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21 Jul 21. Royal Navy’s Type 45s: Only One Of Six Destroyers. Operationally Available. The Royal Navy’s Type 45s are anti-air and anti-missile combat specialist vessels.A defence minister has revealed that just one out of the Royal Navy’s six Type 45 destroyers is operationally available, with the rest either undergoing maintenance or being fixed.
Royal Navy warship HMS Defender is, at the moment, the only Type 45 on operations. The warship, currently deployed as part of the Carrier Strike Group (CSG21), was shadowed by Russian vessels and buzzed by jets last month as she sailed through the disputed waters around Crimea.
HMS Diamond has experienced some technical issues and has detached from CSG21 for maintenance, inspection and defect rectification.
HMS Daring and HMS Duncan are currently undergoing planned deep maintenance.
While HMS Dauntless, the first of the Type 45 destroyers to undergo a Power Improvement Project (PIP) upgrade, is expected to return to sea for trials this year.
HMS Dragon is undergoing a period of planned maintenance in advance of further operational commitments.
Commons Defence Committee chairman Tobias Ellwood suggested the situation was “operationally unacceptable”.
Defence Procurement Minister Jeremy Quin told MPs on the committee: “We have two Type 45s embarked with the CSG, Diamond has got current issues but I hope they will be able to be rectified shortly.”
Mr Ellwood said: “HMS Defender is now our only current operational Type 45.
“If that ship experiences propulsion problems as we have seen across the Type 45 family, then our carrier group would have to be forced to lean on a NATO ally to ensure that we have destroyer protection.
“That really indicates – bottom line – we need a bigger Navy.” (Source: forces.net)
21 Jul 21. Dassault Aviation Delivers its 1st Rafale to Greece. Ceremony hosted by Eric TRAPPIER, Chairman and CEO of Dassault Aviation, in the presence of Mr. Nikolaos PANAGIOTOPOULOS, Minister of National Defense of Greece. Eric TRAPPIER, Chairman and CEO of Dassault Aviation, hosted today at the Dassault Aviation Flight Test Center in Istres, the Ceremony of the delivery of the first Rafale for the Hellenic Air Force (HAF), in the presence of Mr. Nikolaos PANAGIOTOPOULOS, Greek Minister of National Defense. This first delivery comes successfully only after six months following the signature of the Contract for the acquisition of 18 Rafale, This first aircraft, as well as the next five to come from the French Space and Air Force, will train the HAF Pilots and Technicians in France before deploying to TANAGRA Air Force Base.
A first group of HAF pilots, already trained for several months by the French Space and Air Force, and 50 HAF technicians will joined the Dassault Aviation Conversion Training Center (CTC) in Mérignac, France to continue their training.
The Rafale will provide the HAF with a latest-generation multirole fighter, enabling the Hellenic Republic to ensure its geostrategic stance in full sovereignty. The delivery of the first Rafale is a clear demonstration of France’s determination to meet the government of the Hellenic Republic expectations and to participate actively to the sovereignty of the country. It illustrates also Dassault Aviation’s outstanding quality of the cooperation with the Hellenic Air Force, through more than 45 years of uninterrupted and strong partnership.
“Following the Mirage F1 in 1974, the Mirage 2000 in 1985 and the Mirage 2000-5 in 2000, the Rafale is now proudly flying with the Hellenic Air Force colors. The Rafale is a Strategic Game Changer for the HAF. It will play an active role by securing Greece’s leadership as a major regional power. I would like to reaffirm our total commitment to the success of the Rafale in Greece,” said Eric Trappier, Chairman and CEO of Dassault Aviation. (Source: ASD Network/Dassault Aviation)
21 Jul 21. When Drones Go Underwater. What are they and will they soon be available to help win wars? Drone warfare is a hot topic and one that defence experts have been discussing for decades. Indeed, UAVs have been a reality for almost the same amount of time. But conversations about this element of military operations have typically always been about drones that fly, not those that swim. That is, until now.
Whereas the Royal Air Force has been using drone technology to engage targets from afar for years, the Royal Navy has yet to use the technology for combat purposes. But all that is set to change.
In 2020, the MOD announced it had awarded a defence contract to British-based MSubs ltd to produce what is reported to be the world’s largest underwater drone.
The Portsmouth-located business specialises in building military and scientific submersibles and will, as part of its contract with the MOD, deliver an XLUUV (extra-large unmanned underwater vehicle) expected to measure around 100 feet in length.
Here are some of the possibilities this new technology could bring and how it could impact future operations across combat and surveillance.
Speaking in Pearl Harbour, Hawaii, during a recent visit, Admiral Sir Tony Radakin described the Royal Navy’s intention to protect the sites of underwater war graves.
These sites, the final resting place of thousands of British and Commonwealth sailors and which many consider sacred, have attracted criminal looters keen to strip the sunken ships of their precious metals.
To help protect these important sites, some media reports suggested that drone technology, including devices disguised as manta rays, could be deployed, technology it said could also be used to ‘spy on enemy submarines.’
But what underwater or on surface drone capability does the Royal Navy already possess?
Exercise Unmanned Warrior
In 2016, the Royal Navy hosted Exercise Unmanned Warrior. At the time, it was described as a “record-breaking” display of unmanned and autonomous vehicles.
Unmanned Warrior comprised 50+ autonomous systems and saw the Royal Navy bring together more than 40 different organisations and partners. Back then, the Royal Navy said that the exercise demonstrated “the power of technology to make the world a safer place.”
Alongside underwater drones, like other sections of Britain’s military, the Royal Navy possesses unmanned aerial drones and drones that operate on the sea’s surface.
In July, the Royal Marines Commandos were supported by “drone swarms” in a UK Armed Forces first. The Royal Navy said that the drones “dived, sailed and flew” together for the first time in the military’s exercising history.
Will Britain’s New Underwater Drones Carry Weapons?
MSubs Ltd, a defence supplier, recently awarded contracts to build autonomous submarines for the Royal Navy, described an XLUUV like the one it is producing for the MOD on its website.
It names the XLUUV as Mantra S201 and explains its weight as 8.9 tonnes, and says it has an operational depth of “up to 305m”.
“Dived performance is maximised by attention to streamlining of the outer hull and by the use of advanced motor technology to directly drive the main propeller. Surface running is possible with one crew member on deck and hatch closed, at speeds up to 6kn in modest sea states, but the vessel’s primary mode of deployment is by crane-in.” -MSubs Ltd.
Some reports suggested that the new unmanned underwater vehicle would have the capability to carry weapons, and have a range of around 3,450 miles, or 3,000 nautical miles.
What Else Can Drones Be Used For Under The Sea?
The new Royal Navy drone could, if reports about its weapon capabilities are followed through, arguably provide a potential threat to any current or future adversary to the United Kingdom.
But drones can also provide equally vital surveillance capabilities, which are not necessarily limited to front line defence.
First Sea Lord Admiral Sir Tony Radakin has been reported as intimating that the Royal Navy’s aspirations would be to examine ways in which technology would be able to cover war graves and large maritime protected areas such as with the use of unnmanned underwater vehicles.
Listening To The Sound Of The Sea
Environmental Acoustic Recording Systems (known as EARS) can be placed deep in the ocean, which then records the world’s normal sounds beneath the sea.
According to Forbes, “a navy which knows what the ambient noise in a specific corner of ocean should sound like, all year around, knows when it sounds different. Sound is the cornerstone to detection, and stealth, in submarine warfare.”
Yet, EARS are somewhat standard and certainly not something new. In terms of their autonomous nature, they are required to be fixed in a specific location by being anchored to the seabed and have to be recovered at a later date manually. So, the technology is nothing ground-breaking or futuristic.
However, there has been an evolution in this area by advanced militaries around the globe. In 2020, it was reported that sophisticated “spy drones” had been discovered by Chinese fishermen and handed over to authorities.
The devices were said to have been operating in international waters, but “in China’s backyard”. A Forbes article said their “role [was] likely to be intelligence gathering.”
“The information they collect could include measuring the depth, noise, salinity and currents. This seemingly mundane data could provide submariners with a tactical advantage in future operations, making them better informed about local conditions. Which is why navies invest so much in these activities. And why they are often conducted discretely, or even covertly.”
When Were Underwater Drones Invented?
The United States Navy began using drones in the 1960s, although they were first trialled a decade earlier.
Their original intended use was to detect lost equipment and explore lost wrecks on the seabed in Pearl Harbour or the South Pacific.
The US Navy used drone technology to help locate a lost nuclear bomb off the coast of Spain in 1966 following an accident involving a B-52 Bomber.
Another, perhaps more famous example of a sea drone detecting something important came in 1985 when the wreck of Titanic was discovered at a depth of 12,500 feet in the North Atlantic Ocean. (Source: forces.net)
BATTLESPACE Comment: One of the first Features in BATTLESPACE was about the ‘U’ Plane developed by Capt. Hans Lipshutz a German airman who was naturalised in the UK. He developed the ‘G’ Newtwork to guide bombers to German targets. The ‘U’ Plane was made of concrete and a forerunner to today’s underwater drones described her.
20 Jul 21. RAF could revive Cold War tactics to foil new Russian missile threat. ‘No-notice’ scatter drills will disperse jets to civilian airfields and other improvised locations, including potentially motorways.
The Royal Air Force is to reinstate a Cold War training exercise amid the threat from Russian cruise missiles, the service’s chief has said.
Air Chief Marshal Sir Mike Wigston said he wants the RAF to re-learn skills not practised for 30 years, and that a series of ‘no-notice’ scatter drills called Exercise Agile Stance will be carried out.
The drills will see fighter jets given the order to disperse, meaning they leave their bases to land at civilian airfields or even on motorways. If the jets are spread out, the target for enemies is “harder”, said ACM Wigston.
Speaking to the Telegraph in Hawaii where he was visiting Pearl Harbor with the head of the US Pacific Fleet, ACM Wigston said fixed RAF bases would be as vulnerable to a surprise attack in any future conflict as US forces had been when the Japanese struck in December 1941.
“We’ll be re-learning how to disperse,” he said, adding if “the arsenal [of advanced cruise missiles] Putin has been bragging about” was moved to the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad “we’d be in range”.
ACM Wigston said the “trajectory” of Russia over the last 15 years is forcing military leaders to be innovative in the face of an increasing threat.
“I’m not interested in paving over Lincolnshire again,” he said, “and there will be the challenge of having armed aircraft on civilian airfields.
“But instead of two bases, if all my Typhoons were on 12 bases, that’s a harder target.
“We should look at this as a national challenge and look at the wealth of airstrips we have in the UK.
“It sounds a bit Cold War-ey, but we have a pressing requirement to remember how to do it.”
No civilian airfields have yet been identified, and larger airports such as Heathrow and Glasgow would be unlikely locations, but smaller sites such as Teesside, Southend and Liverpool could be viable.
The practice of landing jets on motorways, such as Jaguar fighters used to do in the Cold War, could also be an option, ACM said.
Upon receipt of the codeword, RAF jets will scramble to civilian airports in small detachments called ‘fighting fours’.
The RAF Regiment will be used to protect the dispersal sites, setting up refuelling and rearming points to service the jets.
New Russian missile and air defence systems, combined with a willingness to use force has prompted the move, ACM Wigston said.
“They’ve murdered people on the streets of Britain and annexed part of Europe. They’ve got the threat systems. We are concerned about them.
“In the worst-case scenario, things we hold dear – like national infrastructure – will be in range of Russian missiles.”
Moving modern equipment like the latest cruise missiles to Kaliningrad – the small piece of Russian territory sandwiched between Poland and Lithuania – would be a “step up the ladder of escalation”, the head of the Air Force said.
“Russia’s air defence systems are very sophisticated. They watched us in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere and saw how air power was the decisive edge.
“We’ve not kept pace in terms of air defence systems. We’ve not required ground-based air defence because of our strategic circumstances and the fact we were operating under a US umbrella.
“We’ve not needed to invest,” he said. “That calculus is changing.”
(Source: Daily Telegraph)
21 Jul 21. UK to permanently deploy two warships in Asia Pacific. Britain has announced that it will permanently deploy two warships in Asian waters after its Queen Elizabeth aircraft carrier and escort ships sail to Japan in September through seas where China is vying for influence with the United States and Japan. Plans for the high-profile visit by the carrier strike group come as the UK deepens security ties with Tokyo, which has expressed growing alarm in recent months over China’s territorial ambitions in the region, including Taiwan. What to watch as Indo-Pacific ‘Quad’ leaders meet for first timeQuad goals: US, Indo-Pacific allies to up India’s vaccine outputCan the Quad effectively counter China’s influence?
“Following on from the strike group’s inaugural deployment, the United Kingdom will permanently assign two ships in the region from later this year,” Britain’s defence minister, Ben Wallace, said in a joint announcement on Tuesday in Tokyo with his Japanese counterpart, Nobuo Kishi.
Kishi echoed Wallace after the two held talks.
“We reconfirmed our shared position that we firmly oppose attempts to change the status quo by coercion, and the importance of a free and open Indo-Pacific based on the rule of law,” he said.
After their arrival in Japan, Kishi said, the Queen Elizabeth and its escort ships will split up for separate port calls to US and Japanese naval bases along the Japanese archipelago.
In a statement on the deployment, a Pentagon spokesperson congratulated Britain for its “commitment to an inter-connected network of allies and partners, who mutually cooperate and support freedom of navigation and a rules-based order in the Indo-Pacific region.”
A close US ally, Japan hosts the biggest concentration of US military forces outside the US, including ships, aircraft and troops.
The British carrier, which is carrying F-35B stealth jets on its maiden voyage, will dock at Yokosuka, the home of Japan’s fleet command and the USS Ronald Reagan, the only forward-deployed US aircraft carrier.
The British ships will not have a permanent base, a spokesperson at the British Embassy in Tokyo said when asked which ports the Royal Navy ships would operate from.
‘Growing regional engagement’
The Queen Elizabeth is being escorted by two destroyers, two frigates, two support vessels and ships from the US and the Netherlands.
It will sail to Japan through the disputed South China Sea, which is claimed all or in part by China and countries in Southeast Asia, with stops in India, Singapore and South Korea.
Wallace said Britain had a “duty” to insist on freedom of navigation on its way to Japan.
In addition, the offshore patrol vessels HMS Spey and HMS Tamar will start a permanent deployment to the region next month, supported by ships from Australia, Japan and Singapore.
In a further sign of Britain’s growing regional engagement, Wallace, who travelled to Japan with a delegation of military commanders, said the UK would also eventually deploy a Littoral Response Group, a unit of marines trained to undertake missions including evacuations and anti-terrorism operations.
China claims sovereignty over most of the South China Sea, angering its regional neighbours and triggering protests further afield including from the US government. Its claim on the so-called “nine-dash line” has also been rejected by the Permanent Court of Arbitration at The Hague as without legal basis.
“It’s no secret that China shadows and challenges ships transiting international waters on very legitimate routes,” Wallace told The Times newspaper in Tokyo.
“We will respect China and we hope that China respects us,” he said, stressing: “We will sail where international law allows.”
Last month, Russia issued strong protests at what it said was a British destroyer’s violation of its territory in the Black Sea.
For all its projections of power, the Royal Navy deployment is not immune to COVID-19. More than 100 of HMS Queen Elizabeth’s 1,600 crew were struck down during a port call in Cyprus earlier this month.
Wallace said the ships will observe strict COVID-19 protocols in Japan and underlined at a news conference the two nations’ shared commitment “to protect rules-based international order”. (Source: News Now/https://www.aljazeera.com/)
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