Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Revealed: China can't build lethal nuclear powered aircraft carriers

Second carrier under construction.

The National Interest
29 September 2015

China may have started construction on its second aircraft carrier according to new satellite imagery. The images – which were obtained by the British defense trade journal IHS Jane’s from Airbus Defence and Space – shows that a new ship is under construction in the same dry dock that was used to refurbish the former Soviet carrier Varyag during its conversion into China’s Liaoning. This would be China’s first indigenous flattop – if it were indeed a carrier.
The Jane’s analysis indicates that the ship might be between 558ft and 885ft long with a beam greater than 98ft. That’s a little small for a conventional aircraft carrier – and the Jane’s analysts note that they can’t conclusively say the new ship is a carrier. Indeed, the Kuzetsov-class – which Liaoning is based on – is roughly 1,000ft long and has a beam of 236ft. But that length – assuming the Jane’s analysts are correct – would be about the same as India’s Vikramaditya, which is based on the Soviet Kiev-class carrier or the French carrier Charles de Gaulle. The beam, however, is somewhat narrow – most carriers are much wider – which means this could be an amphibious assault ship or something else entirely.
It should be no surprise that Beijing might be building new carriers. Indeed, the Pentagon’s 2015 annual report to Congress on Chinese military power states: “China also continues to pursue an indigenous aircraft carrier program and could build multiple aircraft carriers over the next 15 years.” Indeed, Taiwanese and Hong Kong media have reported that China could launch its first indigenous carrier – the Type 001A – on Dec. 26 to mark the 122th anniversary of Mao Zedong’s birthday. Chinese papers have also previously reported that an indigenous carrier is being built in Dalian.
While China might be building a new flattop, the vessel is likely to be much smaller than the U.S. Navy’s 100,000-ton Nimitz or Ford-class nuclear-powered carriers. The Chinese vessels will probably be smaller, conventionally-powered either by steam or diesel propulsion and probably will not have electromagnetic catapults.
The reason is simple – China does not have the experience in designing and building large military vessels the size of a carrier or amphibious assault ship. It lacks the requisite expertise in designing and building the propulsion systems for such a vessel. Further, China is lagging behind on metallurgy for the vessel’s hull. As for catapults – it took the U.S. Navy years to perfect steam catapults and the jury is still out on Ford’s Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System (EMALS). Stealing technology can get Chinese engineers only so far – practical experience makes a difference.
China simply does not currently have the technology to build nuclear-powered carriers. Right now, the Chinese are struggling to build modern nuclear reactors for their submarine fleet. Indeed, Chinese nuclear submarines are comparable to 1970s vintage Soviet designs. China is nowhere near ready to scale up those designs to be suitable for a carrier.
Truth be told, Beijing seems to be aware of its shortcomings. Beijing-based Chinese naval expert Li Jie acknowledged the problem to the South China Morning Post late last year. “Compared with submarines, a carrier is much bigger,” Li told the Chinese daily. “It will take time for our nuclear engineers to develop a safe and powerful engine capable of driving a huge platform of more than 100,000 tonnes.”
It is conceivable that China might attempt to follow in the footsteps of the recently retired USS Enterprise (CVN-65), which used eight submarine reactors. The United States didn’t have the technology to build reactors suitable for an aircraft carrier when Enterprise was built. Instead the Navy opted for eight smaller reactors, but at the cost of a lot of space. The later Nimitz-class has two large reactors instead.
Meanwhile, China is still well behind the United States and Russia in terms of metallurgy and propulsion technologies. Chinese shipyards have had past issues with poor metallurgy for their earlier naval vessels – but China will probably solve the problem eventually. The Indians, who traditionally imported high-strength steel from Russia, have developed their own indigenous alloys. The Chinese will, no doubt, accomplish that same goal in time.
In terms of propulsion, the Chinese are still well behind the curve but it is one area where they can probably leverage experience with commercial maritime propulsion technologies. But they probably do not have the wherewithal to build propulsion systems that can support a carrier the size of a Nimitz – a smaller ship is thus a more likely prospect. “But as Marine gas turbines, like diesel design, have not been a bright spot in Chinese industry,” as Gabe Collins and Lt Cmdr. Michael Grubb note in a Naval War College study. “Their development has been severely hindered by the slow place of indigenous jet engine development, which is symptomatic of larger issues within the Chinese aerospace industry as a whole.”
As for catapults – the U.S. Navy has had a hard enough time with the EMALS – it is highly dubious that China could master the technology this quickly even if it stole the entirety of Naval Air Systems Command’s data on the program. Stealing technology is easier than truly understanding it from the ground up. It is probably why China has trouble building hardware such as jet engines and gas turbines. Nonetheless, some Chinese officials assert their carrier will have an electromagnetic catapult. Steam catapults are a more likely prospect, but can still be tricky. The smart money is on a pure ski-jump design.
Collins and Grubb accurately sum up the Chinese carrier question in this statement: “The production of

Submarine intruders on Sweden's coastline

Elisabeth Braw, World Affairs
29 September 2015

The Kremlin had ridiculed the Swedish Navy’s futile efforts trying to locate a suspected submarine off the coast of Stockholm, the capital, last fall. Last week the long-anticipated report on the intruder arrived: “beyond every reasonable doubt” it was a submarine, the Swedish Armed Forces reported.
It was almost a year ago, in mid-October, that an unidentified vessel was sighted in the Stockholm archipelago. According to the report, shortly before the object was spotted, the Swedish military had intercepted an emergency phone call in Russian. After the Swedish Navy began to hunt the intruder, radio traffic between transmitters in the archipelago and in Kaliningrad was intercepted. Several days after the October 18th sighting, witnesses reported seeing a Russian research vessel leaving the archipelago, looking as if it was towing something. The Navy never found the suspected intruder sub. Throughout the episode, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich dismissed the hunt, and claimed no Russian submarine had entered Swedish waters.
But after analyzing 300 sightings from land and water during the hunt and judging 21 to be of particular interest, the Swedish Armed Forces commission investigating the suspected intrusion has concluded that the vessel was indeed a submarine. But the report’s real breaking news is a sentence tucked in toward the end: “In addition, there are additional findings and naval observations of high confidence value made before and after the [submarine hunt].”
Thus, the military is nearly certain that submarines have violated Swedish waters before and in the months since the October 18th incident. Given that friendly—NATO—submarines only operate in Swedish waters after having received authorization to do so, these intruders can only be of an unfriendly nature. That suggests that Russia continues to deploy submarines to the Swedish coast. As brazen as it sounds, it’s an operation that makes sense, as the Swedish coastline features many good hiding places. And the stripped-down Swedish Navy does not have the equipment or the resources adequate to locate or pursue the intruders.

Experts: China aircraft carrier launch by end of year plausible

David Tweed, Bloomberg
30 September 2015

A report that China may be ready to launch its first domestically made aircraft carrier by the end of the year is credible, naval experts said, though the warship isn’t likely to enter service for four years.
The non-nuclear-powered carrier, known as type 001A, will be launched on Dec. 26 to mark the 122nd birthday of Mao Zedong, according to a report in the Hong Kong-based Chinese language newspaper Ming Pao, which didn’t cite sources. The carrier would take several years before entering service, the paper said, suggesting Oct. 1, 2019 – the 70th anniversary of the People’s Republic of China – as a potential date.
China has neither confirmed nor denied the existence of an aircraft carrier-building program, though the Ministry of National Defense website carries an article by China Newsweek speculating that the country wants three. China Newsweek is a current affairs magazine owned by the official China News Service and is unrelated to the U.S. magazine.
In February, the government in Changzhou, in eastern Jiangsu province, fueled speculation about progress in the construction of the carrier when it posted on social media that a local company had won a contract to supply electrical cabling for the ship. The post was deleted within hours, along with a similar report in a local newspaper.
“Based on these circumstantial reports, I’ll deem the claim by Ming Pao as quite reliable,” said Collin Koh Swee Lean, an associate research fellow at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies in Singapore. “Assuming the carrier is launched on Dec. 26 this year, and fitted out subsequently before entering into a series of harbor and sea trials, the carrier should be ready for service by 2020.”
China keeps its carrier program secret, partly to allay concerns about its growing naval might and ability to test the dominance of the U.S. Navy, which has upheld Asian maritime security since World War II. The Pentagon said last week that a Chinese nuclear submarine designed to carry missiles that could hit the U.S. was likely to deploy before year’s end.
Previous Launches
The Ming Pao article cited other launches that took place on dates of significance for the Communist Party. China launched its first nuclear-powered submarine, the Changzheng-1, in 1970 on Mao’s birthday. Three of China’s four Han-class Type 091 submarines were also launched on Dec. 26.
China already has one aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, built from a Ukrainian hull and commissioned into the People’s Liberation Army Navy in 2012. The Pentagon said in May that China is pursuing an indigenous aircraft carrier program and “could build multiple aircraft carriers over the next 15 years.”
Koh said another clue that an indigenous carrier is under construction was the start of the serial production of the carrier-based J-15 jet fighter, which would be destined for the Liaoning and other carriers. IHS Jane’s reported last year that mass production of the fighter was gathering pace.
Whether China would continue its carrier-building program was an open question because of the development of carrier-killer missiles, according to Malcolm Davis, an assistant professor of China-Western relations at Bond University on Australia’s Gold Coast.
’Carrier Killers’
“The Type 001A, may very well be launched in December, and that’s important, but the whole carrier question should not be overplayed,” Davis said. “The Chinese currently dominate in the anti-ship missile field.”
He cited the 3,000 kilometer (1,800 mile) range DF-26 ballistic missile, as well as the 1,750 kilometer range DF-21D anti-ship ballistic missile. Both "carrier killers" were displayed during China’s Sept. 3 military parade in Beijing.
“China is developing very sophisticated anti-ship capabilities, and the U.S. is increasingly at risk of being out-matched,” Davis said. The U.S. was also developing a long-range, anti-ship missile, though it would take time to perfect, he said.
“That means that as China invests in new aircraft carriers, they too will eventually face the prospect that these ships will become more vulnerable to strike warfare,” Davis said. “The U.S. ships are vulnerable now and in coming years, but by the middle of the next decade, so will the Chinese ships, including their carriers.”
In the future, aircraft carriers may become less important than quieter submarines and more-sophisticated surface warships, both with long-range anti-ship missiles and support from land-based, precision missiles deployed by PLA Second Artillery Force, Davis said.

Connecticut to celebrate 100 years of submarine activity

Staff, New London Day
29 September 2015

HARTFORD – The state is planning a year-long celebration to start in October, honoring 100 years of submarine activity in Connecticut.
Gov. Dannel P. Malloy made the announcement via a prepared statement Tuesday.
"Connecticut was the perfect location for our nation's first submarine base in 1916, and since that time our state has become the professional birthplace of every officer and crewmember in the Navy's undersea profession," Malloy said
The celebration dubbed "Connecticut's Submarine Century" coincides with the 100th anniversary of the Naval Submarine Base New London and the Naval Submarine School.
The celebration will run from October 2015 through October 2016.
Malloy penned a letter to Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus asking for his support for the designation.
In 1868, the Navy received 86 acres of land along the eastern shore of the Thames River in Connecticut, but it wasn't until 1915 that the installation, then a Navy Yard, took on historic prominence.
The date of Oct. 18, 1915 marked the arrival of submarines G-1, G-2, and G-4 under the care of the tender USS OZARK.
On June 21, 1916, Commander Yeates Stirling assumed command of the newly designated Submarine Base, the newly established Submarine School, and the New London Submarine Flotilla.
The celebration will be coordinated through the Connecticut Office of Military Affairs and its executive director, Bob Ross.

Puget Sound shipyard converting USS Michigan as first sub to carry enlisted women

Description USS Michigan (SSBN-727).jpg
Ed Friedrich, Kitsap
29 September 2015

The USS Michigan entered Puget Sound Naval Shipyard last month for modifications to allow it to become the first submarine to carry enlisted women.
The $2.8 million reconfiguration will provide living space for 29 women. Two chief petty officers will share a living space and washroom. Twenty-seven from
lower ranks will split into nine-person bunk rooms and all share a head, said Lt. Cmdr. Brian Badura, Submarine Group Nine spokesman.
The work is part of a major maintenance period that is scheduled to be completed next summer.
The Michigan is a guided-missile submarine with two crews of 15 officers and about 140 enlisted sailors based at Naval Base Kitsap. Blue and Gold crews take turns manning the boat. Its Bangor sister, USS Ohio, will be the next local sub to convert, probably starting late next year, Badura said.
Ballistic-missile submarines USS Maine and USS Louisiana, which are from the same Ohio class as the Ohio and Michigan, will follow. Three boats from Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay in Georgia, the East Coast equivalent of Bangor, also will be modified.
Ohio-class subs will add about 550 enlisted women by 2020, comprising Phase 1 of the process, Badura said. The total cost to modify the seven boats is estimated at $25 million. Over the ensuing four years, about 115 women will join crews of new Virginia-class fast attack submarines in Phase 2.
“It’s certainly a big milestone, but we’ve already been down this road a bit with women officers,” Badura said. “We think we can do this successfully as well.”
The Navy issued a request in January for female sailors who wanted to join the Michigan’s two crews. It received a strong response. Finalists were chosen through a competitive process. After they cleared medical screening, they were sent to Basic Enlisted Submarine School in Groton, Connecticut. Those who applied to change ratings (jobs) were provided technical training through “A” or “C” schools.
The same four Bangor boats had already brought aboard female officers, which didn’t require structural changes. There are 27 now, three per crew. The Ohio was the first to welcome them, in November 2011. Three women share one of the five staterooms. All 15 officers, men and women, share a head. It has a sign saying whether it’s in use by a man or woman.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Exceeding expectations: The U.S. Navy's P-8 anti-submarine patrol aircraft

Richard R. Burgess, Seapower Magazine
October 2015

The Navy’s P-8 maritime patrol aircraft impresses operators in the Western Pacific
With three deployments completed since the P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft became operational, Navy operators and acquisition officials are pleased with the performance, readiness and availability of the aircraft and are proceeding with more orders and upgrades.
The P-8A achieved initial operational capability in December 2013 with a deployment to the Western Pacific by Patrol Squadron 16 (VP-16), followed in sequence by VP-5 and VP-45. Two more squadrons, VP-8 and VP-10, have traded their P-3C Orions for P-8As and a sixth, VP-26, returned from its final P-3C deployment on Sept. 4 to begin the transition. The six West Coast P-3C VP squadrons will begin the transition in 2016. Soon, the P-8A will be deployed to the Persian Gulf.
“The P-8A Poseidon represents the most advanced maritime patrol and reconnaissance aircraft flying today,” said RDML Kyle Cozad, commander, Patrol and Reconnaissance Group, and Patrol and Reconnaissance Group Pacific, a P-3 pilot and veteran of seven P-3 deployments. “It will serve as the future of airborne maritime patrol and reconnaissance for decades to come. When fully fielded, the P-8A will successfully recapitalize and exceed the broad area anti-submarine warfare [ASW], anti-surface warfare and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capability resident in the legacy P-3C Orion.
“While the aging P-3C AIP [Anti-surface Improvement Program version] remains a capable aircraft, the P-8A’s superior reliability, high speed and technological advances are game changers in the maritime patrol and reconnaissance arena,” Cozad said. “During the P-8’s initial fleet introduction and operational deployments, it has demonstrated a nearly 100 percent mission completion rate.”
That mission completion rate is largely because of the reliability of the Poseidon.
“The reliability of the engines and airframe ensures that we have a very high ‘ready for tasking’ rate,” said CDR John Weidner, commanding officer of VP-45 since May, who made a deployment to the Western Pacific in the P-8 and previously made four deployments in the P-3. “This allows the Navy to accomplish missions from multiple sites simultaneously and with a very high mission completion rate. All systems performed at or above what was expected of a P-8. In particular, the communications systems performed extremely well.
“The P-3 has been in the service for decades and requires a significant level of maintenance on the engines, especially as the aircraft becomes older,” he said. “This is not the case for the P-8. The engines are very reliable and require very little unscheduled maintenance. The fact that the P-8 has numerous mission systems does correlate to the requirement for more man-hours to support avionics systems. We are properly manned to support the shift from the engine and airframe focus of a P-3 to an avionics focus on the P-8.”
Weidner said the engine and airframe reliability also made the P-8A “very well-suited” for detachment operations away from the main deployment site.
“Support equipment for the P-8 is readily available worldwide because it is a Boeing 737 and is supported at most airfields.” he said. “The communications suite also allows the aircraft to receive tasking while detached to remote sites and has the ability to operate with minimal support.”
Cozad said the enhanced sensor and communications suites “have proven to significantly improve Combatant Commanders’ maritime domain awareness” and that the reliability of the P-8A “allows us to meet forward-deployed tasking with fewer aircraft.”
The P-8A squadrons have been deploying with six aircraft, compared with eight or nine for a P-3C squadron. “The ability to get information and data off the aircraft quickly is the new norm,” Weidner said. “The information sent off the aircraft is quickly passed to follow-on aircrews so that they can have a clear understanding of the tactical situation and deployed commanders can update tasking as a result of the faster input to their decision-making cycle.”
“In comparison to P-3C, the P-8A is quite a bit more capable, particularly with regard to range, endurance and reliability,” said the Navy’s P-8 program manager, CAPT Scott Dillon. “The acoustic system has a greater total search area and probability of detection while the sensor and communications systems are seamlessly integrated with one another, greatly increasing the mission effectiveness of the aircrew.
“The Electronic Support Measure system is a derivative of the system used on the EA-18G Growler and another example of the manner in which the P-8A acquisition strategy leveraged existing technology to reduce development risk and improve maritime patrol capability,” he said. “The fleet operators have used it to great effect in determining the location of contacts of interest at extended ranges.”
Weidner also praised the crew comfort factor of the P-8.
“One item that gets overlooked, because of all the focus on engine, airframe and mission systems, is aircrew fatigue,” he said. “The P-8 has an excellent pressurization system, very good temperature control and the cabin of the aircraft is much quieter than a P-3. This all adds up to reduced aircrew fatigue on-station. The result is excellent situational awareness and improved post-mission products that our commanders require. It is easy to tell the difference between P-3 and P-8 crews after a long mission.” Weidner said his crews adjusted well to the transition from the P-3 to the P-8.
“The transition was easier for the naval flight officers and naval aircrewman operators because the systems in the aircraft performed many of the same functions that were performed in the P-3,” he said. “The pilots transitioned smoothly as well. However, the pilots had to learn to fly by utilizing the automated Flight Management Computer ... a significant change from the P-3.”
“The P-8 has met or exceeded the fleet’s expectations in nearly every area,” Dillon said. “The aircraft’s speed, time-on-station and dependability, combined with its highly integrated, modern sensor suite, have proven to be optimally suited to Seventh Fleet operational tasking.” Dillon attributes much of the success of the program to the Navy’s acquisition strategy.
“The P-8A evolutionary acquisition strategy has been a very successful, cost-effective approach to fielding significant new capabilities quickly,” he said. “The aircraft’s performance on deployment has validated the commercial-derivative airframe. The active [Boeing] 737 production line has saved cost and schedule, allowing us to field a mature capability from the start. Our acquisition strategy allows us to consistently field mature capabilities while continuing to simultaneously develop the next generation of upgrades.
“Boeing’s in-line production process has effectively leveraged the commercial 737 production line to affordably deliver an exceptionally capable military aircraft,” he said.” They have regularly been ahead of schedule on deliveries and have successfully delivered 28 high-quality aircraft to the fleet in support of five P-3C to P-8A squadron transitions to date.
“The P-8A program has encountered no particularly challenging technical problems,” Dillon said. “As would be expected for a complex system, we occasionally encounter software deficiencies that affect individual mission system functions. However, they have not reduced the overall mission effectiveness of the aircraft and are, as a matter of standard practice, corrected in subsequent software releases.”
On Aug. 28, with a $1.49 billion contract, the Navy ordered a second full-rate production batch of 13 P-8As, nine for the Navy, which will bring total orders to 62 aircraft. The other four are for the Royal Australian Air Force, which has been a program partner since 2009.
The Navy is implementing two planned upgrade phases for the P-8A. Increment 2 upgrades already have begun with the February introduction of the initial Multi-static Active Coherent acoustics signal processing capability. The second Increment 2 upgrade will deliver High Altitude ASW capabilities in 2016, to be followed by a High Altitude ASW Weapon Capability (HAAWC), a torpedo with a wing kit and a guidance kit to allow for high-altitude attack on submarines.
On Sept. 2, Naval Air Systems Command awarded a $23.2 million contract modification to Boeing for the testing of the HAAWC on the P-8. Increment 3 will be a series of 13 capability upgrades that will be implemented between 2018 and 2023.
“The P-8A Poseidon represents an evolutionary acquisition program that applies best practices to leverage new technology through incremental aircraft upgrades,” Cozad said. “In the future, we will employ a Family of Systems comprising the P-8A and MQ-4C Triton unmanned aircraft systems supported on the ground by Mobile Tactical Operations Centers. More than a transition to a single new weapons platform, the Navy’s maritime patrol and reconnaissance force is undergoing a transformation in the way those capabilities will be used to multiply our effects for supported commanders.
“The many contributions of P-8A to the fleet continue to be assessed,” he said. “However, with three successful operational deployments under its belt, the Poseidon has proven itself equal to the task and has in fact exceeded expectations. Whether providing increased maritime domain awareness or delivering kinetic effects to undersea or surface adversaries, the P-8A is a welcome and valuable asset to the warfighter.”

Naval Academy superintendent: Female midshipmen would succeed in SEALs training

Tim Prudente, Annapolis Capital Gazette
28 September 2015

Kayla Barron stepped aboard the USS Maine two years ago with its crew of about five women – and 160 men. She was undaunted.
"It was business as usual," said Barron, now a Navy lieutenant and member of the Naval Academy's first class of women to serve on submarines, the Class of 2010.
"If women can meet the standards," she said, "they should be allowed to serve in whatever capacity they choose."
Navy officials are considering opening the elite SEALs unit to women. And the Naval Academy superintendent said Monday he's confident female midshipmen would succeed in SEALs training, if permitted.
"We're going to follow policy," said the superintendent, Vice Adm. Walter "Ted" Carter Jr. "Should that open up to women, I have no doubt that our women will do very well in that program."
The Naval Academy's male graduates maintain a 92 percent success rate in becoming SEALs, Carter said. Some 80 percent of outside candidates fail the grueling training, he said.
"We will make sure we get the best and the brightest," Carter said.
Last week, the commander of the Navy's special warfare units recommended the SEALs and combat crew jobs be open to women. Rear Adm. Brian Losey noted there are "no insurmountable obstacles" to opening the jobs to women, but he warned there are "foreseeable impacts" to integrating them into ground combat.
The U.S. military services are expected soon to send their final recommendations on opening more positions to women to Defense Secretary Ash Carter.
The academy sends between 30 and 35 men to SEALs training each year, Carter said. But more than 100
midshipmen usually apply for that unit. This year, the academy has 36 slots.
"Why should anyone be restricted?" said Elizabeth Rowe, a retired Navy commander and member of the academy's Class of 1980, the first class with women. "To me it defeats logic. Can you physiologically manage whatever the job is? And if you can manage, why should you not have the opportunity to do it?"
Rowe graduated from the academy and served three years aboard a Navy destroyer tender, the USS Samuel Gompers. She spent the rest of her career on shore and retired south of Williamsburg, Virginia in 2010.
Her class entered the academy with 81 women and graduated with 55, she said. Female officers and enlisted sailors were already serving aboard the Samuel Gompers when she arrived.
"They accepted us professionally," she said. "My experience on the ship as a woman was much better than my experience at the Naval Academy."
Women now make up about 27 percent of the academy, the highest in school history. Female applications for next year are already 15 percent higher than this time last year, Carter said.
Marine Corps Capt. Katie Higgins, a 2008 academy graduate, broke another gender barrier when she became in March the first women to fly with the Navy's elite Blue Angels.
Similarly, the first two female soldiers completed the Army's rigorous Ranger School last month. The Army opened Ranger School to women for the first time this year. No women, however, are eligible for the elite regiment, though officials say it's among the units likely to open eventually to women.
The academy superintendent, Carter, said he believes athletic success by women's teams, together with the school's academics, prepare midshipmen for difficult work.
"I view athletics as at least a leading indicator of what it takes to go into these high-performing, tough mission sets," Carter said. "But it's the time management as well as the tough academic curriculum that we have here that I think makes our midshipmen more resilient."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Women's firsts in the Navy and Marine Corps
1862: Sisters of the Holy Cross served aboard the USS Red Rover, the Navy's first hospital ship.
1917: Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels approved enlisting women on March 17, weeks before the U.S. entered World War I.
1918: Some 35,000 women served in the armed forces during World War I.
1943: Capt. Anne Lentz became the first woman officer in the Marine Corps Women's Reserve.
1950: For the first time in history, Marine Corps Women Reserves were mobilized for the Korean War reaching a peak strength of 2,787.
1953: Secretary of Defense George Marshall established a committee on women in the service because of low recruiting numbers.
1954: More than 1,000 women served on duty in Korea during the Korean War.
1961: Lt. Charlene Suneson reported for duty on board USS General Mann and became the first line woman to have shipboard duty. Berta Peters Billeb became the first female Marine promoted to Sergeant Major.
1970: Capt. Alma G. Ellis became the first woman line officer assigned to the U.S. Naval Academy as director of the academy museum.
1972: Lt. Cmdr. Georgia Clark became the first female naval officer faculty member at the academy.
1972: Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Elmo Zumwalt allowed women to be assigned to noncombatant surface ships.
1973: The first coed class graduated from Navy Officer Candidate School. Rae Jean B. Goodman was appointed as the first Naval Academy female civilian faculty member. The first four women were chosen for flight training at Pensacola. Some 7,500 women served in Vietnam during the Vietnam War.
1974: Lt. Barbara Allen became the first Navy woman pilot to earn her wings.
1976: Congress mandated that women be admitted to the service academies including the Naval Academy. Some 81 women took the oath in July.
1978: Brig. Gen. Margaret Brewer became the first Marine Corps flag officer.
1980: The first class of 54 women graduated from the Naval Academy, 51 percent of whom became career officers.
1981: The first enlisted women were assigned as surface warfare specialists.
1990: Rear Adm. Marsha Evans was the first woman to command a naval station, Treasure Island. Lt. Cmdr. Darlene Iskra was the first Navy woman to command a ship, the USS Opportune. Cmdr. Rosemary Mariner became the first woman assigned to command an aviation squadron.
1991: Some 41,000 women served overseas during Desert Storm.
1992: Navy strengthened its zero-tolerance policy toward sexual harassment. Midshipman Julianne Gallina became the first woman brigade commander at the Naval Academy.
1993: Congress repealed the law preventing women from serving on combat ships.
1995: Cmdr. Wendy Lawrence became the first Navy woman in space aboard space shuttle Endeavor.
1996: Lt. Gen. Carol Mutter became the first Marine Corps female officer to wear three stars and only the second woman in history of the armed services to do so.
2004: Mary DeCredico was appointed the first female vice academic dean at the Naval Academy.
2006: Capt. Margaret Klein became the first female commandant of midshipmen at the Naval Academy.
2010: Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus approved women to be assigned to Ohio class submarines. Rear Adm. Michelle Howard is the first female Naval Academy graduate to achieve flag rank. She is also the first woman to serve as commander.
2015: Marine Corps Capt. Katie Higgins becomes the first women to fly with the Navy's elite Blue Angels.

The real numbers behind today's U.S. Fleet

Ray Mabus, National Defense Magazine
October 2015

What should Americans conclude when they hear conflicting claims about the U.S. Navy being too large or shrinking too much? History and the facts prove both claims wrong, and the argument is misleading. The size of our fleet matters because we live in a maritime-centric world. And what’s just as important as numbers of ships is what those numbers mean today.
So here are some numbers to consider: about 70 percent of our planet is covered by water; 80 percent of Earth’s population lives within an hour’s drive to the sea; 90 percent of global trade is seaborne; and 95 percent of voice and data are carried via undersea cables.
Since the end of World War II, the Navy’s presence has kept international sea lanes open around the world. For the first time in human history, we’ve protected trade and commerce not just for ourselves and our allies, but for everyone. Today, $9 trillion in goods are traded globally by sea, supporting 40 million jobs in the U.S. alone and benefiting nearly every consumer on Earth.
In every response from high-end combat to disaster relief, our naval assets arrive there faster and stay longer. We bring whatever we need with us and we act without having to ask anyone’s permission because our ships are sovereign U.S. territory. The Navy demonstrated this capability when the only strikes for the first 54 days of the air campaign against Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria came from Navy F/A-18 Hornets off the USS George H.W. Bush in the Arabian Gulf. Land-based fighters could not participate until host nations approved.
That is presence, the unrivaled advantage that the Navy and Marine Corps team uniquely provide our nation. People and platforms can be surged, but you cannot surge trust and there is no way to build trust other than being there. Maintaining that presence requires gray hulls on the horizon.
On Sept. 11, 2001, our fleet stood at 316 ships. Less than eight years later, despite one of the great military build-ups in American history, the fleet had declined to 278 ships. After I took office in 2009, it became clear our shipbuilding program had been neglected.
In the five years before 2009, the Navy put just 27 ships under contract, not nearly enough to keep our fleet from shrinking, and not enough to keep our shipyards going. In my first five years in office, we put 70 ships under contract, more than the last three Navy secretaries combined.
We’ve done this, while challenged by constrained budgets and fiscal uncertainty, with business fundamentals: increasing reliance on fixed-price contracts, block buys and multi-year procurements; having stable designs and mature technologies; and hard, but fair, bargaining.
The Navy awarded its largest ever contract by dollar value, an $18 billion, multi-year contract for 10 Virginia-class submarines, saving more than $2 billion, effectively giving the Navy 10 subs for the price of nine.
With our DDG-51 destroyers, instead of bidding out two ships, we bid three. Each of the two shipyards received one ship and the low bidder the third. The difference between the low and high bids also was taken out of the high bid’s profit, which saves us $300 million per ship.
With the Littoral Combat Ship, a large, fast, shallow draft, modular ship, the first four, LCS 1-4, were contracted before 2009 at an average ship construction cost of $548 million. We now have 19 authorized and appropriated under the fiscal years 2010-2015 block buy contract at an average ship construction cost of $337 million thanks to competition and facility improvements at both shipyards.
These business practices help build our fleet while saving taxpayer dollars. And the work increases and stabilizes America’s shipbuilding and repair industry, which provides more than 400,000 direct and indirect jobs and contributes more than $36 billion to America’s gross domestic product.
And today we’re getting more out of our ships. All of our ships are multi-mission platforms, ready to meet anything that comes over the horizon. On any given day, we have about 100 ships forward deployed. This is the same number we had forward deployed 20 years ago, when the fleet had 400 ships instead of the approximately 300 we have currently. Regardless, today we have more firepower, more capability and more capacity to do whatever is necessary on the world’s oceans than we did 20 or 40 or 100 years ago.
Certain things are beyond debate. First, we are the only nation willing and able to ensure freedom of the seas. Second, in order to protect sea lanes, reassure allies and deter potential foes, we must have a fleet big and capable enough to do so. Third, after years of decline, our fleet is growing and will reach the required size in less than five years. Fourth, ships take a long time to build and sail the seas for decades; the fleet size we have today is the result of decisions made 10 or more years ago. Lastly, shipbuilding is a unique skill that is hard to acquire and, if lost, is very hard to recover.
Assertions that our fleet is declining in size or comparing today’s fleet size to what it was at some point in history fundamentally discounts the fact that ships today can do far more than those of any other age. And while such statements may advance political or personal agendas and grab headlines, they demonstrate a critical misconception we cannot afford and do a disservice to our sailors, Marines, shipbuilders, industry and, most importantly, to America.
Statements like these embolden our potential adversaries, undermine the confidence of our allies and are
completely wrong. The U.S. Navy and Marines are the most formidable expeditionary fighting force the world has ever known, providing our nation with invaluable presence around the world. By continuing to increase the size and capability of our fleet, we will ensure it remains so.
Ray Mabus is the 75th secretary of the Navy.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Revealed: China selling submarines to Pakistan to prepare it for potential war with India

Benjamin David Baker, The Diplomat
29 September 2015

As previously covered by The Diplomat, Pakistan announced earlier this year that it has agreed to purchase eight modified Type 41 Yuan-class diesel-electric submarines from China. These boats will provide Islamabad with much-needed Anti-Access/Area Denial (A2/AD) capabilities against the Indian Navy in case of war. This would be especially useful in case of an Indian blockade of Pakistan’s coast and could give New Delhi grounds to pause before deploying its planned new aircraft carrier, the INS Vikrant.
A Yuan-class submarine is undoubtedly a great piece of kit. It is China’s first class of submarines to incorporate an indigenously designed- and constructed Air-Independent Propulsion system (AIP), giving it a cruise speed of 18 knots and an operational range of 8,000 nautical miles. Although the export version of the Yuan, named the S-20, does not automatically come fitted with the AIP, Pakistan has apparently been able to secure it for its subs. Furthermore, the Yuan is integrated “with advanced noise reduction techniques including anechoic tiles, passive/active noise reduction and an asymmetrical seven-blade skewed propeller.”
Combined with the AIP, this makes the Yuan-class the quietest non-nuclear sub in the PLAN. Furthermore, the
Yuan has an impressive set of teeth. Aside from six tubes firing standard 553mm torpedoes, it is equipped with the YJ-8/8A Anti-Ship Cruise Missile (ASCM). While this weapon only has a maximum range of between 30-42 km, there are plans to equip the Yuans with the YJ-18 ASCM. These missiles have a reported range of 220 km and, represent a real A2/AD “force multiplier” for the Yuan. Whether Pakistan will attempt to acquire these missiles, or opt to go for another option (such as their indigenously produced Hatf VII Babur) is unknown.
The sale raises one crucial question: why is China selling Pakistan these subs? There is undoubtedly a commercial aspect to this transaction (it is unknown how much Pakistan will pay for these boats, although it is certainly in the multi-billion dollar range). However, one potential reason which is worrying analysts in New Delhi is that this represents a step in China’s possible ambitions to have a toehold in the Indian Ocean. Without opening the can of worms that is the “String of Pearls” debate, it’s worth looking at this possibility.
Here are the facts: Firstly, the Indian Ocean is important for China for a range of reasons. The amount of Chinese sea-borne trade which passes through the Indian Ocean sea-lane is staggering. These sea-lines of communication (SLOCs) represent a lifeline for the Chinese economy, not least in terms of imports of natural resources, especially hybrocarbons, and exports, in terms of manufactured goods. Any naval strategist worth his salt has read Alfred Thayer Mahan, and will immediately recognize the importance of securing a trading state’s SLOCs. China is no exception.
Secondly, China has recently deployed submarines to the Indian Ocean. (This, incidentally, included the visit of a Yuan-class boat to Karachi.) According to Beijing, these are primarily there to participate in the ongoing anti-piracy campaign in the Gulf of Aden. While this is at least partially true, it is also likely that they are conducting exercises, surveys, and perhaps even combat patrols which can be useful for future operations in the Indian Ocean. Thirdly, Beijing does care about its image and is “realistic” about its power-projection capabilities. According to a recent US Naval War College report, it’s unlikely that China will construct overseas bases in the same way that the United States or France have in the near future in fear of alarming other stakeholders and overstretching naval resources needed closer to home. Finally, China is a long way from the Indian Ocean, and Pakistan is its closest partner in the neighborhood.
Even if its subs can stay at sea for months without refueling at a time, its crews can’t. Having a well-fitted anchorage close to a submarine’s intended area of operations makes it much easier to rotate crews, take on fresh supplies, and carry out maintenance. The PLAN has already called on ports in Oman, Djibouti, and Aden during its anti-piracy campaigns in the Gulf of Aden. However, this has so far only included surface vessels. Submarines often require more specialized facilities to function effectively. Locating a resupply place (not base) in the friendliest state in the area makes sense.
A Pakistani naval facility which already berths compatible subs sounds like a good fit for such a “place.” It would remove the need to permanently station a large number of personnel and equipment abroad, while providing adequate maintenance facilities for the sort of routine repairs that submarines unavoidably need in order
to function smoothly over long periods of time. This wouldn’t represent the first time this kind of arrangement has occurred. For example, the British Oberon-class was used by several other allied states during the Cold War, including Australia and Canada. The fact that these navies operated the same class of vessels facilitated maintenance during exercises and visits.

Poland, Norway could team on submarine program

Jaroslaw Adamowski and Gerard O’Dwyer, Defense News
28 September 2015

Poland is planning to purchase three submarines armed with cruise missiles by 2023 and the Defense Ministry is considering a joint procurement with other NATO member states, with Norway as a potential partner.
"Poland and Norway share a joint interest, which is ensuring security and stability in the Baltic Sea," said professor Marek Jablonowski, a political scientist from the University of Warsaw. "Poland has intensified efforts … to develop joint projects in the field of defense, mostly with its neighbors. This could be another dimension [of such cooperation]."
Poland’s Deputy Prime Minister and Defense Minister Tomasz Siemoniak, during his Sept. 14 meeting with his Swedish counterpart, Peter Hultqvist, said, "the Baltic Sea has become a dangerous zone, which is why it is necessary and justified to tighten the military cooperation between Poland and Sweden."
Norway’s decision to examine the potential for industrial cooperation with Poland in submarine design and construction stems directly from the similarities between the future sub requirements of both countries, according to Norway’s Ministry of Defense.
A statement from the MoD noted that the commonalities in future needs makes it worthwhile to "investigate cooperation with Poland with regards to procurement, maintenance, sustainment and operations of new submarines. Norway will continue discussions with Poland to investigate the potential for cooperation," the statement said.
Initial discussions over possible industrial cooperation were opened by Polish and Norwegian MoD officials in Kielce, Poland, during the International Defense Industry Exhibition MSPO 2015 event, which was held in the first week of September.
Norway’s six Ula-class submarines were built and delivered to the Norwegian Navy in 1987-1992. Acquisition of spare parts is now becoming a greater challenge for the Navy.
The MoD started a planning process in 2007 to evaluate options pertaining to the future of the Ula-fleet. In 2014, the Norwegian government decided to focus on a new submarine class rather than conducting a life-extension program on the existing Ula vessels.
"A project for new submarines is currently in the definition phase, and a recommendation will be presented to the government in 2016," the MoD said.
Norway plans to adopt an evolutionary approach to the submarine project, framing its procurement on an
existing design from an experienced shipyard. The MoD believes this will reduce the need for extensive development, which could potentially add risk and cost.
The Norwegian government is also keen to leverage its advanced submarine technologies and capabilities, including Kongsberg’s combat systems, which are currently in use in the Ula as well as German and Italian U212A-class submarines.
Norway, the MoD said, will use the procurement of new submarines as an opportunity for the country’s defense industry to participate and secure key contracts.
The Ula-class subs are due to reach the end of their operational life in the mid-2020s, so the MoD aims to have all construction contracts signed before 2020.
Norway expects that delivery of the first submarine in the new class will take place around six to seven years after a contract is signed, potentially within the time frame of 2023-2024.
"The procurement cost of new submarines will be substantial. Cooperation in the area of future submarines could be very beneficial in order to achieve economies of scale, cost savings and synergies. Norway is interested in finding long-term partners for an extensive cooperation," the MoD says.
Last September, Poland’s Deputy Defense Minister Czeslaw Mroczek unveiled plans to buy new submarines under a joint procurement with other NATO member states.
Mroczek said the Polish ministry is "considering to jointly acquire the submarines, for instance with Norway and the Netherlands."
Currently, Warsaw and Oslo are exchanging information on their plans related to acquisitions of new submarines for their respective navies. A joint procurement with Norway would allow the Polish government to significantly reduce the program’s cost, according to Mroczek.
"We are completing works on the initial tactical-technical terms, a description of what type of submarines we want to acquire, and with what weapons. It has already been confirmed, and there is no doubt here, that we will acquire cruise missiles for these three vessels," Mroczek told local news agency PAP Sept. 6.
The ministry plans to withdraw its existing submarines from service once new units are delivered to the Navy, he said. Currently, the Polish armed forces own four Kobben-class subs, and one Kilo-class submarine.
This follows an announcement made in May by Siemoniak that the Polish government plans to purchase cruise missiles for the new submarines. Under the plan, Poland is to acquire 24 missiles for the three submarines, of which two are to be delivered to Poland by 2022, and a third by 2023, the Defense Ministry said in its Military Modernization Plan for the years 2013-2022.
In March, Siemoniak announced that Warsaw was in talks with Washington and Paris over the potential cruise missile deal that would be implemented under the ministry's Polish Claws program, which aims to significantly boost Poland’s deterrence capacity.
France, US Could Supply Cruise Missiles
One option is to acquire Tomahawk cruise missiles from the US. The second option regards acquiring naval cruise missiles from France if Poland decides to purchase French-designed Scorpene submarines. Paris has reportedly agreed to procure submarines and long-range missiles for Warsaw, according to information obtained by local daily Gazeta Wyborcza.
Should the deal go through, Poland would become the third country to operate such long-range missiles, along with the US and UK. The Tomahawk is produced by Raytheon.
As earlier reported, Poland aims to launch its submarine tender in the fourth quarter of 2015, according to the Deputy Defense Minister Maciej Jankowski.
Norway is also investigating the potential for cooperation with other nations. Sweden, Poland and the Netherlands are the most obvious industrial partner nations for Norway, said Henk Rutten, an industry analyst based in The Hague.
"It is possible that a future collaboration could include more than two nations. Sweden is certainly an interested party. Although Sweden has not made a formal approach to Norway as yet, there is dialogue at an unofficial level," said Rutten.
Last spring, Lena Erixon, the then-director general of Sweden’s military procurement agency, FMV, identified Norway and the Netherlands as potential partner nations. Sweden and Saab are hoping that Norway will select the new A26 sub, or a variant, as its future submarine type.
The Netherlands is primed to replace its 2,756-ton, life-extended Walrus subs after 2025. The submarines entered service in the 1990s.
Saab is contracted to deliver two A26-class submarines, at an estimated cost of US $1.4 billion, to the Swedish Navy by 2022. However, the budget is fully funded and the program is not dependent on Saab finding an industrial-cooperation partner.
"While the A26 program is fully budgeted, our interest in finding a partner is not so much about reducing the final bill as a desire to reduce future costs. By partnering with other countries we will be able to share both future development and maintenance costs and achieve a more even production volume," said Erixon.
Saab has an industrial teaming agreement with the Dutch Damen Shipyard. The deal reflects the extent of Swedish state backing for Saab in its long-term goal to build a robust and competitive underwater naval capacity centered around Saab Kockum’s underwater division.

New U.S. sub force commander: "We must continue to own the undersea domain"

Vice Adm. Joseph E. Tofalo, COMSUBFOR Blog
25 September 2015

Greetings from Norfolk! I am pleased to be posting my first blog as COMSUBFOR. I am honored to have been given this responsibility, and I look forward to the challenges and rewards of serving as your Force Commander.
Soon, RADM Roegge, RADM(sel) Richard and myself will be releasing a joint Commander’s Intent for the United States Submarine Force and Supporting Organizations. This Commander’s Intent is meant to provide the Submarine Force with background and
principles to help each and every member of the Force and supporting organizations understand our priorities and future direction, and their role in achieving them.
This Commander’s Intent will integrate, update, and replace (as appropriate) all previous Force design and guidance documents. That said, you will find the fundamental direction from those previous documents is preserved. This consistency and continuity should make it clear that we as a Force remain on the right track—our foundation is solid, our traditions reinforce the right attributes, and we have much to be proud of. This is less of a “course” change and more of some “small rudder” to keep us in the middle of the channel as we face changes in set and drift.
The situation we face presents us with challenges in at least three world regions, each of which places substantially different operational demands on the Force. Consistent with our history as a maritime nation, the responsibility to prevent challengers from using the sea to threaten these regions will fall predominantly on the United States Navy. As anti-access / area denial systems proliferate, the share of the Navy’s responsibility that falls on U.S. submarine and undersea forces will only grow.
To address this situation, our primary lines-of-efforts remain: Provide Ready Forces, Employ the Force effectively, and Develop Future Capabilities, with all three of these built upon the Foundation of our Strength—our undersea warriors, confident experts of the highest character, and their families. For those of you on the waterfront and in staffs that directly support, the majority of what you do is generate readiness.
In short we must continue to own the undersea domain. Undersea forces operate far forward, are persistent and covert. Our non-provocative influence can deter and de-escalate potential conflicts by providing cross-domain intelligence, real-time warning to U.S. leadership, and rapid transition from peacetime if required. We are the anti-A2AD force, operating inside adversary defenses, using our access to set the table for the joint force, capitalizing on our stealth, and exercising surprise at the time and place of our choosing. I am deeply committed to this vision, and I am deeply committed to the tireless pursuit of undersea superiority.
Thank you for all you do—keep charging!

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Indonesia to buy new submarines from Russia

Prashanth Parameswaran, The Diplomat
25 September 2015

The Indonesian Navy revealed earlier this week that it plans to purchase two new submarines to augment its fleet.
Navy spokesman Comr. Muhammad Zainuddin told The Jakarta Post that it had opted to procure two Kilo-class submarines from Russia as part of the strategic planning for the next few years. The submarine procurement plan was also confirmed by Indonesian defense minister Ryamizard Ryacudu, who noted that it was consistent with President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo’s plan to buy new weapons systems instead of second-hand items.
The choice of Russian submarines is far from surprising. The Russian government has repeatedly approached the Indonesian government to offer Kilo-class Type 636 submarines as part of a broader effort to broaden their defense relationship. In January, Russia’s ambassador to Indonesia MY Galuzin made a similar pitch when he met with Ryacudu.
Zainuddin’s comments come weeks after news that the Indonesian government under Jokowi would cut the country’s defense budget for next year amid economic woes despite earlier conditional pledges – including from Jokowi himself – to increase it (See: “Will Indonesia Double its Military Budget in 2016?”).
As I reported then, while some had worried about the implications for Indonesia’s ongoing military modernization, including Jokowi’s own “global maritime fulcrum” vision, defense officials and legislators had suggested that key purchases – including submarines – would not be impacted (See: “Why is Indonesia Set to Cut its Military Budget for 2016?”).

Japan prefers to build new sub fleets in Australia

, Christopher Pyne Says Anna Henderson and Susan McDonald, ABC News Australia
25 September 2015
All three international bidders for the multi-billion-dollar contract to produce Australia's next fleet of submarines would prefer to build in Australia, according to Cabinet Minister Christopher Pyne.
The Federal Government is undertaking an international Competitive Evaluation Process with Japan, France and Germany all bidding for the lucrative deal.
Industry Minister Mr Pyne has confirmed Japan is open to an Australian build process, and said all three countries were prepared to offer a local build option.
He said all three countries were preparing hybrid and overseas build proposals too, but the bidders were aware the Federal Government wants the submarines to be constructed in Australia.
"All three of them are now saying they'd prefer a domestic build," Mr Pyne told Channel Nine this morning.
Ahead of the overthrow of former prime minister Tony Abbott a number of senior South Australian Liberals were fearful they would lose their seats if Japan secured the contract and the submarines were built offshore.
The state had originally been promised a job boosting submarine package by the Coalition Government, to offset the loss of thousands of car manufacturing jobs.
There is increasing Coalition concern that disillusioned votes will turn to other parties at the next election in protest, including Labor and the group formed by independent Senator Nick Xenophon.
Mr Pyne holds a South Australian seat that is considered marginal and has played up the prospects of Japan's interest in building in Australia.
"As a South Australian that is music to my ears but we will go through the proper processes and we'll make an announce at the appropriate time," he said.
"Sounds to me like all three bidders are picking up that we'd like to spend $50 billion of defence industry money in Australia where it creates jobs, new technologies, innovations, all sorts of spin-off industries.
"It would be great for Australia."
Labor's defence spokesman Stephen Conroy said he was happy to hear all countries were providing a local build option.
But he said Mr Pyne had not indicated that the Government will rule out building the submarines overseas.
"Well he's pretty brave today but he was silent when this debate's been raging for the last 12 months," Senator Conroy told AM.
"When Chris Pyne and Marise Payne and Malcolm Turnbull receive those bids they should only consider the three domestic build bids."
SA calls on Federal Government to rule out overseas build
South Australia's Labor Government said the Commonwealth should rule out hybrid or overseas builds completely.
Defence Industries Minister Martin Hamilton-Smith said a local build was always a required part of the pitch.
"This morning's news is nothing new in the sense that we know all three bidders can do it here, Australia can do this," he said.
"What we need is a Federal Government that rules out the overseas and hybrid build, and gets on with the job of building 12 subs."
He said the Government could easily act now to stop the bidders from continuing to explore offshore proposals.
"What we need from the Commonwealth Government is for them to rule out any requirement for the three bidders to bid for an overseas or a hybrid build," he said.
"Now that could be done by Monday morning."

Chinese subs finally get a shot at American carriers

A lot has changed in two decades

David Axe, War Is Boring
24 September 2015

In 1995 and 1996, Taiwanese politicians signaled greater support for declaring their island country officially independent of China. Beijing’s response was swift, forceful ... and ultimately an embarrassment to China. The Chinese army fired several missiles toward small, Taiwanese-held islands.
That’s when the United States intervened in a big way, sending two entire aircraft carrier battle groups into the waters around Taiwan – and even sailing one carrier through the Taiwan Strait.
The Chinese military was powerless against this show of force. Beijing couldn’t even reliably track the American warships, and had no forces of its own capable of threatening the powerful U.S. vessels.
The Chinese backed down.
Nineteen years later, the situation has changed. According to the California think tank RAND, if the same crises occurred today, Chinese submarines could target a U.S. flattop several times during a weeklong campaign. “China has rapidly improved its ability to reliably locate and to attack U.S. carrier strike groups at distances of up to 2,000 kilometers from its coast,” RAND warned.
Beijing’s ability to target carriers from below the sea depends on two related capabilities. First, China needs modern and reliable submarines. Second, these subs need some way of finding the flattops.
As far as its sub fleet goes, China has made great progress in the two decades since the 1996 crisis. “In 1996, China had taken delivery of only two submarines that could be described, by any reasonable definition, as modern,” RAND explained. “The remainder of its fleet consisted of legacy boats based on 1950s technology, lacking teardrop shaped hulls and armed only with torpedoes.”
By 2017, China will possess a smaller but more capable undersea fleet with 49 modern subs. “China’s recent submarine classes are armed with both sophisticated cruise missiles and torpedoes, greatly increasing the range from which they can attack,” according to the think tank. “Although most Chinese boats are diesel-powered and none is not up to U.S. standards, they could nevertheless threaten U.S. surface ships.”
Just how much Beijing’s subs could attack a single American carrier during a seven-day campaign depends on what RAND called “cueing.” In other words, the ability of Chinese satellites, drones, spy planes, land-based radars and other so-called “intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance” systems, or ISR, to detect the carrier and pass along the flattop’s location to the subs.
“Improvements to Chinese ISR have improved the chances that Chinese submarines will receive such information,” RAND reported.
In 1996, Chinese subs had basically zero chances to take a shot at a U.S. carrier, with or without cueing. By 2010 that was no longer the case. Without cueing, Beijing’s subs were still pretty much blind, but with help from ISR the undersea vessels would have gotten two or three chances to attack a carrier with missiles or torpedoes.
RAND projected that, in 2017, Chinese subs with no cueing probably still won’t be able to attack a carrier. But with cueing in the same timeframe, the undersea warships could get three, four or even five chances to attack.
Of course, a chance to attack doesn’t guarantee a successful attack. And the U.S. Navy isn’t exactly standing still as Chinese forces improve, RAND pointed out. “The United States will look to counter this growing threat by developing ways to degrade Chinese intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities and by improving its own anti-missile, anti-submarine and defensive counterair capabilities.”

How the U.S. used 3 stealth subs to show China who's still the boss of the Pacific

David Axe, War Is Boring
25 September 2015

Nuclear powers rarely go to war with each other, but that doesn't mean they don't threaten to do so. Indeed, military posturing is an integral part of what Forrest Morgan, an analyst for the RAND Corporation, called "crisis stability." In other words, "building and posturing forces in ways that allow a state, if confronted, to avoid war without backing down."
Long-range heavy bombers are some of the best forces for crisis stability, Morgan wrote in a 2013 study for the U.S. Air Force. Bombers are powerful, mobile, and visible — perfect for signalling strength and intent.
On the other hand, the U.S. Navy's submarine-launched cruise missiles are less effective — even counterproductive — for crisis stability … because they're invisible most of the time. "SLCMs could contribute to the instability," Morgan wrote. "[T]he opponent's anxieties might be magnified by the ability of SSGNs [cruise missile subs] to posture in stealth nearby."
But Morgan pointed out one instance when the Navy's Ohio-class SSGNs actually did help stabilize a crisis back in 2010 — a feat mostly lost to history. "In July 2010, three SSGNs surfaced nearly simultaneously in Western Pacific and Indian Ocean waters, allegedly to signal U.S. displeasure over Chinese missile tests in the East China Sea."
Major missile tests are potentially provocative and destabilizing. America's intent in the aftermath of the Chinese tests was to signal U.S. strength with just the right amount and kind of potential force. Submarines seemed to fit the bill, as if Washington were saying to Beijing, "Sure, you might surprise us with your missiles. But we remember we have plenty of missiles of our own — and they're not far from you."
Greg Torode reported on the incident for the South China Morning Post:
The appearance of the USS Michigan in Pusan, South Korea, the USS Ohio in Subic Bay, in The Philippines and the USS Florida in the strategic Indian Ocean outpost of Diego Garcia not only reflects the trend of escalating submarine activity in East Asia, but carries another threat as well. …
Between them, the three submarines can carry 462 Tomahawks, boosting by an estimated 60 percent — plus the potential Tomahawk strike force of the entire Japanese-based Seventh Fleet — the core projection of U.S. military power in East Asia. …
One veteran Asian military attaché, who keeps close ties with both Chinese and U.S. forces, noted that "460-odd Tomahawks is a huge amount of potential firepower in anybody's language."
"It is another sign that the U.S. is determined to not just maintain its military dominance in Asia, but to be seen doing so — that is a message for Beijing and for everybody else, whether you are a U.S. ally or a nation

U.S. naval oceanography commander talks unmanned systems strategy at undersea warfare conference

Naval Meteorology and Oceanography Command Public Affairs, Navy News Service
24 September 2015
STENNIS SPACE CENTER, Miss. – Rear Adm. Tim Gallaudet, commander, Naval Meteorology and Oceanography Command, rolled out his command's unmanned systems strategy at the National Defense Industrial Association's 2015 Joint Undersea Warfare Conference, Sept. 22.
The Naval Oceanography Unmanned Systems strategy will increase capabilities to collect environmental information for warfighting while sharing the Naval Oceanography community's two decades of experience with other unmanned systems stakeholders.
For more than 20 years, naval oceanographers, operating 100+ unmanned systems, have collected information from more than 250,000 miles of physical battlespace so that Naval and Joint commanders can make better decisions faster than the adversary.
"Our innovative use of unmanned systems plays a critical role in collecting data that directly supports anti-submarine, mine, amphibious, strike, special and expeditionary warfare," said Gallaudet. "The technology is perfectly suited for other 'dull, dirty and dangerous' missions and provides a flexible and cost-effective solution to a variety of warfighting challenges."
The goals of the strategy are:
1. expand Naval Oceanography's use of unmanned systems
2. enable the Fleet and Joint Forces' use of unmanned systems
3. engage unmanned systems stakeholders to accelerate development of future systems
Specific objectives include increasing Naval Oceanography's use of unmanned systems in Fleet and Joint operations and exercises; using unmanned systems and integrating collected data to develop a Physical Battlespace Awareness Common Operational Picture; and establishing a global Physical Battlespace Awareness Maritime Operations Center.
The document also provides for outreach opportunities to unmanned systems developers, expanded partnerships within the science and technology and research and development communities as well as increased coordination with unmanned systems requirement officers. These ongoing relationships will ensure that future systems will continually benefit from the community's considerable operational experience.
"With a wealth of 'best practices' in mission planning, launch/recovery, operations, manning, training, maintenance and data exfiltration, Naval Oceanography offers a firm foundation for other unmanned systems programs," Gallaudet said. "We will continue to advance the application of unmanned systems in the Navy and the Department of Defense."
In June, the Naval Oceanography and Submarine Force communities entered into a memorandum of agreement to develop and field an autonomous undersea vehicle with multi-mission capabilities that can be launched from multiple platforms.
The variant will merge the Naval Oceanography's program of record Littoral Battlespace and Sensing AUV (LBS-AUV) and the Navy Undersea Warfare Enterprise's Fleet Modular Autonomous Underwater Vehicle
(FMAUV). Initially the new vehicles will collect hydrographic quality ocean bottom data and ocean bottom imagery to increase the Naval Oceanography community's data inventory.
The Commander, Naval Meteorology and Oceanography Command (COMNAVMETOCCOM) directs and oversees the collection, processing and exploitation of accurate, relevant and timely oceanographic, meteorological, hydrographic, precise time and astrometric information. COMNAVMETOCCOM is assigned as CTG 80.7 under U.S. Fleet Forces Command, and is part of the Information Dominance Corps.
Naval Oceanography includes approximately 2,500 globally distributed military and civilian personnel.

400 feet under the Pacific, a game of cat and mouse

David S. Cloud, Los Angeles Times
25 September 2015

America's most advanced nuclear submarine was slicing through the water off Hawaii last month, 400 feet under the surface, when a sonar operator suddenly detected an ominous noise on his headphones.
It was a faint thump ... thump ... thump – the distinctive sound of a spinning, seven-bladed propeller on a Chinese attack submarine called a Shang by the Pentagon and its allies.
A neon green stripe on his sonar screen indicated that the Shang was only a few thousand yards off the U.S. sub's bow.
"Sonar contact!" he yelled to 15 officers and crew members in the dimly lighted control room. "All stations, analyze!"
Within seconds, the 377-foot-long Mississippi banked right and gunned its nuclear-powered propulsion system for one of the Navy's most difficult maneuvers: sneaking up behind another submarine and shadowing it without being detected.
Fortunately, the Mississippi was chasing a phantom, not a real Chinese sub. A digital recording of a Shang's audio signature had been piped through the U.S. sub's sonar system for a training exercise.
But the battle drill seemed urgently real: The mock Shang's course and speed were automatically fed into the Mississippi's targeting computers, the first step to launching one of its 27 torpedoes, something no U.S. sub has done against an adversary since World War II.
This is the largely unseen effect of the Obama administration's decision to send its newest vessels and warplanes to Asia over the last four years, a strategic rebalance intended in part to reassure Asian allies nervous about China's growing clout.
It has increased cat-and-mouse jockeying between the two largest navies in the Pacific, especially their growing submarine fleets. They track each other and train to fight with the same intensity of U.S. subs that once prepared to battle the Soviet Union.
When President Obama meets with Chinese President Xi Jinping at the White House on Friday, they are certain to discuss the growing military rivalry, especially in the South China Sea, where Beijing's buildup of disputed reefs has raised regional tension and sparked direct friction between U.S. and Chinese forces.
The Navy recently allowed a Times reporter aboard the black-hulled Mississippi, one of its newest and quietest fast-attack subs, for seven days, providing a rare look at the secretive world of the so-called Silent Service.
Beneath the waves, Cmdr. Eric Rozek and about 130 other officers and crew members, all men, did a series of complex training drills, often against an imaginary Chinese foe.
"This is our bread and butter," Rozek said. "Because if we can do this, we can shift to using our weapons."
The exercise was meant to help the Mississippi, one of 12 Virginia-class fast-attack submarines, prepare for its first operational mission early next year, a six-month patrol in the Western Pacific that probably will include stalking actual Chinese subs and surface warships.
If war between the U.S. and China suddenly seemed probable, the Pentagon would send the Mississippi or its sister subs near the Chinese mainland, according to analysts and Navy officers familiar with Pentagon war plans.
They could launch cruise missiles at antiship missile batteries along the coast and try to torpedo Chinese warships before they could attack U.S. aircraft carrier battle groups.
China's antisubmarine systems have improved as part of a military modernization effort, and its growing submarine fleet "poses a significant and increasing threat," according to a new study of U.S. and Chinese military capabilities by Rand Corp., a think tank based in Santa Monica.
But U.S. subs "would likely inflict terrible punishment" if China tried to invade Taiwan, a small island that is a U.S. ally, or launch another major maritime operation, the 389-page study concludes.
The Mississippi was shifted to Pearl Harbor from Groton, Conn., in November as part of the rebalance. The Navy now has 43 of its 71 submarines in the Pacific.
About 20 attack subs, which carry only nonnuclear weapons, now are based at Pearl Harbor, making it the Navy's largest sub base. Four more attack subs operate from Guam, closer to the South China Sea.
The others are based in San Diego and Washington state. They include eight Ohio-class subs, the 560-foot-long "boomers" that carry nuclear-armed Trident II ballistic missiles and hide in the deep ocean in case of nuclear war.
China, in turn, operates at least 62 diesel- and nuclear-powered subs. It could boost that to 78 over the next five years, according to a Pentagon report released in May.
They include four Jin subs that are believed to carry medium-range, nuclear-armed ballistic missiles. China "will likely conduct its first [submarine] nuclear
deterrence patrol sometime in 2015," the Pentagon report states.
China has expanded conventional sub patrols into the Indian Ocean and the Arabian Sea as far west as the Horn of Africa. Keeping track of them has added to the Navy's workload, Adm. Harry B. Harris Jr., top U.S. commander in the Pacific, said Sept. 17 at a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing.
To help counter the threat, the Navy deploys special spy ships and P-8 surveillance aircraft, which drop sensitive sonar buoys and underwater listening devices. But it also relies on its attack subs in the Pacific.
Off Hawaii, about a dozen of the Mississippi's officers and senior petty officers assembled one recent afternoon in the mess, where the crew eats, to discuss the day's battle drill.
For the purposes of the exercise, war loomed in the Pacific. A nuclear-armed Jin submarine – not a Shang this time – was lurking off an imaginary U.S.-allied nation resembling Japan. The Jin was from "Churia," not China.
The Mississippi had 36 hours to find and, if necessary, destroy the enemy sub, Lt. Cmdr. Dennis Milsom, the executive officer, explained. The officers listened intently, clustered near an ice-cream machine. Most were serving their first or second sub tours.
Among them was Lt. Ray Wiggin, the sub's weapons officer. His crew handles the Mississippi's torpedoes and dozen Tomahawk cruise missiles. He was told to prepare to launch a salvo of cruise missiles at Churian targets on shore.
Nerves were on edge. War had not broken out. And the mock orders permitted an attack only if the Jin was clearly hostile.
"If they are [attacking] a freighter, we have authority to engage," said Milsom, a ginger-haired graduate of Penn State.
Otherwise, they should track the Jin and await a "strike tasking," an order from the Navy's 7th Fleet commander confirming that war with Churia has begun.
"We're pretty binary," Milsom said. "We're either going to sink them or we're not."
On this day, they did not. The exercise ended without an exchange of fire.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

When China rules the sea

The U.S. is no longer the world's only global naval power

James Holmes, Foreign Policy
23 September 2015

A flotilla from China’s navy appeared in American waters in early September, a few weeks before President Xi Jinping’s Sept. 24 visit to Washington. Indeed, Chinese Communist Party chieftains evidently instructed warships to take shortcuts — lawful ones, I hasten to add — through
U.S. territorial waters in the Aleutians, off the coast of Alaska. Five vessels cruised the Bering Sea in early September — and elicited a fittingly low-key response from Washington: “China is a global navy,” declared one U.S. Navy spokesman, “and we encourage them and other international navies to operate in international waters as long as they adhere to safe and professional standards and maritime laws of the sea.”
Why would China go to the trouble and expense of mounting an expedition to the northern climes in the Western Hemisphere? Because it sees value in staging a presence in distant waters. And because it can: Beijing no longer depends completely on its oceangoing battle fleet to ward off threats in China’s seas. It can now rain long-range precision firepower on enemy fleets from land. Ergo, the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) fleet can cruise the far reaches of the Pacific and Indian oceans or even beyond, without forfeiting China’s interests in waters close to home.
For China, the upsides of far-ranging maritime strategy are many and compelling, the downsides fewer and fewer. The PLAN’s Aleutians sojourn is the latest expression of Xi’s project to make China, a traditional continental power, into what he calls a “true maritime power” — and helping the nation fulfill its “Chinese dream.” Such aspirations will form an undercurrent to discussions between him and U.S. President Barack Obama. The takeaway? A new age of Chinese bluewater assertiveness is upon us.
What does Beijing stand to gain from a venturesome maritime strategy? A lot. Consider the location of its recent foray: The Bering Strait constitutes the most convenient entryway to the Arctic Ocean for Chinese merchant and naval vessels. Assuming the ice recedes as climate change advances, polar shipping routes will prove shorter and less convoluted — and thus less expensive and troublesome — than current alternatives. Consequently, it makes perfect sense for the PLAN to establish a presence along prospective sea lanes to Eurasia’s north.
Next, there are benefits to the navy itself. Sailing far-off waterways bolsters seamanship, tactical skill, and √©lan. Sailors hone their proficiency not by sitting in port — doing what idle youth do — but by riding the waves. If China wants the PLAN to become a fighting force on par with the U.S. Navy, the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force, and other competitors for nautical preeminence, it needs the fleet to undertake deployments of increasing ambition, complexity, and geographic scope.
Until recently, naval officials were cautious about dispatching task forces beyond the Western Pacific and China seas. This changed, however, as the fleet matured in hardware terms. The finest weapon is no better than its operator. Now that the PLAN appears largely satisfied with its weaponry, it’s time to refine the human factor. Hence PLAN task forces are out and about on the seven seas more — not just the recent trip to the Aleutians, but also a September 2015 port call in Egypt, a May visit to the Black Sea, and assorted other naval diplomatic endeavors. This should be familiar to U.S. seafarers from their own coming out as a great navy a century ago, when their Great White Fleet circumnavigated the globe. Tend to materiel, tend to people: That’s wholesome goodness from a strategic standpoint.
The copycat factor
Apart from all this, Xi & Co. may have hoped to advance China’s cause in home waters by needling the United States in its home waters. Chinese officials and military officers commonly assume that Americans would never tolerate in their near seas what the U.S. Navy does in China’s near seas — sending surveillance planes along the coast, conducting underwater surveys, flying tactical aircraft from carriers, and the like. That’s why they’re forever invoking the Monroe Doctrine, or the Cuban missile crisis, or some other episode from U.S. history that supposedly proves that the United States claims the right to proscribe certain actions in its maritime environs.
As a matter of reciprocity, the Chinese insist that Washington afford fellow great powers the same prerogative in their neighborhoods. And China dearly wants to make the rules governing military activities in the China seas. In particular, Beijing wants to bar the South China Sea to foreign surveillance flights, underwater surveys, and aircraft carrier flight operations — allowing only passage through regional seaways from point A to point B. The operations that party potentates want to forbid are codified in customary and treaty law. Letting China do away with them would abolish freedom of the sea in that waterway. Foreign shipping would use the sea lanes only at Beijing’s sufferance.
Over time, relinquishing freedom of the sea in Southeast Asia might degrade the principle of freedom of the sea worldwide. It might discredit it altogether. No longer would the South China Sea be a maritime commons — and that would embolden powerful predators elsewhere around the globe to lay claim to their own adjacent waterways. Today, the South China Sea. Tomorrow, the Black Sea or Persian Gulf?
Still, if Beijing hopes to goad Washington into a hissy fit or impel it to abridge U.S. naval operations along the Asian periphery, it’s apt to be disappointed. One suspects Chinese officials are guilty of mirror imaging: assuming Americans see the world the same way the Chinese do and will respond the way the Chinese do to the actions of others.
We sail it, we own it
Seldom is that a safe assumption. Americans don’t take the same proprietary attitude toward the sea that the Chinese do. They barely think about the sea at all. (That body of water to our south is the Gulf of Mexico, for Pete’s sake!) Even at the height of U.S. activism under the Monroe Doctrine in the 19th century, the United States didn’t attempt to claim the Gulf of Mexico or the Caribbean Sea as sovereign property. That makes a marked distinction with China, which regards the South China Sea as “blue national soil”: territory that belongs to China and where Chinese domestic law rules.
Attitudes toward the sea aside, the Cold War is the historical episode that illustrates how U.S. officialdom will likely respond to PLAN voyages in the Americas.
Washington views the presence of foreign navies near U.S. shores as the price of doing business on the briny main. Freedom of the sea is a matter of reciprocity. Abridge maritime liberties for others and they’re likely to abridge them for you.
The Soviet navy, for instance, routinely operated in the near seas off the United States during the Cold War. Submarines executed nuclear deterrent patrols offshore. Soviet spy ships (known as auxiliary general intelligence ships, or AGIs) and fishing trawlers packed with electronic eavesdropping gear shadowed U.S. naval task forces. So omnipresent were AGIs that more than one U.S. commander reportedly called up a Soviet ship when it approached and assigned it a station in the fleet. The AGIs maneuvered with the U.S. vessels so no one collided during changes of course or speed. In effect, it became a companion to a hostile fleet. There was a measure of comity even between fierce competitors.
China has yet to acclimate to the rules of the nautical game. Why? Because continental powers like China tend to think about the sea differently than natural seafaring states like the United States or Great Britain. Where nautical peoples see a commons — an ungoverned space, open for the free use of all — terrestrial peoples see national territory, to be governed as though it were dry land. A chasm separates Chinese from Western worldviews.
China’s land-bound mindset
Nor did China’s Cold War experience much change its land-bound mindset. The nation faced inward during Mao Zedong’s 1949 to 1976 reign, in an effort to make itself a modern industrial power in a hurry. Its navy was hemmed in behind an offshore island chain occupied by U.S. allies, and thus had to content itself with defending China’s seacoasts against amphibious invasion. Beijing was increasingly obsessed with strategic competition with the Soviet Union and gazed northward across the Sino-Soviet land frontier rather than turning seaward. Until the launch of China’s reform and opening project in the late 1970s, China kept its focus largely on land. Beijing never acculturated to high-seas strategic competition the way the United States and Soviet Union did.
But Beijing now seems set on a different course. Chinese officials have gone on record with their maritime territorial claims so often and so vociferously that they would make them themselves look weak and feckless before their own people should they relent: It’s hard to imagine them abandoning their challenge to maritime freedoms now. Inflexible public commitments — the South China Sea “belongs to China” being a recent one — have a way of tying officials’ hands.
If Beijing has ample reason to undertake high-seas enterprises, here’s why it can. The weapons on display during Beijing’s Sept. 2 military parade marking Japan’s surrender in World War II revealed why party leaders feel comfortable dispatching naval flotillas — assets built to protect the motherland while managing events in maritime Asia — to remote waters: They no longer see much risk in doing so. Owing to advances in technological wizardry, elements of the PLAN battle fleet can ply the seven seas without fear of compromising security closer to home.
Simply put, the land-based military (the People’s Liberation Army, or PLA) can increasingly face down challenges to Chinese interests on the high seas without resorting to the oceangoing PLAN fleet. Throughout history, it has generally taken a navy to beat a hostile navy. Technology is changing that. Today China’s array of “anti-access/area-denial” defenses — its shore-based arsenal for molding events at sea — is mature enough to discourage all except the most serious challenges.
Gun running
This opens up beguiling strategic vistas before Beijing. The PLAN fleet can cruise within range of anti-ship cruise missile and ballistic missile batteries positioned along the Chinese shoreline, adding heavy-hitting land-based firepower to its own. And that’s long-range precision firepower. The anti-ship ballistic missiles on display during the Sept. 2 parade can reportedly strike as far away as U.S. bases on Guam in the Western Pacific.
Also in the PLA’s panoply are combat aircraft toting anti-ship cruise missiles. These, too, can strike out hundreds of miles from Asian shorelines. Augmenting land-based air assets and missiles are submarines and surface patrol craft useful for picket duty — standing guard offshore, much as sentries patrol an army’s periphery to ward off assault. These craft pack a serious punch. This makes for a dense network of defenses — and a nightmare for U.S. and allied naval commanders trying to defend allies, uphold freedom of the sea, and accomplish other worthwhile goals.
Land-based implements of sea power, then, constitute a great equalizer for the PLAN, helping close the firepower gap between China and America’s navies. Think about the benefits anti-access confers. Shore-based forces could wallop the U.S. Pacific Fleet during a fight in the Western Pacific, augmenting the PLAN fleet’s own striking power. That’s why ship-for-ship and plane-for-plane comparisons between the U.S. and Chinese navies mislead: The proper comparison is between part of the U.S. Navy (the part in the Pacific) and the whole of the PLAN — along with the PLA Second Artillery Corps, or ballistic missile force, and air force and navy combat aircraft capable of operating over water. That’s 60 percent of the U.S. Navy against a peer navy, army, and air force — on the opponent’s home turf.
Indeed, the PLAN conceivably might not even have to get involved in a fight. PLA commanders have the luxury of pummeling regional antagonists — notably the Japan-based U.S. 7th Fleet and Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force — even if China’s battle fleet never gets underway. Allied fleet bases lie well within reach.
That prospect gives Washington, Tokyo, and other potential foes second thoughts about making mischief at China’s expense. If the anti-access network plays out as intended, Beijing will feel increasingly confident about dispatching the battle fleet to the Indian Ocean, the Persian Gulf, or even remoter expanses such as the Mediterranean or Atlantic.
For China, then, an expansive maritime strategy starts with guarding the home front. If PLA rocketeers and aviators can pound seaborne antagonists from shore, why not send the PLAN bluewater fleet out of area to do business the party leadership deems important?
Free-rangers on the high seas
Look back in history to glimpse how this defensive architecture works. A century ago, sea-power pundit extraordinaire Alfred Thayer Mahan took the Imperial Russian Navy to task for timidity, risk aversion, and defensive-mindedness. He did so while critiquing the Russo-Japanese War of 1904-1905, a conflict that saw the Imperial Japanese Navy litter the East Asian seafloor with wreckage from two Russian fleets while seizing command of the sea. Mahan lambasted Russian naval commanders for using their Pacific squadron as a “fortress fleet” rather than a free-range fighting force.
Naval warfare is not for the meek. In theory, fighting ships are put to sea to defend important seaports against foes menacing from the sea. In practice, though, timid commanders like in imperial Russia tend to let the port protect them. It’s perverse when the protector becomes the protected — and that’s the fallacy Mahan was railing against.
Why shelter under the fort’s guns (or missiles and combat aircraft in this ultramodern age)? Simple: Fortresses are big compared to ships. The biggest ship is small, with limited space to house heavy weaponry and ammunition. Bases have room for bigger, heavier-hitting weapons fed by larger stockpiles of ammunition. That’s doubly true today, when anti-ship missiles mounted on trucks can be positioned anywhere along a shoreline. Fortress China furnishes more than ample ground for staging anti-access armaments.
Small wonder that Lord Horatio Nelson, the victor of Trafalgar, once proclaimed that “a ship’s a fool to fight a fort.” Such fights are typically lopsided in favor of the fort’s gunners. Small wonder, too, that the Imperial Russian Navy sheltered under the guns of Port Arthur, on the Liaodong Peninsula in northeast China — letting that shore-based firepower defend them from Adm. Togo Heihachiro’s superior Combined Fleet. Playing it safe shielded the tsar’s pricey battleships, cruisers, and destroyers from Japanese marksmanship.
The virtues of offense
Yet playing defense only worked within a small arc of offshore waters. The range of even the finest artillery of the day was under 10 miles. Pick up a compass, set it to 10 miles, and trace a circle around Port Arthur on the map. That’s a remarkably cramped sea area — too little for a great fleet to maneuver. If staying within range of Port Arthur’s artillery fended off Togo & Co. for the most part, then it also fettered the Russian squadron’s freedom of maneuver — and its commanders’ offensive options.
Such constraints are anathema to sea warriors. Dueling the main enemy fleet on the open sea is the hallmark of Mahan’s theory of sea combat. Commanders who make preventing an enemy fleet from pummeling them their chief goal transform the enterprise from offense into defense. Active strategy becomes passive. Winning takes second place to surviving. And in all likelihood, the goals entrusted to the fleet by senior military or political leaders go unfulfilled.
Suppose a latter-day counterpart to the Russo-Japanese War took place, a regional conflict in maritime Asia. And suppose land fortifications — today’s answer to Port Arthur — were outfitted with the latest in anti-ship military technology. What if the fort’s “guns” could strike not a few miles but hundreds of miles out to sea, targeting fleets operating not just immediately offshore but between Asia’s first and second island chains?
It’s doubtful Togo could have kept up a close blockade of Port Arthur under constant fire. This casts Mahan’s critique in a new light. He was correct in saying that depending on the fort kept the fleet on a short tether — but technological change has rendered his point moot. Long-range precision firepower manifest in land-based missiles and aircraft — the ultramodern descendants of Port Arthur’s gunnery — could clear vast swaths of the Western Pacific of hostile shipping. At a minimum, shore-based aviators and rocketeers could exact a heavy toll from fleets that dared steam into China’s contested zone.
The fortress fleet
With apologies to boxing legend Jack Dempsey, the best offense is a good defense for China — not the other way around. Solid defense close to home, in other words, frees the PLAN battle fleet to prowl the China seas and much of the Western Pacific, executing offensive missions while summoning fire support from airfields and mobile missile batteries should the need arise. Shore defenses constitute a liberating force for PLAN skippers, not a millstone the way they were for Russian seafarers a century ago.
In short, the day of the fortress fleet may have dawned, courtesy of high technology. And the benefits of access denial extend beyond the Western Pacific. If Beijing is confident enough in its shore-based defenses, it could deploy part or all of its fortress fleet as an out-of-area, expeditionary fleet. PLAN task forces could venture beyond the protective anti-access/area denial cocoon on errands the party leadership deems important. Just look at the PLAN’s excellent Aleutians adventure as part of this upswing in the vigor and ambition of Chinese naval operations.
Fortress China is a now continental-cum-maritime power able to shape events at sea from the land: a sea power that enjoys the liberty to embrace a forward-leaning marine strategy. PLAN flotillas will become an increasingly common sight in seaports throughout maritime Asia — and beyond. That’s something to ponder as Xi goes to Washington. No longer is the relationship between China and the United States the relationship between a land and a sea power: It’s now a relationship between two sea powers.

Pentagon: Chinese sub that can hit U.S. to go on patrol soon

Tony Capaccio and David Tweed, Bloomberg
23 September 2015

A new Chinese nuclear submarine designed to carry missiles that can hit the U.S. will likely deploy before year’s end, the Pentagon said, adding to Obama administration concerns over China’s muscle-flexing in Asia.
China’s navy is expected this year to conduct the first patrol of its Jin-class nuclear-powered submarine armed with JL-2 submarine-launched ballistic missiles, the Pentagon’s Defense Intelligence Agency said in a statement. It declined to give its level of confidence on when the new boat will be deployed or the status of the missile.
“The capability to maintain continuous deterrent patrols is a big milestone for a nuclear power,” Larry Wortzel, a member of the congressionally created U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission, said in an e-mail. “I think the Chinese would announce this capability as a show of strength and for prestige.”
The submarines are part of an effort to modernize China’s military under President Xi Jinping, who will be in
Washington Thursday and Friday for a state visit with U.S. President Barack Obama. U.S.-China defense cooperation and competition will be among the topics discussed by the two leaders. The Pentagon and DIA had previously predicted the patrols would start last year.
‘Threat Inflation’
“Don’t discount the likelihood of threat inflation by the Pentagon because of the shift toward the Asia-Pacific in the revised maritime strategy,” said Collin Koh Swee Lean, an associate research fellow at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies in Singapore.
China set out its ambitions for a bigger naval presence far from its coasts in its 2015 defense white paper released in May this year, saying it would add “open seas protection” to “offshore waters defense” to a list of core naval missions.
Wortzel said his commission’s 2015 report probably will include a comment from PLA Navy Commander Admiral Wu Shengli, who said the submarine-missile combination is “a trump card that makes our motherland proud and our adversaries terrified.”
China’s increased naval might, as well as its assertion to territory in the contested South China Sea and East China Sea, has helped spur the region’s largest military buildup in decades and caused disquiet in the U.S. about its role as the region’s peace keeper.
Missile Range
“The United States is a Pacific power,” U.S. National Security Adviser Susan Rice said in a speech on Sept. 21. “We’ve been the guarantor of stability in the region for the past 70 years. President Obama has made it clear that we have vital interests in Asia and the Pacific, and a good part of our foreign policy has been focused on our rebalance to Asia.”
China currently has at least four Jin-class submarines. Fifty-one years after the country carried out its first nuclear test, patrols by the new submarines will give Xi greater agility to respond to a nuclear attack, according to analysts.
“Of all the PLA strategic deterrence capabilities, the sea-based link is the most closely guarded secret because it is meant to be the most secure of the deterrents for China,” said Koh, who studies China’s naval modernization.
Sending the submarines on patrol is a significant step because JL-2 missiles have a range of about 4,598 miles (7,398 kilometers.) The U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission has said the missiles could reach Alaska if launched from waters near Japan and all 50 U.S. states from waters east of Hawaii.
Troop Cuts
“The chances of getting a submarine east of Hawaii at a time when tensions are high, would be relatively low,” said Felix Chang, a senior fellow at the Foreign Policy Research Institute in Philadelphia. “But it’s not a possibility you can completely discount.”
Xi earlier this month announced plans to cut 300,000 troops and vowed never to seek “hegemony or expansion.” While the move represents the largest cut to the People’s Liberation Army in almost two decades, it may only accelerate the arms buildup in the Asia-Pacific region.
The move will speed the PLA’s transition from a large, land-based army built over decades of invasions, civil war and border conflicts to a modern, mechanized force able to defend China’s territorial integrity andgrowing interests abroad.
“The more modern their weapons, the fewer personnel needed,” said June Teufel Dreyer, a University of Miami political science professor, who served as a commissioner on the United States-China Economic and Security Review Commission. “Less money spent on personnel means more money for airplanes, submarines, frigates, missiles.”
Still Testing
The JL-2 “has nearly three times the range” of China’s current sea-launched ballistic missile “which was only able to range targets in the immediate vicinity of China,” the U.S. Office of Naval Intelligence said in an April report on China’s Navy. The JL-2 “underwent successful testing in 2012 and is likely ready to enter the force,” it said. “Once deployed it will provide China with a capability to strike targets” in the continental U.S., it said.
Koh said reports indicate the PLA may still be conducting JL-2 tests. “If the missiles aren’t operational yet, there is no reason to send them out on patrol,” he said.
There is speculation that China is developing a new 096 Tang class nuclear-powered submarine that may be able to carry as many as 24 ballistic missiles, twice as many as the Jin-class 094 submarines, Koh said.
“So the most likely scenario is that the JL-2 is likely to be in the final stages of testing, and has been deemed successful, otherwise they wouldn’t be going ahead with the development of the 096,” said Koh.