Monday, July 31, 2017

China Just Deployed A Fleet of Sophisticated Submarine Drones in the South China Sea

The latest drones are capable of instantly relaying underwater data to the military — a technological achievement the US has yet to accomplish.

Dallon Adams, Digital Trends
27 July 2017

For years, China has considered the South China Sea part of its territory, despite international tribunal rulings stating otherwise. Needless to say, staking claim to these international waters has created quite the rift with the international community — namely the United States. Adding fuel to this fire, China has now unveiled and tested a new fleet of the highly advanced underwater drones with potential military capacities.
These so-called glider drones, known as “Haiya” — meaning “sea wings” in Mandarin — are more durable and more energy efficient than previous iterations. Most importantly, these latest drones are capable of instantly relaying underwater data to the military — a technological achievement the US has yet to accomplish. China claims it has successfully released 12 of these state-of-the-art drones into the farthest reaches of the South China Sea — to allegedly collect environmental data.
During tests in March of this year, the gliders reportedly dove to a depth of nearly 21,000 feet (almost four miles), shattering the previous world record dive of 16,964 feet held by the US. In 2014, utilizing a new battery and special pressure-resistant coating, a underwater drone controlled by the Chinese broke a world record by traveling 635 miles without stopping over the course of 30 days.
The deployment of these submarine drones is just the latest move in China’s ongoing effort to control the South China Sea. The Chinese military has built artificial islands in the region, complete with communications systems and potentially even missile launchers. In 2016, the Chinese even captured a US underwater drone in international waters. Covering a total area of nearly 1,500,000 square miles, the South China Sea is the largest sea in the Western Pacific region. As such, if an all-out war were to break out in the area, there’s a huge amount of territory to cover. And with a maximum depth of 16,457 feet along the China Sea Basin, any subsurface advantage could be decisive for militaries involved.
As noted previously, these unmanned drone tests were considered environmental missions, and the Haiya were not carrying weapons at the time. However, these gliders could be easily be used to detect, monitor, and potentially even “catch” US underwater assets (namely submarines) in the South China Sea. Stay tuned for all of the latest, “environmental testing” in the Pacific powder keg.

North Korea Reveals Never-Before Seen Images Of Missile Program

Dave Schmerler, CNN,
27 July 2017

Following the successful launch of their first intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) on July 4, the Hwasong-14, North Korea threw a series of celebrations to commemorate the work done by those involved in the project.
From a hero's welcome in the capital to a banquet which featured table miniatures of their long range missile systems, the celebrations culminated in a concert attended by the country's leader, Kim Jong Un.
A video of this concert, roughly one hour and 28 minutes long, showed singers and dancers commemorating the event
About half way through the concert however, a series of images appeared showing scenes from North Korea's missile program, some of which have never before been released to the outside world.
These images, 190 in total, contained scenes from the early years of North Korea's missile program under Kim Il Sung, the country's founder, until the most recent ICBM test on July 4.
They showed old images of missile systems that would leave a huge mark on the North's missile program, scenes from tests that failed, development facilities and even what may be our first ground imagery of what North Korean missile basing, or storage, looks like.
Here's what stood out:
This appears to be a Scud-B missile with what might be a Soviet designation on its side. The Scud-B was first acquired by North Korea from Egypt for reverse engineering sometime between 1979 and 1980.
While this Scud might not be from that original transaction, it shows former North Korean leader Kim Jong Il inspecting the missile system that would eventually become a major influence on their program.
We were then shown an image of what might be one of the first versions of the Hwasong-10 intermediate-range ballistic missile (IRBM), which is also known as the Musudan.
Much like the Scud-B, this missile's design has origins in the Soviet Union.
Based on an older Soviet submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM), the Hwasong-10's presence in North Korea could stretch back more than 20 years, though it was first publicly revealed in a military parade in 2010 and then first successfully tested in June 2016.
Since then, the missile has undergone many changes, likely due to a series of failed tests last year. The images published from this system's first successful test showed the missile with a new paint job and the addition of grid fins around the base to improve its stability during flight.
The transporter also saw modification, no doubt a result from its past track record of blowing up prior to and shortly after launching.
Later we were shown this same missile system without paint -- and the best view of its engine to date. The Hwasong-10's engine uses a complex design that signals a break from North Korea's reliance on iterations of the Scud and similar Nodong missile engine.
We were also shown scenes of tests and facilities. These tests were of launch components, engines and even missile launches that failed, which North Korea rarely publicizes.
Above is the first ever ground-level image of the missile ejection test stand at the Sinpo South Naval Shipyard, home to North Korea's Submarine Launched Ballistic Missile (SBLM) program.
While we have seen images from Sinpo before, the one above shows a scene of the testing that contributed to their
ability to launch a missile from a submarine, notably the ability to launch a missile from a tube.
We can see Kim Jong Un walking away from a SLBM body that was just ejected from the test stand to the left. While this site's ejection test stand has been widely reported on, we were also shown a similar ejection test stand that was not at Sinpo.
This image shows a missile body being loaded into another ejection test stand.
If we are to believe the chronological order in which these images were shown, this test is related to the land based version of their SLBM, the Pukguksong-2, showing that the testing of certain launch processes are happening at more than one location across the country.
When North Korea successfully tests a missile, we usually receive a series of images revealing more details about the test. When these tests fail however, we generally are not so lucky.
The image above stands out as it is of a failed test of the Hwasong-12 intermediate-range ballistic missile (IRBM), but not of the only successful test they have to date. There were reported failures of this system prior to the its first successful test in mid-May.
In this launch, we can see the Hwasong-12 with its original black and white paint job launching from a location near a large body of water, in contrast to the black and yellow painted missile we saw launched near Kusong.
It is more than likely that this is from one of the Hwasong-12's failed launches near Sinpo on the North Korea's east coast.
In addition to all of these new images, we might also have been shown the first-ever ground images of how North Korea intends to base their missiles.
Here we can see the transporter that was originally only associated with the Hwasong-10 in front of what might be a tunnel or hardened garage entrance. This would be a first for North Korea, as they very conservative when it comes to displays of their missile program after testing.
Unlike the displays of vast underground tunnels and occasional missile silo that you can see in Iranian missile footage, North Korea has never shown actual deployment sites, and for good reason.
If your adversary can identify where you keep your missiles, it increases the likelihood that they can target and attack said sites, destroying them or at least significantly hindering your ability to use missiles quickly.
In addition to the previous image, we see this more imposing scene of Kim Jong Un standing in front of a Hwasong-12 IRBM. At first glance I took this to be underground missile base.
However, if you look at the reported test locations for this system, one failure occurred at the Pukchang Airfield.
Like many of the larger airfields in North Korea, there are adjacent underground hangars, including the one at Pukchang. Taking this into context and looking at underground hangar designs in other countries, this shot could very well be taken in one of those hangars, possibly even the one at Pukchang.
What does all of this mean?
The images displayed at the concert helped to flesh out information about the history of North Korea's missile program.
They reveal with more detail the technological achievements which have allowed Pyongyang to develop a more diverse and sophisticated ballistic missile arsenal.
All of these advances, however, were presented as being directly tied to the Kim family.
In past media releases on missile or component testing, we will often get a mix of images with and without Kim Jong Un.
However in all 190 images release from the concert, a Kim is either in the shot or that image is a composite of two scenes with a missile and one of the three Kims, hammering home the point that the Kim family have been responsible for the program's development and success. There was never any doubt that this was how state security was being present in North Korea, but this presentation perfectly stresses that point.
It also demonstrates how important this program is to Kim Jong Un. With images showing his presence at tests we had never seen before and at missile component testing assembly, we can most likely expect that this program is not going to slow down anytime soon -- and that we will probably be seeing more images like these in the future.

India Is Shopping For Submarines As China Extends Its Reach Into The Indian Ocean

Christopher Woody, Business Insider
28 July 2017

India has contacted six foreign shipyards with a formal request for information about building six nonnuclear submarines.
The request comes as part of Project 75I, a program worth over $12 billion, according to Defense News.
New Delhi asked shipyards in Russia, France, Japan, and Germany, among others, for information about six submarines equipped with air-independent-propulsion systems, which allow nonnuclear subs to operate without access to atmospheric oxygen, replacing or augmenting diesel-electric systems.
New Delhi is seeking "a proven, effective, state-of-the-art, electric heavyweight torpedo; a land attack missile, and perhaps even an underwater-to-air missile against enemy helicopters and mines," Anil Jai Singh, a retired Indian navy commodore and defense analyst, told Defense News.
Once a response is received from interested shipyards, India will issue a formal request for proposal, then put three or four of the shipyards on a shortlist.
It will be a multiyear process, in part because of New Delhi's Strategic Partner policy, under which a foreign shipyard will be paired with a domestic one in order to compete for the contract.
One contractor told Defense News that the strategic-partner selection should be done by 2019. Another analyst and retired Indian navy officer said it could be "a good seven to eight years after a deal is signed" before the first sub build under the P75I program hits the water.
India's interest in submarines comes as China's growth has increased traffic in the Indian Ocean and through the narrow Malacca Strait connecting it to the waters of East Asia, both above and below the water.
India has been tracking Chinese submarines entering the Indian Ocean since 2013, and a 2015 US Defense Department report confirmed that Chinese attack and missile submarines were operating there.
China has framed its activity in the Indian Ocean and along the African coast as focused on non-military operations, including humanitarian aid, emergency missions, and anti-piracy patrols.
Indeed, the 550-mile-long Malacca Strait, bordered by Indonesia's and Malaysia's jungle shorelines, has become a hotspot for pirates eyeing the 50,000 ships that pass through it each year.
But that activity — coupled with Beijing's growing economic activity in Africa as well as the numerous facilities and alliances it has established along the coast of South Asia — have made India and others wary.
"The pretext is anti-piracy patrols in the Gulf of Aden," an Indian defense source told The Times of India in May. "But what role can submarines play against pirates and their dhows?"
India has already posted warships near the Malacca Strait to monitor maritime activity and has US-made P-8I Poseidon surveillance planes stationed on the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, an archipelago northwest of the Malacca Strait where India plans to expand its security presence.
The US has agreed to sell New Delhi surveillance drones that could be paired with the Poseidons and used to track Chinese maritime movements in the area — including those of submarines. It is also working to build radar stations on islands in the Indian Ocean and an "undersea wall" of sensors between southern India and northern Indonesia.
China, which is heavily reliant on imported fuel, got about 80% of its oil imports and 11% of natural-gas imports from ships transiting the Malacca Strait. The Tribune of India reported in June that India's activity
around the strait was "part of the target given to the Navy to ensure its dominance in the Indian Ocean by 2020."
India's growing focus on submarines and submarine warfare was underscored during the Malabar 2017 naval exercises, conducted with the US and Japan in mid-July. Anti-submarine warfare was one of the exercise's components.
New Delhi's increasing focus on its southern approaches and the broader Indian Ocean come in contrast to centuries of attention paid to security threats at and around its northern boundaries (India and China are currently embroiled in a dispute over territory on the China-Bhutan border.)
"This is a tectonic shift in India’s security calculus, that it has to protect its southern flank," Brahma Chellaney, a professor of strategic studies at the Center for Policy Research, told The New York Times.
China — which recently dispatched troops to its first overseas base in Djibouti, sent warships to naval exercises with Russia in the Baltic Sea, and deployed a surveillance ship to observe US-Australia naval drills — has reacted to developments in the region with dismay.
An editorial published this month in the state-run newspaper China Daily said Beijing is the one "that should feel 'security concerns,' given the importance of the Indian Ocean for its trade and oil imports."

Hyten Outlines STRATCOM Overhaul; Nukes Sooner For F-35s in Europe?

Colin Clark, Breaking Defense
26 July 2017

OMAHA – Strategic Command chief Gen. John Hyten today confirmed, more than two months after news first broke of a shift, that he’s ordered a series of sweeping changes at STRATCOM.
Basically, he got rid of the Joint Functional Component Commands for space, global strike, cyber, integrated missile defense, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance and whittled them down to one for space, one for air, one for maritime and one for missile defense. (Actually, Congress got rid of one component for him by making Cyber Command independent). They are also now called Joint Force Component Commands, so we’ve got the same acronym but a different name. That will drive people mad until Hyten, with his crystal clear mind, realizes they must be changed.
In addition to the JFCCs, Hyten abolished the six nuclear task forces that were responsible for airborne tankers, Atlantic and Pacific nuclear missile submarines, strategic communications, bombers and reconnaissance aircraft, and land-based ICBMs. Instead, they are grouped, logically, within the four commanders now responsible to him.
The biggest command change involves Gen. Jay Raymond, the head of Air Force Space Command. As Breaking D readers know, the position was elevated to a four-star billet and became the space JFCC.
The current setup has the Joint Functional Component Commander, Lt. Gen. David Buck, reporting to the head of Strategic Command, Gen. Hyten. This is how STRATCOM serves as the combatant commander for space. Gen. Raymond sets the requirements for new space weapons, oversees Space and Missile Systems Command (which actually buys the satellites, sensors, launch and ground systems) and trains, equips and builds the space warfighting cadre. Once the changes are complete, which Hyten said probably won’t be until early next spring, Gen. Raymond will directly advise Hyten on space forces and keep doing the space command job.
Similarly, Gen. Robin Rand, commander of Air Force Global Strike Command at Barksdale Air Force Base, will now serve as JFCC to Hyten for all things relevant to the E-4B flying command posts, B-2 and future Bp21 bombers, and KC-135, KC-10 and KC-46 tankers.
Adm. Phil Davidson of Fleet Forces Command will now be responsible for all nuclear subs.
Interestingly, missile defense remains a Joint Functional Component Command (not a Joint Force Component COmmand). I asked several people what this meant and didn’t get a really clear answer.
All this will be watched very closely by both our allies and our competitors because of the centrality of nuclear forces to both deterrence and assurance.
In related news, Hyten told me that the he met two weeks ago with the head of European Command, Gen. Curtis Scaparotti, and discussed whether F-35A Joint Strike Fighters needed to be upgraded to carry nuclear weapons with all possible speed. He said they did not come to a decision, but reading his body language and careful wording, I’m betting they concluded this was a necessary step to take in the face of Vladimir Putin’s continuing aggression across Russia’s border with central Europe. Any move to make the F-35A nuclear capable will require, he said, close consultation with our NATO allies.
The presumptive undersecretary of defense for policy, David Trachtenberg, endorsed making the F-35A nuclear capable ASAP in his testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Trident Nuclear Plans “Unachievable”, Says UK Government Watchdog

"Out-of-control costs" are cited.

Rob Edwards, The Ferret
24 July 2017

The UK government’s £43 billion plans to replace the Trident nuclear weapons system and build a new fleet of nuclear-powered submarines for the Clyde are “in doubt” or “unachievable”, according to a high-powered Westminster spending watchdog.
A new report from the Infrastructure and Projects Authority (IPA) to the Cabinet Office and the Treasury in London has condemned three major nuclear projects run by the Ministry of Defence (MoD) for being poorly managed, over-budget and beset by technical problems.
The financial rating for a submarine reactor manufacturing plant has been sharply downgraded for 2017, while two other nuclear submarine projects have had “major risks” every year for the last three years. All of the IPA’s assessment of a fourth £20bn plan to upgrade Trident warheads has been kept secret for national security reasons.
To try and combat the problems, the MoD has launched a major reorganisation and set up a new Submarine Delivery Agency. It has also renamed the Trident replacement programme ‘Dreadnought’, and engaged in “rebaselining” to delay project delivery.
The IPA report, which covers 143 projects run by 17 UK government departments, was posted online on 18 July. Buried in a table and spreadsheet released at the same time were damning indictments of the MoD’s flagship nuclear projects.
A £1.7bn project to build new submarine reactor manufacturing plants at Rolls Royce in Derby called “Core Production Capability” is given the IPA’s worst rating of “red” for 2017. “Successful delivery of the project appears to be unachievable,” said IPA.
“There are major issues with project definition, schedule, budget, quality and/or benefits delivery, which at this stage do not appear to be manageable or resolvable. The project may need re-scoping and/or its overall viability reassessed.”
The reactor plants were £250 million over budget and needed “rebaselining” to meet target dates, IPA said. It had previously rated the plants as “amber” in 2015 and 2016, meaning they they had “significant issues” requiring management attention.
The £31.6bn project to build four new nuclear-armed Dreadnought submarines to replace Trident and a £9.9bn programme to build seven new conventionally-armed nuclear-powered Astute-class submarines were both rated as “amber/red” for the third year running. All the submarines are due to be based at Faslane on the Gareloch near Helensburgh.
According to the IPA, an amber/red rating suggests the schemes may not be viable. “Successful delivery of the project is in doubt, with major risks or issues apparent in a number of key areas,” it said.
“Urgent action is needed to address these problems and/or assess whether resolution is feasible.”
Three of the Astute submarines have been delivered to the MoD, and four are still to be completed. “Overall affordability remains the programme’s key challenge,” said the IPA.
The date when the nuclear-armed Dreadnought submarines are currently scheduled to be ready to replace ageing Trident boats has been kept secret. The Vanguard-class submarines that carry Trident nuclear missiles have already had their lives extended from 25 to 38 years.
The IPA has also assessed the financial viability of the MoD’s £20bn Nuclear Warhead Capability Sustainment Programme to upgrade the weapons. But its verdict has been deleted from its report on the grounds that it
 is exempt from freedom of information law under national security and defence provisions.
The Scottish National Party (SNP) argued that Trident costs were escalating out of control. “A billion here – a billion there – to add to the bill for these weapons of mass destruction,” said SNP defence spokesperson, Stewart McDonald MP.
“The Westminster obsession with Trident is already squeezing conventional defence expenditure as everything else is sacrificed for these redundant, eye-wateringly expensive weapons. The Tories need to get a grip on costs if they insist on Trident renewal.”
Arthur West, chair of the Scottish Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, pointed out that MoD projects kept going substantially over budget. “The Trident programme in particular continues to be a shambles from a cost point of view,” he said.
The Nuclear Information Service, which monitors nuclear activities, warned that the UK was going to encounter more problems building a new generation of nuclear weapons. “The delays and cost increases that we are already seeing cast further doubt on the MoD’s ability to deliver these projects on time and within budget,” said the group’s research manager, David Cullen.
The MoD has set aside a “contingency” of £10bn in case replacing the four Trident submarines costs more that the estimated £31bn. There were matters relating to nuclear weapons that it could not discuss openly, it said.
“These ratings reflect the complexity and scale of delivering the most advanced submarines ever commissioned by the Royal Navy, the ultimate guarantee of our national security,” stated an MoD spokesperson.
“We are determined to get our submarine programmes right. That’s why we have established a new Director General Nuclear sponsor organisation and a new Submarine Delivery Agency.”
Imprisoned Trident protester to appeal
One of the ‘Trident two’ imprisoned for three weeks after a protest at the Coulport nuclear bomb base on the Clyde is to appeal against her incarceration.
Angie Zelter (66), a veteran peace campaigner, is due to challenge a decision to deny her bail in court in the next few days. She was jailed on remand after she refused to agree a condition banning her from going within 100 metres of Coulport or the nearby nuclear submarine base at Faslane.
Her imprisonment, and that of fellow campaigner, Brian Quail (78), have prompted a storm of protest, and led to an online petition to free them reaching over 4,000 signatures to date. Remand before trial is usually reserved for people considered to be a risk to others.
They were arrested on 12 July after they locked themselves together with others to block an access road to Coulport. They were charged with breach of the peace, an accusation that is due to be assessed in court on 3 August.
Speaking from Saughton prison in Edinburgh, Zelter argued that in the past some courts have upheld the right to take direct action against Trident on the grounds that the weapon is illegal. This had been reinforced by a decision by 122 countries on 7 July to back a United Nations treaty banning nuclear weapons.
“So at this time it is even more important that we stand at the gates of the places where those weapons are held and demand that the government listen to the majority world and start the process of disarmament now,” she told The Ferret.
“We welcome support from all those who stand with us and for disarmament, and we will take our arguments to every court, government body, and high street, until the UK and the world is rid of these terrible weapons.”
The SNP MSP Bill Kidd, Co-Convenor of the Scottish Parliament’s Cross Party Group on Nuclear Disarmament, backed calls for Zelter and Quail to be released. “I’m very unhappy indeed about the imprisoning of two very decent people, neither of whom pose any threat whatsoever to the peace and livelihoods of the citizens of this country,” he said.
“They have, through a non-violent action, been peacefully engaged in demonstrating against and raising awareness of weapons of mass destruction being trafficked through Scotland by the Westminster government.”
He added: “I am calling for all concerned citizens to sign the petition to free Angie and Brian and to learn from them about how to care about others first and foremost, whatever the threat to themselves.”

Tucson Tech: Raytheon Developing New Tomahawk Sub Launchers That  Will Triple Payload 

David Wichner, Arizona Daily Star
22 July 2017 

Tucson-based Raytheon Missile Systems is working to pack more of its Tomahawk cruise missiles into U.S. submarines, just in time to avert a potentially large gap in the fleet’s arsenal.
Raytheon is helping General Dynamics’ Electric Boat division develop a new payload module for future Virginia-class fast-attack submarines that will triple the number of Tomahawks the subs can carry.
Made in Tucson and costing about $1.5 million per copy, the Tomahawk is the Navy’s main conventional deep-strike weapon and is fired by surface ships and submarines to destroy high-value targets with lethal precision.
The nation’s current fleet of 13 Virginia-class nuclear-powered subs features 12 individual vertical launch tubes, each with its own little door holding one Tomahawk, said David Adams, senior Tomahawk program manager for Raytheon Missile Systems.
“They’ve found that it’s expensive, it’s harder to maintain that way,” Adams said.
Electric Boat and Raytheon developed a design to replace those individual launchers with two larger launch tubes, each holding six Tomahawks and potentially larger weapons or undersea vehicles.
“This Virginia payload tube was an evolution to that — they said, ‘hey, let’s create a six-pack of Tomahawks that would fit in a larger diameter (launcher),” Adams said.
The new launcher design takes up less space, uses less material and has some operational advantages as well, he said.
The new launch tubes are going into the Virginia-class Block III submarines, four of eight of which have been delivered.
Last week, the U.S. Navy test-fired two Tomahawks for the first time from the new launch tubes on the Virginia-class fast-attack sub USS North Dakota, the first Block III submarine built.
But bigger things are planned for the future versions of the Virginia class.
For the Virginia Block IV versions and beyond, Electric Boat and Raytheon are developing a new mid-hull missile module that will also add four of the larger launch tubes — each capable of carrying seven Tomahawks.
That will increase the number of launch-ready Tomahawks the subs can carry from 12 to 40 missiles.
While today, that would greatly increase the Navy’s Tomahawk launch capacity, the increase will come just in time to replace Tomahawks expected to be lost because of the planned retirement of another type of U.S. submarine.
Starting in the 2020s, the Navy plans to start retiring four large Ohio-class guided-missile submarines — the largest in the U.S. fleet — each able to fire up to 154 Tomahawk missiles.
The four Ohio-class subs — the USS Ohio, USS Michigan, USS Florida and USS Georgia — were originally nuclear-armed ballistic missile subs before being converted to conventionally armed guided-missile subs in the 2000s. (All Tomahawks are conventionally armed since the nuclear version was phased out.)
The Ohio-class submarines are scheduled to be replaced by a new ballistic-missile sub, the Columbia Class, starting around 2031. But in the meantime, the newer Virginia submarines will take up most of the slack.
“The Virginia class is helping replace that (Tomahawk capacity), with an eye toward the loss of those Ohio-class subs, and the Columbias which will be replacing those Ohios pretty much on a one-for-one basis,” Adams said.
“The Columbia class will have pretty substantial capacity of Tomahawk-capable missile tubes,” he said, adding that by the time the Ohios retire, there will be a small net decrease in Tomahawk capacity.
While work on the Virginia Tomahawk upgrades is led by Electric Boat and doesn’t represent a big contract opportunity for Raytheon, it’s important work that continues a tradition of constant technology evolution for the Tomahawk, which has been fired in combat more than 2,300 times.
“Tomahawk is a very dynamic program with evolution and development in multiple dimensions, and some are in the weapon itself and some have to do with the platforms where we’re deployed,” Adams said.
With latest Tomahawk Block IV, the Navy and Raytheon have improved the weapon’s communications and navigation capabilities, while adding a multi-mode seeker so it can hit high-value moving targets at sea.
Those upgraded Tomahawks are on track to deploy beginning in 2019 and are expected to be in the Navy arsenal beyond 2040.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

North Korea Planning Ballistic Missile Test From Submarine, US Intelligence Says

21 July 2017 

US intelligence indicates that North Korea is possibly planning to launch its next missile underwater as Pyongyang’s submarine has been found sailing some 100 kilometers out to sea in international waters.
A 65 meter-long North Korean submarine was spotted in international waters in last 48 hours, two defense officials said. It has exhibited "unusual deployment activity", the officials were quoted as saying by CNN Thursday.
The vessel has sailed farther than it has before into international waters, travelling 62 miles to the Sea of Japan.
North Korea is heading forward to test components and missile control facilities for another ICBM or intermediate launch from a submarine, however the US intelligence assessment says that the program is still in early stages.
In addition to that US satellites detected new imagery and satellite-based radar emissions. The US is watching in particular for further testing of North Korean radars and communications that could be used in a launch. The next test launch would be the first since North Korea launched an ICBM on July 4.
This activity follows weeks after Pyongyang completed on the Fourth of July, what Washington has considered its first successful intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) test launch. Whereas, North Korea leader Kim Jong-un called the launch a "gift package" for the US on the anniversary of its Independence Day.
Kim also claimed that the Hwasong-14 missile tested most recently is capable of carrying a large nuclear warhead, and some experts say that a missile from the North could have the capability to reach the US west coast in only a couple of years.

Next generation Russian subs will be of 3 kinds

21 July 2017 

The Russian navy is taking a page out of the U.S. Navy’s playbook as it develops its family of next-generation nuclear submarines.
Tentatively called Project Husky, the new submarines will be built in three variants — a basic attack submarine model, an expanded guided-missile submarine or SSGN version, and an enlarged ballistic missile submarine or SSBN variant, writes Ilya Kramnik, a defense reporter with
The new vessels are expected to start construction in the 2020-2021 timeframe.
The Russians are trying to ensure that all three versions of the Husky retain the maximum amount of commonality. In many respects, the new submarines are similar in concept to the U.S. Navy’s Virginia-class SSNs that were developed after the end of the Cold War when the extremely potent Seawolf-class boats proved to be far too expensive.
The Virginia class started off as a basic SSN design, but has evolved into an SSGN with the addition of the Virginia Payload Module, or VPM, in future boats of the class.
Moreover, in many ways, the U.S. Navy’s forthcoming Columbia-class SSBNs are also a direct evolution of the Virginia-class design — leveraging most of the older SSN design’s technology and systems onboard a larger hull.
The Husky will follow a similar path as the Virginia-class design, Kramnik notes.
 The Russians expect to start off with a basic SSN design that would displace between 8,000 and 9,000 tons and have speed of between 32 to 33 knots. The vessel would be armed with torpedoes and sea mines, but could launch cruise missiles via its torpedo tubes. The Russians also want the vessel to be able to deliver and recover special operations forces and their gear — just like the Virginia class.
The SSGN version and the SSBN variant would be built by stretching the submarine and adding an extra hull section — similar to how the VPM adds four payload tubes each capable of launching seven cruise missiles from a “multiple all-up-round canister,” or MAC, by means of a hull plug.
The Russians, too, are looking at developing a MAC canister that would rapidly enable the SSBN version to switch payloads over to carrying cruise missiles in packs of five to seven weapons per tube. That’s similar in concept to America’s four Ohio-class SSGNs that were originally armed with Trident II submarine-launched ballistic missiles.
Presumably, the Husky SSBN variant would be scaled-up from the SSN and SSGN versions in a manner similar to how the Columbia class is essentially a larger derivative of the Virginia in terms of its sensors and most of its machinery.
Indeed, Kramnik states that all of the Husky-class variants would have the same sensors and propulsion systems — including the same life-of-the boat pressurized water reactor — all of which are advanced derivatives of systems onboard the Project 995A Borei-class SSBN and Project 885M Yasen-class SSGNs.
The Russians hope that the Husky will be significantly more affordable than the Project 885M SSGNs, which are excellent submarines, but are extremely expensive. Indeed, given the economies of scale in terms of common parts and systems, the Russians hope to bring the cost of the Husky down to a level where they can build a minimum of 16 to 20 of the attack and SSGN versions of the boat — and possibly more.
The Russians would ideally like to be able to order one new boat every two years with deliveries taking no more than four and a half years from the start of construction. If all goes as planned, the first Husky would be delivered in 2025 while the last would be delivered in the 2030s.
The SSBN version would be built after the last of the Project 995A Borei-class ballistic missile submarines are delivered. According to Kramnik, the next generation boomer would help Russia to continue upgrading its nuclear forces in the 2020s if Moscow can’t reach further nuclear arms control agreements with the United States.
However, U.S. analysts such as Center for Naval Analyses researcher Michael Kofman are somewhat puzzled by the Russians’ desire to build another SSBN class.
“It’s unclear why they need a new SSBN,” Kofman told The National Interest.
“I think an SSN is really a stronger priority.”
If Russia realizes its vision for the Husky, it should provide a design the Kremlin can build in large quantities to replace the Soviet-era vessels that still comprise the bulk of its fleet. But even with the addition of the advanced Husky class, the Russian undersea force — though armed with potent new vessels — will not be the menace that the massive Soviet fleet once was.

 Underwater Bloodhounds: DARPA’s Robot Subs

Sydney J. Freedberg Jr.
19 July 2017

Run silent, run deep — and now, run in packs? Submarines are traditionally lone wolves, but the rise of robotics is starting to change that. Just yesterday, defense contractor BAE announced a $4.6 million award from DARPA to build an Unmanned Underwater Vehicle (UUV) to accompany manned submarines, helping them spot targets by sending out active sonar pulses.
While the contract is tiny by Pentagon standards, it’s a harbinger of things to come underwater. Done right, the sonar drone could give bubbleheads a new advantage at a time when Russia and China are copying our old ones. But there are plenty of technical and tactical hurdles to overcome. The first is cramming a sufficiently high-powered sonar, an underwater datalink, and an adequate power source in a drone small enough to launch from a torpedo tube. If you can do all that, then you have to make sure the sonar and datalink aren’t too powerful, or they’ll give away the drone’s location —  or even help the enemy find the manned submarine itself.
Known as MOCCA (Mobile Offboard Clandestine Communications & Approach), the sonar UUV would help the manned mothership detect enemy submarines at greater distances, without being detected in return. Active sonar, which sends out a pulse of sound — that loud “PING” you hear in war movies — has a much longer range than passive sonar, which merely listens. But submarines generally rely on passive sensors, because the enemy can home in on active pulses. If the sub can launch an unmanned underwater vehicle with active sonar, though, the UUV can move a safe distance away before it starts pinging. Yes, the enemy may well detect the drone, but even if they destroy it, the manned sub is safe.

U.S. Navy Fires First Tomahawk Cruise Missiles From New Submarine Payload Tubes

Staff, Aerotech News
19 July 2017

TUCSON, Ariz.–For the first time, the U.S. Navy test fired two Raytheon-built Tomahawk cruise missiles from new submarine payload tubes on the Virginia-class USS North Dakota (SSN-784).
The tests, in the Gulf of Mexico near Florida, proved the submarine’s ability to load, carry and vertically launch Tomahawk missiles from the new Block III Virginia Payload Tube.
The upgraded tubes feature fewer parts and will be even more reliable.
In addition to the new payload tubes, the Navy is also developing a new Virginia Payload Module. The new modules will triple the number of Tomahawk missiles that Virginia-class submarines can carry, dramatically increasing each sub’s firepower.
“As the Navy continues to modernize its subs, Raytheon continues to modernize Tomahawk, keeping this one-of-a-kind weapon well ahead of the threat,” said Mike Jarrett, Raytheon Air Warfare Systems vice president. “Today’s Tomahawk is a far cry from its predecessors and tomorrow’s missile will feature even more capability, giving our sailors the edge they need for decades to come.”
The U.S. Navy continues to upgrade the Tomahawk Block IV’s communications and navigation capabilities, while adding a multi-mode seeker so it can hit high-value moving targets at sea. These modernized Tomahawks are on track to deploy beginning in 2019 and will be in the U.S. Navy inventory beyond 2040.
Fired in combat more than 2,300 times, Tomahawk cruise missiles are used by U.S. and British forces to defeat integrated air defense systems and conduct long-range precision strike missions against high-value targets. Surface ships and other classes of submarines can carry more than 100 Tomahawks when needed.

DARPA, BAE Systems Developing Small Unmanned Underwater Vehicles to  Hunt Enemy Submarines 

Megan Eckstein, USNI
18 July 2017 

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) awarded BAE Systems a $4.6 million contract for an unmanned underwater vehicle that would help U.S. Navy submarines detect adversary subs while minimizing their own risk of being detected.
Whereas surface ships conducting anti-submarine warfare can use a combination of active and passive sensors, submarines use passive detection systems to listen to their surroundings without putting out any pings, to maintain their own stealth. According to a Broad Agency Announcement released last year at the start of DARPA’s Mobile Offboard Clandestine Communications and Approach (MOCCA) program, MOCCA would leverage the benefits of active sonar systems while protecting the submarine’s location, since the pings would be coming from a UUV at some unknown distance from the submarine.
“The MOCCA program seeks active sonar solutions that will mitigate the limits of passive submarine sonar sensors. The objective is to achieve significant standoff detection and tracking range through the use of an active sonar projector deployed offboard a submarine and onboard an Unmanned Underwater Vehicle (UUV). The submarine will need the ability to coordinate the operational functions of the supporting UUV. Thus, the program must also demonstrate the ability to achieve reliable clandestine communications between the host submarine and supporting UUV without sacrificing submarine stealth,” according to the BAA.
The contract award for MOCCA Phase 1 covers the development of an active sonar suitable for small UUV operations and a secure communications link to connect the UUV to its host submarine. The UUV itself would be 21 inches in diameter or smaller, and may operate in littoral waters, the bottom of the ocean and other challenging environments.
“Advances in maritime technology are critical to the Department of Defense and an area where the U.S. military can continue to strengthen its advantage,” Geoff Edelson, director of Maritime Systems and Technology at BAE Systems, said in a company news release.
“With the resurgence of near-peer competitors and an increasing number of submarines, MOCCA technology will provide Navy submariners with a vital asymmetrical advantage against a rapidly proliferating undersea threat.”
On the sonar side, the BAA notes that “a small UUV is disadvantaged as a host for an active sonar projector” because the small size and power output means that “high-output transducer materials” and an energy-efficient projector are required. The BAA also notes that advancements in the sonar processing and “precision localization capability” are needed – the latter because imprecise active sonar usage could accidentally illuminate the host U.S. Navy submarine, compromising its stealth.
This Phase 1 effort should yield “development of compact and efficient acoustic projectors and novel sonar receiver processing to maximize sonar detection range, reverberation and clutter rejection, and target discrimination and tracking,” the BAA reads.
On the communications side, “the communications link between the host submarine and the UUV will be used to control the UUV and its sonar payload, and to
communicate information generated on the UUV back to the host platform. The MOCCA system will be used during an engagement, so proper control of the UUV is critical,” according to the BAA. “Link throughput, delay, and reliability trades should consider the need for reliable operation during combat. An ideal link would have a low probability of intercept and of exploitation and provide high link reliability. The MOCCA communications link cannot degrade submarine stealth.”
The comms link could leverage acoustic, optical, and relayed Radio Frequency (RF) signaling modalities, according to the BAA, must have significant range and will be evaluated for its Low Probability of Intercept and Low Probability of Exploitation characteristics.
The BAA outlined a 51-month, three-phase program, which starts with this contract award to BAE Systems for a 15-month Phase 1 research and development effort of the communication link and the sonar, with sub-system prototypes developed and demonstrated. If successful, DARPA could compete another contract for Phase 2 – at-sea system-level demonstrations of MOCCA technologies – and an option for Phase 3, an 18-month effort to integrate and test MOCCA with a submarine at sea.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Electric Boat 'Hiring Frenzy' Gives Economic Boost To Southeastern Connecticut

Stephen Singer, The Hartford Courant
16 July 2017

Nearly complete, the USS South Dakota faces west from the cavernous construction hall of Electric Boat, as if ready to be pushed into the Thames River and out to Long Island Sound and the Atlantic Ocean beyond.
On a recent afternoon, workers behind three-story high staging were welding together modules and connecting piping and cable systems to form the submarine that will be home to a crew of about 130.
The din of grinding, drilling and pounding signals the front edge of a wave of thousands of workers to be hired to build two submarines a year, delivering a powerful boost to southeast Connecticut's economy. With more than $8 billion for submarine design and construction for years to come moving in legislation in Congress — the measure passed the House Friday — retail, real estate and other businesses are anticipating a strong impact.
"It's going to be huge," Debra Chamberlain, a real estate agent at William Raveis in Mystic and former president of Connecticut Realtors, a statewide industry group, said of expected home sales. "We were the last one in the downturn and we'll be the last one out."
Dorothy Streeter, owner of Ken's Tackle Shop in Groton, said business has been "pretty decent" and in conversations with customers, she sees more EB workers. "They seem to be coming from all over the country," she said.
In southeastern Connecticut, where global military strategy is local, the construction of two submarines a year has been an elusive prize for years when just one submarine was built annually. A third is now being designed as production is planned for the new Columbia class.
Submarines are getting new attention as Congress and the Pentagon look for ways to face down threats from China, Iran and Russia. Undersea warfare had been sidelined by drones and helicopters that fought U.S. wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
"We have so many man-hours," Bob Saran, a 37-year painter at EB, said as he recently headed in for the second shift at the Groton boatyard. "They're pushing people."
Faced with demand to build more submarines and replace retiring baby boomers, EB is halfway to its goal of hiring 2,000 workers this year, with about 1,200 split evenly between Groton and Quonset Point, R.I.
To account for attrition and new work, EB, which now employs more than 15,000 workers, will need to hire between 14,000 and 20,000 to reach 18,000 employees by 2030.   
In Connecticut, which is muddling through a slow-growth economy and lackluster job expansion, state officials are welcoming a manufacturing trifecta expected in the coming years: submarine construction at Electric Boat, a ramp-up at Lockheed Martin Corp.'s Sikorsky to build heavy-lift Navy helicopters in Stratford and Pratt & Whitney, the jet engine subsidiary of United Technologies Corp., which is working through a backlog of orders to meet demand for commercial aircraft.

Housing Picks Up

Among the most frequently cited benefits of Electric Boat hiring is rising home sales and rental housing construction.
Expectations had been lowered after the housing crash that ushered in the recession, Chamberlain said. EB engineers are buying homes in the $200,000 to $300,000 range, significantly less than the $700,000 homes bought by higher paid Pfizer Inc. researchers, she said. In a shift by Pfizer, many jobs have left for Cambridge, Mass.
Still, competition is picking up among buyers vying for houses.
"What we're seeing is the return of the multiple bid," Chamberlain said.
In New London County, 312 single-family homes sold in May, up 20 percent from May 2016, according to the Eastern Connecticut Association of Realtors. The median price was $223,750, a 3 percent increase.
And homes were snapped up more quickly, staying on the market 67 days on average, down from 90 in May 2016, the realtors group said.
New London issued 178 more residential and commercial building permits in the 2016-2017 budget year over the previous year.
In Groton, several housing projects are in the works: an apartment building with 22 units under construction, permits for construction expected soon for a 19-unit town house rental complex and planning approval granted for construction of 147 rental units in three buildings.
Kevin Quinn, Groton's manager of inspection services, credits EB's hiring of "a lot of young engineers" who prefer to rent than own.
Kris Ruetz, a test engineer at EB, and his girlfriend chose from a wide-open housing market and bought a Norwich home with 5 acres. They looked from Westerly, R.I., to Old Saybrook "and everywhere in between," he said.
"I felt it was a buyer's market," said Ruetz, who moved from Holland, Mich., and a job at a nuclear plant set to close next year. "We had a lot to pick from."

'Hiring Frenzy'

Mark Oefinger, Groton's recently retired town manager, said the region benefits from the certainty that comes with Navy planning calling for an increase in attack submarines to 66 from 48 and production, unchanged, of 12 ballistic missile submarines.
"There are very few businesses in the world that can tell you with some assurance what it will be doing in 10 or 20 years," he said.
Electric Boat has already been on a "hiring frenzy," he said. It's been staffing a former Pfizer campus in New London, which houses 3,000 engineers and designers for the Columbia.
To train workers ready to be hired by EB and small manufacturers a network of vocational schools and colleges has organized worker recruitment, education and training programs.
The Eastern Connecticut Manufacturing Pipeline, a state-federal labor partnership to train manufacturing workers, has drawn nearly 4,000 responses, or more than eight times the 450 slots available over three years for manufacturing training, said John Beauregard, president of the Eastern Connecticut Workforce Investment Board.
Unemployed or underemployed workers are taking an interest in training in machining, pipefitting, welding and other vocations, he said.
Sharon Hansen, an unemployed financial analyst experienced in woodworking and car maintenance, is switching careers and studying at Quinebaug Valley Community College's manufacturing technology center in a program intended to prepare students for EB. She was one of eight students at a recent introductory class on metrology, the study of measurement, and reading blueprints.
"To stay here," the Niantic resident said, 'you've got to reinvent yourself or move. It's time for me to reinvent myself."
Despite the emphasis on shipbuilding, workforce training funding would be cut in President Trump's proposed budget, according to Connecticut's congressional delegation. Three national programs budgeted at nearly $2.7 billion is jeopardized by a proposed 40 percent reduction.
"We should be expanding that type of investment," said Rep. Joe Courtney, whose district includes Electric Boat.
Courtney, a Democrat, expects "tremendous amount of pushback" in Congress against cuts in spending for training. "Eastern Connecticut isn't the only place where they're seeing a boost in manufacturing demand," he said.
Hiring to fill manufacturing jobs has not been easy. Robert A. Mongell, president and chief executive officer of Micro Precision Group, an Electric Boat supplier in South Windham making equipment that pressurizes ships, said hiring to add to his 70 workers is difficult.
Aerospace is going through a similar boom and is "soaking up a lot of people," Mongell said. Electric Boat, too, is a big competitor for skilled labor.
And the loss of manufacturing jobs in Connecticut — down 16 percent from before the start of the recession, to about 156,000 — has prompted young people to pursue other professions, he said.
"It's been a generation that's been lost," Mongell said.
The Norwich-New London labor market is growing as the state's economy gradually improves. Between May 2016 and last May, the most recent month for which statistics are available, employment increased 2.1 percent, or more than 2,500, to 122,058 jobs. It was a modest increase, but the area's unemployment rate fell sharply, to 4.8 percent in May from 6.9 percent in 2014.
In the local economy that includes other industries such as tourism and the casinos, durable goods manufacturing accounts for a "good chunk" of employment, said Andy Condon, research director at the state Department of Labor.
"Eastern Connecticut has been perhaps the hardest hit in the recession," he said. "When you see a recovery like that, a full point over the year or more, that's good news. That's a decently strong recovery."
Nearly 450 Connecticut companies that build submarine parts and systems — hydraulic valves, software development, control valves and other components — received $514.1 million in purchase order awards in the past five years, according to the Submarine Industrial Base Council. That represents about 3 percent of the $18.7 billion nationally for more than 5,000 suppliers that contribute to submarine, one of the most complicated machines ever designed that includes 1 million or more parts.
Eastern Connecticut has weathered numerous downturns, but employment and business levels have changed at different times, providing the benefits of diversity.
For example, employment at Mohegan Sun has fallen to 7,142, down nearly 30 percent from 2008 due to a slow-growth economy and rising casino competition in the Northeast. Pfizer Inc. has shed more than 3,000 jobs in the region — but remains steady at about 3,000 — following its move to Cambridge, Mass.
And Electric Boat in Groton and Quonset Point, R.I., employed as many as 28,273 workers in 1976 and fell to as few as 9,103 in 2000, nine years after the collapse of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War.
"We've been very fortunate," said Tony Sheridan, president of the Eastern Connecticut Chamber of Commerce. "Growth and security have slipped back and forth between EB, Pfizer and the casinos."
Saran said that with fewer workers now than when he began at EB in the early 1980s, deadlines and spending are tight. "We've got to watch the budget," he said.
One thing is unchanged over 37 years, however.
"They wanted the submarines," Saran said.
Legislation for the federal government's budget year beginning Oct. 1 provides full funding of $1.9 billion for the Columbia class program and $6.4 billion for the Virginia class.
"Submarines are the strongest, stealthiest, most survivable weapons platform out there," said Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., and a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee.
The spending proposal is a "very powerful shot in the arm" that also advances U.S. defense policy, he said.
The rise in manufacturing in Connecticut may finally end a dry spell when skills training sputtered, said Stephen LaPointe, director of the manufacturing technology center at Quinebaug Valley Community College.
"It's a perfect storm right now and unfortunately, they turned the manufacturing switch off for a long time," he said.

The U.S. Military Might Soon Have More Submarines And F-35s

Dave Majumdar, National Interest
15 July 2017 

The House of Representatives has passed the fiscal year 2018 National Defense Authorization Act by a margin of 344-81. The bill will significantly boost the Pentagon’s budget—authorizing more submarines and aircraft, particularly the Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program. The bill will now go to the Senate, which will likely take up legislation later this month.
“This bill takes the necessary steps to begin to rebuild and reform our military, including billions in additional funds to begin to close the dangerous readiness gaps our troops are facing,” Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-TX), chairman of the House Armed Services Committee (HASC) said in a statement on July 14.
“In addition, it gives our troops their biggest pay raise in eight years, which they are entitled to under the law.  It beefs up missile defense at a time when the threats continue to increase.  It increases end strength to provide our services the personnel they need to complete the missions we send them on. The bill also makes major reforms in acquisition and services contracting.  And it continues to support the DOD audit in FY 2018.”
The bill significantly boosts the U.S. Navy over the President’s budget request.
“While the stage was set for the 2018 to be a starting point on the path to a 355-ship navy, the budget we received fell far short,” Congressman Joe Courtney (CT-02), ranking member of the Seapower and Projection Forces said in a statement emailed to The National Interest.
“I am proud to say that working in a bipartisan way, we produced a better budget than the one that came over from the White House. Among other things, the bill explicitly makes it the policy of our nation to achieve a 355-ship Navy and adds five new ships in 2018 to get us moving to the larger fleet that both the Obama and Trump administrations have signaled we need. This bill demonstrates if our defense leaders and the administration will not prioritize the national goal of growing the fleet, we will.”
The HASC paid particular attention to the Navy’s rapidly shrinking attack submarine fleet, which is projected to fall well below the required number of vessels by 2029.
“This bill continues that effort, and responds to years of strategic analysis by the Navy and Congress as well as a chorus of testimony from our top military commanders stationed overseas that we need more attack submarines, as fast as possible, to meet growing demands around the world,” Courtney said.
“Building on the current two a year production rate of Virginia class submarines, this measure helps the Navy to go even higher in the next block contract by authorizing up to 13 attack submarines between 2019 and 2023. We have laid out an aggressive but realistic plan to build as many as three submarines a year for the first time in decades, and I look forward to continuing to work with my committee colleagues, the shipyards and the Navy to make this a reality.”
Key Highlights of the bill:
Virginia Class Submarines – authorizes $6.2 billion for the Virginia class submarine program. Of the total, $3.3 billion supports two submarines in 2018, in line with the current block IV multi-year contract.  The measure also includes multiyear procurement authority for 13 Virginia-class attack submarines for the next five years at a minimum rate of two submarines per year and a possible three submarine build rate in 2020, 2022, and 2023. To support this increased production rate, the mark authorizes $2.9 billion in advanced procurement funds, $943 million more than the budget request, to prepare for the increased work.
Columbia Class Submarine – fully supports the $1.9 billion requested for the development and design of Columbia class submarine, which will replace our fleet of Ohio-class SSBNs. Of the total, about $1 billion is authorized in research and development, $843 million in shipbuilding funds to support continued detailed design of the submarine, and other development efforts through the Office of Naval Reactors in the Department of Energy.
National Sea-Based Deterrence Fund – The measure continues Courtney’s ongoing efforts to support and expand the NSBDF to provide the Navy with a greater range of tools to manage the construction of the new submarine. Specifically, the bill expands “continuous production” authority providing in last years NDAA to include a greater range of components. The bill also authorizes nearly $90 million to utilize two authorities Courtney worked to include in NSBDF: continuous production of missile tubes and advanced construction activities on the first Columbia class boomer, SSBN-826.
Submarine Maintenance – the bill includes report language reflecting Courtney’s serious concerns with the Navy’s management of its ship and submarine maintenance workload. Congressman Courtney has raised these concerns in committee and in discussions with the Navy as it has seemingly moved away from the “one shipyard” policy in recent years. In particular, the language notes the impact on the USS Boise, a submarine that can no longer operate undersea due to an extended delay in its repair availability in the public shipyards, and the need to fully utilize private sector shipyard capacity to address submarine maintenance shortfalls. The language requires the Navy to develop a comprehensive plan to eliminate the maintenance backlog, including more fully utilizing capacity at private sector shipyards like Electric Boat.
Aircraft & Helicopter Development and Procurement
Joint Strike Fighter –authorizes 87 F-35 aircraft, 17 more than the budget request.
Long Range Strike Bomber – supports the continued development of the B-21 Long Range Strike Bomber, which will be powered by Pratt & Whitney engines.
Blackhawks – authorizes 53 UH-60 Blackhawk helicopters, five more than the budget request.
CH-53K – supports continued development of the new Marine heavy lift helicopter, as well as the procurement of four aircraft.
KC-46A Tanker – authorizes 17 KC-46A tanker aircraft, two more than the budget request.
However, while the bipartisan NDAA is an improvement over the President’s original request, it does not undo the damage caused by the 2011 Budget Control Act—also known as sequestration.
“Nothing in this bill, however, resolves the pressing need to resolve the looming threat of the budget control act,” Courtney said.
“We will make the investments that our nation needs in defense and domestic priorities if we do not find a bipartisan solution to this challenge. A great nation can and must do both, and it is time for this chamber to do its part.”

Turkey Sends Ships And Submarine To Monitor Drilling Vessel Near Cyprus

Staff, Reuters
13 July 2013

ISTANBUL - Turkey has sent two ships and a submarine to monitor a drilling vessel in the eastern Mediterranean Sea, the military said on Thursday, in a move likely to increase tension with Cyprus after reunification talks failed last week.
The drilling work, a contractual obligation between Cyprus and France's Total (TOTF.PA), comes a week after the collapse of talks to reunify the divided island nation, split between ethnic Greek and Turkish Cypriots.
Ankara has said it will take measures against Cyprus for engaging in gas and oil exploration around the island. It says that hydrocarbon resources in the waters around the divided island should belong to both sides.
The military said it had deployed the frigates and a submarine to the eastern Mediterranean to "guarantee the security of oil transportation".
Another frigate was dispatched to monitor a drilling vessel off the coast of Cyprus, it said.
Turkey's energy and foreign ministries are working together to plan steps against the Greek side's unilateral steps, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Thursday, without giving details on what those steps might entail.
The "West Capella" drilling vessel, which was contracted by France's Total (TOTF.PA) and Italy Eni (ENI.MI), moved into position to start exploring for gas this week.
Turkey, which invaded Cyprus's north in 1974 in response to a brief Greek-inspired coup, says the island's internationally recognized government has no jurisdiction to explore for hydrocarbons.

Navy Skipper: Military Needs More Subs, Help With Fixing Crumbling Bases

Carl Prine, San Diego Union-Tribune
12 July 2017 

The Navy needs more submarines and the military could use more money to fix crumbling infrastructure.
That was the message Wednesday to members of the San Diego Military Advisory Council from Capt. Howard Warner III, a career submariner and the outgoing commander of the Navy’s sprawling base at Point Loma.
Speaking at his base’s Admiral Kidd Catering and Conference Center, Warner took the audience back in time to World War II, noting that the German navy commissioned more than 1,000 submarines to starve out Great Britain — and failed.
“And yet we have 50-odd submarines for the entire planet,” said Warner, pointing to America’s fleet of attack submarines. “So that’s something to think about when we know that numbers do matter. We recognize fiscal constraints and national security priorities and where we’re going to go as a nation.
”Certainly, sensors and weapons have extended the footprints of our attack submarines, but in the end — much like all the toys we play with — I think we probably need more.”
Warner served as executive officer aboard the attack submarine Key West, firing Tomahawk cruise missiles at enemy targets in Iraq, before taking command of the sister sub Bremerton in 2008.
Two years later, Warner’s submarine conducted a “SINKEX” by firing a torpedo into the former amphibious warship Anchorage, turning it into a reef off the coast of the Hawaiian island of Kauai.
Warner assumed command of Point Loma in 2014. The Navy has not announced his next assignment as his three-
year tour ends next month, but he’s widely considered within the military as one of the brightest underwater strategists of his generation.
The Navy’s underwater arsenal includes attack submarines that hunt enemy warships, ballistic missile boomers that maintain America’s deterrence against an enemy’s first-strike nuclear attack, guided-missile submarines and an increasing fleet of submerged drones.
Fourteen nations rimming the Pacific Ocean deploy a total of 309 submarines, with 63 more under construction.
And competitors are gaining against the U.S. Navy. Cold War shipyards launched three to four new American submarines every year, but those subs are being decommissioned around the same rate now. Meanwhile, the industrial base can sustain only a pair of replacements annually.
Often overshadowed by San Diego’s large stable of surface warships, five Los Angeles-class attack submarines are homeported at Point Loma and two more are slated to join them by 2021. It’s part of an ongoing pivot of America’s military power to the Pacific Ocean.
But Warner said Point Loma also is often overlooked. He pointed to the more than 70 tenant commands at his base, a facility that includes Submarine Squadron 11, the Naval Mine and Anti-Submarine Warfare Command and Space and Naval Warfare Systems — better known as SPAWAR.
Warner’s headquarters of about 800 civilian and uniformed staffers provide services and security to more than 25 times as many workers and military personnel on the base, becoming the “strategic backbone” for submarines and warships that depend on Point Loma, he said.
“You’ll hear discussions about how our No. 1 resource is our people. But in my opinion, we can’t in good faith state that people are our No. 1 resource as we steadily erode benefits and privileges, all in an effort to literally save a penny on the dollar of a much, much larger budget,” he added.
Highlighting the string of awards won by his staffers for safety innovations, environmental stewardship and delivering superior community services, Warner said Point Loma’s staffers toiled during the past three years of whittled or flat Pentagon budgets to keep pace with operational demands by finding “a thousand ways to get to yes.”
“We have a mantra at Point Loma that we don’t reward people for doing more with less,” Warner said. “I’ve been at the Pentagon twice, and doing more with less was probably the biggest mistake that we ever did at the Department of Defense, rewarding people for doing more with less.”
The Budget Control Act of 2011 — better known as the “sequestration” deal designed to slice $2 trillion from the federal spending deficit — disproportionately hurt the armed forces. Lawmakers sought to slice about $454 billion in defense spending by 2021.
The blunt nature of the cuts has often meant leaner funds for maintaining bases.
Warner said Point Loma could use a little more help — replacing the antiquated, disorganized and costly communication lines veining the base; erecting a nerve center that gives commanders an “operating picture” of everything from vehicle counts at the facilities to the amount of electricity being used; and energy independence, with bases like Point Loma making and storing much of their own power so they don’t rely on the civilian grid.
Warner called for real solutions backed up by federal funding to fix the “eroding infrastructure of our military bases,” instead of more studies about the problem.
“I’ve had studies of studies done on my base,” he said. “I’ve had studies done in my first year of command and they came back and studied us again. Not a surprise — same conclusions.”

Scourge of Sneaky Russian Spy Submarines As Soaring Number Of  Vessels Spotted 'Lurking' Off Faslane

Stephen Stewart, Daily Record
12 July 2017

Soaring numbers of Russian naval ships have been caught in British waters – including submarines “lurking” near Faslane .
And a foreign affairs think tank fear the Russians are trying to track Britain’s nuclear-armed Vanguard subs to obtain their “signature”.
The Henry Jackson Society said the “alarmingly regular” contacts show “a worrying picture of the revival of Cold War Russian habits of probing our defences by sea and, especially, by air”.
In one incident in August 2010, a Russian Akula-class Typhoon sub stood off Faslane “waiting for a Trident-capable Vanguard-class submarine to leave the port”.
Dr Andrew Foxall, director of the society’s Russian Studies Centre, pieced together official air
intercept statistics and media reports of naval contacts, which are not recorded by the Ministry of Defence, and found a rise in Russian intrusions in UK territory.
The report said: “Russia’s submarines, which lurk off naval bases in Scotland, seek even … sensitive information: the ‘acoustic signature’ made by the UK submarine fleet, including the Vanguard submarines that carry Trident nuclear missiles.
“If Russia were able to obtain a recording of the ‘signature’, it would have serious implications for the UK’s nuclear deterrent: Russia would be able to track Vanguards and potentially sink them before they could launch their missiles.”
There were 12 reported Russian naval approaches in UK seas between 2013 and 2016.
There had been just two in the previous seven years. More than half of the 43 reported contacts by air and sea between 2005 and 2016 occurred in the most recent three years. Dr Foxall added:
“There is a troubling picture of close encounters and emergency scrambles perpetuated by an aggressive Russian government …these Russian activities are best understood not in isolation, but rather as a part of the Kremlin’s increasingly assertive foreign policy toward the West.”
An MoD spokesman said: “We keep all threats under constant review and have robust security measures in place to combat them.
“This includes RAF Quick Reaction Alert Typhoon aircraft, a Royal Navy warship held at
continuous high readiness and the ultimate guarantee of our security, the nuclear deterrent.”
The Russian Embassy said: “Perhaps the UK military would be best placed to comment. We do not hold the Henry Jackson Society in very high regard.”

South Korea Gets New-Age Submarine To Counter North

Staff, The Australian
11 July 2017

South Korea has received its most advanced submarine to counter North Korea’s underwater combat capabilities as the US said it would crank up pressure on China to ensure that it implemented sanctions against the North over its missile tests. The delivery of the 1800-tonne Yu Gwan-sun submarine at Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering shipyard on Geoje Island near Busan in southeastern part of the country was marked with a ceremony by the South Korean navy. The submarine, which the South Korean navy plans to deploy in December, is named after well-known independence leader Yu Gwan-sun, and is the sixth and most sophisticated in the Jang Bogo-II class that was launched in 2008. The North is believed to have a fleet of at least 80 submarines. US ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley said while the US wanted to avoid conflict, it was determined to halt North’s nuclear drive. “The fact that they launched an ICBM test is hugely dangerous not just for us, but for so many of our friends in the world, and we’ve got to put a stop to it,” Ms Haley told CBS.
Ms Haley told the UN Security Council last week that the US planned a new resolution that would ramp up sanctions on North Korea but also ensure that existing measures were enforced. China is North Korea’s main ally and the US has become increasingly frustrated at what it sees as Beijing’s failure to ensure the existing sanctions against the regime of Kim Jong-un are fully implemented. “It will be very telling based on how other countries respond — whether they want to hold Kim Jong-un’s hand through this process or whether they want to be on the side of so many countries who know that this is a dangerous person with the access to an ICBM,” said Ms Haley. “So we’re going to fight hard on this. We’re going to push hard not just on North Korea, we’re going to push hard on other countries who are not abiding by the resolutions and not abiding by the sanctions against North Korea. “And we’re going to push hard against China because 90 per cent of the trade that happens with North Korea is from China, and so while they have been helpful, they need to do more.”

Chinese Threat Looms Large As Annual War Games Start

Hari Kumar and Ellen Barry, NEW YORK TIMES
11 July 2017 

NEW DELHI — The navies of India, Japan and the United States began a set of war games on Monday with a particular target: submarines capable of sliding unannounced into the deep waters of the Indian Ocean, silently taking positions near the Indian coastline. It is not a mystery whose submarines are at issue. Last month, the Indian Navy announced a plan to permanently station warships to monitor movement through the Strait of Malacca, where many Chinese vessels enter from the South China Sea. And in recent weeks, navy officials here have reported a “surge” of Chinese military vessels entering the Indian Ocean. Routine maritime exercises have long served as a gauge of India’s uneasy relationship with China, prompting a shrug or a blast of condemnation, depending on the circumstances. The annual series of naval exercises, known as the Malabar series, began in 1992. This year’s event was the largest to date, and the first to feature carriers from all three navies. The games are unfolding under tense circumstances, nearly a month into an aggressive standoff between Chinese and Indian border forces in the Himalayas. On Sunday, the Chinese Embassy in New Delhi took the unusual step of warning its citizens to be especially cautious traveling in India for the next month. Against that backdrop, the influx of Chinese warships into the Indian Ocean is another indicator of Beijing’s displeasure, said retired Adm. Anup Singh, who has overseen the exercises in the past. “They are deliberately upping the ante in order to flag their posture to people who are concerned,” Admiral Singh
said. “The Indians, the Japanese and the Americans. So they deliberately do it as a pinprick.” Though India’s Navy is dwarfed by China’s, India holds a strategic advantage in the Andaman and Nicobar archipelago, which stretches 470 miles to the northwest of the Strait of Malacca, a “choke point” connecting the South China Sea to the Indian Ocean. This position, which could be used to put pressure on Chinese supply lines, is an increasing focus of cooperation between India, the United States and Japan. Monday’s China Daily, an English-language government newspaper, referred apprehensively to the maritime exercises in an editorial, noting that the Indian Ocean is one of China’s main conduits for trade and oil imports. “It is China that should feel ‘security concerns,’” it concluded. China’s submarine fleet has expanded rapidly in recent years. The country has assumed control of Pakistan’s Gwadar Port, finalizing plans to sell eight submarines to Pakistan, and opening its first overseas military logistics supply facility in Djibouti. For Indian leaders, who for centuries have focused on contested northern borders, this has required a sudden shift in attention to 4,700 miles of southern coastline, along which much of the country’s security and energy infrastructure is concentrated. “This is a tectonic shift in India’s security calculus, that it has to protect its southern flank,” said Brahma Chellaney, a professor of strategic studies at the Center for Policy Research. One response, he said, would be “a concert of democracies to rein in these muscular activities.” Both Japan and the United States have expressed eagerness to team up with India on its maritime frontier.

Last month, the United States agreed to sell India 22 advanced surveillance drones, which could be deployed to the Strait of Malacca and used to track Chinese naval movements. The drones can be used in concert with the American-made P-8I Poseidon surveillance aircraft, which are already staged on the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. The Indian government has signaled that it is willing, after many years of resistance, to expand security infrastructure on the archipelago. In May, a wildlife board approved the creation of missile testing and surveillance facilities on Rutland Island, a project first proposed in 2013. Last year, Japan became the first foreign government allowed to build infrastructure on the archipelago — a 15megawatt power plant. But it is eager to break ground on a range of other connectivity projects, said Darshana M. Baruah, a research analyst at Carnegie India. When Mr. Modi visited Japan last year, the two leaders agreed on a
plan to develop “smart islands,” as part of a set of projects in sensitive frontier areas. This week’s naval exercises will involve the United States’ Nimitz, a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier; India’s I.N.S. Vikramaditya, a Russian-made aircraft carrier; and Japan’s JS Izumo, a helicopter carrier, as well as 13 other warships and submarines. Japan is participating for the second year in a row. A decade ago, China was infuriated when the three countries teamed up with Australia for naval exercises, applying immediate diplomatic pressure that prompted Australia to withdraw. This year, Australian military officials asked for their country to take part as an “observer,” but India rejected the idea.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Emmanuel Macron Aboard France's Le Terrible Nuclear Submarine

Staff, BBC
4 July 2017 

During the visit to the submarine, "Le Terrible", off the Brittany coast, Mr Macron reportedly took part in a simulated missile launch.
France will be the sole EU nation with nuclear arms after 2019, when the UK is expected to leave the 28-member bloc.
Meanwhile, the new French government easily won its first confidence vote.
The cabinet led by Prime Minister Edouard Philippe was backed by 370 MPs in the lower house, with only 67 voting against.
Mr Philippe set out proposals for public spending cuts and labour reforms - a move condemned by the trade unions, who have threatened protest strikes in the autumn.
On Tuesday, President Macron was taken by helicopter to "Le Terrible" submarine in the Atlantic, about 300km (186 miles) off France's coast.
Mr Macron's office later published a photo, showing the president being lowered on to the submarine.
Mr Macron stressed the importance of France's nuclear deterrent, describing it as the "keystone of security".
The reported missile launch simulation was part of the president's day-long visit to nuclear weapons facilities at the Ile Longue base, near Brest.
It is home to the country's four nuclear-powered, ballistic missile-carrying submarines.
France maintains a fleet of nuclear-armed submarines and strike planes, and has about 300 operational nuclear warheads.
Support for the deterrent is deeply rooted in French society and history, ever since it became a nuclear power in the 1960s, correspondents say.

China's Submarine Dream (And Nightmare for the U.S. Navy):  'Hunt for Red October' Subs

Dave Majumdar, The National Interest
6 July 2017 

If China’s rim-driven pumpjet propulsion technology works, it would be a significant advance for the People’s Liberation Army Navy’s undersea force.
In a recent article that appeared in the South China Morning Post, Beijing claims to have developed such a silent propulsion system—which some have compared to the so-called caterpillar-drive in Tom Clancy’s Hunt for Red October.
With vastly improved acoustical performance, a new generation of advanced Chinese nuclear attack submarines (SSNs) could add another dimension to Beijing’s anti-access/area denial (A2/AD) capabilities.
Further, new Chinese ballistic missile submarines hiding inside their heavily defended ‘bastions’—like the Soviet boomer fleet before them—would be much more difficult to detect and eliminate, greatly enhancing Beijing’s strategic nuclear deterrence.
But that’s only if China can build an operationally relevant rim-driven pumpjet propulsor—American naval analysts are mostly convinced that the new Chinese silent propulsion system is a science project that may never make it to sea.
“If it is well-built, a rim-driven pump jet would be a quieter propulsion system than traditional propellers, and could be quieter than shaft-driven pump jets like those on some U.S. submarines,” Bryan Clark, a retired U.S. Navy undersea warfare officer and analyst the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, told The National Interest.
“The question is whether the Chinese can build one with the fine machining necessary to achieve the degree of quieting possible. The article doesn't address that. The basic technology is straightforward, but building a good one is hard. Manufacturing precision equipment like turbines has been a challenge for China’s shipbuilding industry.”
Retired U.S. Navy submariner Thomas Callender, a senior research fellow for defense programs at the Heritage Foundation and former director of capabilities at the Office of the Deputy Under Secretary of the Navy (Policy) agreed with Clark’s assessment.
“I agree that if engineers can develop a shaft-less rim-driven electric motor pump-jet, it would reduce the noise signature of the host submarine since without large traditional shaft with multiple bearings along its length (shaft must be long enough to connect propulsion motor inside the engine room to screw or pump-jet at the stern) and only having one bearing per pump-jet, the noise associated with the shaft would be reduced,” Callender told The National Interest in an email.
“In addition, since the propeller is not driven by a traditional steam propulsion turbine, but by an electric motor, there is no need for large reduction gear which reduces RPM of steam turbine (in 1000’s of RPM at higher speeds) to more efficient and quiet propeller speed (for submarine typically less than 200 rpm max).”
The improved quieting would also likely more than offset potential drawbacks such as a greater magnetic signature.
“A rim-driven pump jet would use an electric motor that is installed in the rim around the propulsor. Like any electric motor, it would generate a magnetic field. Because it’s outside the hull, it might be easier to detect with magnetic anomaly detection, but it could be designed to shield some of the field,” Clark said.
“It again comes down to how well they build the propulsion system. In any event, magnetic anomaly detection does not work at long ranges, and is not useful as a search capability. It is generally used to target a submarine once it has been located and tracked.”
While there are advantages to a rim-driven pumpjet, there also some serious potential drawbacks. One problem is that such motors may not be able to generate the horsepower to drive a massive nuclear submarine.
“If China can put a well-built rim-driven pump jet on a submarine, the next question is how much thrust it provides,” Clark said.
“With submarine propulsion, one of the tradeoffs is quietness versus speed. Most changes to the propulsion architecture that reduce noise also reduce sprint speed. One of the concerns I have heard from engineers is whether a rim-driven pump jet can deliver the horsepower needed to reach high sprint speeds for torpedo evasion or repositioning.”
Callender noted that a single rim-driven pumpjet would probably be insufficient. The U.S. Navy’s forthcoming Columbia-class SSBN design will incorporate a permanent magnet electric drive propulsion—eschewing the traditional steam-driven propulsion turbine. The new propulsion system will be much quieter, Callender said, but it will come at the price of being enormous.
“The electric drive motor with sufficient power to drive Columbia SSBN will be extremely large, partially contributing to its 43-foot hull diameter,” Callender said.
“For example, similar sized Ohio Class SSBN produced 60,000 shaft horsepower. Virginia SSN produces 40,000 shaft horsepower to power a submarine.”
Because of the sheer size and weight of the electrical motors, there are some size constraints that are inherent to a rim-mounted pumpjet.
“Bryan is correct and I agree that the most critical technical issue with the rimless electric motor pump-jet as the main propulsion for an SSN or SSBN is delivering sufficient power in size and weight limitations of a stern pump-jet,” Callender said.
“As you can imagine, a 40-foot diameter rimless pump-jet would not be practical (current propulsors are less than 20ft in diameter) from both a size and weight standpoint.  Having a huge and heavy motor and pump-jet at the extreme stern would also make hull stability near impossible.”
As such, the Chinese would have to use multiple propulsors to design and build a practical submarine.
“A more likely solution to incorporate a smaller rim-driven pump-jet (and therefore less power) would be to have multiple pump-jets located on the stabilizing stern fins (2 or more likely 4),” Callender said.
“But the issue of size and weight is still a huge engineering leap and would likely not incorporate more mature but heavy permanent magnet motors.”
Clark points out another potential problem even if the Chinese are able to solve all of the other technical issues. A rim-driven pumpjet would draw an enormous amount of electrical power and it is not clear that the Chinese can generate that kind of energy onboard their submarines.
“The last challenge I see with a rim-driven pump jet is the ability of the ship to provide the electrical power needed to drive the pump jet,” Clark said.
“An electric propulsion system will be less efficient than traditional steam or diesel propulsion because the reactor or diesel generator is powering a generator that then powers a motor, compared to a diesel motor or steam turbine directly driving the shaft.”
If the Chinese were to successfully develop and build a rim-driven pumpjet, there could be wider strategic implications.
“If they have developed a genuinely silent drive for SSNs, though, they could use those boats as a free-range element of their A2/AD network: SSKs could form a relatively static defensive cordon closer to shore while SSNs roamed ahead in an effort to detect, track, and target oncoming U.S. Pacific Fleet or Seventh Fleet task forces (and to notify A2/AD forces to the rear of U.S. forces' whereabouts),” James Holmes, professor of strategy at the U.S. Naval War College, told The National Interest.
“SSNs thus could comprise a forward defense of China's forward, layered maritime defense. And that leaves aside all of the more offensive uses for stealthy SSNs, such as forward operations in the Indian Ocean.”
The new propulsion system could also be a boon for the Chinese SSBN fleet, which like the Soviet boomer fleet, uses the so-called ‘Bastion’ strategy.
“This type of propulsion would enhance what appears to be China's ‘bastion’ strategy for SSBNs in the South China Sea,” Holmes said.
“Propulsion machinery is at its quietest when running slowly, while SSBNs crawl along on patrol. SSBNs based at Sanya and fitted with newfangled propulsion plants could get underway, dive quickly, and dawdle out to their patrol grounds--keeping their acoustic signature, and thus chances of hostile detection, to a bare minimum. That would make the anti-submarine challenge for U.S. and allied forces daunting indeed. We would be hunting Chinese subs in China's extended neighborhood, in proximity to an array of PLA A2/AD weaponry.”
However, there are plenty of indications that the Chinese rim-power pumpjet silent propulsion technology is overblown. In the SCMP article, author Minne Chan quotes Collin Koh Swee Lean, a submarine expert from the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies at Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University as saying that: “In the long term, if the pump-jet propulsion is declared fully operational and tested successfully ... future [Chinese] submarines would be equipped with pump-jet propulsion as a standard design feature.”
To Callender, that is an indication that the Chinese technology is still in the lab.
“To me this means that the rimless pump-jet is still very much in the Science and Technology phase of
development and not a near-term mature technology,” Callender said.
Ultimately, only time will tell if the new Chinese silent propulsion system proves to be genuine.
But some U.S. naval analysts believe the rim-driven pumpjet is simply Chinese propaganda. “I read this earlier this morning and concluded that the PLAN propaganda machine was busy on July 4th,” Bryan McGrath, managing director of the FerryBridge Group naval consultancy, explained to The National Interest yesterday.
“Yes, something...if genuine. And there is no question in my mind that the undersea advantage we enjoy will come under increasing pressure from PLAN capabilities. But quieter that U.S. subs? No.”

U.K. Defense Minister Fallon: Break with European Union Gives U.K.  More Flexibility to Deal with Russia

John Grady,  USNI
7 July 2017

Britain’s defense minister said London views its departure of the European Union as an opportunity to step up its ability to deter the Kremlin’s aggressiveness along its borders with the West, monitor Moscow’s increased submarine activity in the North Sea and the Atlantic and ward off Russian intrusions into the United Kingdom’s and other nations’ airspace.
Michael Fallon, speaking Friday at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, cited the United Kingdom’s deployment of ground troops to Estonia and Poland to reassure Baltic and eastern members of NATO as part of agreed-upon forward presence, as well as the sending Royal Air Force Typhoons to Romania and Royal Navy warships to the Aegean and Mediterranean as visible evidence of its commitment to collective defense. It also demonstrates London’s willingness to work cooperatively with other European countries in dealing with the steadily rising migrant flow from Libya toward Italy in particular.
As for Russia’s loudly voiced concerns about this stepped-up deterrence, “we’ve been absolutely transparent” in the deployment and the exercises NATO and countries in the alliance have been conducting. He added Moscow continues to remain silent on the movement of its forces close to its western borders in possible exercises or new deployments.
“NATO must transform itself into a far more agile organization” with “a 360-degree approach” to defense and deterrence, he told the audience at the Washington, D.C., think-tank. That translates into faster decision-making. Like the United States, the United Kingdom has been pressing the 29 alliance members to spend at least 2 percent of their gross domestic product on defense, including significant investments in modernizing their forces.
Since the NATO conference in Wales several years ago, “we’ve seen a commitment to readiness” in the alliance and certainly by the United Kingdom.
“Agility will be critical … and perpetual” and that also means addressing the new challenges in the cyber domain. Fallon, who has held the defense post for three years, said in answer to a question that the United Kingdom’s investment in new equipment will not come at the expense of its army’s end strength. He said it will remain at 85,000 active-duty soldiers.
The army will be capable “of fighting at the divisional level” while the United Kingdom is increasing the size of the Royal Air Force and Royal Navy, he said as the session was ending.
In regard to the modernization of its forces, London has been a leader according to Fallon. Pointing to the United Kingdom’s commitment to building two aircraft carriers, he said Russia is showing “a bit of carrier envy” while at the same time it is investing like the United States in a new ballistic missile submarine.
“We have been buying a lot of high-end kit” from the United States, and he warned the administration not to adopt a protectionist attitude blocking United Kingdom firms from the American military marketplace.
With more than 130 British aircrews training in the United States of F-35s, he predicted they would soon be operating off American aircraft carriers and American crews off theirs.
To counter increased Kremlin submarine activity, Fallon said the United Kingdom has entered into a trilateral agreement with Norway and the United States flying P-8s to track their movements. Using the same aircraft allows the three “to work more closely together.” Likewise, he said London has entered into new agreement with Sweden and Finland “to respond to these new threats” in the North Sea.
He termed Russian military pilots buzzing ships and flying dangerously close to alliance aircraft behavior “that is provocative and can be dangerous.”
Fallon said the alliance’s commitment to Afghanistan remains firm with the understanding of the need to have the Kabul government and its security forces firmly establish their legitimacy and allow the country’s fragile democracy to grow.
The struggle against the Taliban and other transnational terrorist organizations “can only be won by local forces.” He said the British are training the Afghan air force and counterterrorism forces.
In answer to a question, he said the Syrian civil war “is littered with cease-fire agreements,” regularly broken by the regimes of Bashar al-Assad and the Russians and sounded skeptical about establishing “safe zones” were civilians could escape the fighting that has been going on since 2011.
So far the “de-confliction machinery” covering air forces operating in Syria is working, but he was concerned about the future as the battle-space draws increasingly smaller as all sides in the war close in on Raqqah, the self-proclaimed capital of the Islamic State.
Fallon termed North Korea’s ballistic missile and nuclear weapons program an international threat, affecting nations other than the United States, Japan and South Korea. But “we’re a long way from looking at military operations.”

Australian Submarine Project Requires 'Cathedral'

Staff, Sky News
10 July 2017

Australia will need to build a massive 'cathedral' to kick off the biggest defence project in the country's history.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull joined France's Armed Forces Minister Florence Parly at the opening of the Australian Future Submarines design office in Cherbourg, west of Paris, on Sunday.
The office will be known as Hughes House after late Rear Admiral Owen 'Oscar' Hughes, who spearheaded the Collins class subs project.
In December last year, Australia and France formally sealed a $50 billion agreement under which French naval contractor Naval Group will build a new fleet of diesel-electric submarines based on its nuclear Barracuda.
Speaking at the Barracuda facility, Naval Group CEO Herve Guillou told Mr Turnbull and guests: 'This is a sort of cathedral ... and Australia is now here.'
The massive assembly hall, which will be required in Adelaide when work begins on the Australian submarines in 2022, allows for one submarine on the finishing line and another on the assembly line.
A workforce of 2,800 people will be needed in Adelaide.
The Cherbourg design facility will receive its first personnel later this year, who will work with Naval Group on the design of the next generation submarine.
Mr Turnbull said it was important in the long-term Australia not only construct the submarines but operate them and sustain them, rather than rely on another country.
'Australia must be the master of her own destiny,'
He expected the project to not only deliver a new defence capability but 'act as a magnet' for other industry.
Ms Parly linked the project with the need for a stronger military presence in the Indo-Pacific region.
'France like Australia considers that the Indo-Pacific zone is of capital importance,' she said.
'There are 1.6 billion people living there so the regularity of our naval presence including in the Sea of China - the objective of that is not just to defend the rights of the sea but also to contribute to regional safety.'
She said oceans were the 'stage of political expression of power'.
'A strong marine is an instrument of sovereignty that is paramount to manage, master and protect one's areas.'
The project has the strong endorsement of French President Emmanuel Macron, who met with Mr Turnbull on a flight from the Hamburg G20 summit to Paris on Saturday and discussed the project over dinner.
'It is not simply a contract,' Mr Macron said.
The decision had national, international and strategic outcomes and provided work for Australian industry and as president he would do all he could to ensure the contract was met.
The project has not been without controversy.
In early 2016 DCNS was left reeling after details from more than 22,000 pages of documents relating to submarines it is building for India were published in The Australian newspaper, leading to concerns about the company's ability to protect sensitive data.
Ms Parly said she would ensure the 'sensitivities' around the designing of the submarine would be protected.