March 29, 2019

Excellent youtube on Electronic Warfare - Airborne & Ground Stations

An excellent Youtube on the many aspects of electronic warfare (EW). From Covert Cabal, 
January 13, 2019.

It has obviously been made with US DoD cooperation. Featuring: 

1 min, 15 secs Boeing EA-18G Growler

1:35 Chaff

2:45 Aircraft Decoys

3:03 eg: the ALE-50 Towed Decoy System and the

3:17 Miniature Air-Launched Decoy (MALD) ADM-160

3:55 How EC-130H Compass Call and EA-18Gs fool enemy radars

5:50 How to trick airborne radars

6:52 Jamming communications

7:20 Russian jamming arrays, eg Murmansk-BN eg. in Crimea

8:05 Jamming GPS and other satellite positioning systems

8:52 But advanced US jets are partly reliant on GPS! StormBreaker glide bomb.

9:22 Jamming in spotlight due to Western military's increasing use of  UAV "drones" eg. Reaper and 

         recce RQ-170

9:52 Cheap mini-drones as assassination weapons, Venezuela.

10:50 Electronic counter-countermeasures (ECCM)

11:05  Anti-jamming weapons

11:15 Frequency hopping as in airborne AESA radars.

12:17 Infrared search and track (IRST) used by Russia.

12:50 Many frequency bands not yet exploited by EW

13:05 Use of ALQ-144 and lasers protecting combatting MANPADS

13:53 Electronic Support Measues / ELINT (electronic intelligence) missions described

14:52 The Murmask-BN ground station also intercepts signals

Some WWII Battle of Britain radar history

16:35 Importance of modern EW.

16:50 EW important to NATO


March 28, 2019

Grim humourous career of Eric Thompson, UK nuclear sub officer.

Vigilis, former USN submariner of Molten Eagle fame, points out a humourous book by a former UK nuclear submarine officer: one Eric Thompson who wrote:

 On Her Majesty's Nuclear Service (in hardcover, published 28 February 2018)

"Scottish submarine captain who had finger on nuclear button reveals chilling Cold War secrets

Eric Thompson (November 2003 photo above) says he was issued with secret letter from the prime minister to be opened in the event of nuclear war.
He had his finger on the nuclear button, ready to unleash World War III.
Now, former Faslane Commodore Eric Thompson – who commanded five nuclear submarines during his career – has lifted the lid on the chilling secrets of the Cold War. Eric revealed that the frontline subs were issued with a secret letter from the prime minister to be opened in the event of nuclear armageddon.

The note – which was kept in a safe on board – would tell the crew to either retaliate by launching a cataclysmic nuclear strike or stand down. ­Thankfully, Eric never had to open his letter.
Eric, who was born in Coatbridge [in Scotland], won a ­scholarship to Britannia Royal Naval College Dartmouth at 16. He served as an engineer officer before going on to submarines.

In 1969, the early part of his career, Eric ready for action aboard the HMS Andrew [a conventional  sub retrofitted with a 4 inch deck gun to take care of blockade-running junks in Southeast Asia] (Image: Collect Unknown)

Nearly 40 years later, he retired as Commodore of Faslane, Britain’s principal nuclear submarine base.
Among the dangers of the Cold War, Eric also shares some funnier times.
He said: “Britain’s nuclear deterrent Polaris submarines were continuously at 15 minutes’ notice to launch a nuclear counter-strike on Russia in response to any Soviet nuclear strike against the UK.
“As I served in Polaris submarines during this period, I can testify to our readiness being a grim but effective reality. On taking office, every prime minister selects three nuclear ­deputies from his or her ministers.
[Eric Thompson] former top naval officer performing stand up (Image: Centre Press Agency).

“They are appointed to take over the firing decision should the prime minister be killed.
...“This is called the letter of last resort and, ­sometimes, the letter from the grave. It is kept in a safe within a safe in the submarine control room. One such letter was held in my submarine, HMS Revenge.
...Eric served in five submarines, two squadrons, the staff of Submarine HQ and the Ministry of Defence. His MBE was awarded for leadership during a submarine emergency on patrol.
He would often have to go on a 10-week nuclear deterrence patrol on a sub with no contact from the outside world. In his new book, he argues that nuclear weapons were directly responsible for the avoidance of World War III.
...Eric stokes controversy in his book by claiming [still leading] Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn could leave Britain’s defences vulnerable.
He wrote: “In 2015, Jeremy Corbyn, a lifelong nuclear activist and one-time vice chairman of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, became leader of the Labour Party. "Were he to be elected as prime minister, he could, hypothetically, select the ‘do not retaliate’ option. If a potential aggressor were to be aware of this, our independent nuclear deterrent would have lost all credibility.
...He said: “I had brought some exploding cigar tips for insertion in the wardroom panatelas that were passed round after mess dinners.
"One night, I snuck the wardroom cigar box into my cabin, removed two panatelas from their tubes, unwrapped their cellophane, inserted the explosive tips and returned the box to its cupboard.
“The other spiked cigar was either not smoked or failed to explode. I had not considered that at the end of our patrol, we would be handing the boat over to the other crew, including the cigar box.
“A tradition of the deterrent programme is that a VIP meets every returning nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarine in the Clyde estuary and rides it back to Faslane.
A snap from Eric's book of Faslane [UK SSBN base] in 1998. [Guess where the Trident D5 missiles are likely interchanged!] (Image: Handout).
“VIPs range from the prime minister down to senior admirals. Another tradition is that after lunch, the VIP is invited into the captain’s tiny cabin for coffee and a cigar.

“Four months later, the captain of the other crew was entertaining his VIP guest, the commander-in-chief, in the privacy of his cabin when the end of the great man’s cigar exploded.
“Until writing this book, the perpetrator of that joke has never been identified. In military speak, it’s called, ‘Third party targeting’.”...”

Also see biodata by Eric in Eric's own website Welcome to Eric's World which contains a blog, Short Fiction, "Poem of the Week" and even "Burns" (Robert Burns club information) etc.

March 27, 2019

Swedish Navy subs Södermanlands + Gotlands => A26s, Part Two

Following yesterday's A26 article, I have been thinking about Sweden's next 10 year submarine replacement plan.

It may be that, of Sweden's Södermanland + 3 Gotland class submarines:


-  3 will be available for service within 1 to 2 days, 
-  1 has its crew on courses, leave, with some short (2 week) maintenance of sub
-  1 will be in deep maintenance (can include mid-life upgrade) for 12 months every 9? years. 

Replacement Plan

-  2 Södermanlands (launched 1988, received AIP in 2004-2005,
   :  were to remain in service to 2019-20 when replaced by 1 or 2 A26s
   :  but as A26s will only be in service from 2024 and 2025 (see A26 Timeline below) then 1 or 
      2 Södermanlands may need to remain in service till 2024 and 2025 (at 36 and 37 years old) 
      or 1 or 2 Södermanlands will need to retire. This is particularly as Södermanland stealth, diesels,
      AIP and combat systems become obsolete (or wear out) and are more expensive to maintain.

So from 2019-20 to 2024-25 Sweden may need to only rely on its 3 Gotland class subs 
-  launched 1995-1996, 
-  fortunately mid-life updated progressively from 2018 to probably 2020 (for the last one). 
-  See Gotland mid-life updates on FMV video of March 12, 2019 with English captions.
   Updates include new:
   :  stealthier IT
   :  Stirling AIP (3rd? generation)
   :  a 2-3m? mid-hull plug for Vertical Multi-purpose Lock (VMPL)? or some other use?
   :  optronic masts
   :  sensor suite
   :  crew comfort


Mid-life updates might efficiently work for 8 to 10 years, permitting the 3 Gotlands to be progressively replaced by 3? (or 4?) A26s from 2025 to 2030. The 3? (or 4?) issue depends on Swedish Navy, Saab and FMV requirments and any export success.

Submarines serving in the Swedish Navy may go on two week missions, with just one full submersion-contraction cycle and wholey on AIP, no need to use diesels. So this means their hulls might theoretically last 40 years and with very little diesel engine wear.

Image from 2015 (if not earlier) most likely from Saab Kockums. Image now on many websites. Click on image to enlarge.

A26 Timeline (2015-2025)

From FMV's April 13, 2018 document
·       2015 FMV orders two A26 submarines by Saab Kockums
·       2015 Continued system work and construction
·       2015 Production begins
·       2021 Launch of the first submarine
·       2021 Harbor Acceptance Test (HAT). Verification of systems that can be done at quay. Closes 
         when the systems meet the requirements and the boat is safe to carry out sea samples.
·       2022-2023 Sea Acceptance Test (SAT). Verification of requirements that require the submarine to
         be at sea
·       2023 Delivery of the first submarine to FMV
·       2024 Validation of the first submarine's ability before delivery to the Armed Forces
·       2024 Delivery of the second submarine to FMV
·       2025 Validation of the other submarine's ability before delivery to the Armed Forces

Export Sales?

The Netherlands and Poland may await the first (Swedish Navy) A26's submerged, at sea, trials, from 2022. This is to see that it is an efficient, problem free sub. 

The competing TKMS Typre 212CD might only be ready for sea trials 2 years later, in 2024, and Naval Group timelines are less certain. So it may be well into the 2020s before the Netherlands and Poland finally make a firm selection of their replacement submarines. 


March 26, 2019

Latest A26 submarine data and diagrams - Part One

Sweden Saab Kockums has just 2 orders for its A26 - and the customer is the Swedish Navy. Export orders (eg. for the Netherlands' Walrus Replacement and Poland's ORKA Program) are desperately needed:

-  to share the developments costs for the A26
-  for Saab's financial bottom line, and
-  for foreign exchange for Sweden.

Below is some of the most recent material on the A26

Poland's Casimir Pulaski Foundation

From Poland's Casimir Pulaski Foundation paper: “Poland’s ‘Orka’ submarine programme. Part 3. The A26 submarines – Swedish Offer: Pulaski Policy Paper No 8, 2018 May 11, 2018 at Note Poland's possible requirement of "3 vertical launchers with 18 Tomahawk missiles" are possible.

Sweden's FMV

A Swede /Kjell has pointed out the the Swedish Defence Materiel Administration (FMV) published perhaps the latest specification of the (being built) A26 submarine. Other sources (eg. Wikipedia) are largely reliant on 2015 information while the FMV specifications are dated April 13, 2018 at

Cutaway diagram of A26 on FMV paper of April 13, 2018

The A26's ultra-modern looking but maybe cramped(?) Control Room on FMV paper of 
April 13, 2018


March 25, 2019

New French Submarine Movie: The Wolf's Call / Le Chant du Loup

A trailer with English subtitles of "Le Chant du Loup" in English "The Wolf's Call". Much tension and action evident with a mysterious submarine closely tailing a French ballistic missile submarine. Meanwhile helicopters, divers, headquarters and a beautiful lady add excitement!
Thanks KQN for pointing to a French submarine movie released in France and former French North Africa on February 20, 2019.

The movie titled "Le Chant du Loup" in English variously the "The Wolf's Call".

Clicking on this link, once translated reveals the film's:

"A young man [Chanteraide the Sonar Operator] has the rare gift of recognizing every sound he hears. On board a French [Rubis class exterior? acting as a French "SNLE" ie. SSBN] nuclear submarine, everything rests on him, the Golden Ear." 

"Deemed infallible, he makes an error that puts the crew in danger of death. He wants to regain the confidence of his comrades but his quest leads them to an even more dramatic situation." 

"In the world of nuclear deterrence and misinformation, they find themselves trapped in [a crisis spiralling rapidly out of control]." 

A movie directed and written by Antonin Baudry


François Civil as Chanteraide the sonar operator with the "Golden Ear"
-  Omar Sy
-  Mathieu Kassovitz
Reda Kateb, and
Paula Beer the obligatory beautiful lady in a man's world!

Released in France first, February 20, 2019 "


In real life there may be 2 or 3 sonar operators (1 senior, 1-2 more junior) on watch. The operators are assisted by the Combat System of sensors, software to electronic processors/database/library to help determine, or confirm, what type of submarine and other in-water and just-over-surface aircraft sounds are out there. But experience counts a lot. So there is room for "the Golden Ear".

The Wolf film appear to have many SSN vs SSBN parallels with The Hunt for Red October. Can the Wolf (music by Tomandandy) match Red October's Academy Award winning sound editing

But are they different? 

March 22, 2019

Extraordinary Russian Comments on Typhoon submarines to carry 200 cruise missiles

It being more than a week to April Fool’s Day the Russian Government still floated the possibility that  two mothballed Typhoon SSBNs might be converted into enormous SSGNs. As the particular Typhoons have been in corrosive seawater "storage" for 13 to 15 years - updating and modifying them might take more than 5 years and cost $Billions that the Russians do not have.


Defense World.Net on March 21, 2019 reports:

"Two Russian Typhoon-Class Subs To Carry 200 Kalibr Missiles"

"Two Russian Typhoon-class submarinesArkhangelsk [launched 1986, decommissioned 2006, “still in reserve”] and the Severstal [launched 1989, decommissioned 2004, “still in reserve”] will be rearmed and developed in order to enable them to carry 200 Kalibr missiles each.

The Project 941 or Typhoon-class submarines had been withdrawn from service and kept at the dock of the Zvyozdochka Ship Repair Center in Severodvinsk [Russia’s Northern Fleet complex] slated for their subsequent disposal.

“We now plan to re-equip these submarines with [probably mainly land attack, but also anti-ship] OniksTsirkon [aka Zircon] and 200 Kalibr missiles,” TASS reported [on the Typhoons also confusingly called “Akulas” in Russia] quoting Vice-Admiral Oleg Burtsev as saying [March 20, 2019].

"The dimensions of these submarines allow arming each of them with at least 200 cruise missiles," he said.

“American Ohio-class submarines can carry 154 Tomahawk cruise missiles and Chinese Project 055 destroyer is capable of carrying 112 cruise missiles. But our frigates belonging to the Project 22350 can currently carry only 16 of them. Subsequent frigates will get 24 of them. It is still insufficient,” he added.

Russia has also begun developing a modernized frigate under Project 22350, that is capable of carrying 48 Kalibr cruise missiles.

"The Northern Design Bureau has completed designing frigates of Project 22350M capable of carrying up to 48 Kalibr cruise missiles,” TASS quoted a source from the design bureau as saying Sunday.

The Kalibr missileswere used by Russia in Syrian operations [and see]. The Kalibr is Russian group of surface ship-, submarine-launched and airborne anti-ship and coastal anti ship (AShM), land attack cruise missiles (LACM) and anti-submarine missiles.

The country also plans to develop ground-launched, longer range version of the Kalibr cruise missile in 2019-2020, Sputnik quoted Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu as saying in early February [2019].

The longer range version could be in excess of 310 mile range which is the limit imposed under the Intermediate Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty.”


The Russian plan might be authentic and perhaps more importantly also hold propaganda value to exceed the cruise missile capacity of each US Ohio-class SSGN. The rather vague Russian comments are surprising as the two mothballed, by now very rusty, very old Typhoons (Arkhangelsk and Severstalhave sat in water virtually forgotten for over 13 years.

The major modifications of converting Typhoon SSBNs into SSGNs might be to:

-  treat and/or derust each Typhoon's massive steel outer hull and Titanium its multiple inner-pressure hulls. Russia may have lost the highly expensive industrial capability to work Titanium for submarines.  

-  heavily modify each of the Typhoons 20 x single ballistic missile (just over 2.4m diameter launch tubes into 20 unique multipurpose tubes that can each carry 10 Kalibr cruise missiles.

-  develop a thoroughly modernised combat system electronics suite for the major change of weaponry. 

-  and probably replace the corroded? defueled? 2 x 33 year old nuclear reactors on each Typhoon.

The cost of updating the 30+ year old Typhoon “Arkhangelsk” and Severstal” in question may be more expensive than building 2 new current/modified Russian Borei class SSGNs.

Russia already has Kilos, Oscars, Akulas and Yasens that can already fire Kalibr cruise missiles. Large Oscars (eg. the Project 949AM variant will (Starshiy advises) be able to vertically launch 64 Kalibr missiles as well as Oniks and Zircon. The first Oscar with this Kalibr capability is K-132 Irkutsk (which may come into service in 2021, followed by K-442 Chelyabinsk and K-456 Tver.

So the benefit of Typhoon SSGNs may be mainly Putin phallic propaganda.

It will be interesting if this probable Russian propaganda further encourages those in the US who have been pushing for 4 or 5 additional future Columbia class subs to be SSGNs.

(Photo above) At 24,000 tonnes (surfaced) and 48,000 tonnes (submerged) the Soviet-Russian Project 941 Typhoons (photos above and below) are the largest and most expensive submarines ever built. Expensive in part because each uses 1,000s of tonnes of Titanium for its multiple pressure hulls. Titanium is hugely expensive to mine, process, work into sheets and to weld on a 1,000s tonnes scale. Like the Titanium pressured hulled Alfas the Typhoons have been dubbed "golden submarines". Their production did much to bankrupt the unbalanced Soviet economy by the late 1980s.

Diagram above indicates the Typhoon's intricate, multiple, Titanium pressure hulls. The diagram is on several sites including “Sebastien Roblin’s,   Russia's Typhoon Submarines are the Biggest Ever (Now Armed with 200 Cruise Missiles?)The National Interest, March 30, 2019.


March 21, 2019

Good March 2019 Youtube Russian Zircon hypersonic missile SUBMARINE launched

Russia's is developing and trial deploying the Zircon (or Tsirkon) 3M22 (NATO SS-N-33) hypersonic missile. It is too early to tell how operationally workable and effective it is.

Its main strengths are:
-  its hard to shoot down or react to Mach 8 to 9 speed at high altitude and plunging
-  reported manoeuvrability, and
-  small enough for many "shots" from multiple platforms

Its main weaknesses are:
-  its limited range (maybe only 400km from a submarine, though 1,000 from an aircraft), and
-  light warhead (maybe only 200kg).

In the above Youtube (South Front, March 6, 2019):

-  4 mins 50 secs in - it can be vertically launched from Russian Oscar and Yasen submarines and
    [may be small enough to be 533mm or 650mm torpedo tube launched from Akula or Kilo

-  5m 22s - could be launched from Russian submarines to hit US command and control facilities on
    the US Atlantic coast. But given Zircon's limited range [assuming US SOSUS, RAP/FDS and
    ASW platforms on the Atlantic coast] this would put the Russian submarines in danger of
    “detection and destruction”.

Russia may be in a joint venture to help India develop a Zircon-looking BrahMos-2 "HSTDV".

Russian Zircon vs Kinzhal hypersonic missiles (Artwork, table courtesy IDA Strategic Intelligence).


March 20, 2019

US nuclear weapons in, around South Korea - including SSBNs

Following Submarine Matters' US-North Korea Missile Issues Much Broader Than Korean Peninsula, March 12, 2019, Josh on March 12 2019 made interesting comments regarding the recent history of US nuclear weapons in and around South Korea. I have bolded, added, extra links and comments in square [...] brackets. Josh wrote:

“US nuclear weapons were previously based in South Korea for decades until their removal at the end of the cold war in 1991. Around the same time, USN vessels also offloaded all tactical nuclear weapons (this would have included the B61 [nuclear bombs on US aircraft carriers]. BGM-109 [cruise missiles with nuclear warheads on US] SSNs, and probably a collection of [nuclear] depth bombs,  ASROC, and  SUBROC warheads.

[See Document A A history of US nuclear weapons in South Korea” (2017) at]

It's worth noting the weapons in Korea were probably directed at Russian Pacific Fleet bases more than North Korea; Japan would not allow warhead basing on their soil (though it didn't question whether docked ships had such weapons, unlike New Zealand).

In the current context, the only relevant US weapons that could reach North Korea are strategic weapons or tactical weapons that are based on US soil. So there is no reasonable posture for the US to adopt that would further denuclearize the Korean peninsula. There are of course tens of thousands of US troops in the ROK that could be traded as a bargaining chip, as well as the economic sanctions which are far more important to the [North Korea]. However the US position is that [North] Korea must make the compromises first - which is understandable given how many previous agreements it has breached or worked around.

Realistically the only thing that will change the status quo is Kim dying of natural causes or some kind of conflict.

Document A is very interesting on US submarine issues as they relate to the Korea’s.

Document A is by Hans M. Kristensen & Robert S. Norris A history of US nuclear weapons in South Korea” (2017) Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, Vol. 73, 2017, Issue 6, Pages 349-357, Published online: 26 Oct 2017. The whole Document is published at

Snippets on submarines in 18 page Document A include:

“Since [1991] the United States has protected South Korea (and Japan) under a nuclear umbrella made up of several types of weapons: dual-capable fighter-bombers and strategic nuclear forces in the form of bombers and submarines.1

“...In addition to tactical nuclear forces, US strategic nuclear weapons also played (and continue to play) an important role in defending South Korea. This role has taken several forms over the years. In the late 1970s and early 1980s, for example, the US Navy suddenly began conducting port visits to South Korea with nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines (SSBNs)...

“...The reason for [US nuclear armed submarine] port visits is still unclear, but the timing coincided with the period when the United States significantly reduced deployment of nonstrategic nuclear weapons in Korea. This period overlapped with the years when the United States discovered and attempted to stop South Korea’s secret program to develop nuclear weapons.4...”

“...The SSBN visits ended when the remaining Polaris submarines were retired in 1981, and even though the US Navy gradually built up its fleet of new Ohio-class submarines in the Pacific, American SSBNs have not visited South Korea since January 1981. 

Yet Ohio SSBNs continue to play an important role in targeting North Korea. With their much longer-range missiles, Ohio SSBNs can patrol much further from their targets than earlier submarines. A 1999 inspection of the Trident submarine command and control system identified the SSBNs as “mission critical systems” of “particular importance” to US forces in South Korea (Defense Department 1999Inspector General, Year 2000 Compliance of the Trident Submarine Command and Control System. Report Number 99-167, May 24, 1999, p. 1. [Google Scholar], 1). Except for a lone SSBN visit to Guam in 1988, though, Ohio-class submarines did not conduct port visits to the Western Pacific for 35 years.

That changed on October 31, 2016, when the USS Pennsylvania (SSBN-735) arrived in Guam for a highly publicized visit to promote US security commitments to South Korea and Japan. Military delegations from both countries were brought to Guam and given a tour and briefings onboard the submarine, which was carrying an estimated 90 nuclear warheads. “This specific visit to Guam reflects the United States’ commitment to its allies in the Indo-Asia-Pacific,” the US Strategic Command publicly announced, apparently a signal that the US nuclear umbrella also extends over the Indian Ocean (US Strategic Command 2016 Public Affairs, “USS Pennsylvania Arrives in Guam for Port Visit.” October 13. [Google Scholar]).


See the whole interesting Document A by Hans M. Kristensen & Robert S. Norris A history of US nuclear weapons in South Korea” (2017) Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, Vol. 73, 2017, Issue 6, Pages 349-357, Published online: 26 Oct 2017 at