dimecres, 30 de maig de 2012

Russia Floats Out New Corvette*



St. Petersburg's Severnaya Verf shipyard floated out a new stealth corvette for the Russian Navy at an official ceremony on Wednesday.

The Stoyky is the fourth Project 20380 or Steregushchy class corvette designed by the Almaz Central Marine Design Bureau. The ship is expected to join Russia’s Baltic Fleet in November 2013 after a series of sea trials.

The first Project 20380 corvette, the Steregushchy, was put into service with the Baltic Fleet in October 2008 and the second, the Soobrazitelny, joined the Russian Navy in October 2011.
The third ship of the same series, the Boyky, is undergoing sea trials to be commissioned in November 2012.

The Steregushchy class corvette is capable of engaging enemy surface ships, submarines and aircraft, and providing naval gunfire support for beach landings. Advanced stealth technology is used to reduce the ship's radar, acoustic, infrared, magnetic and visual signatures.

Russia plans to have up to 30 vessels of this class to ensure the protection of its coastal waters, as well as its oil and gas transportation routes, especially in the Black and the Baltic seas.

Each corvette has a displacement of 2,000 metric tons, maximum speed of 27 knots, and a crew of 100.
The ship's armament includes Kh-35 (SS-N-25 Switchblade) anti-ship cruise missiles, a 100-mm gun, a variety of air-defense and anti-submarine systems, and a Ka-27 Helix ASW helicopter.

* Notícia publicada a RIA Novosti. Com hem anat comentant en aquest bloc, la renovació de l'Armada russa és un fet en curs. En aquest cas les corbetes Steregushchy, són unes interessants mostra de polivalència, encara que estiguin pensades per operacions litorals.

Israeli Navy trains marine forces for fourth Dolphin-class submarine*



The Israeli Navy's combat scuba divers and marine commando forces are currently undergoing training before receiving the fourth Dolphin-class submarine, which is currently being tested.

The German-built submarine was officially handed over following the acquisition and development process led by the Israeli Ministry of Defence and the navy, according to a well-placed source.

Initially, 10% more scuba divers will be trained and the new soldiers will join the ranks of the Israeli Navy train naval commando unit, Shayetet 13, for the fourth submarine, following the completion of submarine tests.

Israel's Defence Minister Lieutenant General Ehud Barak said: "The submarine will amplify the capabilities of the IDF and Israel's strength."



At present, the navy has three Dolphin-class submarines, which were delivered between 1999 and 2000 and manufactured by Howaldtswerke-Deutsche Werft (HDW), a unit of ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems.

The fourth and fifth submarines were ordered in 2005, with Germany contributing a total of €333m, which is equal to about a third of the submarine's cost.

Capable of conducting long-range security missions along national borders, the small diesel-powered Dolphin submarines are equipped with 10 torpedo tubes, can carry nuclear warheads and are designed for coastal patrols.

Operations for the fourth Dolphin submarine are expected in early 2013, while the fifth vessel is scheduled to enter into service with the Israeli Navy in 2014, according to industry sources.

The new class of submarines are expected to replace the ageing Gal-class submarines, which entered service in 1977.

* Notícia publicada a Naval Tecnology. L'ampliació de les unitats especials de submarinistes de les IDF, juntament amb l'ampliació de la flota de submarins Dolphin, costata la voluntat de Tel Aviv de poder conduïr operacions de comando allà on sigui necessari. Els hi desitgem molta sort.

dilluns, 28 de maig de 2012

Borey Submarine Contract Signed - Shipbuilding Corp.*



Russia’s Defense Ministry and United Shipbuilding Corporation (USC) have signed a contract for the delivery of five new Borey class (Project 955) strategic nuclear submarines, USC spokesman Alexei Kravchenko said on Monday.

“I have information that the contract for five subs has been signed,” Kravchenko told RIA Novosti.
He did not specify when the contract was signed but said that the signing was confirmed on Monday.
On May 25, it was reported that the ministry and the USC failed again to agree final contract terms for Borey delivery, despite the intervention of President Vladimir Putin.

Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov told journalists on Friday after a meeting with Putin that his ministry and the submarine manufacturer would return to talks in the future to agree a final price for the Borey boats in 2015.

At the end of Friday’s meeting, Serdyukov and Trade and Industry Minister Denis Manturov left to sign the deal with no journalists present, and it was unclear how the final agreement looked and whether it would be signed.

Manturov told journalists earlier on Friday after the meeting with Putin that the contract would be signed Friday. He also said then that the Borey contract would be implemented in full.

“There will be five submarines and a design contract,” he said on Friday. “The president made a considered decision that makes it possible to sign a contract with the Defense Ministry until 2020.”

The Russian Navy is to receive at least 10 new Borey class strategic nuclear submarines by 2020. The submarines, to be armed with Bulava ballistic missiles, are expected to constitute the core of Russia's strategic ballistic missile submarine force after 2018.

Then-prime minister Putin said last year that the procurement of new warships and submarines for the Navy would be a priority over the next decade. The Russian government has allocated five trillion rubles ($156 bln) or a quarter of the entire armament procurement budget until 2020 for this purpose.

The signing of a contract for delivery of the Borey submarines has been repeatedly postponed due to the pricing dispute between the Defense Ministry and defense industry enterprises.

* Notícia publicada a RIA Novosti. L'acord per 5 nous SSBN de classe Borei, és una altra notícia que ens confirma la voluntat russa de mantenir-se com a força amb capacitat de dissuassió nuclear de segona onada.

diumenge, 27 de maig de 2012

Piraterie : formation de gardes-côtes djiboutiens*

Le 16 mai 2012, l’équipage de la frégate de surveillance (FS) Nivôse, engagée dans l’opération Atalante depuis le 16 avril 2012, a formé une équipe de gardes-côtes djiboutiens lors de son escale à Djibouti.


Les marins du Nivôse ont exposé les procédures d’interception de skiffs suspects, la mise en place d’une équipe de protection embarquée (EPE), ainsi que la prise en charge de pirates présumés. La formation a été composée d’une partie théorique puis d’une mise en application des éléments enseignés.

Une partie de la journée a par ailleurs été consacrée à l’emploi du site internet sécurisé Mercuy. Ce site créé et géré par le MSCHOA (Centre de sécurité maritime pour la Corne de l’Afrique) permet à tous les acteurs militaires et civiles engagés dans la lutte contre la piraterie, ou en étant les victimes potentielles, d’échanger de l’information voire en signaler les attaques en cours.

Cette journée fait partie intégrante d’un programme général de coopération supervisé par l’état-major de la force européenne Atalante, embarqué à bord de la Marne. Le bénéfice de ce type de rencontre mutuel a pour objectif d’aider les marines et gardes-côtes des pays de la région à développer des capacités maritimes propres, tout en permettant aux bâtiments de la force européenne Atalante de profiter de leur expérience et de leur connaissance de la zone. Cela facilite par ailleurs les contacts ultérieurs lors d’éventuelles opérations où une collaboration pourrait être nécessaire.

Cette démarche s’inscrit dans l’approche globale de l’Union Européenne et de la France en particulier en matière de lutte contre la piraterie, qui vise à soutenir le gouvernement somalien et promouvoir la coopération avec les pays de la région.

Formation de gardes-côtes djiboutiens (2)


* Notícia publicada al web de la Marine Nationale. La formació de forces locals de guarda-costes és, en tots els aspectes, una bona notícia. Tot un exemple de com emprar correctament un enclavament a l'exterior, en aquest cas, Djibouti. 

Vietnamese Back Philippines*


 In a new twist this week to the stand-off between China and the Philippines at Scarborough Shoal, 66 Vietnamese, many of them well-known public figures in Vietnam and within the Vietnamese Diaspora, signed a letter to the Philippine Ambassador in Vietnam to express support for the Philippines’ “sovereign rights” in the continuing stand-off. The main points of the letter are:

1) Support for the “sovereign rights” of the Philippines in the Scarborough Shoal.

2) Opposition to China’s use of the “nine-dashed line”  to make overlapping claims with the Exclusive Economic Zones and continental shelves of the Philippines, Vietnam and other ASEAN countries, as well as opposition to “China’s actions and threats of force,” the latter presumably referring to articles in China’s state controlled press.

3) Support for the Philippines’ proposal to submit the dispute at Scarborough Shoal to the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS).

The first interesting thing about the letter, to which I am a signatory, is that while supporting the Philippines, the letter stops short of taking sides on the question of sovereignty over the rocks at Scarborough Shoal. What it supports the Philippines on is the question of “sovereign rights,” which isn’t sovereignty over islands and rocks, but rights over the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and continental shelf.

Does it make legal sense to support the Philippines on the question of rights over the EEZ and continental shelf without taking sides on the question of sovereignty over the rocks? Don’t the rights over the EEZ and continental shelf depend on sovereignty over territories, including islands and rocks? The answer lies in the fact that the rocks at Scarborough Shoal aren’t the only territories in this area; there’s also Luzon Island. It’s possible to argue that these rocks aren’t entitled to an EEZ beyond 12 nautical miles, therefore the EEZ in this area belongs to Luzon Island, regardless of whether the rocks belong to China or the Philippines, and regardless of the fact that they are disputed territory.

It’s evident that while both Vietnam and the Philippines feel most threatened by China’s “nine-dashed line,” those countries also feel that this line has a legal Achilles’ heel, which they seek to target with the concepts of UNCLOS such as EEZ, and of maritime delimitations, arguing that regardless of which country owns an island or rock, and of the fact that it might be disputed territory, the EEZ in certain areas belongs to larger landmasses.

The second interesting thing is that whoever drafted the letter chose not to use the conventional international name of “South China Sea.” Instead, they chose to use a combination of the Filipino and Vietnamese names, “West Philippine Sea/East Sea.” Are we about to see something similar to South Korea’s challenge to the conventional name “Sea of Japan”?

However, most interesting of all is the fact that this is the first time ever that members of the public in a country involved in the South China Sea disputes have expressed support for another in this way.
Still, perhaps this move shouldn’t come as a complete surprise given that in recent years most of the incidents in the South China Sea involve either China and Vietnam or China and the Philippines. With a common legal argument and facing a common, but much larger, opponent, there will likely be a tendency for the Vietnamese and the Filipinos to move towards a strategy of mutual support in the future.

Huy Duong contributes articles on the South China Sea to several news outlets including the BBC and Vietnam's online publication VietNamNet.

* Article publicat a The Diplomat. La fermesa del Vietnam en recolzar les Filipines el el contenciós amb la Xina, a banda de l'intel·ligència de plantejar un front comú, posa de relleu altre cop l'enorme determinació d'aquest país asiàtic. Sense dubte, sense una política exterior valenta, no es poden contenir les ànsies de conquesta. Recordem Münich el 1938...

Teledyne Webb Research - Oceanographic Research and Monitoring Instruments*



Teledyne Webb Research (TWR) is a world leader in the design and manufacture of scientific instruments for oceanographic research and monitoring. Teledyne Webb Research specialises in three areas of ocean instrumentation: neutrally buoyant, autonomous drifters and profilers; autonomous underwater gliding vehicles; and moored underwater sound sources.


APEX autonomous drifting sensor platform

APEX® (Autonomous Profiling Explorer) is an autonomous drifting sensor platform that uses a variable buoyancy engine to move from the surface to user-defined drift and profile depths. TWR's APEX profiling float makes up over two-thirds of the floats deployed for the worldwide Argo program, the largest oceanographic experiment ever undertaken. Over 7,000 APEX floats have been shipped to date.
APEX can be configured with a variety of sensors to measure conductivity, temperature, dissolved oxygen, turbidity, chlorophyll, carbon dioxide, and nutrients. The collected data is transmitted to shore via either the Argos or Iridium networks. TWR employs a team of dedicated APEX engineers who are constantly working on integrating customer-specific sensors and challenging the state of science in profiling floats.
With active lifetimes that can exceed five years, programmable schedules, user defined park and profile settings and active depth control, APEX is one of the most efficient basin scale oceanographic sensors in use. APEX also has the flexibility needed to handle new operational requirements, such as integration of passive acoustic sensors to monitor everything from seismic activity to beaked whales.

APEX profiling float for both military and civil ocean and weather numerical models

That is primarily why developer Douglas Webb set out to commercialise the profiling float. He and his colleges realised that even with the combined resources of every nation on the planet there would never be enough ships to measure the ocean with sufficient resolution in time and geospatial density to improve our understanding of the planet. Born from the original ALACE and PALACE floats, APEX profiling floats are the low cost, highly reliable, robust sensor platform needed to continue to grow our understanding of the complex physical phenomena that are driving our oceans, modifying our weather, and impacting our climate.
  • Provides autonomous profiles from depths to 2,000m
  • Provided ready to deploy, with automated self-test software
  • Nominal 150 ascents, four years; routinely achieve longer life
  • Automatic depth control: isobaric, isopycnal or isothermal tracking
  • Seasonally variable sampling modes
  • Automatic pressure activation
  • Ice avoidance algorithms
  • First profile returned within 24 hours of launch

Remote sensing AUVs

 

Slocum® G2 Glider is a versatile remote sensing AUV for ocean research and monitoring. Buoyancy driven, the long range and duration capabilities of Slocum gliders make them ideally suited for water column observation at a regional scale. Missions and data transmission downloads can be programmed by the user before the start of a mission or in-situ. The relatively low cost for operation and the ability to command multiple vehicles with minimal personnel make the Slocum glider perfect for fleet applications.
  • Ocean Observation Initiative (OOI) - Coastal Glider Contract
  • Ocean Observation Initiative (OOI) - Open Ocean Glider Contract
  • US Navy - Littoral Battlespace Sensing - Glider (LBS-G) Contract
Slocum Gliders offer:
  • Modular design with interchangeable science bays
  • Standard and custom sensor integration
  • Deep ocean capabilities
  • World-class customer support
* Article publicat a Naval Technology. Els "thermal gliders" són una tecnologia enormement interessant en diversos aspectes. Tant per la investigació oceanogràfica com per la vigilància costanera o d'alta mar ofereixen un munt de possibilitats, amb una mínima signatura acústica a causa de ser "planadors" sub-aquàtics.

dijous, 24 de maig de 2012

South Korea seeks UGM-84L Harpoon missiles from US*

Canadian frigate HMCS Regina launches Harpoon anti-ship missile
The US Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) has notified Congress of a possible foreign military sale of 18 UGM-84L Harpoon Block II All-Up-Round Missiles to South Korea.

The estimated $84m foreign military sale (FMS) programme also includes options for associated parts, equipment, logistical support and training.

The proposed package includes one UGM-84L Harpoon telemetry exercise section, containers, guidance control units (GCU) spares, recertification and reconfiguration support, as well as spare and repair parts.

Additional support requested along with the sale, includes tools and tool sets, support equipment, personnel training and training equipment, as well as other related elements of logistics and programme support.

The potential sale of Harpoon Block II missiles is expected to boost the Republic of Korea Navy's (ROK) existing anti-ship missile capability and support in overseas contingency operations.

Apart from enhancing ROK's naval anti-surface warfare performance, the capability will also improve interoperability with the US and other allied forces while providing a superior defensive edge.
Boeing will serve as the prime contractor.

The Harpoon is an all-weather, over-the-horizon, anti-ship missile, manufactured by Boeing, to conduct both land-strike and anti-ship missions against a wide variety of targets.

Designed to provide accurate long-range guidance for land and ship targets, the missile also provides protection to coastal defence sites, surface-to-air missile sites, exposed aircraft, port/industrial facilities and ships in port.

Featuring the low-cost inertial measuring unit from the Joint Direct Attack Munition program, the missile is also equipped with the mission computer, as well as integrated global positioning system/inertial navigation system and the GPS antenna and receiver, from the Standoff Land Attack Missile Expanded Response missile.

The blast warhead can be launched from all existing Harpoon missile system platforms or the new Advanced Harpoon Weapon Control System and enables users to differentiate target ships from islands or other nearby land masses or vessels.

* Notícia publicada a Naval Technology. La venda de míssils Harpoon a Corea del Sud dóna, a qui sàpiga llegir entre línies, unes quantes pistes. Sabent que la l'armada de Corea del Nord són patrulleres, llanxes d'atac ràpid i submarins, els Harpoon tenen un ús limitat. Creiem doncs, que la seva adquisició va més pel camí de preparar-se contra el creixement de l'Armada xinesa.

Indian Aircraft Carrier Sea Trials Postponed Until June



Sea trials of the Admiral Gorshkov aircraft carrier being overhauled for the Indian navy at the Sevmash shipyard in northern Russia have been postponed until the beginning of June, the shipyard said on Wednesday.

The purchase of the Soviet-built Admiral Gorshkov was agreed in 2005 but delivery to India has been long delayed. The cost of refurbishing the aircraft carrier, to be renamed INS Vikramaditya, has since gone up from $947 million to $2.3 billion.

“The start of the sea trials has been moved to the beginning of June,” a Sevmash spokesman said.

The vessel was originally scheduled to sail for trials in the White Sea and the Barents Sea on May 25.
The delay could have been caused by poor weather forecast in the trials area next week, the official said.

The delivery of the Admiral Gorshkov to the Indian navy is expected in December 2012.

* Notícia publicada a RIA Novosti. Malgrat els retards, l'hora en que veurem el nou portaavions de l'Indian Navy s'acosta.

diumenge, 20 de maig de 2012

Ready for a ray gun? ONR plans laser tests*



* Entrevista realitzada a Navy Times. Recomanem el seu visionat a tothom qui estigui interessat en les armes d'energia dirigida ( làsers, etc...)

Should India Fear China’s Navy?



 One of the more enduring aspects of Indian strategic culture is a strong sense of maritime embattlement. Shortly after independence, Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru famously attributed India’s past woes at the hands of predatory colonial powers to its maritime weaknesses. During the Cold War, Indian strategists would fret over the potential mushrooming of American submarine pens in Diego Garcia, or over the possible reiteration of the 1971 USS Enterprise incident, when the United States dispatched a carrier task group to the Bay of Bengal in a singularly blunt exercise of naval suasion. More than forty years later, the U.S. presence in the Indian Ocean is no longer viewed by most Indians as a threat. Another, more menacing extra-regional power has stepped in to fill the void, and, in so doing, has ensured the continued survival of the maritime embattlement narrative.

Indeed, a first time traveler to India could be forgiven for believing that India is on the verge of being subjected to a sudden wave of Chinese amphibious landings. Sensationalistic press reports on China's so-called “string of pearls” abound, and wild stories on secret PLAN submarine bases in the Maldives, or large bases on Burmese islands, are commonplace. In reality, most of China’s ventures in places such as Chittagong, in Bangladesh, or Hambantota, in Sri Lanka, appear to be, for the time being at least, primarily economic in nature. Moreover, Indian observers tend to neglect the profoundly nationalistic pride these projects tend to foster within the host countries themselves.

Last year, after having meandered through the organized chaos of Hambantota, I interviewed the Sri Lankan Ports Authority Manager on site. After enquiring whether Chinese military vessels might, in the future, obtain preferential berthing rights, I was subjected to a withering tirade on the inappropriate nature of my query. While the funding may be in large part Chinese, the port itself is strictly Sri Lankan, I was sternly informed, and acted as a powerful symbol of a reunified country’s future economic potential. (The port is, in fact, named the Mahinda Rajapaksa Port, in honor of Sri Lanka’s president, whose grinning, mustachioed face is a ubiquitous presence throughout the country, from billboard to bank note.)

While one can’t discount the possibility in the future that these nodes may acquire a more overtly military dimension, the relentless onslaught of Indian media attention on the “String of Pearls” has created an unfortunate, and rather paradoxical, effect. First of all, it renders the debate over the nature of China’s future naval presence in the Indian Ocean somewhat less intelligible and more inchoate. Second, it makes it seem as though the Indian government’s attitude towards China’s alleged creeping expansionism is purely reactive and bereft of any clear strategic direction.

Let us imagine, thereby succumbing to the worst kind of strategic pessimism, that in the course of the next two decades China does move towards establishing some kind of a genuinely threatening naval presence in the Indian Ocean Region.

This could take several distinct forms:
-- A gradual upsurge in Chinese submarine incursions into the Indian Ocean, with the option of secretly forward deploying wolf packs of Chinese submarines in friendly deep-water ports such as Gwadar.
-- An extension of China's Anti-Access/Area Denial (A2/AD) complex from East to West in order to provide some form of a shore-based protective shield to its surface vessels or to target India’s ships and coastal infrastructure.
-- Simply by increasing the rotation and stationing of its naval assets-surface or subsurface – in the friendly pearls aforementioned.

If one, or all of these evolutions were to occur, would India be prepared for such a contingency? And more importantly, does the Indian Navy have some kind of a concrete, actionable China Strategy in place for the Indian Ocean?
It may.
But if it does, you will be hard pressed to find it outlined in detail in any of the official documents released by the Indian Navy over the past decade or so, whether it be the two iterations of its Maritime Doctrines (released in 2004 and 2009) or in its Maritime Strategy (published in 2007). All three documents are highly didactic in tone and somewhat aspirational in nature. Their goal, first and foremost, is to convince a traditionally continentalist and inward-looking Indian leadership of the virtues of Indian Seapower, not to lay out the battle plans for a potential future naval clash with the next great “Dragon Fleet.” Therefore, when China is mentioned, it is only in passing, with fleeting-albeit foreboding- references to “some nations’ attempts to gain a strategic toehold in the Indian Ocean Rim” or to “attempts by China to strategically encircle India.”

If one really wishes to get a better appreciation of how the Indian Navy plans for an upsurge in naval rivalry with Beijing, the best thing to do is to carefully parse the refreshingly sanguine words of India’s naval chiefs on the matter. By so doing, one can begin to discern the hazy silhouette of a nascent three-pronged strategy, or “strategic trident,” which could roughly be summarized as the following:
-- Leveraging India’s Natural Geographical Advantage
-- Developing an Asymmetrical Technological Edge
-- Moving towards greater Navy/Air Force Jointness in the Indian Ocean Region
A few years ago, the former Chief of Naval Staff Sureesh Mehta created quite a stir, when he gave a seminal speech at an Indian maritime think tank, the National Maritime Foundation, shortly before his departure from office. Admiral Mehta, in a very eloquently framed presentation, articulated some compelling arguments:

First, India shouldn’t seek to compete ship for ship with China – such an approach is futile and doomed to fail, due to the growing disparity in funding in-between both navies. Second, India should leverage its geographical advantage. In short, India will always retain a sizeable advantage over any incoming Chinese fleet in the Indian Ocean by virtue of its central position as an interior line power in the heart of the Indian Ocean, as well as its peninsular formation, which enables it to radiate airpower in an arc ranging from the Arabian Sea to the Malacca Straits. Any Chinese naval task force venturing into the Indian Ocean would therefore have to run a formidable gauntlet of combined Indian naval and shore-based airpower. Finally, India needed to focus on developing an asymmetric technological edge over its Chinese rival. New Delhi possesses an immense advantage over Beijing – in that it can import (nearly) all the weaponry it desires, and, unlike China, doesn’t have to contend with an EU arms embargo, U.S. rivalry or growing Russian unease.

India’s current Chief of Naval Staff, Nirmal Verma, has added grist to the strategy laid out by his predecessor by stressing the need to establish more “turnaround bases and naval air enclaves” within the region, and by accelerating the revamping of India's air bases in the Andaman and Nicobar islands, which Chinese strategists have portrayed as a potential “metal chain” that could lock them out of the Bay of Bengal in the event of a conflict with India.

As Sino-Indian rivalry spills out into the Indian Ocean, the maps of former, similarly conflict-ridden eras, are being pulled out of the attic of history, undusted, and made to overlap. Japan’s clever use of the Andaman and Nicobar archipelago as an unsinkable aircraft carrier during World War II is now being replicated by New Delhi, and World War II era airbases in places such as Kalaikunda, in West Midnapore, have been refurbished in order to host Indian Sukhoi-30 MKI squadrons, which can provide long-range air cover to naval forces operating in the Andaman Sea west of the Malacca Straits.

The same minute patches of paradise at the epicenter of Soviet-U.S. rivalry in the Indian Ocean Region during the Cold War, such as the Seychelles, now find themselves at the heart of a struggle for supremacy once more. Only this time it’s Beijing and New Delhi, Asia’s two rising naval powers, which are jostling for influence. Competition in the Indian Ocean is hardly a new phenomenon – the players may change, but the game remains uncannily similar. And indeed, while much attention has been lavished on China’s diplomatic forays into the Indian subcontinent’s maritime backyard, scant focus has been given to India’s own parallel efforts to establish strategically placed nodes of influence – such as the listening post it erected in 2007 in Madagascar, or the ties it is discreetly shoring up with other small island nations such as Mauritius.
As the Indian Navy’s attention gradually pivots away from Pakistan in order to focus increasingly on China, it will be instructive to note whether this is accompanied by a corresponding repositioning of its force structure. It may be premature to reliably ascertain whether this is the case, but certain signs definitely seem to point to a rebalancing. The Indian Navy's Eastern Command, for example, which has traditionally been neglected in favor of its Western, Pakistan-facing alter ego, is being considerably strengthened. The country’s small flotilla of nuclear submarines will also operate from an undisclosed location along the eastern seaboard.

Jointness, at this juncture, appears to form the missing link within the Indian Navy’s nascent China Strategy in the Indian Ocean. Indeed, if New Delhi wishes to truly leverage its inherent geographical advantage, it needs to be able to draw on both its naval aviation and shore-based airpower simultaneously rather than sequentially.

So far, unfortunately, the Indian Navy and Air Force have yet to demonstrate any genuine capacity – or desire – for operational synergy. In India’s defense, Navy/Air Force synchronization in maritime strike warfare is notoriously hard to achieve. Indeed, one could argue that the United States only really mastered such a level of operational jointness through the catalyzing experience of the first Gulf War. The Indian Navy and Air Force, however, appear to have demonstrated a singular degree of reluctance to pursue any kind of meaningful operational synergy. While both services have initiated joint training under the aegis of the TROPEX exercises annually held in the Bay of Bengal, they still prefer to coordinate – rather than to genuinely fuse – their combat exercises. The Indian Air Force and Naval aviation assets are thus provided with distinct, pre-designated “air corridors” in which to operate and respond to the instructions of their own service-specific commanders. This is indicative of a very rudimentary level of inter-service cooperation, which still prefers to opt for the traditional Indian “coordination” model over the exigencies born out of genuine bi-service synchrony.

What India needs is a truly transformational war fighting concept for the Indian Ocean, an “AirSea Battle concept with Indian characteristics,” which welds the three “prongs” of its thinking into a clear, actionable, China strategy for the Indian Ocean. Until then, expect more alarmist reports of hidden bases and nefarious plots.

Iskander Rehman is a Stanton Nuclear Security Fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington D.C. 

* Anàlisi publicat a The Diplomat. Creiem recomanable la seva lectura pels seus interessants raonaments al voltant de les necessitats adaptatives de les forces armades indies, especialment l'aviació i la marina, com a pla de contingència d'una possible escalada entre Beijing i Delhi a l'Índic.

Russia Floats Out Large Landing Ship*


The Yantar shipyard in the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad floated out on Friday a new large landing ship for the Russian Navy.

The construction of the Ivan Gren landing ship started in 2004, but has been delayed due to the lack of financing and skilled workers.

The ship's completion is expected by 2013. Plans to build three more ships of the same class are under consideration.

The $160-million vessel has a displacement of about 6,000 tons and will be able to carry up to 13 main battle tanks or 36 armored personnel carriers or 300 naval infantry troops.

Along with Mistral-class amphibious ships being built in France, Ivan Gren class ships will form the core of the Russian Navy's landing forces.

* Notícia publicada a RIA Novosti. La renovació de les unitats amfíbies russes demostra la intenció de Moscou de no perdre capacitat de projecció de força i, a ser possible, millorar-la.

diumenge, 13 de maig de 2012

ONR to develop solid-state laser weapons for US Navy*



The US Office of Naval Research (ONR) has plans to develop a solid-state laser weapon, which will help sailors defeat small threats without the use of bullets.

Solid-state laser technology maturation (SSL-TM) programme officer Peter Morrison said: "We believe it's time to move forward with solid-state lasers and shift the focus from limited demonstrations to weapon prototype development and related technology advancement."

Based on ONR's earlier directed-energy developments and knowledge gained from other laser research initiatives, the SSL-TM programme will aim to develop a weapon prototype that will demonstrate multi-mission capabilities aboard a Navy ship.

If the project is successful, it may help the US Navy to become the first of the armed forces to deploy high-energy laser weapons.

ONR has recently tested its new development, the MK 38 tactical laser demonstration, at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida, US.

An industry day would be hosted by ONR next week to reveal information about the programme to the research and development community, while a broad agency announcement is expected to be issued soon to invite proposals and bids.

Other advancing directed-energy technology programmes by ONR include the Northrop Grumman developed maritime laser demonstrator (MLD), which was successful in disabling a small target boat during testing while the laser weapon system shot down four small unmanned test aircraft.

Boeing and Raytheon Integrated Defense Systems were awarded two contracts in 2009 to design a free-electron laser (FEL) ship self-defence weapon system, which the research agency expects to test in a maritime environment as early as 2018.

* Notícia publicada a Naval Technology. Tot i no ser cap secret, els avenços en matèria d'armes laser per part els Estats Units, així com l'anunci de la seva implementació a mig termini, és quelcom d'autèntic interés per la revolució en les operacions militars que pot comportar.

Russia to Test New Naval Air Defense System by Year End*



Russian air defense systems manufacturer Almaz Antei hopes to complete testing of its new Poliment-Redut ship-based air defense missile system by the end of this year, the company’s General Director Vladislav Menshikov said on Saturday.

Previous Russian media reports have claimed the development of the system has been delayed.
Poliment-Redut is derived from the land-based Vityaz air defense system which uses the 9M96 medium-range air defense missile.

“Work on the system is at a preliminary test stage. But to complete testing we need a ship at sea,” Menshikov said. “This year, by all estimates, testing should be complete. The missiles are ready, we are waiting to go to sea,” Menshikov said in an interview with Vedomosti newspaper published on Saturday.
Almaz Antei is also working on new radars and missiles for its future land-based S-500 air defense system, he said.

Russia is continuing to develop its "promising" airborne defense laser program, Menshikov said.
“The Americans have not managed to achieve the planned results [in their airborne laser projects], although the technology… is still being used in other developments,” he said.

“Similar research work is under way in Russia, and we consider it quite promising,” he said.
The United States began developing airborne defense lasers designed to destroy enemy nuclear intercontinental ballistic missiles in the mid-1990s. In a successful February 2010 test, a multi-megawatt-class chemical oxygen iodine laser installed in a Boeing 747-400F aircraft destroyed a ballistic missile and other targets.

However, the project, which would eventually cost $5 billion, was reportedly shelved because of mounting costs and doubts about its actual practical value.

Nevertheless, Pentagon officials have said the technology would be used to develop other laser defense systems, to be mounted on high altitude drones. 

Notícia publicada a RIA Novosti. Els nous desenvolupaments russos en materia naval, demostren la voluntat d'aquell estat de no quedar-se endarrerit respecte Occident i, especialment, la Xina. Serà una evolució interessant de seguir.

dimecres, 9 de maig de 2012

EXCLUSIVE: Navy Still Thrashing Out LCS Tactics, Design, Top Admiral Acknowledges*

PENTAGON: There are a lot of questions about the Navy's new Littoral Combat Ships, high-tech vessels that are smaller, faster, more flexible, and more vulnerable to damage than traditional frigates or destroyers.


 
 In an exclusive interview with AOL Defense, the Navy's top surface-warships expert frankly acknowledged that they're still working on the answers. Everything from concepts of operation to damage control to the ships' top speed is still potentially open to revision, Rear Adm. Thomas Rowden said Friday in his Pentagon office. That attitude is refreshing, exciting, and a bit unnerving when you consider that the Navy wants to buy 55 Littoral Combat Ships, requesting $1.8 billion for four in fiscal 2013 alone.

"We have traditional roles for destroyers, cruisers, frigates," said Rowden, who heads Navy staff section N96, "Surface Warfare," which oversees those ship types for the Chief of Naval Operations. But the LCS is a radically different class of ship. The two now in the fleet -- LCS-1 Freedom, built by Lockheed Martin, and LCS-2 Independence, by General Dynamics -- were in fact bought with research and development funding outside the normal procurement process. (A third ship that just finished its acceptance trials, Lockheed's LCS-3 Fort Worth, was procured under the standard shipbuilding account, and so will all LCSs to come.) Many saw the use of R&D funds as a mere budgetary expedient, but Rowden argues it genuinely reflects just how new and different the Littoral Combat Ships really are.

"Given the fact that we don't have a lot of history to inform us on how we're going to go utilize these ships, we are using these for research and development," Rowden emphasized. "We are learning a lot....There've been significant changes between LCS-1 and LCS-3," for example, including a longer, more stable hull and fixes for the cracks and leaks discovered on LCS-1 last year, the topic of a high profile, highly critical report by the independent Project On Government Oversight.

Nor do the changes necessarily stop there. Another criticism of LCS is that the design's extraordinary top speed of 40 knots -- more than 30% faster than current frigates and destroyers -- is simply not worth the expense of building the ship with two sets of engines: diesels for fuel-efficient cruising and gas turbines that kick in for a high-speed dash. "Speed is life and more is better," Rowden said, quoting a Navy aphorism. No less a naval hero than John Paul Jones famously declared that, "I wish to have no connection with any ship that does not sail fast for I intend to go in harm's way." Nevertheless, Rowden said, "as we go forward with our R&D platforms and do some research and do some development, I think the need for speed will either show itself or, if it doesn't, then perhaps we'll go in a different direction."

The major criticism of the Littoral Combat Ship is that it just isn't tough enough to take a hit in battle and keep going. On the Navy's own scale, the Arleigh Burke-class destroyer is rated survivability level 3, the Perry-class frigate is level 2, and the Littoral Combat Ship is level 1, the same as the Avenger-class minesweeper and other support ships. LCS has more self-defense systems than the minesweepers, and it is has more speed than the frigates and destroyers, but in an era of supersonic cruise missiles and fast attack boats, that may not be enough to keep from being hit. Once hit, moreover, the LCS has a much smaller crew than traditional ships -- about 80 sailors compared to over 200 on the similar-sized Perry. Doesn't that make it a lot harder to do damage control? "That's what we're going to go find out," Rowden said, smiling.

What Rowden does know for sure, he said, is the value of Littoral Combat Ships in the "presence" missions -- counter-piracy patrols, port visits, exercises with foreign partners -- that make up most of the Navy's operations day to day. Harking back to his time commanding a mixed force of frigates, destroyers, and other vessels in the Mediterranean and the west coast of Africa, Rowden said, "I would have preferred to have LCS over probably most if not all of the other ships that I had."

"Typically we take very, very expensive, very, very high-end DDGs [Aegis destroyers] to execute the anti-piracy mission off the Horn of Africa," Rowden went on. "[That's] using an eight-pound maul to whack a fly." Likewise, when building partnerships with Third World navies, Rowden preferred to rely on the aging Perry frigates or even cutters on loan to the Navy from the Coast Guard. "If I were to bring a big, heavy ship in, most of these folks had never seen one of those," he said: They simply had no idea how to apply such a naval juggernaut to their own modest missions of coastal defense, counter-piracy, and fisheries protection. In those roles, he said, "you can probably get more utility and certainly more alacrity out of a smaller, more agile ship."

LCS's suitability for presence missions doesn't mean it's unsuited for a major war, however. "The ships are built to go in harm's way, okay?" Rowden argued. "But we need to be smart about how we drive them." In wartime, the lightweight Littoral Combat Ships would be connected by computer datalinks to the main fleet. Skirmishing LCSs would hunt submarines, small attack boats, and mines that threatened the larger ships, while US carriers, Aegis ships, and attack subs protected the LCSs in return from enemy missiles and airstrikes.

Exactly how this works, however, is something the Navy is going to find out as it goes along. "There are innumerable fantastic qualities about the sailors serving in the United States Navy today," Rowden said. "We put an asset, a ship like LCS, into their hands, and they are going to figure out how to get the most out of it."

"It's very easy to concentrate on what the ship isn't," Rowden summed up. "It's much more difficult to look into the future and say, this is what it could be."
 
* Notícia publicada a AOL Defense. Recomanem la seva lectura per l'enorme interés de les reflexions de l'almirall Rowden sobre l'evolució dels Littoral Combat Ships.

Reflexions sobre els futurs DDH japonesos*



Les Forces Marítimes d'Auto-Defensa Japoneses adquiriran dues unitats de "destructors-portahelicòpters" (DDH) de 19.000 tones. Això representa un pas que va molt més enllà de la doctrina naval japonesa del darrer mig segle

L'any 2009, el govern de Yukio Hatoyama aprovava la primera partida pressupostària per un nou tipus de DDH. Si bé la darrera classe sota aquesta designació, els Hyuga, ja eren difícils de classificar com a destructors ( amb coberta d'envol, ascensors, hangars, etc...) el nou projecte és totalment impossible de camuflar, per més que Tòquio tingui una gran habilitat semàntica. Entrem primer en las característiques tècniques per entendre del que estem parlant. Els 22DDH ( designació del nou projecte a l'espera de ser batejats), tenen un desplaçament de 19.500 tones en buit i 27.000 a plena càrrega. Això, sumat a 248 metres d'eslora, 38 de mànega els acosta molt, als llegendaris portaavions de la classe Essex de la IIGM. La coberta està pensada per que hi puguin operar 9 helicòpters simultàniament. Respecte a l'espai per l'allotjament, disposa d'un hangar sota coberta amb espai per 14 helicòpters. A més, pot encabir fins a 50 camions de 3,5 tones o càrrega equivalent. Una càrrega que pot ser desplegada amb facilitat gràcies als seus quatre ascensors. Respecte a l'armament, incorporen un parell de CIWS Phalanx o bateries RAM. Un sistema de defensa antiaèria propi bastant limitat, que d'altra banda demostra la confiança en les capacitats de les naus japoneses destinades a aquesta funció ( els DDG de classe Atago i Kongo). Tenint clares les especificacions tècniques bàsiques del projecte, passem ara a la doctrina naval japonesa. L'aixecament progressiu de les limitacions de post-guerra, lligat a l'increment del potencial soviètic així com el triomf Mao Zedong, va propiciar el naixement de la Força Marítima d'Auto-Defensa Japonesa (JMSDF). Tot i les restriccions de la Constitució japonesa, que prohibien explícitament els portaavions, no n'hi havia prou amb una guàrdia costanera. Japó necessitava potenciar les seves capacitats de guerra antisubmarina (ASW) per garantir-se els proveïments; una realitat a la que s'hi sumava la traumàtica experiència de l'ofensiva submarina de l'almirall Charles Lockwood, que portà el país al límit de la inanició. Aquesta necessitat, no només no xocava amb els plans nord-americans al Pacífic Oest, sinó que podia ser, i seria, de gran ajuda. 
Mentre la JMSDF, neutralitzava l'amenaça submarina soviètica a les aigües properes a l'arxipèlag, la US Navy podia dur a terme les operacions ofensives sense haver de destinar gaires unitats a la protecció de les vies marítimes d'abastiment. Aquesta col•laboració també es va anar donant amb la resta de serveis de les Forces d'Auto-Defensa Japoneses. En definitiva, una doctrina que derivava del concepte "espasa i escut", on els Estats Units aportaven el primer element, i Japó el segon. Uns dels "fills" d'aquesta doctrina foren els destructors portahelicòpters (DDH) de les classes Haruna i Shirane. Destructors amb hangars més grans que la resta per poder encabir-hi fins a 3 helicòpters de forma que durant les missions sempre n'hi hagués algun en vol. Si bé, l'esfondrament de la Unió Soviètica podria fer pensar en una pèrdua de sentit d'aquesta doctrina, Corea del Nord seguia disposant d'un potent arsenal, i s'entreveia el creixement militar xinés.

Precisament d'aquest darrer potencial, i en concret de l'amenaça dels submarins xinesos, poden justificar-se les unitats de la classe Hyuga. Per més que la seva configuració (coverta d'envol, "illa" a estribor, hangars...) i desplaçament (més de 13.000 tones) encaixin en la d'un portahelicòpters i no la d'un destructor, la seva missió funció primària és ser vector d'helicòpters ASW. Fins i tot si es fessin servir com a plataforma per aparells d'envol vertical, només disposen d'espai intern per a missions molt limitades. Ara bé, els 22DDH, amb les característiques que hem esmentat són tota una altra cosa. Si realment el que es pretén és disposar plataformes ASW, n'hi ha prou amb adquirir més unitats de tipus Hyuga. Els 22DDH, només amb la seva configuració per a operacions amfíbies ( en aquest cas, d'assalt vertical) implica que les JMSDF han passat a adquirir capacitat de projecció de força. Sembla que els planificadors militars de Tòquio ja no es conformen en ser "escut". Tot i que de dimensions menors, conceptualment els 22DDH s'assemblen molt als futurs LHA de classe America amb els que els Estats Units pretenen substituir a llarg termini els LHD de classe Wasp. Aportem un parell d'elements que creiem que reforcen aquest argument. Primer, en els darrers exercicis Keen Sword, el supòsit operatiu era la reconquesta d'una illa presa per unitats amfíbies enemigues. No cal haver llegit gaire premsa per saber el contenciós sino-japonés sobre les Senkaku, objectiu estratègic que Beijing necessita si vol trencar la "First Island Chain". En segon lloc, la imminent retirada de 9.000 Marines estacionats a Okinawa, fa que la JMSDF hagi de ser capaç de defensar l'illa per ella mateixa. I un dels punts clau per fer-ho és poder-hi desplegar efectius i material de la forma més ràpida possible. Creiem que els 22DDH encaixen perfectament en aquesta funció. I encara no hem parlat de les potencialitats com a portaavions...

No és cap secret que Japó i Estats Units mantenen converses de fa temps per l'adquisició del Joint Strike Fighter F-35. De les 3 versions d'aquest aparell, l'F-35B ( pensat per ser operat pels Marines), té capacitat d'envol i aterratge vertical. Tot i que ni el Ministeri de Defensa japonès, ni representants de les JMSDF han confirmat que hagin de ser pels 22DDH, a ningú se li escapa que són les plataformes perfectes per desplegar-los. El gran espai intern d'aquestes naus permetria l'encabiment dels F-35, així com el personal de suport, material i combustible. És cert que en els pocs gràfics que han aparegut fins ara no hi ha cap Sky-jump, element imprescindible per tal d'estalviar l'enorme despesa de combustible d'un envol vertical. Ara bé, també podrien fer-se servir aquestes naus per operacions "touch-and-go". Així, els F-35, envolant-se convencionalment des de pistes terrestres, no tindrien restriccions d'abast ni de càrrega, podent fer servir aquests "destructors" com a parada per recarregar combustible tot tornant d'executar missions d'atac.

En definitiva, malgrat que els 22DDH siguin qualificats com a "destructors portahelicòpters", és evident que poden fer-se servir per a operacions ofensives, ja siguin d'assalt vertical o d'atac aeri. Si durant mig segle, la JMSDF s'ha mantingut dins les restriccions de l'article 9è de la Constitució japonesa, és per que ha pogut fer-ho. No dubtem pas que a Tòquio hi hagi una part d'orgull nacional en l'impuls d'aquest projecte; ara bé, la principal motivació d'aquest rau en la necessitat. Amb un poder naval i aeri xinés creixent sense aturador, els japonesos ja no es conformen a fer d'escut. L'inici dels treballs de construcció de la primera unitat, el passat mes de gener a les drassanes de Yokohama, n'és una bona prova.


* Notícia publicada al Centre d'Estudis Estratègics de Catalunya. Recomanem la seva lectura per la comprensió de l'evolució de les Forces d'Autodefensa Japoneses.

dimarts, 8 de maig de 2012

BATTLE OF THE CORAL SEA



EN EL 70è ANIVERSARI DE LA BATALLA DEL MAR DEL CORALL, BLAU NAVAL HONORA LA MEMÒRIA DELS QUI HI LLUÏTAREN PER UN MÓN  LLIURE.

ON THE 70th ANNIVERSARY OF THE BATTLE OF THE CORAL SEA, BLAU NAVAL HONOURS THE MEMORY OF THOSE WHO FOUGHT FOR A FREE WORLD.

Battle of Coral Sea Remembered by Veterans, U.S. and Royal Australian Navies In Brisbane, Australia*

BRISBANE, Australia (NNS) -- More than 50 U.S. Sailors and distinguished guests attended the Australian-American Association 70th anniversary of the Battle of Coral Sea commemoration ceremony at Newstead Park in Brisbane, Australia, May 5.

Throughout the service, speakers paid tribute to the special connection between the two countries and the service members who made the ultimate sacrifice in defense of their country.

Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano delivered a speech and a message from President Barack Obama before laying a wreath at the foot of the Australian American War memorial.

"The United States has no stronger ally than Australia," she said. "Aussies and Americans have fought together and given lives together at every single major conflict over the last 100 years."

Also in attendance was Harry Frey, a former Sailor who served aboard USS Lexington (CV-2) during the Battle of Coral Sea.

"It was great to see so many people gathered together in honor of the men and women who fought during the Battle of Coral Sea," said Frey.

Lexington was sunk during the Battle of Coral Sea when the ship was damaged and set on fire by Imperial Japanese torpedo-bombers. Frey is one of few survivors who made it to safety.

"It could've been me, I was just lucky," said Frey. "Right after we came back up from the sick bay to help the doctors, it blew up. I went back up on the flight deck and the guys were abandoning ship. When they were going over the side I kept saying we are going to make it, they are going to salvage us".

"All of a sudden the ship dropped 10 degrees on the port side and I thought she was going to roll then, so we decided it was time to leave."

For Yeoman 2nd Class Robert Raynor, a Sailor assigned to the guided-missile destroyer USS Halsey (DDG 97), being able to pay respects to the veterans who fought for their country during World War II was a humbling experience.

"I've read about the Battle of Coral Sea quite a few times, but being able to hear about it in person from people that were their was an amazing experience," said Raynor.

Distinguished visitors also laid wreaths at the foot of the war memorial at Newstead Park. The ceremony included a flyover by two World War II aircraft from each country, a Wirraway and a PT-6 Texan.
 
* Notícia publicada al lloc web de la US Navy. En motiu del 70è aniversari d'aquella terrible batalla, compartime aquesta notícia com a humil homenatge.

diumenge, 6 de maig de 2012

Israel Navy to receive fourth Dolphin-class submarine*

Israel Navy's Dolphin-class submarine The Israel Navy will soon receive its fourth Dolphin-class submarine following the completion of systems integration and sea trials in Germany.

According to Israeli website Walla, Israel Navy commander vice admiral Ram Rothberg and senior Defence Ministry representatives have arrived in Germany in preparation for receipt of the submarine.
Walla quoted a former Navy officer as saying: "Israel's official receipt of the submarine does not mean the vessels will immediately set sail for Navy headquarters in Haifa Bay."

The delivery is part of a 2005 agreement between the two nations that included an option that would allow Israel to request another subsidised submarine.
The Israeli Navy currently has three Dolphin-class submarines, which were delivered between 1999 and 2000 and manufactured by Howaldtswerke-Deutsche Werft (HDW), a unit of ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems.

The fourth and fifth submarines were ordered in 2005, for which Germany contributed a total of €333m, which is equal to about a third of the cost.

The submarines under construction will feature a new propulsion system, combining a conventional diesel lead-acid battery system and an air-independent propulsion system used for slow, silent cruising, with fuel cells for oxygen and hydrogen storage.

Designed for coastal patrols, the small, diesel-powered Dolphin submarines are equipped with ten torpedo tubes, can carry nuclear warheads and are capable of conducting long-range security missions along national borders.

Capable of endurances of up to 30 days, the Dolphin-class submarines can carry up to 16 surface-to-surface missiles or torpedoes, as well as submarine-launched Harpoon surface-to-surface missile and ten bow torpedo tubes.

The fourth Dolphin submarine is expected to be operational in early 2013, while the fifth German-built submarine is scheduled to enter into service with the Navy in 2014, according to industry sources.
The new class of submarines are expected to join the Israeli Navy's submarine fleet to replace the ageing Gal-class submarines, which entered service in 1977.
 
* Notícia publicada a Naval Technology. Els submarins de la classe Dolphin, dels quals ja us n'hem parlat en altres ocasions, són una bona mostra de les naus polivalents que necessita Israel. Si bé 10 tubs de torpedes poden semblar excessius, hem de recordar que també són emprats pel desplegament de forces especials.

dimecres, 2 de maig de 2012

Hyuga Class Destroyer*



A new Hyuga Class helicopter destroyer (DDH181) has been built for the Japanese Maritime Self Defence Force (JMSDF). It was commissioned at Yokosuka port in Japan on 18 March 2009 and custom built at the Yokohama shipyard for JMSDF by IHI Marine United Inc.

The warship will be based in Yokosuka, serving as the flagship for the First Escort Flotilla. Among other unique aspects, the DDH181 is the first JMSDF destroyer to have female crew on board.

Hyuga Class destroyers (DDH181)

The Hyuga Class destroyers are a new type of helicopter destroyer (DDH). Hyuga will replace the existing 7,000t Haruna Class destroyers.

The ship is part of the 16DDH project; the name is derived from the 16th year of the Heisei reign in the Japanese calendar. Hyuga was one of the Japanese Imperial Navy's battleships that was converted into a hybrid battleship / aircraft carrier in 1943.

Two additional ships are planned while the second ship is still under construction. These new ships will now be the largest combat ships operated by Japan after the end of the Imperial Japanese Navy. The ship's design bears a resemblance to an aircraft carrier or an amphibious assault ship.



Design

Hyuga is similar in design to a light aircraft carrier. It has a through-deck design to maximise potential space, enabling it to launch and retrieve the helicopter complement. It cannot act as a fixed wing aircraft as it is not fitted with a ski-jump or any other equipment.

The ships will use the helicopters on board for their primary mission of conducting anti-submarine activities. Serving as flagships for the JMSDF is on the agenda, command-and-control function is also in place.

Specifications

The Hyuga is a 197m-long, 13,950t flat-deck vessel that can carry up to four helicopters on deck and operate 11 SH-60K type helicopters. The ship has a crew of 340 sailors and can only carry helicopters. As Japan was restricted under the pacifist constitution, it cannot possess offensive aircraft carriers.

Equipped with 16 mk41 vertical-launch system cells for anti-aircraft and anti-ship missiles, Hyuga accommodates two 20mm Phalanx anti-missile cannons and two triple 12.75in torpedo mounts for self defence.

The helicopter carriers are powered by combined gas turbine and gas (COGAG) propulsion. They are fitted with four General Electric LM2500 gas turbines, developing 25,000hp each.

Capabilities



The ship is an important part of the 16DDH project. The warship looks like an aircraft carrier with a flattop deck, but is a helicopter carrier. It is not classified as an aircraft carrier. More than four helicopters can take off and land concurrently.

The Hyuga has two aircraft lifts, an enclosed hangar and is able to carry up to 11 helicopters. In terms of its size, it is comparable to modern small aircraft carriers such as Italy's MM Giuseppe Garibaldi, Spain's Principe de Asturia and Britain's Invincible.

Hyuga is one of the largest warships built for the JMSDF and has given Japan its first real power projection capability since 1945. The vessel could also be instrumental for disaster recovery missions in the region, prone to earthquakes, floods, tsunamis and typhoons. The new vessel was unveiled on 11 April 2009.

* Article publicat a Naval Technology. Considerem imprescindible el coneixement de les unitats de la classe Hyuga per tal d'entendre el present i el futur de les Forces Marítimes d'Auto-Defensa Japoneses.

China, Philippines in Standoff*


By Jason Micks

While international attention is focused on if and when North Korea will follow through on its vow to launch a satellite this week, another Asian hotspot is flaring yet again.

The South China Sea, witness to competing territorial claims by Brunei, China, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam, is seeing tensions escalate again with a standoff between a Philippine warship and two Chinese surveillance vessels.

According to reports, the incident began Sunday, when a Philippine Navy surveillance plane spotted several Chinese fishing vessels in a lagoon at Scarborough. The news prompted the Philippines to deploy its largest warship, the BRP Gregorio del Pilar. On Tuesday, The Guardian notes that “Filipino sailors from the warship boarded the Chinese vessels for an inspection, discovering large amounts of illegally collected corals, giant clams and live sharks inside the first boat.” Two Chinese maritime surveillance ships later reportedly positioned themselves in between the Gregorio del Pilar and the Chinese fishing vessels, preventing the arrests of the fishermen.

China has long been accused of using its fishing vessels as proxies for its Navy, and Beijing has often made little effort to rein in its vessels operating in disputed waters. Although the vessels typically have no official connection with the military, foreign officials have indicated there’s evidence that they sometimes coordinate their activities with China’s Navy.

According to the (semi-official and often nationalist) Global Times, Li Jie, a researcher at the Chinese Naval Research Institute, said sending warships to deal with fishery disputes “is not in line with international laws and the UN Convention on the Laws of the Sea.”

“Li warned that the Philippines could not handle the tense situation caused by the standoff, and it is likely that it would not be able to fix the trouble it caused.”

The irony in such comments, of course, is that China is quite happy to play by different rules when it suits. Only last month, 21 Vietnamese fishermen were detained near the Paracel Islands, a disputed area controlled by China but also claimed by Vietnam. Those arrests were only the latest in a string of such moves by Beijing, which has been increasingly willing to assert its territorial claims in the area.

The Global Times also said that reports on the standoff attracted nearly 2,000 comments on the paper’s website, “with most commenters hailing the move by Chinese surveillance ships as a key step to safeguarding the country's maritime rights and interests.”

And how is the issue being viewed in the Philippines? I asked ASEAN Beat contributors Mong Palatino and Julius Rocas for their take on the incident, and whether the Philippine Navy was right to stand its ground.

“The government is doing the right thing because to back down right away would be seen as a weakness on the part of the president, who is already facing a steadily rising tide of criticism on his governance,” Rocas told me. “My own take on it is that the government is betting that by standing its ground and drawing international attention to the standoff, this will be enough to get Washington’s attention and support.”
The idea of U.S. involvement was also picked up by Palatino.

“Unfortunately for China, the latest incident will further convince many Filipinos that it’s being a bully by intruding into the territorial waters off the Philippines,” Palatino said. “Even without the benefit of a full investigation, it could easily be interpreted by ordinary Filipinos as an act of aggression, and the incident could further strains in relations of the two countries. It’s going to push the Philippines closer to the United States.”

“I won’t be surprised if the incident will be directly or indirectly invoked by the government to justify more military exercises between the Philippines and the U.S.,” he added.

Indeed, only today, the Council on Foreign Relations, in a contingency planning memo, warned the United States could be drawn into a China-Philippines conflict “because of its 1951 Mutual Defense Treaty with the Philippines. The treaty states, ‘Each Party recognizes that an armed attack in the Pacific Area on either of the Parties would be dangerous to its own peace and safety and declares that it would act to meet the common dangers in accordance with its constitutional processes.’”

The memo notes that U.S. officials have insisted that Washington doesn’t take sides in the territorial dispute. But it adds that “an apparent gap exists between American views of U.S. obligations and Manila’s expectations.”

“In mid-June 2011, a Filipino presidential spokesperson stated that in the event of armed conflict with China, Manila expected the United States would come to its aid. Statements by senior U.S. officials may have inadvertently led Manila to conclude that the United States would provide military assistance if China attacked Filipino forces in the disputed Spratly Islands.”

One of the defenses of China’s actions regarding Vietnamese fishermen and elsewhere is that China doesn’t consider Paracel Islands disputed territory, so its actions are perfectly legitimate. But this is sophistry – the same could be said of any other nations’ claims. Willfully ignoring this reality will do nothing to advance a diplomatic solution. The current standoff is some way off of armed conflict. But it’s a reminder that things could get very ugly very fast in the region.

Article publicat a The Diplomat. Considerem d'allò més adequada la lectura d'aquest article, així com els enllaços inclosos, per tal de comprendre com està evolucionant la situació al Mar del Sud de la Xina.