diumenge, 30 de juny de 2013

Iran, Russia to hold joint naval drills in the Caspian Sea*

ASTRAKHAN, June 28 (RIA Novosti) – The Russian and Iranian navies are planning to hold joint exercises in the Caspian Sea in the second half of this year, a Russian military commander said Friday.
Nikolai Yakubovsky, deputy commander of Russia’s Caspian Flotilla, made the announcement after a meeting with the commander of a group of Iranian guided-missile boats that were visiting the port of Astrakhan.
Iranian navy representatives welcomed the opportunity to take part in the joint exercises, but declined to discuss the plans in more detail.
In 2009, Russia and Iran held their first joint naval exercise in the Caspian, involving about 30 ships.
Caspian Flotilla commander Admiral Sergey Alekminsky said in an interview with Moscow radio station Ekho Moskvy in November that the two navies could strengthen their collaboration in the future.

* Notícia publicada a RIA Novosti.

dilluns, 24 de juny de 2013

Brazilian Navy receives final Amazonas-class OPV from BAE*

The Brazilian Navy has received the third and final Amazonas-class ocean patrol vessels (OPV), named Araguari (P122), from BAE Systems at Portsmouth Naval Base, UK, to boost its maritime capabilities.
The OPV has been delivered as a part of the Brazilian Navy's $186m deal with BAE to procure three 90m, 2,200t OPVs, originally built for the Trinidad and Tobago coastguard to perform intercepting and emergency relief operations in the Caribbean region.
The deal also includes an additional £13m for training and support by BAE with an option to locally build another five OPVs to support naval re-equipment programme for the Brazilian Navy.
Brazilian Navy naval engineering director rear admiral Francisco Deiana said: "The three Amazonas-class units make up an important contribution to both our ability to provide security, safety and protection to the Brazil's jurisdictional waters and to deliver our commitments to the Brazilian Maritime Authority."
Capable of carrying a crew of 80, with additional accommodation for 40 troops or passengers, the vessel features a helicopter flight deck to support medium-sized helicopter operations, 30mm cannon, 25mm guns and can cruise at a speed of 25k when fully loaded.
Amazonas, the first OPV of the class, was delivered to the navy in June 2012, while the second ship, Apa, was handed over in November 2012.
The ships are fitted with two rigid inflatable boats and will be used by the navy to conduct maritime security in its territorial waters.

* Notícia publicada a Naval Technology. Ja haviem parlat anteriorment d'aquest procés, i avui en tenim una fita important.

diumenge, 16 de juny de 2013

India's Quiet, Big Naval Splash*

India’s drive to develop maritime forces that can protect its coast and project power into its surrounding waters is one of the biggest defense stories of recent years, but one that doesn't grab the headlines like its ongoing fast jet acquisitions. But the numbers don't lie: in 1988 the navy’s annual spend was INR10 billion ($181 million) – in 2012 it was INR373.14 billion ($6.78 billion).
New Delhi’s smart combination of procurement and geopolitical alliances was on display this week when Prime Minister Manmohan Singh flew into Tokyo. That India and Japan share a wary attitude to China is well known – and this is giving Japan a chance to test the waters of international arms exports in the form of the ShinMaywa US-2 amphibious aircraft.
The US-2, which is in JMSDF service and odds on to be selected by the Indian Navy for its search-and-rescue amphibian requirement, is the perfect platform for Japan to export: it’s an unarmed, humanitarian-first platform that is also probably the best of its type in the world.
For Delhi, it is the latest example of a massive growth in spending – and naval ambition – that has slid under the radar.
There are a number of possible reasons for the lack of interest. First, India is also in the market for fast jets. As any visitor to a defense show will tell you, fast jets grab the limelight more than even the hottest offshore patrol trimaran.
There’s also the fact that India’s not the only Asia-Pacific nation to get into the blue-water navy game. But while the PLA Navy’s every move is analyzed and used to prove China’s embrace of – or departure from – the “peaceful rise” narrative, the Indian Navy has received a free pass over its acquisitions, whether it is its own Russian aircraft carrier or its manufacture of another flattop in Cochin.
There are a number of possible reasons why New Delhi’s naval maneuvers are not raising alarm bells:
1)      The US has decided India is a friend
The United States has decided that India is a country it wants to partner with in the Pacific, with then Defense Secretary Leon Panetta describing Delhi in 2012 as an “anchor” around which a stable Indian Ocean Region could be constructed. The U.S. doesn’t like everything that India does – its nuclear program and refusal to sign various intelligence agreements are just two flies in the ointment – but it likes it enough.
It also likes selling materiel to Delhi: U.S. defense sales to India since 2001 are worth about USD13 billion and rising. For the Indian Navy, these include an amphibious landing ship and at least eight P-8I Neptunes – a long-range anti-submarine and patrol aircraft that is only just beginning to enter U.S. service.
2)      India’s naval forces are seen as underperforming
India has had the tools to be a major naval power since the mid 1960s. Its first aircraft carrier (a former UK platform) entered service in 1961 and given its close relationship with the Soviet Union and then Russia, it has built from a robust submarine force.

However, things have slipped. Its current carrier, INS Viraat (the former HMS Hermes), is drifting towards obsolescence, while a March 2011 report by the government’s Comptroller and Auditor General (CAg) said that between 2011 and 2013, the IN would have only 61% of its envisioned frigate fleet, 44% of its envisioned destroyer fleet and 20% of its envisioned missile corvette fleet.
So while India is spending big money, its recapitalization is as much about maintaining existing levels as it is about building new capabilities. Meanwhile, many of these big ticket projects are running behind schedule and over budget (see point 3).
3)      Naval modernization and procurement is chaotic, late and over budget
The 2011 CAG report identified delays and huge cost overruns in three key programs: the Project 15A frigate, Project 17 destroyer and Project 28 missile corvette.
The CAG highlighted multiple problems, including massive delays in contract signings, unrealistic budgeting, inadequate infrastructure at shipyards and basic project management foul-ups. One example was the failure to “freeze” the design of vessels prior to the start of construction, an oversight that naturally leads to all the other problems occurring.
In September 2011 another CAG report pointed out that the MiG-29Ks to embark its new aircraft carrier, Vikramaditya, were bought without weapons, “adversely affecting the operational capabilities of the aircraft”. That’s putting it politely.
Recent problems with the Indian Air Force’s acquisition of 12 AgustaWestland AW-101 helicopters for VIP use are also likely to run interference on the navy’s plans to buy much-needed helicopters.
Defence Minister A K Anthony is reportedly tired of the constant stench of corruption that surrounds major foreign military deals, but given the dismal record of local state-run manufacturers in providing the armed forces with the kit they want on time and under budget, the Ministry of Defence’s decision to tighten up regulations on procurement rules doesn’t bode well for the military’s hopes of getting new kit anytime soon.
4)      India’s maritime forces are expanding into a (relative) vacuum
Although India has used its navy in contingencies involving Pakistan, the Indian Ocean is big enough – and empty enough – for it to expand its role without generating too much friction with its neighbors. In the Bay of Bengal the navy is leading the military buildup of the Andaman and Nicobar islands, opening an aviation base, INS Baaz, in August 2012. At the base’s commissioning, navy chief Admiral Nirmal Verma said the island archipelago just north of the Malacca Strait offers India “a vital geostrategic advantage. Not only does it provide a commanding presence in the Bay of Bengal, it also serves as our window into East and Southeast Asia."
Ambitious words, but not of great concern to any nation except China. And therein lies the rub. Unlike Beijing, Delhi is not planning to use its navy or coast guard to enforce nine-dashed line-shaped claims that undercut its neighbors’ mineral, fishing or territorial interests. Right now, the Indian Ocean is big enough for a growing Indian Navy; the same can’t be said for the PLA Navy’s expansion into the South and East China seas.
It’s clear that some of India’s newly acquired new skill sets and vessels, such as the coast guard’s acquisition of 36 interceptor boats and 20 fast patrol vessels and the navy’s purchase of 80 fast interceptor craft, are a valid and much-needed response to terrorist – and territorial – threats such as the 2008 Mumbai attacks.

But in other areas India is building new, strategic level capabilities. The P-8Is and the US-2s amphibians it may buy from Japan give it serious naval aviation reach, while Vikramaditya, its troubled Kiev-class aircraft carrier, will embark the MiG-29K Fulcrum D – an F/A-18 Super Hornet-level platform that is a far cry from the aging Sea Harriers currently deployed from INS Viraat.
India is also building an ambitious strategic submarine fleet that will not only be one element of its nuclear triad, but is also intended for blue water operations far from friendly shores. It also commissioned its first nuclear powered attack submarine, INS Chakra, in April 2012. The boat, which is leased from Russia, has the range and endurance to extend the navy’s reach far beyond the Indian Ocean. 
Throw in Delhi’s plans for an extremely low frequency (ELF) transmitter to communicate with strategic subs anywhere in the world, construction of which started in 2012, and it is clear that India is thinking big – and thinking long term.
James Hardy is the Asia-Pacific Editor of IHS Jane’s Defence Weekly

* Article publicat a The Diplomat. Una bona anàlisi sobre la gegantina transfació que està realitzant la Indian Navy.

dimecres, 12 de juny de 2013

LCS Freedom underway from Singapore, begins exercises*

Seven weeks after arriving at Singapore, the littoral combat ship USS Freedom (LCS 1) left Changi Naval Base on June 11 to begin a series of regional exercises with navies of friendly nations. The Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) exercises take place annually around southeast Asia, but the Freedom's participation is expected to be one of the most-watched events in the history of the maneuvers.
"The opportunity to work side-by-side and interact with regional navies in exercises like CARAT is in large part why Freedom was deployed to Southeast Asia," Rear Adm. Tom Carney, commander of Task Force 73 and U.S. naval forces for CARAT, said before the ship shoved off from Changi.
Although the ship has operated in the Caribbean and western Pacific Ocean since entering service in late 2008, the much-ballyhooed deployment to the Far East is putting the sometimes-troubled Freedom under a spotlight like no other 3,000-ton small combatant has had to endure.
While at Singapore in May, the ship took part in the International Maritime Defence Exhibition (IMDEX) and the Singapore Navy's Western Pacific Multilateral Sea Exercise (WMSX), where interest in the ship was high. The intense media scrutiny was expected and will likely continue through the cruise, expected to last through the year.
Commanding officer Cmdr. Timothy Wilke, his 50-sailor Gold Crew, and the surface warfare and aviation detachments aboard have become used to visitors coming aboard, from high-ranking U.S. and foreign officials to more than 5,000 people who toured the ship over a Singapore open house weekend in mid-May.
Since arriving in Singapore on April 18, the list of distinguished visitors to tread the ship's decks is impressive and includes U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel; Navy Secretary Ray Mabus; Adm. Jonathan Greenert, chief of naval operations; Adm. Samuel Locklear, commander of U.S. Pacific Command; and Vice Adm. Scott Swift, commander of the U.S. Seventh Fleet. The numerous foreign military and government visitors include Singapore Defense Minister Ng Eng Hen and Adm. Katsutoshi Kawano, chief of staff of the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force.
The CARAT exercises already are underway. The Indonesian phase was completed in May, and exercises in Thailand are winding up. Other U.S. ships taking part in the CARAT exercises include the destroyer USS Curtis Wilbur (DDG 54), amphibious ship USS Tortuga (LSD 46), salvage vessel USNS Safeguard (T-ARS 50) with Mobile Diving and Salvage Unit (MDSU) 1, and the supply ship USNS Washington Chambers (T-AKE 11). The Freedom is headed for Malaysia to begin her participation. Other navies taking part in CARAT include Bangladesh, Brunei, Cambodia, the Philippines and Timor-Leste.
The Freedom will also take part in Southeast Asia Cooperation and Training (SEACAT) exercises.*

* Notícia publicada a Navy Times. Més enllà dels exercicis on participi el USS Freedom, serà interessant veure com responen després de les reparacions fetes el darrer any.

Royal Navy decomissions final Type 42 vessel*

The British Royal Navy's last Type 42 destroyer (Batch 3), HMS Edinburgh (D97) has been officially decommissioned at Portsmouth Naval Base, marking the end of its 30-year operational life.
Cammell Laird-built HMS Edinburgh will be replaced by a new-generation 152.4m-long 7,350tType 45 Daring-class
 vessels.
HMS Edinburgh commanding officer commander Nick Borbone said: "These are the final moments of HMS Edinburgh and the final moments of the Type 42, a class which has served the navy and the nation with distinction."
Prior to its decommissioning, the 141m-long, 5,200t HMS Edinburgh has completed its final deployment conducting routine operations across the South Atlantic, including supporting counter-narcotics efforts in the West African region and providing support and reassurance to UK overseas territories.
Initially deployed to escort numerous merchant ships safely through the region off the Gulf in 1987, the ship was also deployed to escort the helicopter carrier HMS Ocean while supporting Royal Marines ashore in the second Gulf War in 2003.
Armed with a twin Sea Dart missile launcher, 4.5in Mk8 gun and a Phalanx close-in weapon system (CIWS), the ships can operate independently and conduct patrol and boarding operations, anti-narcotics and anti-piracy patrols, as well as provide humanitarian assistance.
Capable of carrying a crew of 287, the Type 42 ship underwent a £17.5m refit by BAE systems in 2010, when its propulsion machinery, auxiliary and weapons systems, sensors and accommodation were upgraded.

* Notícia publicada a Naval Technology. Punt i final la famosa classe de destructors britànics. Recordem que dos d'ells ( HMS Sheffield i HMS Coventry) foren enfonsats a la Guerra de les Falklands. També participaren a la Guerra del Golf, on derribaren un míssil anti-buc iraquià que es dirigia al cuirassat USS Missouri.