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27 Dec 19. Japan to send warship, aircraft to Middle East to protect vessels. Japan will send a warship and patrol planes to protect Japanese ships in the Middle East as the situation in the region, from which it sources nearly 90% of its crude oil imports, remains volatile, Japan’s top government spokesman said on Friday.
FILE PHOTO: A Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force’s P3-C Orion surveillance aircraft flies over an oil tanker as the plane takes part in an anti-piracy operation at the Gulf of Aden, off Somalia, in this photo taken by Kyodo August 1, 2015. Mandatory credit Kyodo/via REUTERS
Under the plan approved by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s cabinet, a helicopter-equipped destroyer and two P-3C patrol planes will be dispatched for information-gathering aimed at ensuring safe passage for Japanese vessels through the region.
If there are any emergencies, a special order would be issued by the Japanese defence minister to allow the forces to use weapons to protect ships in danger.
“Peace and stability in the Middle East is extremely important for the peace and prosperity of the international community including Japan,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told a regular news conference.
“Also, it is very important to make sure Japan-related ships can sail safely in the Middle East, the world’s major source of energy.”
Friction between Iran and the United States has increased since last year, when U.S. President Donald Trump pulled the United States out of a 2015 international nuclear deal with Iran and re-imposed sanctions on it, crippling its economy.
In May and June, there were several attacks on international merchant vessels in the region, including the Japanese-owned tanker Kokuka Courageous, which the United States blamed on Iran. Tehran denies the accusations.
Oil importers and refiners welcomed the government decision.
“The Middle East situation remains unpredictable … We believe the decision, made against this backdrop, will benefit the safe passage of ships in the region,” Petroleum Association of Japan President Takashi Tsukioka said in a statement.
Japan, a U.S. ally that has maintained friendly ties with Iran, has opted to launch its own operation rather than join a U.S.-led mission to protect shipping in the region.
Abe last week briefed visiting Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Tokyo’s plan to send naval forces to the Gulf.
The planned operation is set to cover high seas in the Gulf of Oman, the northern Arabian Sea and the Gulf of Aden, but not the Strait of Hormuz.
The Japanese government aims to start the operation of the patrol planes next month, while the destroyer will likely begin activities in the region in February, a defence ministry official said.
The government decision is effective for one year through December 26, 2020. A fresh cabinet approval is necessary to extend the armed force’s activities in the Middle East.
A European operation to ensure safe shipping in the Gulf will also get underway next month, when a French warship starts patrolling there. (Source: Reuters)
27 Dec 19. Russia says it has deployed first hypersonic nuclear-capable missiles. Russia deployed its first regiment of hypersonic nuclear-capable missiles on Friday, the Defence Ministry said, a move which President Vladimir Putin has boasted puts his country in a class of its own.
Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu has informed Putin of the deployment, his ministry said in a statement, which did not say where the missiles were located.
The new system, called Avangard, comprises a hypersonic glide vehicle which is designed to sit atop an intercontinental ballistic missile, one of several new types of weapons touted by Putin as being ahead of their time.
Putin has said that Russia’s new generation of nuclear weapons can hit almost any point in the world and evade a U.S.-built missile shield, though some Western experts have questioned how advanced some of the weapons programmes are.
Putin said on Tuesday the Avangard system could penetrate both existing and any future missile defence systems.
“Today, we have a unique situation in our new and recent history. They (other countries) are trying to catch up with us. Not a single country possesses hypersonic weapons, let alone continental-range hypersonic weapons,” said Putin.
Hypersonic glide vehicles are boosted aloft on a rocket to heights of between 40 km (25 miles) and 100 km (62 miles) above the earth before detaching to glide along the upper atmosphere towards their target, say researchers.
Control surfaces on glide vehicles mean they can steer an unpredictable course and manoeuvre sharply as they approach impact. They also follow a much flatter and lower trajectory than the high, arching path of a ballistic missile.
That makes them much harder to detect early with radar, giving missile defences less time to respond, say researchers. (Source: Reuters)
26 Dec 19. China sails carrier group through Taiwan Strait as election nears. China has sailed its new aircraft carrier into the Taiwan Strait, Taiwan’s defence ministry said on Thursday, as a presidential election campaigning was in full swing on the island amid heighten tension with Beijing. Democratic Taiwan is claimed by China as a wayward province and is the Communist Party’s most sensitive and important territorial issue. China has threatened to attack if Taiwan moves toward formal independence.
Taiwan holds a presidential vote on Jan. 11 with President Tsai Ing-wen hoping to win re-election. She has repeatedly mentioned what she sees as the threat of China as a warning to voters.
Tsai’s ruling Democratic Progressive Party is pro-independence, although she has said she wants to maintain the status quo with China but will defend Taiwan’s security and democracy.
The Chinese carrier Shandong sailed north through the Strait, the Taiwan ministry said in a short statement, adding that the carrier group was accompanied by frigates. The ministry did not say exactly when the ships made their voyage.
“It’s the responsibility and duty for the two sides across the strait to maintain peace and stability and strive for the well-being of the people,” Taiwan’s presidential office said in a statement.
“Beijing should cherish peace and stability across the strait and in the region, which are not easy to come by.”
China’s defence ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment. A senior Taiwan official familiar with security planning said the Chinese navy patrol was the latest bid by Beijing to meddle in Taiwan’s election.
“By flexing military muscles, China is trying to intimidate non-aligned voters,” the official, who declined to be identified, told Reuters.
“Beijing understands that this could be a double-edged sword, but what worries China more is the possibility of a fiasco for pro-China forces in the election.”
China would prefer to the see the candidate of the main opposition Kuomintang party, which backs stronger ties, win the election.
The Chinese ministry’s spokesman, Wu Qian, speaking earlier on Thursday at a monthly news briefing, said everything was going “smoothly” with the new carrier, though did not comment on its deployments.
“It will continue to conduct trials and training, and form a combat capability through training. We will make an overall consideration about its deployment according to the situation and task needs,” Wu said.
He did not mention its sailing through the Taiwan Strait.
The carrier, China’s second largest, entered service at a base in the South China Sea last week in a big step in the country’s ambitious military modernization.
Last month, the ship, still unnamed at the time, sailed through the Taiwan Strait on its way to what China called routine exercises in the South China Sea, with Taiwan scrambling ships and aircraft to monitor the group.
President Xi Jinping said in January that China reserves the right to use force to bring Taiwan under its control but will strive to achieve peaceful “reunification”. (Source: Reuters)
27 Dec 19. Iraq – Hakurk: Turkish military forces recover MANPADS in PKK weapons cache on 23 December. On 23 December, Turkish military forces recovered a Russian-made 9K32 Strela-2 (SA-7 GRAIL) manportable air defence system (MANPADS) tube with the associated missile but no grip-stock or battery in a weapons cache in the Hakurk area of the Iraqi Kurdistan Region, located along the border with Turkey. Turkish military forces previously recovered an SA-7 MANPADS tube in a weapons cache near Hakurk on 19 June. Turkish military air-supported security operations remain ongoing targeting Kurdish violent non-state actor (VNSA) groups in the tri-border area of the southeast provinces of Turkey, northeast provinces of Syria and the northern provinces of Iraq. The operations are specifically targeting the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) VNSA group based in southeast Turkey and northern Iraq along with its northeast Syrian affiliate, known as People’s Protection Units (YPG). In addition to MANPADS capable below FL260, the PKK and YPG VNSA groups possess a variety of light weapons such as anti-tank guided missiles, anti-tank weapons, rocket-propelled grenades and low-calibre anti-aircraft artillery, capable of engaging aircraft below FL100. EASA along with US, UK, French and German civil aviation authorities have each issued stringent guidance to operators in the past year regarding the persistent threat to flight operations within Iraq, mainly at altitudes below FL260. EASA along with the US, UK, German and French civil aviation authorities have also issued strict guidance to operators within the past year, advising all flights be deferred to airports in Syria and within the airspace over the country.
Aerial operations in the tri-border area of Turkey, Syria & Iraq by Turkish security forces increase the likelihood of attempted surface-to-air fire engagements targeting military-grade air assets below FL260, as well as armed attacks against fortified installations with aviation infrastructure, as a means of retaliation against the government. Previously, Turkish military forces recovered an SA-7 MANPADS in a weapons cache in Turkey’s Hakkari Province, located along the border with Iraq on 27 October. During raids targeting PKK militants in Hakkari Province, on 14 June 2018 as well as 9 April 2018 and 1 July 2017, Turkish security forces seized weapons caches which included North Korean-made HT-16PGJ MANPADS. On 10 May 2017, Turkish security forces in Turkey’s Sirnak Province along the border with Iraq recovered a Russian-made 9K310 Igla-1 (SA-16 GIMLET) MANPADS. Of note, the PKK downed a Turkish military helicopter over Hakkari Province via Russian-made 9K38 Igla (SA-18 GROUSE) MANPADS engagement in May 2016. Turkish-backed Syrian rebels reportedly recovered an SA-18 MANPADS in Afrin, Syria, from a YPG weapons cache on 31 January 2018. We assess the southeast provinces of Turkey to be a HIGH risk airspace operating environment at altitudes below FL260 and MODERATE risk at altitudes above FL260. In addition, we assess portions of FIR Ankara (LTAA) located within 32 miles (50km) of the border with Syria in the southeast provinces of Turkey as well as the entirety of Iraq to be HIGH risk airspace operating environment at all altitudes. We continue to assess Syria to be an EXTREME risk airspace environment at all altitudes.
Risk area recommendation: Comprehensive risk mitigation measures
- Flights below FL260 not advised; essential flights over FL260 via measures below
- Defer diverting from flight plan with the exception of life threatening situations
- Security and operational risk-based identification of pre-planned divert airports
- Reliable and redundant communications with an established communications plan
- Fully-coordinated and robust emergency response plan supplemented by asset tracking
Approvals: As a precaution, conduct operational risk-based identification of divert and alternate airports for flight schedules with planned stops at aerodromes in the country or with overflight of the airspace. Operators are advised to ensure flight plans are correctly filed, attain proper special approvals for flight operations to sensitive locations and obtain relevant overflight permits prior to departure. In addition, ensure crews scheduled to operate to or over the country in the near term are fully aware of the latest security situation.
Military Air Activity: Increased military air operations have the potential to cause airspace congestion and impact the safety of civil aviation flights. Any significant increase in the amount of air operations over the country may impact the availability of airports along with access to the airspace. Aviation operators should monitor airport/airspace-specific airspace-specific notices, bulletins, circulars, advisories, prohibitions and restrictions prior to departure to avoid flight schedule disruption.
Weapons Trafficking: Poor provisions of security through porous borders and an influx of weapons; including anti-aircraft systems, has facilitated a resurgence in VNSA activity in recent years. The country has historically been a hub of VNSA activity and a key route for arms-smuggling given its remoteness and anti-government sentiment due to the lack of economic opportunities. The presence of large, relatively unpoliced areas of the country are also vulnerable to security and or terrorism threats due to instability and porous borders, where VNSA groups are present. (Source: Osprey)
26 Dec 19. Russia, China and Iran launch war games in Indian Ocean. US rivals project increased influence in Middle East through first joint naval exercises. Russia, China and Iran launched their first joint naval exercises in the Gulf of Oman and the Indian Ocean on Friday, in the latest sign of co-operation between the two US rivals and the Islamic republic, struggling under the strain of American sanctions. The Gulf of Oman has become a flash point amid mounting international tensions between the US and Iran after Tehran shot down an American surveillance drone in June and seized a British-flagged oil tanker for allegedly violating its territorial waters. In total, at least six oil vessels were attacked in the area in May and June, assaults which the US blamed on Iran. The Islamic republic, which denies sabotaging oil tankers, has repeatedly opposed the presence of foreign forces in the Gulf of Oman and threatened to make oil shipments insecure for all countries if its own crude sales are blocked by the US or regional states.
“The most important achievement of these drills . . . is this message that the Islamic republic of Iran cannot be isolated,” Vice-Admiral Gholamreza Tahani, a deputy naval commander, told Iranian media. “These exercises show that relations between Iran, Russia and China have reached a new high level while this trend will continue in the coming years.” Jonathan Eyal, associate director at the Royal United Services Institute, said the initiative had been choreographed by the three countries to send a message that US influence in the region is waning. “This is a carefully calculated exercise in which all three participants are winners: Iran gets to claim it is a regional power, Russia demonstrates its role as the key actor in the Middle East, and China can show it is a global naval power,” Mr Eyal said. “The strategic message is that these are the countries shaping events in the Middle East.” The drills, which will include tactical exercises such as rescuing frigates under attack, began in the port city of Chabahar in southeastern Iran and are due to continue in northern parts of the Indian Ocean. Russia said the joint exercises were legal and focused on ensuring regional stability. “We are dealing with the issues of maintaining stability in the region, security and the fight against terrorism,” said Maria Zakharova, a spokesperson for the Russian foreign ministry. “This co-operation and interaction is built on both a bilateral and multilateral basis, but exclusively on a legal basis.” China’s foreign and defence ministries described the exercises as “normal military-to-military co-operation”.
“It is not necessarily connected with the regional situation,” a defence ministry spokesperson added. Recommended The FT ViewThe editorial board Iran’s deepening malaise laid bare by protests The drills come after a US-led naval coalition, including Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, launched operations in the Gulf of Oman in November to guarantee the safe supply of oil from the region. The UK and Australia have also agreed to send warships. The Russian, Chinese and Iranian exercises are being conducted near the Strait of Hormuz, one of two choke points for tankers travelling between Iran and China. China imports about half of its annual crude oil requirement, and last year Iran was its seventh largest supplier. Iran’s oil exports have plummeted since President Donald Trump withdrew the US from an international deal to curb Iran’s nuclear programme and imposed sanctions on the country in May 2018. Crude sales before sanctions were introduced stood at 2.8m barrels but have now fallen to less than 500,000 bpd. China is thought to have remained Iran’s top customer. Moscow has condemned the US decision to withdraw from the nuclear deal and sought to find alternative trade and finance mechanisms to offset the impact of the sanctions. After the joint exercises conclude, Iran’s foreign minister Mohammad Zarif is due to visit Moscow on Monday for further discussions with his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, on “the development of ties in the trade, economic, humanitarian and other practical fields”, said Russia’s foreign ministry. (Source: FT.com)
24 Dec 19. Russian Su-57 Fighter Crashes in Khabarovsk Territory. An advanced Russian Su-57 crashed in the taiga in Khabarovsk Territory on Tuesday. No one was injured, the TASS agency was told by the administration of Komsomolsk-on-Amur.
“The fighter fell during tests in the taiga, far from Komsomolsk-on-Amur. The pilot managed to eject. The pilot was found, and was taken to the Komsomol aircraft plant by Mi-8 helicopter,” administration officials said, adding that the pilot was not injured.
The press service of the United Aircraft Corporation (UAC) confirmed the crash of the Su-57 in the Khabarovsk Territory.
“Today in Komsomolsk-on-Amur, a Su-57 plane crashed during a test flight 111 km from the airfield. The ejection system worked normally, the pilot ejected and was recovered alive. A commission will determine the cause of the accident. There are no casualties and no damage on the ground,” the UAC press service told RIA Novosti.
This is the first crash of an Su-57 fighter. The aircraft had not yet been transferred to the military and still belonged to the manufacturer. Experimental flight test aircraft are produced at the aviation plant of Komsomolsk-on-Amur (KnAAZ, Sukhoi branch).
The Su-57, also known as the Advanced Frontline Aviation Complex (PAK FA), is an advanced Russian multi-role fighter developed by the Sukhoi Design Bureau. The Su-57 made its first flight in January 2010 at Komsomolsk-on-Amur. In December 2017, it flew with new engines, and at the end of January 2018 it began flying with weapons.
In March 2018, the Russian Defense Minister said that the latest Su-57 fighters had been deployed to Syria. A few months later, Shoigu specified that the tests had been carried out in February during which test launches of promising cruise missiles were carried out from the aircraft.
In June this year, the Russian Ministry of Defense ordered an initial batch of Su-57 fighters from United Aircraft Corporation. The contract was signed in the presence of Russian President Vladimir Putin at the Army 2019 exhibition, and provides for the supply of 76 fighters. (Source: Defense-Aerospace.com)
23 Dec 19. French Army Carries Out First-Ever Drone Strike During Mali Op. France’s armed forces said Monday it had carried out a drone strike for the first time, during operations in Mali at the weekend in which it said 40 “terrorists” were killed. On Saturday, French President Emmanuel Macron had announced that French forces had “neutralised” 33 jihadists in the central Malian region of Mopti, in an operation that had started the previous night.
In a statement, the French military command said the drone strike happened during a follow-up operation Saturday in which another seven jihadist fighters were killed.
As French commandos were searching the combat zone in Ouagadou forest, 150 kilometres (90 miles) from the town of Mopti, “they were attacked by a group of terrorists on motorbikes,” the statement said.
This French Armed Forces Ministry video released Dec. 19 shows weapon dropping qualification trials with the GBU-12 laser-guided bomb carried out in Niger. A Reaper drone and a French Mirage 2000 patrol opened fire to support the ground troops, it said.
“This is the first operational strike by an armed drone,” the statement said, confirming an earlier report published in the specialist blog Le Mamouth.
The strike came just two days after the French army announced it had finished testing the remotely-piloted drones for armed operations. It has three drones, based near Niamey, the capital of Niger.
The operation at the weekend was in an area controlled by the Katiba Macina, a ruthless Islamist group founded by radical Mopti preacher Amadou Koufa.
Two Malian gendarmes who had been held hostage were freed, and French troops seized a number of armed vehicles, motorbikes and weaponry, “delivering a very heavy blow” to the jihadists, according to Monday’s statement.
France previously said it had killed 25 jihadists in two operations in the Sahel this month.
Last month, 13 French soldiers were killed in a helicopter crash as they hunted jihadists in the north of Mali — the biggest single-day loss for the French military in nearly four decades.
France has a 4,500-member force which has been fighting jihadists in the fragile, sprawling Sahel since 2013. Forty-one soldiers have died.
(Source: Defense-Aerospace.com/Agence France-Press)
24 Dec 19. China to overhaul military export regime.
- Draft law on exports consolidates existing guidelines and introduces tighter controls
- Legislation viewed as a response to international criticism of China’s defence export policy
China has proposed new legislation to enhance controls of military exports. The ‘Export Control Law of the People’s Republic of China (Draft)’ was submitted on 23 December to the National People’s Congress Standing Committee for deliberation.
The draft law, which will replace several sets of dated regulations that currently govern China’s international military sales, is seen as a response to continuing international criticism of the country’s military export policy. The legislation is also indicative of the military-technological progress that China has achieved over the past decade. (Source: Jane’s)
23 Dec 19. US Probe of Saudi Oil Attack Shows it Came from North. The United States said new evidence and analysis of weapons debris recovered from an attack on Saudi oil facilities on Sept. 14 indicates the strike likely came from the north, reinforcing its earlier assessment that Iran was behind the offensive.
In an interim report of its investigation – seen by Reuters ahead of a presentation to the United Nations Security Council – Washington assessed that before hitting its targets, one of the drones traversed a location approximately 200 km (124 miles) to the northwest of the attack site.
“This, in combination with the assessed 900 kilometer maximum range of the Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV), indicates with high likelihood that the attack originated north of Abqaiq,” the interim report said, referring to the location of one of the Saudi oil facilities that were hit.
It added the United States had identified several similarities between the drones used in the raid and an Iranian designed and produced unmanned aircraft known as the IRN-05 UAV.
However, the report noted that the analysis of the weapons debris did not definitely reveal the origin of the strike that initially knocked out half of Saudi Arabia’s oil production.
“At this time, the U.S. Intelligence Community has not identified any information from the recovered weapon systems used in the 14 September attacks on Saudi Arabia that definitively reveals an attack origin,” it said.
The new findings include freshly declassified information, a State Department official told Reuters.
The United States, European powers and Saudi Arabia blamed the Sept. 14 attack on Iran. Yemen’s Houthi group claimed responsibility for the attacks, and Iran, which supports the Houthis, denied any involvement. Yemen is south of Saudi Arabia.
OIL PRICE SPIKE
Reuters reported last month that Iran’s leadership approved the attacks but decided to stop short of a direct confrontation that could trigger a devastating U.S. response. It opted instead to hit the Abqaiq and the Khurais oil plants of U.S. ally Saudi Arabia, according to three officials familiar with the meetings and a fourth close to Iran’s decision making.
According to the Reuters report a Middle East source, who was briefed by a country investigating the attack, said the launch site was the Ahvaz air base in southwest Iran, which is about 650 km north of Abqaiq.
Some of the craft flew over Iraq and Kuwait en route to the attack, according to a Western intelligence source cited by the report, giving Iran plausible deniability.
The 17-minute strike by 18 drones and three low-flying missiles caused a spike in oil prices, fires and damage and shut down more than 5% of global oil supply. Saudi Arabia said on Oct. 3 that it had fully restored oil output.
U.S. Special Envoy for Iran, Brian Hook, told Reuters that the newly-declassified information was more evidence that Tehran was behind the attack. “The UAVs flew into Saudi Arabia from the north, and the recovered debris is consistent with Iranian-produced materiel,” he said.
“As many nations have concluded, there are no plausible alternatives to Iranian responsibility,” he said.
The United States presented its findings to a session of the U.N. Security Council on Thursday as it hopes to mobilise more support for its policy to isolate Iran and force it to the negotiating table for a new nuclear deal.
“The damage at the oil facilities shows that the attack came from the north, not from the south, as you would expect if the Houthis were responsible,” U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Kelly Craft told the Security Council.
UN political affairs chief Rosemary DiCarlo stressed to the council that the United Nations was still reviewing components and collecting and analyzing additional information on the missiles.
Iran’s U.N. Ambassador Majid Takht Ravanchi addressed the Security Council and categorically rejected the accusations against Tehran over attacks on Saudi oil facilities. He described U.S. sanctions on Iran as “economic terrorism” and said that “Iran does not negotiate under the threat of a sword.”
DRONE PARTS ‘NEARLY IDENTICAL’
In a similar report last week, the United Nations also said it was “unable to independently corroborate” that missiles and drones used in attacks on Saudi oil facilities in September “are of Iranian origin.”
The report noted that Yemen’s Houthis “have not shown to be in possession, nor been assessed to be in possession” of the type of drones used in the attacks on the Aramco facilities.
Washington’s interim assessment also included pictures of drone components including the engine identified by the United States as “closely resembling” or “nearly identical” to those that observed on other Iranian unmanned aerial vehicles.
It also provided pictures of a compass circuit board that was recovered from the attack with a marking that is likely indicating a potential manufacturing date written in the Persian calendar year, the report assessed.
The name of a company believed to be associated with Iran, SADRA, was also identified on a wiring harness label from the Sept. 14 wreckage, the report said.
U.S. President Donald Trump last year withdrew from a 2015 nuclear deal between world powers and Iran and snapped back sanctions on Tehran with the aim of choking Iranian crude sales, the Islamic Republic’s main source of revenues.
As part of its ‘maximum pressure’ campaign, Washington has also sanctioned dozens of Iranian entities, companies and individuals to cut Tehran’s revenue, a move some analysts have suggested may have forced Iran to act more aggressively. (Source: UAS VISION/YeniSafak)
23 Dec 19. Chief of Australian Navy responds to concerns about submarine capabilities. Vice Admiral Michael Noonan has issued a stinging rebuke to recent media commentary regarding Australia’s submarine force and the multibillion-dollar SEA 1000 Attack Class submarine program.
Responding to commentary by Robert Gottliebsen of the The Australian, Chief of Navy, VADM Noon, has responded to the “incorrect media reporting” regarding the Royal Australian Navy’s submarine force and the future submarine program.
Gottliebsen made a number of key statements in his article ‘Government must explain submarine project decisions’, raising important questions about both the existing Collins Class fleet and submarine force, and the multibillion-dollar SEA 1000 Attack Class submarine program.
“Last week I discussed how the combat system for the submarine was being provided directly to Australia by the Americans who were anxious that the French designers of the submarine not learn too much about it for fear they would leak the details of the combat system to the Russians, Chinese or anyone else,” Gottliebsen articulated.
Building on this, Gottliebsen asserts, “Designing a new submarine where the two major suppliers are not allowed to talk to each other is almost certain to deliver a horrific outcome. And remember that the group that must tackle that challenge has underperformed on its previous, and much easier, challenges.”
As part of his concerns, Gottliebsen again raises concerns about the delivery time frame of the Royal Australian Navy’s future submarines, stating: “The next generation of manned submarines, according to Pope, will be major carriers of unmanned submarines and will co-ordinate the attacks of those unmanned submarines.
“We will not get our first old style submarine until 2035 or more likely 2040 – that is two decades away and the order won’t be completed until around 2050 – 30 years away. We are spending this enormous sum on a submarine that even before it starts development looks outdated.”
Further doubling down on his claims, Gottliebsen claimed, “Its [Attack Class submarines] main attribute will be the US combat system but whether that can be made to work in a submarine designed by people not talking to the Americans remains to be seen. And even if it is installed our submarine will be incredibly vulnerable in any battle. Already sailors are reluctant to sail in the Collins Class submarine for fear that they are in a coffin. The French submarine will be much more dangerous.”
In response, VADM Noonan has issued a stinging rebuke, stating, “Aside from entirely misinformed comments regarding the Future Submarine Program, I am particularly disappointed with the statement that our sailors are reluctant to sail in the Collins Class submarine.
“Today, the Collins Class is consistently performing above international benchmarks for availability, it has been maintained to the highest of standards and routinely upgraded, and remains a highly capable submarine.”
Speaking to the increasing capability of the Collins Class fleet, VADM Noonan added, “Our Collins fleet deploys regularly at long ranges from its home port in Western Australia. In 2019 alone, this amounted to five deployments often involving two or more submarines simultaneously.
“This level of operational activity has also been reflected in the substantial growth of submariners over recent years. In 2013, there was less than 500 personnel in the submarine force, and today there are over 800 of our Navy people who confidently serve in our Collins Class submarines. They operate our submarine fleet in the most complex of operations, and are held in the highest regard by our closest allies.” (Source: Defence Connect)
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