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25 janvier 2013 5 25 /01 /janvier /2013 08:20

USS Gerald R. Ford CVN 78


January 24, 2013: Strategy page


The U.S. Navy is running out of money and is having a hard time avoiding the consequences. Thanks to all the new information systems added in the last two decades, the navy has been finding out quickly and in great detail how its current policies are running the ships and sailors ragged. The problem is that the navy has less money (because of budget cuts) and is unable to cope with high costs of replacing carriers and submarines that are dying of old age. The leadership has been unwilling to accept a small enough navy, especially one with fewer carriers, to match the current budgets. So ships are going to sea longer, with more broken or borderline equipment and crews that are fed up with all the time at sea. This problem has been growing for over a decade as more Cold War era ships got older and more difficult to maintain.


Efforts have been made to address the crew morale problem. Five years ago the navy adopted a policy of adjusting ship schedules so that crews spend at least half their time in port. This is called "dwell time." With some 60 percent of navy personnel married, time in port is important. The navy also eliminated its decades old policy of regular six month deployments at sea. These deployments were far away and kept sailors cut off from home. The new policy was to keep ships closer to their home port, the better to "surge" a larger number of warships in an emergency. In the past ships returning from a six month cruise usually required a month or so of maintenance and repairs in port, with a lot of the crew taking leave. Military personnel get 30 days of leave (vacation) each year. Thus ships returning from the old six month cruises were out of action for a month or more. The new policy eliminates most of that and more ships are available all the time. The new 50/50 policy uses a lot of shorter trips to sea. Carriers only go out for a week or two at a time, so their pilots can get some practice.


This new policy failed when the navy declared that growing tensions with Iran and China required a surge and has been hustling to find sailors and working ships to maintain a strong presence in the Persian Gulf and Western Pacific. The data management systems show maintenance being deferred, spare parts not available to keep a lot of weapons and equipment on ships running, and more and more sailors, especially experienced specialists, deciding that they have been pushed too far for too long and are getting out. Many navy leaders want to cut back on sea time and allocate money saved towards improving maintenance, readiness, and retention (sailors staying in).


Another issue that cannot be avoided much longer is that the navy cannot afford as many carriers as it has been used to. Replacing the existing Nimitz class carriers is simply too expensive. The new Ford class aircraft carriers keep getting more expensive. The first of them, the USS Gerald R Ford (CVN 78), was originally supposed to cost $8 billion, plus $5 billion for R&D (research and development of new technology and features unique to this class of ships). Now it appears that the cost of the Ford will not be $13 billion but closer to $15 billion. The second and third ships of the class will cost less (construction plus some additional R&D). Thus the first three ships of the Ford class will cost a total of about $40 billion.


The current Nimitz-class carriers cost about half as much as the Fords. Both classes also require an air wing (48-50 fighters, plus airborne early-warning planes, electronic warfare aircraft, and anti-submarine helicopters), which costs another $3-4 billion. Four years ago the USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77), the last of the Nimitz class carriers, successfully completed its sea trails and was accepted by the U.S. Navy. The Bush was ready for its first deployment in 2010. The next new carrier will be the first of the Ford class.


The first Nimitz entered service in 1975 and is currently set to serve for 49 years before decommissioning. All of the Nimitz class carriers are similar in general shape and displacement. But over four decades of use each new member of the class received recently developed equipment. This stuff was installed in older Nimitzs eventually as they went in for maintenance. The Bush, the last of the Nimitz class, has a lot of new gear that wasn't even thought of when the first Nimitz entered service. The first ship of the next class of carriers, the USS Ford, will be about the same length and displacement of the Nimitz ships but will look different. The most noticeable difference will be the island set closer to the stern (rear) of the ship.


While the Fords are much more expensive, the navy expects to reduce (by several billion dollars) each carrier's lifetime operating expenses because of greatly reduced crew size. Compared to the current Nimitz class carriers the Fords will feel, well, kind of empty. There will be a lot more automation, computer networking, and robots. The Bush has a lot of this automation already.


By the time the Ford enters service in 2015, even more of the crew will be replaced by robots than is the case in the Bush. The Ford will have as few as half as many sailors on board. Carrier based UAVs are also on the way. Work on flight control software for carrier operations is well underway. Combat UAVs (UCAVs) weigh about 20 percent less than manned aircraft and cost 20-30 percent less. They use less fuel as well. The Ford can take advantage of UCAVs because it is built to handle more sorties each day (about 150) and surge to about 50 percent more for a day or so. For this reason, many naval leaders believe a reduction in carriers is practical, as the use of UCAVs and smart bombs makes the remaining carriers (as few as six) much more effective.


Whatever the case, something has to be done, or the navy will tumble into a state of disrepair and inability to do much at all.

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11 janvier 2013 5 11 /01 /janvier /2013 12:20



Jan. 9, 2012 by Galrahn - informationdissemination.net


Normally when a defense budget is passed, I can't wait to dig through it and highlight all the important details. This time, with no associated appropriations bill (or plan) coming anytime soon, it would be a waste of time to suggest anything in the Fiscal Year 2013 National Defense Act is worth discussing, because it is worthless until the elected folks in Washington, DC get their budget priorities sorted out.

There is one section in the bill that I do want to highlight though. This reads like something inserted by a lobbyist, and it doesn't belong in my opinion.


a) FINDINGS.—Congress finds the following:
  1. The Marine Corps is a combat force that leverages maneuver from the sea as a force multiplier allowing for a variety of operational tasks ranging from major combat operations to humanitarian assistance.
  2. The Marine Corps is unique in that, while embarked upon naval vessels, they bring all the logistic support necessary for the full range of military operations and, operating ‘‘from the sea’’, they require no third-party host nation permission to conduct military operations.
  3. The Navy has a requirement for 38 amphibious assault ships to meet this full range of military operations.
  4. Due only to fiscal constraints, that requirement of 38 vessels was reduced to 33 vessels, which adds military risk to future operations.
  5. The Navy has been unable to meet even the minimal requirement of 30 operationally available vessels and has submitted a shipbuilding and ship retirement plan to Congress that will reduce the force to 28 vessels.
  6. Experience has shown that early engineering and design of naval vessels has significantly reduced the acquisition costs and life-cycle costs of those vessels.
(b) SENSE OF CONGRESS.—It is the sense of Congress that—
  1. the Department of Defense should carefully evaluate the maritime force structure necessary to execute demand for forces by the commanders of the combatant commands;
  2. the Navy should carefully evaluate amphibious lift capabilities to meet current and projected requirements;
  3. the Navy should consider prioritization of investment in and procurement of the next generation of amphibious assault ships as a component of the balanced battle force;
  4. the next generation amphibious assault ships should maintain survivability protection;
  5. operation and maintenance requirements analysis, as well as the potential to leverage a common hull form design, should be considered to reduce total ownership cost and acquisition cost; and
  6. maintaining a robust amphibious ship building industrial base is vital for the future of the national security of the United States.

To me this looks a lot like some Marine Corps General and his industry buddies throwing their weight around via Congress to try an influence the Analysis of Alternatives taking place regarding the LSD(X). Congress should not be trying to influence the decision unless they are ready to pony up the big bucks for what they are basically calling for - which to me sounds like more LPD-17s.

From what I understand, LSD(X) will be a design to cost ship. The recurring cost (ship 3 and beyond) is pegged to be about $1.2 billion in the shipbuilding budget. That makes the LPD-17 hull a nonstarter without a significant increase in cash from Congress.

The Marines face several challenges in dealing with amphibious requirements, but two stand out as important challenges that must be addressed. The first challenge is that the lift footprint of the amphibious MEB is growing, and the second challenge is that the MPS squadron only carries about 70% of the MEB's equipment. With limited funding and only one platform in the shipbuilding plan able to address these issues - the LSD(X) - folks are either going to have to get creative to solve these challenges, or accept that the challenges will not be solved.

The LSD(X) is a choice between 4 alternatives.

The first choice is a new build, best possible lift vessel for $1.2 billion recurring. I have no idea what design that would be, but if we are being honest it almost certainly wouldn't be anything similar to a current LSD if it is going to meet the stated requirements.

The second choice is for a LPD-17 mod, best possible for $1.2 billion recurring. I do not believe that is possible, but I'm sure there is a shipbuilding guru who other Marines call "General" willing and ready to convince a gullible politician it is possible. Experts I have spoken to in NAVSEA say it's not possible, and I'll trust their expertise and opinion over any Marine General when it comes to shipbuilding.

The third choice is to use a foreign design brought up to NVR standard at a cost of no more than $1.2 billion recurring with the third ship. The design that is specifically highlighted with this option is the French Mistral class. The ships would be built at a US shipyard. There is not a consensus whether these ships can be built in a US shipyard for $1.2 billion recurring.

The fourth option is to build two ships - a MLP and an AFSB - and use the combination of both ships to replace the single LSD. The idea is for the AFSB vessel to cover both the lift for amphibious groups and carry residual lift for the MPS MEB while MLP serves as a well deck surrogate. What is important to understand here is that the AFSB design would actually be a non-mil spec LPH with a limited hanger capacity, but it gives the option for that vessel to carry forward the helicopters in an ARG while the LHA/LHD operates 20 JSFs. Neither the MLP or AFSB would be a gray hull though, which is a major reason why old school Marine Generals who have been doing amphibious assaults for 30 years (cough!) hate the idea.

When I read Section 131 of the 2013 National Defense Act, what I read as "Sense of Congress" actually represents the traditionalists mindset on amphibious capability and their Gulf coast lobby buddies.

But the bottom line is this. The fourth option is the only option that will actually meet the capacity requirements for amphibious lift and the MPS, but I fully expect the United States Marine Corps to outright reject the very suggestion of any option away from the traditional 3 ship ARG. The third option for a foreign design will be rejected solely because it is a foreign design, even though the logic of that escapes me completely when the ships are being built in US shipyards. A new design is possible but unlikely, and until we see more in-house design expertise in NAVSEA I can't say that is necessarily a bad thing.

So ultimately I fully expect the final choice for the LSD(X) to be a LPD-17 mod that the Navy budget cannot afford, and in the end I suspect the Marine Corps will end up with about 8 LSD(X) because that is all they can afford.

But if it was me, I would go for the MLP + AFSB concept. I believe it carries with it the highest risk, but I also believe it would give the Marine Corps the most flexibility when it comes to operations at sea. In my opinion it is much easier for the USMC to remain a relevant national defense asset when they are operating from more ships than when they are operating from fewer ships, and the MLP + AFSB option puts Marines on well over 40 vessels that deploy frequently, vs less than 30 possible vessels that deploy less frequently when one picks the quality LPD-17 mod option.

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21 décembre 2012 5 21 /12 /décembre /2012 12:30


source rhfsf.com


Dec 21, 2012 ASDNews Source : US Navy


The Iraqi navy and the U.S. Navy's Naval Sea Systems Command marked the delivery of two 60-meter Offshore Support Vessels (OSV 1/ OSV 2) to the Iraqi navy in a ceremony at the Umm Qasr naval facility, Dec. 19.


The two OSVs, procured as part U.S. Navy's Foreign Military Sales (FMS) Program, will help reconstitute Iraq's ability to enforce maritime sovereignty and security in the Northern Arabian Gulf.


"This occasion reflects the important ties that bind our governments and our commitment to supporting s strong coalition partnership that is based on mutual respect and understanding," said Vice Adm. Kevin McCoy, commander, Naval Sea Systems Command. "Combined with the previously delivered Iraqi patrol boats, this acquisition program has offered another unique opportunity for cooperation between our countries."


OSVs are multi-function vessels providing a wide range of capabilities to support Iraq's oil production platforms. The vessels will provide transport support for crew changes and resupply to the platforms. Each OSV is equipped with a 30mm gun weapon system and outfitted with fast attack boats to defend it and the offshore platforms. The vessels each include a vertical replenishment deck to facilitate the transfer of supplies as needed.


RiverHawk Fast Sea Frames is the prime contractor for the OSV procurement, with Gulf Island Marine Fabricators manufacturing the hull and deckhouse, and outfitting the vessels.


PEO Ships is currently managing the design and construction of all U.S. Navy destroyers, amphibious ships, special mission and support ships, as well as a wide range of boats and craft for U.S. agencies and foreign military sales.

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5 décembre 2012 3 05 /12 /décembre /2012 19:20

MH-60R Sikorsky


Dec 4, 2012 ASDNews Source : CAE


Today at the Interservice/Industry Training, Simulation, and Education Conference (I/ITSEC), CAE announced it has won a series of military contracts valued at more than C$70 million. They include a contract from the United States Navy to develop two MH-60R tactical operational flight trainers (TOFTs) for the Royal Australian Navy under a foreign military sale program, a contract from the Australian Defence Force to provide King Air 350 simulator services, and a contract from the Royal New Zealand Air Force to provide C-130 training.


"CAE has a long history of providing the Australian Defence Forces with world-class flight simulators and training services, and we are pleased our MH-60R training systems will play a role in preparing the aircrews who will operate Australia's next-generation multi-role naval helicopter," said Gene Colabatistto, Group President, Military Products, Training and Services, CAE. "Our strong position on programs that have long-service lives ahead of them, such as the MH-60R helicopter, will continue to drive opportunities for CAE's comprehensive portfolio of simulation-based products and services. In addition, our established presence in Asia and the Pacific will provide for growth opportunities as these regions become more important to defence customers worldwide."


US Navy/Royal Australian Navy

CAE was awarded a contract to develop two MH-60R tactical operational flight trainers (TOFTs) for the Royal Australian Navy under the United States foreign military sale (FMS) program. CAE USA will be the prime contractor responsible for the design and manufacture of two MH-60R TOFTs that will be delivered in 2015 to HMAS Albatross, located near Nowra in New South Wales and home of the Royal Australian Navy's Fleet Air Arm.


The MH-60R TOFTs include both a full-motion operational flight trainer (OFT) that will be used to train Royal Australian Navy MH-60R pilots and co-pilots as well as a weapons tactics trainer (WTT) to be used for training rear-crew sensor operators in the MH-60R Seahawk helicopter. The MH-60R operational flight trainers for the Royal Australian Navy will include the CAE True electric motion system, motion seats, 220-degree by 60-degree Barco visual display, and the CAE Medallion-6000 image generator. The MH-60R OFT and WTT can be operated as standalone training devices, or networked to become an MH-60R tactical operational flight trainer to provide a total aircrew mission training system. The MH-60R TOFTs for the Royal Australian Navy are based on the MH-60R TOFTs that CAE is delivering to the U.S. Navy.


CAE Australia will support CAE USA in the development of the Royal Australian Navy's MH-60R TOFTs by customizing and leveraging Australian-specific common databases (CDB) already developed by CAE Australia for other programs in Australia.


The Commonwealth of Australia selected the U.S. Navy's MH-60R Seahawk helicopter as their new multi-role naval combat helicopter last year to fulfill the Australian Defence Force's AIR 9000 Phase 8 requirement. Australia is acquiring a fleet of 24 MH-60R Seahawk helicopters via the U.S. Government's FMS program. This is the first-ever procurement of the U.S. Navy's most advanced anti-submarine and anti-surface warfare helicopter outside the United States. The U.S. Navy is supported by Team Seahawk, which consists of MH-60R airframe manufacturer Sikorsky Aircraft, mission systems integrator Lockheed Martin, engine manufacturer GE, sensor supplier Raytheon Corp., and training supplier CAE.


Royal Australian Air Force

CAE has signed a contract with the Australian Defence Force (ADF) to provide Hawker Beechcraft King Air 350 training until 2018. CAE will deploy a CAE 5000 Series full-flight simulator (FFS) representing the King Air 350 with Proline II configuration to a training facility in Sale, Victoria. Under terms of the contract, CAE will provide simulator services for Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) and Royal Australian Navy (RAN) King Air 350 aircrew who train on the aircraft for a range of missions, including tactical support, maritime surveillance and light transport.


"The simulator services provided by CAE will play a key role in the cost-effective training of RAAF pilots, air combat officers and RAN aviation warfare officers," said GPCAPT Gregory Hoffmann, Officer Commanding Training Aircraft Systems Program Office (TASPO).


The CAE 5000 Series King Air 350 FFS will be qualified to Level D, the highest certification for flight simulators, by Australia's Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA). The King Air 350 simulator services will support the RAAF's No. 32 Squadron at RAAF Base East Sale, as well as the School of Aviation Warfare (SAW). This will be the second King Air 350 FFS that CAE has deployed in Australia, following the inauguration in July this year of a King Air 350 ProLine 21 FFS in Melbourne. CAE has commenced delivery of training services to the RAAF's No. 38 Squadron using this simulator.



CAE has signed an agreement with the Netherlands Ministry of Defence (NLMoD) to market and sell third-party training services on a CAE-built C-130 Level D full-mission simulator. The C-130 full-mission simulator, which CAE delivered for the Royal Netherlands Air Force (RNLAF) in 2010, is currently housed at CAE's Amsterdam Training Centre in Hoofdorp. In addition, CAE has signed a contract with the Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) to provide comprehensive C-130 training. The RNZAF C-130 aircrews will receive simulator instruction from CAE at the Amsterdam Training Centre, including training on the RNLAF C-130 simulator that closely matches the configuration of the RNZAF's upgraded fleet of C-130H aircraft. The RNZAF also trains in-country on a CAE-built C-130H flight training device, which CAE delivered to the RNZAF base in Auckland under the C-130 Life Extension Program (LEP) and is currently upgrading for the RNZAF.

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20 novembre 2012 2 20 /11 /novembre /2012 08:10

MQ-4C BAMS Unmanned Aircraft




Team Checking Control Software, Subsystems Prior to Flight Operations


Northrop Grumman Corporation and the U.S. Navy have added a second Triton unmanned aircraft to ground testing efforts in late September – part of an initial step in preparation for flight operations.


Two Triton unmanned aircraft systems are being used to flight test and mature the system for operational use. Ground testing allows the team to further reduce risks associated with control software and subsystems prior to flight.


The first Triton entered ground testing in July after production concluded in June.


"Ground testing signifies our steady progress toward conducting Triton's first flight," said Steve Enewold, Northrop Grumman's vice president and program manager for Triton. "Through numerous engine runs and checks with communications systems between the aircraft and ground controllers, we can ensure that everything is working properly before entering taxi testing as the next step in our efforts."


Northrop Grumman is the prime contractor to the Navy's MQ-4C Triton Broad Area Maritime Surveillance program. In 2008, the company was awarded a systems development and demonstration contract to build two aircraft and test them in preparation for operational missions by late 2015.


The Navy's program of record calls for 68 Tritons to be built.


Triton provides a detailed picture of surface vessels to identify threats across vast areas of ocean and littoral areas. With its ability to fly missions up to 24 hours, Triton complements many manned surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft.

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25 octobre 2012 4 25 /10 /octobre /2012 06:35

MK-54 torpedo-test-03-2012


The U.S. military's shift to a more extensive Pacific presence includes the continued purchase by the Navy of P-8A maritime patrol aircraft.



Oct. 24, 2012 - By MARCUS WEISGERBER Defense News


The U.S. Defense Department plans to purchase weapons and equipment geared to combat in the Asia-Pacific, a maritime-heavy region that will require long-range, stealthy systems that were rarely used over the past decade of combat.


Even as it prepares to downsize, the Pentagon plans to purchase fighters, unmanned aircraft and intelligence aircraft in the coming years, while beginning development of systems, such as a long-range bomber.


“With the war in Iraq now over, and as we transition security responsibilities to the government of Afghanistan, we will release much of our military capacity that has been tied up there for other missions, like fostering peace and strengthening partnerships in the Asia-Pacific,” Deputy Defense Secretary Ashton Carter said during an Oct. 3 speech at the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington.


“Naval assets that will be released from Afghanistan and the Middle East include surface combatants, amphibious ships and, eventually, aircraft carriers,” he said.


The Air Force will transition its unmanned systems, bomber and space forces to the Pacific, Carter said. The Air Force is also investing in a new aerial refueling tanker, the Boeing KC-46.


At the same time, the Army and Marine Corps will be freed up “for new missions in other regions.”


The Navy will install larger launch tubes in new Virginia-class submarines that will allow the vessels to carry cruise missiles, other weapons and small underwater vehicles. The service will also continue its purchase of Sikorsky


MH-60 helicopters, Boeing P-8A maritime patrol aircraft and the unmanned Broad Area Maritime Surveillance aircraft.


DoD also plans to invest in cyber, space and electronic warfare capabilities.


The Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps all plan to purchase the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter in the coming years.


U.S. spending priorities are in line with a new military strategy DoD released in January. One of the key tenets of the new strategy is being able to fight in a contested or denied battle space. The wars of the past decade in Iraq and Afghanistan have been fought in benign airspace, which have allowed all types of aircraft to fly with little threat of being shot down.


But budget cuts remain a major concern. The Pentagon already is cutting $487 billion from planned spending over the next decade. But the larger issue is the possibility of an additional $500 billion in cuts to planned spending over the next 10 years. Those reductions were mandated by the Budget Control Act of 2011 as a way to lower the U.S. deficit. These cuts, known as sequestration, are scheduled to go into effect in January.


Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and other top defense officials have argued that the magnitude of these reductions would hurt the military’s ability to rapidly respond. They have also said DoD would need to create a new military strategy if the additional cuts are enacted.


Industry has said the spending cuts would lead to mass layoffs, although other defense analysts and observers have said the reductions would not be felt for several years and would not be as devastating as depicted.


While many in Congress have voiced opposition to sequestration-level spending cuts, a comprehensive deal to lower the U.S. debt is not likely anytime soon. Congress has been out of session since September so members can campaign for the November elections. The U.S. presidential election is also looming and could reshape U.S. spending.


Advisers for Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney have said the former Massachusetts governor would restore all planned DoD spending cuts immediately.


A Romney administration would allot 4 percent of the U.S. gross domestic product to the defense base budget, said Roger Zakheim, one of Romney’s senior defense advisers, at an Oct. 11 breakfast with reporters in Washington. Zakheim is on leave from his job as deputy staff director and general counsel of the House Armed Services Committee.


The fiscal 2012 Pentagon budget proposal, the last budget before the first round of spending cuts were announced, called for $2.99 trillion in defense spending from 2013 to 2017. That projection was cut by $259 billion after Congress passed the Budget Control Act in 2011.


If Romney is elected, his administration would likely not release a budget until next spring, as opposed to early February.

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3 octobre 2012 3 03 /10 /octobre /2012 17:15

MK-54 torpedo-test-03-2012


October 2, 2012 By Sydney J. Freedberg Jr. – aol.defense


The Navy's jet-powered P-8 Poseidon patrol plane boasts plenty of advances over the P-3 Orion turboprops it will replace, but for the sensor operators the favorite feature will be very basic: They won't throw up as much.

The P-3's notoriously rough ride at low altitudes and the gunpowder-like stench from the launch tube shooting sonar buoys out the back meant that, "typically, every mission or two you'd have somebody get sick [and] start throwing up into their air sickness bag," said Navy Captain Aaron Rondeau, a P-3 veteran who now runs the P-8 program. "We haven't seen that much with the P-8."

With its more modern and less rigid wing, "it's a much smoother ride than the P-3," Rondeau explained, and the buoys are now launched by compressed air, without the old system's stink. And that just means, he said, that "If your aircrews aren't sticking their heads in barf bags, they can do their missions better."

Not everyone really cares whether the operators barf in the back and believe in the P-8's higher-altitude approach. "I don't think it will work as well," noted naval expert Norman Polmar said bluntly. "It's rather controversial."

In particular, after some waffling back and forth, the Navy decided to leave off a sensor called the Magnetic Anomaly Detector (MAD), which can detect the metal hulls of submarines -- if the plane flies low enough. MAD was crucial to the P-3's traditional low-altitude tactics. Significantly, the P-8 variant that  Boeing is building for the Indian Navy will still have it; only the US Navy P-8 will not. Both Rondeau and Boeing argue that the P-8 can more than compensate with more sophisticated sensors and by using its superior computing power to interpret their data.

So with the P-8, the Navy is not just replacing a sixties-vintage propeller plane with a more modern jet, derived from the widely used Boeing 737. It's also betting on new technology to enable a high-altitude approach to both long-range reconnaissance and hunting hostile submarines.

Traditional "maritime patrol aircraft" like the P-3 spend part of their time at high altitude but regularly swoop down, sometimes as low as 200 feet above the waves, to drop sonar buoys, scan for subs with the magnetic anomaly detector, launch torpedoes, and simply eyeball unidentified vessels on the surface. But jets like the P-8 are significantly less fuel-efficient at low altitudes than turboprops like the P-3.

"There's a misconception," said Rondeau. "Some people think that that means P-8 can't do low-altitude anti-submarine warfare [ASW]. We can, and it's very effective down low, [but] we will eventually get to the point where we stay at higher altitudes."

For some of the new sub-hunting technologies, Rondeau argued, going higher actually gives you a better look. Today, for example, one key tool is a kind of air-dropped buoy that hits the water and then explodes, sending out a powerful pulse of sound that travels a long way through the water and reflects off the hulls of submarines, creating sonar signals that other, listening-device buoys then pick up. (The technical name is Improved Extended Echo Ranging, or IEER). Obviously, an explosive buoy can only be used once, and the sonar signal its detonation generates is not precisely calibrated. So the Navy is developing a new kind of buoy called MAC (Multistatic Active Coherent), which generates sound electronically, allowing it to emit multiple, precise pulses before its battery runs down.

"It will last longer and you're able to do more things with it," Rondeau said. And because a field of MAC buoys can cover a wider search area, he said, "we need to stay up high... to be able to receive data from all these buoys and control all these buoys at the same time."

An early version of MAC will go on P-3s next year and on P-8s in 2014, but only the P-8 will get the fully featured version, as part of a suite of upgrades scheduled for 2017. The Navy is deliberately going slow with the new technology. Early P-8s will feature systems already proven on the P-3 fleet and will then be upgraded incrementally. The P-8 airframe itself is simply a militarized Boeing 737, with a modified wing, fewer windows, a bomb-bay, weapons racks on the wings, and a beefed-up structure.

This low-risk approach earned rare words of praise from the Government Accountability Office, normally quick to criticize Pentagon programs for technological overreach. "The P-8A," GAO wrote, "entered production in August 2010 with mature technologies, a stable design, and proven production processes." (There have been issues with counterfeit parts from China, however).

"We had to have this airplane on time," Rondeau said: The P-3s were getting so old, and their hulls are so badly metal-fatigued, that they were all too often grounded for repairs.

So far, Boeing has delivered three P-8As to the training squadron in Jacksonville, Florida. They were preceeded by eight test aircraft, some of which have just returned from an anti-submarine exerise out of Guam. The first operational deployment will come in December 2013, to an unspecified location in the Western Pacific. There the Navy will get to test its new sub-seeking techniques against the growing and increasingly effective Chinese underwater force.

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17 septembre 2012 1 17 /09 /septembre /2012 17:20

MQ-4C Triton


MQ-4C BAMS will soon become the first unmanned system

in US service committed to the maritime patrol mission.


September 17, 2012 by Richard Dudley - defense-update.com


The United States Navy is planning to deploy Northrop Grumman MQ-4C Triton Broad-Area Maritime Surveillance (BAMS) drones to Andersen Air Force Base in Guam with preparations for deployment projected to begin during Fiscal Year 2014 (FY14).


The MQ-4C Triton, only recently introduced, is a large, unmanned drone designed to provide enhanced maritime surveillance in coordination with the Navy’s P-3C Orion and P-8A Poseidon maritime surveillance/anti-submarine aircraft.


Guam’s Andersen Air Force Base (AFB) currently operates three Northrop Grumman RQ-4 Global Hawk unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) in a limited surveillance role. The RQ-4 was designed primarily to perform land surveillance duties, not long-duration ocean surveillance sweeps.


In an interview with ABC News, intelligence analyst Matthew Aid said that the RQ-4 “was designed for pinpoint imagery or eavesdropping on land targets, by over flight, or by flying obliquely up to 450 kilometers off an enemy’s coastline” while the MQ-4C “was designed for broad area maritime surveillance – following ships from high altitude.”


Joe Gradisher, Public Affairs Officer for the Assistant Chief of Naval Operations Next Generation Enterprise Network (NGEN), recently told Stars & Stripes newspaper that the Navy’s Tritons would join the Global Hawks at Guam.


Mr. Gradisher told Stars & Stripes that current plans “for BAMS include the use of Guam, but other bases may be considered in the future, subject to combatant commander desires and future diplomatic arrangements.” The Japan Times newspaper and ABC News also reported the decision to base the Tritons at Guam.


As part of the United States’ “pivot” to the Asia-Pacific region, the US Navy is working towards reinforcing its maritime surveillance capability in the Pacific Ocean arena. Existing plans call for the new Boeing P-8A Poseidon Maritime Patrol/Anti-Submarine Warfare aircraft to be deployed as a replacement for the Navy’s venerable Lockheed Martin P-3C Orion maritime patrol aircraft.

The P-8A Poseidon is designed to operate with the Navy’s new MQ-4C Triton in an anti-submarine warfare (ASW) role that includes the interdiction of maritime shipping and performance of electronic intelligence (ELINT) functions. The P-3 has been in service with the navies of many nations since 1962 and is nearing retirement. The P-8s are expected to begin replacing some of the aging P-3s assigned to stateside squadrons next year.


Existing plans call for the acquisition of 68 Tritons and 117 Poseidons to replace the P-3C Orions still operational. By pairing the MQ-4C Triton BAMS drone with the P-8A Poseidon in the Pacific, the US Navy will be able to maintain a continuous long-range surveillance over a wide expanse of the Asia-Pacific region to an extent the P-3C Orions cannot match. As tensions between Japan, China, and other Asian-Pacific nations have continued to escalate and are beginning to pose a threat to regional peace, an enhanced surveillance force is a capability US Pacific commanders are anxious to get into operation.


There is also a very real possibility that Japan will be deploying its drones to Andersen AFB in the near future as well. Japan’s Kyodo News Service reported that the United States and Japan were discussing a proposal to jointly-base US and Japanese UAVs in Guam. The Japan Times newspaper also released a story, citing an anonymous source, stating that the Japanese Self-Defense Force (JSDF) was in negotiations with US representatives to arrange a joint-use arrangement that would allow the JSDF to operate drones from Guam.


The joint-use proposal, as reported by the Japan Times, would provide for the JSDF to share USAF/USN hangars, flight support, and maintenance facilities.


A previous Japanese proposal to buy Global Hawks was dropped because of cost considerations, but JSDF officials insist it is their desire to buy surveillance drones sometime between Fiscal Year 2014 and Fiscal Year 2020. The Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) currently operates 80 P-3C Orion maritime patrol aircraft, five EP-3C ELINT Orions, and four OP-3C reconnaissance models from various air stations throughout the Japanese Archipelago. These aircraft were built under license by Kawasaki Heavy Industries.


United States Navy officials and JMSDF officers are well aware that Japan’s fleet of Orions is not capable of providing the long-duration continuous surveillance of Pacific sea lanes needed to keep an eye on China’s rapidly-growing, technologically-advanced naval presence. A joint-basing arrangement would be advantageous to both nations with respect to cost-savings, workload reductions, information sharing, and joint-force readiness.


US military officials at Guam declined comment on the MQ-4C basing reports. Navy Lieutenant William Knight said that he could neither confirm nor deny the reports, but indicated that pertinent information could be forthcoming at a later date.


Guam to become forward base for MQ-4C (BAMS) drones in the Pacific. (Photo: US Navy)

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6 septembre 2012 4 06 /09 /septembre /2012 18:53
U.S., Japan consider Guam drone pact


September 6th, 2012 by mike.hoffman - defensetech.org


Japan and the U.S. are considering plans to use Guam as a hub for spy drones to monitor Chinese naval activities in the Pacific, according to a report in the Japan Times.


The U.S. already has Global Hawks stationed at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam. The U.S. Air Force plans to expand the number of spy drones at Andersen and welcome Japan drones over the next decade as the Japanese military plans to buy its own drone fleet.


Japan’s Self-Defense Force had planned to buy Global Hawks of its own before the deal was scuttled due to price concerns. The Japanese have remained confident in their plans to buy their own drones, especially as the Chinese naval fleet has stepped up their patrols throughout the Pacific.


Japanese military leaders currently fly the P-3C patrol aircraft to monitor Chinese naval movements. The investment in a Global Hawk or the U.S. Navy’s version of the RG-4, the Triton, would be a considerable step up in Japan’s intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capability.


U.S. and Japan air forces would share hangars and maintenance facilities for their drone fleets, according to the Japan Times report.


The U.S. Air Force’s Global Hawk arrived at Andersen in 2010. It’s the Air Force’s largest drone, although it does not carry weapons like the Predator or the Reaper.


U.S. Global Hawks from Guam flew missions over Japan after the massive tsunami obliterated the country. The Global Hawks provided intelligence and imagery for humanitarian clean up.


MQ-4C Triton

MQ-4C Triton

Northrop Grumman unveiled the MQ-4C Triton in June as part of the U.S. Navy’s Broad Area Maritime Surveillance program. It’s expected to fly a considerable chunk of it’s missions over the Pacific monitoring the Chinese and North Koreans.

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17 juillet 2012 2 17 /07 /juillet /2012 13:00


From an “AirSea” to an “AirSeaCyber” concept?

(Image: defpro.com)


July 17, 2012 Honolulu, Hawaii  By Harry J. Kazianis / Pacific Forum CSIS – defpro.com


U.S. military must integrate cyber considerations into new AirSea Battle concept


In Pacific Forum’s PacNet #41 issue, Mihoko Matsubara correctly asserts that “countering cyber threats demands cooperation among nations, in particular public-private partnerships.” Cyber war has finally made its way onto the radar, and rightly so. Now the United States military must integrate cyber considerations into its new AirSea Battle concept.


US Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta warned that the “next Pearl Harbor we confront could very well be a cyber-attack that cripples our power systems, our grid, our security systems, our financial systems.” If true, cyber must be front and center in any military refocusing to the Asia-Pacific. Any failure to not correctly plan against this lethal form of asymmetric warfare could be a catastrophic mistake.


The US seems to be focusing the military component of its widely discussed ‘pivot’ to Asia on China’s growing military capabilities. While neither side seeks confrontation and one hopes none will occur, China’s development of a highly capable Anti-Access/Area Denial (A2/AD) battle plan to deter, slow, or deny entry into a contested geographic area or combat zone has been detailed extensively. Cyber war is clearly part of this strategy, with Chinese planners prepared to wage ‘local wars under conditions of informatization,’ or high-intensity, information-centric regional military operations of short duration. Prudent military planners must be prepared to meet this potential threat. Other nations such as North Korea and Iran are also developing A2/AD capabilities with cyber based components that could challenge US or allied interests.


In this type of threat environment, the US, along with its allies, should develop its own symmetric and asymmetric counter-strategies. A joint operational concept of AirSea Battle that includes a strong cyber component would give US forces and their allies the best chance to defeat adversary A2/AD forces. Of course, the current Joint Operational Access Concept does make strong mention of cyber operations. However, an even stronger emphasis on cyber warfare is needed. In short, AirSea Battle as an operational concept might already be obsolete and it should be reconstituted as an “AirSeaCyber” concept.


If cyber is to become a full-fledged component of AirSea Battle, its conceptualization and integration are crucial. A simple first step must be the recognition that cyberspace is now one of the most important battlefield domains in which the US and allied militaries operate. It is not enough to exercise battlefield dominance in a physical sense with technologically advanced equipment. With vital but vulnerable computer networks, software, and operating systems a potential adversary may choose an asymmetric cyber ‘first-strike’ to damage its opponent’s networked combat capabilities. Enemy forces could attempt to ‘blind’ their opponent by crippling computer and network-centric command and control (C2), battlefield intelligence gathering, and combat capabilities by conducting advanced cyber operations. Simply put: US and allied forces must fully understand and articulate the severity of the threat they face before they can map out any national or multinational strategies.


Working with potential cyber allies to identify common threats and working to mitigate possible challenges is crucial. One viable partner in creating effective cyber capabilities is South Korea. Seoul faces a number of problems from a growing North Korean asymmetric threat in a physical sense, as well as multiple challenges in cyberspace. General James Thurman, US Forces Korea Commander, recently noted that “North Korea employs sophisticated computer hackers trained to launch cyber infiltration and cyber-attacks.” Pyongyang utilizes cyber capabilities “against a variety of targets including military, governmental, educational and commercial institutions.” With the US committed to South Korea’s defense, creating partnerships in cyberspace can only enhance such a relationship. Both sides must look past physical threats and expand their partnership across this new domain of possible conflict.


Japan is another possible cyberspace partner. As Matsubara accurately points out, “They [US and Japan] have more to lose. If cyber-attacks and espionage undermine their economies or military capability, larger geostrategic balances may be affected and the negative consequences may spill over to other countries.” Both nations have reported hacking incidents from Chinese-based hackers that have targeted defense-related industries and programs. With Japan and the US partnering on joint projects such as missile defense and F-35 fighter jet, the protection of classified information associated with these programs must be a top priority. As military allies, both must plan for possible regional conflict where cyber warfare could be utilized against them.


Sadly, restraints could develop that might hamper such partnerships. One recent example: historical and political tensions have delayed and possibly halted a defense agreement between Japan and South Korea. The pact would have assisted in the direct sharing of sensitive military information concerning North Korea, China, and missile defenses. Presumably, cyber-related information would have been at the center of such sharing. The agreement was supported by Washington, which has been working to reinforce trilateral cooperation with the two countries, as essential Asian allies. With all three nations facing a common challenge from North Korea, such an agreement would have been highly beneficial to all parties.


If other nations’ military planners rely heavily on asymmetric warfare strategies, US planners and their allies must also utilize such capabilities in developing their response. Cyber warfare offers proportionally the strongest asymmetric capabilities at the lowest possible cost. Almost all military C2 and deployed weapons systems rely on computer hardware and software. As other nations’ military planners develop networked joint operations to multi-domain warfare, they also open their systems for exploitation by cyber-attack. US and allied technology experts must begin or accelerate long-range studies of possible adversaries’ hardware, software, computer networks, and fiber optic communications. This will allow US and allied cyber commands to deploy malware, viruses, and coordinated strikes on fiber-based communications networks that would launch any enemy offensive or defensive operations. Cyber warfare, if conducted in coordination with standard tactical operations, could be the ultimate cross-domain asymmetric weapon in modern 21st century warfare against any nation that utilizes networked military technologies.


Any good operational concept must always attempt to minimize any negative consequences of its implementation. AirSeaCyber presents US policymakers and their allies with a toolkit to deal with the diverse global military challenges of the 21st Century. The inclusion of cyber obviously declares that the US and its allies are prepared to enter a new domain of combat operations. This focus could unnecessarily draw attention to a domain that should be left to ‘fight in the shadows’ to avoid engendering a new battleground with deadly consequences. Some argue that with the use of cyber weapons against Iran to degrade its ability to develop uranium enrichment technology, a dangerous new international norm – operational use of cyber weapons – is upon us.


While these arguments have some validity, cyber war, whether against corporations, nation-states, or even individuals, is now part of daily life. To not prepare fully for this eventuality means facing battlefield obsolescence. Any student of history knows the results of preparing for the wars of years past-likely defeat.


These are only a sample of capabilities that could be utilized to create a joint operational concept that transition from present AirSea Battle ideas into a more focused AirSeaCyber operational concept. Such notions are compliant with current fiscal realities, utilize modern military technologies, and can leverage existing alliance networks. Any operational concept that will guide US armed forces in the future is obsolete without intense conceptualizations of cyber warfare. Working with allies to develop ties in cyberspace in the Asia-Pacific can only create a strong force multiplier effect and should be considered a top priority.


(Harry Kazianis is Assistant Editor for The Diplomat and a non-resident fellow at the Pacific Forum. PacNet commentaries and responses represent the views of the respective authors. Alternative viewpoints are always welcomed.)

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7 juin 2012 4 07 /06 /juin /2012 11:39

USS Fort Worth crédits LOCKHEED MARTIN


07.06.2012 By Galrhan - informationdissemination.net


Today's guest is Christopher Cavas, Journalist at Defense News and Navy Times.

"You have covered the Littoral Combat Ship program from inception to present, and know the history of the program as well as anyone. You have written a story on virtually every newsworthy event related to the Littoral Combat Ship from the beginning. You are one of a handful of people outside the Navy and Industry who has both a deep history and familiarity with the program. Some suggest the LCS program should be canceled. Others say the LCS program has merit. What is the Littoral Combat Ship in your words, and what should LCS be looking to the future?"

The Littoral Combat Ship is, in a word, a challenge. A challenge to understand, a challenge to develop, a challenge to build. The program is a challenge to manage, to defend, to get to sea. To train for and crew, to support, to maintain. To develop mission modules for, to perfect and operate dozens of new technologies in those modules, to control those technologies in an operational environment. A challenge to develop a concept of operations for, to convey to the fleet what it should be used for, to keep from being misused.

For a decade now, the program has struggled to explain its purpose. It remains an incomplete story, constantly threatened, continually under attack, and desperately anxious to prove itself. The challenge to validate the program is repeated with every annual budget cycle, inside the Pentagon and to Congress.

The political challenge is constantly repeated as lawmakers come and go. Recently, several politicians relatively new to the program or to Capitol Hill have called for stronger oversight and more government reports.

But LCS has never suffered from a lack of oversight. Questions about the program’s progress were a regular feature of every Navy posture hearing beginning in 2004. The House Armed Services Committee, particularly Seapower subcommittee Rep. Roscoe Bartlett (R-Md.) and his successor Rep. Gene Taylor (D-Miss.), routinely held LCS hearings featuring not only Navy and industry reps, but all the strongest LCS critics, including government oversight experts from the Congressional Budget Office, Congressional Research Service, and the Government Accountability Office, along with a host of think tank witnesses (including Bob Work, then a Washington analyst, now, as Navy under secretary, the ship’s cheerleader-in-chief). A series of Pentagon oversight entities constantly reviewed the program’s purpose and performance, usually with strong criticisms and guidance. For years, every budget bill report from the House and Senate appropriations and armed services committees has contained strong language expressing concerns about the program’s performance, even while continuing to support the LCS concept.

US Navy Photo

Most of this discussion centered on the two LCS ship designs. Yet the mission modules -- the key to the LCS concept of a platform able to change missions with a swap of equipment -- continue to be a problem area, often poorly articulated by presenters and misunderstood by listeners. LCS discussions still focus on the ships, something perhaps not hard to understand given that the makeup of the mine module has changed, the equipment and the very concept of the anti-submarine module has been fundamentally altered, and the surface module lost its surface-to-surface missile -- the most powerful element it had going. All of this compounded by the fact that none of the modules is in service, or even been operationally demonstrated.
With two ships in commission, another about to be delivered, and more on the way, the LCS is now moving into an entirely new phase, transitioning from a development, acquisition and shipbuilding program into an operational mode. The center of LCS discussion is moving outside Washington to Norfolk and San Diego. Next year it will jump across the world’s largest ocean and drop squarely in Singapore, where the western Pacific press, from a variety of viewpoints, will be taking great notice.

The fleet is only tentatively picking up the LCS drumbeat. Inside the beltway, Work is today the type’s primary champion, staunchly and often emotionally defending and explaining the ship to any and all comers. The Navy’s top leadership and the flags at NAVSEA continue to talk up the program and the Pentagon’s surface directorate is joining in. U.S. Fleet Forces commander Adm. John Harvey in Norfolk has been a key advocate, particularly in his admonitions last year to fleet commanders not to use the ship in roles for which it isn’t intended. Vice Adm. Richard Hunt, commander of naval surface forces in San Diego, now is speaking about the Freedom’s potential to be an effective fleet unit.

But years of over-reaching promises followed by long production delays have eroded confidence among mid-level officers and experienced sailors in the program’s future. O-4s and O-5s, E-7s and E-8s seem to be routinely advising their juniors to bypass LCS and aim for more established programs. O-6s who five years ago were enthusiastic LCS supporters have turned away.

Even the voice of industry has become somewhat muted. Lockheed Martin remains out in front in many LCS promotion efforts, joined now by the Italian firm Fincantieri, which purchased the Marinette Marine shipyard that builds LockMart’s ships. But General Dynamics has gone virtually silent, a consequence of a 2010 decision to split from its Austal USA shipbuilding partner to position itself for future LCS ships, only to see that possibility slip away with yet another Navy change-of-concept for the program’s construction. Austal USA, a small-time operation compared with the GD behemoth, has not come close to matching its former partner’s PR efforts.

Adding to a lack of cohesiveness, both LCS primes still convey a sense of competition, even though the Navy is committed -- for the moment -- to building equal numbers of each type. The “ours is better than theirs” attitude might be good for one or other of the designs, but it is not helping the overall LCS effort.

US Navy Photo

This is a frustrating time in the program’s development. The two prototype ships have yet to take effective mission modules into action. The adolescent concept is starting to look real -- both LCS ships finally joined together at the beginning of May in San Diego -- but it will still be some time before an LCS is doing something the Navy really needs it to do.

From the mid-2000s when the LCS construction schedule started to slide and zoom up in cost, the program acquired a widely-acknowledged reputation as a troubled (that’s a nice word for it) effort. Navy mismanagement, changing priorities, overzealous and unrealistic expectations, shipyard and contractor inexperience all piled on to give the program an aura of unrelenting chaos. People might not understand what it was, but lots of folks -- particularly on Capitol Hill -- knew it was a mess. It took years for the service to work its way through numerous issues. Many problems remain, but it seems now the worst has been overcome, at least from a programmatic standpoint. In fact, from many aspects -- steady schedule, fixed pricing, stable design, increasing shipbuilding experience -- the LCS program is entering into a new era of maturity.

But widespread negative perceptions remain, and everyone involved in the effort remains challenged to demonstrate it can do what it is supposed to do. Still without any concrete missions accomplished, the LCS continues to be the target of often withering criticisms. The past few months in particular have seen a dramatic rise in the number of negative media stories, followed by attention-craving Congressmen calling for more oversight and more hearings and more reviews.

Problem is, none of these recent negative reports has offered anything new. More information about old problems, in some cases, but no new issues. Eternal hand-wringing about old problems is fun for some, but is it productive? Who is questioning the questioners? Or is it just a familiar tune that everyone’s used to?

Junior lawmakers new to the game or those who never sat on the relevant committees calling for new hearings about things they missed is nothing new. But that they do so is not always related to good oversight -- sometimes it’s just good old-fashioned grandstanding. (Imagine, politicians trying to call attention to themselves!)

Reporters writing shallow or repetitive stories, and editors calling for similar stories because everyone else is doing them, is not good journalism, even when it comes from leading publications. Sometimes it’s an honestly elusive story, sometimes it’s just plain lazy.

Leakers who offer deeper information about situations already reported don’t always have great new stuff, sometimes they just have more stuff.

Think tanks who jump on these reports as indicators of true developments, rather than media and political frenzies, don’t help by granting an aura of learned pretentiousness to the discussions.

Critics who simply don’t like the LCS concept – and aren’t going to change their minds -- aren’t always describing real problems. Sometimes they’re just talking about their personal preferences. Sometimes they just don’t want to take the time to really find out what’s happening, repetitively recycling great rants from yesteryear.

On the other side of the argumentative aisle, Navy leaders describing the LCS as a mature, well-thought out and operationally proven system do the entire effort a disservice by getting ahead of the game. Talking about four ships in Singapore, eight ships in Bahrain, or meaningful contributions to the art of mine sweeping and anti-submarine warfare and surface actions and drug hunting isn’t very helpful when you try and make it sound like you’re out there right now doing that sort of thing.

US Navy Photo

With the primary acquisition challenges now dealt with, with the Navy beginning to focus on the effort to get these ships into service, here’s the crux of LCS from here on out: change.

To be sure, there are plans in place for everything the Navy’s planners can think of. But chances are exceptionally high that everything will change as the ships and their crews take them to sea.

LCS is not a done deal. It is not a mature, final design. It does not have a fully proven concept of operations. It is not clear how many sailors should crew the ship, or if a group of manned and unmanned off-board vehicles can be simultaneously and effectively operated, or if those systems will work, or what effect having an LCS with any particular module will truly have on an operation. It is not known whether either of the combat systems will be completely effective (probably not), what specific changes should be made, or how they can be made to both ships. It is not clear which module handling system work efficiently and not break down when you need it. It is not known if the networked communications, computer and control systems will work effectively. It is not known what the final costs will be to buy the modules and operate the ships on a forward-deployed basis. It is not known if the supply, maintenance and parts support systems will be effective. Heck, it is not known if they should begin painting the aluminum superstructures and hulls. It is not known -- well, you get the idea.

Anyone calling for a halt in the program while definitive answers are found to any of these questions is demonstrating a deep absence of understanding what the program is about. That is not the point, sir. Yes, there is a plan, there is a concept, there is a certain direction, but the end result in many cases may well not be what is currently envisioned.

The ships were designed with a main battery unlike anything ever carried by a combatant ship: empty space. Big, empty mission bays ready to accept large containers of equipment and systems, along with flight decks much larger in proportion to other surface fighting ships.

Will some of the mission equipment not work well? Probably. Have something better? No problem. Change it. Bring stuff in and install it, ship stuff out, bring in different stuff.

You can’t do that on other warships. Can’t do it on Arleigh Burke or Zumwalt destroyers, or new British or French or Italian or Chinese or Russian destroyers and frigates. Forget about other 3,200-ton frigates or corvettes, they’re already packed with gear. When those systems age or become obsolescent, the ships will age with them. But an LCS is designed to grow, change and morph over time, adapting to changing requirements and priorities in -- it is hoped -- an efficient and effective manner.

No navy has ever had a ship like this. The Danes tried the modular concept on a much lower level, but the LCS takes the idea significantly further. If it works, it will mean the Navy has gotten a new minesweeper, a new inshore ASW ship, a new brown water surface combatant, a new special operations platform, a new maritime interdiction ship, all in one platform. If it doesn’t work -- well, it won’t be the first time a type of ship entered service and then faded away after a few years. That’s not good, but it certainly happens.

A little history. In 1927, two of the biggest ships in the world were commissioned into the U.S. Navy. The huge aircraft carriers Lexington and Saratoga dwarfed the fleet’s battleships and represented an enormous investment, particularly in a peacetime Navy that faced no urgent threat. One might have presumed the Navy had really thought out this aircraft-carrier thing, knew how to design the ships, operate the systems and planes, fit them into fleet battle concepts and tactics. But that might be presumptuous.

Many people know that the Navy designation for an aircraft carrier is CV. What many people don’t know is what that originally stood for -- cruiser, heavier-than-air. Those enormous aircraft carriers were cruisers, or scouts. They had eight-inch guns to fight off the other guy’s scouts, and their aircraft were largely intended to scout the enemy so the big battlewagons could move into position.

It was another 16 years or so before the modern concept of an aircraft carrier matured. Years of experimentation, trial-and-error work, technological development, a huge tactical leap demonstrated by a skilled enemy, and the loss in five months of four of the fleet’s seven fleet carriers produced lessons learned that resulted in a combat system far removed from 1927. But many of those matured concepts of 1943, through many technical evolutions, are still at the core of today’s carrier strike group concepts.

Hopefully it won’t take that long, or cost that much in blood and bucks, to mature the LCS concept into an effective naval unit. But the challenge facing today’s Navy is to make the system work, to find its weak points and come up with changes, to find out what it can really do and stay away from what it won’t. To adapt what you’ve got to what you need.

And yes, government testers, oversight committee members, critics and reporters, there won’t be final answers to many of these questions for some time. Get used to it. Roll with it. That’s the idea.

NOTE: All views expressed herein are my own, and are not connected to, nor do they represent in any way, Defense News or Gannett Government Media.

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4 juin 2012 1 04 /06 /juin /2012 12:19

USS Zumwalt (DDG-1000) source naval-technology.com


2012-06-04 (foxnews.com)


A super-stealthy warship that could underpin the U.S. navy’s China strategy will be able to sneak up on coastlines virtually undetected and pound targets with electromagnetic “railguns” right out of a sci-fi movie.


But at more than $3 billion a pop, critics say the new DDG-1000 destroyer sucks away funds that could be better used to bolster a thinly stretched conventional fleet. One outspoken admiral in China has scoffed that all it would take to sink the high-tech American ship is an armada of explosive-laden fishing boats.


With the first of the new ships set to be delivered in 2014, the stealth destroyer is being heavily promoted by the Pentagon as the most advanced destroyer in history — a silver bullet of stealth. It has been called a perfect fit for what Washington now considers the most strategically important region in the world — Asia and the Pacific.


Though it could come in handy elsewhere, like in the Gulf region, its ability to carry out missions both on the high seas and in shallows closer to shore is especially important in Asia because of the region’s many island nations and China’s long Pacific coast.


“With its stealth, incredibly capable sonar system, strike capability and lower manning requirements — this is our future,” Adm. Jonathan Greenert, chief of naval operations, said in April after visiting the shipyard in Maine where they are being built.


On a visit to a major regional security conference in Singapore that ended Sunday, U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said the Navy will be deploying 60 percent of its fleet worldwide to the Pacific by 2020, and though he didn’t cite the stealth destroyers he said new high-tech ships will be a big part of its shift.


The DDG-1000 and other stealth destroyers of the Zumwalt class feature a wave-piercing hull that leaves almost no wake, electric drive propulsion and advanced sonar and missiles. They are longer and heavier than existing destroyers — but will have half the crew because of automated systems and appear to be little more than a small fishing boat on enemy radar.


Down the road, the ship is to be equipped with an electromagnetic railgun, which uses a magnetic field and electric current to fire a projectile at several times the speed of sound.


But cost overruns and technical delays have left many defense experts wondering if the whole endeavor was too focused on futuristic technologies for its own good.


They point to the problem-ridden F-22 stealth jet fighter, which was hailed as the most advanced fighter ever built but was cut short because of prohibitive costs. Its successor, the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, has swelled up into the most expensive procurement program in Defense Department history.


“Whether the Navy can afford to buy many DDG-1000s must be balanced against the need for over 300 surface ships to fulfill the various missions that confront it,” said Dean Cheng, a China expert with the Heritage Foundation, a conservative research institute in Washington. “Buying hyperexpensive ships hurts that ability, but buying ships that can’t do the job, or worse can’t survive in the face of the enemy, is even more irresponsible.”


The Navy says it’s money well spent. The rise of China has been cited as the best reason for keeping the revolutionary ship afloat, although the specifics of where it will be deployed have yet to be announced. Navy officials also say the technologies developed for the ship will inevitably be used in other vessels in the decades ahead.


But the destroyers’ $3.1 billion price tag, which is about twice the cost of the current destroyers and balloons to $7 billion each when research and development is added in, nearly sank it in Congress. Though the Navy originally wanted 32 of them, that was cut to 24, then seven.


Now, just three are in the works.


“Costs spiraled — surprise, surprise — and the program basically fell in on itself,” said Richard Bitzinger, a security expert at Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University. “The DDG-1000 was a nice idea for a new modernistic surface combatant, but it contained too many unproven, disruptive technologies.”


The U.S. Defense Department is concerned that China is modernizing its navy with a near-term goal of stopping or delaying U.S. intervention in conflicts over disputed territory in the South China Sea or involving Taiwan, which China considers a renegade province.


China is now working on building up a credible aircraft carrier capability and developing missiles and submarines that could deny American ships access to crucial sea lanes.


The U.S. has a big advantage on the high seas, but improvements in China’s navy could make it harder for U.S. ships to fight in shallower waters, called littorals. The stealth destroyers are designed to do both. In the meantime, the Navy will begin deploying smaller Littoral Combat Ships to Singapore later this year.


Officially, China has been quiet on the possible addition of the destroyers to Asian waters.


But Rear Adm. Zhang Zhaozhong, an outspoken commentator affiliated with China’s National Defense University, scoffed at the hype surrounding the ship, saying that despite its high-tech design it could be overwhelmed by a swarm of fishing boats laden with explosives. If enough boats were mobilized some could get through to blow a hole in its hull, he said.


“It would be a goner,” he said recently on state broadcaster CCTV’s military channel.

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3 juin 2012 7 03 /06 /juin /2012 07:10
US naval base in Bangladesh


June 2, 2012 weeklyblitz.net


Times Now – a podcast project of leading Indian daily newspaper The Times of India on Friday, June 1, 2012 claimed that the United States' is on the process of stationing its naval base within the Bay of Bengal and US Seventh Fleet is scheduled to be moving towards Bangladesh maritime area within next couple of weeks. The Indian media claims that during the recent Bangladesh tour of the US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, Washington formally placed the proposal of using Bangladesh territory for its naval base. US State Department has also confirmed the matter to Times of India. The Indian news media said, "Worried by increasing presence of Chinese naval bases in the South China Sea - America now eyes a counter strategy - as it wants an overall presence in Asia - right from Japan to its Diego Garicia base in the Indian Ocean.


"This by parking its seventh fleet in a base in Chittagong giving it both an eye on taking on China and a strategic post in Asia as it pulls out of Afghanistan. The US State Department denying on the record that Hillary Clinton's visits had anything to do with military co-operation.


"America's concerns clearly documented in the Pentagon report as they increasingly worried over the string of pearls of Chinese bases across the South China Sea and their naval might spreading all across Asia - putting the America behind. The Bangladeshi Government remaining extremely tight-lipped over the recent developments - as they have internally decided to deny it on record - fearing backlash from their own hardliners.


"This move by America could put India on the back foot if the American fleet moves to Bangladesh, all of India's security installations will come under the American scanner. Bangladesh is not willing to comment on record even offering explanation to deny the developments. This Clinton visit a more strategic one than just a friendly one- the Indian establishment caught unawares--as this base could cast a shadow on India's own strategic interests."


The US Seventh Fleet:


The Seventh Fleet is the United States Navy's permanent forward projection force operating forward deployed in Yokosuka, Japan, with units positioned near Japan and South Korea. It is a component force of the United States Pacific Fleet. At present, it is the largest of the forward-deployed U.S. fleets, with 50 to 60 ships, 350 aircraft and 60,000 Navy and Marine Corps personnel. With the support of its Task Force Commanders, it has three major assignments:


Joint Task Force command in a natural disaster or joint military operation,


Operational command of all naval forces in the region, and


Defense of the Korean Peninsula. In 1994, 7th Fleet was assigned the additional responsibility as Commander, Combined Naval Component Command for the defense of South Korea.


The Seventh Fleet was formed on 15 March 1943 in Brisbane, Australia, during World War II, under the command of Admiral Arthur S. Chips Carpender. It served in the South West Pacific Area (SWPA) under General Souglas MacArthur, and the Seventh Fleet commander also served as commander of Allied naval forces in the SWPA.


Most of the ships of the Royal Australian Navy were also part of the fleet from 1943 to 1945 as part of Task Force 74 (formerly the Anzac Squadron). The Seventh Fleet—under Admiral Thomas C. Kinkaid—formed a large part of the Allied forces at the Battle of Leyte Gulf, the largest naval battle in history. After the end of the war, the 7th Fleet moved its headquarters to Qingdao, China.


Princeton of the United States Third Fleet on fire east of Luzon at the Battle of Leyte Gulf.


After the war, on 1 January 1947, the Fleet's name was changed to Naval Forces Western Pacific. On 19 August 1949, just prior to the outbreak of the Korean War, the force was designated as United States Seventh Task Fleet. On 11 February 1950, the force assumed the name United States Seventh Fleet, which it holds today.


In late 1948, the 7th Fleet moved its principal base of operations to the Philippines, where the Navy, following the war, had developed new facilities at Subic Bay and an airfield at Sangley Point. Peacetime operations of the Seventh Fleet were under the control of Commander in Chief Pacific Fleet, Admiral Arthur E. Radford, but standing orders provided that, when operating in Japanese waters or in the event of an emergency, control would pass to Commander Naval Forces Far East, which was a component of Gen. Douglas MacArthur's occupation force.


Of the 50-60 ships typically assigned to Seventh Fleet, 18 operate from U.S. facilities in Japan and Guam. These forward-deployed units represent the heart of Seventh Fleet. The 18 permanently forward-deployed ships of the U.S. 7th Fleet are the centerpieces of American forward presence in Asia. They are 17 steaming days closer to locations in Asia than their counterparts based in the continental U.S.


It would take three to five times the number of rotationally-based ships in the U.S. to equal the same presence and crisis response capability as these 18 forward deployed ships. On any given day, about 50% of Seventh Fleet forces are deployed at sea throughout the area of responsibility.


Following the end of the Cold War, the two major military scenarios in which the Seventh Fleet would be used would be in case of conflict in Korea or a conflict between People's Republic of China and Taiwan in the Taiwan Strait.


It was reported on 10 May 2012 that USS Freedom (LCS-1) would be dispatched to Singapore in the northern spring of 2013 for a roughly 10-month deployment.

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12 mai 2012 6 12 /05 /mai /2012 11:55



May. 11, 2012 By CHRISTOPHER P. CAVAS– Defense news


The Air Sea Battle (ASB) concept initiated by the U.S. Navy and Air Force is an effort to make the most of the combined military capabilities of the U.S. The objectives are to carry out the strategies of U.S. commanders and defeat those of an enemy — traditional goals to be sure, but the ASB concept brings together a much wider matrix intended to match capabilities and threats in more efficient ways.


Observers tend to view ASB as aimed at specific threats — China and Iran — while Pentagon leaders insist the concept can be adapted to any adversary. In a May 10 blog post, Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Jon Greenert avoided mentioning any specific country, but began with a reference that can quickly be interpreted as aimed at Iranian threats to close the Strait of Hormuz at the entrance to the Arabian Gulf.


“There’s been attention recently about closing an international strait using, among other means, mines, fast boats, cruise missiles and mini-subs,” Greenert posted. “These weapons are all elements of what we call an ‘Anti-Access/ Area Denial (A2AD)’ strategy.”


The attention on Air Sea Battle comes as the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council, plus Germany, prepare to meet on May 23 with Iran in Baghdad to discuss security concerns about Iran’s development of nuclear facilities. Without significant guarantees about Iran’s intentions, Israel has been preparing a possible military strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities, an event, Iran has threatened, that would cause a closure of Hormuz.


The ASB concept, Greenert wrote, was developed to defeat A2AD strategies such as the closure of the strait.

“This concept identifies how we will defeat A2AD capabilities such as cyber attack, mines, submarines, cruise and ballistic missiles, and air defense systems and, where applicable, ‘natural access denial’ such as weather, pollution, natural disaster, etc. The concept also describes what we will need to do these operations, especially as the threats improve due to technological advancements,” Greenert posted on his blog.


ASB, he explained, relies on tightly coordinated operations that cross operating “domains” — air, land, sea, undersea, space and cyberspace. ASB concepts include submarines hitting air defenses with cruise missiles in support of Air Force bombers; F-22 Air Force stealth fighters taking out enemy cruise missile threats to Navy ships, or a Navy technician confusing an opponent’s radar system so an Air Force UAV can attack an enemy command center.


The concept is also being used, Greenert posted, “to guide decisions in procurement, doctrine, organization, training, leadership, personnel and facilities.”


Reflecting the joint outlook at the core of ASB, Greenert also advocated for two key Air Force procurement programs.

“The joint force needs the new Long Range Strike Bomber to provide global reach and stealth as well as the new KC-46 tanker, upon which our patrol aircraft and strike fighters depend,” Greenert wrote. “These investments complement the other capabilities of Air Sea Battle such as the Virginia-class submarines, UAVs, Ford-class aircraft carriers, and long-range weapons.”


With Gen. Norton Schwartz, Air Force chief of staff, Greenert will continue his ASB discussion May 16 in a public event at the Brookings Institution in Washington.


Greenert’s ASB posting can be read by clicking here.

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11 mars 2012 7 11 /03 /mars /2012 17:30
Les marines djiboutienne, américaine et française partagent les meilleurs pratiques maritimes


9 mars 2012 Par Rédacteur en chef. PORTAIL DES SOUS-MARINS


Des marins de 3 pays étaient réunis du 27 au 29 février à l’état-major de la marine nationale djiboutienne pour évoquer les meilleures pratiques pour garantir la souveraineté des mers autour de la Corne de l’Afrique.


C’est la première fois que la marine djiboutienne organisait un événement de ce type, qui réunissait aussi les marines américaine et française.


Dans cet échange, les 3 marines ont partagé les meilleures pratiques sur la mise sur pied d’opérations de soutien et sur l’amélioration de la connaissance du domaine maritime.


De plus, le lieutenant Ali Elmi Bouh, officier opérations à l’état-major de la marine de Djibouti, a indiqué que tous les participants avaient discuté de la capacité d’intervention et de prise de responsabilité de la zone d’opération.


« La marine djiboutienne est une marine jeune, qui n’a que 3 ans, » a indiqué le lieutenant Bouh. « Nous voulons grandir et devenir complètement opérationnels. »


La marine djiboutienne a déjà de nombreuses réactions prédéfinies pour des situations d’urgence maritime. Ces réactions couvrent les domaines du sauvetage, des activités illégales et des incursions à terre.


Pour améliorer leur connaissance maritime, les Djiboutiens prévoient de s’appuyer sur un hybride des systèmes français et américains, pour « améliorer leur compréhension de ce qui est en dehors de leurs eaux territoriales. »


Le capitaine de frégate Eric Mignot, officier de liaison auprès de la marine djiboutienne, a indiqué qu’il était important de travailler ensemble, car les Djiboutiens partagent les mêmes objectifs que leurs homologues français et américains : garantir que la mer est une place sûre pour le commerce et la liberté.


Référence : allAfrica

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7 octobre 2011 5 07 /10 /octobre /2011 07:35



Exercice CSAR à partir d'un Seahawk avec des Navy SEAL (image d'archives)

crédits : US NAVY


07/10/2011 MER et MARINE


Actuellement déployé au large de la Libye dans le cadre de l'opération Harmattan, le bâtiment de projection et de commandement Tonnerre a accueilli un détachement de militaires américains. Cette unité héliportée est spécialisée dans les missions de Combat Search and Rescue (CSAR), destinée aux opérations de secours (par exemple la récupération d'un pilote dont l'appareil a été abattu) en zone de combat. « Un détachement CSAR US a été ponctuellement positionné sur le BPC afin de renforcer, au plus près des côtes libyennes, la capacité CSAR », explique l'Etat-major des Armées. Pour mémoire, le Tonnerre, et avant lui le Mistral et le porte-avions Charles de Gaulle, dispose d'une unité CSAR constituée, notamment, d'hélicoptères EC725 Caracal. Ces machines complètent le reste du groupe aéromobile embarqué, composé d'hélicoptères de combat Tigre et Gazelle, ainsi que d'hélicoptères de manoeuvre Puma.
Concernant le reste de la force navale déployée par la Marine nationale au sein de la Task Force 473, on notera que la frégate Cassard a été relevée par la frégate Chevalier Paul, le ravitailleur Marne par le Var. Quant à l'aviso intégré au volet maritime de l'opération Unified Protector de l'OTAN, le Lieutenant de Vaisseau Lavallée a été remplacé par le Commandant Birot.

La frégate Cassard (© : EMA)

Gazelle de nuit sur le Tonnerre (© : EMA)

140 sorties réalisées en une semaine

Hier, l'EMA a communiqué son point hebdomadaire sur les opérations en Libye. Du 30 septembre au 6 octobre, le dispositif militaire français a assuré environ 140 sorties, dont 60% sont des missions offensives. Ces missions se décomposent ainsi : 86 sorties d'attaque au sol (Rafale Air, Mirage 2000-D, Mirage 2000-N et Mirage F1 CT) ; 28 sorties de reconnaissance et de surveillance (Rafale pod reco NG, Mirage F1 CR, Atlantique 2, drone Harfang) ; 7 sorties de contrôle aérien (E-3F) ; 10 sorties de ravitaillement (C135 FR) et 8 sorties pour le groupement aéromobile embarqué sur le Tonnerre.
Au cours des opérations, de nouveaux objectifs ont été neutralisés par les avions de chasse et les hélicoptères dans les régions de Syrte et Bani Walid. Ont, ainsi, été détruits une vingtaine de véhicules militaires, dont trois lance-roquettes et une pièce d'artillerie ; ainsi que quatre bâtiments de commandement et un site radar.

Le BPC Tonnerre (© : EMA)

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6 octobre 2011 4 06 /10 /octobre /2011 07:20
Supporting Europe’s Missile defense Initiative, U.S. Navy to Position Four AEGIS ships in Rota, Spain

In March 2011 USS Monterey (CG 61) deployed for a six-month independent deployment to the U.S. 6th Fleet area of responsibility. On this voyage, the AEGIS cruiser provided the first ballistic missile defense under the European Phased Adaptive Approach. The cruiser is seen here on one of its Mediterranean port visits in Greece, in May 2011. Photo: U.S. Navy


October 6, 2011 by Tamir Eshel - defense-update.com


The U.S. Navy is relocating four AEGIS destroyers to be stationed at port of Rota, spain on the Atlantic Ocean coast. “The alliance is significantly boosting combined naval capabilities in the Mediterranean, and enhancing our ability to ensure the security of this vital region.” The move comes just seven months after the Pentagon sent another AEGIS ship, USS Monterey, to the Mediterranean, marking the first of the administration’s four-phase plan to put a missile defense system in Europe by 2018.


Secretary of Defense Leon E. Panetta said. These AEGIS ships will support NATO’s missile defense effort, alongside the planned positioning of radar stations and, eventually, land-based AEGIS missile systems in Romania, Poland, and Turkey. “Spain’s decision represents a critical step in implementing the European Phased Adaptive Approach, as our leaders agreed to in Lisbon. For its part, the United States is fully committed to building a missile defense capability for the full coverage and protection of all our NATO European populations, their territory and their forces against the growing threat posed by ballistic missiles.” Panetta added.


According to Spanish President José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, by 2013, Spain would “decisively support a large part of the naval portion” of the [European missile defense] system. The system, the Spanish president added, will have a positive economic impact on Rota, requiring the presence of 1,100 military staff and their families, representing 1,000 jobs.


In addition to supporting the new missile defense capability, these Aegis ships will support the Standing NATO Maritime Groups, and maritime security cooperation activities in the Mediterranean Basin and the Atlantic Ocean. The agreement also enables the United States to provide rapid and responsive support to the U.S. Africa and U.S. Central Commands, as needed.

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27 septembre 2011 2 27 /09 /septembre /2011 17:45



Anti-ship missile development and testing - including that of the Dong Feng 21 –

has remained a high priority for the PLA. Image: vostokstation.com.au


09/27/2011  Contributor:  Nick Young - Defence IQ


Since the introduction of the contemporary anti-ship missile (ASM) by the Soviet Navy, ASMs have been developed to come in all shapes, sizes and guidance methods. Without a doubt, the largest contributor to this field is the former Soviet Navy (now the Russian navy), which developed no fewer than 12 systems of varying delivery methods (submarine, air or surface launched), only two of which have been combat tested.  So far, the Russian ASMs include some of the most feared systems to threaten naval platforms due to a varying combination of velocity, manoeuvrability, warhead and physical size. 


To date, the conventional ASM threat has focused on three key integers - high velocity, high manoeuvrability, low signature - that have concerned various navies around the globe. Now, a newer, potentially more potent anti-ship capability has been developed by the Peoples Liberation Army Navy (PLAN). The challenge remaining, then, is to explore this system in detail - its validity and potency in the current naval environment - with access only to information within the public domain. 


Many press outlets have reported the development of the ‘D’ variant of the Dong Feng 21 (DF-21D) anti-ship ballistic missile (ASBM), (NATO reporting name CSS-5), which is a missile equipped with what is believed to be a single manoeuvrable re-entry vehicle (MaRV), with the sole mission of striking ships at sea.  DF-21 is a mobile, medium range ballistic missile that has reportedly achieved its initial operating capability (IOC). 


The Department of Defence (DOD) believes that the system has a range in excess of 1500km (>800nm), while Chinese sources claim a 2700km (1400nm) range. This latter range could  potentially provide a sea denial ability against any navy within range of the system.  For the purpose of analysis, 2000km will be assumed. It is reported that total flight time is around 12 minutes (720 seconds). It boasts a reported maximum velocity of between 3000 and 3500 ms-1, assumed to be during ballistic descent and re-entry.


The reported use of MaRVs will provide a capability to perform midcourse ballistic correction manoeuvres and this compounds the problem of intercepting a ballistic target. Such manoeuvrability coupled with any number of countermeasure capabilities makes a successful intercept difficult. 


System detection, classification & identification


To achieve this goal, the DF-21D system has to go through a standard sequence: detection, classification, identification and engagement. While sounding relatively straightforward, the technicalities of engaging a fleet of ships at sea is never quite that easy. Detection of ships at sea can be achieved by several methods including, patrols, over the horizon (OTH) radar (like the Australian Jindalee operational realisation network JORN system) or by satellite.  Each of these has advantages and disadvantages. 


Patrols are long and expensive and have coverage limited to the sensor range of the platform (airborne or surface). OTH radars are a much cheaper alternative long-term; however, their resolution is generally measured in hundreds to thousands of miles, hence not providing the level of quality to launch such a weapon.  Satellites, while initially expensive do offer an immediate long-term wide coverage, which is exactly how the DF-21D weapon system is reportedly targeted.


The detection of ships at sea from space is not new; the Soviet Union used ‘radar ocean reconnaissance satellites’ (RORSAT) from the late 1960s onward. Since then, technology has progressed and the capabilities of such systems are much greater. While it is possible to hide naval platforms or a fleet of naval platforms from satellites, such manoeuvres severely restrict movement, thus reducing their utility. Detection from space can be augmented with more locally based systems such as OTH radars and patrols or other assets such as electronic surveillance measures (ESM) that may help reduce the ability to hide from a targeting system. 


Classification, or even determining that the detected ship is a naval platform rather than a large merchant vessel such as super tanker or cruise liner, becomes a little more difficult. While the size of the ship can be estimated based on wake size and velocity, many oil tankers and cruise liners are as large as (or larger than) many warships, including aircraft carriers. 


The typical fleet composition (i.e., many ships in a small area) may give away the nature of the detected vessels since many fleets (especially the US Navy) sail with several ships surrounding the high value unit (HVU) - usually the aircraft carrier. Choke points may confuse the issue since many ships may be passing through such areas at once, although choke points provide an advantage to the DF-21D system to be augmented by other intelligence sources. Fleets could disperse more widely and this could cause problems for classification issues, although tracking all objects in a specific area should filter out fleet composition. 


Identification of the correct target for the DF-21D system can only reasonably be confirmed electro-optically, although contextual information may assist. Once a ship or set of ships have been classified as potential targets, an electro-optic satellite can be tasked to carry out specific identification reasonably easily. The use of visual or passive milli-metric wavelength (mmW) systems could perform this quite adequately, however precipitation (clouds, fog etc.) may be a concern. Once identification has occurred, the DF-21D missile can be launched. 


Initial threat flyout


Throughout the boost phase, it is likely that target positional data is continuously supplied to the warhead from the targeting and guidance sensors.  Whether a single communications link provides this data or whether the warhead performs organic data fusion is unknown. In terms of complexity, the former is less complex, requiring less on board processing. However, it potentially becomes a single point failure and opens up the potential for electronic attack. Organic data fusion, while overcoming the communication single point failure, will require the ability to receive multiple signals and process them, thus requiring more hardware and increasing overall launch weight. When initially exploring this missile’s capability, digging into the actual methodology is largely irrelevant, the only caveat being vulnerability to electronic attack to any communications link. 


Once the DF-21D is exo-atmospheric, it is assumed that various booster separations occur and the payload continues until it reaches its apogee -reportedly around 500km. Around the apogee, the MaRV is likely to separate from the main body (decoys could also be deployed at this stage to attempt to confuse any surveying sensors). The MaRV then begins its ballistic descent, rapidly accelerates to the peak speeds discussed earlier, taking around 155 seconds to reach the intercept point from the apogee. 


Warhead guidance & target acquisition


Only on its decent is the MaRV able to unmask its sensor and attempt to detect the target. The nature of the sensor is unknown; however, it is likely to be a radio frequency (RF), either passive or active. While an electro-optical sensor is feasible, it would not be usable due to the nature of the re-entry phase. The size of the MaRV will dictate the frequency of the sensor, which will probably require that it is small enough and light enough to fit into the MaRV, making it likely that it is no lower than J-band (10-20GHz) and maybe as high as M-band (94GHz). If we assume the seeker head is approximately half the size of the missile diameter, then the beamwidth for these two frequency bands will be between 1.64 and 0.26 degrees, respectively. Ignoring atmospheric absorption and other losses, at these beamwidths, the available coverage - at 500km - is between 820km and 130km. If a target, travelling at 30 knots, is located at the ballistic intercept point, (i.e. the ideal ballistic arc intercept with the sea surface), assuming the MaRV does not manoeuvre, then the target will remain inside the beamwidth of the sensor throughout its decent. 


Generally, the higher the sensor frequency, the greater the atmospheric absorption limiting the effective range of the sensor. Active sensors, as would be required for J and K bands, would suffer from two-way absorption. M-band could be passive, suffering only one-way absorption; however, the absorption levels at this frequency are much greater than for J and K bands. Since the sensor is likely to be limited in physical size, it is unlikely that it incorporates the level of output power necessary to overcome the absorption. Hence, it is unlikely that the sensor, in any of the probable frequencies, will detect the target if it is unmasked at an altitude of 500km. The nature of the Earth’s atmosphere means that the thickest part of the atmosphere will be nearer to the target, meaning that the sensor is unlikely to detect the target until quite late in the re-entry phase, requiring continuous updates from the surveillance and targeting system. 


As the MaRV hits the Kármán line, at an altitude of 100km, it would be expected that a communication blackout might occur. This is caused by the signals being reflected and absorbed by free electrons making up the plasma shield that envelopes the re-entry vehicle, created by the extreme heating of air by a strong shock wave created by the MaRV leading edges.  The attributes of this plasma shield will vary according to the altitude and shape of the re-entry vehicle. However, assuming the re-entry velocity equates to the maximum velocity of 3500ms-1, then, by coincidence, the re-entry temperature can be estimated as ~3500°K. The Saha equation may be used to determine the frequency cut-off for penetration of the plasma shield, which, for the MaRV, is around 0.5GHz, meaning that it is likely that communications can continue at this frequency and higher, further indicating that the DF-21D surveillance and targeting system can maintain contact with the MaRV during the re-entry phase. 


While relevant frequencies are able to penetrate the plasma shield, the MaRV still has to protect any seeker from the heating effects. This requires specialised materials to allow the RF energy to penetrate the heat shield. A composite material comprising boron nitride, silica and boron nitride yarn able to withstand temperatures of up to 4000°K, would also facilitate RF transmissions. As the MaRV begins to undergo negative acceleration, the electron density, and therefore plasma shield, decreases allowing the reestablishment of communications at frequencies below 0.5GHz. 


Summarising the re-entry phase - the phase of most concern from the DF-21Ds perspective - any onboard sensor will be limited until quite late in the re-entry phase (potentially 100km or less). However, the surveillance and targeting system can maintain contact with the target and the MaRV, providing uninterrupted targeting data. 


Destructive capability


The nature of MaRV has not been widely reported, but given that other DF-21 versions can carry a 600kg warhead, it probably is safe to say that DF-21D should be able to carry a similar weight. The amount of kinetic energy this would produce while travelling at 3500ms-1 is 3.6 terra joules, or about 5% of the power of the Hiroshima nuclear bomb, without the use of an explosive warhead. 


This is more than enough to destroy any naval platform up to destroyer size and enough to significantly damage or destroy something as large as a US Navy super carrier. If the MaRV contained a warhead, when coupled with the kinetic energy, it is likely that it would destroy something the size of a US Navy aircraft carrier. 


Defensive measures


The DF-21D will be at its most vulnerable during its boost phase. This is the phase from engine ignition until it is exo-atmospheric. During the boost phase, it is relatively easy to engage the missile with conventional hardkill effectors (surface-to-air missile) to achieve this. The launch must occur within the range of the hardkill effectors, which, for most systems, is around 80-120km. Placing such a SAM system in such a position exposes that platform to a pre-emptive attack. Hence, it is likely that the majority of the boost phase will occur relatively unhindered. Another possible solution is the use of something similar to the recently abandoned airborne laser (ABL); however, the limitation identified by the ABL programme would need to be overcome to develop a viable system. 


Intercepting the MaRV during the descent phase presents a number of difficulties. First among these is having suitable sensor coverage to detect and track the MaRV with fire control quality. Systems like SPY-1 are limited in their zenith coverage by the physics of the antenna, which can only electronically scan to 60° off the antenna boresight, (a characteristic of physics that afflicts all phased array antennas). Given that the SPY-1 scans at an angle of no more than 10 or 15° from the horizontal, this results in a cone shape blind spot of around 30-40° around the zenith. 


The reported range of the SPY-1 is approximately 200km. There are two aspects to this figure: the instrumented range, defined by the selected waveform known as instrumented range; and that of the basic physics, which is dependant on the effective radiated power (ERP) and the radar cross section of the target (RCS). Modification of the waveform, increasing the spacing between pulses, will change the instrumented range to encompass any particular range. The angle at which the MaRV descends means that there is very little clutter to interfere with the detection of the target. Hence, a normal radar, single pulse system can be utilised, rather than a complex waveform that requires processing such as Doppler filtering often used in high clutter environment (e.g. littoral regions). 


Based on physical size, the estimated MaRV RCS is around 2.2m2, meaning it is probable that SPY-1 could detect the MaRV at between 150km and 200km, or between 43 and 60 seconds, assuming the sensor is not distracted by any potential decoys. Giving a second or so for a targeting process, an intercepting missile can be launched travelling at a typical velocity of 1000ms-1, resulting in an intercept range of around 18km (or 18 seconds to go), with a combined velocity of 4500ms-1. This Mach 15 combined intercept speed would make it incredibly difficult for even an optimised fusing mechanism and blast fragmentation warhead to detect, initiate and distribute fragments against the MaRV. 


This suggests that using an ordinary SAM effectively against the MaRV would be near impossible - even a vaunted SM-2. Hence, intercepting the MaRV in the terminal phase is unlikely, so once the MaRV is in its ballistic fall, the likelihood of it hitting its target is very high. Guns are of little use against this type simply because of their limited range and accuracy, not to mention the lack of effect. 


A viable defensive solution


Once exo-atmospheric the DF-21D is potentially susceptible to attack from systems such as the US Navy’s standard missile (SM)-3, typically based upon a Ticonderoga cruiser. As the threat breaches the horizon, the platforms sensors (SPY-1) will acquire the rising target and commence tracking, facilitating the calculation of an engagement solution. The solution will incorporate a ‘window’ of opportunity, bounded by the very first time the missile can launch and achieve a suitable probability of intercept and a very last time. Once the threat enters this window, the SM-3 can be launched. 


The SM-3 is a three-stage missile comprising:


    Initial stage: A Mk72 booster that incorporates a four-nozzle thrust vector control, providing pitch, roll and yaw control for the missile - used for the initial launch

    Second stage: A Mk104, dual thrust rocket motor (DTRM)

    Third stage: A Mk136 third stage rocket motor (TSRM)


The initial stage propels the SM-3 from the launcher, accelerating it to around 1000ms-1. On burnout, the booster separates and is discarded and the DTRM ignites, accelerating the missile further. After MK 104 burnout and separation, the TSRM ignites, propelling the third stage out of the atmosphere, which includes the kinetic warhead (KW). The TSRM contains two separate propulsion pulses allowing optimisation of the engagement. 


Throughout its flight, the SM-3 receives in-flight target information, constantly updating the predicted intercept solution. During the third stage, approximately 30 seconds prior to intercept, the TSRM pitches over and ejects the nose cone, exposing the KW which starts its search for the target using its long-wave infra red (LWIR) seeker, augmented with received target data. The KW uses the solid divert and attitude control system (SDACS) to manoeuvre the KW to enable a hit-to-kill intercept. 


As the KW closes on the target, the LWIR seeker tries to determine the area where the MaRV is located, shifting its aim towards this area to increase the probability of a successful intercept. The KW collides with the target with a reported 130-mega joules of kinetic energy, equating to a 10 tonne truck travelling at 600 miles per hour. Such a strike is highly likely to destroy the target. 


While the Aegis/SM-3 anti-ballistic missile solution seems viable, and indeed tests have demonstrated its capability, it seems to need to engage the target prior to MaRV separation. This is not an issue in itself; however, to achieve this, it is likely that the SM-3 launch platform must be in a specific range to allow the SM-3 to reach the target prior to MaRV separation. Based on maximum reported range of SPY-1, this suggests the system must be within ~200km of the launch point to allow detection.  Even if this range is incorrectly reported, then the launch platform needs to be within 500km of the trajectory. Simply put, this is necessary to ensure that the operating envelope of the SM-3 suitably covers the trajectory path of the DF-21D while it is exo-atmospheric. The need for the launch platform to be in a suitable location to engage the DF-21D potentially exposes it to a pre-emptive attack since the intercept geometry dictates the launch position. 


Assessing threat viability


Based on available information and on first inspection, the DF-21D concept is viable. Whether the fully integrated system is effective – and what the concept suggests - is not something that can be easily verified.  Given the likely low cost of a DF-21D relative to naval platforms (especially the US carriers), the introduction of the DF-21D system is a game changer in terms of strategic naval warfare. The economical offset gives these weapons an unmatched potency almost equivalent to the introduction of the submarine and torpedo combination in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Without a doubt, US Navy aircraft carriers are susceptible to attack by these weapons. 


As this paper has explored, the vast majority of contemporary in-service SAM systems are unable to defend against this threat, while the information on the only potentially viable system suggests that the launch platform has to be exposed to achieve a successful engagement.  However, the Aegis/SM-3 combination is the only known naval system that can possibly negate this threat. Hence, any US moves towards the areas guarded by DF-21D would likely be preceded by the deployment of a Aegis/SM-3 platform. This potentially makes the Aegis/SM-3 platforms strategic assets, worthy of significant defence, themselves, to prevent a pre-emptive attack. 


Even if the Aegis/SM-3 combination is systemically capable of defeating the DF-21D, there is always potential for system failures in any stage of the engagement. While this applies equally to the DF-21D, as usual, the threat will always have the advantage. Given the tight engagement timeline for the SM-3, depending on the system element, failure would be potentially catastrophic. While the launching of multiple SM-3s may overcome some of the potential failures, it is not clear if the Aegis/SM-3 combination can manage multiple engagements of this nature. 


The only assured method of defence against the DF-21D is one of offense.  The DF-21D system relies heavily on its targeting and guidance elements that primarily consist of satellite-based sensors (although probably not exclusively). Hence, were the US to initiate a move into a DF-21D protected area, its best defence would be to incapacitate the targeting and guidance elements, which may be politically unacceptable. Fortunately, the Aegis/SM-3 combination can also engage satellites as demonstrated by operation BURNT FROST, the shooting down of the USA-193 satellite.  Even if the DF-21D system is not as capable as reports suggest, or does not work at all, PLAN has presented a difficult problem for the US in which any move could risk the US losing either political capital (going for the assured route of defence) or losing a significant asset - a US Navy aircraft carrier. This could immediately put the US on the back-foot before any combat occurred. 


In the final analysis, even the threat of introducing the DF-21D, let alone the actual introduction, changes the balance of power in huge areas of strategic importance around Asia. While systems do exist to mitigate this threat, none provides an ideal defence in either concept or execution, but they do form the basis of limited defence ability.

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9 septembre 2011 5 09 /09 /septembre /2011 12:20




USS Oklahoma City visited Fleet Base West when the United States submarine participated in a Submarine Command Course alongside a RAN Collins Class submarine. (photo : RAN)




The Royal Australian Navy has hosted the U.S. Navy's Submarine Command Course (SCC), at Fleet Base West and in the fleet exercise areas off Western Australia.

Australia supports the SCC every year; regularly sending an Australian submarine to Hawaii (as well as the international biennial Rim of the Pacific Exercise), or hosting the course in Western Australia.

This year's exercise involved HMAS Dechaineux, HMASNewcastle, HMAS Sirius; Maritime Patrol Aircraft from theRAAF Edinburgh-based 92 Wing, and USS Oklahoma City (SSN 723).

Exercise participants gained valuable experience in complex submarine operations with the opportunity to share the knowledge and expertise of the MK48 Advanced Capability Torpedo and the BYG-1 Combat System which are employed by both submarine forces.

“The exercise proved to be extremely beneficial for all participants; enabling new crew members to put into practice what they have been taught as well as allowing experienced crews to hone their skills,” said CMDR Jason Cupples, Commanding Officer of HMAS Dechaineux.

The SCC has been training prospective commanding officers of U.S. submarines since 1944 and is an important milestone in those officer's careers. It is also an example of the outstanding relationship between the submarine forces of Australia and the United States.

“The students of the SCC responded well to the challenges they encountered, with the crew enjoying the opportunity to exercise with the Australian submarine force and Australian warships,” said USS Oklahoma City Commanding Officer, Commander Andrew Peterson, US Navy.

All participants agreed that this year's exercise proved to be a success for all involved.



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16 juillet 2011 6 16 /07 /juillet /2011 16:50
China Details Anti-ship Missile Plans


Jul 15, 2011 By Bradley Perrett aviation week and space technology


Beijing - For more than a century, surface warships have been struggling to survive against mines, submarines, aircraft and, more recently, cruise missiles. Now China’s rapid development of a sophisticated anti-ship ballistic missile (ASBM) raises the threat to a new level.


The U.S. Navy, mindful of the threat and no less focused on advancing its technologies to protect its fleet, remains confident in its ability to project naval power globally on the surface as well as under water. But for less technologically advanced navies of the Asia-Pacific region, it is becoming difficult to see how in the decades ahead they can stand up to an opponent that can target surface ships with hypersonic homing warheads that can range more than 1,500 km (900 mi.)—and perhaps much farther.


China Daily is citing a range of 2,700 km for the revolutionary missile, the DF-21D, presenting the crucial data point in a report based on comments by the chief of the Chinese general staff, Gen. Chen Bingde. The Pentagon said last year the DF-21D’s range is “in excess of 1,500 km.”


If not a journalistic error, the statement means that U.S. aircraft carriers launching strike missions while keeping clear of DF-21Ds would need aircraft with even longer ranges than thought. It means that the DF-21Ds can be safely kept further inland. And, for Asian navies, it means the whole South China Sea can be covered from Guangdong, a Chinese province where DF-21Ds are based.


China’s second key revelation about the DF-21D is that it is still in development, though the U.S. has said it is in service.


“The missile is still undergoing experimental testing and will be used as a defensive weapon when it is successfully developed, not an offensive one,” says Chen. “It is a high-tech weapon and we face many difficulties in getting funding, advanced technologies and high-quality personnel, which are all underlying reasons why it is hard to develop this.”


Adm. Robert Willard, commander of the U.S. Pacific Command, said in December that the DF-21D had reached the equivalent of initial operational capability. Taiwan has also said China has begun to deploy the missile. Yet Chen’s comments, made after a meeting with his U.S. counterpart, Adm. Michael Mullen, imply that any DF-21Ds that have been deployed are not regarded as fully developed.


“It’s possible that an initial ASBM variant could be more basic,” says Mark Stokes, executive director of the Project 2049 Institute, an Asia-focused think tank in Arlington, Va. “Then maybe a follow-on variant could integrate some of the more sophisticated technologies, such as a high-altitude radar system.”


U.S. Naval War College Prof. Andrew Erickson says the tone of Chen’s remarks “could be interpreted to reflect a high level of uncertainly and ambivalence about the missile’s immediate prospects, directed at a Chinese audience through Chinese media.


“Viewed in this light, the three factors Gen. Chen outlines—funding, technology, talent—may be viewed as serious constraints, even bottlenecks, in the challenging task of successfully maturing and integrating an ASBM system of systems.”


China’s idea of “operational” may be closer to the U.S. concept of full operational capability, adds Erickson.


The appearance of Chen’s statement in China Daily, an English-language newspaper acting as a government mouthpiece directed at the outside world, is itself meaningful. The paper’s reports on sensitive subjects often appear to be carefully written to deliver Beijing’s message.


The DF-21D is one such sensitive subject, as the U.S. considers how it would counter Chinese attempts to dominate nearby seas and forcibly regain control of Taiwan. In the view of some analysts, surface warships—above all, aircraft carriers—are fundamentally too vulnerable to such a weapon, because their signatures are so large and the missile is very difficult to intercept.


In the May 2011 issue of the U.S. Naval Institute journal Proceedings, two Pentagon strategists, Navy Capt. Henry Hendrix and Marine Corps Lt. Col. Noel Williams, urge immediate cessation of U.S. aircraft carrier construction. Noting such threats as the DF-21D, they write, “the march of technology is bringing the supercarrier era to an end, just as the new long-range strike capabilities of carrier aviation brought on the demise of the battleship era in the 1940s.”


Skeptics respond that the DF-21D’s kill chain can be broken in several places—for example, in target detection and tracking before launch, communication of targeting data or final homing descent. Still, considering the crews and costs of surface ships, especially carriers, the stakes are high.


“Yes, the [U.S.] Navy would want to have a high degree of confidence that they could break a link in the kill chain, but there are no certainties here,” says Eric Hagt of the World Security Institute. “It’s a game of measures, countermeasures, counter-counter-measures, et cetera. Having said that, the U.S. remains a superior, technologically capable fighting force, so it stands to reason they are able to conceive of and develop sophisticated countermeasures to the ASBM.”


However, there are no guarantees, he stresses, adding that the real mission of the DF-21D is deterrence. “It could and probably will give the U.S. Navy much more pause for concern when getting involved in any potential scenario in the western Pacific closer to China’s shores.”


The views from China’s neighboring countries and Australia are even more sobering. From there, attacking the DF-21D kill chain must look like a challenge ranging from enormous to unthinkable. Over the past few years, the Asia-Pacific-region navies have increasingly shifted their resources to submarines. Japan intends to enlarge its submarine fleet to 24 from 18 and Australia, to 12 from six.


Recounting Chen’s remarks, China Daily says: “He did acknowledge . . . that Beijing is developing the Dongfeng-21D [DF-21D], a ballistic missile with a maximum range of 2,700 km and the ability to strike moving targets—including aircraft carriers—at sea.”



The range of 2,700 km has previously been attributed to earlier DF-21s built to attack fixed targets, raising the possibility that the figure has appeared in the paper only as a result of sloppy journalism. That would be quite an error, however, considering that the report was supposed to convey a message abroad.


China’s military, with a seemingly atavistic aversion to public statement, tends to reveal its capabilities by just letting the world see them. Examples include its demonstration of anti-satellite technology in 2007, when it blasted away an old weather spacecraft, and the seemingly casual rolling out of the so-called J-20 fighter prototype in view of an airfield fence at Chengdu in December 2010.


“My impression is that an ASBM range requirement is driven by the maximum range of U.S. weapon-delivery platforms associated with a carrier battle group,” says Stokes. “The 2,700-km requirement seems a bit more than what’s needed.”


Nonetheless, it is clear that extra range, whether immediately available or in a future version of the DF-21, would give China greater flexibility in basing and targeting. Hagt notes that fixing targets becomes more difficult and increasingly reliant on vulnerable satellites as the range rises.


China itself evidently sees a continuing role for aircraft carriers. In the same report, China Daily says the incomplete carrier China bought from Ukraine in 1998, Varyag, “is expected to serve primarily as a training vessel for pilots and deck crews.” Such training has always been assumed as the initial role of the ship, since China has little or no experience in the difficult business of operating fixed-wing aircraft at sea.


“China is a big country and we have quite a large number of ships, but they are only small ships,” Chen says. “This is not commensurate with the status of a country like China.” The U.S. is “a real world power” because it has 11 aircraft carriers, he adds. The general also says much Chinese military technology is at the level of U.S. equipment used 20-30 years ago.

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16 mai 2011 1 16 /05 /mai /2011 21:30



May 16, 2011 (AP)


YOKOSUKA, Japan (AP) — The U.S. is developing aircraft carrier-based drones that could provide a crucial edge as it tries to counter China's military rise.


American officials have been tightlipped about where the unmanned armed planes might be used, but a top Navy officer has told The Associated Press that some would likely be deployed in Asia.


"They will play an integral role in our future operations in this region," predicted Vice Adm. Scott Van Buskirk, commander of the U.S. 7th Fleet, which covers most of the Pacific and Indian oceans.


Land-based drones are in wide use in the war in Afghanistan, but sea-based versions will take several more years to develop. Northrop Grumman conducted a first-ever test flight — still on land — earlier this year.


Van Buskirk didn't mention China specifically, but military analysts agree the drones could offset some of China's recent advances, notably its work on a "carrier-killer" missile.


"Chinese military modernization is the major long-term threat that the U.S. must prepare for in the Asia-Pacific region, and robotic vehicles — aerial and subsurface — are increasingly critical to countering that potential threat," said Patrick Cronin, a senior analyst with the Washington-based Center for New American Security.


China is decades away from building a military as strong as America's, but it is developing air, naval and missile capabilities that could challenge U.S. supremacy in the Pacific — and with it, America's ability to protect important shipping lanes and allies such as Japan and South Korea.


China maintains it does not have offensive intentions and is only protecting its own interests: The shipping lanes are also vital to China's export-dependent economy. There are potential flash points, though, notably Taiwan and clusters of tiny islands that both China and other Asian nations claim as their territory.


The U.S. Navy's pursuit of drones is a recognition of the need for new weapons and strategies to deal not only with China but a changing military landscape generally.


"Carrier-based unmanned aircraft systems have tremendous potential, especially in increasing the range and persistence of our intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance operations, as well as our ability to strike targets quickly," Van Buskirk said at the 7th Fleet's headquarters in Yokosuka, Japan.


His fleet boasts one carrier — the USS George Washington — along with about 60 other ships and 40,000 sailors and Marines.


Experts say the drones could be used on any of the 11 U.S. carriers worldwide and are not being developed exclusively as a counterbalance to China.


But China's reported progress in missile development appears to make the need for them more urgent.


The DF 21D "carrier killer" missile is designed for launch from land with enough accuracy to hit a moving aircraft carrier at a distance of more than 900 miles (1,500 kilometers). Though still unproven — and some analysts say overrated — no other country has such a weapon.


Current Navy fighter jets can only operate about 500 nautical miles (900 kilometers) from a target, leaving a carrier within range of the Chinese missile.


Drones would have an unrefueled combat radius of 1,500 nautical miles (2,780 kilometers) and could remain airborne for 50 to 100 hours — versus the 10 hour maximum for a pilot, according to a 2008 paper by analysts Tom Ehrhard and Robert Work at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments. Work is now an undersecretary of the Navy.


"Introducing a new aircraft that promises to let the strike group do its work from beyond the maximum effective firing range of the anti-ship ballistic missile — or beyond its range entirely — represents a considerable boost in defensive potential for the carrier strike group," said James Holmes of the U.S. Naval War College.


Northrop Grumman has a six-year, $635.8 million contract to develop two of the planes, with more acquisitions expected if they work. A prototype of its X-47B took a maiden 29-minute flight in February at Edwards Air Force Base in California. Initial testing on carriers is planned for 2013.


Other makers including Boeing and Lockheed are also in the game. General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. — the maker of the Predator drones used in the Afghan war — carried out wind tunnel tests in February. Spokeswoman Kimberly Kasitz said it was too early to divulge further details.


Some experts warn carrier-based drones are still untested and stress that Chinese advances have not rendered carriers obsolete.


"Drones, if they work, are just the next tech leap. As long as there is a need for tactical aviation launched from the sea, carriers will be useful weapons of war," said Michael McDevitt, a former commandant of the National War College in Washington, D.C., and a retired rear admiral whose commands included an aircraft carrier battle group.


Some analysts also note that China may be reluctant to instigate any fighting that could interfere with its trade.


Nan Li, an expert at the U.S. Naval War College's China Maritime Studies Institute, doubts China would try to attack a U.S. carrier.


"I am a skeptic of such an interpretation of Chinese strategy," he said. "But I do think the X-47B may still be a useful preventive capability for worst-case scenarios."


The Air Force and Navy both sponsored a project to develop carrier-based drones in the early 2000s, but the Air Force pulled out in 2005, leaving the Navy to fund the research.


Adm. Gary Roughhead, chief of naval operations, said last summer that the current goal of getting a handful of unmanned bombers in action by 2018 is "too damn slow."


"Seriously, we've got to have a sense of urgency about getting this stuff out there," he told a conference. "It could fundamentally change how we think of naval aviation."

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3 mai 2011 2 03 /05 /mai /2011 12:20
Le Seal Team Six, l'unité d'élite qui a tué Ben Laden

03/05/2011 Par Jérôme Bouin – LeFigaro.fr


La mort du chef d'al-Qaida est le fait de ce groupe antiterroriste composé des meilleurs éléments de la marine américaine. Il est moins connu que la Delta Force, son alter-égo pour les opérations aéroportées.


Le Navy Seal Team 6 est «l'élite de l'élite» de l'armée américaine. Une unité chargée exclusivement de l'antiterrorisme dont la composition exacte n'est pas connue, affirment les spécialistes, et dont certains éléments, deux douzaines d'après des officiels américains, ont contribué dans la nuit de dimanche à lundi à la mort d'Oussama Ben Laden, au nord du Pakistan.

Le Pentagone, le département américain de la Défense, possède un état-major chargé spécifiquement des opérations spéciales : le Commandement des opérations spéciales (Socom). Celui-ci chapeaute environ 50.000 militaires américains chargés de ces opérations au sein des armées de terre, de l'air, de la marine, du corps des Marines et du Joint special operations command (JSOC).

Ce dernier, explique Eric Denécé, directeur du Centre français de recherche sur le renseignement (CF2R)*, est un état-major chargé en particulier des opérations les plus secrètes. «Il fait appel à plusieurs unités, appellées 'black units' (unités noires) aux États-Unis en raison de la nature de leurs missions, explique cet expert. Leur nombre exact n'est pas clairement établi». Parmi ces unités, on trouve le Navy Seal Team Six mais aussi la Delta force (l'équivalent du GIGN français).


«Des nageurs de combat, ultra-entraînés»

Les membres du Navy Seal Team Six sont des nageurs de combat bénéficiant d'un très haut niveau d'entraînement et bénéficiant du matériel le plus moderne. «Ils entrent dans cette unité en y postulant ou en étant choisi», explique Jean-Jacques Cécile, journaliste spécialisé Défense et ancien membre des services de renseignement militaire français*². Ils sont rattachés à la Marine mais agissent dans le cadre du JSOC. «Un peu comme les hommes du GIGN sont rattachés à la gendarmerie mais agissent sur ordre d'un préfet ou du ministre de l'Intérieur», d'après Eric Denécé. Seal est un acronyme de Sea, Air, Land (terre, air, mer).

À la différence des autres unités du JSOC, le Team Six, comme la Delta Force, est exclusivement chargée des missions anti-terroristes. Chacune des unités du JOSC est composée de quelques centaines d'hommes. Leur nombre exact n'est pas connu. Le Team 6 comprend entre 100 et 200 hommes selon les estimations.

Les forces spéciales américaines accomplissent globalement le même type d'opérations. La différence entre elles réside dans «le mode d'insertion, la manière dont elles parviennent en zone de mission», précise Jean-Jacques Cécile. Le Team Six est ainsi habitué des opérations subaquatiques quand la Delta Force est spécialiste des opérations aéroportées. Pour autant, chaque unité doit pouvoir mener les deux techniques d'insertion. Mais un autre critère subiste quant au choix de déployer telle ou telle unité. Il s'agit, selon Jean-Jacques Cécile, de la disponibilité des unités en question.

Le Team Six peut enfin être mis à disposition de la CIA qui, dans la nuit de dimanche à lundi, commandait l'opération qui a abouti à la mort d'Oussama Ben Laden.


* Auteur de Forces spéciales. L'avenir de la guerre ?, réédité en 2011.

*² Dernier ouvrage paru : Pirates en eaux somaliennes, Nouveau monde, 2010.

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19 avril 2011 2 19 /04 /avril /2011 17:30

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/e/e3/USS_Freedom.jpg/220px-USS_Freedom.jpg  http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/3/37/USS_Independence_LCS-2.jpg/220px-USS_Independence_LCS-2.jpg

LCS 1                                                                LCS 2


April 19, 2011: STRATEGY PAGE


Now that the U.S. Navy has decided to put its new "Littoral Combat Ship" (LCS) into mass production, it faces years of uncertainty and experimentation as this radical new combat ship design seeks to find out what works, to what degree, and what doesn't. There is some nervousness about all this. The U.S. Navy has not introduced a radical new design for nearly a century. The last such new design was the aircraft carrier, which required two decades of experimentation, and a major war, to nail down what worked. Even the nuclear submarines of the late 1950s and early 60s were evolutionary compared to what the LCS is trying to do.


In the last five years, two different LCS designs were built, and put into service. Problems were encountered. The much smaller crew required some changes in how a crew ran a ship, and how many sailors and civilians were required back on land to support an LCS at sea. It was found that, so far, the interchangeable mission modules take far longer (2-3 days instead of 2-3 hours) to replace. The LCS has still not seen combat, and the navy wants the first violent encounter to be successful, or at least not disastrous. It is expected that there will be surprises, which is about all that can be guaranteed at this point.


The navy surprised everyone last year by choosing both designs, and requesting that the fifty or so LCS ships be split between the two very different looking ships. It was only recently, after over a decade of development, construction and delays, that both versions of the LCS entered service. Both were worked hard, to determine which model should become the standard design. Both ships delivered impressive performance. But the navy also believes that having two suppliers, even with different designs, will provide the kind of competition that will keep costs down and quality high. If one of the builders began to screw up, they would lose some, or all, of their orders. Such an incentive program has worked in the past. Current plans are to place an initial order for to 20 LCSs, to be built between 2011-15.


While both ships look quite different (one is a traditional monohull, while the other is a broader trimaran), they both share many common elements. One of the most important of these is the highly automated design, and smaller crew. Both ships have accommodations for only 75 personnel. Normally, a ship of this size would have a crew of about 200. The basic LCS crew is 40, with the other 35 berths occupied by operators of special equipment. But that is already being exceeded on one LCS, which has a detail of 15 sailors for handing special equipment and another 23 to take care of a helicopter. Another shortage encountered is time. Although sailors work a typical six hours on/twelve hours off routine, there are plenty of miscellaneous jobs that cut into off duty hours (taking on supplies and fuel while underway, standing fire/safety alert during aircraft or small boat operations and so on). At times, some sailors were only getting 5-6 hours sleep a day. Fortunately, the LCS uses a two crew system, with each crew being on the ship (at sea or in port) for 40 days, and then the other crew takes over. In addition to a second crew, there are more maintenance personnel available back at the LCS home port, to help with needed repairs and upgrades the crew would normally handle. But with the smaller crew, these chores will be taken care of in port, using additional personnel.


Built using "smartship" technologies, that actually do greatly reduce personnel requirements, the LCS was expected to get by with a crew of about 40-50 in basic configuration. The sea trials and three years of operations gave the militarized smartship features a workout. These sea trials were very important, because the LCS is over budget, behind schedule and, worst of all, an untried new concept. Many of the operations in the last two years have been of the sort LCS will encounter during its 30 year career. But the strain on the crew makes it clear that heavy combat operations might be more than current crew size can handle. An additional chore is the refueling at sea. The LCS was not built for long voyages, but these have to be undertaken to get the ships overseas, or moved to a different theater once there. Fuel replenishment ships must be available, and the crew has to be ready for a heavy workload.


The LCS crews are also modularized, so that specialized teams can be swapped in to operate specific modules. Thus about 40 percent of the ship is empty, with a large cargo hold into which the mission package gear is inserted (and then removed, along with the package crew, when it is no longer assigned to that ship.) Thus the LCS has two crews when underway, the "ship" crew and the mission package crew. The captain of the ship crew is in charge, and the officer commanding the mission package is simply the officer in charge of the largest equipment system on board. There are a variety of interchangeable modules (e.g., air defense, underwater warfare, special operations, surface attack, etc.), which allow the ships to be quickly reconfigured for various specialized missions. Crews will also be modularized, so that specialized teams can be swapped in to operate specific modules. The design and crew requirements for these module is still a work in progress, but also shows a need for more people, or more automation.


So far, the heavy workload has not hurt morale. The small crew means that everyone knows everyone, and it's standard for people to handle a number of different jobs. Even officers pitch in for any task that needs to be done. This kind of overworked enthusiasm is actually typical of smaller naval craft. These included World War II era PT boats, with crews of up to 17, and current minesweepers (with crews similar to an LCS) and larger patrol boats. There's also the "new" factor. In addition to being new ships, there is a new design and lots of new tech. This gets people pumped. But the experience of using the LCS has to be used to develop changes that will make these ships viable for the long haul.


The two different LCS designs are from Lockheed-Martin (monohull) and General Dynamics (trimaran). The first LCS, the monohull USS Freedom, completed its sea trials and acceptance inspections two years ago. The ship did very well, with far fewer (about 90 percent fewer) problems (or "material deficiencies") than is usual with the first warship in a class. USS Independence (LCS-2) was laid down by General Dynamics in late 2005 and commissioned in January 2010.


Both LCS designs were supposed to be for ships displacing 2,500 tons, with a full load draft of under 3.3 meters/ten feet (permitting access to very shallow "green" and even "brown" coastal and riverine waters, where most naval operations have taken place in the past generation). Top speed was expected was to be over 80 kilometers with a range of 2,700 kilometers. Basic endurance is 21 days, and final displacement was closer to 3,000 tons.


LCS is currently armed with a 57mm gun, four 12.7mm machine-guns, two 30mm autocannon and a 21 cell SeaRam system for aircraft and missile defense. The RAM (RIM-116 "Rolling Air Frame") missiles replace Phalanx autocannon. SeaRAM has a longer range (7.5 kilometers) than the Phalanx (two kilometers). Last year, the navy decided to equip LCS with a surface launched version of the Griffin air-to-surface missile. The Griffin is an alternative to the Hellfire II, which weighs 48.2 kg (106 pounds) and carries a 9 kg (20 pound) warhead and has a range of 8,000 meters. In contrast, the Griffin weighs only 16 kg (35 pounds), with a 5.9 kg (13 pound) warhead which is larger, in proportion to its size, than the one carried by the larger Hellfire missile. Griffin has a pop-out wings, allowing it to glide, and thus has a longer range (15 kilometers) than Hellfire. UAVs can carry more of the smaller missiles, typically two of them in place of one Hellfire. The surface-launched Griffin weighs about twice as much as the air launched version, because of the addition of a rocket to get it into the air, after which it can glide to the target.


Ultimately, the navy hoped to have between 50 and 60 LCSs by 2014-18, at a cost of $460 million (after the first five.) The USS Freedom ended up costing nearly $600 million, about twice what the first ship in the class was supposed to have cost. The navy believes it has the cost down to under $450 million each as mass production begins.

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