Morrison only barely beat Peter Dutton (45 to 40) in the replace-Turnbull leadership vote today. Dutton leads the conservative faction that lobbied to unseat Prime Minister Turnbull but Dutton hasn't won Turnbull's job.

This means it is likely a frustrated Dutton will destabilise new Prime Minister Morrison until Dutton gets his job in a leadership vote in the next few weeks or months. If Morrison or Dutton appoint Tony Abbott as the new Defence Minister this may conceivably cause the Japanese Soryu submarine to be the preferred Australian future submarine type.

2.  Meanwhile if Turnbull resigns his seat of Wentworth in the House of Representatives this month the Liberal-National Coalition may not win a subsequent By Election in Wentworth, in October 2018. The Coalition Government therefore may not retain its 1 seat (76 vs 75) majority in the House of Representatives. This means a General Federal Election may need to be called to occur maybe in early December 2018 but as late as February 2019. 

Such an early Election is likely to be won by the Labor Opposition (with its own priorities on the industrial plan for the new submarine build). A Labor Government would want a higher percentage of submarine build to occur at the Williamstown Dockyard in the mainly Labor State of Victoria, Australia.

If the Coalition Government remains comfortably in power, with a majority in the House of Representatives, then the next General Federal Election will probably be in mid 2019.

Australia changes its Prime Ministers way too often!


August 23, 2018

A New Australian PM May Revisit the Naval Group Future Submarine Decision

Australia's latest political instabilities are again causing worry, quick meetings and rewritten briefs by journalists, bureaucrats, admirals and foreign diplomats in Canberra. Australia has had 6 new Prime Ministers (PMs) in the last 10 years and every new PM revisits past decisions.

And here is but a mild assessment of the knife-edge on which the Australian polity sits.

By 5pm Australian Eastern Time, Friday 24 August, Australia may no longer have the PM (Turnbull) and the other Australian Ministers who chose the French Naval Group (was DCNS) Shortfin Submarine in 2016.

The conservative Liberal Peter Dutton may have been voted PM in the secret party room ballot likely on 24 August.

Dutton may conceivably appoint Tony Abbott as Defence Minister. Abbott was/is very pro Abe of Japan on security and weapon system acquisition issues.

Abbott may wish to revisit the decision not to choose the Japanese modified Soryu as Australia's future submarine type.

Abbott may argue that the French Shortfin is too expensive, only in the design phase and paying out penalties on contracts to select the Shortfin may be worth it.

So with Australia's latest bout of political uncertainty executives of Naval Group Australia may also have reason to be nervous.


August 22, 2018

Australia past the mid 2020s - Some Strategic Thoughts - 2 of 5

Nuclear weapons proliferate to new countries due to several variables:

-  long term strategic competition
   (eg. India vs Pakistan, Russia vs US vs China, India vs China, Israel vs eventually Iran,
    UK vs Russia, North Korea vs eventually South Korea)

-  building up nuclear forces as an asymmetric measure to compensate for weaker conventional forces
   :  Pakistan with its much smaller conventional forces than India
   :  UK and France with much smaller conventional forces than Russia

-  a mixture of prestige and/or being part of the top-table nuclear weapons owning club and/or regime
   justification (parts of that mixture belong to all nuclear weapons powers)

-  real or perceived current or future removal of extended deterrence/nuclear umbrella
   :  North Korea may perceive that it can no longer rely on China to protect it. In any case
      China has invaded the Korean peninsula many times in history and China has
      contingency plans to invade North Korea again. See Korea from 650 AD on.
   :  South Korea, then Japan and Taiwan feel less certain that the US under Trump would be
      prepared  to defend them with nuclear weapons
  :  all countries in East Asia, along with Australia, feel they are in closer range of North Korean nuclear missiles than the US while also having weaker anti-missile defences than the US
   :  Australia is mindful that South Korea then Japan may nuclear arm themselves (become
       nuclear tipping points or part of a proliferation cascade). South Korean and Japanese
       armament may occur in the next 10 - 20 years in reaction to North Korea nuclear and
       the Trump initiated isolationist trend

North Korea and Trump's Surprises are unnerving the East Asian - Australian region towards a conclusion that Australia should nuclear arm itself. But how does Australia start? See part 3 of 5.


August 21, 2018

South Korea to Reportedly Launch Its German Designed 3,000 ton submarine in September 2018

South Korean claims that it indigenously (locally) designed its third generation attack submarine,  about to be launched in September 2018, owes much to South Korean pride and German sensitivities. 

Above is what South Korea's 3,000 ton KSS-III (or KSS3) submarine may look like. The first KSS3 (for third generation) will reportedly be launched soon. In the above photo note there are 6 missile launch cells, known as VLS, eventually for SLBMs. The KSS3 may turn out to have 10 SLCMs then (once developed) 10 SLBMs for greater effectiveness. See The Diplomat's useful August 23, 2018 article on KSS3 missile types and numbers.

It would be very unusual that the warheads of SLBMs would remain non-nuclear/conventional. South Korea has examined the steps needed for nuclear warheads for many years. With these cells the KSS3 may well retain the German designed PEM fuel cell AIP. The German designed diesel and electric motors will very likely be retained. It is likely that everything but the launch equipment and missiles are mainly TKMS of Germany designed. 

TKMS and the German government want to distance themselves from any missile issues because South Korea has nuclear weapons potential. North Korea's nuclear weapons are too much of a threat, that South Korea must some day independently deter. 

It must be remembered that Germany's TKMS designed the Type 209 and with the German parts, helped South Korea assemble the first generation Chang Bogo class. TKMS designed the second generation Type 214 and helped South Korea put together components rebadged as the Son Won-Il class.

Three decades of German assistance in helping South Korea build submarines have now become ambiguous because South Korea could eventually mount nuclear tipped missiles on the emerging submarines that will make up the third generation. The German public, media and therefore the German Government are hypersensitive about Germany being seen to assist in nuclear capable missile launch equipment. Experience with the Israeli Navy in 2012 was deeply unsettling in GermanyGermany also does not want to irritate China, the main ally of South Korea's main enemy, North Korea. Put another way, Germany does not want to anger its important trade partner, China. 

So the story that South Korea designed its one day nuclear capable third generation subs without German help is a much more prudent story. And wholly "South Korean designed and built submarines" is a source of national pride defense budget building.

South Korea would not have avoided the corporate knowledge benefits of several large TKMS German 3,000+ ton design projects, which included the TKMS Type 216 proposed for Australia. Submarine Matters has been reporting on South Korea's third generation 3,000 ton KSS-III for years. See this wiki reference to Submarine Matters.

Possible side view of South Korea 3,000 ton (displacement surfaced or submerged?) submarine. It will likely be about 84 meters long. Maybe 3,000 tons surfaced and 3,600 tons submerged.


August 20, 2018

Australia past the mid 2020s - Some Strategic Thoughts - 1 of 5

China’s rising military and economic forces prove too powerful regionally by the time Trump (or an isolationist like him) ends the Presidential term in February 2025.

The US will place continuity of trade with China above military confrontation with China. 

By the late 2020s the US will have withdrawn its 4 services (Army, Navy, Marines, Airforce) based in East Asia to Guam, Hawaii and the continental US.

The US may well decide to maintain its monopoly of the most advanced nuclear propulsion and weapons technology in the Indo-Pacific. This is partly to retain primacy over its Western allies (eg. Australia, Canda, Japan, South Korea and Singapore). The US also wishes to avoid passing advanced  propulsion and weapon secrets to these allies as these allies may fall and pass the secrets to China. The F-22 is a conventional case in point.

China by the late 2020s, having consolidated its control of the South China Sea will continue the process of neutralizing/Finlandizing the countries of Southeast Asia (including the Indonesian arc over Australia's northwest). China will also indebt/Finlandize East Timor, Melanesia (eg. Papua New Guinea, the Solomons) east to the Cook Islands and southeast to New Zealand. 

China has sound economic improvement and regime survival reasons for its evolution south.

Australia feels all these pressures and becomes more nervous.


August 16, 2018

Hunting Australia's Elusive but Failed Airbus Tiger Helicopter

Submarine Matters frequently looks at non-submarine issues. To that end here is a European helicopter Australia unfortunately bought.

Australia has spent more than a decade and more than a $1 Billion trying to turn its 22 dysfunctional Eurocopter, now Airbus, Tiger Armed Reconnaisance Helicopters (ARH) into viable weapon systems. Wags indicate that the selection of the Tiger in 2001 was based much on its ability to 
loop-the-loop, rather than choosing highly developed, mature and battle-tested US Apaches or Cobras.

-  On 1 July 2007, because of delays in attaining operational capability, Australia's Defence Materiel Organisation stopped all payments in regards to the procurement.[23] 

-  The first two ARH helicopters were delivered to Australia on 15 December 2004. ARH deliveries were to be completed by June 2010 with Full operating capability planned for December 2011.[99]

-  In October 2010, it was revealed that the helicopters will not be fully operational for another two years.[25]

-  In 2012 after three incidents with cockpit fumes that endangered aircrew, Australian pilots voted to not fly until all safety concerns were addressed.[100]

-  The system cost (helicopter, armament, support) and unit cost varies between variants; Australia's Tiger ARH has a price per unit of A$68 million,[50]

The 2016 Australian Defence White Paper stated that the Tiger helicopters will be replaced with other armed reconnaissance aircraft in the mid 2020s.[102] Issues cited include lack of commonality with the other Tiger variants, high maintenance cost of the engines and the shipping time of sending parts to Europe for repair and reconditioning.

On October 9, 2017 DEFENCE CONNECT reported that:

In May [2017, the then], Chief of Army [and now Chief of the Australian Defence Force]
General Angus Campbell...said at Senate estimates that, despite reaching final operating capability (FOC), nine caveats [for the Tiger] have not been met.
"There are nine specific areas of capability that have not met that level we anticipated when we purchased the aircraft," said GEN Campbell.
"We would have to consider either the nature of the operations or the flight envelope in which the aircraft was operating in order to find other ways to mitigate or prevent those lesser capability outcomes being of concern to us on operations."
The aircraft was further criticised, with GEN Campbell noting it is unlikely it will ever achieve its original target.
"I don't think it will be achieving its original target, I do think it has the potential to achieve its budgeted target," he said."

So Australia's Tiger helicopters will never fly in action, and certainly haven't ever flown in our Middle East/Afghanistan war zones. But the 22 Tigers have only cost the taxpayer more than $1 Billion, so far. Problem solved.

August 15, 2018

HPS-106 Radar Issues on the Japanese P-1 MPA

The nose of the Japanese P-1 maritime patrol aircraft houses the main Toshiba/TRDI HPS-106 active electronically scanned array (AESA) search radar. Source:

Photos and descriptions (above and below) are reproduced on a Thai Military and Asia Region article

The HPS-106 side-looking radar array is housed beneath this panel just below the cockpit.  Source


Desmond Ball and Richard Tanter's, The Tools of Owatatsumi: Japan’s ocean surveillance and coastal defence capabilities, ANU Press, 2015 Chapter 10 Airborne Ocean Surveillance especially page 82
provides context on Japanese maritime search developments. This includes the HPS-106 search radar, which, when mounted on Japanese P-1 maritime patrol aircraft (MPAs) can search for surfaced
submarines (maybe periscopes?) and surface ships, as well as find lost boats. Presumably the US
built Poseidon P-8 MPA has radars of similar capabilities.


wispywood2344 on his/her Japanese website, which translates as Remembrance of Chiba Silver 
Pigeon, has written a fine article, dated April 19, 2018, on the number of antennas and

coverage of the HPS-106 search radar used on Japanese P-1 MPAsHere is part of the article:

"Currently, the Japanese Navy is proceeding with the deployment of the Kawasaki P-1
MPA as a successor to the P-3C Orion patrol aircraft. The P-1 was developed domestically at the 
same time as the Kawasaki C-2 transport aircraft

The "HPS-106" search radar was developed as a multifunctional radar system to be mounted on the 
P-1 patrol aircraft I was told.

This HPS-106 has multiple active electronically scanned array (AESA) antennas as antennas for 
transmitting and receiving radar waves. By sending the waves in separate and precise directions 
vessels can be located in a patrol area.

Regarding the number of equipments and coverage of the AESA antenna:

  A total of 4 AESA antennas are installed in each of the front, rear, left and right sides of the 
fuselage, and the entire circumference of 360 degrees in front, rear, right and left of the
fuselage can be scanned

  There are blind spots behind the aircraft because the AESA antenna is equipped only with a total of three sides and the rear of the aircraft is unable to be scanned

There are various ways to find more information, including the Internet:

(In an English-speaking website, it is common to see articles with "Wide area scan with
4 AESA equipments" as Wikipedia English version of P-1, but there are no articles with
citations listed. The sources are unknown.)

Since the HPS-106 is an equipment of the Japanese Defense Force, in order to investigate
further, it is necessary to read official publications of the Ministry of Defense...[Several Tables with 
descriptions in Japanese follow]


August 14, 2018

Germany's Six Submarines: Some Becomming Operational

Damaged German Type 212A submarine U 35 now at Eckernförde submarine base. After its X-plane rudder scraped the seabed (or a rock) off Norway on October 15, 2017 the two lower blades were bent backwards. The blades are covered in plastic (above). U 35 is the final sub scheduled to be repaired. (Photo located by Matthias in a late 2017 Kieler Nachrichten article).

Pete Comments

Matthias has kindly provided an update on all 6 of the German Navy's submarines. These are in the 1st Submarine Squadron (1st Uboot Geschwader (1st UG) based at the port city of Eckernförde, Germany. All 6 Type 212A submarines of the German Navy have been non-operational for several months. ISM reported on this problem on 6 December 2017. "Non-operational" is due to accidents, lack of spare parts and lack of Defense Budget money. There have also been shipyard workspace scheduling complications involving too many German subs to fix and too many foreign customer subs to build. Maybe two or three 212As of  the 1st Submarine Squadron will be ready for duty by the end of 2018.

Matthias' Comments

To translate the following German reports into English rightclick mouse, then click “Translate to English”. Matthias writes:

"Two of the German 212A submarines are currently under final acceptance trials after maintenance was finished according to news report of 1 June 2018

U 31 was finished first followed by U 36. Both are to be inspected by the Navy. The technical term “Instandsetzungsnacharbeiten“ [short translation “repair work”] in a 2 July 2018 news report means some minor problems had to be solved after maintenance was done but not something major.

Which submarine will be ready next [after U 31 and U 36] is not clear. [What is known is that] it will not be U 35 because of insufficient space at Kiel shipyard. U 35 is still located at 1st Squadron Base Eckernförde in an unrepaired condition.

U 32, U 33 and U 34 are in maintenance at Kiel shipyards right now. 

According to this older [18 January 2018] article: the next submarine that could be ready is U 33."


Looking back to 2015:

Starting at Kiel shipyard the newly constructed U 36 (on a very cold February 2015 day) set out for the Skagerrak Strait, off Norway, to conduct critical leak tests when diving. This is one of many test before U 36 can be commissioned into the German Navy.
-  45 seconds on: specifications for the submarine are provided: about 57m long, crew of 28 men and women, 1700kW power, 250m maximum diving 17knots (submerged), 12knots (surfaced), latest photonics mast “TV” display that the whole crew can see (rather than the old one-eyeball periscope),
-  1 min, 40 secs: the quiet German built AIP submerged drive,
-  1:57 Emergency action crew practice eg. against fires and gas.
-  3:51 Trial ship Y862 Helmsand  is there to assist including testing submarine noise?

By Matthias and Pete

August 10, 2018

Artificial "Whiskers" to Detect Submarine and AUV Movement

An image from The Economist article is above. Clearly in submarine, UUV, AUV, seabed or harbour defense applications, "whisker" sensors may be useful to detect unnatural water flows. This may particularly be regular propeller movement vortices. "Whiskers" may be most useful in places like the Baltic Sea, where AIP is frequently used by Sweden and Germany, to minimize passive sonar detectable diesel emissions.

Whiskers are so prominent and regular on seals that they must be very valuable in detecting fish movement in totally opaque (eg. muddy) and low or no light environments. 

A disappearing Economist paysite article on artificial seal whiskers and submarine movement detection prompted Pete to find similar information on a free site.

So I located a 3DPRINT.COM article of January 17, 2018. The following is an abridged version which begins:

“3D Printed Sensor Mimics Seal Whiskers to Detect Underwater Vortices
by Clare Scott | Jan 17, 2018 | 3D PrintingScience & Technology |

The word pinniped refers to semi-aquatic fin- or flipper-footed mammals, including to seals, sea lions and walruses. These creatures also have whiskers, which...serve an important purpose – they help the pinnipeds track their prey underwater by sensing the vortices left behind by the movement of said prey. A group of researchers in the Department of Mechatronics Engineering at Jeju National University in South Korea believe that a sensor based on the pinnipeds’ method of hunting could be valuable for soft robotics and underwater exploration, [Pete Comment: And to detect submarine and AUV water movement] they set out to create one using 3D printing.

The research was described in a paper entitled “Fully 3D Printed Multi-Material Soft Bio-Inspired Whisker Sensor for Underwater-Induced Vortex Detection,” which you can read here...” The artificial whisker was 3D printed with polyurethane as well as graphene, which was printed in four patterns using a multi-head 3D printer.

“The four graphene patterns (90° apart) on the polyurethane cylinder enable the flow detection in all directions (0–360°). The length and diameter of the polyurethane cylinder and graphene patterns are 160 × 8 mm and 60 × 0.3 mm, respectively,” the researchers explain. “The conductivity of the printed graphene pattern is 0.6 Ω-cm. With a maximum deformation distance of 5 mm in any direction (0–360°), a substantial change in resistance is observed (from 5.09 × 103 to 6.03 × 108 Ω). The change in resistance in four directions (up, down, left, and right) is studied in an underwater environment.”

“.. The dual-extruder 3D printer was used to print the sensor itself, using the first head, out of polyurethane purchased from Fotopolymer, while the second head printed the graphene patterns from filament bought from Black Magic 3D. After printing was complete, the base and the patterns were connected using copper tape. Copper tape was also used to solder signal wires, and a final 1mm water protection polyurethane layer was dip coated and cured with UV light.

The researchers then tested the sensors, using them to detect the vortices by digitizing the analog signals that indicate resistance changes and sending them to a microcontroller. They concluded that the design and fabrication of the whisker sensor is simple, quick, low cost, and easily deployable in commercial applications, as well as delivering good sensitivity and mechanical reliability. Some further development is needed; however, the study was overall a successful one...

Authors of the paper include Jahan Zeb Gul, Kim Young Su, and Kyung Hyun Choi.”


In 2015 Dr. Heather Beem explained the mechanics of artificial whiskers.

August 7, 2018

Lockheed Martin Likely Helping With Taiwan Future Submarine Project

Pete has been working with Sebastien Roblin to produce a The National Interest article of 
August 4, 2018, which includes the points: 

"...the United States, is willing to assist in building submarines [for Taiwan]. Indeed, in April 2018 the State Department approved a marketing license for submarine parts to Taiwan, including a Combat Management System. Taiwan already possesses licenses for Mark 48 torpedoes and Harpoon missiles." but 

"European countries are wary of inciting Beijing’s wrath, though the Dutch RH Marine [see ISM article] did recently agree to overhaul Taiwan’s Zwaardvis[/Hai Lung]-class submarines in 2022".


Yes US, European and Asian companies are pretty reticent about publicising that they have helped or will help Taiwan. Since April 4 I've located an additional company that already has an export license to help Taiwan on submarines, hence can help the future submarine project.

This DefenseNews article of April 4, 2016 indicates:

"... Taiwan Navy sources say that Navy leadership are leaning towards an off-the-shelf solution, such as that being proposed by Lockheed Martin based on its SUBICS (SUBmarine Integrated Combat System) system, instead of an indigenous combat system solution to be developed by CSIST, presumably with foreign technical assistance." 

[And the following is pretty definitive for the 2016 AND most probably also the future Taiwanese submarine project]

"US Government sources confirm that Lockheed Martin had received the export license earlier in [2016] to assist Taiwan in submarine combat system and other submarine-related work."


August 6, 2018

Russia to Help Philippines in Submarine Operations & Maintenance

The announcement that Russia will train some Philippine naval personnel to be future submariners opens many opportunities for cultivation towards eventual recruitment by Russian intelligence (by GRU?). Significantly, prospective Philippine submariners may need to stay in Russia for several lonely years in order to be properly trained.

More officially Russia might hope to sell a Kilo class conventional submarine to the Philippine Navy.  Kilos are now the only full sized conventional submarine class that Russia operates, builds  and sells. However Kilos may be too large, at 2,325 ton (surfaced), for the Philippines' first sub.

A smaller alternative? Russia, has, in the past, produced the 218 ton (surfaced) Piranha (NATO designation "Losos") mini-submarine. A modernized Losos may be adequate for training and be useful as a first Philippine sub (for a few years).

Compared to the Kilo China may also be offering the cheaper, smaller 1,850 ton (surfaced) S20 submarine.

Many different submarine types and sizes may possibly be availabe from European, (especially) South Korean and (less likely) Japanese firms.


China's Xinhua news reports August 4, 2018, along the lines - The Russian Navy has agreed to help the Philippine Navy in submarine training, maintenance  and sustainment of future subs as the two countries seek to strengthen their bilateral military ties. This was announced by Philippine Navy spokesman Commander Jonathan Zata on Saturday August 4, 2018.

Zata said that the commitment was made at the meeting on July 29, 2018 in St. Petersburg, [Pete comment - this is where Russia bases some Baltic Fleet submarines and builds them at Admiralty Shipyards].

China's Xinhua further reported that the Russian and Philippine navies, on July 29, discussed a future draft MOU for deepening bilateral security cooperation. No specifics were published although broad issues like humanitarian assistance, disaster response training and regular port visits of Russian naval ships to the Philippines were mentioned.

Apparently Russian warships have made four port visits to the Philippines since Philippine President Duterte came to office in June 2016. From that time Duterte has generated many new approaches to Russia and also China.  

Russia expressed its appreciation for the upcoming port visit of a Philippine naval vessel to the Russian Pacific Fleet Base of Vladivostok.


August 3, 2018

Facebook calls efforts subverting next US elections a ‘new arms race’

In preperation for US November 2016 Presidential Election

Diagram below illustrates how Cambridge Analytica, on behalf of Trump and Russia, hijacked 50+ million Facebook profiles prior to US 2016 Election. (Diagram courtesy The Guardian March 18, 2018  )


2018 July

Facebook, in dramatically creating the national security sounding “arms race” tag, clearly wants to rehabilitate itself in the eyes of the US security and intelligence community as well as the US public and political establishment. "Arms race" would particularly appeal to the US Department of Defense run National Security Agency (NSA) (specifically the NSA's Information Assurance mission).

The piece of Facebook publicity campaigning below comes too late after Facebook profiles were far too easily exploited by Cambridge Analytica to get Trump elected in 2016.


INTELNEWS August 1, 2018 has produced an interesting article titled Facebook says efforts to subvert upcoming US elections resemble ‘new arms race’

Facebook has said it is involved in an “arms race” against “bad actors” as it announced on [August 31, 2018] the removal of accounts that allegedly tried to subvert the upcoming mid-term elections in the United States. The social-media giant said its security division had identified 32 profiles and pages that were set up for the sole purpose of disrupting, subverting or otherwise influencing the American political process. At least seven more accounts were shut down on the Instagram platform –which is also owned by Facebook– for the same reasons. In the past 14 months, the suspect accounts generated nearly 10,000 posts and were liked or followed by over 290,000 users, said Facebook ...