Monday, November 20, 2017

Images suggest North Korea 'aggressive' work on ballistic missile submarine: institute

Reuters Staff, Reuters
16 November 2017

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Satellite images taken this month of a North Korean naval shipyard indicate Pyongyang is pursuing an “aggressive schedule” to build its first operational ballistic missile submarine, a U.S. institute reported on Thursday.
Washington-based 38 North, a North Korea monitoring project, cited images taken on Nov. 5 showing activity at North Korea’s Sinpo South Shipyard.
“The presence of what appear to be sections of a submarine’s pressure hull in the yards suggests construction of a new submarine, possibly the SINPO-C ballistic missile submarine - the follow-on to the current SINPO-class experimental ballistic missile submarine,” 38 North said in a report.
The report said that throughout 2017 there had been continued movement of parts and components into and out of two parts yards adjacent to the constructions halls in the center of the shipyard.
It said the Nov. 5 images showed two large circular objects that could be sections of a submarine’s pressure hull. It said these appeared larger than those for North Korea’s ROMEO-class attack submarine.
Images of a test stand indicated continued testing of a mechanism for ejection launch of missiles from a submarine. However, the report said no activity could be seen suggesting preparations for a new test of a submarine-launched missile.
North Korea has been working to develop a nuclear-tipped missile capable of reaching the United States, sparking a major international crisis in which U.S. President Donald Trump has said that all options are under consideration, including military ones.
North Korea is also thought to be working on a solid-fuel missile for submarine launches.
Last month, The Diplomat magazine quoted a U.S. government source as saying U.S. military intelligence had detected a new diesel-electric submarine under construction at Sinpo and dubbed it the Sinpo-C. It said the submarine was likely a larger successor to North Korea’s single experimental ballistic missile submarine.
North Korea has conducted dozens of missile tests this year and its largest and biggest nuclear test on Sept. 3. The past two months have seen a relative lull and it has not tested a missile since firing one over Japan on Sept. 15.
Another article in The Diplomat last month quoted a U.S. government source as saying that North Korea had tested a new solid fuel engine sometime between Oct. 15 and Oct. 21. U.S. intelligence officials have declined to comment on this.

There Is Only One Way America's Nuclear Stealth Submarines Could Be Made Obsolete

Drones may make it impossible for them to hide.

Michael Peck, National Interest
15 November 2017

Submarines can run—but they can't hide—from drones?
That's the contention of a new report by a British think tank, which argues that the growing numbers and sophistication of drones are depriving submarines of their stealthiness.
The report, authored by science journalist David Hambling for the British American Security Information Council, was written as a briefing paper for Britain's Parliament, which must consider whether to modernize or scrap the UK's Trident nuclear missile subs.
The report points out the century-old method of hunting subs is changing:
"In the past, antisubmarine warfare (ASW) has been carried out by a small number of highly capable ships and
manned aircraft. Their task has been like that of a handful of police looking for a fugitive in a vast wilderness. Lacking the manpower to cover the whole area, they have to concentrate their forces on the most likely paths and hideouts, and hope for a lucky break."
Now, highly expensive subs must contend with an expanding array of cheap robot sub-hunters that can blanket the ocean, sort of in the same way that German U-boat "wolfpacks" ganged up on Allied convoys in the North Atlantic. These include small handheld drones that the U.S. military is designing to operate in swarms, air-launched drones like the U.S. Coyote that can be dropped by ASW aircraft, and sonar-equipped underwater robot gliders that quietly search the ocean.
"Small unmanned platforms can carry many types of sensors active and passive sonar, magnetic anomaly detectors, wake detection LIDAR, thermal sensors, laser-based optical sensors capable of piercing seawater and others," Hambling writes. "A submarine which can be seen by any one of these will cease to be invisible. A submarine whose location is exposed is highly vulnerable to instant attack. If submarines are easily detectable, they lose all their advantages as strategic weapons platforms."
Drones versus subs is essentially an arms race, a contest between an expensive but fragile weapon pitted against hordes of cheap sensor and weapons platforms. It parallels the race between the development of stealth aircraft, and the development of sensors to detect them.
Unfortunately for the subs, it's not an equal contest. A U.S. Virginia-class attack submarine costs nearly $3 billion: a small unmanned aircraft might cost $5,000, and a swarm of thirty drones just $150,000. The drone isn't as capable as the sub, but that's not the point. Nuclear missile submarines have always been considered the invulnerable backbone of a nation's nuclear force, able to hide in the ocean unlike land-based ICBMs or bombers. If the United States, Russia, China, Britain or France—not to mention Israel—fear that their ballistic subs are vulnerable to a surprise drone attack, this could make decision-makers much more ready to pull the trigger in a crisis.
On a more human level, it would be interesting to go back in time to World Wars I and II, where a constant refrain of the sailors and airmen who hunted subs was the sheer tedium of the search. Hour after hour after hour of scanning the oceans, in the hope that a needle in the haystack would reveal itself as a sonar contact or a tiny periscope peeking above the surface. If nothing else, farming out sub-hunting to the robots will make chasing subs a bit less dull.
Either way, antisubmarine warfare will never be the same. "The oceans are becoming a 'sensor rich' environment full of drones, with eyes and ears everywhere," writes Hambling. "This will leave no hiding place for submarines."

B

Former SECNAV Lehman: Russian Cyber Forces Stealing U.S. Technological Edge

Sam LaGrone, USNI News
15 November 2017

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. military is losing its technological edge, in part because Russian cyber forces have penetrated the defense industry and are stealing information, former Secretary of the Navy John Lehman said on Wednesday.
“We were used, in the Cold War, to having the current edge in technology, partially because the Russians adopted a policy after World War II to draft off our technology – so they designed their fighters to use F/A-18 radar because they knew they’d be able to steal them,” Lehman said on Wednesday at a Maritime Security Dialogue event cohosted by the U.S. Naval Institute and the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
“Today their cyber is so capable, even though most of the defense industry will not publicly admit it, but they’re right in from the beginning of the program with their cyber capability, so there is almost no lag. They’re not behind us, they’re with us in our [technology development].”
In order to combat the leak of information, Lehman called for a quicker U.S. acquisition process to allow industry and the Pentagon to more quickly bring high-tech systems to the field. Lehman said while the U.S. has a 22-year process to get a major weapon system to the field, Russia and China have about a seven year cycle.
“They both, through different means, got rid of a lot of their bureaucracy and ours continues to grow,” he said.
“It’s really time that destroys [weapons development].”
He used the example of Russian submarine development in the last several years as an example of how the technology leaked out.
“If you look at their latest submarines, it’s pretty hard to project a real advantage sub-to-sub. [They] copied all of the technology off our submarine quieting, and they’re ahead in some of the offensive capabilities,” he said.
“We have really fallen behind in technology, and we need to get back into that game.”
Lehman served as the Secretary of the Navy from 1981 to 1987 and was responsible for the 600-ship navy of the Reagan administration. He was a key national security advisor to the Mitt Romney campaign in 2012. Much of the Romney national security plan was absorbed into the Donald Trump defense platform.
Office of Secretary of Defense spokesman for weapons development Adam Stump declined to comment on Lehman’s remarks when reached by USNI News at the Pentagon on Wednesday.
During the Cold War, the Russians stole major U.S. submarine secrets that were, in turn, adapted into their own submarine construction programs.
Likewise, the Chinese have had a long history of adapting Western weapon designs for their own uses – from adaptions of U.S. stealth fighters to infantry small arms.
Beijing stole terabytes of data from the F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter program in 2007 that helped in developing the People’s Liberation Army Air Force J-20 stealth fighter.

British Navy Rolls Out Red Carpet For Faslane's First 'Submarine Oscars'

Danielle Lappin, Helensburgh Advertiser
10 November 2017

HM Naval Base Clyde rolled out the red carpet recently for their first ever “Submarine Oscars”.
The award ceremony saw 12 trophies presented including the prestigious Conqueror Trophy which is given to the submarine crews which have best demonstrated operational excellence.
The celebration was sponsored by the British Forces Foundation, Babcock, Rolls Royce and the Gosling Foundation.
Master of ceremonies for the occasion was Command Warrant Officer Andy Knox and Rear Admiral John Weale OBE, who welcomed some 250 audience members to the naval base’s senior rates’ mess before presenting the awards.
The Conqueror Trophy for operational excellence was picked up by the crew of a Vanguard class submarine, in recognition of the crew’s outstanding efforts to maintain continuous at sea deterrence against material changes.
The crew of a Fleet class submarine picked up the Safe Guardian Unit Award for the outstanding planning and execution of a complex engineering task at sea.
The Safe Guarding Individual Award went to leading engineer technician (LET) weapon engineering submarine Yeats. LET Yeats’ research and analysis into equipment failure will result in a number of improvements.
Nicola Trollope and Selina Thompson each received Family Awards during the night in recognition of the contribution they have made to supporting families of serving submariners.
Nicola was rewarded for her work with families in the Dinky Dolphins Creche where she is always lending a helping hand. Selina was awarded for always being there to help support events during the year and for being instrumental in helping families to understand the community better, allowing those moving to the area to better access information on schools, housing and other essentials.
Coxswain Iain Mackenzie received the Royal Navy and Royal Marines Welfare Award in recognition of his contribution to the welfare of naval personnel and families, not only during his 27-year carer but also afterwards when he joined the RNRMW team in 2011.
The Special Recognition Award went to leading medical assistant (LMA) Matthew Greening-Jackson, who was part of this year’s Edinburgh Tattoo Support Group at this year’s Edinburgh Tattoo.
He helped save the life of a civilian caterer who collapsed during the event. While waiting for the ambulance LMA Greening-Jackson administered CPR for several minutes restoring his breathing.
The patient recovered enough to be released from hospital and the paramedics acknowledged that it was the LMA’s quick actions which saved the man’s life.
Able Seaman Peacock, currently serving on a Vanguard Class submarine, was awarded the Submariners Association Trophy for his efforts during his time in training at the submarine school, HMS Raleigh.
Three employees of Babcock Marine Clyde – Thomas Walsh, Charles Milton and Fraser Macintosh – received Industrial Partner Awards for their support to the submarine service.
Thomas and Charles were commended for their part in the delivery of submarines to operation and Fraser was recognised for his ongoing support to Rear Admiral Submariners and ensuring the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo ran as smoothly as possible from a head chef's perspective.
Rear Admiral John Weale, the head of the UK Submarine Service, said: “It was a magnificent evening. We may be known as the silent service, but the achievements of the award winners were something to shout about.
“Each, in their own way, has contributed significantly to supporting our operations, vessels, personnel and families and I would like to thank them all for their tireless work and dedication.”

The U.S. Navy's Ultimate Weapon: Hypersonic Missiles Fired from a Submarine

Zachary Keck, National Interest
11 November 2017

The U.S. Navy has conducted its first test of a new hypersonic missile.
The test was announced by Vice Adm. Terry Benedict, the director of the Strategic Systems Program (SSP), at the Naval Submarine League's annual symposium in Arlington, Virginia, on November 2. "I'm very proud to report that at 0300 on Monday night SSP flew from Hawaii [Pacific Missile Range Facility] . . . the first conventional prompt strike missile for the United States Navy in the form factor that would eventually, could eventually be utilized if leadership chooses to do so in an Ohio-class tube," Benedict said, according U.S. Naval Institute News, which first reported his remarks. "It's a monumental achievement."
Benedict refused to provide any other details of the test, but a Pentagon spokesperson later gave additional information when contacted by U.S. Naval Institute News. "The Navy Strategic Systems Program (SSP), on behalf of the Department of Defense, conducted an Intermediate Range Conventional Prompt Strike Flight Experiment-1 (CPS FE-1) test on Oct. 30, 2017, from Pacific Missile Range Facility, Kauai, Hawaii," said Cmdr. Patrick Evans, the Pentagon spokesperson. "The test collected data on hypersonic boost-glide technologies and test-range performance for long-range atmospheric flight. This data will be used by the Department of Defense to anchor ground testing, modeling, and simulation of hypersonic flight vehicle performance and is applicable to a range of possible Conventional Prompt Strike (CPS) concepts."
Hypersonic missiles are defined as those traveling at speeds between Mach 5 and Mach 10. That is, between 3,106 and 15,534 miles per hour, or one to five miles per second. China, Russia and the United States are all currently investing heavily in hypersonics, while a few
other countries are also exploring the technology to a much lesser degree.
There are two basic types of hypersonic missiles. The first are called hypersonic glide vehicles (HGVs). HGVs are launched into the atmosphere from a rocket and glide to their targets at altitudes ranging from forty kilometers to higher than one hundred kilometers. These HGVs typically fly at faster speeds than the second type of hypersonic missiles, hypersonic cruise missiles (HCMs). As their name suggests, HCMs are cruise missiles that fly at hypersonic speeds. During their entire flight, they are powered by rockets or high-speed jet engines, like scramjets.
The United States is seeking to develop both kinds of hypersonic missiles. For instance, the Hypersonic Air-breathing Weapon Concept (HAWC) program, which is a joint DARPA/U.S. Air Force (USAF) effort, is seeking to develop a HCM. On the other hand, the Tactical Boost Glide (TBG) program, also a joint DARPA/U.S. Air Force (USAF) effort, is working on HGV technology.
The U.S. Navy test would have been of the latter variety and, as Benedict noted, is part of the ongoing conventional prompt global strike (CPGS) program. That program aims to give the United States the capability to conduct a precision strike on any place on earth within an hour. Interest in CPGS dates back to the 2001 Nuclear Posture Review (NPR). Since that time, the Department of Defense and all the military services have explored various technologies for achieving that capability.
For its part, the U.S. Navy began exploring a submarine-launched intermediate-range ballistic missile (SLIRBM) to fulfill the CPGS mission around 2003. These efforts continued until Congress cut off funding for it in 2008 (all CPGS funding was combined in a single DOD-wide account instead of individual programs within the services). Still, the U.S. Navy expressed renewed interest in acquiring a sea-based CPGS capabilities around the time of the pivot to Asia in 2012. In early 2014, as I noted at the Diplomat at the time, the U.S. Navy began accepting industry proposals for submarine-launched hypersonic capabilities.
This effort got a boost later that same year, after the U.S. Army's Advanced Hypersonic Weapon program hit a snag when its second test failed. After that, according to the trade publication Inside Defense, "The Pentagon's acquisition directorate for strategic warfare then tapped the Navy to conduct the next test flight by modifying the Army-developed Advanced Hypersonic Weapon to fit in a submarine missile tube and launch the prototype weapon from a land-based test facility." The recent test is the first milestone in the U.S. Navy's stewardship of the program.
The move away from ballistic missile-based CPGS (which DOD has renamed Conventional Prompt Strike) and toward hypersonic capabilities has an important advantage: namely, an adversary won't mistake a conventional ballistic missile for a nuclear one. As a Congressional Research Service report noted: "DOD has indicated that the same would be true of a submarine-launched, intermediate-range boost-glide system. It would follow a shaped or depressed trajectory, and would not resemble the launch characteristics or trajectory of a nuclear-armed ballistic missile. Moreover, if the missile used a new booster, rather than one that had been deployed as a part of the U.S. nuclear force, the difference would likely be evident to Russia's early warning systems."
DOD has promised the Pacific and European combatant commands that certain hypersonic capabilities will be fielded within the timeframe of fiscal year 2018-22. If the Navy's sea-based hypersonic missile capabilities are realized, they are likely to be deployed on the four Ohio-class guided-missile submarines, as well as the new Virginia-class attack submarines.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Russia says its submarine fired missiles at IS base in Syria

Staff, WION
31 October 2017

Russia said Tuesday its submarine deployed in the Mediterranean fired three ballistic missiles to destroy a command post of the Islamic State group in Syria's eastern Deir Ezzor province.
"A missile strike with three Kalibr missiles destroyed a command post with large numbers of militants and armed vehicles and also a large weapons and ammunition depot," the Russian defence ministry said in a statement posted on Facebook.
It said the strikes targeted the area around the town of Abu Kamal, one of the few remaining urban strongholds of IS in Syria.
The ministry added it could confirm "the destruction of all the given targets."
It posted a video on Twitter of a missile blasting out of the sea.
There have been heavy clashes between the Syrian army and the Islamic state group in the city of Deir Ezzor, capital of the Deir Ezzor province in eastern Syria.

Russia said Tuesday that its Veliky Novgorod submarine has carried out four cruise missile strikes on terrorist groups since it was deployed to the Mediterranean in late August.
At Russia`s Syrian naval base of Tartus in the eastern Mediterranean, Russian ships have played a prominent role backing up an aerial bombing campaign in support of Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad.
The submarines are covered from Syria by Moscow`s S-300 and S-400 missiles systems and its Bastion coastal defence system.
More than 330,000 people have been killed in Syria since the conflict began in March 2011 with anti-government protests

North Korea Hackers May Have Stolen Submarine, Weapons Info From South Korea

Joe Difazio, International Business Times
1 November 2017

North Korean hackers broke into a South Korean defense contractor's computers and stole submarine blueprints and other classified military information, according to a South Korean lawmaker.
Kyung Dae-soo, a member of South Korea's hawkish Liberty Korea Party, revealed Tuesday that North Korea was most likely behind a hacking breach into Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering Co. in April.
“We are almost 100 percent certain that North Korean hackers were behind the hacking and stole the company’s sensitive documents,” Kyung told Reuters.
The hackers stole 60 classified documents that included blueprints and data for submarines and different weapons systems, according to Kyung. The latest hacking revelation comes weeks after it was disclosed that a similar hack last year allowed North Korea to steal confidential U.S.-South Korean military information including a plan to take out leadership in Pyongyang in the event of a war.
Kyung said that some of the information pertained to submarine-launched missile technology. North Korea has a fleet of submarines and tested a submarine-launched nuclear-capable ballistic missile last year. Some experts believe that North Korea’s submarines aren’t particularly reliable or advanced, however.
There have been recent reports that North Korea appears to be building its biggest submarine capable of launching nuclear missiles.
Daewoo is responsible for building 17 submarines and 44 warships for South Korea, according to the Wall Street Journal Tuesday.
Hackers also stole Aegis missile defense technology information. Aegis is a missile defense system designed to take out airborne missiles. The system is also employed by the U.S. Navy.