dijous, 30 d’agost de 2012

Russia launches Vietnam Navy’s first Kilo-class submarine *

Kilo-class submarine
Russia has launched the first of six Kilo-class Project 636 diesel-electric submarines built for the Vietnam Navy at Admiralty shipyards in St Petersburg.
Launch of the new submarine follows a $2bn contract signed between Vietnam and Russia to deliver six submarines in December 2009 to strengthen its ability to defend the country, reports RIA Novosti.
A shipyard source said that the first boat was scheduled to be launched on this week, following which it will set sail for sea trials before its delivery by the end of this year.
Capable of conducting anti-shipping and anti-submarine missions in shallow waters, the improved Kilo-class submarines feature stealth technology with extended combat range to strike targets on land, sea surface and underwater.

Featuring low noise, advanced hull architecture and optimal level of control process automation, the submarines provide high reliability and require minimal maintenance.Equipped with 18 torpedoes and eight surface-to-air missiles, the submarines have a cruising speed of 20k, a range of 400 miles using electronic propulsion, can patrol for 45 days and are capable of accommodating a crew of 52.

Designed by Russian-based Rubin Central Maritime Design Bureau and originally built at the Komsomolsk shipyard, the Russian Kilo-class submarines first entered into service in the early 1980s.
The Vietnamese Navy does not currently have a submarine fleet and is expected to build a basing site for them with help from the Russian Navy, as reported by RusNavy.
Deliveries of the submarines are scheduled to be complete by 2016.

* Notícia publicada a Naval Technology. El llançament (que no entrada en servei encara) de la primera de les sis unitats de classe Kilo millorada destinada al Vietnam, ajuda a pensar que la balança de forces al Mar de la Xina Meridional començarà a equilibrar-se. Fins i tot sense comptar amb els Estats Units i l'Índia, Vietnam podrà disposar d'un "game changer" contra l'Armada xinesa.

divendres, 24 d’agost de 2012

Surface Warfare – Delivering Credible Combat Capability Forward*

The following post is by Rear Adm. Thomas Rowden, the director for the Navy’s Surface Warfare Division. 
Since I took over as Director, Surface Warfare Division, I have stressed the value we bring to the Navy and to the Naval and Joint war fight. From space to the seabed, we are fully engaged in deterring our enemies while reassuring our friends and allies… and make no mistake, we are the only warfighting arm of any of the services that operates heavily and extensively in the subsurface, surface, air and space domains simultaneously.
We do it all and we are doing it superbly. We are at the forefront and leading in making the CNO’s tenets of “Warfighting First,” “Operate Forward,” and “Be Ready” a reality. We are the country’s multi-dimensional force that is present always and consistently and visibly ready to go. We provide our nation with over 8000 vertical launching system cells that can be configured with weapons (payloads) to intercept ballistic missiles, enemy planes, cruise missiles, and hostile submarines, as well as with weapons that can reach out and strike land targets at significant distances. We operate in every part of our globe—every sea lane, every strait, every place where our interests must be defended. 24/7/365 we are on station answering the call… this unrivaled capability and capacity flows appropriately and unhesitatingly from the superb Sailors that take our ships to sea. Their selfless service deserves our continued and constant acknowledgement and is what drives me and all my shipmates here in N96 to deliver the best combat capability we possibly can. We in N96 are in the business of turning the precious resources entrusted to us into capability for the fleet. I remind myself every day that I must never let the seawater run out of my veins… I assure you we will remain focused on what matters most… you, the Fleet and your capability to delivery credible combat capability forward!
In order to maximize that capability, I believe we need to set our course and work together to achieve three major priorities:
First, we absolutely must ensure the ships in the water today work the way they were designed and that their systems are interoperable. We will fix the systems that do not work properly and maintain the ones that do. This will ensure that our warfighters have systems that interact and share information in real-time, and will provide our commanders with the clearest—and most accurate—tactical picture to use when making critical decisions. In order to get to the fleet of tomorrow, we need to maintain and modernize our ships appropriately.  We need to ask, “How much should it cost,” and get the funding right. In our current fiscal environment, we will set the standard for the Navy in both cost and performance and instill discipline through the acquisition process.
Secondly, we must aggressively bring LCS into the Fleet. With each successive ship, the shipbuilding process has become more efficient and we are achieving better results at lower cost. USS Independence (LCS 2)recently pulled into her homeport in San Diego after completing a series of successful Mine Warfare Mission Module tests off the East Coast, and Fort Worth (LCS 3) passed her acceptance trials with flying colors. The President of the Board of Inspection and Survey commented that LCS 3 had the most complete acceptance trials held to date, and the Navy formally accepted Fort Worth on June 6, 2012.
Our third priority is to build for the Navy’s future surface warfighting fleet. In addition to the aforementioned LCS, we recently accepted our newest Destroyer into the Fleet. After a successful acceptance trial, USS Michael Murphy (DDG 112) joins our Fleet as the 62nd ship of the Arleigh Burke class. Built by the proud men and women of General Dynamics and Bath Iron Works, Michael Murphy embodies the spirit and heroism of her namesake, Medal of Honor recipient Lt. Michael Patrick Murphy. I am confident that the Sailors in Michael Murphywill live up to her motto, “LEAD THE FIGHT.” I am also excited about the production progress of Zumwalt (DDG 1000), a marvel in design and technological development. During my recent visits to Raytheon in Rhode Island and Bath Iron Works in Maine, I was impressed with how closely the two facilities are working together to ensure the success of this incredible warship.  At 65 percent complete, it is a sight to see! Zumwalt will set the tone for the next two ships, and our Navy will reap the benefits of these three for decades.
I have never been more excited about the future of the Surface Warfare community. While the fiscal environment may seem uncertain, I see it as an opportunity, empowering us to find and deliver innovative solutions that otherwise might not materialize. There will always be challenges, but we will work to avoid distraction and have honest and frank conversations about how to best make our priorities a continuing reality. I am proud of the great work all of you are doing to ensure our Navy and especially our ships remain the finest fighting force in the world. You are making a difference every day, around the world. Keep up the great work and sail safely.
* Article publicat al blog oficial de la US Navy. Tot i no aportar cap informació nova, sempre és interessant llegir les opinions dels alts comandaments de la US Navy.

dijous, 23 d’agost de 2012

Navy 'running out of sailors to man submarines’ *

HMS Triumph comes into a naval base on the River Clyde
HMS Triumph comes into a naval base on the River Clyde Photo: AP
Internal documents warn that a lack of recruits for the Submarine Service may leave attack submarines and boats carrying the Trident nuclear missile stranded in port.
A separate threat comes from a predicted 15 per cent shortfall in engineers by 2015.
One in seven posts for weapons officers at the rank of lieutenant will also be vacant, raising operational questions over the boats equipped with nuclear and cruise missiles.
Many submariners are being poached by the civilian nuclear sector and those who remain are being forced to go to sea for longer and more frequently.
Adml Lord West, the former First Sea Lord, said the situation was “very worrying” and he hoped the Navy had mechanisms in place to make up for the shortfall.
The gaps facing the Submarine Service are disclosed in the Risk Register of the Defence Nuclear Executive Board.
Under the “Risk” heading of “Submarine Manpower”, the MoD’s internal safety watchdog said: “There is a risk that the RN will not have sufficient suitably qualified and experienced personnel to be able to support the manning requirement of the submarine fleet.”
The Navy has a fleet of six attack submarines and four Vanguard boats that carry the Trident nuclear missile, but the personnel issues could mean they cannot be deployed.
The report found that the recruiting and retention of submariners was also threatening operations. “Inability to recruit, retain and develop sufficient nuclear and submarine design qualified personnel will result in an inability to support the Defence Nuclear Programme,” the document said.
It also questioned whether industry can deliver the Trident replacement, warning of the “erosion of manufacturing capability, cost growth, time delay, and poor performance of contractors”. The Navy is carrying out a senior officer manpower review looking at ways to improve “quality of life” for submariners. It is understood that some submarines are putting to sea with only 85 per cent of their full complement.
Submariners are subsequently being forced to deploy more frequently and do more jobs. When the hunter-killer HMS Triumph returned home earlier this year it had been at sea for 13 out of the previous 17 months. There are 5,000 submariners in the Navy, but with deployments lasting four months or more continuously under the surface it is proving difficult to attract recruits.
A “dearth of experienced mid-career people” is threatening the Service and would continue “into the next decade”, warned the Defence Nuclear Safety Regulator annual report.
Lord West said: “There’s no doubt that recruiting and keeping highly qualified nuclear engineers has been tough. Nuclear engineers have also become highly sought-after by the civil industry as this country has not trained enough.” A redacted copy of the Risk Register was provided to the Nuclear Information Service. Peter Burt, the director of NIS, which promotes nuclear safety awareness, said: “These risks highlight major pitfalls ahead and that Trident replacement is far from a forgone conclusion. How effective we are at mastering these risks will determine whether Britain can remain in the nuclear weapons business.”
A Navy spokesman said: "This report recognises that the Royal Navy has sufficient manpower for its submarines and we are confident that this will remain the case.
“To ensure that the Royal Navy continues its excellent nuclear safety record, we review the nuclear propulsion programme to identify and manage any possible future risks; this report is part of that process.”

* Notícia publicada al Telegraph. Malgrat les bones condicions econòmiques i "beneficis" a l'arma submarina de la Royal Navy, aquesta segueix afrontant un problema de manca de personal. És quelcom ben lògic donada les implicacions que té aquest servei: mesos i mesos sense veure ni la família ni la llum natural, sumats a curts períodes de descans. Sumat als atractius sous i condicions del sector privat, provoquen una sagnia de personal altament qualificat.

dimecres, 22 d’agost de 2012

Indian Navy Freezes Flat-Top Configuration *

Asia-Pacific Staff New Delhi
The Indian navy is likely to call an end to its tryst with ski-jump aircraft carriers, deciding that its next big vessel will be a flat-top with a catapult-launch system.

While India's first home-built carrier, known as the Vikrant, is to be a 44,000-ton short-takeoff-but-arrested-recovery (Stobar) carrier, the second ship—tentatively titled Vishal (“Immense”)—is seen as a 65,000-ton flat-top with a steam-catapult system. The Naval Design Bureau, which oversees design and implementation of all indigenous warship building efforts, is expected to freeze its requirements by year-end.

A commodore with the Naval Design Bureau says, “A decision has been taken to move away from conventional Stobar and short-takeoff-or-vertical-landing (Stovl) operations.”
The navy's Sea Harrier fleet is closing out its service. The Indian carrier Vikramaditya—the former Russian carrier Admiral Gorshkov—and first indigenous carrier (Vikrant) will be transition vessels to Stobar operations. The next logical step is catapult-assisted takeoff-and-barrier-arrested recovery (Catobar), “which brings with it immense advantages in the mix of assets we can deploy on deck,” says the commodore.

The navy has been known to want to deploy heavier fighters from a carrier. Still, the freeze on a flat-top catapult-launch design also dramatically changes the navy's future fighter requirement. In 2009, the service invited information to support a purchase of aircraft for deck-based operations, which did not specify launch type but had been presumed to be Stobar. Several companies were asked for information: Russia's MiG and Sukhoi for the MiG-29K and Su-33, respectively; Dassault Aviation with the Rafale (noting that the Rafale could be modified for Stobar operations); Lockheed Martin's F-35 Joint Strike Fighter; Boeing's F/A-18E/F Super Hornet; and two aircraft concepts—Saab's Sea Gripen and Eurofighter's Naval Typhoon.
A catapult carrier could narrow the field to a competition involving a modified Su-33, the F/A-18, F-35C and Rafale. The Rafale—currently in final negotiations for the Indian air force's largest-ever fighter purchase, worth around $12 billion for 126 aircraft—has already pushed its case with the navy, underlining type commonality.

Officials at Eurofighter said they had heard about the navy's plans with the second aircraft carrier, and agreed that such a decision would all but rule out the Naval Typhoon from future navy contests. “The Typhoon can be modified for Catobar operations, but it is unlikely that the economies of such a modification will work out. And this is before we even talk numbers of aircraft,” says a senior EADS executive in India.

A flat-top configuration also supports the navy's interest in fixed-wing airborne early warning (AEW) aircraft for operations off a carrier, and comes as good news for Northrop Grumman, which has spent the better part of the last decade pitching its E-2 Hawkeye to the Indian navy. The company, in fact, has also offered to help the navy with concept and integration of a steam catapult on the new carrier. Boeing is likewise expected to make its first presentations to the Indian navy later this year on the V-22 Osprey, both as a utility aircraft and a modified AEW platform.

But India's first flat-top is unlikely to see service before 2025. For starters, the Vikrant has experienced further delays, now totaling five years, and will not be commissioned until at least 2017. Apart from the attendant development and manufacturing difficulties that India's most ambitious shipbuilding effort brought with it, the program has been fraught with integration worries—including a recent road accident in which giant generators being transported to the shipbuilding site in south India were damaged and had to be returned to their manufacturer for inspection. Also, the state-owned Cochin Shipyard is not big enough to accept anything larger than India's first home-built Stobar carrier. So the navy will now need to identify a shipyard that can build a much bigger carrier.

The navy chief, Adm. Nirmal Verma, who will retire shortly, remains circumspect, saying: “It is too early to talk about the [second carrier]. There are other priorities right now, particularly the first carrier. Our designers are working toward the second.”

India's existing carrier, the INS Viraat, which has more than 50 years in total service, is not likely to be stretched beyond 2014. Its fleet of Stovl Sea Harriers is already down to just nine aircraft. The Vikramaditya, currently in trials in the White Sea, is expected to join the service early next year and will have a squadron of MiG-29Ks; 16 aircraft have been delivered and 29 more will begin to arrive in three months. Both ships will also operate variants of the indigenous Light Combat Aircraft-Navy, though it remains to be seen if the Mk. 1 version of the fighter proves safe and powerful enough for deck-based operations.

* Notícia publicada a Aviation Week. Ja feia temps que s'anunciaba la possibilitat que el segon portaavions de fabricació autòctona indi seria amb configuració CATOBAR. De ser així, això conferiria a la Indian Navy una autèntica capacitat de projecció de força. Tant el Vikramaditiya com el nou Vikrant, són de configuració STOBAR, cosa que els limitarà a operacions de defensa de l'espai aeri operatiu, i atac limitat.

Russia's submarines woes'

It took nearly two decades, but the first of a new class of nuclear-powered attack submarines has launched in Russia. Severodvinsk, displacing 12,000 tons, is now on sea trials.
The $1-billion vessel’s launch heralds a modest recovery for Russia’s decrepit undersea fleet.
Construction of Severodvinsk began in 1993 at the Sevmash shipyard in northwest Russia, but was repeatedly interrupted. ‘They ran out of money multiple times,’ Owen Cote, Jr., a Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor and undersea warfare analyst, told The Diplomat.
Moscow plans to build up to nine more submarines of the Graney class over the next couple of decades, alongside 10 new ballistic-missile submarines of the Borei class. As submarines last only as long as their nuclear cores, few serve longer than 40 years. Life limitations and the slow build rate mean that Russia’s submarine fleet could decline to fewer than 20 operational vessels within the next few years, compared to around 60 active US submarines.
‘It’s on the upturn,’ Cote said of the Russian submarine force, ‘but it’s on the ropes – a disaster by our (US) standards.’
Quality is also a problem, Cote said. ‘The (US) Office of Naval Intelligence said a few years ago thatSeverodvinsk would be the most quiet nuclear submarine in the Russian or Chinese inventory. That’s not saying much in current terms.’

* Article publicat a The Diplomat. L'entrada en servei del Severodvinsk, malgrat ser una fita important, arriba amb molts anys de retard. Caldrà anar seguint les publicacions sobre la classe Yassen/Granei per saber si realment són dignes competidors dels seus equivalents nordamericans.

diumenge, 19 d’agost de 2012

L'exportació de contenidors creix un 5% al Port de Barcelona durant el primer semestre*

Les exportacions del Port de Barcelona mantenen el seu impuls durant el primer semestre de l’any, tal com demostra l’informe del departament d’Estadística de l’Autoritat Portuària. En l’apartat de contenidors, les exportacions han experimentat un creixement del 5% entre gener i juny, mantenint el dinamisme dels darrers mesos. Cal destacar que, pel que fa a resultats mensuals, el mes de juny ha registrat el millor comportament, amb un intens repunt a l’alça del 14% que es concentra bàsicament en els mercats emergents (la Xina, Algèria i Argentina).

D’altra banda, els vehicles nous són el producte que està registrant un millor comportament pel que fa a les vendes als mercats internacionals. Així, entre gener i juny les terminals especialitzades del Port han canalitzat un total de 197.613 automòbils d’exportació, amb un creixement acumulat del 14,4% respecte al mateix període de l’any anterior. De fet, les exportacions ja suposen el 58% de tot el moviment de vehicles al Port de Barcelona. Les principals destinacions de venda d’aquests productes són Alemanya, Algèria, Austràlia, la Xina, Mèxic, Rússia, Marroc i, en menor mesura, Ucraïna i Tunísia.

En conjunt, el Port de Barcelona ha manipulat un total de 343.620 vehicles fins al mes de juny, xifra que inclou les unitats d’exportació, importació i del tràfic domèstic (cabotatge). En el que portem d’any, juny ha estat el mes de major dinamisme, ja que el volum de automòbils manipulats ha crescut un 21%.

Les exportacions són, doncs, el tràfic que millor està resistint els embats de la crisi, esdevenint cabdals per diversificar la baixada del mercat intern, tant a Espanya com a Europa, i garantir la supervivència de moltes empreses.

Recuperació del tràfic de hinterlandPel que fa al conjunt de mercaderies que passen pel Port, cal destacar que el tràfic de hinterland (importacions i exportacions) registra per primer cop aquest any un resultat positiu del 2%, principalment degut als bons resultats del mes de juny (+15%). Aquests increments responen sobretot al bon comportament dels granels sòlids i líquids i a les exportacions de contenidors i d’automòbils. Amb aquests resultats, el tràfic de hinterland experimenta una important recuperació i assoleix gairebé els nivells de 2008.

El tràfic total del Port de Barcelona durant el primer semestre s’ha situat en 21,4 milions de tones de mercaderies, marca que representa un descens del 5% en comparació amb el volum transportat durant el mateix període de 2011, fruit en bona mesura del descens dels contenidors de trànsit.

Malgrat l’impuls dels contenidors d’exportació, la càrrega contenitzada d’importació ha registrat un retrocés del 14%, mentre que els de trànsit han experimentat la reducció més important (-49%). Així, en conjunt, fins al mes de juny la infraestructura catalana ha manipulat un total de 847.973 TEU, un 20% menys que al primer semestre de l’any passat.

Increment dels granels líquids i sòlidsEls granels líquids, tot i acumular un descens del 5%, milloren els resultats del període anterior (-10%) gràcies al bon comportament d’aquest tràfic durant el mes de juny (+23%). Aquesta millora s’explica sobretot pels hidrocarburs (gas natural i productes petrolífers) que creixen el mes de juny un 19%.

L’avanç més rellevant s’ha produït en el capítol de sòlids a granel. Durant el primer semestre el Port de Barcelona ha manipulat un total de 2,4 milions de tones de granels sòlids, un 43% més que a l’any anterior. L’increment es deu, principalment, a l’excel·lent comportament de productes com el ciment, clínquer, cereals i farines.

Més de 1,3 milions de passatgersPel que fa als passatgers, cal destacar que durant el primer semestre han passat pel Port de Barcelona un total de 1,3 milions de viatgers, dels quals 413.713 van viatjar a bord de ferris i 905.145 ho van fer a bord de creuers.

Tot i que la xifra de creueristes representa un retrocés de 10 punts percentuals respecte a 2011, és important assenyalar que els resultats del mes de juny han estat més favorables i pràcticament s’ha assolit el mateix volum de passatgers que l’any anterior. Per tipologia de passatge, els viatgers en trànsit són els que presenten un major descens (-20%), mentre que els de turnaround –que tenen una major repercussió econòmica per a la ciutat- es mantenen pràcticament estables respecte a 2011.
* Notícia publicada al web del Port de Barcelona. 

dissabte, 18 d’agost de 2012

Russian Navy Med Sea Group to Split After Drills*

A combined-fleet group of Russian Navy ships in the Mediterranean Seawill split into two groups following completion of its duties, Russia's Defense Ministry said on Friday.
"On August 17, the combined fleet group of the Russian Navy, having successfully completed a range of duties in the central region of the Mediterranean, will arrive in the Alboran region of the sea [its most western part] where it plans to re-store," a Navy spokesman said.
The group consists of the large amphibious landing ships Alexander Ostrovsky, Georgy Pobedonosets, and Kondopoga, and also the Baltic Fleet frigates Yaroslav Mudry and Neustrashimy.
The navy said the three landing ships will then leave for the Atlantic, where they will take part in more exercises. The second group of frigates will remain in the Mediterranean and undertake exercises related to prevension of illegal arms trafficking and anti-terrorism.
* Notícia publicada a RIA Novosti. Com anem veient darrerament, els exercicis navals russos s'intensifiquen. No es tracta només d'ensenyar "múscul", sinó d'una capacitació seriosa de les dotacions augmentant el temps que passen embarcades.

divendres, 17 d’agost de 2012

China provokes Japan as activists land on disputed island chain *

Outrage was provoked by a visit by two cabinet ministers to the Yakusuni shrine in Tokyo, which commemorates 2.5 million Japanese war dead, including 1,054 war criminals and 14 “Class A” war criminals.
A spokesman for the Chinese Foreign ministry said he hoped Japan would take “concrete actions” to “correctly see” its history of invasion and that it would “respect the feelings” of people in Asian countries.
The practice of visiting the shrine on the anniversary of Japan’s surrender, which was revived by Junichiro Koizumi, the then prime minister, in 2006.
Japan’s neighbours expressed hopes that visits to the shrine would cease after Mr Koizumi left office.
Meanwhile, a group of Chinese activists managed to evade Japan’s coastguard, which fired on them with water cannons, and plant a Chinese flag on the Diaoyu islands, which are also claimed by Japan as the Senkaku’s.
Japanese police initially arrested five activists who swam ashore in the East China Sea chain, known as Senkaku in Japanese and Diaoyu in Chinese.
Japan Coast Guard officers later arrested nine others who stayed on the fishing boat, the Kai Fung 2, including two who had earlier landed on one of the islands called Uotsuri and went back aboard, officials said.
The island chain moved into the spotlight again in April when Shintaro Ishihara, the 79-year-old governor of Tokyo, announced that he wanted to buy the Senkaku’s for Japan.
He has so far raised more than $17 million in donations, while announcing that Japan is heading for an “inevitable” confrontation with China, to the delight of nationalists.
Xu Dunxin, a Chinese former Foreign vice-minister, said that some Japanese politicians were stirring up nationalism for political capital. “The farcical episodes are exploiting the domestic nationalist mood to take advantage while damaging China-Japan ties,” he told the China Daily newspaper.
The Chinese activists who made it ashore sang patriotic songs and shouted in jubilation. The Japanese Foreign ministry warned it would “take appropriate action”, while China, through the state-run Global Times newspaper, warned that it would “send warships” to the islands if the activists were touched.
A second attempt to reach the islands by a group of Taiwanese activists was thwarted by a typhoon.
Meanwhile, Hong Kong residents tore up paper replicas of the Japanese military flag, and there were small protests at Japanese government offices in Taipei and Beijing.
There were memorial services to mark the anniversary in Nanjing, Changchun and in Guangzhou, where a new exhibit opened to celebrate General Chen Kefei, a key figure in the anti-Japanese war.
Relations between Japan and South Korea have also deteriorated, and a South Korean pop star yesterday led a group of 40 students in a swim to another disputed island chain, the Liancourt Rocks, known as Dokdo in Korea and Takeshima in Japan.
Last week Japan recalled its ambassador to Seoul and cancelled a meeting with South Korea’s Finance minister after Lee Myung Bak, the South Korean president, made a sudden and unexpected visit to the islands, possibly to stir up support for his party ahead of elections in December. “It is extremely regrettable,” said Japan's Foreign minister, Koichiro Gemba.
During the Olympics, a South Korean footballer, Park Jong Woo, held up a sign saying “Dokdo is our land”, and was promptly banned from receiving his bronze medal.
* Notícia publicada al Telegraph. Tot i que aquesta mena d'accions no són cap novetat en la disputa per les Senkaku/Diaoyu, cal seguir-les atentament, ja que el pas d'una escalada verbal a una de militar és massa fàcil.

dijous, 16 d’agost de 2012

Russian nuclear submarine visits Gulf of Mexico undetected*

Akula class submarine
A Russian Akula-class nuclear attack submarinesailed undetected in the Gulf of Mexico for weeks, and was only discovered after it left.
The Washington Free Beacon has cited unnamed sources in reporting the incident, the second time since 2009 that a Russian submarine has sailed close to the US.
The incident occurred at the same time as Russian bombers flew inside restricted US airspace, as Russia flexed its military muscle.
Akula-class submarines, initially developed by the Soviet Union in the 1980s as a direct competitor to the US Navy's Los Angeles-class submarines, remain the most capable attack submarines in Russia's fleet.
The incident will come as an embarrassment to the US Navy, which is tasked with the detection and tracking of foreign submarines.
Undersea sensors and satellites are used to locate and track them, however in this incident the submarine was only detected after it had left US waters.
The incident has also highlighted deficiencies in the US anti-submarine warfare capabilities as well as the patrol of littoral waters, an area that has seen substantial investment in recent years.
The US Navy's fleet of Littoral Combat Ships continues to increase, with Freedom and Independence variants currently active in service.
Although the number of ships has not been finalised, there is speculation that the US Navy's fleet of LCS vessels could reach between 56 and 60.

* Notícia publicada a Naval Technology. Malgrat que no està clar que els Akula puguin haver passat la xarxa del SOSUS sense ser detectats, els nous moviments de l'Armada russa en aigües nord-americanes han de ser analitzats a fons.

dimarts, 14 d’agost de 2012

Morocco to receive final SIGMA frigate next month*

Morocco’s third and final SIGMA class frigate, Allal Ben Abdellah, will be delivered to the Royal Moroccan Navy on September 8.

Allal Ben Abdellah completed sea trials in June, on schedule. However, further training, including Sail Safety Training, took place after the sea trials in the North Sea.

Damen Schelde Naval Shipbuilding transferred the first SIGMA frigate to the Royal Moroccan Navy on September 10, 2011. King Mohammed VI, Supreme Commander and Chief of Staff of the Royal Moroccan Armed Forces, officially commissioned the first SIGMA frigate, Tarik Ben Ziyad, on December 23, 2011, in Casablanca.

The second frigate, Sultan Moulay Ismail, was transferred to the Royal Moroccan Navy on March 10 this year. After commissioning, the crew continued with three weeks of Sail Safety Training in Den Helder and the North Sea before sailing for Morocco.

The three SIGMA (Ship Integrated Geometrical Modularity Approach) frigates were ordered in April 2008 under a contract that includes one SIGMA 10513 ship 105 metres long (pennant number 613) and two SIGMA 9813 ships 98 metres long (pennant numbers 614, 615), all with commonality in the systematic arrangement including a Tacticos combat management system with antisubmarine, surface warfare, air defence and electronic warfare capabilities.

Electronic systems include a Smart-S Mk2 surveillance radar, a LIROD Mk 2 tracking radar, a Thales Kingklip sonar system, an IFF system, an integrated communication system comprising external communication system and FOCON internal communication subsystem, two target designation sights, a VIGILE ESM system, a SCORPION ECM system and an integrated navigation system.

The shipyard notes the vessels are being fitted with a 76 mm Oto Melara main gun, as well as MBDA Exocet surface-to-surface and MICA surface-to-air missile system, the latter using vertical launch.

The frigates have flight decks and hangar accommodation for a medium-sized helicopter and are fitted with Eurotorp torpedo launchers.

Morocco also has on order a French “FREMM” multipurpose frigate, which was launched in September last year. The current fleet includes two Floréal-class frigates and a Descubierta-class corvette in addition to some 21 patrol craft and a number of other ships and vessels. Four more patrol craft are also on order.

* Notícia publicada a Defence Web. A banda de l'èxit de les drassanes holandeses, s'hauria d'anar parant atenció a la reorganització i modernització de les forces navals marroquines

Five ‘Flattops’ for China?*

By James R.Holmes
Chinese scholar Wang Haiyun, a major general and one-time diplomat, thinks China’s navy needs three to five carrier task forces to realize Beijing’s maritime strategic ambitions. Writing in GlobeMagazine, a subsidiary of Xinhua, Wang maintains that only such a force can police the three million square kilometers of water China claims as its own, break out of U.S.-led containment, and “avoid being subject to the blackmail of certain countries.”
I can take or leave Wang’s laundry list of reasons for a carrier fleet. He more or less takes a Rhode Island approach: throw the pasta against the wall and see what sticks. (Our Ocean State is home to an Italian-American community that excels at cuisine from the home country.) Roughly speaking, we can break down navies into forces that fight for control of the sea and those that police the sea once control has been won. Aircraft carriers are warfighting assets first and foremost. Using them for police duty wastes resources.
Wang seems to envision fielding carriers to take on U.S.-Japanese maritime forces in high-end combat. That makes sense. Exercising control of the sea, however, is something best left to lower-end platforms like corvettes, frigates, and the non-naval ships operated by China Marine Surveillance and other coast-guard-like services. You don’t need a carrier or tactical aircraft to chase fishermen out of Chinese-claimed waters, while lower-end ships can be built cheaply and in large numbers. Wang’s strategic rationale, then, is a bit of a muddle.
The number of carriers at which he arrives is about right, though, regardless of how he gets there. The old U.S. Navy thumb rule is that you divide the total number of ships by three, and that’s how many vessels are fully ready for operational service at any given moment. Given the rigors of shipyard upkeep, crew rest and training, and forward deployment, it takes three hulls to keep one on station. In recent years our navy has experimented with a “Fleet Response Plan” that increases the 3:1 ratio over the short term. But the opportunity costs to this scheme are steep, as measured in equipment and crew fatigue. The navy can surge up to two-thirds of the fleet—but not indefinitely or as a matter of routine.
Wang’s five-carrier figure thus would translate into one or two PLA Navy carriers, along with their entourage of escorts, ready for sea at any moment. Sounds like one flattop for Southeast Asian and one for Northeast Asian contingencies. Could China improve on the 3:1 ratio? Maybe. It depends on the priority the navy assigns to maintenance, and on how well Chinese shipyards execute that all-important function. It also depends on what Beijing expects of the fleet. If indeed Chinese leaders confine their maritime interests to Chinese-claimed waters, PLA Navy vessels will steam fewer miles than their U.S. Navy counterparts. Less steaming time means less wear-and-tear on hardware and fewer demands for extended overhauls. (It also means less proficient crews; you can’t escape tradeoffs.)
So, it is conceivable that China’s navy could make a third carrier task force of a five-carrier fleet available to the political leadership. Color me skeptical—but this offers outsiders another benchmark to measure progress as China’s navy matures into an oceangoing force.

* Article publicat a The Diplomat. Tot i que el programa de portaavions xinés segueix sent un misteri, diferents informacions "open source" van perfilant-lo. No obstant, calen acadèmics seriosos, com el professor James R. Holmes per destriar el gra de la palla.

dilluns, 13 d’agost de 2012

Charles De Gaulle Nuclear-Powered Aircraft Carrier*

The 38,000t, nuclear-powered aircraft carrier Charles De Gaulle was constructed at the DCN Brest naval shipyard in Brittany. The ship was launched in May 1994 and commissioned in September 2000, following sea trials which began in January 1999. As a result of trials the landing deck has been lengthened by 4.4m to enable the E-2C to land and clear the deck quickly.
The carrier was due to enter service in December 2000, but, following the breakage of a propeller blade during long-distance trials, this was delayed to April 2001. In June 2001, the carrier took part in exercises in the Mediterranean and in December 2001 left to take part in Operation Enduring Freedom where it was stationed in the Arabian Gulf. It returned to its home port of Toulon in July 2002. Super Etendard and Hawkeye E-2C aircraft carried out a number of sorties but the ship's F1 standard Rafale M fighters did not take part in operations, although they were included in exercises with the US Navy.
In April 2007, DCN became DCNS. This followed an agreement in which Thales became a 25% shareholder in the new company and DCN acquired the naval business of Thales France (excluding naval equipment).

The combat system has also been adapted for operations with the Rafale F3 equipped with AASM, ASMPA and Scalp-EG missiles The refit was completed and the carrier returned to the French Navy in December 2008. The vessel is scheduled to undergo a major maintenance overhaul in 2015.In September 2007, Charles de Gaulle began a refit which included overhaul and refuelling of the nuclear propulsion system and installing a new SYTEX command and control system with Syracuse III satellite communications system.

French Navy CVF aircraft carrier

The French Navy's plans of a second carrier have been put on hold. The new carrier would not be the same class as the Charles de Gaulle, but would be a conventionally powered carrier. It would be built by DCNS.
The design phase for the carrier programme (PA2) was launched in January 2005. In December 2005, following discussions between the French and UK governments on the possibility of a joint development with the UK'sCVF carrier project which Thales UK is designing, it was agreed that France would pay one-third of the costs of the demonstration phase of the baseline CVF design.

Charles De Gaulle aircraft

The ship can operate a fleet of up to 40 aircraft: Rafale M (range 3,340km), Super Etendard (range 1,682km) and three E-2C Hawkeye airborne early warning aircraft. The ship will also support the AS 565 Panther or NH 90 helicopter.
The main deck consists of a main runway angled at 8.5° to the ship's axis and an aircraft launch area forward of the island. These are each equipped with a USN Type C13 catapult, capable of launching one aircraft a minute. The runway is 195m long and the whole deck measures 260m x 64m. The carrier is fitted with the Sagem Defense Sécurité (formerly EADS Defence & Electronics) DALAS laser landing aid.

SATRAP computerised stabilisation system

The carrier is fitted with the SATRAP computerised, integrated stabilisation system designed to maintain stabilisation to within 0.5° of horizontal, allowing aircraft to be operated up to sea state 5/6.

These tracks run transversely below the flight deck. This system is designed to compensate for wind and heel and control roll, yaw and surge.As well as the carrier's two pairs of active stabilising fins and twin rudders, the system has two computer-controlled compensation units which consist of two rail tracks for trains carrying 22t of deadweight.

Combat management systems

The ship's weapons are managed by a Senit combat management system, which has the capacity to track up to 2,000 targets. The weapon control system consists of two Vigy 105 optronic directors supplied by Sagem. The ship also has two Sagem Vampir search and track systems.
In February 2004, Thales was awarded a contract for a new command and control system for the French Navy. The new system, called SYTEX, is being fitted on the Charles de Gaulle as well as other vessels and shore locations and will allow the vessel to access national or coalition command networks.

Surface-to-air missiles

The SAAM (surface anti-air missile) system, developed by Eurosam (set up by MBDA and Thales), provides defence against hostile aircraft and anti-ship missiles. The system uses the Aster 15 surface-to-air missile and entered operational service in November 2002, with the first firing of the missile from the Charles de Gaulle.
The Aster missile has a 13kg warhead and a range of 30km. The missile's guidance is inertial with data uplink and active radar terminal homing. For increased manoeuvrability in the terminal phase, the missile uses a 'PIF-PAF' direct thrust control system with gas jets. Two eight-cell Sylver vertical launch systems are installed on the starboard side forward of the bridge and two on the port side aft of the bridge.
The system uses the Thales (formerlyThomson-CSF) Arabel radar, which is a multi-function three-dimensional radar with a range of 70km for a target area of 2m².
The ship has two six-cell Sadral launching systems for the MBDA (formerly Matra BAe Dynamics) Mistral anti-aircraft and anti-missile missile. Mistral has an infra-red seeker and a range of 4km.

20F2 20mm guns

The ship is equipped with eight Nexter (formerly Giat) 20F2 20mm guns, which fire 0.25kg shells at 720 rounds/min to a range of up to 8km.

Four Sagem Defense Securite (formerly EADS Defence & Electronics) Sagaie 10-barrel trainable decoy launchers are installed. The system fires chaff to 8km and infra-red flares to a range of 3km. Two Thales ARBB 33 jammers, mature versions of the Salamandre, are installed to jam I-, H- and J- band radar signals.


Electronic support measures include the Thales ARBR 21 radar warner. The aircraft carrier will also be fitted with a SLAT anti-torpedo system being developed by Euroslat, a consortium consisting of WASS (Whitehead Alenia Sistemi Subacquei), DCNS and Thales Underwater Systems (formerly Thomson Marconi Sonar).

Radar sensor suite

The suite of radar sensors installed on the carrier are: Thales DRBJ 11B three dimensional long range air search radar operating in the E- to F- bands; Thales DRBV 26D Jupiter medium / long-range air search radar operating at D-band; Thales DRBV 15C Sea Tiger mk2 air and surface search radar operating at E and F bands; two Thales (formerly Racal) Model 1229 navigation radars operating at I band; and the Thales Arabel fire control radar operating at I to J band.

Propulsion and power plant

The Charles De Gaulle is equipped with two nuclear pressure water reactors, PWR Type K15, which provide a speed of 27kt. The 61MW turbines are from Alsthom. The propulsion system has the capacity to provide five years continuous operation at 25kt before refuelling.

* Article publicat a Naval Technology. El Charles de Gaulle, peça central de la Marine National, és una nau poc coneguda en relació a les seves potencialitats. Compartim amb els lectors aquest article per posar-hi esmena.

diumenge, 12 d’agost de 2012

F-35 Completes First Airborne Weapons Separation*

By Victor Chen, F-35 Integrated Test Force Public Affairs
PATUXENT RIVER, Md. (NNS) -- The F-35 Lightning II accomplished a significant test milestone Aug. 8 when the aircraft successfully released a weapon in flight.

BF-3, a short take-off and vertical landing F-35 variant, executed an inert 1,000-pound GBU-32 Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM) separation weapon over water in an Atlantic test range while traveling at 400 knots at an altitude of 4,200 feet.

"While this weapons separation test is just one event in a series of hundreds of flights and thousands of test points that we are executing this year, it does represent a significant entry into a new phase of testing for the F-35 program," said Navy Capt. Erik Etz, director of test for F-35 naval variants. "Today's release of a JDAM was the result of extraordinary effort by our team of maintainers, engineers, pilots and others who consistently work long hours to deliver F-35 warfighting capability to the U.S. services and our international partners."

The release was the first time for any version of the F-35 to conduct an airborne weapon separation, as well as the first from an internal weapons bay for a fighter aircraft designated for the U.S. Marine Corps, the United Kingdom and Italy.

The milestone marks the start of validating the F-35's capability to employ precision weapons and allow pilots to engage the enemy on the ground and in the air.

"[Using an internal weapons bay] speaks to how much capability the JSF is going to bring to the troops," said Dan Levin, Lockheed Martin test pilot for the mission. "Stealth, fifth-generation avionics and precision weapons ... coupled with the flexible mission capability of the short take-off and vertical landing F-35B is going to be huge for our warfighters."

An aerial weapons separation test checks for proper release of the weapon from its carriage system and trajectory away from the aircraft. It is the culmination of a significant number of prerequisite tests, including ground fit checks, ground pit drops and aerial captive carriage and environment flights to ensure the system is working properly before expanding the test envelope in the air.

Aircraft and land-based test monitoring systems collected data from the successful separation, which is in review at the F-35 integrated test force at Naval Air Station Patuxent River.

The F-35B is the variant of the Joint Strike Fighter designed for use by U.S. Marine Corps, as well as F-35 international partners in the United Kingdom and Italy. The F-35B is capable of short take-offs and vertical landings to enable air power projection from amphibious ships, ski-jump aircraft carriers and expeditionary airfields. The F-35B is undergoing test and evaluation at NAS Patuxent River, Md., and Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., prior to delivery to the fleet.

* Notícia publicada al web oficial de la US Navy. Les proves de l'F-35B, destinat a l'USMC i la Royal Navy entre d'altres, continuen endavant. Cal seguir l'evolució del projecte JSF (caríssim, tot sigui dit) en totes les seves variants, tot i que la prova definitiva de qualsevol aparell sempre és la mateixa: el combat.

dissabte, 11 d’agost de 2012

US to deploy drones over Diaoyutais*

An RQ-4 Global Hawk unmanned aerial vehicle conducts tests over Naval Air Station Patuxent River in the US state of Maryland in an undated photo supplied by the US Navy.

Photo: Reuters

The US will use its most advanced unmanned reconnaissance aircraft to monitor Chinese activity in waters surrounding the Diaoyutai Islands (釣魚台), the object of an acrimonious dispute between Beijing and Tokyo, Japanese media are reporting.
The decision was made during a meeting between Japanese Defense Minister Satoshi Morimoto and US Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta at the Pentagon on Sunday, NHK and the Yomiuri Shimbun said, adding that the drones would also conduct surveillance around Okinawa.
At least three unarmed Northrop Grumman RQ-4 Global Hawk drones have been deployed at Andersen Air Force Base on Guam since September 2010, bolstering the operational intelligence capabilities of US forces in the Asia-Pacific.
Operating at an altitude of about 18,000m, the RQ-4 provides near-real-time, long-range intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance imagery by means of a high-resolution synthetic aperture radar. It played a role in damage assessment following the disaster at Japan’s Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant in March last year.
Amid rising tensions between Japan and China over the disputed islets, the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force has mostly relied on P-3C “Orion” surveillance aircraft to monitor Chinese naval activity in the area.
Taiwan also claims sovereignty over the islands.
Tetsuo Kotani, a fellow at The Japan Institute of International Affairs in Tokyo, said the deployment sends an important message.
“One of the urgent issues for the US-Japan alliance is to enhance intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance [ISR] cooperation,” he told the Taipei Times yesterday. “The Global Hawk can serve as a symbol of allied ISR cooperation.”
“This is an important step for the alliance and sends a strong message to Beijing thatWashington stands firmly with Tokyo,” he said.
Although the US does not officially take a position on the sovereignty dispute, some believe the Diaoyutais fall within the scope of Article 5 of the US-Japan Treaty of Mutual Co-operation and Security.
However, Kotani said Beijing should not misunderstand the real message.
“This is US reassurance to Japan. As long as Japan is reassured by the US, Japan does not have to take provocative actions vis-a-vis Beijing over the Senkakus,” he said. “No country wants to increase the tensions.”
The Diaoyutais are known as the Senkaku Islands in Japan.
During Sunday’s meeting, Panetta and Morimoto also agreed to explore eventual revisions of the Guidelines for Japan-US Defense Cooperation, which govern cooperation between the Japan Self-Defense Forces and the US military during crises.
Passed in 1978, the guidelines were substantially revised in 1997 in response to the North Korean nuclear program.
“We shared the view that it’s important to jointly study and discuss [security matters], taking into consideration changes in the security environment and what Japan-US cooperation should be,” Morimoto told a press conference.
According to the Yomiuri Shimbun, the review will focus on defense cooperation on the Nansei Islands in response to Chinese military expansion and increasing activity in waters surrounding Japan, as well as North Korea’s nuclear and missile development and post-disaster cooperation.
No specific procedures or timeline for the review were discussed.

* Notícia publicada al Taipei Times. Que la situació a les Senkaku / Diaoyutai és tensa, no és cap novetat. Ara bé, el possible destí d'aparells com el Global Hawk nord-americans és tot un missatge.