July 31, 2014

Air Independent Propulsion - A Game Changer?

Hydrogen-oxygen fuel cell system. (Diagram courtesy of  http://webberswarships.ca/styled-9/index.html )

MESMA closed-cycle steam turbine

Stirling-cycle heat engine with external combustion

Closed-cycle diesel engine? (Diagram courtesy of http://webberswarships.ca/styled-9/index.html )

Diesel-electric engine for submarine, which can use any of the AIP technologies above.

Descriptions of the strengths and weaknesses of each AIP technology is on this website at Air independent propulsion (AIP) Technologies and Selection

If-when Australia chooses an air independent propulsion (AIP) system for the long awaited Future Submarine Australia will have several technologies (above) to decide on. Perhaps Australia might choose no AIP if Lithium-ion battery technology is considered adequate.

The following is an excellent article, dated January 29, 2013, by Michael Raska, a Research Fellow at the Institute of Defence and Strategic Studies, S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS), Nanyang Technological University in Singapore. It has been republished by Eurasia Reviewhttp://www.eurasiareview.com/29012013-submarine-trends-in-asia-pacific-air-independent-propulsion-a-game-changer-analysis/ :


JANUARY 29, 2013

The contending strategic realities of the Asia-Pacific region compel states to adopt innovations of their rivals. This is the case for new classes of conventional submarine designs, which incorporate an array of innovative technologies in order to maximise their survivability and lethality in diverse maritime operations.
By Michael Raska
WHILE EUROPE and North America remain key submarine markets, China’s ongoing military modernisation coupled with contending international relations in the Asia-Pacific will increasingly drive submarine procurement in the region over the next decade. In 2011, the total submarine market in Asia-Pacific is estimated at US$4.4 billion, and for the next decade, submarine expenditures are projected to US$46 billion. 
With changing strategic realities, Asian navies aim to become increasingly flexible, and capable of varying mission profiles: from countering traditional coastal defence missions to protecting sea lanes and communication lines. Simultaneously, submarines are increasingly valuable strategic resource for both electronic and signal intelligence. To enhance the varying operational capabilities, increase submerged endurance and stealth, installing viable Air-independent propulsion systems is thus becoming a strategic necessity.
Advantages of AIP systems
Designed to enhance the performance of modern conventional (diesel-electric) submarines AIP is a key emerging technology that essentially provides a “closed cycle” operation through a low-power electrical source supplementing the battery, which may extend the submarine’s underwater endurance up to two weeks or more.
AIP systems close the endurance gap between nuclear and conventional submarines, and mitigate increasing risks of detection caused by advanced anti-submarine warfare technologies – from modern electro-optical systems and surface radars to magnetic sensors, active and passive sonars, and airborne surveillance radars. Advanced AIP technologies thus promise significant operational advantages and tactical flexibility.
In theory, there are four primary AIP designs currently available: (1) closed-cycle diesel engines; (2) closed-cycle steam turbines; (3) Stirling-cycle heat engines with external combustion, and (4) hydrogen-oxygen fuel cells. Each provides a different solution with particular advantages as well as limitations in relation to performance, safety, and cost factors.
Since the early years of the Cold War, while major naval powers shifted to nuclear propulsion, smaller navies – particularly in Europe (Germany, Sweden, Spain, Italy and France) continued to develop and rely on conventional diesel-electric submarine fleets, given their lower cost and operational relevance for coastal defence. Traditionally, however, these submarines were highly vulnerable to various types of sensors – acoustic, visual, thermal and air – particularly when running on engines.

AIP systems in Asian navies

On the other hand, when running on batteries, these submarines became very quiet and difficult to detect, yet their battery capacity, discharge rate, and indiscretion rate (the ratio of diesel running time to total running time) substantially limited their underwater endurance. To overcome these baseline limitations, naval innovation in propulsion technologies over the past two decades has shifted toward AIP systems.
There is a variance, however, in the procurement of AIP systems in select Asian navies. For example, the only AIP steam-turbine system currently available is the French “MESMA” (Module d’Energie Sous-Marine Autonome) module, operational on Pakistan Navy’s two Agosta 90-B class submarines.
Swedish-Kockum designed Stirling AIP technology is installed on Singapore Navy’s two Archer–class submarines, and Japan’s new Soryu-class submarines. The Chinese PLA Navy’s Type 041 Yuan and Type 043 Qing class submarines are also reportedly using Stirling technology. Meanwhile, the Republic of Korea Navy has ordered nine Type 214 submarines with German HDW AIP fuel cell technologies. Three first batch models of the new Son Won-Il class had entered service since 2007, and six second batch models will enter service from 2012.

Limitations and constraints

Notwithstanding the diverse AIP technologies, the overall effectiveness of each system will depend on how well it is integrated with other critical systems that ensure optimal submarine functions: power systems, sensors systems, safety systems, navigation systems, command, control, and communication systems, weapons systems, and climate control systems. In this context, any critical failure of an AIP during a combat mission or contested areas will mitigate survivability factors as well as tactical options.
Indeed, each AIP system design comes with an array of technological limitations, vulnerabilities, and risks, particularly in submerged operations – from the specific acoustic signatures produced by select AIP systems in specific operating regimes, to technical vulnerabilities in storing oxidizer/fuel, as well as their maintenance regime. At the same time, new anti-submarine warfare sensor technologies may provide viable AIP countermeasures.
Ultimately, AIP-related technological innovation and breakthroughs may not guarantee operational success – strategy, operational concepts, tactical development, leadership, training, and morale will continue to play as important role as emerging technologies and their operational capabilities.
Michael Raska is a Research Fellow at the Institute of Defence and Strategic Studies, a constituent unit of the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS), Nanyang Technological University in Singapore.

July 27, 2014

Tamil Refugees: High Court of Australia Challenge

Tamil refugees secretly have a hard time, not only in Australia.

It would appear that the High Court of Australia shares concerns that the Government of Prime Minister Abbott has no right to make an inherently human rights issue (Tamil refugees) a secret matter of martial law. The Australia Government is fortunate that the Indian Government has agreed that India's representatives in Australia will process the Tamils regarding refugee status and possible repatriation to India.

Many of the 157 Tamil refugees concerned fled from Sri Lanka to refugee camps in India before boarding a boat with the hope of coming to Australia. The High Court of Australia had ordered the Abbott Government to pull its head in and allow the Tamils to be processed on the Australian mainland.

"The case in the High Court really boils down to two simple propositions: one is that the Australian Government cannot, could not intercept this boat and return them to a place where they wouldn't be safe [Sri Lanka], and secondly that there needed to be a fair decision-making process around that," http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-07-26/lawyer-questions-legality-of-returning-asylum-seekers-to-india/5625866 .

The High Court is concerned about Australia's military forces holding Tamil refugees - under conditions of military secrecy - in international waters under quasi martial law, at gunpoint under so-called "Operation Sovereign Borders".

The more formal conditions for martial law http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Military_aid_to_the_civil_power#Australia are:

- Defence Assistance to the Civil Community (DACC) in matters of emergency, and

- Defence Force Aid to the Civil Power (DACP) usually to handle invasion and violence.

None of these conditions are present in Abbott's orchestrated refugee "crisis". Australia's refugee responsibilities are mild and routine by international standards.

Immigration Minister Morrison and Abbott can't hide behind the "righteousness" of khaki or naval uniforms in conditions of secrecy. They need to obey the precedent ruled by the High Court of processing refugees on land not on a Australian military run prison ships.

Background Links

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-07-31/detention-centre-inquiry-hears-claims-of-immigration-cover-up/5637654 The national inquiry into children in immigration detention has heard evidence alleging a Government cover-up about the scale of mental health issues among child asylum seekers.


July 23, 2014

"Do It For Denmark!" and Nena, "99 Luftballons"

I was going to write on submarines again today but got distracted. The lovely lass above in this clean youtube (sorry guys) is something that my Swedish and German commenters can agree on: 

Denmark is half-way between Sweden and Germany!! 


I have it on good authority that Eurosclerotic means "some Danish sex Goddess enjoying a vein".

To that end not all Danish women are like Birgitte Nyborg, the Prime Minister on Borgen. Although Birgitte (below on right) is very nice and admittedly more my age - and she looks a lot better than a real forgotten ex-Prime Minister, Julia Gillard.. 

Some very intelligent women are supporting actresses in Borgen, for example Katrine Fønsmark played by a real Birgitte, that is Birgitte Hjort Sørensen (below at left). 

Confusing? Doesn't matter. They are both good-looking and great actresses, with a lot of heart.

And what is the "Do It For Denmark!" campaign? 

"Denmark faces a crisis. Our birthrate is at a 27 year low. At Spies we’re concerned. Fewer Danes mean fewer to support the ageing population - and tragically, fewer holidaying with us. Research shows that Danes have 46% more sex [think of that!] on city holidays and since more sex equals the chance of more kids, we are prescribing a romantic city holiday to save Denmark’s future." see http://www.spies.dk/do-it-for-denmark .

Above are Katrine and Birgitte (Borgen) looking lovely for viewers on a cold, cold, Canberra or Adelaide Winter's day :p .

As they say at the Tour de France - "But dry your eyes with a kangaroo".


Gabriele Susanne Kerner was born in Germany on March 24, 1960. She is better known by her stage name Nena. She's not only a (German) singer but also an actress and comedian, who rose to international fame in 1983 with the New German Wave song "99 Luftballons". 

In 1984, she re-recorded this song in English as "99 Red Balloons." Nena was also the name of her backing  band for the song. With the re-recording and subsequent release of some of her old songs, her career re-emerged in 2002. In 2007, she co-founded the school Neue Schule Hamburg - a real school with students and everything. I wish I went to a school with Nena as Headmistress.

The plot of the 99 (Luftballons-Red Balloons) song is:

A bag's worth of helium balloons are casually released by an anonymous civilian into the sky and are registered as missiles by a faulty East German early warning system; mistaken for an attack by NATO, it results in panic and eventually nuclear war.

"99 Red Balloons", the English version, adds a significant and poignant detail - that Nena (along with the presumed listener) released the fateful balloons.

I remember the German and the subsequent English versions in 1983-84 well when they came out (see below).

Nena sings 99 Luftballons - much prettier in the German version!

Nena sings 99 Red Balloons.

You decide which is better :)


July 19, 2014

Russia's GRU (military intelligence) and MH17 Shootdown

Pictured is Lieutenant Colonel Igor Bezler of the Russian military intelligence directorate GRU, who commanded the separatists who shot down MH17. He has probably been recalled to Russia in the last few days - to a quiet desk job or shoveling snow, in Siberia?

Where MH17 was shot down. (Diagram credit). Also see http://www.flightradar24.com/data/airplanes/9m-mrd/#3d6095b .

The "Buk" SA-11 [other synonyms "Gadfly" 9K37] surface to air missile (SAM) system that was very likely used by the Russian military directed separatists. It shows the 25 km ceiling-altitude of the missile - which was more than enough to shoot down MH17 - hence murdering those aboard.
(Diagram credit )

Thanks MHalblaub for providing many of the links, some comments, in the hours immediately after the shootdown. 

Note that it is a Russian News Agency that reported the capture of a Buk missile system by pro-Russian separatists just less than 3 weeks before the shootdown. That short training period would have given the Russian rebel Buk missile operators sufficient time to learn how to fire the missiles - but, as it transpires, insufficient time to learn the procedures for identifying targets - like MH17.

http://en.itar-tass.com/world/738262 :

"Donetsk defence forces take control of army unit equipped with missile defence systems"

"World  June 29, [2014] 19:30 UTC+4"

"No details are available about the number and condition of the missile systems taken over by the self-defence forces."

"DONETSK, June 29, /ITAR-TASS/. Self-defence forces [pro-Russian separatists] of the Donetsk People’s Republic have taken control over a missile defence army unit equipped with Buk missile defence systems, the press service of the Donetsk People’s Republic told Itar-Tass on Sunday.

So far, no details are available about the number and condition of the missile systems taken over by the self-defence forces. The press service refused to comment.

The Buk missile defence system is a mobile medium-range surface-to-air missile (SAM) system designed to defend field troops and logistics installations against air threats in conditions of heavy electronic countermeasures and intense enemy fire." ENDS


On July 15, 2014 I, using my pseudonym "plantagenet" on On Line Opinion wrote http://forum.onlineopinion.com.au/thread.asp?article=16493&page=0#288071 :

" - Crimea and now eastern Ukraine . I hear the FSB will soon purge the GRU itself because the GRU is doing too well in terms of oppression. See "Crimea crisis brings Russian military spies back in the game" http://intelnews.org/2014/07/09/01-1510/ 

Posted by plantagenet, Tuesday, 15 July 2014 8:41:04 PM "

It was just an educated hunch. The GRU had risen too quickly in the Russian intelligence pecking order, due to its early-mid 2014 successes in collecting intelligence in Crimea-Ukraine and in deploying special forces troops in Crimea and eastern Ukraine. Internally, Putin will blame the GRU for the shootdown mistake - a grievous public relations disaster for Russia. Putin will use his main enforcer and old workplace, FSB, to punish the GRU. 


"When You Mess With Civilian Airliners, You Mess With the World: MH17 shootdown takes the war beyond Ukraine

On July 17, someone shot down Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 over eastern Ukraine, killing 298 people.
Ukraine blames Russia. Russia blames Ukraine. No one is sure yet exactlywhat happened. But the available facts point to pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine as being responsible.

It’s the latest tragedy in a conflict the international community can no longer contain with sanctions and rhetoric.

Minutes after the crash of MH17, a popular Russian social media page bearing the name of the seperatists’ military commander bragged about downing an aircraft near the village of Torez. The post was later deleted and the site now claims to have received the information from forums and notofficial channels.
“It does seem pretty conclusive that Strelkov did comment about shooting down a plane,” Mark Galeotti, a Russia expert at New York University, told War is Boring via email. “That fits with my working assumption, which is that this was an insurgent missile—provided by the Russians—launched at what they thought was a Ukrainian government aircraft.”

The rebels do have the weapons to take down an airliner like MH17. We know because they told us. On June 29, the press office of the separatists reported they had taken control of a 9K37 Buk anti-air missile system.

The Buk is a medium-range, surface-to-air missile system developed by the Soviet Union in the 1970s. It’s a popular export—both Ukraine and the rebels are using the missiles.

This is the context of an escalating air war in eastern Ukraine. On June 17, Kiev claimed a Russian jet shot down a Ukrainian fighter plane. On Monday, a separatist missile downed a Ukrainian An-26 transport plane. Earlier in the month, separatists downed an An-30. On June 13, the rebels shot down an Il-76 transport.

The rebels are working hard to control the airspace above eastern Ukraine, but these were low-flying planes and the Buk missile can travel to as high as [25 km]. MH17 flew at [10 km], well within the Buk’s range.
YouTube videos go up and come down. Some claim to show the crash while others show the Buk missile system moving through areas near Torez."



"The Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777-200[ER] flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur was allegedly shot down [on July 17, 2014] by a group of Russian-backed Cossack militants near the village of Chornukhine, Luhansk Oblast, some 80 kilometers north-west of Donetsk, [in eastern Ukraine very near the border with Russia - see map above] according to recordings of intercepted phone calls between Russian military intelligence [GRU] officers and members of terrorist groups, released by the country’s security agency (SBU).
One phone call apparently was made at 4:40 p.m. Kyiv time, or 20 minutes after the plane crash, by Igor Bezler, who the [Security Service of Ukraine] SBU says is a Russian military intelligence officer and leading commander of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic. He reports to a person identified by Ukraine’s SBU as a [Colonel in Russian GRU military intelligence] Vasili Geranin [on Geranin see last paragraph of text on the Bezler Wikipedia article] regarding the shot down plane, which is about to be examined by the militants.
The second intercepted conversation released by [SBU] was apparently between militants nicknamed “Major” and "Greek" immediately upon inspection of the crash site. 
“It’s 100 percent a passenger (civilian) aircraft,” Major is recorded as saying, as he admitted to seeing no weapons on site. “Absolutely nothing. Civilian items, medicinal stuff, towels, toilet paper.” 
In the third part of conversation Cossack commander Nikolay Kozitsin talking to an unidentified militant cynically suggests that the Malaysia Airlines airplane could've been carrying spies, as, otherwise, it would have no business flying in that area.
Read the full transcript of an intercepted phone call below: 
Igor Bezler: We have just shot down a plane. Group Minera. It fell down beyond Yenakievo (Donetsk Oblast).
Vasili Geranin on Geranin see last paragraph of text on the Bezler Wikipedia article]: Pilots. Where are the pilots?
Igor Bezler: Gone to search for and photograph the plane. Its smoking.
Vasili Geranin: How many minutes ago?
Igor Bezler: About 30 minutes ago.
SBU comment: After examining the site of the plane the terrorists come to the conclusion that they have shot down a civilian plane. The next part of the conversation took place about 40 minutes later
40 minutes later.
Major”: These are Chernukhin folks who shot down the plane. From the Chernukhin check point. Those cossacks who are based in Chernukhino.
"Greek": Yes, Major.
"Major": The plane fell apart in the air. In the area of Petropavlovskaya mine. The first “200” (code word for dead person). We have found the first “200”. A Civilian.
"Greek": Well, what do you have there?
“Major”: In short, it was 100 percent a passenger (civilian) aircraft.
"Greek": Are many people there?
“Major”: Holy sh__t! The debris fell right into the yards (of homes).
"Greek": What kind of aircraft?
“Major”: I haven’t ascertained this. I haven’t been to the main sight. I am only surveying the scene where the first bodies fell. There are the remains of internal brackets, seats and bodies.
"Greek": Is there anything left of the weapon?
“Major”: Absolutely nothing. Civilian items, medicinal stuff, towels, toilet paper.
"Greek": Are there documents?
“Major”: Yes, of one Indonesian student. From a university in Thompson. 
Militant: Regarding the plane shot down in the area of Snizhne-Torez. It’s a civilian one. Fell down near Grabove. There are lots of corpses of women and children. The Cossacks are out there looking at all this.
They say on TV it’s AN-26 transport plane, but they say it’s written Malaysia Airlines on the plane. What was it doing on Ukraine’s territory?
Nikolay Kozitsin: That means they were carrying spies. They shouldn’t be f…cking flying. There is a war going on" ENDS
I'm sure Putin's propaganda mill will persuade the chatterati (known as "useful idiots" in Russia) that it was the fault of Ukraine and the victim (MH17) for being "raped".

Unfortunately captured or bought small and medium SAMs may become more commonly used by insurgents-terrorists elsewhere - especially in the Middle East (Lebanon, Syria, Iraq) and Afghanistan-Pakistan, also several countries in Africa.

Israel has already developed an anti-missile laser system for fitting to airliners http://www.theblaze.com/stories/2014/02/27/israel-to-outfit-passenger-planes-with-laser-anti-missile-defense-system/ .

See also http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-07-23/mh17-how-can-airlines-defend-against-missile-attacks/5616674 which ends "Professor Theodore Postal, professor of science technology and security at [MIT indicated] that defending civilian airliners against such attacks "is extremely difficult to do". After all, "combat aircraft have pretty sophisticated electronic countermeasures," Professor Postal said. "And they get shot down all the time."

MHalblaub has indicated: The last position of the aircraft was just 10 km away from the Russian border. The US or some other NATO members probably did detect the search radar of the Buk missile system that shot down MH17. An E-3 AWACS and E-8 Joint STAR had eastern Ukrainian airspace under surveillance. Even some infrared tracks were recognized. Therefore it is likely the military and top politicians knew exactly where the missile was fired from.


http://intelnews.org/2014/07/24/01-1520/ "US spies say incriminating flight MA17 recordings are genuine"



http://intelnews.org/2014/07/18/01-1517/ Ukraine rebels ‘admit downing Malaysia plane’ in phone intercepts


July 16, 2014

Australia's Future Submarine - a $40 Billion Risk?

[The following is under copyright]

The selection process to build 6 to 12 Australian future submarines involves many hurdles and pitfalls. It would be hugely wasteful for politicians, admirals and officials to again make hasty choices that again steer this country into a Collins disaster. When the 2014-2015 Defence White Paper is published next year it will be too early to “pick winners” because Japanese options are only starting to be looked at. At current estimates the up-front cost for 12 submarines may amount to $40 Billion (funds Australia doesn’t currently have). It is appropriate that Australia not be locked into another ASC build in South Australia madness – whatever Labor promised to the maritime unions in 2009 http://www.aph.gov.au/About_Parliament/Parliamentary_Departments/Parliamentary_Library/pubs/BN/2011-2012/Submarines#_Toc325531486  .

It is also vital for Australia to avoid the major integration problems caused by the purchase of essential systems (including hull, propulsion and combat systems, others?) from too many equipment companies of too many nations http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Collins-class_submarine#McIntosh-Prescott_Report_and_Fast_Track_program. Australia’s business model of locally built submarines and ships may well be over-ambitious and un-affordable. The poor current performance of Australian industry in naval construction should also be seen as a risk and uncertainty. The current Air War Destroyer project is increasingly seen as a project to build three destroyers for the price of four, with the usual suspects featured. “The problems had been compounded by the unwieldy set-up of the AWD Alliance, made up of the government military purchaser the Defence Materiel Organisation, the government-owned shipbuilder ASC and…” http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/navys-air-warfare-destroyer-project-blows-out-by-300m-20140306-34a8n.html With a timeline overlapping the future submarine project Australia also plans to build 8 future frigates http://www.defence.gov.au/dmo/id/dcp/html_dec10/sea/Sea5000.html - each expected to weigh 7,000 tons.

An additional layer of risk and uncertainty has been added over the last two weeks with reports that the Australian Government may see merit in selecting a Japanese submarine propulsion system and perhaps a complete Japanese submarine http://uk.reuters.com/article/2014/05/28/uk-japan-australia-submarine-idUKKBN0E82FG20140528 . It is Japan’s current Soryu class submarine that has caught Australian attention. The Soryu has a propulsion system (including the diesel-electric engine and AIP) that may be suitable for the very large conventional submarine that Australia is seeking. Problems for Australia in utilising a complete Soryu design are that Soryus very likely do not carry all the features that Australia probably wants including: Lithium-ion batteries and a Vertical Multi-Purpose Lock (VMPL) that can carry divers, undersea drones or extra Tomahawk cruise missiles.

The willingness of the Japanese government of Prime Minister Abe to consider exporting submarine technology to Australia has only come about via recent and radical departure in Japan from the traditionally pacifist political and constitutional approach in Japan. These new ideas may not be deeply or broadly held in Japanese politics. Hence there is a risk that a new Japanese government after Abe (perhaps a centrist-pacifist Democratic Party government) might effectively renege on any Japanese understandings, promises and contracts concerning submarines.

The sensibilities of the Japanese public and Chinese government pressures must also be considered in any Australian-Japan submarine deal. Japan has a strong public peace movement which can be highly antagonistic towards Japan’s military alliances (particularly concerning US bases). Significant numbers of the Japanese public might also see a Japanese-Australian submarine export deal as a security relationship that should be opposed. China, fearing a remilitarised Japan, may also exert political and economic pressure on Australia and on Japan (including the Soryu’s principal builders Kawasaki and Mitsubishi) to break up a submarine based security relationship. It must be remembered that the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (Australia, Japan, the US, India) proposed by Prime Minister Abe in 2007 collapsed in 2008 when Australia pulled out of it due to Chinese pressure http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quadrilateral_Security_Dialogue#Rudd.E2.80.99s_departure .
If the Australian Government insists a future submarine be built locally it is prudent for Australia to move slowly in its decision making. Australia simply doesn’t have the money, won’t have it for years and there are too many uncertainties over the Japan card.

The most likely outcome for Australia’s future submarine may be ASC working with a German, French, Japanese, Spanish or Swedish prime contractor to integrate a hull from that contractor with a Japanese propulsion system and American combat system. The latter two systems might be selected on their merits but with a tacit understanding that Pacific security alliances with Japan and the US are important determinants.

A far cheaper, easier and less problematic approach might be to choose just one foreign company as the prime contractor and provider of the systems. The most experienced companies, with the most reputable sales record, and the most experience building submarines outside their home countries are Germany’s TKMS-HDW and France’s DCNS. Spain’s Navantia falls down on having never designed or exported a submarine without heavy French involvement and there have been major program problems with Navantia’s current go-it-alone project – the S-80. Sweden falls down on having not being associated with a new submarine build since HMAS Rankin (of the Collins Class) was built in Australia in 2003. The association of Sweden with the Collins is not a positive selling point in Australian minds.

Just because submarines are a defence item doesn’t mean Australia’s future submarine project has to be excessively complicated and overly expensive. Australia has choices to make the process more simple, less risky and less expensive. A post Collins submarine selection process of selecting and managing a mixture of competing companies, nations and technologies for a locally built submarine is unnecessary. Australia can choose a major company like TKMS or DCNS to use its corporate experience and connections to identify and manage more efficient choices rather than diverse major suppliers. Australia could also decide to have the submarines built overseas in Germany, France or perhaps Japan. Having submarines built at the shipyards of these foreign submarine companies should free up $Billions that would have been expended in a local build process. Those $Billions saved could be spent on other industrial development purposes in Australia. 

Australia is having its F-35 jet fighters built in the US – therefore why not have Australia’s submarines built overseas? Could it be that aviation industries are mobile while shipbuilding industries must be locked in the shipyard past?


July 11, 2014

Australia may select Japanese Submarine

The Maritime Executive (MAREX) reported, July 9, 2014 that http://www.maritime-executive.com/article/Australia-Inches-Closer-to-Japanese-Submarine-Deal-2014-07-09 : 

July 09, 2014

Australia Inches Closer to Japanese Submarine Deal

Australian Defence Minister David Johnston hailed the signing on Wednesday of an agreement with Japan as “an important milestone”. The agreement will deepen bilateral defense science and technology cooperation.

Australia’s Prime Minister Tony Abbott and Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe signed the agreement in Canberra during Abe’s visit to Australia. “This is an important milestone in the Australia-Japan defense relationship, and an integral part of the broader efforts to strengthen our strategic partnership,” said Johnston.

The agreement will facilitate deeper bilateral defense technology cooperation, and the first project will be the Marine Hydrodynamics Project, an important topic in relation to designing a submarine’s hull to ensure its low noise, stealth capabilities and to improve propulsive efficiency. 

The sharing may not be all one-sided. Scientists from Australia have invented sound-absorbing hull and mast tiles that absorb the radio-wave pings sent out by searching sonar sets. Japan is also said to be interested in radar technology developed in Australia that has proved to be effective at shooting down incoming supersonic missiles.

Currently the Japanese constitution prevents that country from taking military defensive action on behalf of allies, but Abe is looking to change that to allow for the concept of “collective self-defense”. Consequently, allies might be more inclined to assist Japan if needed. Australia and Japan have already agreed to work together on submarine design, and this change in policy is viewed as contributing to a growing alliance between the countries. 

Australia may ask Japan for help in designing a new class of submarine or may consider buying complete submarines from Japan. Australia’s previous government had promised to build 12 submarines in Adelaide for a total cost of around $40 billion, the country’s most expensive defense project. However, the Abbott government, elected in September last year, may downsize that and is said to be considering other options.

Of-the-shelf European submarines have been rejected in the past for being too small and lacking in range for Australian conditions, so Japan’s Soryu class are now an attractive prospect given the willingness of Japan to engage with Australia on the project.

“The language being used is unprecedented in terms of speaking of the special relationship, the depth and breadth of the friendship and their preparedness to share sensitive information with us,” Australia’s minister for foreign affairs, Julie Bishop told The Australian.

However, Australia still claims to be in discussions with other countries including Germany, France, the US and Britain. “This is not the only option available to us at this stage. It’s one of a number,” Johnston says.

The ability of any Japanese submarines bought by Australia to operate with the US fleet of nuclear submarines will be a significant factor. Any new Australian submarines are likely to include the same combat system and [US Mark 48] torpedoes as the US Virginia-class nuclear-powered attack submarines and near-silent propellers developed in the US.

If Australia bought foreign off-the-shelf submarines it would be a serious setback for the local shipbuilding industry. However, after delays and cost overruns in the Air Warfare Destroyer project, the government has already chosen to build a new series of naval supply ships in either Spain or South Korea." ENDS


Note that Japan in the next few years plans to develop a new generation submarine to start replacing the current Soryu's by the 2030s. What the Soryu's probably don't have (vertical multi-purpose locks (VMPLs)? Lithium-ion batteries?) - which Australia probably wants - might be incorporated into Japan's next generation submarine. 


July 4, 2014

Australian Counter-Terrorism Lawmaking

On June 4, 2014 Australia's ON LINE opinion published an article at http://www.onlineopinion.com.au/view.asp?article=16460 that I wrote concerning laws and the perceived terrorist risks arising from fighting in the Syrian and Iraqi civil wars.The major concern being that amended or new counter-terrorism laws are required to take account of jihadis who wish to return to Australia or do return. Note - towards the end of the article some terrorism problems in Germany are described. I have slightly modified this Australia by the Indian Ocean blog version:

Australian Counter-Terrorism Lawmaking

Ongoing civil wars in Syria and Iraq are making the job of police and security agencies in Australia even more complex and daunting than usual. An increase in the number of young men going overseas to fight in these civil wars carries with it the risk they will bring newly acquired violent skills back to Australia. Other countries, including those in Europe, are also responding to perceived increases in terrorism risks. We may be of many faiths but we are Australians first so shouldn't be ruled by religion.

The Federal Attorney-General, Senator Brandis, discussed these issues with the peak Islamic leadership (senior Imams) on Wednesday, July 2, 2014. Senator Brandis said "The Abbott government is absolutely determined that the troubles in the Middle East will not have an impact of Australia's domestic population. We acknowledge that this is an important national security issue." Sheikh Saleem, a member of the National Imams Council responded that "It is a matter for all of us…to build a secure and peaceful Australia and this a very challenging time [. The] news that over 60 Australians are participating in war in Syria and Iraq is a shock to every individual Muslim in this country."

To address these heightened concerns about international and home-grown terrorism the Government is scheduled, on July 14, 2014, to introduce a range of proposed amendments to national security legislation into ParliamentThis will be followed by more proposed amendments over the next few months. These initial proposed amendments concern: Australian police and security agencies' powers to conduct surveillance in countries where governance has broken down; powers to monitor and disrupt suspect computer networks; suspension of passports; and other issues. These represent the most major proposed changes to counter-terrorism laws since those introduced by the Howard Government in 2005.  The amendments are mainly based on recommendations of a parliamentary committee inquiry into intelligence and security. These are contained in a report tabled under the previous (Labor) Government last year. The proposed amendments also draw on recommendations in the latest Annual Report of the outgoing Independent National Security Legislation Monitor (INSLM), Bret Walker.

Checks and balances are important particularly over major changes to counter-terrorism laws, but it appears one check is to be abolished. While major counter-terrorism amendments are about to go before Parliament the  Government is recommending that (to save money and reduce duplication) the position of INSLM be terminated (see this Brisbane Times article). Bret Walker wrote on page 3 of the 2014 INSLM Annual Report: "The INSLM is not aware of any other officer, agency or "level" of government doing what Parliament required to be done by the INSLM Act enacted in 2010.''

Australia's concern over heightened radicalism caused by the Syrian and Iraqi civil wars has also been felt by other Western countries including those in Europe. More than 300 Germans and 2,000 – 3,000 other Europeans are estimated to be involved in Syrian and Iraqi fighting.

It is thought that most Europeans and Australians who are involved have used Turkey as the initial entry point by walking, or been driven, over the Turkish border into Syria. McClatchy News reports that since 2011 Turkey has not banned this movement of young men crossing over the Turkish border to fight in Syria or Iraq. Religious differences may play a part in this situation. Most Turks are Sunni, like most anti-government insurgents in Syria and Iraq, while Syrian and Iraqi government forces are mainly Shiite.

McClatchy News reports an aspect of what might be a relatively humanitarian German approach to terrorism issues :"Claudia Dantschke, a German specialist in Islam who tries to identify and counsel families where the young people are at risk of choosing the fight, says the official reaction struggles to keep up with the increased intensity of recruiting actions." She wrote in an email "The public awareness for the problem of young people from Germany joining the jihad has increased, so more families are turning to us for help." She says Germany faces "a massive increase in propaganda from recruiters for [Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS)]…[ISIS] have Germans spreading their propaganda on Facebook in German, in groups frequented by teenagers and on pages of people they identify with. The extent and effect of this radical direct approach is a new thing."

Anxiety that civil wars in the Middle East may result in violence here in Australia provides one of the justifications (along with communications technological change) for amended counter-terrorism laws. Australians shouldn't become involved in other people's wars. If they do it should be as a result of legitimately constituted processes of government. The comeback that our armed forces become involved forgets that Australia's leaders are democratically voted in by all Australians over 18 and can be voted out. There is also little risk that ours soldiers might commit violent acts once they return to Australia. Terrorism is a global fear that shouldn't impinge on our lives.