August 18, 2017

Australian Naval Shipbuilding Essential In So Many Ways

Comments (of 6/8/17 1:39 AM and 11/8/17 1:20 AM) below Submarine Matters' article Could Australia be Pyne's major weapons exporter? Unkikely. have prompted me to write about the advantages of building major weapon systems (eg. ships, subs, tanks and jet aircraft) in Australia. Advantages include:

-  employing workers and management in Australia rather than overseas means all their living
   expenses are spent in Australia. The resulting money multiplier effect benefits surrounding
   communities, eg. Adelaide. If living expenses are spent in Adelaide it doesn't matter if the
   workforce carry the corporate identity of Naval Group, ASC, RAN, Lockheed Martin or other

-  providing the skills to undertake major overhauls of weapons and repair major battle damage
   in wartime building and overhauling weapons in Australia can be done more safely than exposing
   them to enemy interference on long range journeys to foreign shipyards
-  maintaining skills (like designing and welding) for other manufacturing sectors including civilian
   shipbuilding. For background here is the Australian Manufacturing website and Defence Teaming 
   Centre Inc

-  Federal money spent on weapons building in specific states promotes national unity and equity for
   disadvantaged regions or states.
-  spending large amounts of money has inherent political dimensions eg. winning sufficient Federal
   seats in South Australia enabling the Turnbull Government to win the 2016 Election.

-  a production run of weapons built in Australia creates efficiencies for each successive unit built
   with resulting economies of scale for 
more competitive sales to foreign countries
-  domestic production runs also spawn more competitive sales of components to foreign countries

-  exporting weapons built in Australia has terms of trade benefits and diplomate benefits (eg. Pacific
   Patrol Boat to small island nations and larger vessels to New Zealand).

Are not these arguments compelling?  

The timeline/graph above (Courtesy Defence Teaming Centre Inc), is now out of date but the "Valley of Death" concern still applies. The Valley of Death applies to the downturn in AWD shipbuilding in Adelaide 2018-2021 that will not be totally rectified by the Federal Governments project to build 2 much smaller OPVs in Adelaide. The closing of the last car factory in Adelaide in October 2017 is an example of a different manufacturing sector contributing to Adelaide's manufacturing "Valley of Death".

Timeline courtesy the Australian Government's Naval Shipbuilding Plan May 2017, page 15. This illustrates the continuous shipbuilding strategy which will particularly benefit South Australia, Western Australia and all other states to a lesser extent. Canberra (ACT) also benefits.

Naval Shipbuilding Timeline Australian Government Budget 2016-2017. This more centralised government document also demonstrates continuous shipbuilding (and also overhaul) strategy.


August 17, 2017

Ballistic Missile Defence (BMD) Missiles Unviable for Australia

Running parallel to the threat of North Korean missiles to the US Guam territory issue is a sporadic, ill-informed Australian domestic debate on the viability of any Australian ballistic missile defences (BMD).

Isolated current and former Australian politicians (Abbott and Rudd respectively) advocate BMD for Australia against the North Korean threat. The Australian Government insists that Australian BMD is  technically ineffective and would be hugely expensive. 

I agree. This particularly applies to such scenarios as North Korean, Chinese or Russian ICBM nuclear warhead reentry vehicles descending on the terminal phase of their flight toward major Australian cities and military/intelligence sites. See Diagram-Map 1. below.

Diagram-Map 1. Guam already in range. NK is steadily developing ICBM to hit any targets in Australia. Darwin may already be in range. (Map courtesy The Daily Telegraph)

In view of physical realities and cost Australia doesn't have THAAD or Patriot missiles. One of Australia's AWDs (Air Warfare Destroyers) (HMAS Hobart) has AEGIS. Hobart is about to be commissioned and two more are being completed. None have BMD capable SM-3 missiles and might not have.

Australia best anti-missile missile hope is the US Ground-Based Midcourse Defense (GMD) system - and that's a poor system. 

US Ground-Based Midcourse Defense (GMD)

The US Ground-Based Midcourse Defense (GMD) BMD system goes back to Reagan era SDI "Star Wars" years and is nowhere near ready after more than US$41 Billion spent. GMD:

-  has a high failure rate, that is, a low success rate in shootdown-friendly tests,
-  would be ineffective against most enemy submarines firing nuclear tipped ballistic and cruise
   missiles from most launch positions at Australia, and
-  probably needs decades more development
-  again is extremely expensive making it perhaps of low marginal utility compared to a sovereign
   Australian nuclear deterrent

Unlike the US Australia has no overpolar (over Alaska) interceptor "chokepoint" see Diagram-Map 2 below which would increase the US chances of interception. Australia's geography, with more than 10 dispersed large cities and 10+ dispersed military/intelligence bases, would need 20+ interceptor batteries (perhaps talking 100 x GMD missiles - see below).

Diagram-Map 2.  includes the US$multi-billion giant radars deployed forward for interception of enemy ballistic missiles at their midcourse overflight "chokepoint" over Alaska. Australia has no such chokepoint but instead would need to construct 20+ interceptor batteries - a system probably more expensive than the ineffective US system. (Diagram-Map courtesy ).

Patriot, THAAD or SM-3s located in Northeast Asia have the greatest chance of shooting down North Korean ICBMs in the early boost-phase. Australia could only send one or two AEGIS Air Warfare Destroyers, future armed with SM-3, across the world, to Northeast Asia, in the unlikely event of North Korea launching something. Australia's US, Japanese and South Korean allies are better situated for action in Northeast Asia.

The best deterrent against North Korea (like all enemy nuclear armed states) is nuclear weapons. Australia lacks its own nuclear weapons. Australia, like SK and Japan, therefore relies on their US ally's nuclear weapon deterrent.


August 15, 2017

Improvements & Higher Costs of Soryu Mark IIs Over Mark Is

Based on Anonymous comments of August 11-12, 2017 I have compiled TABLE 1 below. For an overview of the Soryu program see TABLE 2 below that:

Soryu Mark IIs are likely to cost more than US$91 million = 10 Billion (B) Yen (¥) than Soryu Mark Is, due to new:
-  LIB batteries replacing (LABs+Stirling AIP) and diesel generator sets (gensets) for greater power
   generation, and
-  sonar systems for improved detection of the enemy and for better submerged navigation-by-sonar

Item/Submarine Type
Soryu Mark I
Soryu Mark II
SS order number
16SS – 26SS
27SS and 28SS
See Soryu Table below
Batteries + AIP (where applicable)
LABs + Stirling AIP

Cost of batteries/Soryu in Billion Yen (¥***B) [2]
LABs ¥1.44B
NCA-LIBs ¥8.3B
LIBs per Soryu almost 6 times costs of LABs
Battery cost/performance [3]
4.5 (for 576 LABs fitted)
5.4 (for 480 LIBs fitted)

Specific energy (Wh/kg) [4]
LIBs have 4-6 x the specific energy of LABs
Budgeted costs per Soryu in Billion Yen [5]
26SS ¥51.7B (FY2014)
27SS ¥64.4B (FY2015)
28SS ¥63.6B (FY2016)
MK IIs ¥12-13B more than MK Is for LIBs, new snorkel generation system, gensets. Sonar system.
Costs in Soryu Mark Is [6]
gensets cost about ¥2B & sonars ¥3-4B

[1]  Soryu Mark IIs will likely be equipped with (NCA LIBs) Lithium nickel cobalt aluminium oxide ( LiNiCoAlO) made by GS Yuasa. 

[2]  According to the Japanese Ministry of Defense’s Acquisition, Technology & Logistics Agency (ATLA) the costs of LABs and NCA-LIBs are reported to be 1.44 ¥B and 8.3 ¥B, respectively. This makes NCA-LIBs just under 6 times more expensive than LABs for each Soryu sub. But, in terms of cost/performance (see [3]), NCA-LIBs are not overly expensive.

[3]  More precisely, price ratio of LAB to NCA-LIB is 4.5 and 5.4 for 576 and 480 LIBs in Soryu Mark II, respectively.

[4]  Specific energy of NCA-LIBs are 240 Wh/kg and LABs are 40-60 Wh/kg. The specific energy of NCA-LIBs are 4 to 6 times that of LABs nearly the same as the above mentioned price raitio.

[5]  Soryu Mark IIs will cost ¥12-13B more than Mark Is for LIBs, new snorkel generation system, gensets and sonar system. This suggests major enhancements in the gensets and sonars for the Soryu Mark IIs.

[6]  The Soryu Mark Is have gensets costing about ¥2B and sonars costing ¥3-4B.

 TABLE 2 - Overvie of SORYU (& Oyashio) Programs as at August 15, 2017
Build No
MoF approved amount ¥ Billions & FY
Laid Down
5SS Oyashio
8105 Oyashio
SS-590/ TS3608
¥52.2B FY1993
LABs only
 Jan 1994
Oct 1996
Mar 1998
10 subs
¥52.2B per sub
LABs only
 15SS Feb
Mar 2008
Soryu Mk 1
¥60B FY2004
Mar 2005
Dec 2007
¥58.7B FY2005
Mar 2006
Oct 2008
¥56.2 FY2006
Feb 2007
Oct 2009
¥53B FY2007
Mar 2008
Nov 2010
¥51B FY2008
Mar 2009
Oct 2011
No 21SS built
¥52.8B FY2010
Jan 2011
Oct 2013
¥54.6B FY2011
Feb 2012
Oct 2014
7 Mar 2016
¥54.7B FY2012
¥53.1B FY2013
22 Oct 2013
12 Oct 2016
Mar? 2018
Mar 2019?
27SS First
Soryu Mk 2
LIBs only
28SS  Second
Soryu Mark 2
¥63.6B FY2016
LIBs only
Mar 2021?
29SS First of
New Class
¥76B FY2018
LIBs only
Table courtesy of exclusive information provided to Submarine MattersLABs = lead-acid batteries, AIP=air independent propulsion, LIBs=lithium-ion batteries. ¥***B = Billion Yen.

Anonymous and Pete

August 14, 2017

Against North Korea Nuclear Deterrence Surer Than Ballistic Missile Defences

Shooting down NK ballistic missiles with AEGIS - SM-3 then THAAD in the boost phase and beginning of the mid flight phase is probably the best chance to shoot down the missiles. But still difficult to shoot down all. Shooting down single or multiple missile warheads in the terminal phase when they are plunging from space at hypersonic speeds is the most difficult time to hit them. (Map/Diagram courtesy US Missile Defense Agency, Raytheon, Lockheed Martin via CNN)

Ballistic missile defences (BMD) to defend countries ever further from North Korea (NK) include:

South Korea (SK) relies on:
-  Patriot missiles, 
-  only one battery of US THAAD missiles (more blocked by China)
-  US ship based AEGIS aiming SM-3 missiles. Several ships per US carrier group) see Submarine 
   Matters’ article in April 2017.
-  SK does have AEGIS destroyers but they do net yet have SM-3. 
-  SK lacks its own nuclear weapons - the best deterrent against NK nuclear weapons

Japan has:
-  AEGIS destroyers mounting SM-3 
-  some AEGIS armed US ships may also protect Japan.
-  Patriot missiles
-  For more complete protection Japan could purchase AEGIS ashore and/or THAAD
   (Russia opposes Japan acquiring THAAD. China may oppose THAAD for Japan also.). 
-  Japan lacks its own nuclear weapons - the best deterrent against NK nuclear weapons

Guam has:
-  the US has nuclear weapons - the best deterrent against NK nuclear weapons
-  Japan’s new Defence Minister Onodera said Japan’s right of collective self-defence could legally 
    permit Japan to intercept NK ballistic missiles aimed at (or near) for Guam. But Japan's BMDs
    may be incapable of shooting down an NK missile launched for Guam.

Guam already in range. A risk is NK might aim to launch missiles near Guam but they might hit Guam by mistake - thus resulting in US retaliation. NK is steadily developing ICBM with the range to hit Australia. (Map courtesy The Daily Telegraph).

Australia has:
-  no SM-3, THAAD or Patriot missiles. A major reason is that they would likely be very ineffective
   against ICBM warhead re-entry vehicles once the ICBMs have reached Australian airspace from
   China, Russia or North Korea.

The US capability to extend nuclear deterrence to all of its allies (including South Korea, Japan and Australia) and its own Guam territory, has been tested as effective since 1949 (year of Russia's first nuclear test). Nuclear deterrence has existed much longer than inaccurate BMD systems.

See this very useful interactive site (on SM-3, Aegis, THAAD and Patriots) from the US DoD Missile Defense Agency.


August 11, 2017

Australia would support the US Against North Korea, Prime Minister Turnbull says.

Over the last 24 hours Australia's Prime Minister Turnbull has declared that Australia, as an ally of the US, would come to the aid of the US, if the US went to war with North Korea (NK).

Turnbull's words were "America stands by its allies, including Australia of course, and we stand by the United States...So be very, very clear on that. If there's an attack on the US, the ANZUS Treaty would be invoked and Australia would come to the aid of the United States, as America would come to our aid if we were attacked."

When Turnbull was specifically asked what would happen in the event of an attack on the US territory of Guam, Turnbull said: “We would come to the aid of the United States. Now, how that manifests itself will obviously depend on the circumstances and the consultations with our allies [which includes New Zealand under ANZUS].”


If NK carried out its threat to fire missiles at the US Territory of Guam this might be a trigger for a US counter-strike against NK. If NK's action is judged "an attack on the US" Australia might then send air and/or sea units to reinforce US forces facing NK.

Australian military assets that might conceivably work with US forces could include:

Aircraft, for example, Australian:

-  AP-3C Orions and/or P-8 Poseidons to patrol against NK submarines, NK ships and boats.
-  Boeing 737 (platform) E-7A Wedgetail AEW&C aircraft
-  Airbus A330 Multi Role Tanker Transport (MRTT) aerial refueling aircraft
-  possibly Australian F/A-18/F and/or F/A-18A strike aircraft, and
-  EA-18G (Growler) electronic jamming aircraft

Perhaps ships, including:

-  2 Anzac class and/or Adelaide class frigates. 
-  Australia's first Air Warfare Destroyer, HMAS Hobart, is unlikely to be commissioned in time.
-  For the frigates' long voyage north 1 replenishment ship (HMAS Sirius or HMAS Success
-  Collins submarines for blocking defence, closer to Australian waters.

A form of Australian assistance to the US already is the Australian missile tracking station at Pine Gap near the town of Alice Springs, Northern Territory, Australia. Pine Gap is an Earth/ground station which works with satellites to detect North Korean, Chinese and Russian missiles being launched and helps determine their flight direction. The Gap is jointly run by Australian and US agencies.

It is still unclear what South Korea, Japan, China and Russia might do given their geographic proximity to North Korea.


August 10, 2017

Would North Korean Agents Go On A One Way Suicidal Nuclear Bomb Mission?


"Nuclear Intelligence ReportIn August 2017, the Washington Post reported on a confidential assessment carried out by the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency which suggested that North Korea had successfully developed nuclear warheads for missiles within reach of the US mainland.[74] 

Reacting to the report President Trump stated that future threats would be "met with fire and fury and frankly power, the likes of which this world has never seen before." In response North Korea announced that it was examining an operational plan to strike areas around the U.S. territory of Guam in the Pacific, including the Andersen Air Force Base.[75] " and Naval Base Guam which includes nuclear attack submarine (SSN) Squadron 15.


Even if North Korea hasn't yet miniaturised warheads small enough to fit on a missile or torpedo, North Korea could try to deliver larger nuclear devices (maybe 2+ tons), especially to South Korea and/or Japan by other means, including North Korean:

-  mini to medium submarines carrying fitted nuclear demolition charges. The subs would need to be 
   manned by a crew prepared to die or escape by diver delivery/propulsion vehicle (which allow 
   divers to "swim" away faster). 

-  nuclear devices on "civilian cargo ships" or "trawlers" that may have been at sea for days-weeks. 
   Escape the explosion using fast rigid dingies.

-  on aircraft: transport, "civilian" aircraft, or regular reconnaissance aircraft. Bomber aircraft may be
   a bit obvious. A semi-suicidal crew would need to parachute or eject.

-  a well disguised truck load?

-  via a tunnel under North Korean-South Korean border.

All of these methods would be near suicidal for the delivery crew. I don't know how frequently North Korean troops or agents are prepared to carry out suicide missions, but there is a history of it from the 1996 Gangneung submarine incident.


August 4, 2017

Indonesia's Submarine Buying Strategy Makes Little Sense

Ever since Indonesia decided to buy 3 Improved Chang Bogo Type 209 variants from South Korea’s DSME (on December 20, 2011) decisions by many Indonesians involved have been a puzzle. The Indonesians sensibly decided to have 2 of the Type 209/1400 variants built in South Korea. The first submarine KRI Nagapasa was commissioned on August 2, 2017. The next 209, KRI Ardadedali, is expected to be commissioned in 2018.

However, in February 2014, the Indonesia Parliament made the curious decision to have the third submarine, KRI Alugoro, assembled from South Korean parts, at the PT PAL shipyard in Surabaya, Indonesia. By itself this would add up to a production run of only 1 submarine in Indonesia. A delay may also ensue as often it takes 5 years to build/assemble a submarine in a foreign customer's shipyard. So KRI Alugoro may only be launched in 2020 or later. A production run of 4 would be more logical.

So the deal with South Korea for 3 Type 209 variants has been made. But factions within the Indonesian bureaucracy, Navy and politicians have been talking about prospects for buying an unsettled number of:
-  Russian Kilo, Amur or Kalina submarines
-  likely South Korean designed minisubs, and
-  talking to some extent to France. 

In February 2014 the Jakarta Post reported:

Despite the order of three submarines from Korea, KKIP implementation team head, Adm. (ret) Sumardjono said that Defense Minister Purnomo Yusgiantoro had also set a policy to procure Kilo-class submarines from Russia in motion. This is a stop-gap measure as we need 12 submarines to safeguard our waters,' he said.'”

The prospect of Indonesia fielding 2 or even 3 distinctly different classes of submarine may defy military efficiency or official purchasing sense. Although it may make sense to India, which has 3 foreign designed classes of SSKs built/building and may eventually buy a fourth SSK type, under Project-75i
There may be what can be delicately described as a "financial commissions for many" reason for buyers to make extra deals or have extra talks with several submarine suppliers.
Other interpretations are:
perhaps Indonesia wishes to match the 12 submarines to be built by Indonesia’s southern
neighbour, Australia. But this still does not explain 2 or 3 types for Indonesia, or
-  p
erhaps Indonesia wants to spread its geo-political alliance net, via submarine purchases, as widely
   as possible. In that sense buying from Russia, France or, less likely, China, may make sense.  
The launch ceremony for KRI Nagapasa on March 24, 2016. It was attended by Indonesia's Minister of Defense (former General) Ryamizard Ryacudu and Indonesia's Navy Chief of Staff Admiral Ade Supandi (Photo of launch ceremony coutesy Indonesia's portal-komando website). On August 2, 2017 KRI Nagapasa was commissioned.


August 3, 2017

Unpopular Abe weakening Japans arms selling ability?

Japanese Prime Minister Abe’s drop in popularity leading to a weaker position in Japan’s Parliament (Diet) may reverse his successes in:
-  sending Japanese military forces overseas on UN duties, and
-  weapon sales or coastguard aid (eg. to the Philippines) to foreign countries.

Abe now seems to have a low chance of revising the pacifist constitution (especially Article 9).

Particular matters that may have weakened Abe’s push to have a normal defence force and arms industry are:
-  the resignation in late July 2017 of rightwing Defense Minister Inada
-  due to the cover-up of internal records that exposed the danger Japanese peacekeepers faced in

    South Sudan. Under Japanese political and legal rules the peacekeepers were only allowed in
    South Sudan if there was a ceasefire in force. Instead the peacekeepers had been exposed to
    combat since at least 2016.

Might the above events and Inada’s replacement on August 3, 2017 by new Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera slow down Japan’s ability to sell aircraft and submarines to foreign buyers?


August 2017 Donor Report: Chinese UUVs – More Than Just Gliders

Hi Donors

I've just emailed Submarine Matters August 2017 Donor Report: 
Chinese UUVs – More Than Just Gliders out to you, as a WORD attachment. Please check your spam bin if you don't see it in your IN box.

Leadin to report:

"Multi-talented submarine guru Bryan Clark has long preached the US Navy should keep its qualitative lead by heavily developing and deploying unmanned underwater vehicles (UUVs). One problem is the USN's main opponent, the Chinese Navy (PLA-N), has listened to Clark and is also developing a formidable UUV force..."

Possibly a Zhishui I (?) same as Qianlong-1 (?) deepwater UUV developed by the Shenyang Institute of Automation, Chinese Academy of Sciences. Those who can read Chinese please confirm.


Submarine Matters International 

August 1, 2017

Some Wonders of the New Ford Class Carrier

So much can be said about the first Ford class supercarrier commissioned July 22, 2017. But I won't cover all. Instead I'll lift a few choice facts from National Interest.

The lead ship, Gerald R. Ford is:

" powered by two new-design AB1 nuclear reactors...manufactured by Bechtel, which...together...create six hundred megawatts of electricity, triple the two hundred megawatts of the Nimitz class."

"...Ford will also have the most modern radar systems in the fleet. The Ford will have the new Dual Band Radar [DBR], which combines both the X-Band AN/SPY-3 Aegis radar and the S-Band Volume Surveillance Radar. DBR is capable of search, track and multiple missile illumination, detecting enemy aircraft and missiles and then guiding Evolved Sea Sparrow Missiles (ESSM) to intercept.

For self-defense, Ford will have two Mk. 29 missile launchers with eight ESSM each, and two Rolling Airframe Missile launchers. It will also have four Phalanx Close-In Weapon Systems for point defense against aircraft, missiles and small ships, and four M2 .50 caliber machine guns. Ford’s generous electrical capacity means that the ship could someday mount laser self-defense weapons. Powered by the ship’s nuclear reactors, such a system would have a virtually limitless ammunition supply, vastly increasing the ship’s defensive capability."

"...USS John F. Kennedy, the second aircraft carrier to bear the name of the thirty-fifth president of the United States, is under construction at Newport News and expected to enter service in 2020. The third carrier, Enterprise, is expected to begin construction next year and will join the fleet in the early 2020s. The current push by President Donald Trump and the chief of naval operations to a 350–355-ship fleet will likely include at least one additional Ford-class carrier in the near term."

This Youtube neatly sums up the National Interest article.

The Ford's new features. This image is at 50+ websites around the world - including much larger ones (just right-click-mouse Search Google for image).


July 27, 2017

3D printers and "Amateur" bio-weapons

And now something (non-North Korean nuclear tipped submarine launched missile) to worry about, in future:

"Amateur 'biohackers' who tinker with the genetic make-up of living organisms could develop new types of biological weapons, a leading academic has warned.

Professor John Parrington, a molecular biologist at Oxford University, claims cheap gene editing tools are becoming widely available around the world.

This is giving DIY scientists the chance to genetically alter organisms like bacteria and yeast to give them properties not seen in nature...." 

Add 3D printing of bio weapons into the mix.

But luckily NSA like cyber agencies may be able to seed, track and destroy bio weapon messages and/or organisations attempting to send such dangerous messages for 3D printers or other uses.

Something to worry about in 10 years (more or less)