January 31, 2019

Chinese DF-21D and DF-26 Missile Accuracy

Drawing from KQN's and Josh's interesting comments of 29 January and 31 January 2019 below this Submarine Matters' article of 29 January 2019.

The DF-26's accuracy improves with its manoeuvrable re-entry vehicle (in the terminal phase). It also likely uses Chinese BeiDou GPS, plus some form of seeker. 

[Pete Research - Looking at the BeiDou GPS wiki entry the "restricted military service has a location accuracy of 10 centimetres" [ie 0.1m] (though footnote 53, Science China 2012 "proof" is now a "dead" link). So theoretically Chinese DF-21D ASBMs and DF-26 IRBMs may have a CEP of 1 meter!]

Believed to be missile warhead craters in a Chinese desert, carrier sized, target. Satellite image originally in Want China Times (dead link) via Business Insider Australia, January 26, 2013 and reproduced in many other sources)

There are some commercial satellite photos on the web, here (and see above) of Chinese land test targets simulating an aircraft carrier. You can clearly see the craters right in the middle of the target. Of course the target is not mobile while a US nuclear carrier is. The shorter (around 1,500 km minimum) range DF-21D's main targets are carriers including those in the main US northeast Asia naval base at Yokosuka, Japan. While the much longer (around 4,000 km) range DF-26 is for fixed targets like Andersen AFB Guam and the SSN naval base at Guam. 

DF-21Ds and DF-26s might be deployed at the new 2nd artillery (missile) base on China's Hainan Island (with Chinese SSBNs based nearby). Like many Chinese bases, deep dug protective tunnels for missiles and submarines are likely.

There seems to be little evidence that the DF-26 has an anti-shipping warhead like DF-21D, but it is  possible. The PLANs ability to target moving ships outside the first island chain is fairly limited right now so I wouldn't expect Chinese DF-21Ds and DF-26s to be deployed to hit ships outside the island chain yet.

It is worth noting again that geography and US foreign bases force the Chinese to test their weapons very far from the sea, like the desert in northwest China. The anti-ship targeting abilities of the DF-26 and DF-21D cannot be tested on an actual sea target. Test at sea would allow the US to learn about as much from the test as the Chinese. This has to impact Chinese confidence in these missiles somewhat.

A rough minimum range estimate, in kms, from Chinese launch points, estimated number of China's DF-21Ds and DF-26s, and some possible targets, are above.

KQN, Josh and Pete

January 29, 2019

China's DF-26 "Guam and carrier killer" missiles strut their stuff

I’ve added further links, comments in brackets [...] for extra info and bolded to highlight some parts.

Liu Zhen for China's Hong Kong South China Morning Post (SCMP) reported January 11th (updated 12th) 2019:

"Chinese army sends DF-26 ballistic missiles to northwest region

·       Long-range missiles can carry nuclear or conventional warheads and strike medium to large vessels up to 4,000 km away
·       [Chinese] State media says they are being used in [China’s] plateau and desert areas for training

The People’s Liberation Army has sent its DF-26 ballistic missiles to China’s northwest region in an apparent bid to beef up training of its missile force.

State broadcaster CCTV reported on Thursday that the far-reaching anti-ship ballistic missiles were being used in active training in the country’s northwestern plateau and desert areas.

The DF-26 can carry a nuclear or conventional warhead and strike medium to large vessels [and use nuclear warheads against deep divesubmarines] as far as 4,000km (2,500 miles) away.

On [January 11, 2019], nationalistic tabloid Global Times highlighted the timing, with the mobilisation coinciding with US warship the USS McCampbell [see Wiki] “trespassing” in China’s territorial waters near the disputed Paracel Islands in the South China Sea that are claimed by Beijing.

But Song Zhongping, a Hong Kong-based military commentator,
[Song Zhongping can be considered a semi-official Chinese Government spokesman as he graduated from the People’s Liberation Army’s Second Artillery Engineering University (now the Rocket Force University of Engineering)]
said it would not be necessary to resort to a long-range missile like the DF-26 if China wanted to take action over such “intrusions”.

“You don’t kill a tiny chick with a cleaver you would use on a bull,” Song said. “Mentioning the
DF-26 is more about muscle-flexing in response to provocations generally.”

Song added that China had already deployed anti-ship missiles to both the Paracels and the Spratly Islands, which would be far more effective in dealing with any potential conflict.

“US warships in the South China Sea will fall within the firing range of these artilleries in the event of any incidents,” he said.

The mobilisation was seen as a measure to strengthen training of China’s missile force.

The PLA Rocket Force has set up training grounds and target ranges in the vast plateau and deserts of the northwest and carries out test firing in the sparsely populated region.

The ranges are equipped with monitoring facilities and electronic jamming to simulate a battlefield, and they are also outside the range of detection of US radars such as the THAAD – or Terminal High Altitude Area Defence – system deployed in South Korea.

The CCTV report showed seven military trucks carrying DF-26 missiles travelling along a road amid rough terrain and sand dunes but did not say when the mobilisation took place.

“Over the past few years, we have trained and held drills everywhere from the east coast to the northeast, and the desert in the northwest,” brigade commander Yao Wenshan told the broadcaster. “Our special mission is to kill at one strike from thousands of kilometres away.”

The DF-26 missile was first seen in public at a military parade in 2015 and it was confirmed to have entered into service in April [2018].

This week was the first time the missile has been shown to be in operation, including close-up footage and shots from its launch panel.

China has another anti-ship ballistic missile, the DF-21D [see Wiki], which is also believed to be able to strike an aircraft carrier, but with a shorter range of about 1,450km."


Also see a Chinese Government Youtube (in English) on the DF-26, released at the same time as the SCMP article.



Its likely some DF-26s remain closer to China’s coast for continuing targeting  (satellite, SOSUS and radar ground station) network practice and for possible use in time of conflict.

Extra information from Wiki includes DF-26s:
-  have a 3,000–5,471 km (1,864–3,400 mile) range, and so are classed as a intermediate-range
-  have a 1,200-1,800 kg warhead.
-  the USAF estimates that as of June 2017 over 16 launchers were operationally deployed.

The ambiguity of whether or not a DF-26 unit has conventional or nuclear warheads makes it risky for the US to target these missiles in a first strike.

From the China coast they can hit carriers and Guam. 

The CEP is an inaccurate (?) 150 – 450 meters (490 – 1,480 feet) which implies reliance on a nuclear warhead.


Below is an earlier Youtube, uploaded in April 2018. The claim, 1 minute, 42 seconds in, that China has "2,500" DF-26s must be a mistranslation and may relate to the DF-26's approximate range of 2,500 miles.


January 24, 2019

Possible SOSUS & RAP/FDS Arrays, Western Pacific - Indian Ocean

Thanks KQN for locating Owen R. Cote Jr.’s excellent article Invisible nuclear-armed submarines, or transparent oceans? Are ballistic missile submarines still the best deterrent for the United States? Published online on January 7, 2019 at https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/00963402.2019.1555998

I've placed very small parts of it in Section A. (below) in quotation marks. I have bolded some words for emphasis and added links and comments in brackets [...] for extra information. Sections B. and C. further support A.

Section A.

In addition to the well known Sound Surveillance System (SOSUS) there is an additional term/concept Reliable Acoustic Path (RAP)

“Like SOSUS, RAP arrays are bottom-mounted [or vertically mounted from the bottom to a buoy], deep water arrays, but unlike SOSUS, they are upward-looking, and there are thousands of nodes in a single RAP array. [RAP arrays can be weaponized.] Each individual, upward-looking array node only receives signals from a tea cup-shaped zone of coverage several miles deep and 20 miles wide at the surface." 

"Consequently, an individual RAP array node has two huge advantages over the nodes in a SOSUS array: It is no more than a few miles away from its potential targets (which is point blank range for a sophisticated, passive acoustic sensor) and very little of the broad ocean’s noise is competing with the target’s signal. The flip side is that even a RAP array with thousands of nodes can only cover a small fraction of the ocean area that SOSUS covered during its heyday." 

"This means that RAP arrays do not provide anything close to ocean-wide surveillance. But they do provide reliable if fleeting, preliminary indications (“cues” in submariner-speak) of even the quietist submarines at natural chokepoints in the ocean, such as the one that exists between Greenland, Iceland, and the United Kingdom [GIUK] – or, more to the point, the Luzon Strait or the Ryukyus (i.e., the main exits from China’s Inner Seas to the Philippine Sea).
[see map at B. below]

"Some Reliable Acoustic Path arrays are called Fixed, Distributed System [FDS] arrays capable of detecting the more quiet Russian nuclear submarines that pass over them (eg. Akula multipurpose SSNs). “A modernized version of the original Fixed, Distributed System likely is being deployed in the Western Pacific, if it has not already been done.” [perhaps covering] “...of chokepoints like the Ryukyus and the Luzon Strait...”

Section B.

Already in the public realm and on Submarine Matters at How to Trap the Chinese Dragon - SeaWeb's Fixed Undersea Array, since September 4, 2015 is the map below of a current or past hook shaped SOSUS and RAP/FDS array line in the Western Pacific hooking around to the Indian Ocean. The "point" of the hook probably terminates at Port Blair in India's Andaman Island territory. In 2018 I suspected and published that the array has been extended from Port Blair, west across the Bay of Bengal, to Chennai, or the main east coast naval base of Vishakhapatnam, India.

The map is from page 54 “Map 4. The US ‘Fish Hook’ Undersea Defense Line” by (the late) Desmond Ball and Richard Tanter, The Tools of Owatatsumi Japan’s Ocean Surveillance and Coastal Defence Capabilities (2015, ANU Press) http://press-files.anu.edu.au/downloads/press/p309261/pdf/book.pdf?referer=444

Section C.

Further interesting comment on SOSUS and RAP/FDS arrays are at  John Keller Editor, MiltaryAerospace(dot)com’s Navy to take a page from commercial undersea cable industry for new ocean surveillance technology of June 9, 2014.  I have bolded some words for emphasis

“...U.S. Navy undersea warfare experts are trying to tap into the commercial undersea cable industry to find recent technological advances that might be useful in maritime surveillance systems (MSS)....”

“...The term maritime surveillance generally refers to sonar listening arrays installed on the ocean bottom in strategic areas like the Greenland-Iceland-United Kingdom (GIUK) gap, the Straits of Florida and Yucatan Channel gateways to the Gulf of Mexico, and the Strait of Malacca "

[and I imagine the Persian Gulf may be a location for RAP/FDS arrays and the Arabian Sea for SOSUS.]

“...Navy fixed-site undersea sensor systems today include the Fixed Distributed System (FDS) and the Sound Surveillance System (SOSUS), which are deployed in strategic ocean choke points...”


January 23, 2019

Australia Sells "Classic" F/A-18 Hornets to Canada

The youtube (which starts talking 32 seconds in) was uploaded in July 2018 from a Canadian perspective. Although US-Canada relations have hit a slump, with Trump vowing to punish Canadians over economic disputes, the Canadian Department of National Defence (DND) correctly did not expect that to affect US approval of the Australian "Classic" F/A-18 Hornets to Canada deal.

Wiki reports: “On 13 December 2017, Australian Minister for Defence Marise Payne confirmed the sale of 18 [Classic] F/A-18 Hornets and associated spare parts to Canada.[113][114] The Canadian Government announced at the same time that it had cancelled its plans to acquire [Boeing] Super Hornets.

[The Canadian government is buying the Australian “Classic” F/A-18 Hornets instead of a new fleet of 18 Super Hornets, Canada was trying to force Boeing to drop its trade dispute filed in 2016 by Boeing in the US International Trade Commission against Canada’s Bombardier Inc.]

[With US/Boeing approval the Australian Hornets are being] "acquired to enable the [Royal Canadian Air Force] to continue to meet its international commitments until a new fighter type is ordered and enters service.[115] 

In June 2018 the Canadian Government requested a further seven Australian Hornets. These additional aircraft will be used as a source of spare parts.[116][117] 

Two Australian Hornets are scheduled to be transferred to Canada in early 2019. The timeframe for handing over the other aircraft will be dependent on progress with introducing the F-35 into Australian service.[113] 

The sale of the 25 Hornets was finalised in early 2019, with the purchase price being C$90 million.[118] [a very low total price for 25 Hornets!?] Of these aircraft, 18 will be issued to operational units and the remainder used for trials purposes and as a source of spare parts. After they arrive in Canada, the aircraft will be fitted with different ejection seats and software so that they are identical to CF-18s.[119]


Its interesting that Boeing is the company that:

-  lost the 18 Super Hornet sale to Canada, and

-  built the Classic Hornets that are being sold by Australia to Canada, and

-  along with the US Government would have approved the sale of the Australian F/A-18s (full of US
   intellectual property) to Canada.

So presumably Boeing is thinking in the long term. Boeing might still eventually sell Super Hornets to Canada. Or even if Canada finally decides to buy the F-35A, Boeing may still sell some EA-18G Growler electronic attack aircraft to Canada. 

Australia has gone down the route of buying F-35As and EA-18Gs (partly to increase the stealth of the F-35As).


January 22, 2019

What my great-great-granfather Had to Go Through

Continuing on from Submarine Matters' My 1st Australian Ancestor was a "hard driving" Scottish Captain of January 3, 2019 below is a photo of Captain Begg, ship route map and Youtube of clipper ship crew still living.

My great great grandfather Captain William Begg is seated as years before he had broken both legs in a storm at sea. Standing without hat is probably his first officer, maybe of The Murray. The two standing gentleman with hats look relaxed and upper class, maybe owners of the ship or shipping company. (Photo may have been taken in 1872 and is from the Begg and Coates family collection. Both my Mum and late Dad were descendants of Captain Begg).

In his clipper ship Captain Begg would travel from Britain south down the Atlantic Ocean to catch the west to east blowing "Roaring Forties". Then south past the Cape of Good Hope (tip of Africa) and continue east through the southern Indian Ocean to Australia. Stopping at Adelaide to drop off passengers and UK manufactured goods, then take on Australian wheat, wool and return passengers. Travel east, maybe stop at Port Melbourne then south of New Zealand through the South Pacific and south around Cape Horn (tip of South America) see below. Once east of Cape Horn turn north, back to Britain (maybe London, Liverpool, Glasgow and Edinburgh).(Map and further details courtesy Wikipedia)

What Captain Begg (from the 1830s-70s) and his crew had to go through. The Last Cape Horner clipper ships were still economical for low value cargoes, through to the 1950s as ship insurance was minimal. As the 100+ year old ships had depreciated down to zero cost of capital. The cargo could be insured separately. And the crews were paid very little. Cape Horn, around South America, was particularly freezing and fierce, as the last survivors (some still alive in the 1990s?) describe in the Youtube.


January 21, 2019

Update on India's SSBN and SLBM Evolution

(Diagram courtesy India's DRDO, H I Sutton and The Diplomat.)

Submarine Matters has periodically provided updates on India's SSBNs and SLBMs since 2009.

India’s Financial Express published an excellent article “INS Arihant: The ballistic missile submarine is giving India’s nuclear triad a lethal edge” of January 2, 2019 by Dr. Sanjay Badri-Maharaj
who neatly combines many issues of India’s evolving SSBNs and SLBMs. The following is drawn from the article with direct quotes (where indicated) with bolding by Pete.

On November 5, 2018, INS Arihant completed its first deterrence patrol.

India efforts have been concentrated on developing two SLBMs:

-  the 750 km range K-15 (see diagram above) which underwent at least 12 development trials from a submerged pontoon. On  November 25, 2015, an unarmed K-15 was purportedly fired from the INS Arihant. The K15’s limited range makes it very much an interim system. Twelve can be carried by the Arihant. “It should be stated that this has not yet been confirmed by Indian officials and no photographs have emerged of such a launch from the Arihant.”

-  the 3500km range K-4 to be deployed aboard the Arihant class SSBNs. The K-4 was first tested on March 24, 2014 from a submerged pontoon and then on March 7, 2016. Thereafter it was reportedly tested from the INS Arihant itself on March 31, 2016. “It would be surprising if such a major development were not highlighted in some way but in any event, development of the K-4 is clearly well in progress.” Four K-4s are to arm the Arihant class and the K-4 is very similar to the Agni-IIIs in dimensions and performance. “The K-4 has some way to go before it can be inducted into service, however, once it does, the INS Arihant and its sisters will have a much more viable weapon at their disposal, though the limited number of missiles carried will be a distinct drawback. It is anticipated that from the INS Arighat onwards, the number of K-4 missiles will increase to eight per vessel, making the SSBNs far more effective and flexible.

The K-5 and K-6 are reportedly planned for follow-on SSBNs, displacing more than twice that of the Arihant class.

The 13,500 ton SSBNs of the so-called S-5 class are to carry twelve of the 5000 km range K-5 – development of which started in 2015, with no tests done to date – or a similar number of the 6000 km range K-6” which is to have MIRVs. The longer-ranged K-5 could replace the K-4 on the Arihant class to enhance its effectiveness and flexibility.

“the Arihant class is a relatively modest vessel by the high standards set by the five larger nuclear powers which operate much more potent vessels.

“In fact, it might have been expected for India to develop an SSN – like the Akula class submarine currently leased as the INS Chakra. By opting for an SSBN, it is clear India allocated priority to the Arihant project with plans for six SSNs being left for the future.”

[Pete Comment: the SSBN first sequence was like France's which first had Redoubtable SSBNs in commission from 1971 and then Rubis SSNs from 1983.]

“However, while the INS Arihant does mark an important step forward for India’s nuclear triad, care should be taken not to assume that this leg of the triad is either complete or totally credible. Until the K-4 is operational, the INS Arihant has next to no deterrent capability vs China. In addition, additional SSBNs are needed to allow for continuous patrols. These two necessary steps will take time to come to fruition.”

Dr. Sanjay Badri-Maharaj is an Independent Defence Analyst and Security Consultant. He is also the author of Indian Nuclear Strategy: Confronting the Potential Threat from both China and Pakistan.

India's evolving SLBMs - the K-4 and K-15 (Diagram courtesy Indian Defense News).

January 18, 2019

Risk of Arrest of Those Helping Taiwan's Submarine Program

On January 14, 2019, Hua Chunying (above) China's Foreign Ministry spokesperson issued an Answer ("A:") in response to "Q:" below.  A: may be a warning to countries, "enterprises"/companies and contractors assisting Taiwan's future submarine program. 

Q: It is reported that the US has agreed to allow some military enterprises to export their technology to support Taiwan's Indigenous Defense Submarine (IDS) program. Many US, European, Japanese and Indian companies have expressed their willingness to participate in the program. What is your comment?

A: China firmly opposes arms sales to Taiwan by any country and military links in any form between any country and Taiwan. This position is consistent and clear. We urge the US and other relevant countries to keep in mind the sensitivity and graveness of this issue, earnestly abide by the one-China principle, not to permit relevant enterprises from participating in Taiwan's Indigenous Defense Submarine (IDS) program in any form...


It was reported January 15, 2019 “Six companies two from Europe, two from the US, one each from India and Japan have submitted design proposals for the submarines...The designs would come up for approval by Taiwanese government in March [2019].”


Noting Taiwan's Submarine Project: Confirmed and Unconfirmed Details of October 2, 2018. China might sanction countries, companies and contractors involved in assiting Taiwan's future submarine program.

But, like China's response ("More than a dozen Canadians have been detained"to Canada's arrest of a senior Chinese Huawei executive ,  (Meng Wanzhou).

China may use a two track response of:

-  merely criticizing the US, while

arresting nationals from other countries helping Taiwan develop a submarine.


January 17, 2019

Candidates for the Kalibr-M Western Europe Buster

Following articles of January 9 and 10, 2019 on Russia's plan to build 4,500 km range, 1 tonne nuclear capable warhead, sea launched Kalibr-M cruise missiles. It is the nature of medium sized missiles that if they can be sea launched then versions can be air or ground launched. Russia (Putin) is pressing for US retention of the INF Treaty mainly to prevent the return of gound launched intermediate-ranged ballistic and cruise missiles to the Russia-NATO European theater. 

As the shape of Kalibr-M isn't known I have selected 2 possible candidates.

1.  A larger than existing evolution of Russia's Kalibr cruise missile (photo above), mainly subsonic, mainly turbojet. For convenience this could be a upscale of the Kalibr's 533mm to a 650mm horizontal torpedo tube launched with a float-up mode. Keeping down to 650mm would allow Russian Kilo and all nuclear propelled submarines to mount it with less modification.

If a missile of even larger diameter were necessary Russia would need to more heavily modify its submarines with 650+mm horizontal torpedo tubes or even vertical or diagonal launch tubes. Vertical and diagonal being more suited to Akula, Oscar, Yasen or some tubes in Borei/Borey class subs.

The increase in range from Kalibr's 2,500 km range to over 4,000 km could allow Russia from Arctic Ocean and Black Sea launch points to hit much more of Western Europe (out to the UK and Spain etc). Also a ground launched version could launch from actual Russian territory with less need for forward basing in Belarus. 

To attain a 4,500 km range it may have just a one stage booster rocket that drops off when propulsion moves to the turbojet. If a nuclear warhead is desired it doesn't need to have a 1 tonne warhead because thermonuclear warheads can be just 100 kg or even smaller. 

This would fall short of Putin, INF breaking, terror weapon propaganda value. If relying on a subsonic turbojet it would have a very long, slow flight, making it easier to detect and shoot down, particularly if it transits over or into modern NATO air defences. 

2.  The multi-named P-750 (NATO: SS-NX-24 SCORPION) Meteorit-M (for Maritime-sea launch) 3М25 would look something like the air-launched version in the (photo above  - courtesy Wiki). It looks like an unmanned rocket-jet (like the 1950s US Regulus II or a ramjet SLAM missile) rather than a convenient torpedo or vertical cylinder shape for submarine launch. See Wiki https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kh-80

SS-NX-24 was an unfinished project authorised in mid-1970s, part-developed in 1980s, but terminated due to strategic arms limitation treaties (including the INF) and lack of Soviet money by the late 1980s.

Kalibr-M, improvement of the SS-NX-24, specs could include:

Weight            6,380 kg 
Length            12.8 m 3M25A (12.5 m 3M25)
Diameter         0.9 m
Warhead         various HE, nuclear (200kt to < 6Mt)
Warhead         up to 1,000 kg (1 tonne)
Engine            liquid or solid rocket or ramjet, or very fast turbojet
Wingspan       5.1 m!

The SS-NX-24 was tested on a "Yankee Sidecar" modified from normal SSBN (Project 667M Andromeda class aka "Yankee SSGN"). This SSGN was a single-ship class carrying the number K-420. K-420 appeared in 1983, carrying 12 SS-NX-24 nuclear-tipped cruise missiles instead of the original ballistic missiles. The SS-NX-24 was an experimental cruise missile, with a supersonic flight regime and twin nuclear warheads. It was meant as a tri-service strategic weapon, and thus would have filled a rather different role than the anti-ship Oscar-class SSGNs. In the end, the missile was not adopted,


Significantly No. 2's (SS-NX-24) a high-supersonic, rocket, ramjet or advanced turbojet speed, may satisfy Putin's INF breaking terror weapon criteria. It provides an uncertain middle ground on the way to faster, nuclear-certain, Russian ballistic missiles.

Placing nuclear warheads on even a minority of subsonic cruise missiles may risk a nuclear response from NATO. 

However Putin may wish to intentionally raise tensions in Western Euope by re-introducing the Cold War uncertainty of nuclear armed cruise missiles. 

As the US mainland, unlike European countries, will not be under threat from nuclear cruise, Kalibr-M can help drive a wedge in already Trump damaged US-European NATO member relations. Such a wedge was present between the Reagan's US and European countries in the 1980s which was largely resolved by the INF Treaty.


January 15, 2019

Ballistic and Cruise Missiles in East Asia-West Pacific Theater


Following the latest article - looks like we're keeping this dialogue to ourselves, knowing that other potential commenters in the blogosphere don't want to be woken up during their Christmas snooze...:)

Re your January 14, 2019 comment "Ground launched MRBM and IRBM are of limited value to the US given the westernmost US territory is Guam, unless one counts some of the smaller islands. I do not see South Koreans nor Japanese ever agreeing to deployments on their soils."

1980s US/USSR/Euopean/UK MRBMs and IRBMs INF Treaty

The INF Treaty on short and intermediate range missiles was very much a Reagan US - Gorbachev USSR signed agreement, concentrating on ground launched missiles in Europe not Asia. This was within a huge political-public-strategic debate in NATO countries, on such missiles endangering citizens at nuclear blast ground zero in the USSR-European satellite countries-out to Britain. 

I experienced this debate as a university student living in London in 1981. "No Cruise" "Better Red than Dead" and Campaign for [Unilateral British] Nuclear Disarmament (CND) were the slogans of most thinking, humanist, UK students. 

For the more gullible UK students a quiet 1980s Russian agent of influence operation (eg) that Britain should Unilaterally Nuclear Disarm would be followed by a Russian moral realisation of niceness, ie: not to take advantage of the West's net weakening. 

I had a pretty good argument against the assumption Russia would be nice to the disarmed, but that is a future article. 

I unfortunately had to debate against nice students often, undercutting their arguments. Fellow students from India and Pakistan were very helpful as they were big supporters of nuclear weapons development to defend their own countries. Once the US won the Cold War in 1991 the students "Better Red Than Dead" slogan was proven misguided.

East Asia-Western Pacific MRBMs and IRBMs 2010s

So the 1980s INF was long before the 2010s development of mature Chinese MRBMs and IRBMs in East Asia and Western Pacific becoming an issue. In the 1980s (in the Indian and western Pacific Oceans) only the USSR and US had fully protected, mature IRBMs-ICBMs mainly mounted on SSBNs .

In the 2010s the US development of submarine launched missiles and B1, B2, F-22 and B-52s nuclear bombers means that ground launching from Guam or elsewhere is not a high priority for the US. Ground launching has all the public-host government shortcomings of whose ground?

I don't know the status of US and South Korea nuclear capable ATACM SRBMs in South Korea - see Reuters 2017?

September 2017 South Korea ballistic missile exercise - simulating attack on North Korea.

For the time being the deterrent against Chinese and North Korean nuclear missiles is all US including, of course, Trident II SLBMs, but also the chances of again nuclear armed Tomahawk SLCMs. 

The advantage of US submarine mounted Tomahawk MRCMs (1,000-3,000 km) are that instead of the US having to build longer range cruise missiles and mounting them on land (eg. Guam) US SSNs and SSGNs can move in close just east of China's first island chain (or within it for firing) to hit Chinese and North Korean targets.

I see South Korea's Jang Bogo class 3,000 tonne submarines KSS-IIIs as only justifying their ballistic missile carrying main mission if the SRBM-MRBM missiles have nuclear warheads (also see). This is in the next 10 years or so. 

Meanwhile Japan is restricted by its pacifism and Australia to no-nuclear-apathy - just hoping Trump will sacrifice America for their countries in any standoff edging toward, major war, risking nuclear war.


January 14, 2019

Kalibr-M a Protest Against US Withdrawing from INF Treaty

On October 20, 2018, citing Russian non-compliance, Trump announced that he was withdrawing the US from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear [Missile] Forces Treaty (INF).

Putin announced on November 20, 2018 that Russia was prepared to discuss INF with Washington but Russia would "retaliate" if the United States withdrew.

On January 8, 2019, Russia’s TASS News Agency, citing an unnamed source, announced Russia was developing an intermediate range (4,500 km), 1 tonne nuclear capable warhead, sea launched Kalibr missile, dubbed “Kalibr-M”.

The INF Treaty, between the US and USSR/Russia was agreed and ratified in the late 1980s. The INF aimed to eliminate all nuclear and conventional missiles with ranges from 500 km to 5,500 km. The INF was very much aimed at ground launched missiles in Europe deployed by NATO (including US forces) facing the Warsaw Pact (including Russia) in the 1980s. By May 1991, 2,692 missiles were eliminated.

Another US reason to withdraw is the need to counter the Chinese (an INF non-signatory) missile buildup covering the Pacific. This particularly means China's ground launched, ~1,500 km DF-21D "carrier killers" and < 5,500 km DF-26 "Guam killers". US officials extending back to Obama days have noted China's ability to work outside of the INF treaty.

The INF treaty did not cover sea-launched missiles. The INF Treaty's non-coverage of sea-launched missiles has always provided room for technological exploitation and political threat of an arms race. Developing new sea-launched cruise missiles provides a technology backdoor for quicker development of INF breaking ground and air launched versions. 

Developing sea-launched Kalibr-M is a Russian way to protest and exploit the US withdrawal from the INF. Kalibr-M, with the "M" for marine or sea launch, comes with INF breaking air and ground launched versions. 

In this October 22, 2018 upload Trump uses typical subtlety to frighten NATO allies on his INF withdrawal. Lets hope Trump gamed it with Putin first!

Tomorrow, the history and likely shapes of Kalibr-M.


January 11, 2019

US B-2, B-52 and B-1 Bombers Exercising in Australia

Continued US B-2, B-1 and B-52 bomber visits, in and over Australia, are important to Australia's security, particularly against the likes of China. 

In a low key way the very isolated  Australia’s Tindal Air Force Base at Katherine, Northern Territory, Australia, occasionally hosts US B-52B-1B, B-2 (probably at night) bombers and KC-135s on scheduled operations, exercises and emergency stops. 

The Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF's) Darwin Air Force Base can also host (Youtube above) US bombers, (though less frequently than Tindal) due to noise and perhaps security concerns. These bombers and refuelers are more frequently based or pass through Guam, Okinawa, Diego Garcia, Hawaii, Middle East and Afghanistan bases and mainly based on the US mainland.

A B-2 stealth bomber lands at RAAF Darwin, Australia, foExercise Green Lightning. 2006-2012 (Photo Courtesy, Air Power Australia).

Another facility shared by the US and Australian air forces is a bombing range south of Tindal. 

Bombers from US Andersen Air Force Base, Guam historically used the very small, uninhabited, island of Farallon de Medinilla just north of Guam as a practice target. But political, environmental sensitivities, very small size and other limitations means that US heavy bombers no longer bomb Farallon de Medinilla.

Instead bombers from Guam can use the larger, 200,000 hectare Delamere Air Weapons Range about 120 km south of Tindal. See Wiki and Australian Defence websites on Delamere.

Under the defence relations Enhanced Air Cooperation (EAC) initiative, Exercise Lightning Focus has been held from November 2017 (if not earlier). Lightning Focus may be applicable to more or all RAAF bases in Australia particularly RAAF Williamtown (near Newcastle, NSW) and Australian RAAF Amberley (near Brisbane-Ipswich) Queensland.

In early 2018 US B-52s touched down at RAAF Base Darwin to train with the RAAF as part of the Enhanced Air Cooperation initiative.

All sorts of Australian RAAF aircraft participate in these exercises (AEW&C, air refuelers and fighter-attack, etc) 

Two B-1Bs from 37th Bomber Squadron, South Dakota, land at RAAF Amberley, Australia,
November 27, 2017. The B-1Bs are participating in RAAF led Exercise Lightning Focus. Lightning Focus is the largest international air forces exercise in Australia, held in 2017 and 2018. 

All these US aircraft visits are important to Australia's security.