Sunday, January 14, 2018

Government urged to protect submarines amid defence budget cuts (UK)

Staff, In Cumbria
12 January 2018
 
UK - MP John Woodcock has challenged the defense secretary over “woefully inadequate” funds and pledged to protect the submarine budget no matter what.
MP for Barrow and Furness John Woodcock took part in a debate in the House of Commons today where he called on the defense secretary to listen to MPs over the squeezing of the defense budget, and urged the government to maintain the submarine budget despite cuts to overall defense spending. 
Mr. Woodcock vowed to take the fight to the Treasury, suggesting the Dreadnought program should be taken out of the Ministry of Defense budget and funded using their reserves.
In his speech, he paid tribute to Britain’s defense forces and remarked on the unique capabilities the industry provides, but warned of the 'deeply worrying' complacency the government is showing over the threats facing our country.
Mr. Woodcock warned of the dangers posed from Russia and the "mortal threat from the evil ideology” which created Islamic State. He also warned the government benches that the same forces which had created the terrorist organization would resurface and that there would be 'question marks' over the UK's capability to intervene.
Paying tribute to the personnel who play such a vital role in defending our realm, The Barrow MP said he was saddened by the recent departure of Will Blamey from BAE, before welcoming its new head, Cliff Robson before saying challenges facing the submarine program should not be laid at the door of those who work at the shipyard, but on a central mismanagement of the program by the government in Westminster.
Concluding his speech, Mr. Woodcock said this was “a time for seriousness” and expressed concern over the conduct of the defense secretary on an issue fundamental to our nation’s security.

Saab set to demo an underwater drone that pretends to be a sub

David Larter, Defense News
11 January 2018

ARLINGTON, Va. – The Swedish defense firm Saab is set to demonstrate for the U.S. Navy an underwater drone that simulates a submarine, making it easier for ships and aircraft to practice anti-submarine warfare.
The company announced Tuesday that it was preparing to demonstrate its AUV62-AT drone for the Navy as part of the Foreign Comparative Testing program. The testing will start in the summer of 2018 and there is an option for more resting in 2019.
The drone, which is based on the company’s T-62 torpedo, mimics the acoustic signature of a submarine so that ships can get in their reps and sets on ASW, but spares the Navy the need to dispatch one of its busy submarines to aid with that training.
The company claims the AUV62-AT “fully replaces the use of a submarine in the role as a maneuvering training target,” and says it is already in use in several countries around the world

NAVSEA Officials Seek Accelerated Acquisition, Modular Approach To Unmanned Systems 

Matthew Beinart, Defense Daily
11 January 2018

Navy officials are looking to move forward with a modular systems approach to speed up acquisition of incremental capabilities and focus delivery efforts for its unmanned maritime systems. 
Building on several unmanned undersea vehicle programs started last year, Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) leadership intends to fund multiple training operations through 2018 in the hopes of opening up the opportunity for industry to test payloads in 2019.
"We want the latest and greatest, but it's got to work before we put it on a system. We got out and test it, but before we go and inject it into a program of record we want that technology to be as proven as it can," Capt. Jon Rucker, Navy program manager for unmanned maritime systems, said during a briefing Thursday at the Surface Navy Association annual symposium in Arlington, Va. "Especially on unmanned systems, which frankly need to get out there quicker."
Rucker pointed to unmanned minehunting units for the Navy's Littoral Combat Ships as an urgent operational need.
Navy officials are in the process of developing incremental capabilities for its Mine Countermeasure Unmanned Surface Vehicles (MCM USVs). The boats can currently handle sweep payloads, and the next step is loading sonar minehunting payloads, according to Rucker.
Raytheon [RTN] and Northrop Grumman [NOC] have been contracted to deliver designs for integrating sonar payloads for the MCM USVs. Rucker expects to select a design for future payloads once the first crafts are delivered around the end of 2018.
The MCM USVs have been adapted to the family of systems approach to allow for modular crafts with easily integrated electrical and mechanical interfaces, according to Rucker.
After standing up its Unmanned Underwater Vehicle (UUV) program in 2017, Rucker said NAVSEA is now looking to move forward with accelerated acquisitions to complete military designs.
The Snakehead large displacement UUV program, intended for long-range ISR missions, was completed in September and is now in the detail design phase for hull materials.
The second accelerated acquisition project, the Orca Extra-Large UUV, also received requirements four months after the program started, instead of the usual process of two to three years.
"Nobody thought we would do what we said we were going to do...from the day we got signed requirements, both the Snakehead and the Orca are accelerated acquisitions," Rucker said. "From the time we got signed requirements to the time we competitively awarded two contracts was 238 days. That's the fastest it's ever been done."
The Navy has Boeing [BA] and Lockheed Martin [LMT] under contract for the UUV program's design phase, which is expected to run through the first quarter of FY '19, according to Rucker.
Rucker believes an incremental approach with a focus on open architecture and modular systems will help shepherd NAVSEA's unmanned systems through 2018.
"This family of systems approach, from the surface and undersea side, if I were to show you what it looked like before, it was helter skelter. Now these focused lines of effort have helped us work with industry to focus on where to invest our technology dollars," Rucker said

U.S. Navy Officials Speed Up Acquisition of Unmanned Maritime Systems

Jon Harper, National Defense Magazine
11 January 2018

The Navy is steaming ahead on a number of unmanned undersea vehicles and unmanned surface vehicle projects, as program officials face pressure to accelerate the acquisition of new capabilities.
 Pentagon leaders are gung-ho on the technology, which is seen as a way for the United States to maintain its military edge over advanced adversaries.
 The past 12 months have been “a banner year” for unmanned undersea vehicles, Capt. Jon Rucker, Navy program manager for unmanned maritime systems, told reporters Jan. 11 at the Surface Navy Association’s national symposium in Arlington, Virginia. Rucker oversees the service’s USV and UUV projects.
 The Navy recently established the Naval Undersea Warfare Center in Newport, Rhode Island, where many of the military’s UUVs will be housed, maintained and operate from, he noted.
“We are working with them to determine the next facilities we need to be able to support the larger vehicles” that will be developed in the coming years, he added.
 The Navy also stood up the first unmanned undersea vehicle squadron in Keyport, Washington, Rucker noted.
 In 2017, the service and its industry partners worked through the kinks that had plagued the Knifefish system, a medium-sized unmanned minehunting vessel, he said.
“Technical challenges were resolved,” he said. The Navy is hoping to complete sea acceptance trials in February.
 Preliminary design of the Snakehead large displacement UUV was completed in September. The vessel is intended to conduct long-range intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions. Detailed design work has begun and initial long-lead hull materials have been ordered, Rucker said.
 The Orca extra-large UUV mine warfare system program also kicked off last year. As with the Snakehead program, it is an accelerated acquisition project.
“We have been given special authorities to do accelerated acquisitions,” Rucker said. It only took about four months to establish requirements after the program was established, he noted.
“From the time we got signed requirements to the time we competitively awarded two design contracts was 238 days,” he said. “That’s the fastest it has ever been done.”
Boeing and Lockheed Martin are currently on contract for the program’s design phase. In early 2019 the service aims to make a source selection and then go into production, he added.
 Two “innovative naval prototypes” from the Office of Naval Research recently transitioned to Rucker’s office. Operators will use them to test various UUV capabilities during 2018.
“We will then in ’19 open it up to industry if they want to come out and bring their sensors or payloads … [to test them] on a vehicle that the fleet operates so we inform the programs of record with the technologies we need,” Rucker said.
 The Navy is also working on a variety of unmanned surface vessels.
 The Garc — a small, optionally-manned armed coastal patrol platform — is slated to be tested later this year. Navy special operators will also test the Adaro, a 20-pound man-portable ISR platform.
 USVs come in a variety of sizes. The very small are less than 7 meters in length, while the largest ones typically range from 12 meters to 50 meters, he said. But the Navy is looking to acquire larger ones.
“We’ll be pushing that envelope … as we move forward in the next year or two pushing beyond 50 meters,” Rucker said.
 Service leaders recently established an executive steering council to determine how best to test technologies to inform the analysis of alternatives for the future surface combatant USV, he noted.
 Meanwhile, program officials are under pressure to speed up the acquisition of unmanned maritime capabilities.
 James Geurts, the new assistant secretary of the Navy for research, development and acquisition, visited Naval Sea Systems Command about a week ago, Rucker said. Geurts is famous within the acquisition community for his efforts to fast-track procurement at U.S. Special Operations Command when he was SOCOM’s acquisition chief.
“One of the things he really challenged us on is how do we do things differently [and] how do we go faster,” Rucker said.
 Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson suggested that the service should “accelerate the entire family of UUVs,” Rucker said. “That was something we looked at.” An assessment was recently completed and Richardson will be briefed on the results next week, he added.
 To stay on track with unmanned systems, the Navy must avoid trying to do too much at once, Rucker said.

“We’re following the proven philosophy of incrementally delivering capability,” he said. “The Navy initially was working to try to deliver a Cadillac right off the bat … [but] if the system doesn’t work it doesn’t do much good to the user.”
Key to taking an incremental approach is having modular and open systems architectures, he said.
“As the technology is ready we will insert it into the systems we’re developing,” he said. “Every system I show you, whether it’s an unmanned surface vessel or unmanned undersea vessel, we are ensuring that we develop that modularity and have the interfaces, so as technology is ready we can insert it into the production line — not break the production line — and ensure we stay on track to deliver that capability.”

Friday, January 12, 2018

Foreign submarine enters Japan's contiguous zone 

Staff, NHKWorld.com
11 January 2018

Japan's Defense Ministry says a foreign submarine was sailing underwater in the contiguous zone just outside territorial waters in Okinawa Prefecture on Wednesday and Thursday.
 Ministry officials say the submarine apparently belongs to the Chinese Navy, as a Chinese frigate was spotted nearby.
 The officials say a Maritime Self-Defense Force vessel on Wednesday afternoon spotted a submarine sailing underwater off Miyako Island in the southern prefecture.
 They say the submarine continued to move northwest and left the contiguous zone into the East China Sea without resurfacing.
 The officials say the submarine again entered Japan's contiguous zone on Thursday morning off Taisho Island of the Senkaku Islands.
 International law requires submarines to surface and hoist the national flag when navigating through territorial waters of other nations, but not in contiguous zones.
 Also off Taisho Island, a Chinese Navy frigate reportedly entered the contiguous zone twice on Thursday.
 The officials say neither vessel entered Japanese territorial waters. They say both left the contiguous zone on Thursday afternoon.
 The ministry is closely monitoring the submarine's move and collecting information.
 Vice Foreign Minister Shinsuke Sugiyama summoned Chinese Ambassador Cheng Yonghua to lodge a protest on Thursday.
 Sugiyama expressed grave concern and stressed that China should not stem the tide for improving Japan-China relations.
 Japan controls the Senkaku Islands. The Japanese government maintains that the islands are an inherent part of Japan's territory. China and Taiwan claim them.
 Ministry officials say Cheng rebuffed Japan's protest, saying the islands are part of China's territory.
 After the meeting, the ambassador left the ministry without responding to reporters' questions

Raytheon Looking to Next-Generation Long-Range Attack Weapon for Navy

Richard Burgess, Sea Power Magazine
10 January 2018

ARLNGTON, Va. — Raytheon Missile Co., approaching the end of new production of the Navy’s Tomahawk cruise missile, is looking for ways to keep the production line warm so that the company is in a better position for competing for the Next-Generation Land-Attack Missile (NGLAW). Despite its name, the NGLAW will have a maritime strike capability, as does the Maritime Strike Tomahawk (MST) being built for the U.S. Navy.
Speaking to reporters Jan. 10 at the Surface Navy Association National Symposium, Christian Sprinkle, Raytheon’s senior program director for the Tomahawk, said the line will be busy for a few years recertifying the U.S. Navy and U.K Royal Navy’s Block IV Tactical Tomahawks for additional 15 years of shelf life. An undetermined number of some 3,000 Tactical Tomahawks will be modified into Maritime Strike Tomahawks while going through recertification, at a rate of 200 to 300 per year. The United Kingdom has expressed interest in converting its Block IVs into MSTs.
Raytheon is keeping its options open for Foreign Military Sales of the Tomahawk beyond the United Kingdom.
“We have designed in a capacity for Foreign Military Sales,” Sprinkle said.
He said the company wants to be well positioned in 2030 for the NGLAW program, noting that “we want to have the ability to reconstitute [the production line] if we need it.”
Sprinkle said the current minimum sustaining rate for the Tomahawk production is 196 missiles annually.
“We can produce even less than that (sustainably),” he said, noting that the company is evaluating the number and in six to eight months “before we find that sweet spot is. Now is the time to make that move.”
“With recertification, you don’t need to keep it at 196,” said Chris Daily, Raytheon’s program director. 
The Navy has added $2 billion to the Future Years Defense Plan to add MST capabilities to the Tomahawk, including a new radio suite, a multi-mode seeker, M-Code global positioning system. The Joint Multi-Effects Warhead currently is unfunded, but may make the cut in 2018. Raytheon has devoted $55 million in international research and development funds to mature the MST technologies, which the company may leverage in weapons developed by its “new programs division.” 
“We’ve made a very robust seeker which can serve the life of the missile,” Sprinkle said. “We have demonstrated an outstanding search and attack capability.”
Raytheon is in the process of retiring the Navy’s Block III Tomahawks — about 1,000 of the existing 4,000 missiles — the last of which will be demilitarized in fiscal 2018.

Putin’s submarines spur Nato to boost its UK nerve centre

Deborah Haynes, The Times (UK)
10 January 2018

NATO plans to expand a naval command post in Britain after a "significant" increase in Russian submarine activity off British waters and across the alliance, The Times understands.
Allied Maritime Command (Marcom) at Northwood, a sprawling base in northwest London, would increase by 100 to 200 NATO personnel from its present strength of 300 under the proposals, according to military sources.
An Atlantic command is also expected to be revived in the United States after a similar structure was disbanded at the end of the Cold War, when NATO relaxed its focus on ensuring the safe passage of reinforcements from America to Europe in a crisis.
A rise in Russian underwater maneuvers in recent years has prompted the rethink. This includes activity from six improved Kilo-class diesel-electric submarines in the Black Sea and Mediterranean. NATO is also concerned about Russian boats interfering with transatlantic communication cables.
"You see them [Russia] active across the entire NATO area of interest," a NATO official said. "It is significant, it is growing . . . They are able to hold much of NATO maritime forces, as well as much of NATO critical infrastructure, at risk from their maritime forces."
A Royal Navy frigate yesterday escorted Russian warships through the Strait of Dover in an increasingly common occurrence. A particular challenge is the enhanced capability of Russian submarines, which are faster and quieter than during the Cold War, making them harder to detect. This has eroded NATO's advantage in quieter boats. It has also made it more difficult for the Royal Navy's four nuclear-armed submarines to avoid detection, something they achieved throughout the Cold War.
Keeping the on-duty Trident submarine undetected is a founding principle of Britain's nuclear deterrent, guaranteeing the ability to fire back if the UK were ever under nuclear attack.
Another problem for NATO is its failure to maintain investment in anti-submarine warfare over the past 25 years when land-based campaigns in the Balkans, Iraq and Afghanistan have dominated. This has resulted in fewer submarines, frigates and submarine-tracking aircraft.
Admiral Sir George Zambellas, a former first sea lord, said that whoever controlled the underwater domain controlled the surface, the air and also, in future, space. "If you don't invest in that arena in peacetime you are not able to respond in war, when the potential enemy has been doing the reverse," the admiral said.
The size of the Russian navy, including its submarine fleet, has also shrunk since the collapse of the Soviet Union. However, it kept partly finished submarines on the production line and maintained its engineering and submariner skills, analysts said.
When the Kremlin increased military spending about a decade ago, the navy and in particular submarines benefited, they said. Russia believes it could use its underwater prowess to exploit NATO's weaknesses.
A final decision has yet to be made on increasing manpower at Northwood and creating the new Atlantic command. No such decision is expected to be reached until a NATO summit of alliance leaders in July in Brussels.
Under the proposals US Fleet Forces Command in Norfolk could provide leadership in the Atlantic at a time of crisis. This would complement the role of Marcom, which is led by a Royal Navy officer.
A second NATO official said: "Details about the geographical footprint and force levels of the new command structure have not yet been determined and will be discussed in the coming months."