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02 Nov 18. Canada’s Halifax-Class Frigates: Ready for Duty, Now and in the Future. Public Services and Procurement Canada, on behalf of National Defence, has issued Advance Contract Award Notices (ACANs) to Irving Shipbuilding Inc., of Halifax, Nova Scotia, Chantier Davie Canada Inc., of Lévis, Quebec, and Seaspan Victoria Shipyards, of Victoria, British Columbia, for maintenance support services for Canada’s 12 Halifax-class frigates. The combined value of the three contracts will be approximately $7bn (including taxes). These contracts will be awarded under the repair, refit and maintenance component of the NSS and will ensure that maintenance and engineering work continue on the 12 Halifax-class frigates until the replacement Canadian Surface Combatant ships are delivered. These notices follow extensive industry engagement, which began in December 2016. Based on these consultations, it was determined that these three Canadian shipyards possess the required workforce and infrastructure necessary to conduct the work on the Halifax-class frigates.
The ACANs confirm Canada’s intention to enter into a contract with each of the three identified Canadian shipyards. Other interested suppliers have 15 calendar days to signal their interest in bidding for this contract, by submitting a “statement of capabilities” that meets the requirements laid out in the ACANs.
“Through the National Shipbuilding Strategy, the process of renewing fleets for the Royal Canadian Navy over the next 30 years is underway across the country. Our Government’s long-term commitment to maintaining an agile and responsive naval force will provide the Royal Canadian Navy and its sailors with the reliable ships they need to do their jobs while protecting the interests of all Canadians,” said Carla Qualtrough, Minister of Public Services and Procurement and Accessibility.
“We are ensuring that the women and men of our Royal Canadian Navy are equipped with the ships they need to serve Canadians. Our Government is taking measures to ensure that our modernized Halifax-class frigates are able to continue to protect Canadian waters and contribute significantly to international operations. These contracts will ensure that our frigates remain operationally ready while increasing the number of jobs and strengthening the ship maintenance capacity in Canada as outlined in our National Shipbuilding Strategy,” said Harjit S. Sajjan, Minister of National Defence.
–The Industrial and Technological Benefits Policy, including Value Proposition, will be applied to this procurement.
–Periodic docking maintenance work periods are essential to ensure the Halifax-class frigates are available and reliable during their operational cycle and deployments.
–The RCN has 12 Halifax-class frigates; seven are stationed in Halifax, Nova Scotia, while the five are stationed in Esquimalt, British Columbia.
–The RCN requires that at least eight of 12 frigates are able to deploy at all times to meet the Navy’s commitment to the Government of Canada.
–The ships require a wide range of engineering change work, equipment installations, docking work and corrective maintenance activities to ensure that they remain operationally available and relevant through to end of life. (Source: defense-aerospace.com/Public Services and Procurement Canada)
02 Nov 18. Run silent, run deep: Understanding the regional sub rivalry. Navies throughout Indo-Pacific Asia have increasingly recognised the advantages provided by submarines, leading to growing numbers of submarines operating in Australia’s direct proximity. With the Australian future submarine program mired by apparent indecision, contractual delays and changing requirements, the regional submarine environment is radically changing. As both great and emerging regional powers scramble to design and build, or buy and introduce, the latest and most capable submarine platforms to ensure their continued dominance, maritime security and ability to deter potential adversaries, Australia’s changing strategic environment has raised questions around the survivability, cost and capability of the Royal Australia Navy’s ageing Collins Class submarines and the relevance of Australia’s future submarines. So what do the major regional player’s capabilities currently look like?
United States Navy: The US Navy operates a number of different submarines in the Indo-Pacific region, including fast-attack submarines, ballistic missile submarines and cruise missile submarines, which are responsible for providing surface fleet anti-submarine warfare cover, strategic deterrence and long-range strike capabilities.
America’s Indo-Pacific submarine fleet is based at a number of key locations including Naval Base Pearl Harbor, Naval Base Kitsap, Washington State, Naval Base Guam and Naval Base Yokosuka, Japan.
Attack Submarines (SSN):
- Los Angeles Class: Designed during the height of the Cold War to counter increasingly quiet Soviet submarines in the north Atlantic and north-western Pacific, which would pose a threat to the US Navy’s carrier battle groups. The 32 remaining operational vessels weigh in at just under 7,000 tonnes when submerged and are reportedly capable of 33+ knots submerged, the Los Angeles Class are capable carrying 37 Mk 48 heavyweight torpedoes, Tomahawk land attack cruise missiles, Harpoon anti-ship missiles and multiple mines.
- Seawolf Class: The three Seawolf Class were designed to be the ultimate predators of the sea, responsible for hunting down stealthy Soviet Akula and Typhoon Class submarines in a deep ocean environment. Seawolf Class subs range in weight from 9,140 tonnes to 12,140 (for the USS Jimmy Carter subclass), capable of 35 knots while submerged and carry approximately 50 Mk 48 heavyweight torpedoes, Tomahawk land attack cruise missiles and Harpoon anti-ship missiles.
- Virginia Class: Acting as the next evolution of US submarine design from the preceding Seawolf Class, Virginia and her projected 66 sister ships are a 21st century submarine, with a classified top speed of greater than 25 knots submerged and submerged weight of 7,900 tonnes. The various ‘blocks’ of the Virginia Class are capable of carrying a variety of weapons, including Mk 48 heavyweight torpedoes, Tomahawk land attack cruise missiles and Harpoon anti-ship missiles.
Ballistic Missile and Cruise Missile Submarines (SSBN/SSGN):
- Ohio Class: Originally designed as ballistic missile submarines responsible for carrying the sea-based leg of America’s nuclear deterrent, the early-to-mid 2000’s conversion of four submarines to be classed as cruise missile submarines reduced the total number of ballistic missile submarines to 14. Weighing in at about 18,750 tonnes submerged and a reported submerged speed of 25 knots, the SSBN variants are capable of support 24 Trident I and II missiles, while the SSGN variant carry a payload of 154 Tomahawk land attack cruise missiles, Mk 48 heavyweight torpedoes and Harpoon anti-ship missiles.
People’s Liberation Army – Navy: The rising contender, China’s Navy has a growing fleet of increasingly capable submarines, both nuclear and conventionally powered vessels providing Chinese leaders with a bespoke submarine fleet capable of responding to different operational contingencies and environments.
Attack Submarines (SSN):
- Type 091 Class: China’s first generation of nuclear attack submarine weighs in at 5,500 tonnes when submerged, with a top speed of about 25 knots and is capable of carrying 20, 533mm torpedoes or 36 mines in their torpedo tubes. Additionally, the vessels are capable of carrying submarine launched variants of the C-801 anti-ship missile.
- Type 093 Class: China’s second generation of nuclear attack submarine weighs in at 7,000 tonnes while submerged, with a top speed of 30 knots. The vessels were designed as a replacement for the Type 091 vessels with key improvements on speed, reliability, acoustic performance and capability. The Type 093 carry a variety of weapons, including 533mm torpedoes, submarine launched variants of the CJ-10 missile and YJ-18 anti-ship cruise and land attack cruise missiles.
Attack Submarines (SSK):
- Type 039/A Class: The first fully Chinese developed conventional submarines, both the Type 039/A Class submarines are designed to supplement the larger nuclear submarines in the anti-shipping and anti-submarine operations in littoral waters. The vessels have a submerged weight of 2,250 tonnes, with a top speed of 22 knots and are capable of carrying 18 533mm torpedoes, the YJ-8 anti-ship cruise missile or 36 naval mines.
- Kilo Class: Russian designed fast attack submarines, designed to key anti-shipping and anti-submarine operations in littoral waters. Larger than the Type 03/A Class vessels, the Russian designed submarines have a submerged weight of 3,000-3,950 tonnes, a submerged speed of 20 knots and submerged range of approximately 740 kilometres. The heavily armed vessels are capable of carrying 533mm torpedoes, 24 mines and in the case of Russian use, four Kalibr land-attack cruise missiles, eight Strela-3 or Igla-1 surface-to-air missiles.
Ballistic Missile Submarines (SSBN):
- Type 092 Class: China’s first SSBN design, the single ship is capable of maintaining a max speed of 22 knots. Weighing in at 8,000 tonnes submerged, the vessels also carry 533mm torpedoes and up to 12 JL-1A submarine launched ballistic missiles with an operational range of 2,500 kilometres.
- Type 094 Class: China’s second SSBN design, sees an enlarged design of 11,000 tonnes submerged, with a highly-classified speed. The vessels are armed with JL-2 submarine launched ballistic missiles with a range of 7,400 kilometres.
Russian Navy: America’s traditional counter-balancing submarine foe in both the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, Russia’s Pacific fleet submarine force is a far-cry from the glory days of the Soviet Union and its vast submarine fleet. Despite this, Russia maintains a potent submarine force in the Pacific conducting anti-ship, anti-submarine and nuclear deterrence missions.
Attack Submarines (SSN):
- Akula Class: The pinnacle of Soviet attack submarine design, the Akula and its variants vary in size from 8,140 tonnes to 13,800 tonnes submerged with a top speed between 28-35 knots when submerged. The Akula Class were designed to limit the capability of the US Navy’s aircraft carriers and associated task groups through overwhelming firepower, including 28 533mm torpedoes, 12 650mm torpedoes, Klibr land-attack cruise missiles and Igla-M surface-to-air missile launcher.
Attack Submarines (SSK):
- Kilo Class: Russian designed fast attack submarines, designed to key anti-shipping and anti-submarine operations in littoral waters. Larger than the Type 03/A Class vessels, the Russian designed submarines have a submerged weight of 3,000-3,950 tonnes, a submerged speed of 20 knots and submerged range of about 740 kilometres. The heavily armed vessels are capable of carrying 533mm torpedoes, 24 mines and in the case of Russian use, four Kalibr land-attack cruise missiles, eight Strela-3 or Igla-1 surface-to-air missiles.
Ballistic Missile and Cruise Missile Submarines (SSBN/SSGN):
- Oscar I/II Class: The Russian counterpart to the US Ohio Class SSGNs, the 19,400 tonne submerged vessels are capable of travelling at 32 knots while submerged and are armed with 533mm and 650mm torpedoes, including Starfish and Stallion anti-submarine nuclear missiles, anti-submarine torpedo or 32 mines, additionally the Oscar I/II Class are armed with 24 Granit nuclear armed cruise missiles.
- Borei Class: The next-generation of Russian SSBNs the Borei class vessels have a submerged weight of 24,000 tonnes, submerged speed of 30 knots and are armed with 16 Bulava submarine launched ballistic missiles, 533mm torpedoes and Viyuga cruise missiles.
Japanese Maritime Self Defense Force: Japan operates a highly capable, modern fleet of conventional attack submarines that are used to conduct maritime interdiction, anti-shipping, anti-submarine and patrol operations of Japan’s maritime approaches and zones.
Attack Submarines (SSK):
- Oyashio Class: The predecessor to the Soryu Class, the Oyashio Class provide a highly capable conventional attack submarine, with a 4,000-tonne submerged weight, top submerged speed of 20 knots. The vessels are armed with 20 Type 89 533mm torpedoes, which are similar to the Mk 48 heavyweight torpedoes used by the US and Australian navies and Harpoon anti-ship missiles.
- Soryu Class: Designed as the successor to the Oyashio Class submarines, the Soryu provide a capability leap on the older vessels. The vessels have a submerged weight of 4,200 tonnes, a top submerged speed of 20 knots and estimated air independent propulsion (AIP) endurance of 11,297 kilometres and can be armed with 30 Type 89 533mm torpedoes, which are similar to the Mk 48 heavyweight torpedoes used by the US and Australian navies, Harpoon anti-ship missiles and mines.
Republic of Korea – Navy: As with the other aspects of the ROK-N’s modernisation programs. The Korean submarine force is undergoing broad modernisation and expansion to counter the continuing threat of North Korean midget submarines and growing threat of Chinese submarines operating in the Yellow Sea and around Korea’s strategically vital sea-lines-of-communication (SLOCs).
Attack Submarines (SSK):
- Chan Bogo (Type 209) Class: Developed in conjunction with HDW of Germany, the vessels provided a stepping stone for the ROK-N to develop submarine capabilities. The three vessels displace between 1,200-1,440 tonnes, have a top submerged speed of 21.5 knots and are armed with 14 533mm torpedoes and Harpoon anti-ship missiles.
- Sohn Won-Il (Type 214) Class: Developed with HDW, the vessels are a domestically built variant of the Type 214 submarine with a 1,860 tonne submerged weight, with a 20 knot submerged speed and is armed with eight 533mm torpedoes.
- Dosan Anh Changho Class: The pinnacle of Korean submarine design, the future submarines are expected to have a submerged weight of 9,705 tonnes, with a top submerged speed of 20 knots. These vessels will be mark a a quantum leap in the armament capacity with the addition of submarine launched ballistic missiles and submarine launched cruise missiles, in addition to standard torpedoes and anti-ship missiles.
Royal Australian Navy: Australia has a long history operating submarines, ranging from the AE1 and AE2 to the highly capable Oberon Class and now, somewhat maligned Collins Class.
Australia’s potentially $80bn SEA 1000 Future Submarine program, which will deliver 12 ‘regionally superior’ submarines based on the Naval Group Shortfin Barracuda design, which is planned to serve as the nation’s response to the changing strategic environment and the existing and emerging capabilities currently in operation or planned for operation in the coming decades. (Source: Defence Connect)
01 Nov 18. WA launches plan to capture greater piece of the defence pie. WA Premier Mark McGowan and Minister for Defence Issues Paul Papalia have officially launched the Western Australia Defence and Defence Industries Strategic Plan at the inaugural Indo-Pacific Defence Conference. The strategy represents the first time a West Australian government has committed to a strategic plan dedicated to defence and the defence industry, bringing WA in line with every other state and jurisdiction in the country. The priorities for assisting the defence sector are centred on harnessing the state’s competitive advantages and pursuing industries of the future.
Premier McGowan said, “Western Australia has incredibly strong manufacturing capabilities, with many local companies at the forefront of world-leading technology to service the defence sector.
“For the first time, we now have a strategy to build on these already-established strengths and champion Western Australia to secure a greater share of defence contracts for our state and create new opportunities for innovation,” he said.
The Strategic Plan outlines six key strategies:
- Supporting a strong enduring defence presence: Develop and promote the case for WA to be the principal location for maintenance and sustainment for the future submarines and frigates. These contracts are expected to exceed $50bn through the life of the new fleets;
- Growing the state’s defence industry capability and contribution: Facilitate business opportunities and collaboration overseas to maximise domestic and international defence opportunities;
- Developing strategic infrastructure: Establish an across-government task force to undertake strategic planning for the expansion and management of Henderson and the Australian Marine Complex;
- Building research and innovation partnerships: Work with the Australian government to establish a Defence Science Centre to enhance research collaborations and engagements between universities, industry and defence;
- Advancing education, training and skilling: Establish a Defence Office in the South Metropolitan TAFE to lead a co-ordinated and collaborative approach to the development of a WA defence workforce; and
- Supporting veterans and families: Develop, in consultation with defence and local governments, a Veterans and Defence Families Strategy to better support veterans and their families.
“Further to that, the strategy will provide nation-leading support for our Defence Force, the men and women who sacrifice so much for our nation, to assist with employment pathways and support for injured veterans,” Premier McGowan said.
The Defence Science Centre will be a collaboration between the state government, the Defence Science and Technology Group and Western Australian universities.
This centre will maximise WA’s defence-related research opportunities and will be a primary source of facilitating research and development connections to foster a globally engaged, competitive and innovative defence sector.
Minister Papalia said, “We are also home to numerous world-class universities, defence focused prime contractors and small to medium-sized enterprises, with many clustered at the Australian Marine Complex in Henderson.”
The strategic plan outlines the state’s vision and roadmap for how the McGowan government will pursue opportunities to support defence and industry requirements. It provides the basis for guiding the state’s public sector and Defence West, and identifies the key actions required to progress the government’s vision.
“The WA defence industry is a crucial asset to not only support the Australian Defence Force but also assist in diversifying the state’s economy and creating jobs,” Minister Papalia explained. (Source: Defence Connect)
27 Oct 18. ‘Prepare for war’, Xi Jinping tells military region that monitors South China Sea, Taiwan.
- China must ‘take all complex situations into consideration and make emergency plans accordingly’, Xi says on visit to Southern Theatre Command
- Military region has had to bear a ‘heavy military responsibility’ in recent years, he says
China’s President Xi Jinping has ordered the military region responsible for monitoring the South China Sea and Taiwan to assess the situation it is facing and boost its capabilities so it can handle any emergency.
The Southern Theatre Command has had to bear a “heavy military responsibility” in recent years, state broadcaster CCTV quoted him as saying during an inspection tour made on Thursday as part of his visit to Guangdong province.
“It’s necessary to strengthen the mission … and concentrate preparations for fighting a war,” Xi said. “We need to take all complex situations into consideration and make emergency plans accordingly. We have to step up combat readiness exercises, joint exercises and confrontational exercises to enhance servicemen’s capabilities and preparation for war.”
Details of his speech were not released to the public by state media until Friday.
Xi’s visit to the military command was one of several he made during a four-day trip to the south China province aimed at bolstering confidence amid an economic slowdown, and growing trade and strategic disputes with the United States. Details of his speech came a day after China’s State Councillor General and Defence Minister Wei Fenghe said the country would never give up “one single piece” of its territory and warned that “repeated challenges” to its sovereignty over Taiwan were extremely dangerous and would result in military action.
One of the primary missions of the Southern Theatre Command is overseeing the South China Sea, an area where tensions and military activity involving China, the US and other powers have been growing steadily.
Earlier this month, a Chinese destroyer almost collided with a US warship in the disputed waters after making what the Americans described as an “unsafe and unprofessional” manoeuvre in an attempt to warn it to leave the area.
Military observers said Xi’s comments were most likely intended to boost morale and reiterate Beijing’s territorial claims in the South China Sea.
“It’s likely intended as a signal to the US in particular and any parties that Beijing perceives to be causing provocation [in the disputed waters],” said Collin Koh, a research fellow at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore.
Beijing-based analyst Zhou Chenming took a similar view.
“The United States is expected to conduct more freedom of navigation exercises in the South China Sea region, and because it does not recognise [Beijing’s] rights to artificial islands, like Mischief Reef, there will probably be more military friction between the two countries there.”
Koh said Xi’s address to the Southern Theatre Command was also a clear warning to pro-independence forces in Taiwan, as the military region shared responsibility with the Eastern Theatre Command for monitoring the self-ruled island.
Relations between Beijing and Taipei have deteriorated since Tsai Ing-wen from the independence-leaning Democratic Progressive Party was elected Taiwan’s president in 2016. (Source: Defense News/www.scmp.com)
30 Oct 18. Strategic deterrence: More than just nukes. Strategic deterrence has long been the realm of major powers, however the decreasing cost of key weapons systems, rising wealth and competing strategic interests is seeing a rising proliferation of strategic force multipliers, raising the question, what options are open to Australia?
Strategic nuclear forces have served as the primary pillar of this strategic deterrence policy of many great powers, since the advent of the nuclear era in the dying days of the Second World War.
The doctrine of ‘Mutually Assured Destruction’ or MAD, served as a key tenant of the preventing global calamity that would result from the truly global conflict between two diametrically opposed superpowers.
Vast nuclear triads made up of complimentary land, air and sea based systems, ranging from hardened silos of ballistic missiles, submarine launched ballistic and cruise missiles and fleets of conventional and stealth heavy bombers, each capable of raining down death and destruction on an apocalyptic scale kept the United States and Soviet Union in a tense, often tenuous state of amicable hostility.
American strategic policy academic, Michael Keane describes deterrence as, “The prevention or inhibition of action brought about by fear of the consequences. Deterrence is a state of mind brought about by the existence of a credible threat of unacceptable counteraction. It assumes and requires rational decision makers.”
However, the collapse of the Soviet Union, the prevalence of asymmetric threats throughout the 2000s and now the rise of many peer competitor, both great and rogue powers, particularly throughout Indo-Pacific Asia, have served to redefine the regional strategic calculus, combined with mounting concerns regarding both the capability and willingness of the US to ensure the continuing protection, and nuclear security of its global allies, particularly Australia.
Mounting questions about an Australian nuclear capability has been growing in recent months, driven by debate prompted by strategic thinkers, including Paul Dibb, Hugh White and Malcolm Davis.
Each of whom present differing views of Australia’s approach to the nuclear question and the broader deterrence debate in light of regional developments and potential, long-term threats to Australian and regional security.
Nuclear deterrence is however, not the only means for ensuring the nation’s security through a deterrence focused posture.
Rather, the increasing capabilities afforded by conventional, complimentary, multi-spectrum (land, sea, air and cyber/space) forces lends significant avenues for proportional and critically, politically palatable investment in response.
This piece will look at the debate and some of options available to Australian policy makers to develop a ‘conventional deterrence triad’.
Army, the overlooked first responder
Australia’s army has long been the first responder for policy makers, spearheaded by elite Special Forces, the growing shift toward expeditionary capability in the form of amphibious regiments and the new doctrine of ‘accelerated warfare’ are both reshaping the role of the Army and the value it provides Australian decision makers.
Both the US Army’s Brigade Combat Teams (BCT) and the US Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) and Air-Ground Task Forces (MAGTF) provide a model of rapid response, conventional, ‘boots on the ground’ capability to react to a variety of contingencies, ranging from humanitarian and peacekeeping crises to direct action, high-intensity, peer v peer, combat scenarios.
The MEU, for example is made up of approximately 2,200 rapidly deployable marines, deployed from amphibious assault ships (LHDs) unifies integrated, ‘combined arms’ forces, including amphibious landing, infantry, artillery, armour, combat engineers, both rotary and fixed wing air support (both lift and attack), logistics, medical and supply chain services.
Similarly, the Brigade Combat Team, consists of one combat arms branch maneuver brigade and support and fire units. Typically made up of approximately 4,500 soldiers, with specialised infantry, mechanised infantry and light armoured reconnaissance, armoured units, divisional artillery, air, medical, logistics and command support.
The specialised focus of BCTs provides a diverse, quick response force capable of meeting any number of contingencies, without limiting the overall combat strength of the Army, by deploying proportional, tailored, brigade size ‘combined arms’ forces to hotspots, within 96 hours, as opposed to a division-sized force at 120 hours.
This focus on the capability, particularly the expeditionary capability of Army is supported by Malcolm Davis of ASPI, who told Defence Connect, “I feel that the ADF needs responsive and effective power projection, air and naval, and boosting army’s strategic mobility and amphibious capability.”
Davis claims’ are supported by John Birmingham in his thesis for Australian Foreign Affairs, entitled, ‘Weapons of choice: What does Australia have and what does it need?’ in which he identifies the need for a broader return to the ‘Forward Defence’ policy of the early Cold War years, but also an assertive increase in the expeditionary and conventional deterrence capabilities of the Army, Navy and Air Force.
First rate fleet or Scrap Iron Flotilla?
The government’s commitment to enhancing naval capability is leading the nation’s response to regional developments, with key platforms like the new Hobart and Hunter class forming the core of the surface combatant fleets, with the future submarines, under SEA 1000 providing the strategic force multiplier replacement for the ageing Collins class vessels.
“The Type 26 Hunter class Future Frigates will be excellent replacements for the Anzac class FFHs, and they, alongside the three Hobart class AWDs will form the core of our naval surface combatant force. But the key issue is whether naval surface combatants can survive against supersonic and ultimately, hypersonic antiship cruise missiles as well as antiship ballistic missiles,” Davis said.
Additionally, the Canberra class LHDs, which are responsible for forming the basis of army’s amphibious capability are critical to helping maneuver Australia ground forces in response to humanitarian or conflict contingencies.
Birmingham’s thesis also called for the reconsideration of indigenous fixed-wing air support for the Navy, in the form of F-35B strike aircraft, launched from the Canberra class vessels.
This call is challenged by Davis, who says, “I don’t see us buying F-35Bs to operate off the LHDs, the ships are not designed for that role, and trying to operate F-35Bs off the LHDs would mean sacrificing a lot of their amphibious capability. Nor do I see us getting aircraft carriers.”
The as yet to be seen vulnerability of major surface combatants to supersonic, hypersonic and area access denial weapons systems, employed chiefly by China, but also becoming increasingly cost effective means for smaller powers to ensure their own security, is cited by Davis as a major reason behind his comments.
“Firstly, such an acquisition would completely skew our operational posture, so that much of the Navy would then be required to defend the carriers (we’d need three carriers to keep one available for ops).
“Secondly, how much could one, or even two RAN aircraft carriers actually contribute in terms of effect given the cost and complexity of acquiring and operating them. I don’t see a convincing case for RAN aircraft carriers,” he said.
Additionally, growing concerns about the future-proofing and long-term capability of Australia’s current and future submarine force is of paramount concern to Davis, “I think Navy’s acquisition of the Future Submarine is right (absent a current option for nuclear powered and propelled submarines) but it’s going to take way too long to acquire the boats.
“We won’t have five Shortfin Barracudas out of 12 until the mid-2040s for example. In the interim, we have to soldier on with a fleet of six ageing (though updated) Collins class boats. Updates will be expensive, and a concern would have to be whether those updated Collins will be sufficient given the rapid modernisation of China’s SSN (Nuclear powered) and SSK (Diesel-Electric) fleet,” he said.
These concerns are echoed by Davis’ ASPI colleague, executive director, Peter Jennings, who said, “We need to be placing more effort into developing the long-range strike capability, this includes things like cruise missiles which can launched by platforms across the ADF. We also need to place greater emphasis on upgrading the capability provided by Collins, not just as a stop-gap, but as an imperative, as these submarines will continue to form the point of our deterrence spear for some time yet.”
The survivability, flexibility, capability and service life of Navy’s core platforms are serving to raise serious questions about the service and it’s ability to provide a credible, conventional deterrence capability, in the coming decades.
Fighters, bombers and drones, ohh my!
Air Force has invested heavily in its transition to become an integrated, fifth generation force through the introduction of key platforms, like F-35, P-8 Poseidon and MQ-4C Triton as part of Plan Jericho.
However, as the moat, that is the ‘Sea/Air Gap’ shrinks, as identified by Paul Dibb, the nation’s response presents interesting challenges and opportunities as Air Force steps up to play its part in the deterrence triad.
While F-35 will continue to form the core of Australia’s air combat capability, continuing delays, concerns about capability and survivability of the platform in the face rapidly evolving Chinese and Russian platforms threaten to undermine the platform, while the growing need for a credible long-range strike capability is supported by Professor Dibb, Dr Davis and Peter Jennings.
When asked by Defence Connect, Professor Dibb cited comments made in his recent piece for ASPI, ‘Should Australia develop its own nuclear deterrent?’, in which he tentatively presented two long-range, strategic strike options.
“The two most obvious delivery options are ballistic missiles launched from a nuclear-powered submarine, or a long-range nuclear cruise missile carried by a strategic bomber,” he wrote.
This is echoed, in some part by Malcolm Davis, who says, “The B-21 idea is an interesting one to keep in the back our minds. The USAF is looking to boost bomber squadron numbers, and numbers of B-21s above 166 aircraft. The more aircraft bought, the lower the unit cost, so an Australian option on a squadron of B-21s is worth thinking about if the US is agreeable, and if the unit cost is sufficiently low for them to be affordable.”
“We need to be thinking about longer-range air platforms for the future,” he said.
Long-range strike platforms serve to plug the critical gaps identified in the ‘Sea/Air’ gap, while also improve the strategic depth provided to Australia’s northern approaches, by establishing fields of attrition through which a potential adversary must fight, not only tactical capabilities, but also strategic capabilities which enhance the nation’s ability to ‘rip the arm’ off an adversary.
These critical platforms will also be supported by the ever evolving UAS space, which has rapidly evolved from an intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) focus, to include increasingly long-range, highly capable strike platforms, developed by both friendly and potential adversaries a like. The capabilities of these platforms, will only serve to improve as swarm technology and processing power continues to improve, enhancing the long-range strike capabilities available to Australia.
Enter the matrix: Responding to cyber and anti-space threats
The data and information rich environment of the modern battlespace presents a key area of both strategic opportunity, but equally vulnerability. Both cyber and space technologies, in particular are the new battleground for competing great powers who seek to limit opponents’ access to information, analytics and complex surveillance and reconnaissance information with which to inform decision making.
Peter Jennings of ASPI, highlighted the need for a robust research and development program to support the nation’s defence ambitions, saying, “While we have to ask what are the sorts of capabilities we can field now, we also have to ask what are the capabilities we will need to field in the future, out to 2040? This is where an organisation like DARPA becomes particularly powerful in helping the us to locally develop key technologies which will provide us with a tactical and strategic deterrent in the future.”
Supporting these comments, Malcolm Davis says, “I’d also emphasise a need to build sovereign space capability, in terms of satellite manufacturing and space launch, to support ADF and allied military operations, and to strengthen space deterrence alongside the US.
Davis also highlighted the banality of solely focusing our material capabilities on defending the ‘Sea/Air’ gap, saying in the face of increasing adversarial long-range strike, cyber and anti-space capabilities, “Counter-space capabilities (‘ASATs’) and cyberwarfare – are not at all constrained by the sea-air gap, so building our force structure around ‘defending the moat’ is actually a losing game.”
“Also, we need to get serious about faster progress in hypersonics. We are world leaders in R&D on hypersonics, but our focus is almost purely at a theoretical/scientific level, rather than operational application,” Davis said explaining the importance of R&D in responding to emerging threats to space capabilities, particularly in the form of anti-satellite, hypersonic weapons systems.
As, Malcolm Davis puts it, “[It is] better to build our force structure to project power forward, deep into maritime south-east Asia and beyond, and also have forward military presence in the Indian Ocean and the South Pacific.”
For Australia, the concept of nuclear power is a contentious issue, nuclear weapons and nuclear powered submarines present an even more contentious issue. In response, Australia needs to credibly develop its conventional deterrence capabilities, focusing on developing the key force multipliers necessary to slow and credibly deter a potential adversary. Discounting nuclear deterrence, the mounting debate on the role of Australia as a military power in an increasingly contested Indo-Pacific Asia requires drastically new thinking. (Source: Defence Connect)
29 Oct 18. Japan and India agree new defence and economic projects. Japan and India agreed Monday to upgrade diplomatic and military ties, with Tokyo also offering low-interest loans as the two countries seek closer ties to balance China’s weight in the region. The plans were announced as India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi rounded out a three-day trip to Tokyo for talks with his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe, senior ministers, and local business leaders.
Experts said Abe, who last week became the first Japanese prime minister to visit Beijing since 2011, was performing a delicate balancing act — working to improve ties with China while keeping relations with India on a strong footing.
“Strong relations between Japan and India are the foundation that will sustain the region,” Abe said in a joint press statement with Modi after talks in Tokyo.
He said the two sides would launch a new ministerial-level security dialogue and strengthen exchanges between army and naval forces, and he offered low-interest loans worth 316.4bn yen ($2.8bn).
“Japan and India will take the lead for stability and prosperity in the region,” he said.
Modi said the investment would create around 30,000 new jobs in India, and that the two leaders had pledged “to push our cooperation at an uninterrupted speed.”
Though neither leader mentioned China by name, experts said the talks come against the backdrop of expanding Chinese influence in the region.
“The 21st century is a century of Asia,” Modi said in remarks translated into Japanese.
“There are questions — who will predominate and what should be done? It is clear that there won’t be a century of Asia without cooperation between India and Japan.”
“Prime Minister Abe is performing a balancing act between China and India,” said Takashi Kawakami, professor of international politics at Takushoku University in Tokyo.
“He met President Xi Jinping at a time when China and the US are in confrontation, and he is now meeting Modi to seal cooperation among Japan, India and the US on a free and open Indo-Pacific, against China,” Kawakami told AFP.
Modi and Abe have met regularly in recent years, with Japan last year inaugurating India’s first bullet train project – a $19bn project using Japanese trains and technology.
It is meant to link Ahmedabad to India’s financial capital Mumbai and is scheduled for completion by the end of 2023.
The two leaders have reportedly become friends, and Modi became the first foreign leader to receive an invitation to Abe’s holiday home in Yamanashi near Mount Fuji, where the pair held informal talks on Sunday.
Photos posted by the pair on the respective Twitter accounts showed them chatting in front of a fireplace at the logcabin, wearing striped slippers and smiling.
“I am truly honoured by this gesture. PM Abe also taught me the Japanese way of eating food using chopsticks!” Modi tweeted. (Source: Shephard)
29 Oct 18. In Wake of Netanyahu Visit, Oman Calls for Recognition of Israel at Regional Forum. Oman publicly called for regional recognition of Israel, a day after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made a historic visit to the Sultanate on Friday, The Jerusalem Post reported.
Yousuf bin Alawi bin Abdullah, Oman’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, told a security forum in Bahrain that, “Israel is a state present in the region, and we all understand this. The world is also aware of this and maybe it is time for Israel to be treated the same [as other states] and to also bear the same obligations.”
Netanyahu traveled to Oman at the invitation of the country’s leader, Sultan Sayyid Qaboos bin Said Al Said, in a development Washington said could help regional peace efforts. On his trip, the prime minister was accompanied by his wife Sara, as well as senior officials, including the head of the Mossad intelligence agency and members of his national security team.
“We are not saying that the road is now easy and paved with flowers, but our priority is to put an end to the conflict and move to a new world,” bin Alawi told the forum.
The minister clarified that while Oman was offering ideas to further peace between Israel and the Palestinians, the Sultanate was not acting as an official mediator. Rather, Alawi said, Oman was relying on the United States and efforts by President Donald Trump in working towards the “deal of the century.” Although still not officially unveiled, the Palestinian leadership has derided the deal as “the slap of the century,” and have boycotted efforts by the U.S. to formulate a new peace initiative. Attending the summit, Bahrain’s foreign minister Khalid bin Ahmed al-Khalifa voiced support for Oman’s efforts to bring together Israelis and Palestinians, while Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir also stressed that they key to normalization was the peace process. (Source: theisraelproject.org)
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