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Monday, April 25, 2011

Submarine to Test New Missile

A new nuclear submarine will be ready to test the next generation of intercontinental missiles this year, a military shipbuilding spokesman said Tuesday.

The Yury Dolgoruky, the first of the country's new Borei class of submarines, has yet to fire the Bulava missile it was made to carry because of numerous failures during testing.

"By the beginning of the navigation season, all ships will be ready to carry out tests of the Bulava," said Alexander Kholodov, a representative of submarine-building shipyard Sevmash.

"This refers above all to the submarines Dmitry Donskoi and Yury Dolgoruky," he said.

The Dmitry Donskoi is an older Akula-class vessel used for previous Bulava tests while Borei-class submarines were undergoing testing.

The Bulava was designed to be carried on submarines like the Yury Dolgoruky, but repeated failures of the missile during tests have called the costly project into question.

The submarine's entry into service, carrying the Bulava, will be a major step forward for the military, which hopes to use rising oil revenues to increase its clout.

exacerbates nuclear woes

India conducted its first ‘peaceful’ nuclear test explosion, dubbing the operation ‘Smiling Buddha.’ But Buddha himself would at best have smiled sardonically at seeing his name tied to such an experiment.

After the test, India vowed never to weaponise its nuclear assets, a pledge that seems to have gone unheeded.
A decade later, the country again set out to test its nuclear capabilities in the Operation Shakti tests - five nuclear tests conducted over three days. Pakistan soon followed suit. It has long been clear that India intended to go back on its non-nuclear weapon pledge. Indeed, an early indication was the commencement of the construction of a nuclear submarine after the 1974 nuclear test. Nuclear drills, meanwhile, were reportedly being taught to every Indian naval officer as early as the 1950s by officials from the Bharat Atomic Energy Centre (BARC) in Mumbai, where India converts fissile material into nuclear weapon cores.

In 1976, Dr Homi Nusserwanji Sethna, the chairman of the Indian Atomic Energy Commission at the time, created the Diesel Propulsion Research Team (DPRT), an apparent subterfuge for designing a nuclear propulsion plant for India’s first nuclear submarine. A team of four naval officers led by Indian Navy Capt. PN Agarwala and Capt. Bharat Bhusan were inducted into the DPRT.

Many Indian Naval officers at the time were also trained in nuclear engineering at the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC) and subsequently transferred to the Defence Research and Development Organisation’s classified nuclear submarine project, which was called the Advance Technology Vehicle (ATV).

plan to buy old German U-boats

Navy chief Kamthorn Phumhiran is insisting on pushing ahead with the plan to procure six second-hand submarines from Germany, dismissing the other option of buying brand-new South Korean ones as being too expensive.

Adm Kamthorn yesterday said he would go ahead with the navy's original plan. It would be presented to the Defence Council chaired by Defence Minister Prawit Wongsuwon next week.
Gen Prawit had earlier voiced his support for the idea of acquiring two brand-new submarines from South Korea. He believed they would last longer than the decommissioned German ones.

The six Type U-206A coastal patrol submarines have been in use in Germany for more than 30 years and Adm Kamthorn admitted they had only another six or seven years of useful life left.

Though the South Korean Type U209 submarine is made using German technology, Adm Kamthorn said it is too big, with a displacement of 1,200 tonnes. "They also cost up to 13 billion baht each," he said.

Although the navy included the option of buying South Korean submarines in its feasibility study, it does not have enough money to buy the two new ones.

"It is most practical to buy the second-hand ones at a cost of 7.7 billion baht," said Adm Kamthorn, who also played down concerns over the usefulness of the submarines in Thai waters. "The navy has to take care of Thailand's marine interests valued at 900 billion baht a year. An investment of 7.7 billion baht will be worth it," he said.

If Thailand fails to secure the six submarines, the opportunity may go to Chile or Colombia, which are also interested in striking a deal with Germany, said navy Assistant Chief of Staff for Operations Thawiwut Phongphiphat.

A navy source said other countries in Southeast Asia have already strengthened their navies with submarines. Malaysia deploys two French-made ones, Singapore has four and Vietnam has three, with a plan to buy six more from Russia. Even Burma has already had its soldiers trained in submarine operations.

If the Defence Council and later the cabinet approve the navy's purchase plan, the first batch of 30 navy officers will be sent for a year of training in Germany before Thailand receives the submarines, said Vice Adm Thawiwut.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Navy Readies for its New Submarines

The Israel Navy is making advanced preparations to absorb two new German-made Dolphin-class submarines, IDF journal Bamachaneh reported in its latest issue. The number of soldiers selected for submarine warfare has grown by 30% in the latest IDF recruitment batches, in order to man the additional submarines.
The Navy currently has three submarines, also of the Dolphin class, so the addition of two subs means that the force is growing 66% bigger. "We are in mid-process and are slowly adding more crews to be trained for service in the submarines," explained Naval Instruction Base Commander Col. Ronen Nimni. "We are also taking care to add crew commanders who closely mentor the soldiers."

More officers are being trained for submarine posts as well. The number of cadets who will be trained for submarine command positions is rising by 35%.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Pentagon Said Likely to Back New Design for Ballistic Missile Submarine

The U.S. Defense Department is likely to pursue a brand new design for its next nuclear-armed submarine, following a Navy recommendation during a key program review earlier this month, according to experts and observers.

The Pentagon's Defense Acquisition Board on December 9 completed an initial design review meeting on the so-called "SSBN(X)" effort, spokeswoman Cheryl Irwin confirmed last week. However, she indicated the department was not ready to release the review's results.

If approved by defense acquisitions czar Ashton Carter, the replacement submarine for today's Ohio-class ballistic missile vessels would enter its first major acquisition program phase, called "Milestone A."

A recent Congressional Research Service report estimated it would cost roughly $70 billion to replace the 12 ballistic missile submarines expected to populate the U.S. fleet by the end of this decade. The nation currently fields 14 Ohio-class boats.

The Navy has not released total cost projections for the new underwater craft, but has estimated it would spend $29.4 billion on the effort between fiscal 2011 and 2020. That figure, though, excludes costs for roughly two subsequent decades during which the 12 new submarines would be built and delivered.

The next-generation submarine is to initially carry today's Trident D-5 nuclear-armed ballistic missiles, but later could be fitted with new-design nuclear missiles and possibly conventional weaponry.

The first Ohio-class submarine to be replaced reaches the end of its 42-year service life in 2027. One subsequent vessel is slated to retire each year after that, with the last submarine expected to age out in 2040. The SSBN(X) submarines are to enter the fleet between 2029 and 2042.

One pivotal decision believed likely to come out of the Defense Acquisition Board review pertains to the approach the Navy will take in developing and building the replacement submarine. In an official "analysis of alternatives" that also has not been released, the Navy considered three possible design concepts for the Ohio-class follow-on, according to a recent Energy Department report.