Monday, August 31, 2015

Thousands of jobs created as Britain's nuclear submarine base gets major upgrade

Staff, The Mirror
31 August 2015

Britain’s nuclear submarine base is to have a £500million upgrade creating thousands of jobs.
New ship lifts, sea walls and jetties will be built at Faslane in Scotland, where the Vanguard boats carrying the UK’s Trident missiles are based.
The 10-year project has angered the Scottish Nationalists, who want Trident to be scrapped. The Government has not yet decided on how to replace the four ageing Vanguards.
Faslane currently hosts 6,700 military and civilian staff and contractors, and ministers believe today's announcement will create thousands more jobs.
Faslane would be the base for the new submarines.
Chancellor George Osborne said: “A strong and secure country is vital to our prosperity and
national security.”
But the SNP’s defence spokesman Brendan O’Hara said: “George Osborne is essentially pre-empting a vote and actual decision on the renewal of Trident.”
It comes as engineers reveal how Navy ships could look in decades to come.
Dreadnought 2050 design includes a new-style operations room allowing commanders to focus on areas thousands of miles away.
Engineers believe the warship could be manned by a crew of around 50 - down from 200 on modern vessels.
The Navy's fleet robotics officer Commander Steve Prest said: "We welcome a project that allows some of Britain's best and brightest young engineers to come up with ideas on what a warship might look like or be equipped with in 2050.
"We want to attract the best new talent to sea to operate, maintain and develop systems with this level of ambition."

Xi's military parade fans unease in region already wary of China

David Tweed, Bloomberg News
30 August 2015

As Xi Jinping presides over thousands of goose-stepping troops marching down Beijing’s Changan Avenue – or “Eternal Peace Street” – on Thursday, the Chinese president will also proclaim his commitment to the world’s peaceful development.
It’s a message China’s neighbors may find hard to swallow as it flexes its military muscle from the East China Sea to the Indian Ocean. The parade marking the 70th anniversary of World War II’s end – or “Victory of the Chinese People’s Resistance Against Japanese Aggression and the World Anti-Fascist War" – will put on display much of what has frayed nerves throughout the region.
The first-of-its-kind victory celebration will show the world the military might Xi has put at the center of his Chinese Dream for national rejuvenation. The pageant will feature 12,000 soldiers, almost 200 of China’s latest aircraft and mobile ballistic missile launchers capable of delivering nuclear warheads to the continental U.S.
“There is a fairly crude signal to the international community that China is a modern power not to be trifled with,” said Rory Medcalf, head of the National Security College at the Australian National University in Canberra. “But this doesn’t sit well with the anxiety that already exists in the region.”
The parade offers Xi the first chance since taking power in 2012 to publicly present himself as China’s commander-in-chief. It’ll also give him a chance to distract attention from a slowing economy, a stock-market rout and the warehouse explosions in nearby Tianjin that killed at least 150 earlier this month.
Staying Home
Xi heads a fighting force that boasts the world’s second-largest defense budget after more than doubling spending over the past decade. That expansion – especially China’s focus on developing its navy – has alarmed neighbors and fueled the region’s biggest military buildup in decades.
The Philippines and Vietnam – spooked by China’s island-reclamation program in the disputed South China Sea – are both increasing defense spending. India plans to spend at least $61 billion expanding its navy, eyeing Chinese submarine patrols in the Indian Ocean. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe last month passed security bills that would let the constitutionally pacifist country come to the military aid of the U.S. or other countries.
Geopolitical rivalries have played out on Xi’s guest list. Abe and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who both have territorial disputes with China, will skip the event. Taiwan, which China regards as a rogue province, has asked its veterans to turn down the invitation to attend.
Showing Strength
Russian President Vladimir Putin, who hosted Xi at his own WWII victory parade in May, will be the only state leader representing China’s wartime allies, with U.S. President Barack Obama, British Prime Minister David Cameron and French President Francois Hollande staying home.
South Korean President Park Geun Hye, a key American ally, will attend, as she works to draw China further away from North Korea and also arrange a potential three-way summit with Abe.
For Xi, perceptions about the parade abroad are less important than what the event tells Chinese citizens about the strength of their country – and its leader.
“It’s a way to further consolidate power,” Hu Xingdou, a professor of political economy at the Beijing Institute of Technology. “Internally, it’s meant to showcase solidarity and strength under his leadership. Externally, Xi wants to use the parade as a statement on China’s rising political profile on the global stage.”
Disciplining Generals
The “I’m-in-control” message won’t be wasted on the generals of the People’s Liberation Army and the 2.3 million personnel they command. Xi’s anti-corruption campaign has ensnared dozens of past and present top brass, including Guo Boxiong, the PLA’s former top uniformed officer.
While Mao Zedong oversaw several military parades, Chinese leaders have in recent years restricted such events to 10-year anniversaries of the country’s founding in 1949. Xi’s predecessor, Hu Jintao, hosted the last one in 2009.
The WWII anniversary, which was announced after a diplomatic flare up with Japan over control of uninhabited East China Sea islands, gave Xi an occasion to hold his own parade four years early. The Communist Party has long chafed at what it sees as a lack of appreciation for China’s, as well as its own, contribution to defeating the Japanese.
Like when hosting the Beijing Olympics in 2008, the Communist Party has gone to great lengths to ensure the parade goes perfectly. Authorities restarted stock support to prevent a market rout from distracting from the event, according to people familiar with the matter. They’ve ordered factories to close to clear Beijing’s notorious air pollution.
Sleeping Lion
Such a display of strength may help Xi fan national pride as the economy – a key source of party’s support – shows signs of weakness, said Willy Lam, an adjunct professor at the Chinese University of Hong Kong.
“He has been stoking the flames of nationalism since day one,” said Lam, author of “Chinese Politics in the Era of Xi Jinping.” “For every general secretary, you need a military parade to really demonstrate you are the supremo, the supreme leader.”
Xi’s challenge will be asserting his power while reassuring the world of his commitment to China’s peaceful rise. While in Paris in last year, he quoted Napoleon’s remark that China was a sleeping lion that would one day wake and shake the world.
“The lion has woken up,” Xi said. “But it is peaceful, pleasant and civilized.”

China's nuclear subs still unable to strike U.S. homeland

Staff, Want China Times
31 August 2015

China's 12 nuclear-powered submarines are still unable to launch a direct attack against the US homeland, reports the Kanwa Defense Review, a Chinese-language military magazine based in Canada.
An estimated three of the PLA Navy's Type 094 Jin-class ballistic missile submarines and two Type 093 Shang-class attack submarines are currently stationed at Sanya, the base of the PLA's South Sea Fleet in the southern island province of Hainan. The base is the most proximate location for deployment to the South China Sea, where Beijing disputes vast swaths of maritime territory with competing neighbors.
None of the three Type 094 submarines have carried ballistic missiles on board since the beginning of this year, the report said.
Unlike the Russian Navy, China is very unlikely to launch an attack against the US from North Pole waters. An attack would be more likely be launched from the Pacific against the US territory of Guam or the states of Hawaii and Alaska. A Chinese missile strike could reach as far as Australia if launched from South China Sea waters. A similar attack targeting the west coast of the US would still, however, be exceedingly difficult, the report said.
To strike Los Angeles, the Jin-class submarine would have to fire a JL-2 missile from the Second Island Chain, extending from Honshu to New Guinea. The notoriously loud Type 094 sub venturing into this area would be easily detected by the US Navy's P-8A patrol aircraft, the report said. However, the submarine still poses a highly dangerous threat to Russia since Moscow is only 7,200 kilometers away from Hainan.

4th Navy MUOS communications satellite to complete global coverage

Stew Magnuson, National Defense
28 August 2015

Barring foul weather caused by Hurricane Erika in the Caribbean, the fourth Mobile User Objective System satellite is scheduled to launch Aug. 31 from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, providing full global coverage for what it is being touted as a “cell phone tower in the sky” for U.S. forces.
U.S. armed forces, civilian agencies and allies will have access to smartphone like features on the secure narrowband system, with higher data rates and beyond-line-of-sight connectivity as long as they can link to the system, although rollouts of terminals and the software waveforms that are needed to connect to the spacecraft have been plagued by delays.
“This greatly extends the coverage for our warfighters on the ground,” Col. James Ross, Army tactical radios program manager, said on a conference call with reporters Aug. 28. The system is referred to as “cell towers in space” for its ability to deliver the kinds of communications consumers expect on Earth. Officials said the voice clarity is actually better than a typical cell phone.
The Navy’s MUOS-4 spacecraft, if successfully placed in orbit, will provide global coverage, although the system will not be considered fully operational until a fifth on-orbit spare is launched, all ground station work is complete and the wideband code division multiple access is working properly.
The Navy is having difficulties delivering the waveform also known as WCDMA, which is intended to work with MUOS. The MUOS spacecraft have a payload that allows them to communicate with radios compatible with the legacy UHF-Follow-On satellites, which accounts for the 10 percent of capacity being used.
Of more immediate concern is Hurricane Erika, which is on course to make landfall in Florida the day prior to launch. Officials are keeping an eye on the storm and preparing for any delays.
Navy Capt. Joe Kan, MUOS program manager, said while it is true the spacecraft are not using their full capacity because of a lack of terminals, they needed to be launched so there was no degradation in service as the legacy UFO satellites age. Early users of the system include the Coast Guard, which has sent communications from its icebreaker, Healy, as far as 83 degrees north, and Special Operations Command.
The system is designed to be used by everyone from troops on the ground with backpackable radio systems to ships, submarines and jet fighters. It has been successfully tested on C-17 aircraft, noted Iris Bombelyn, vice president of narrowband communications at the spacecraft’s manufacturer Lockheed Martin. The company is in the early stages of testing the on-orbit spare, she added.
A third hiccup in the system’s rollout has been a court case centering around an environmental lawsuit opposing the placement of the ground control station in Italy. Kan said the other ground stations can take up the slack while the Navy awaits the decision by an Italian court.
Kan said there are already ongoing high-level discussions with the joint staff, U.S. Strategic Command and others about the follow-on narrowband system. “No final decision has been made yet, but we certainly are proceeding and are on track to start the pre-acquisition activities as early as 2017, once those decisions are made.”
“There is a lot of interest in getting the pre-acquisition activities going," he added. Expanding MUOS to a sixth satellite to increase capacity is also on the table, he said. It is engaging with a “number of different countries” to look at the possibility of funding partnerships, he said. Canada, Australia, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom have all been part of the talks, he said.

Analysis: New forum needed to negotiate Arctic security concerns

John Grady, U.S. Naval Institute News
28 August 2015

The Center for Strategic and International Studies has proposed creating a military code of conduct in a new multinational forum to discuss security concerns in the Arctic among Russia, the United States and other nations in the region.
Heather Conley, of the Washington, D.C., think-tank and a project author of The New Ice Curtain: Russia’s Strategic Reach to the Arctic, said the region provides 20 percent of Russia’s gross domestic product and 22 percent of its exports, primarily energy and minerals. Just as important is the reality that its “strategic deterrent is based in the Arctic” with the Northern Fleet, headquartered at Severomorsk. The region is also the home to 2 million Russians, largely European. The area includes the important port of Murmansk, with a population of 300,000.
Quoting a Russian deputy prime minister after a recent visit to the north, she said, “The Arctic is Russia’s Mecca.”
From the Russian point of view, Conley added, there are now growing military threats to its interests there. While “60 to 70 percent of Russian military” construction, including search and rescue stations “is understandable,” the dual-use capabilities of some infrastructure work and other activities show an increased focus on anti-access/area denial.
The most troubling developments were the unannounced exercise in March of Russian air, land and maritime assets involving 45,000 service members, a new practice of having military aircraft turn off the transponders to identify themselves and resuming overflights of other nations’ territories without notification.
The security situation “is very different even from 14 to16 months ago,” Conley said. “I would not call it a partnership,” he added, with the other seven members of the Arctic Council, which the United States now chairs. The council relies on consensus among its members and security issues are not in its charter.
Conley said that Russian attention to the Arctic has undergone “wholesale challenges” since 2014 and has become highly centralized in the Kremlin leadership under Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.
Marlene Laruelle, a research professor of international affairs at George Washington University, said historically it has been normal for the Russian state to be proactive in major projects. She added it was understandable that its military and paramilitary were to be heavily engaged because they are “the only ones who are young and have the training.”
Yet “the deterioration of relations with the U.S. and the West [over the annexation of Crimea and Russian-back separatists fighting the Kiev government over control of eastern Ukraine] is visible in the Arctic.”
Steven Lee Myers, correspondent for The New York Times long based in Russia, said, “Russia thinks the United States fired the first shot with energy sanctions” in causing the relationship to shift from partnership to security friction.”
There “was a very deliberate choice to target its Arctic development” when first announced.
“I don’t think it is so crazy to the people in the Kremlin” to think about “an invasion from the north,” he said and added that the Greenpeace protests in 2012 and 2013 could be considered a probe of Russian defenses by some in the leadership.
He also cited German submarine operations in the far north in World War II as adding to Russian perceptions of the vulnerability of its Arctic territory. About 50 percent of the Arctic is in Russia, which recently requested that the United Nations extend Moscow’s seabed claims to keep new waterway routes outside its exclusive economic zone from opening up.
Ships transiting those waters would have to pay Russia.
Later, Laurelle said, “When you invest in military capacity you are probably not investing in sustainability and human capital.”
While President Barack Obama will travel to Alaska next week and Secretary of State John Kerry will head a discussion on climate change and the environment with other Arctic nations in Anchorage, Russia will not be sending its foreign minister there. Instead Russia will be represented by its ambassador to the United States – an indication of the state of the relationship between the two countries.
Yet climate change is a major issue for Moscow. Russia “is trying to figure how to build in resilience” as permafrost disappears, which affects its energy pipelines and causes building collapses in large urban centers such as Murmansk, Conley said.
Myers, in answer to a question, said there was little consensus in the Russian government on climate change or changing its environmental policy to consider this change as long-enduring.
As this is happening, Russia is having to adjust economically to the fact that oil now is selling for about $40 a barrel and the United States no longer needs to import liquefied natural gas from Siberia.
As for China’s growing interest in the Arctic, Laruelle said, Russia welcomed its investments in building land infrastructure for energy but not its interest in exploring Russian waters for development.
Russia, like Shell Oil, “says they’re looking way ahead” in Arctic energy exploration, “but a lot has been put on hold” because current profits are too low to justify the expense.

U.S. is seen as laggard as Russia asserts itself in warming Arctic

Steven Lee Myers, New York Times
30 August 2015

ABOARD COAST GUARD CUTTER ALEX HALEY, in the Chukchi Sea – With warming seas creating new opportunities at the top of the world, nations are scrambling over the Arctic – its territorial waters, transit routes and especially its natural resources – in a rivalry some already call a new Cold War.
When President Obama travels to Alaska on Monday, becoming the first president to venture above the Arctic Circle while in office, he hopes to focus attention on the effects of climate change on the Arctic. Some lawmakers in Congress, analysts, and even some government officials say the United States is lagging behind other nations, chief among them Russia, in preparing for the new environmental, economic and geopolitical realities facing the region.
“We have been for some time clamoring about our nation’s lack of capacity to sustain any meaningful presence in the Arctic,” said Adm. Paul F. Zukunft, the Coast Guard’s commandant.
Aboard the Alex Haley, the increased activity in the Arctic was obvious in the deep blue waters of the Chukchi Sea. While the cutter patrolled one day this month, vessels began to appear one after another on radar as this ship cleared the western edge of Alaska and cruised north of the Arctic Circle.
There were three tugs hauling giant barges to ExxonMobil’s onshore natural gas project east of Prudhoe Bay. To the east, a flotilla of ships and rigs lingered at the spot where Royal Dutch Shell began drilling for oil this month. Not far away, across America’s maritime border, convoys of container ships and military vessels were traversing the route that Russia dreams of turning into a new Suez Canal.
The cutter, a former Navy salvage vessel built nearly five decades ago, has amounted to the government’s only asset anywhere nearby to respond to an accident, oil spill or incursion into America’s territory or exclusive economic zone in the Arctic.
To deal with the growing numbers of vessels sluicing north through the Bering Strait, the Coast Guard has had to divert ships like the Alex Haley from other core missions, like policing American fisheries and interdicting drugs. The service’s fleet is aging, especially the nation’s only two icebreakers. (The United States Navy rarely operates in the Arctic.) Underwater charting is paltry, while telecommunications remain sparse above the highest latitudes. Alaska’s far north lacks deepwater port facilities to support increased maritime activity.
All these shortcomings require investments that political gridlock, budget constraints and bureaucracy have held up for years.
Russia, by contrast, is building 10 new search-and-rescue stations, strung like a necklace of pearls at ports along half of the Arctic shoreline. More provocatively, it has also significantly increased its military presence, reopening bases abandoned after the collapse of the Soviet Union.
Russia is far from the only rival – or potential one – in the Arctic. China, South Korea and Singapore have increasingly explored the possibility that commercial cargo could be shipped to European markets across waters – outside Russia’s control – that scientists predict could, by 2030, be ice-free for much of the summer.
In 2012, with great fanfare, China sent a refurbished icebreaker, the Xuelong, or Snow Dragon, across one such route. Signaling its ambitions to be a “polar expedition power,” China is now building a second icebreaker, giving it an icebreaking fleet equal to America’s. Russia, by far the largest Arctic nation, has 41 in all.
“The United States really isn’t even in this game,” Admiral Zukunft said at a conference in Washington this year.
He lamented the lack of urgency in Washington, contrasting it with the challenges of the Cold War, when the United States and the Soviet Union confronted each other in the Arctic and beyond. “When Russia put Sputnik in outer space, did we sit with our hands in pocket with great fascination and say, ‘Good for Mother Russia’?”
Polar Opposites
“The Arctic is one of our planet’s last great frontiers,” Mr. Obama declared when he introduced a national strategy for the region in May 2013. The strategy outlined the challenges and opportunities created by diminishing sea ice – from the harsh effects on wildlife and native residents to the accessibility of oil, gas and mineral deposits, estimated by the United States Geological Survey to include 13 percent of the world’s undiscovered oil and 30 percent of its natural gas.
In January, the president created an Arctic Executive Steering Committee, led by the director of the White House’s Office of Science and Technology, John P. Holdren. The committee is trying to prioritize the demands for ships, equipment and personnel at a time of constrained budgets.
Dr. Holdren said in an interview that administration officials were trying “to get our arms around matching the resources and the commitment we can bring to bear with the magnitude of the opportunities and the challenges” in the Arctic.
What kind of frontier the Arctic will be – an ecological preserve or an economic engine, an area of international cooperation or confrontation – is now the question at the center of the unfolding geopolitical competition. An increasing divergence over the answer has deeply divided the United States and its allies on one side and Russia on the other.
Since returning to the Kremlin for a third term in 2012, President Vladimir V. Putin has sought to restore Russia’s pre-eminence in its northern reaches – economically and militarily – with zeal that anew report by the Center for Strategic and International Studies compared to the Soviet Union’s efforts to establish a “Red Arctic” in the 1930s. The report’s title echoed the rising tensions caused by Russia’s actions in the Arctic: “The New Ice Curtain.”
Decades of cooperation in the Arctic Council, which includes Russia, the United States and six other Arctic states, all but ended with Moscow’s annexation of Crimea in 2014 and the continuing war in eastern Ukraine. In March, Russia conducted an unannounced military exercise that was one of the largest ever in the far north. It involved 45,000 troops, as well as dozens of ships and submarines, including those in its strategic nuclear arsenal, from the Northern Fleet, based in Murmansk.
The first of two new army brigades – each expected to grow to more than 3,600 soldiers – deployed to a military base only 30 miles from the Finnish border. The other will be deployed on the Yamal Peninsula, where many of Russia’s new investments in energy resources on shore are. Mr. Putin has pursued the buildup as if a 2013 protest by Greenpeace International at the site of Russia’s first offshore oil platform above the Arctic Circle was the vanguard of a more ominous invader.
“Oil and gas production facilities, loading terminals and pipelines should be reliably protected from terrorists and other potential threats,” Mr. Putin said when detailing the military buildup last year. “Nothing can be treated as trivial here.”
In Washington and other NATO capitals, Russia’s military moves are seen as provocative – and potentially destabilizing.
In the wake of the conflict in Ukraine, Russia has intensified air patrols probing NATO’s borders, including in the Arctic. In February, Norwegian fighter jets intercepted six Russian aircraft off Norway’s northern tip. Similar Russian flights occurred last year off Alaska and in the Beaufort Sea, prompting American and Canadian jets to intercept them. Russia’s naval forces have also increased patrols, venturing farther into Arctic waters. Of particular concern, officials said, has been Russia’s deployment of air defenses in the far north, including surface-to-air missiles whose main purpose is to counter aerial incursions that only the United States or NATO members could conceivably carry out in the Arctic.
“We see the Arctic as a global commons,” a senior Obama administration official said, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss matters of national
security. “It’s not apparent the Russians see it the same way we do.”
Russia has also sought to assert its sovereignty in the Arctic through diplomacy. This month, Russia resubmitted a claim to the United Nations to a vast area of the Arctic Ocean – 463,000 square miles, about the size of South Africa – based on the geological extension of its continental shelf.
The commission that reviews claims under the Convention on the Law of the Sea rejected a similar one filed in 2001, citing insufficient scientific evidence. But Russia, along with Canada and Denmark (through its administration of Greenland), have pressed ahead with competing stakes. Russia signaled its ambitions – symbolically at least – as early as 2007 when it sent two submersibles 14,000 feet down to seabed beneath the North Pole and planted a titanium Russian flag.
Although the commission might not rule for years, Russia’s move underscored the priority the Kremlin has given to expanding its sovereignty. The United States, by contrast, has not even ratified the law of the sea treaty, leaving it on the sidelines of territorial jockeying.
“Nobody cared too much about these sectors,” said Andrei A. Smirnov, deputy director for operations at Atomflot, which operates Russia’s fleet of six nuclear-powered icebreakers, “but when it turned out that 40 percent of confirmed oil and gas deposits were there, everybody became interested in who owns what.”
Some have questioned whether Russia, whose economy is sinking under the weight of sanctions and the falling price of oil, can sustain its efforts in the Arctic.
“It is rather difficult to find rationale for this very pronounced priority in the allocation of increasingly scarce resources,” said Pavel K. Baev of the Peace Research Institute Oslo. He added that Russian claims that it was protecting its economic interests from NATO were “entirely fictitious.”
“The only challenge to Russian exploitation of the Arctic came from Greenpeace,” he said.
American commanders are watching warily. The United States and its NATO allies still have significant military forces – including missile defenses and plenty of air power – in the Arctic, but the Army is considering reducing its two brigades in Alaska. The Navy, which has no ice-capable warships, acknowledged in a report last year that it had little experience operating in the Arctic Ocean, notwithstanding decades of submarine operations during the Cold War. While it saw little need for new assets immediately, it predicted that could change.
Adm. William E. Gortney, head of the Pentagon’s Northern Command and North American Aerospace Defense Command, said that Russia was increasing its capabilities after years of neglect but did not represent a meaningful threat, yet. “We’re seeing activity in the Arctic, but it hasn’t manifested in significant change at this point,” he said in a recent interview.
Despite concerns over the military buildup, others said that some of Russia’s moves were benign efforts to ensure the safety of ships on its Northern Sea Route, which could slash the time it takes to ship goods from Asia to Europe. Russia had pledged to take those steps as an Arctic Council member.
“Some of the things I see them doing – in terms of building up bases, telecommunications, search and rescue capabilities – are things I wish the United States was doing as well,” said Robert J. Papp Jr., a retired admiral and former commandant of the Coast Guard. He is now the State Department’s senior envoy on Arctic issues.
Less Ice, More Traffic
Aboard the Alex Haley, the crew made contact with each of the ships it encountered plowing the waters, recording details of the owners, courses and the number of crew members who might need to be plucked from the sea in case of disaster.
The cutter’s captain, Cmdr. Seth J. Denning, was a young ensign when he first crossed the Arctic Circle just north of the Bering Strait 19 years ago. “I never really realized that the Arctic was going to open up as much as it has – enough to allow this much activity,” he said. “I think it surprised many people.”
What had been a brief excursion for Ensign Denning when the Arctic was choked with ice has nowbecome routine.
The Alex Haley – named after the author of “Roots,” who was a 20-year Coast Guard veteran – is one of five ships that the Coast Guard is deploying to the Arctic from June to October. It will be replaced by an advanced cutter, the Waesche, based in Alameda, Calif. The Coast Guard has also stationed two rescue helicopters at the airport at Deadhorse, the town where the Trans-Alaska Pipeline begins.
The deployments are part of an annual summer surge that was started in 2012 when Shell first explored the oil fields off Alaska’s North Slope. The challenges of the new mission have been exacting, given the vast distances and limited support infrastructure on land. For several days this month the Alex Haley’s only helicopter, which operates from a retractable hangar on the ship’s aft was out of service, awaiting a spare part that had to be flown in on several hops from North Carolina.
This year’s deployments are intended to assess the requirements for operating in the Arctic, but the expected increase in human activity there will put new demands on the service.
“As a maritime nation, we have responsibility for the safety and security of the people who are going to be using that ocean,” said Mr. Papp. “And we have a responsibility to protect the ocean from the people who will be using it.”
Steven Lee Myers reported from aboard the Alex Haley; Washington; Kotzebue and Barrow, Alaska; and Moscow and Murmansk, Russia. Eric Schmitt contributed reporting from Colorado Springs; James Hill from Murmansk; and Nikolay Khalip from Moscow.

U.S. submarine returns from 2-month mission below Arctic ice pack

Barbara Starr, CNN
31 August 2015

For two months they were submerged under the ocean's surface, much of that time far below a solid mass of ice.

As they passed through the Bering Strait bordering Russia, they steered around undersea ice formations more than 30 feet deep. When they finally punched through the Arctic ice cap just shy of the North Pole, it took them five hours to break the ice off their submarine's key hatches so they could reach the fresh air.
What they found awaiting them was a cold, white world of silence, of complete isolation, with not so much as a bird in sight.
Some of the smiling young sailors who emerged from the USS Seawolf to take in the scene decided to take their re-enlistment oath for another tour of duty right then and there.
It was, according to Navy Cmdr. Jeff Bierley, who commanded the sub, a "once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, an incredible experience not many people get to have."
The U.S. Navy has 14 ballistic missile submarines, also called boomers, in service. The boomers, displacing 18,750 tons submerged and 560 feet long, can carry 24 nuclear-armed Trident II ballistic missiles and serve as nuclear deterrents. Here, Ohio-class ballistic-missile submarine USS West Virginia (SSBN 736) departs a Norfolk Naval Shipyard in 2013 after an engineering overhaul.
The Ohio-class guided missile submarine USS Ohio transits Puget Sound, Washington, in June 2015. The Ohio and three other guided-missile subs -- USS Florida, USS Michigan and USS Georgia -- were originally built and deployed as ballistic-missile subs, but were converted to guided-missile platforms beginning in 2002 after the Navy concluded it had a surplus of the boomers.
The Los Angeles-class attack submarine USS Hampton surfaces through Arctic ice in March 2014. The Los Angeles-class is the biggest in the Navy's sub fleet, with 41 now in commission. These subs displace 6,900 tons and are 360 feet long. The class was introduced in 1976.
The USS Seawolf, shown here in support of European operations in June 2015, is the lead vessel in the three-boat Seawolf class. The Seawolf and the USS Connecticut, the second boat in the class, displace 9,138 tons and are 353 feet long. Click to the next slide to learn more about the third sub in the class, the USS Jimmy Carter.
The Seawolf-class attack submarine USS Jimmy Carter is moored in a Washington state facility that reduces a ship's electromagnetic signature in 2006. The Jimmy Carter is 100 feet longer than the first two subs in its class. The extra space is for a "multimission platform," the Navy says. "This hull section provides for additional payloads to accommodate advanced technology used to carry out classified research and development and for enhanced warfighting capabilities."
A dolphin swims in front of the Navy's newest submarine, the attack submarine USS John Warner, during its sea trials in May. The John Warner was commissioned on Saturday, August 1, in a ceremony in Norfolk, Virginia. Virginia-class attack subs, displacing 7,800 tons and at 377 feet long, "are designed to seek and destroy enemy submarines and surface ships; project power ashore with Tomahawk cruise missiles and special operation forces (SOF); carry out inntelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) missions; support battle group operations; and engage in mine warfare," according to the Navy.
The U.S. Navy has 14 ballistic missile submarines, also called boomers, in service. The boomers, displacing 18,750 tons submerged and 560 feet long, can carry 24 nuclear-armed Trident II ballistic missiles and serve as nuclear deterrents. Here, Ohio-class ballistic-missile submarine USS West Virginia (SSBN 736) departs a
Norfolk Naval Shipyard in 2013 after an engineering overhaul.
The Ohio-class guided missile submarine USS Ohio transits Puget Sound, Washington, in June 2015. The Ohio and three other guided-missile subs -- USS Florida, USS Michigan and USS Georgia -- were originally built and deployed as ballistic-missile subs, but were converted to guided-missile platforms beginning in 2002 after the Navy concluded it had a surplus of the boomers.
The Los Angeles-class attack submarine USS Hampton surfaces through Arctic ice in March 2014. The Los Angeles-class is the biggest in the Navy's sub fleet, with 41 now in commission. These subs displace 6,900 tons and are 360 feet long. The class was introduced in 1976.
The USS Seawolf, shown here in support of European operations in June 2015, is the lead vessel in the three-boat Seawolf class. The Seawolf and the USS Connecticut, the second boat in the class, displace 9,138 tons and are 353 feet long. Click to the next slide to learn more about the third sub in the class, the USS Jimmy Carter.
The Seawolf-class attack submarine USS Jimmy Carter is moored in a Washington state facility that reduces a ship's electromagnetic signature in 2006. The Jimmy Carter is 100 feet longer than the first two subs in its class. The extra space is for a "multimission platform," the Navy says. "This hull section provides for additional payloads to accommodate advanced technology used to carry out classified research and development and for enhanced warfighting capabilities."
A dolphin swims in front of the Navy's newest submarine, the attack submarine USS John Warner, during its sea trials in May. The John Warner was commissioned on Saturday, August 1, in a ceremony in Norfolk, Virginia. Virginia-class attack subs, displacing 7,800 tons and at 377 feet long, "are designed to seek and destroy enemy submarines and surface ships; project power ashore with Tomahawk cruise missiles and special operation forces (SOF); carry out inntelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) missions; support battle group operations; and engage in mine warfare," according to the Navy.
"There was nobody there but us," Bierley said of the Seawolf's August 1 trip to the Arctic surface, hundreds of miles from the nearest human. When you first open the hatch, "the thing that strikes you is, it's so quiet. It's completely silent."
The Seawolf has just returned home after a six-month deployment in which the crew had no communications with their families during the two months they were submerged -- several weeks of which were entirely under ice. Fresh air wasn't the only thing the crew of 154 lacked. Though the sub went to sea with plenty of food, the commander said the fresh fruit and vegetables were eaten "in about a week."
So why do it, aside from giving the sailors aboard the thrill of their naval career? Why does the Navy regularly send submarines to the Arctic ice cap, especially with nobody else there, and no threat on the horizon?
Bierly said the mission has important operational goals.
"Our focus was demonstrating the ability to surface through the ice," he said in a telephone interview from his naval base in Bremerton, Washington. "It's an important operational priority to demonstrate we can operate in that environment."
The deployment allows the Navy to showcase "freedom of navigation," the capacity to maneuver a ship or sub anywhere on Earth, and to do so in a region, the Arctic, that is growing more important every year.
The Pentagon has long thought of the North Pole as much more than the mythical home of Santa Claus. Submarines have been conducting under-ice Arctic operations for more than five decades, sometimes completing exercises that include building "ice camps," or temporary bases, on the surface. But now the location has become even more serious for national security.
President Barack Obama makes the first trip of a sitting president to the Arctic Monday to highlight the region's importance and the implications there of climate change.
"The Arctic is going to be a place of growing strategic importance. The Russians are active there," Defense Secretary Ash Carter told a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing in March.
Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said at the same session that "the Russians have just taken a decision to activate six new brigades -- and four of them will be in the Arctic."
All this comes as the Arctic environment itself is rapidly changing and the Navy's Arctic Submarine Laboratory is embarked on a high-tech effort to understand what exactly is happening in this remote region.
Through the Navy's task force on climate change and its Arctic Roadmap project, the Navy is using a large array of robotic technologies -- including small oceangoing drones -- to study the atmosphere, the ice and the sea.
The military is already seeing the impact of a changing climate with rising temperatures and melting ice.
"The observed changes in the Arctic region climate and the reduced extent of summer ice reveal the potential for the Arctic Ocean to become a more viable route of international shipping over the coming decades. Opportunities exists for infrastructure development and commercial investment, resource exploitation, fishing and tourism," the Navy said in its roadvmap report.
The Navy noted in the report that in the past century, average Arctic temperatures have increased at almost twice the global average rate.
There are already important resources there to protect: The Navy estimates the potential value of hydrocarbons in the U.S. Arctic alone exceeds $1 trillion.
Submarines like the Seawolf can travel more than 800 feet below the surface, carrying up to 50 missiles and a mix of torpedoes and mines.
The hope is none of it will ever be needed, but if the Arctic becomes more heavily traveled, and some nation poses a threat, the U.S. Navy plans to be ready.

Christening set for U.S. attack sub Illinois built in Rhode Island

Paul Edward Parker, Providence Journal
28 August 2015

The fast-attack submarine Illinois, built by General Dynamics Electric Boat, largely at its Quonset Point shipyard in Rhode Island, will be christened Oct. 10 at the company's shipyard in Groton, Conn., a committee connected to the submarine has announced.
The ship's sponsor, who traditionally breaks a bottle of champagne on the hull at the christening, is First Lady Michelle Obama.
A spokesman for Electric Boat confirmed that the ceremony will be held on Oct. 10, but deferred to the White House when asked whether Mrs. Obama will attend.
The first lady's press office declined to comment on her plans.
The christening is the middle of three ceremonial milestones in the construction of a Naval submarine. Early in the construction, a keel laying ceremony is held, when the sponsor's initials are welded into a steel plate that will become part of the ship. The final ceremony is commissioning, when the submarine officially becomes a U.S. warship.
Mrs. Obama chalked her initials into a steel plate to be traced by a welder at the keel laying for Illinois on June 2, 2014, at the Quonset Point shipyard.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Philippines encouraged by talks with U.S. admiral over dispute with China

Erik Slavin, Stars And Stripes
27 August 2015

YOKOSUKA NAVAL BASE, JAPAN – The United States reassured the Philippines it will patrol areas of the South China Sea disputed by Manila and Beijing, Philippine officials said after a visit from the head of U.S. Pacific Command.
Philippine Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin said Wednesday that he asked Adm. Harry Harris to fly patrol planes over island territory claimed by China but garrisoned by Philippine troops, according to The Associated Press.
Chinese vessels in recent years have attempted to block the resupply of Second Thomas Shoal, a small island within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone. The island is garrisoned by a handful of Philippine servicemembers aboard a rusting, former U.S. WWII-era ship grounded on the shoal.
“If there are Americans flying around there, we won’t be troubled,” Gazmin told the AP. “We need to be helped in our resupply missions. The best way they could assist is through their presence.”
Harris did not speak publicly after his Wednesday visit, according to media reports. However, he has criticized China’s methods of asserting its ambiguous claims to nearly 90 percent of the South China Sea, where the Philippines and several other countries have competing claims.
In July, Harris called out China for “essentially creating false sovereignty” and for destroying fragile reefs by building artificial islands on top of them in the disputed Spratly Islands.
This isn’t the first time the Philippines has consulted with the U.S. after a dispute with China. In 2012, after a Philippine-China standoff at Scarborough Shoal, another South China Sea island, the Philippines spoke with the U.S. about providing Navy P-3 surveillance flights in the area.
The U.S. contends the South China Sea’s water and airspace are part of the global commons under international law, and therefore open to military transit and surveillance. China rejects that interpretation and maintains that its island claims are “indisputable,” despite claims on seas and territory by the Philippines, Vietnam, Brunei, Malaysia, Indonesia and Taiwan.
An estimated $5.2 trillion in global annual trade passes through the South China Sea, making security in the region a global affair. It is part of the reason the U.S. announced in recent years a military, diplomatic and
economic emphasis on the Asia-Pacific known as the “pivot” and the “rebalance.”
Despite those plans, Asian leaders have expressed concerns that the U.S. strategy won’t materialize, considering pressing concerns in the Middle East and other parts of the world. However, Philippine officials said Wednesday that the U.S. plans to increase exercises and patrols in the region. That would be in keeping with U.S. plans to station 60 percent of its surface fleet in the Pacific by 2020. The Navy already stations 60 percent of its submarine fleet in the region.
An increase in activity won’t turn back the clock on China’s island building, but it could allay some concerns about the U.S. commitment, said Richard Bitzinger, senior fellow for the Military Transformations Program at S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies in Singapore.
“I don’t know if it will change Chinese behavior, but it’s certainly sending a message to the Chinese that the U.S. is serious about the pivot,” he said.
Although the U.S., Canada and Australia helped Manila recently acquire ships and combat helicopters, the Philippines is no match for China militarily. Only the U.S. spends more on defense than China, and the Philippines’ flagship is a retired U.S. Coast Guard cutter.
The U.S. also wants to help Manila through the 2016 defense authorization bill. That includes the South China Sea Initiative, which would release $225 million through 2020 to the Philippines and up to seven other Southeast Asian nations for maritime security and training.
In the meantime, the Philippines’ weak military helps it garner international sympathy.
“They look like the scrappy little underdog who’s doing whatever they can,” Bitzinger said.
The Philippines’ efforts include a case before the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea over China’s ambiguous claims to the South China Sea.
China has rejected participation in the case, even though it is a Law of the Sea signatory and theoretically bound by the court’s decision.
Philippine officials said Harris on Wednesday outlined several points from a copy of the Pentagon’s new Asia Pacific Maritime Security Strategy – a document that takes no position on territorial sovereignty, but backs the Philippines’ right to take on China in court.
“In the South China Sea, we urge all parties to pursue peaceful means of resolving their disputes ... such as the Philippines’ submission of its claims for arbitration,” the document says.

Off the grid: North Korean sub fleet's mystery mission

Fox News
26 August 2015

Two-thirds of North Korea’s submarine fleet was reportedly on the move and off of Seoul’s sonar this week despite an announcement by the two Koreas that they were ratcheting down the saber rattling that followed a land mine explosion in the demilitarized zone earlier this month.
More than 50 North Korean subs, believed to represent about 70 percent of Pyongyang’s fleet – were still unaccounted for Wednesday in a potentially ominous development that a spokesman for South Korea's Defense Ministry called "unprecedented." Seoul and the U.S., which maintains a strong presence in South Korea, responded by increasing military surveillance
"The number is nearly 10 times the normal level ... we take the situation very seriously," Kim Min-seok, the defense ministry spokesman, said Tuesday.
South Korean news agency Yonhap quoted a military official as saying the country was "mobilizing all our surveillance resources" to find the missing subs. Yonhap also reported that the submarines, which slipped away from their bases on Friday, likely had returned to naval bases in North Korea. But until they are accounted for, officials say their is concern on the seas surrounding the peninsula.
“We’ve said before the disappearance [of North Korean submarines] is a source of concern, and the fact is they are not easy to detect when they are submerged under water,” Kim said. "No one knows whether the North will attack our warships or commercial vessels," the defense ministry official said.
Pyongyang has also used amphibious landing craft to move special forces near the two nation's maritime border on the Yellow Sea, Yonhap reported Monday.
Tensions between the two nations flare up from time to time, often due to North Korean aggression. In 2010, North Korea’s navy was accused of torpedoing a South Korean warship in an attack that killed 46 people. Pyongyang denied responsibility.
Monday’s announcement that the two nations would dial down tensions came after several days of talks in the border village of Panmunjom, in which South Korea agreed to stop blasting propaganda from loudspeakers at the militarized border. Pyongyang said it regretted the land-mine blast earlier this month that injured two South Korean soldiers.
It also followed an exchange of artillery fire at the border last week, which South Korea said was started by the North.
The two countries have technically been at war since the 1950s, often coming to the apparent brink of all-out hostilities only to step back. Jonathan Pollack, a Korea expert at the Brookings Institute, said the weekend talks that appeared to have calmed the waters included a rare admission from North Korea that its land mines had detonated. Pollack said his sources say the submarines had
headed back to port and were no longer accounted for, and that their temporary disappearance was part of the latest round of tensions.
"For its own reasons, North Korea built this up, and then for its own reasons ratcheted it down," he said. "I don't discount their threats, but they express them regularly, sometimes against the U.S. and often for things they don't have the capability to do."
The submarines initially left their ports at the height of the crisis, and the motive behind their deployment was not known, said Scott Snyder, of the Council on Foreign Relations.
"It is not clear whether this is a defensive or offensive move; thus it requires continued watchfulness," Snyder said.
On Monday, Pentagon spokesman Capt. Jeff Davis said there has been an increase in military operations by North Korea, but that it “has not been at a level that is high enough to cause alarm.”
South Korean President Park Geun-hye had ordered the propaganda blasted from loudspeakers at the border until the regime led by third-generation dictator Kim Jong Un took responsibility for the three land mines planted there. In a statement released by her office, she said: "We need a clear apology and measures to prevent a recurrence of these provocations and tense situations.
"There will be no retreat in the face of North Korean threats," she added.
Pollack said North Korea's statement expressing "regret" over the land mine incident was as close to an apology as Pyongyang ever gives.

Royal Navy submarine visits Cyprus

Cyprus Mail
28 August 2015

Defence Minister Christoforos Fokaides was guest of honour aboard the Royal Navy submarine HMS Ambush, during an event hosted on Thursday by British acting High Commissioner, Lynda Burns, to highlight the strength of the defence and security cooperation between the UK and Cyprus.
HMS Ambush is the first of its type to visit Cyprus, a press release issued by the British High Commission said.
Speaking at the event, Burns said that the visit of HMS Ambush to Cyprus was a visible example of the deepening defence relationship between the two countries.
She added that the UK and Cyprus shared a special relationship and expressed pleasure for hosting Fokaides and members of the Cypriot military and navy on board HMS Ambush.
"It is a clear demonstration of our shared security interests, values and responsibilities in a volatile region where we continue to work together on regional security. The UK welcomes Cyprus support and contribution to international operations in the region and we look forward to a defence relationship that continues to grow from strength to strength," she said.
Fokaides said "the relationship between our two countries must constantly continue to improve in the fields of security and defence to reflect both the common interests and responsibilities in promoting regional stability in an area tormented by conflicts and humanitarian crises."
Welcoming Fokaides on board, Commander Alan Daveney said that HMS Ambush is one of the most capable submarines in the world and represents the future of the Royal Navy submarine service.
HMS Ambush is an Astute-class nuclear submarine launched in January 2011.
They are the largest, most advanced and most powerful attack submarines operated by the Royal Navy.

NATO prepped for largest military exercise since Cold War

Dan Parsons, Defense Daily
27 August 2015

NATO is set to launch the largest and most complex multi-nation military exercise since the end of the Cold War. The so-called Trident Juncture, set to kick off in mid-October, will involve 27 of the 28 NATO nations performing maneuver warfare, amphibious assault and other large-scale combat practice in Portugal, Spain and Italy.
The alliance has not flexed its maneuver warfare muscle since its last large-scale multi-national exercise in 2002, French Air Force Gen. Jean-Paul Palomeros, NATO supreme allied commander for transformation, told reporters Aug. 27 during a roundtable in Washington, D.C. NATO since then has been fighting a very specific counterinsurgency and nation-building war in Afghanistan, during which time skills like troop transportation, logistics and interoperability have atrophied, he said.
“We fixed to ourselves this initiative to build a major, high-intensity, crisis operation exercise,” Palomeros said. “This exercise is there to ensure the NATO command structure ... it is there as well to train our people in the most demanding environment, the kind of environment they will face in the future.
“If we want to reach the highest level of interoperability, we have to check that,” he added. “We have to stress test in a certain way, our organization, our coalition, to see if everything is in place.”
Trident Juncture will involve 36,000 troops in 230 units from nearly every NATO nation and a few others, 220
aircraft, 50 ships and nine submarines. Before the live exercise, a command-post exercise will be held to test commanders’ ability to communicate and move forces according to escalating threats.
Palomeros said the participant nations will be focusing on information sharing, threat prediction, mobility and adaptability of forces, identifying areas that need built-in resiliency, strategic communications and each nation’s security network.
While NATO was able to rapidly develop and deploy coalition forces in support of Libyan rebels during that country’s civil war and more recently against Islamic State militants, the alliance has not banded together in full-scale war in decades, Palomeros said.
The goal of the exercise is to train in maneuver warfare with massed troops, “which is an expertise which we have lost [over] the last two decades, because of the nature of operations in which we were involved.”
In the last two years, NATO has expanded its multinational exercise schedule by three, Palomeros said. Heretofore, the alliance plans to conduct such large multinational exercises at least every three years. The next one will take place in and around Norway in 2018.
“This very dynamic policy of exercises has allowed to answer the call of the assurance measure in the east, as well, in a matter of days,” he said, alluding to NATO’s ongoing position of support for Eastern European nations threatened by a resurgent, expansionist Russia.
The exercise is not specifically aimed at showing off NATO’s might before an expansionist Russia, he said. The idea was hatched at a NATO meeting in Chicago before the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
The exercise was specifically hatched as practice against threats originating on NATO’s southern borders, because “the south was concerning, in a certain way,” Palomeros said.
“And we needed to balance the activities,” he said. “We had some activities in the east. That was before Ukraine. Then we concentrated and said there is a huge potential for high-intensity, very realistic complex scenario in the south in a joint environment – sea, air, land.”
Spain, Portugal and Italy eventually were arrived at as willing and able host nations, he said.
Planning for Trident Juncture took more than two years, which Palomeros acknowledged was slow in terms of its application to a real-world conflict. But the methodical planning allowed NATO and participating countries to delve deeply into their command structures and ability to communicate and coordinate a response to a given threat, he said.
Some lessons already have been learned, namely that logistics within NATO are not optimal. For a league of 28 nations to fight a war on a unified front, troop movement, supply and transportation are key, he said.
“Logistics remain a key factor,” Palomeros said. “This is not new, but it remains. Logistics is not always a top priority when it should be. We should be permanently striving to practice moving forces.”

Hacker killed by drone was Islamic State's "secret weapon"

Margaret Coker, Danny Yadron And Damian Paletta, Wall Street Journal
28 August 2015

Targeting of Islamic State’s electronics expert shows how digital warfare has upset balance of power on modern battlefield

U.S. and British officials decided earlier this year that a hacker needed to die.
Junaid Hussain, a British citizen in his early 20s, had risen fast to become a chief in Islamic State’s electronic army. One person familiar with the matter said he hacked dozens of U.S. military personnel and published personal and financial details online, including those of a general, for others to exploit.
He helped sharpen the terror group’s defense against Western surveillance and built hacking tools to penetrate computer systems, said people familiar with the matter.
Mr. Hussain was killed by a U.S. drone strike on Tuesday while he was in a car in Raqqa, Syria, U.S. officials said. That he was targeted directly shows the extent to which digital warfare has upset the balance of power on the modern battlefield.
Islamic State didn’t build a large cyber force like the U.S.’s National Security Agency or China’s People’s Liberation Army. Instead, it had people like Mr. Hussain, a convicted hacker whose suite of inexpensive digital tools threatened to wreak havoc on even the world’s most-powerful country. Islamic State communications described him as one of the group’s secret weapons, said one person who has seen them.
U.S. officials said they believe Mr. Hussain played an important role in recruiting two American Muslims to open fire in Garland, Texas, this spring on a contest for cartoon depictions of the Prophet Muhammad. He also frequently hacked into U.S. service members’ Facebook accounts to determine personal details and future targets, one of the people familiar with the probe said.
“If you don’t have anybody who is kind of fluent in computer operations, you’ve got a problem,” said Michael Sulmeyer, a former cyberpolicy expert for the Pentagon now at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government. “The ballgame is pretty much the coder or the individual.”
Mr. Hussain drew attention from U.S. and British intelligence and military agencies in part because of his efforts to recruit and incite violence, said one U.S. official. His importance to Islamic State made him a legitimate target, the official said. “Leadership: That is what gets our attention.”
Islamic State hasn’t confirmed Mr. Hussain’s death, as it sometimes does after operatives are killed in drone strikes. Eulogies from Islamic State supporters, including one man who like Mr. Hussain grew up in the West Midlands city of Birmingham, England, began trickling through Twitter on Thursday.
In the 14 months since Islamic State announced it had formed a caliphate, the group has carved out a state of sorts in Iraq and Syria. Since last fall, when U.S. officials began tracking Mr. Hussain, the terror network also started to strengthen its cyberwarfare capabilities, adopting cutting-edge encryption technology and boosting its attempts to recruit hackers to even the odds against major Western powers.
Mr. Hussain grew up a book-smart teenager, according to court records and several people familiar with his case. He was planning to study computer science.
Before graduating from high school, however, he joined a group of British teens in a hacking collective called Team Poison. Using the handle “Tr1ck,” Mr. Hussain claimed responsibility for hacking into the email account of an assistant to former Prime Minister Tony Blair. Mr. Blair’s personal details, including his National
ID number, the equivalent of a Social Security number, were published online.
A British court found Mr. Hussain guilty and he served a prison sentence.
Birmingham police in July 2013 arrested him for involvement in a street fight. While awaiting trial, he fled to Syria, U.K. officials said. By January 2014, he was communicating online with other British Muslims about how to join Islamic State, according to court documents.
Once living in Islamic State territory, Mr. Hussain re-emerged with a new online persona: Abu Hussain al-Britaini.
U.S. officials began to view Mr. Hussain as a top threat because he was on the leading edge of Islamic State efforts to recruit in the U.S. He would post names, addresses and photos of U.S. troops on his Twitter feed and suggest followers find and kill the person. In several instances, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Defense Department set up 24-hour watches around targeted service members, a person familiar with the situation said.
Mr. Hussain developed a hacking tool, or malware, that could be used to spy on other machines, called a remote access Trojan, or RAT. He was training other Islamic State members in how to use hacker techniques, people familiar with the case said.
In at least one interaction, according to a Wall Street Journal review of online communications, he discussed the possibility of obtaining a zero-day exploit – hacker jargon for software that takes advantage of flaws in commercial software, such as Microsoft Word, unknown to that developer. Because they are unknown, they are almost impossible to stop.
Islamic State leaders have long communicated on a variety of platforms such as Facebook Inc. that U.S. officials can easily tap through court orders. Computer-security types such as Mr. Hussain, however, are notorious for being cautious with digital communications. After Mr. Hussain moved into a leadership role in the group’s so-called hacking division, Islamic State began ordering and teaching its commanders and followers to tighten its security awareness.
In December, Islamic State issued an order banning fighters from using devices equipped with location-tracking software, particularly Apple Inc. devices. By May, members were tweeting to throw out Samsung Galaxy smartphones as well.
This year, Islamic State officials started warning against using WhatsApp, the popular messaging app owned by Facebook, for fears it was being monitored. Officials said operatives should use one of several Western encrypted or hard-to-track messaging apps, such as Surespot, Telegram or Kik, according to security memos reviewed by The Wall Street Journal.
In August, Islamic State supporters lighted up social media over an apparent cyber bombshell. IS Hacking Division claimed responsibility for hacking into the social-media accounts of hundreds of U.S. military members. The group published lists of 1,481 names, departments, email addresses, passwords and phone numbers, warning, “we are in your emails and computer systems, watching and recording your every move, we have your names and addresses, we are in your emails and social media accounts, we are extracting confidential data.”
The hacked list of U.S. military names was retweeted on Aug. 11 by @AbuHu55ain_911, the last known social-media profile on Twitter for Mr. Hussain.
That feed has since been deleted, as has the Twitter feed of his wife, a 45-year-old British onetime punk rocker named Sally Jones who converted to Islam and traveled to Syria to marry Mr. Hussain.
Mr. Hussain appears to have institutionalized Islamic State’s interest in fostering an electronic army. Supporters send daily entreaties to Muslims around the world to move to the caliphate. They also regularly make specialized recruitment drives. A list of needed professional skills published on Islamic State media outlets on Jan. 3 included hackers, “penetrators” and computer programmers.
Julian E. Barnes in Brussels and Alexis Flynn in London contributed to this article.

U.S. Navy using undersea wireless technology to recharge underwater drones

27 August 2015

The US Navy is developing methods to recharge underwater unmanned vehicles (UUVs) with the support of undersea wireless technology, in a bid to reduce time between missions and enhance overall utility.
The UUVs are used for missions, including the location and identification of underwater threats, such as mines, ocean floor mapping, and optimising remote sensing platforms.
Naval Surface Warfare Center Carderock Division (NSWCCD) technical lead Alex Askari said: "Underwater data and energy transfer are expected to multiply the effectiveness of navy-operated UUVs and other unmanned platforms by providing a vehicle-agnostic method for autonomous underwater energy charging."
The wireless underwater energy transfer concepts, including forward deployed energy and forward deployed energy and communications outpost (FDECO), were initially developed in NSWCCD's Disruptive Technologies Lab.
During a recent demonstration, the Carderock Division team was able to transfer power wirelessly from an underwater docking station to a mid-sized autonomous research vehicle (MARV) UUV section, and ultimately to the UUV's battery.
NSWCCD integration lead Joseph Curran said: "The NUWC team was on-hand to simulate the full capabilities of the NUWC-developed MARV UUV, as well as to provide assistance with testing."
The underwater energy transfer programme was performed using data that is transferred wirelessly underwater using SSC PAC's underwater optical communications system. It allowed an enhanced estimation of the charge on the battery through the SOC programme.
In July, the US Navy reportedly launched and recovered an underwater drone from its USS North Dakota submarine, which is said to be its first such mission.
Since 1970s, the navy has used unmanned vehicles for training purposes to replicate enemy submarines. The UUVs were also used to detect mines and map the ocean floor.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Women's roles in special operations -- breaking barriers in the U.S.

Gidget Fuentes, San Diego Union-Tribune
26 August 2015

The military services are poised to lift all restrictions that have barred women from some of the front lines of combat and the advancements in rank and job that come with it. That is, unless the services make good arguments to keep as male only those combat-arms jobs, including thousands in special operations.
Two years ago, then-Defense Secretary Leon Panetta directed an end to the combat exclusion rule that kept female troops from direct combat jobs. The service secretaries have until Jan. 1 to evaluate performance standards to ensure they are gender-neutral and integrate women into those occupations. At the time of his decision, women made up about 15 percent of the military.
Technically speaking, as of Jan. 1, every position will be open to women. But the services also can argue to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff why it wants a job specialty or an assignment to remain closed to women, but the final decision rests with the defense secretary. “Exceptions must be narrowly tailored and based on a rigorous analysis of factual data regarding the knowledge, skills and abilities needed for the position,” Panetta wrote in the 2013 memo lifting the ground combat exclusion.
Defense Secretary Ash Carter has voiced his support, telling the Senate Appropriations Committee in May that the military should continue “to expand combat positions available to women – because everyone who’s able and willing to serve their country should have full and equal opportunity to do so.”
Since Panetta’s move, the military has been chipping away some corners of the door that blocks women from certain jobs and combat assignments. But it remains unclear just how far the services and the military’s special
operations components will go to open the door wide in every job field and, more importantly for women, every assignment slot.
Gayle Tzemach Lemmon, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations who has extensively studied women and special operations forces, said U.S. Special Operations Command has been studying integration and is expected to submit its recommendations in July. Lemmon stopped short of predicting whether those premier special- ops assignments will include women, but she believes many in the community who have worked alongside women support the change – as long as standards remain the same.
“The Rangers I speak of, even the ones who didn’t like the idea, felt it was inevitable,” said Lemmon, an author who spent two years writing about the experiences of female soldiers who trained and deployed as part of female engagement teams alongside Army Rangers. “Whether (women) would qualify, that was another story.” “The wars we fight are changing, and so are the people,” she said.
Breaking that glass ceiling in the special operations community, however, is seen by women as an opportunity to serve, fight and sacrifice equally. The special operations forces that conduct “direct action,” including Navy SEALs, Marine Raiders, Army Rangers and Green Berets, are seen as the ultimate front-line assignment, Lemmon said, “doing something that they see as making a difference to the mission. It’s about purpose – it’s always about purpose.” The Army on June 16 lifted gender restrictions on 20,563 jobs, including combat engineers; not necessarily combat engineer slots in special operations units, however.
“We’ve just approved opening up all positions in engineer to females, we’re very close to approving all positions in field artillery for females,” Gen. Ray Odierno told soldiers during a “virtual” town hall with troops before that decision was announced. A decision on the Army’s biggest combat-arms communities – infantry and armor – may come out in October after ongoing tests and assessments are completed, he said.
In February, the Army opened 4,100 special commands, including Army Special Operations Command, Army National Guard Special Forces Group, Military Information Support Operations Command and Military Free Fall Operations. But it “does not include currently closed occupations and positions with closed skill identifiers,” Army Secretary John McHugh wrote. Those include Army Rangers and Special Forces, which have remained along with infantry, cavalry and armor.
The Navy’s elite “silent service” took another big step June 22, when the Navy announced the first group of female enlisted sailors to be screened for training and assigned to a submarine. Those women will join men who crew the Ohio-class submarine Michigan. Female officers have served on its larger submarines for several years in an initial test of crew integration.
The Navy had more women interested and qualified to take the job than it had spaces for them, officials said. “We couldn’t be more pleased with the amount of interest shown by enlisted women in wanting the opportunity to serve in the undersea warfare domain,” Rear Adm. Charles Richard, who commands Submarine Group 10 in Kings Bay, Ga., and led the Enlisted Women in Submarines Task Force Commander, said in a statement. “It’s an exciting time in the submarine force as we continue to move forward in shaping the future of our force, drawing from the best pool of talent possible.”
In recent years, female soldiers have accompanied special operations forces, including Army Rangers and Special Forces, attached as “cultural support teams” to better interact with local women in Afghan villages. But whether U.S. Special Operations Command will agree to any lifting of the exclusion to allow women assignment as Rangers, or Green Berets or Navy SEALs or Marine Raiders waits to be seen. Sentiment within the community is mixed.
A Special Operations Command survey found doubts among men that women could meet the demands of special operations, The Associated Press reported in April. Women also were concerned about the lowering of standards and, in turn, how that might reflect negatively on them.
Lemmon said Rangers she met who trained or worked with the female soldiers on the teams said “these women aren’t any different from us,” she said. “There’s no question, after 9/11 special operations folks I see speak about how these women made a difference.” Moreover, she said, “the most important thing, among women and men, was that the standards remain high.”
Lemmon detailed the work of those female soldiers in her book, “Ashley’s War: The Untold Story of a Team of Women Soldiers on the Special Ops Battlefield.” It tells the story of Combat Support Team soldiers. One of them was 1st Lt. Ashley White Stumpf, who was killed Oct. 22, 2011, when improvised explosive devices detonated during a patrol with Rangers. Two of the Rangers also died, including Rancho Bernardo High graduate Kristoffer B. Domeij, 29, a veteran Ranger on his 14th combat deployment.
“This is a positive story about what women could do. This is a story of what they have already done, and the difference they made in the battlefield” – in special operations and across the military services, she said. Those women “had a skill set that was useful, and they were seen as contributing to the mission.”
That the female soldiers excelled in that training and mission in a spec-ops community that’s been continuously deployed and primed to solve whatever problem is in front of them is a testament to all of them, Lemmon said. “It’s not an easy thing to come in, fit in and make a difference.” With deadlines looming, it seems all eyes this spring have been on the Army’s Ranger School.
In late June, three female soldiers were hoping the third time could be the charm for them. The women had
passed the Army’s physical fitness test for entry into the two-month Ranger School, held at Fort Benning, Ga. It was their third try for the school, after having been dropped twice from the first phase of the training, called the Darby Phase. They, along with a number of men, were allowed to recycle into the next class, which started June 22. Col. David Fivecoat, who commands the Airborne and Ranger Training Brigade, which runs Ranger School, told the Army Times newspaper that the women “earned” another shot, having completed the fitness test during the Ranger Assessment Phase.
“The overall performance of the three ... was very high. All three were close to making it through the Darby Phase ... That is a daunting task for anyone, male or female.” Roughly fewer than half the students graduate from the school, which is considered the Army’s premier leadership course.
Opening the school to women, however, doesn’t mean female soldiers who graduate Ranger School get to be Rangers. Graduates are Ranger-qualified and earn the coveted “Ranger” tab to display on their shoulders. But to get the coveted tan beret and to serve and be assigned to the 75th Ranger Regiment, a Ranger must complete the Ranger Assessment and Selection Program, which has been closed to women.

Japan strugles to woo Australia in bid for $35 billion submarine contract

Matt Siegel, Reuters
26 August 2015

ADELAIDE, AUSTRALIA – Japan's effort to charm Australian politicians and the public over its bid for a A$50 billion ($35.60 billion) submarine project appeared to stumble on Wednesday, with officials from Tokyo resisting pressure to commit to building the vessels in Australia.
Japanese defence officials and executives from Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and Kawasaki Heavy Industries made their first major pitch to build 12 stealth submarines for Australia's navy during public briefings in Adelaide, a ship-building hub.
Once seen as the frontrunner to win the contract, the Japanese bid has since come under scrutiny over whether Tokyo would build any of the submarines in Australia, where manufacturing jobs are a hot-button political issue.
Rivals ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems of Germany and France's state-controlled naval contractor DCNS have both said they would build entirely in Australia, emphasising the economic and political benefits of their proposals.
The European firms have also courted the Australian defence industry and media in key cities.
The Japanese delegation, led by retired Admiral Takahashi Saito, stressed Japan's cutting-edge technology, track record in manufacturing and strategic relationship with Australia during an open forum for local industry leaders.
But two sources present at separate private meetings between Japanese and Australian officials said the Japanese did not seem to have much understanding of the political sensitivities and appeared to have lost ground to their rivals.
They said the delegation gave few details about the Japanese proposal beyond reassurances they would adhere to the bidding rules.
"It seems like the (Australian) federal government just told them that they had to come down here and talk to us," one source told Reuters under the condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to speak to the media.
"I think they're really struggling to connect to the public. It's just not in their DNA to speak publicly about defence issues."
A defence industry source in Tokyo said the German bid was shaping up as the one to beat.
"There is some concern in the Japanese government," said another industry source in Tokyo familiar with the proposals.
Both sources said Japanese defence ministry officials had informally asked U.S. contractors with close ties to Japanese industry, including Raytheon Co and Lockheed Martin Corp , to advise Mitsubishi Heavy on managing its first ever bid to sell military equipment to an overseas government.
No Secret Deal
Australian media has said Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe privately agreed last year that Japan would get the contract, which also involves maintenance of the vessels. Both sides have denied such a deal.
The issue dominated a news conference held by the Japanese delegation.
"The current situation has us a little bit perplexed and confused why such speculation is still being voiced," said Masaki Ishikawa, director general for acquisition reform at Japan's Ministry of Defence.
Ishikawa declined to be drawn on whether Japan would build the submarines in Australia.
Abbott has described Japan as Australia's "closest friend in Asia.” The United States is also keen to spur security cooperation between two key allies.
Officials in Adelaide, capital of South Australia state, insisted on at least 70 percent local worker participation in the project.
"The French and the Germans have been out there in the public domain making their case and, look, that's understandable because this is an argument that will be determined in the court of public opinion," South Australia defence minister Martin Hamilton-Smith said in an interview.
Influential independent Senator Nick Xenophon, who met with the delegation privately, told Reuters the Japanese had put themselves in a position to play catch up.
Senator Sean Edwards, chairman of the economics committee in the upper house of Australia's parliament, said he had repeatedly told the Japanese officials the political importance of pledging to build in Australia.
"They get it," he told Reuters.
The Japanese declined to meet with labour union leaders, said Glenn Thompson, assistant national secretary of the powerful Australian Manufacturing Workers Union.
"We would have thought the Japanese ... would have liked to have talked to the unions," he said.
Each of the bidders has been asked to provide three estimates: one for construction overseas, one for a partial assembly in Australia and one for a full build in an Australian shipyard.
An expert advisory council is expected to deliver its recommendation in November.
($1 = 1.4047 Australian dollars)
(Additional reporting by Tim Kelly in Tokyo; Editing by Lincoln Feast and Dean Yates)

Australian military to get cozier with U.S.

Defense Minister’s Speech Thursday Will Preview Coming White Paper’s 20-Year Military-Upgrade Plan

Rob Taylor, Wall Street Journal

27 August 2015

SYDNEY – Australia’s coming strategic blueprint will call for more closely entwining its military with its U.S. counterpart, including a more visible presence in the country of U.S. naval ships and warplanes.
Defense Minister Kevin Andrews was to give a preliminary outline Thursday of the 20-year, $300 billion Australia dollar (U.S. $214 billion) plan to boost the military, which will be detailed in a future white paper.
“Through this white paper, the government will seek to broaden and deepen our alliance with the United States, recognizing that the U.S. alliance will remain fundamental to our security and defense planning and the highest priority for our international cooperation,” Mr. Andrews planned to say in a speech to U.S. and Australian business groups. Parts of the speech were obtained in advance by The Wall Street Journal.
The much-delayed paper, now expected in October, is based on the long-standing belief that Australia’s security is most effectively underpinned by a strong U.S. presence in Asia, offsetting a more assertive China.
But while it will lay out a more muscular approach in line with Washington – and welcome the U.S. strategic rebalance toward the region, as Mr. Andrews’s speech says – it will also look to avoid overt criticism of Beijing.
Six years ago then-Prime Minister Kevin Rudd enraged China, Australia’s biggest trading partner, with a defense white paper that argued Beijing’s rise posed regional security risks.
Prime Minister Tony Abbott has promised to boost military spending to 2% of gross domestic product inside a decade, with a military budget of A$32 billion next year and a cumulative A$132 billion over the next few years.
Last year Australia ranked sixth globally in weapons imports, according to the Stockholm Institute for Peace Research, spending almost A$14 billion on arms.
A large chunk of the added spending will go to a stronger open-ocean presence for Australia’s navy, including eight new submarines, nine frigates and up to 20 corvettes at a cost of A$89 billion. Australia is also introducing two amphibious carriers and missile destroyers as well as stealth fighter planes.
Submarine makers from Japan, France and Germany are pursuing the business. Japanese shipbuilders and defense officials were in Adelaide on Wednesday to push a 10-year, A$50 billion deal for Soryu submarines. Japan is seeking to become a major weapons exporter for the first time since World War II.
“This white paper will deliver a future Australian Defense Force that is potent, agile and ready to respond whenever our interests are engaged across the world,” Mr. Andrews was to say in his speech, according to the excerpts.
It added that “Force Posture Initiatives” being discussed with the U.S. and likely to be reflected in the white paper would enhance the ability of their militaries to operate together, building on current rotations by U.S. Marines in Australia’s north.
“We are also continuing to develop enhanced cooperation between the Royal Australian Air Force and the United States Air Force, and we are examining a range of practical options to enhance naval cooperation,” the speech says.

Why India's submarine fleet is deployed for just 6 out of 10 days

Sudhi Ranjan Sen, NDTV
27 August 2015

Indian submarines, on an average, are available for just six out of 10 days for operational deployment. And of every 10 tasks allotted to the fleet, it has to drop at least one, a senior Naval officer told NDTV.
India needs at least 24 conventional submarines but only has 10 - which includes a nuclear submarine leased from Russia in 2002. The last conventional submarine was acquired in the late '90s. Each conventional boat in the fleet is around 20 years old.
In contrast, China has 60 -- 48 conventional and 12 nuclear submarines. Pakistan has five submarines and is acquiring 8 Shang class submarines from China.
The depletion of submarine fleet isn't the Navy's only cause of concern.
"We have major issues with spare parts that reduces availability of platforms," the officer told NDTV. India's efforts to reverse engineer spares have been successful, "but it is not perfect," the officer said.
"The aging fleet means that the stress to run the boat is more and leaves the crew with less and less time for critical tasks," the officers added.
Submarines are critical for "sea-denial" - refusing the enemy space to navigate and dominate the sea. Indian Navy's charter spreads over a vast mass of water stretching from Gulf of Aden in the West to the Straits of Malacca in the South.
In 1999, the government had approved a 30-year submarine building programme. The plan proposed building six submarines in India by 2012 and six more by 2030.
But although India signed up with French Weapons manufacturer DCNS to acquire six Scorpene Disel-Electric attack submarines in 2005, the process has been delayed by half a decade.
The first boat - INS Kalvari, being built in Mumbai's Mazagon Dock - will be out for sea trial this year and is expected to join the Navy in late 2016.
The plan to build six more submarines under the "Make in India" programme is yet to take off. South Block is yet to decide which shipyard should be given the contract.

Japanese delegation denies secret submarine deal between Japan and Australia

Susmita Pathak Mishra, International Business Times
27 August 2015

Japan delegation with a bid to build Australia’s next submarines has denied it is involved in rumoured secret dealings with the Australian federal government to win the contract.
Masaki Ishikawa, one of the representatives of Japan’s defence ministry, said during a press conference in Adelaide on Wednesday that such speculations did not come from Japan, and that they should not be blamed for it.
The Japanese delegation also said the federal government has already warned the bidders, which include France and Germany, about the “competitive evaluation process.” The final submission with all details will be submitted by the end of November 2015.
However, the delegation from Japan remained tight-lipped when asked about where they would prefer building the new fleet of Australian submarines if their contract is successful. Instead, representatives indicated that they planned on presenting three options, including building in Australia, in Japan and in both countries.
“At this moment we have not yet determined which is good and which is bad,” the head of the delegation, Admiral Takashi Saito said to the media.
Representatives of the bid said that if successful, the deal would strengthen the strong defence bond between both countries. It is the first time Japan is sharing its advanced and sensitive technology with another country.
In February 2015, Prime Minister Tony Abbott had denied any agreement was made on the submarine deal with Japan regarding replacement of old submarines with Japanese Soryu-class vessels. Today’s delegation in Adelaide introduced 200 representatives outlining the Soryu class submarines.
Defence Industries Minister Martin Hamilton-Smith of South Australia specified that the government is clear about building submarines in Australia, especially in Adelaide. He also mentioned that approximately $50 billion will be spent on building and maintaining the next fleet of Australian submarines.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Coming soon to the Australian Navy: Japanese submarines?

Geoff Slocombe, The National Interest
26 August 2015

If Australia is to choose the Japanese contender for their future submarine then it should be because it’s the best fit for our ongoing strategic requirements, fully meets project criteria, and is the most economically viable from now until the end of the 2060’s. This decision shouldn’t be a ‘captain’s pick.’
The Soryu-class (‘Blue Dragon’) submarine provides the capability the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force’s needs. But the current Soryu-class won’t meet
Australia’s requirements. We will need Soryu Mark Two (Goryu? ‘Australian Dragon’) as a completely new design, which will have cost, performance and schedule risks. It won’t be a Military off-the-Shelf (MOTS) acquisition, as some seem to think. Similarly, the hull can’t be built in Japan and fully fitted out in Australia.
The Soryu fleet includes six commissioned vessels, which have a surface displacement of 3,480 tons (compared with the Collins-class 3,100 tons) and are 84 meters long. A further five are in various stages of construction. There’s a continuous build program, with both Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) and Kawasaki Heavy Industries (KHI) involved and alternating the start of each new vessel.
There are a number of major changes required for Mark Two in evolving a design to meet RAN’s requirements. This is no simple matter and presumably the CEP will establish how this could be accomplished.
The Soryu-class are currently operated and maintained for a service life of 20 years. Australia will want 30 years. Welding techniques, the steel used, corrosion control and number of compression/decompression cycles from deep dives all affect service life. So too do the maintenance and upgrade arrangements—Japan will need to create a new upkeep plan for Mark Two.
Australia needs a greater range than the current Soryu. The Collins-class has a range of 11,500 nautical miles at 10 knots surfaced and 9,000 nautical miles snorkeling just sub-surface at the same speed. Fully submerged it has a range of 480 nautical miles at 4 knots, when running on lead-acid batteries. Soryu has a surface range of 6,100 nautical miles at 6.5 knots, faster underwater. This will need to be increased in Mark Two by more fuel-efficient engines and extra bulk fuel storage—perhaps by filling some water ballast space with fuel, to get longer range.
Remaining silently at depth for periods of up to 35 days, while travelling slowly for approximately 4,000 nautical miles in the patrol area, will be important for Australia’s next submarines. Although not specified explicitly in the CEP criteria, Australia needs an excellent Air Independent Propulsion (AIP) system and specialist batteries to give the required endurance.
The Japanese have obviously made significant progress with Lithium ion batteries (LiBs) to the point where they are proposing that the final two Soryus being constructed in Japan about 2020 abandon their Stirling AIP engines and have only LiBs. LiBs are much more energy dense, providing up to four times as much power in the same space as occupied by classic lead accumulators. If this happens, this is a major technology advance as currently no commissioned diesel-electric submarine in the world has gone to sea with LiBs.
Diesel engine-driven battery charging technology needs to adapt to the new requirements—the need for much more electrical power for faster charging possible with LiBs. Currently, Soryus have two chargers, while Collins-class have three. This has significant implications for detectable snorkel depth battery charging time, which means that Soryus currently may have the higher indiscretion ratio. Mark Two must do much better.
Soryu Mark Two will be offered with a permanent magnet synchronous electric motor, with the advantage that brings of high torque at low revolutions, keeping propeller noise to a minimum and avoiding the need for a gearbox.
The Soryu-class have a Hitachi command and control system, while Australia wants the U.S. AN-BYG-1 installed, a first for Japan. In terms of weaponry, the Soryus can launch Type 89 torpedoes, Harpoon missiles, and mines. Australia wants Mark 48 Mod 7 CBASS torpedoes, mines and probably the same UGM-84C Sub-Harpoon missiles as fitted in Collins Class. There will also be issues over which type of sonars should be fitted.
Cultural differences between the Japanese and Australian defense industries will be challenging. If they’re lining up an Australian-based partner to help them deal with the serious issues ahead, there’s been no public disclosure as yet.
The best chance for a successful Mark Two design and construction program with MHI and KHI, as Australia’s international partners, appears to be a hybrid build. The first one or two submarines would be built completely in Kobe, with heavy involvement by Australian designers and shipyard workers there, before construction shifts to Adelaide for the remaining vessels in the project.
In the political arena, given that China is Australia’s number one trading partner, what would be the impact of teaming with Japan and the U.S. in what will be seen by China as a strategic coalition to contain their naval expansion? Neither French nor German CEP contenders have this problem.

USS Seawolf completes 6-month Arctic deployment

Fast attack submarine USS Seawolf (SSN 21)

Commander, Submarine Group 9 Public Affairs, Navy News Service
25 August 2015

BREMERTON, Wash. – The fast-attack submarine USS Seawolf (SSN 21) returned to its homeport of Naval Base Kitsap-Bremerton Aug. 21, following a six-month deployment.
During the deployment, Seawolf conducted routine submarine operations, which included scheduled under-ice transits and under-ice operations.
"The crew performed superbly on multiple operations in the 6th Fleet area of responsibility," said Cmdr. Jeff Bierley, Seawolf's commanding officer, from Birmingham, Alabama. "We conducted two polar transits, including a routine surfacing at the North Pole. Operations under the Arctic are part of the Navy's continued commitment to maintain access to all international seas, and Seawolf was just part of that commitment."
The Navy has been operating in the Arctic for decades and it is expected that presence requirements will likely increase as maritime traffic in the region increases. Ships like Seawolf support the Arctic national strategy by developing capabilities, increasing maritime awareness and preserving freedom.
"Seawolf did an exceptional job; they had an accelerated fleet readiness training period so they were really pushed to get all of their preparations, training and certifications done before deployment, including preparations for the very challenging Arctic transit," said Capt. Douglas Perry, commander, Submarine Development Squadron 5, from Alexandria, Virginia. "Arctic transits are important, not just for us to be able to keep our fleet assets around the globe, but it also give us an opportunity to maintain undersea dominance of the Arctic spaces, an area that is very challenging and is changing dramatically."
This was the first deployment for many of the Sailors aboard Seawolf, awarding them the unique experience of visiting the North Pole.
"It was a very interesting deployment full of mixed emotions and the unexpected," said Yeoman 3rd Class Felipe Aparicio, from Los Angeles. "Surfacing at the North Pole was awesome. As you push through the surface it takes your breath away. You feel the ice hit the hull of the boat and you hear thumping back and forth all around you; then it just stops. It was a memorable experience. We got out of the boat, and the best way to describe the North Pole is that it's a cold, snowy desert."
These polar transits and the surfacing of submarines demonstrate the U.S. Navy's commitment to assure access to all international waters. USS Nautilus (SSN 571) was the first submarine to complete a submerged polar transit.
"We are very happy to be home to the Pacific Northwest, and we are eager to spend time with our family and friends," said Bierley.
Seawolf, commissioned July 19, 1997, is the first of the Navy's three Seawolf-class submarines. The Seawolf is significantly quieter than any Los Angeles-class submarine. It is also faster, has more torpedoes tubes and can carry up to 50 torpedoes or missiles, or 100 mines.
All of the Seawolf-class submarines are homeported in the Pacific Northwest – USS Connecticut (SSN 22) and Seawolf at Bremerton, Washington, and USS Jimmy Carter (SSN 23) at Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Analysis: A meeting of fears, not minds

Growing Russian-Chinese military links belie deep differences between a rising and declining power

Jonathan Eyal, Singapore Straits Times
24 August 2015

LONDON – Western military planners, and particularly those in Washington, are watching closely as China and Russia launched their largest joint naval exercises last week, bringing together seven Chinese ships with 18 Russian vessels in the Sea of Japan. For, although Chinese officials have been careful to point out that the manoeuvres are "not targeted at any third party and are not relevant to the regional status-quo,” Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu made no effort to hide his own country's opinion that the United States was the chief factor in China and Russia conducting more exercises.
"We believe that the main goal of pooling our efforts is to shape a collective regional security system," Mr. Shoigu said, in a clear reference to the enduring presence of U.S. naval power in the Pacific.
Facts speak for themselves.
While the Chinese and Russians have staged periodic naval exercises for more than a decade, the ships taking part in the naval manoeuvres – which are set to run until Aug 28 – are far better equipped than those put to sea in the past. Both nations are investing heavily in their navies. And both will be practising a joint amphibious assault on an imaginary enemy's land-based fortifications, just the sort of manoeuvre calculated to send shivers down the spines of leaders in Japan, the Philippines and Vietnam. Nevertheless, the growing Russian-Chinese military alliance should not be taken too seriously. For it is still not a meeting of strategic minds in Beijing or Moscow, but a haphazard arrangement between a rising and a declining power. The Chinese certainly understand this; the only question is whether the Russians, who are far needier in this case, also comprehend this reality.
Common Threats
The Chinese and Russian governments now describe their relationship as a "strategic partnership,” since the two nations see themselves as the victims of previous colonial wars and powers.
Both Russia and China are also ethnically diverse, vast countries which are hard to govern, with a history of domestic collapse and the loss of vulnerable bits of their territories. Preventing the recurrence of such troubles by insisting on tight domestic controls and a fierce defence of existing borders and international law concepts, such as the sovereignty of states, is a shared objective in Beijing and Moscow.
And both Russia and China see the West in general and the U.S. in particular as an obstacle and often a threat to their long-term strategic aspirations.
Yet the similarities end there. The current position and the future trajectories of Russia and China cannot be more different. In 1990, the USSR had one quarter of China's population, but the Soviet economy was 11/2 times bigger than China's. However, just a year later when the Soviet Union disintegrated, Russia ended up with one-eighth of China's population and only half of China's economy, the sort of abrupt change in the strategic balance seldom before encountered in the country's history.
And, since then, it's all been downhill for leaders in Moscow. Russia's gross domestic product is now less than a fifth that of China, and, by 2030, it may be no more than 12 per cent.
More significantly still, the Chinese military now outspends Russia's by a factor of two-to-one. In short, the Russians are no longer China's "Big Brother"; they barely qualify for the status of a poor uncle.
And although, for a variety of reasons, the Chinese have gone out of their way to be nice to the Russians and have been very good at indulging Russia's compulsive need to be treated as a Big Power – Mr. Xi Jinping made Russia his first port of call after becoming Chinese president, for instance – the reality is that the world views of strategic decision-makers in Beijing and Moscow remain vastly different.
For Russian officials, the key obsession is to avoid a further decline in their world rankings; for the Chinese, the main preoccupation is how to handle the country's rise without triggering off a global backlash.
Russia uses force first, and only later thinks of the economic consequences of its actions; meanwhile, the Chinese are masters at using economic might as a substitute to the iron fist.
The Russians see their sphere of influence as a defined landmass area which they physically control; the Chinese perceive their influence zones as a more fluid zones in which nations are allowed leeway, within confined but not always fixed boundaries.
And, finally, while Beijing views involvement with Europe and the U.S. as ultimately a transactional issue, a matter of a cold calculation between costs and benefits, Russia's relationship with the
West is all about emotions, about belonging to European culture yet often being rejected by the rest of Europe.
Comparison Of Two Navies
China and Russia deploy the second and third-largest navies by the number of ships, respectively. They also share an interest in acquiring new technologies, such as very quiet submarines, multi-role platforms and hypersonic anti-ship missiles.
But, yet again, the differences between the two navies are more important than the similarities.
Russian naval doctrine, essentially unchanged since the 1970s, emphasises a presence on the high seas and nuclear deterrence; the aim is to have up to a third of Russia's nuclear warheads on submarines.
But the Chinese emphasise asymmetric methods of maritime warfare, which means that China is not proposing to match U.S. naval capabilities, but rather acquire enough capabilities to project Chinese power overseas, protect key Chinese strategic objectives, and deny the U.S. complete freedom of action in the Pacific, especially in waters close to China's coastline, and to Taiwan.
The biggest difference between the two countries lies in the way they propose to use naval power. Russian President Vladimir Putin's intentions to pour large resources into his navy is domestically controversial, because Russian naval investment is usually associated with failure: the Russian navy last won a major battle in 1853 and, for the first half of the 20th century, its most stinging defeats were in Asia, courtesy of Japan.
By contrast, the Chinese navy is increasingly being seen as the true protector of Chinese national sovereignty. Rallying domestic political support for Chinese naval expansion is easy, particularly since the navy appears to be the only Chinese military service able to not only protect land Beijing considers as its own, but also humiliate the Japanese, keep the Americans at bay and hold the prospect of a military recovery of Taiwan.
In short, the entire way Beijing and Moscow look at the use of naval power is almost diametrically opposed. For China, the waters of the Pacific are an absolute priority and
necessity; for the Russians, the Pacific is largely a question of status. And then, there is the Arctic, where the Russian navy is actually deeply suspicious of any Chinese moves.
So, why are the Russians and Chinese navies bothering with the on-going high-profile exercise? The Chinese still rely on acquiring – through purchase, industrial espionage or reverse-engineering – technologies which the Russians have, particularly those which relate to special metals used in the construction of submarines as well as other naval engineering capabilities in shipbuilding.
The Russians are also determined to smother China with love, as the only alternative to manage Beijing rise. And both may have a short-term interest as well as deriving some pleasure from baiting Japan, or from poking a finger at the U.S. Navy.
But as Mr. Tony Brenton, a former British ambassador to Moscow and a noted observer of Sino-Russian relations once shrewdly pointed out, the links between the China and Russia are not about love, or even a marriage of convenience, but an "Axis of Insecurity,” an association driven by a range of shared fears, rather than an agreement on how to deal with them.