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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.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Russian strategic sub recalled for inspection


One of Russia's premier nuclear submarines, slated to carry its next generation of strategic missiles, has been called back from sea trials, possibly delaying deployment, a top weapons designer said on Monday.

The Yuri Dolgoruky, Russia's first Borei-class submarine, was designed to carry the nuclear-capable Bulava intercontinental missiles, which the Kremlin hopes to make the cornerstone of its arsenal over the next decade.

"Right now the cruiser is returning to the shop. I think the work will last half a year," Yuri Solomonov, a top engineer at Moscow's weapons design Institute of Thermotechnics, told a news conference.

The Yuri Dolgoruky had been undergoing sea trials and was expected to go into service in the first half of 2011, and its recall to the dock for further inspections will likely delay its adoption into service by the navy.

The multi-billion dollar project is the most ambitious in the Russian fleet's post-Soviet history, but has been repeatedly delayed by a string of unsuccessful Bulava missile launches. Seven out of 14 test launches have failed.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Russia Launches Upgraded Submarine Missile Cruiser


The Russian Zvezdochka Shipbuilder has launched the K-407 Novomoskovsk, strategic submarine missile cruiser after an interim overhaul and modernisation programme.

Novomoskovsk is the last strategic nuclear submarine to undergo modernisation at the shipyard, and is to be delivered to the Russian Navy.

The vessel is the sixth missile submarine of Project 667BDRM (Delfin Class, Delta-4 by Nato classification), whose service life has been extended by ten years after the overhaul.

The Delfin Class submarines are armed with 16 intercontinental ballistic missiles and form the basis of the Russian sea-based strategic nuclear forces, according to ITAR-TASS News Agency.

The submarines that have undergone similar modernisation include K-51 Verkhoturye, K-84 Yekaterinburg, K-114 Tula, K-117 Bryansk and K-18 Karelia. (Source naval-technology)

NGV Tech wins work with Daewoo shipbuilder

Malaysian shipbuilder NGV Tech has signed a contract with Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering to construct two 250-foot training and patrol vessels for the Malaysian navy. 

"In the period of 24 months, we will collaborate to design, build and deliver the naval vessels," NGV Tech Executive Chairman Datuk Zulkifli Shariff said.

"DSME will do the design. The vessel blocks will be transported to Malaysia and we will start joining it together at our 24-hectare shipyard in Sijangkang," Shariff said.

NGV Tech was founded in 1992 and is based in the city of Telok Panglima Garang, in the state of Selangor on the west coast of the Malaysian peninsula. Sijangkang is on the coast of Selangor.

The company offers design, fabrication, installation as well as repair and maintenance services for all type of ships including buoy tender vessels, offshore crew boats, patrol craft, landing craft, harbor tugs, hydro-graphic craft and strike craft.

NGV Tech builds around 40 ships annually in Sijangkang, generating around $160 million in revenues, a statement from NGV Tech said.

HMS Ambush: latest of Royal Navy's next generation of submarines

HMS Ambush, the second of the Royal Navy's new Astute class of nuclear submarines, is powered by a nuclear reactor the size of a dustbin.


HMS Astute  Photo: REUTERS

It is 97m long, the equivalent of 10 London buses, and weighs 7,400 tonnes compared with the 5,000 tonnes managed by its predecessor, the Trafalgar class. 

It has the biggest "ears'' of any sonar system in service today, with the processing power of 2,000 laptops. 
The nuclear reactor which drives the propulsion system is roughly the size of a dustbin but will last the 30-year life of the boat without needing to be replaced. 
But there are some other big numbers to bear in mind - the first three Astute class submarines (HMS Astute, Ambush and Artful) cost the Government £3.8bn, according to last year's National Audit Office report, compared with an initial contract for £2.58bn. 
That report also showed the project was 47 months late, with an original in-service date for Astute of May 2005.(source telegraph.co.uk)

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Indian Navy to Install AIP System on Scorpene Submarines

The Indian Navy is considering a proposal to equip Scorpene submarines, which are under construction, with an air independent propulsion (AIP) system to overcome the risk of detection.

The system, which is being built at Mazagon Dock, enables the boats to stay underwater without having to surface for more than three weeks.

DCNS CEO Patrick Boissier said the company was in talks with the navy and that the system could be integrated into the fifth and sixth submarines in 2018.

The navy is also looking at an indigenous AIP system, which is being developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation, according to Hindustan Times.

The first Scorpene submarine is expected to enter service in 2015 and the remaining within a span of three years.

India is constructing six Scorpene submarines with transfer of technology from DCNS under a Rs187.98bn ($4.16bn) programme called Project 75. (Source naval-technology)

Submarines to receive new batteries

South Africa's fleet of three Heroine-class Type 209 diesel-electric attack submarines are to receive new batteries as part of their “first minor overhaul”, the Ministry of Defence and Military Veterans says in two answers to Parliamentary questions.

The battery consists of 480 man-sized cells and weighs 250 metric tons, according to a South African Navy briefing to Parliament last month. Navy Chief Director Maritime Strategy Rear Admiral Bernhard Teuteberg at the same briefing said a battery costs R35 million. He also described the overhaul as "major". 

“In order to ensure that the SAS Manthatisi (S101) will be operational for a period of at least eight years on completion of the first minor overhaul, the SA Navy will procure a new battery for the submarine,” the ministry says in answer to a Parliamentary question by Freedom Front Plus MP Pieter Groenewald. “Each submarine will, in turn, be fitted with a new battery on completion of their respective minor overhauls.”

Another answer notes the Manthatisi is “presently in reserve, and has been so since October 2007. The submarine is being prepared to become the first Type 209 Submarine to be overhauled in Simon’s Town Naval Dockyard,” the answer continues. “The SAS Manthatisi will be undergoing an overhaul in accordance with the laid down schedules for this type of submarine. The scope of work for the overhaul of SAS Manthatisi is currently being determined.”

The Manthatisi is the lead-boat of class of three submarines acquired for R8.1 billion as part of Project Wills,a component of the controversial Strategic Defence Package. She was laid down at Howaldtswerke-Deutsche Werft, Thyssen Nordsee Werke, Kiel on May 22, 2001, was launched June 15, 2004 and commissioned November 3, 2005. It arrived in South African waters in April 2006. Her sisters were both commissioned March 14, 2007. The Charlotte Maxeke arrived in South African waters in April 2007 and SAS Queen Modjadji I in May 2008.

In answer to Groenewald's question as to whether the repairs might be done in Germany, where they had been built, the ministry said the Navy was “not giving consideration to sending the submarine to Germany for repairs. The requisite capabilities are being sourced and developed locally, and these capabilities will form the foundation for not only the maintenance of SAS Manthatisi but also the subsequent overhaul of SAS Charlotte Maxeke and SAS Queen Modjadji I, as scheduled in the SA Navy Maintenance and Upkeep Plan for the Medium to Long Term Expenditure Framework.”

Russia delays Bulava nuclear missile test to 2011

Russia has delayed the next submarine test launch of its troubled intercontinental nuclear missile Bulava until 2011, Itar-Tass state news agency reported.

Russia has delayed the next submarine test launch of its troubled intercontinental nuclear missile Bulava until 2011, Itar-Tass state news agency reported on Wednesday.

The Bulava missile, which Moscow plans to make the cornerstone of its nuclear arsenal over the next decade, has failed seven of its previous 14 tests, endangering the future of the project which is estimated to cost at least $3 billion.

The next test had been scheduled for Dec. 17.

"The White Sea region, from where the Bulava was to be launched, is covered with ice," Itar-Tass quoted an unidentified defence industry source, who had been due to attend the test launch, as saying.

"The exact date of the next test launch of the Bulava in 2011 is not yet decided, but it will take place in the first half of the year," he said.

Test launches have sent the nearly 37-tonne missile from Russia's border with Finland to the peninsula of Kamchatka, in Russia's Far East.

Testing of a New Submarine to Start

“Alexander Nevsky” submarine has been launched at a plant in Severodvinsk. The vehicle is ready for final tests.
     
      The missile-carrying nuclear submarine “Alexander Nevsky” belongs to the newest generation of Russian submarines of the “Boreas” project. The vehicle will carry 16 “Bulava” ballistic missiles, as well as torpedoes for self-protecting.
     
      The submarine creators, who used cutting-edge technologies for building the submarine, believe that their vehicle would pass all tests successfully. Seven more missile-carrying nuclear submarines are 4expected to appear within the “Boreas” project. 

(Source : RIA Novosti)

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Watch videos about “Aleksander Nevsky” on RIA Novosti

The nuclear submarine Aleksander Nevsky (Photo from RIA Novosti)

Russia plans to build eight subs of the Borey class. The first one, “Yury Dolgoruky”, has already gone through tests and is currently preparing for launch of its first Bulava missile. The third sub in the series, “Vladimir Monomakh” is under construction. The fourth, “Svyatitel Nikolay”, has also been started, but will be modernized and constructed under new modification compared to the three others.

UK to launch its biggest, deadliest nuclear submarine

A nuclear reactor which can power a small city and guided-missiles that can pulverise an enemy more than 1,000 miles away -- meet HMS Ambush, the Royal Navy's newest killer submarine. 

The 'super-sub' can produce oxygen and drinking water from seawater to keep its 98 crew members alive in time of crisis. 

More complex than the US space shuttles and able to circumnavigate the globe without surfacing, Ambush is 291 ft long, the same length as a football pitch, as wide as four double-decker buses and 12 storeys high.
Its nuclear-powered engine can propel her at more than 20 knots, allowing her to travel 500 miles a day, reports the Daily Mail. 

And despite being 50 percent bigger than the Swiftsure and Trafalgar subs it will replace, Ambush is much quieter. Its propellers are the quietest ones, making less noise than a baby dolphin and undetectable to enemy vessels. 

Of course, that is if enemy vessels can get near Ambush. The submarine's sonar and radar are so sensitive that it can detect ships a staggering 3,000 nautical miles away. 

It means that if parked in the English Channel, Ambush would know if a ship left the New York harbour. A true titan of the deep, the 1.2-billion-pound warship will be launched at Barrow-in-Furness in Cumbria Thursday. 

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Emergency Surface (Submarine)




Submarine diving (view from periscope)

Old HMS Ambush

HMS Ambush P-418 seen in 1947.
HMS Ambush P-418 underway in 1947.
 
HMS Ambush S-68 seen in 1961 after modernization

Putin pledges $860b to modernise military

Russia's Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said today that the government had pledged $860 billion through 2020 to modernise and re-arm Russia's military.
   
Russia's armed forces have demanded an increase in spending to modernise ageing infrastructure and weapons systems after years of insufficient funding, which undermined performance in local conflicts after the break-up of the Soviet Union.
   
"We are allocating very serious, significant funds for the rearmament programme. I am even scared to pronounce this figure, 20 trillion roubles," Putin told government ministers and top military officers.
   
"We need to finally overcome consequences of those years when army and navy were seriously underfinanced," Putin said at the navy shipyard SevMash in the northern town of Severodvinsk on the White Sea.
  
Putin said the modernisation programme will focus on strategic nuclear forces, air-defence systems, communication, intelligence, a fifth generation fighter plane and on the navy, which would receive about 4.7 trillion roubles.
   
Russia has been struggling for years to reform its armed forces, dogged by low morale and poor living conditions since the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union. 


While Russia crushed Georgia in a five-day war in 2008, the short conflict exposed technical problems and ageing equipment.
  
Putin also launched the dock trial of Russia's second Borei class nuclear submarine, the Alexander Nevsky, designed to carry Russia's Bulava intercontinental missile.
   
Russia is completing the construction of three Borei-class nuclear submarines.
   
The first one, Yuri Dolgorikiy, is already undergoing sea trials, and is expected to go into service in the first half of 2011, said Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov. 

New Russian submarine to be commissioned in 2011

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin Monday congratulated the dock trials of the Alexander Nevsky nuclear submarine in northern region of Severodvinsk, saying the submarine is due to enter service in Dec. 2011, Xinhua informed.

Alexander Reznikov, a new strategic missile-carrying submarine of the Borei class, is currently under construction at the Sevmash shipyard.

"The nuclear submarine is due to be handed over to the navy in 2011 if work goes at the set pace," Putin was quoted by local media as saying.

"It is precisely that this modern, quality equipment must be supplied to all our Armed Forces in the nearest future," he said.

In addition, Putin also told a meeting in Severodvinsk that Russian Armed Forces will receive over 1,300 types of weaponry in line with a draft arms procurement program until 2020.

"We will need to set up new or expand the existing production lines to manufacture 220 of the new types of weaponry," Putin was quoted by RIA Novosti news agency.

More than 20 trillion rubles (640.7 billion U.S. dollars) will be earmarked for weapons procurement, three times more than the sum allocated in the existing 2007-2015 program, he added.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Lockheed Martin to upgrade RMS minehunting underwater vehicle capability and reliability

Engineers at Lockheed Martin Corp. will upgrade the capability, reliability, and maintainability of the U.S. Navy's AN/WLD-1 Remote Minehunting System (RMS) -- a 23-foot-long semiautonomous, semisubmersible diesel-powered submarine that locates and classifies undersea anti-ship mines -- under terms of a $20 million contract awarded Friday from the Naval Sea Systems Command in Washington.

The RMS, an unmanned underwater vehicle (UUV) designed to help safeguard military and commercial shipping from hidden underwater mines, often requires frequent repair or replacement, Navy officials say. This can be a problem when operating from the Navy's Arleigh Burke-class destroyers, which can accommodate only one of the RMS vehicles.

Although the Navy is designing the Littoral Combat Ship to accommodate two RMS vehicles to provide sufficient redundancy for the maintenance-heavy minehunting UUV, the RMS also has been found to have a difficult time reliably detecting and classifying mines in shallow waters with rough sea floors, Navy officials say.
As a result, the Lockheed Martin Undersea Systems division in Riviera Beach, Fla. -- the RMS designer and manufacturer -- is taking on the RMS Reliability Growth Program to upgrade the minehunting system's reliability and capability. Lockheed Martin will do the work at its Riviera Beach, Fla., and Syracuse, N.Y., facilities.

Japan Could Deploy Troops in Korea in Emergency

Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan raised hackles in Korea on Saturday by saying Tokyo will consider dispatching troops there to rescue Japanese citizens in case of an emergency. Kan told reporters his government will consult on the matter with the South Korean government and revise Japanese laws to allow the country's Self-Defense Force to engage in such rescue operations.

The daily Tokyo Shimbun reported on Sunday that the Japanese government already sounded out to the Korean government the possibility of dispatching SDF transport aircraft and vessels to Seoul, Incheon and Busan to rescue around 28,000 Japanese citizens residing in Korea. 

U.S. warships led by the nuclear-powered attack submarine Houston sail the Pacific Ocean south of Japan on Friday.

 But the daily said the Korean government rejected the proposal citing a potential public outrage among Koreans who may be reminded of the forced occupation of their country by the Japanese imperial military from 1910 to 1945. Seoul was also reportedly concerned that the consultation itself could give the impression that a war is imminent.

But Seoul denied knowledge of the plan. "Japan neither raised the issue nor discussed it with us," a Cheong Wa Dae official said. "We don't know in what context Kan made the comments."

Submarine defense systems that protect against torpedo attacks to be provided by Sedna Digital Solutions

Submarine electronics experts at Sedna Digital Solutions LLC in Manassas, Va., will provide the U.S. Navy with submarine defensive warfare systems that enable U.S. ballistic missile and fast attack submarines to respond automatically to torpedo attacks under terms of a $14.3 million contract announced last week by Naval Sea Systems Command in Washington.

Sedna Digital Solutions will provide the Navy with AN/WLY-1 acoustic interception and acoustic countermeasures systems for U.S. submarines. The AN/WLY-1 has threat platform sonar- and torpedo-recognition capability for early detection, classification, and tracking of torpedo threats to Navy submarines.

This submarine defensive warfare system , which allows radius of curvature and multipath ranging, also has a control subsystem for launch management of all onboard countermeasure devices and launchers.

Nuclear powered submarines in the Brazilian market

Navy forces in Brazil are making huge plans to introduce new nuclear powered submarines. They are planning to purchase 20 conventional submarines and 6 nuclear powered submarines.

The development of first nuclear powered submarine involves expensive research and development so, Brazilian navy has projected a cost of 2 billion Euros in the construction of first nuclear powered submarine for which funds will be paid to the French DCNS shipyard.

As per an agreement signed last year for the production of submarines, France and Brazil will work in the joint collaboration. They have decided to build 15 new submarines while 5 will be renovated. 

Brazil is trying to develop its defense outlay to claim its control on the continent for which protests have been made for permanent membership of the U. N. Security Council. Rival countries have noticed Brazilian’s massive expansion of naval forces against which they have already taken few steps like Argentina has decide to restore its nuclear development program this month. 

WWII Japanese sub PIC






This photo shows the two-man Japanese submarine that was discovered grounded in Hawaii the day after the Pearl Harbor attack of Dec. 7, 1941. The photo in front of City Hall was taken Dec. 14, 1942, during a War Bond sales drive.(source pasadenastarnews)

 A midget Japanese submarine beached in Hawaii after the attack on Pearl Harbor of Dec. 7, 1941.

 Battered Japanese midget submarine believed to be M-14, raised from the floor of Sydney Harbour on 1st June 1942.

Iran builds unmanned radio-controlled submarine


An Iranian scientist has built unmanned radio-controlled submarine with the ability of information exchange five meters under water. 

“The submarine is in the initial phase of construction and it will be turned into a smart one in the second phase,” said the project director, Reza Mohammadi. 

A camera can be installed in front of the submarine, transferring images. The camera can send pictures out from water if connected online.

The submarine can also go down under water by five meters with the speed of two meter per second. 

The project manager continued that the submarine is armed with a “balance tank” which prevents additional movements underwater. 

Stranded sub’s sea trials breakdown

HMS Astute had to head back to its base in Faslane after what officials described as a 'minor defect'


A nuclear-powered submarine which ran aground two months ago broke down on its first day back at sea, it has emerged.

HMS Astute had to head back to its base in Faslane, Scotland, last week after what officials described as a “minor defect”.

Experts identified a fault in the steam plant, which affected the propulsion and desalination system that makes sea water drinkable, the Mail on Sunday said.

It is hoped the vessel will be back in service this week.

HMS Astute became stuck off the coast of Skye in October and ended up marooned for several hours – an error that eventually cost its captain, Cmdr Andy Coles, his command.

Cmdr Coles was replaced by Cmdr Iain Breckenridge.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Navy to acquire AIP technology for Scorpenes

The navy’s Scorpene submarines are likely to have increased operational range and also do away with surfacing to access atmospheric oxygen, thanks to the new Air Independent Propulsion (AIP) technology.

The submarines, under construction at the Mumbai-based Mazagon Docks Limited, are likely to get the AIP technology that will increase their operational range without having to surface to access atmospheric oxygen.

The navy is considering various options available with it to fit the last two of the six submarines under the project, codenamed P75, with the AIP including the proposal made by French defence company DCNS.
DCNS Chairman and CEO Patrick Boissier, who is part of French President Nicolas Sarkozy’s delegation to India, told reporters here that his firm has made an informal proposal to the navy in this regard.

“We have made an informal proposal to the navy for AIP technology in the last two of the Scorpenes that will be built at MDL. Now it is up to the navy to take a call on this proposal. We have held informal discussions in this regard,” Boissier said.

“The navy is considering the proposal and will take a call on it. We have some options, apart from the DCNS one, including an indigenous AIP system that is under development,” a navy officer, unwilling to be named, said here.

AIP encompasses technologies that allow a submarine to operate without the need to surface or use a snorkel to access atmospheric oxygen and it usually excludes the use of nuclear power, but is about augmenting or replacing diesel-electric propulsion system of non-nuclear vessels.

Several countries in the world currently adopt the AIP technology in the submarines that they build and these include the US, Russia, France, Germany, Spain and Sweden.

Though the Scorpenes, being built with DCNS and Tales help at MDL, did not envisage AIP for the six submarines under the P75 project, the navy’s second line of six conventional submarines, called P75I, which were recently approved by the government, will incorporate the technology.

Talking about P75, Bossier said DCNS was in charge of major transfer of technology (ToT) to MDL for the building of 6 Scorpene submarines.

Defense ministry denies plan to acquire submarines from Russia


Taiwan's defense ministry on Wednesday denied a news report that it is exploring the possibility of collaborating with Russia to build and acquire submarines to boost the island's defense capabilities.

"There is absolutely no such plan, " Vice Defense Minister Chao Shih-chang said while fielding questions at a meeting of the Legislative Yuan's National Defense and Foreign Affairs Committee.

The Chinese-language Next Magazine reported that a task force comprising officials of the Navy and the CSBC Corp. Taiwan visited Russia in October to discuss the possibility of collaborating with shipbuilders there to build submarines for Taiwan.

The Navy Command Headquarters also rebutted the report in a statement.

"The Navy has no plans to acquire submarines from sources other than the United States," the statement said.

The U.S. has been the biggest supplier of defense weapons to Taiwan.

The administration of former U.S. President George W. Bush announced a robust arms sale package to Taiwan in 2001, including eight conventional submarines, but the submarine deal has yet to be substantiated.

The Navy Command Headquarters said that the submarine procurement deal is being screened by the U.S. Department of State and other related agencies and that it will make every effort to prompt the U.S. authorities to speed up the sale of the vessels to Taiwan.

Taiwan currently has four submarines but only two of them -- the Swordfish models purchased in 1980s from the Netherlands -- are in active service. The two other, which have been in service since World War II, are used mainly for training purposes.

Meanwhile, CSBC Corp Taiwan did not deny the reported trip to Russia but said "it had nothing to do with the Navy."

"No naval officers were part of the team that visited Russia last October for business purposes, " said Ying Tze-hsiang, a ranking CSBC official who led the delegation.

Ying said the CSBC delegation was seeking to tap into business opportunities in Russia on one hand and to try to strike technical cooperation deals with Russian builders on the other.

He explained that his corporation needs to expand its overseas market to cope with the increasing competition from shipbuilders in South Korea, Japan and China.

In addition, CSBC plans to acquire Russian expertise in building ice-breaking ships, as part of CSBC's efforts to meet increasing demand for transportation on the route between the North Pole and Shanghai, China, Ying said.

Besides, Russia, with its rich in marine resources, is in urgent need of financial support to build fishing vessels -- another reason for the leading Taiwan shipbuilder to consider partnerships with shipbuilders there, he said (source fokustaiwan.tw)

Lost of Submarine

Abandoned submarine, location unknown 

Russia offers Amur class submarines to India

 Amur-1650 class submarine. Source: ITAR_TASS

India is vying to purchase six non-nuclear submarines to boost up its undersea warfare capability. The deal may be expanded by acquiring the know-how to build more such submarines at Indian shipyards, DNA reports.

The Indian Navy has already sent requests for technical specifications to a number of countries including Russia, Germany, Spain and France who have already shown interest in the deal. Russia's biggest arms trader Rosoboronexport said it would bid for the tender.

As part of project 751, Indian Navy proposes to have a undersea force of 24 submarines by 2015. India already has 10 Kilo-class submarines and has set up a line to manufacture French Scorpene Submarines at Mazagoan docks in Mumbai, the first of these submarines are expected to roll out by 2012.

Rosoboronexport is offering the Amur class submarines, which are an upgraded version of Indian Navy's Kilo-class submarines. With the speed of 20 knots, the Amur is designed for both anti-submarine and anti-surface warfare. Its armaments include 16 tube launched torpedoes and also has a capability of launching cruise missiles .

The Amur 1650 submarine has been developed by the Rubin Central Design Bureau of Naval Technology on the basis of the Kilo-class diesel-electric submarines, the most low-noise submarines in the world.

The sonar signature level of the submarines of this class is several times lower in comparison with Kilo-class submarines. These submarines are equipped with radio-electronic weapons of the newer generation created on the basis of the latest achievements in the field of radio-electronics.

DCNS to help accelerate submarine production in Indian shipyard MDL

 DCNS – with 300 years’ experience in naval shipbuilding

DCNS has clarified that a statement of its CEO Patrick Boissier regarding “breach” in submarine production at Indian shipyard MDL was in the context of the shipyard not receiving submarine orders over the past 17 years. A DCNS spokesperson said, “Patrick Boissier has never blamed India’s state owned shipyard MDL for the delays (in submarine production)”.


      “This observation, based on facts, was to explain where MDL shipyard was coming from in the production of submarines. MDL shipyard had to go through new learning stages, update its competences and modernize its shipyard. Delays occurred due to teething issues, which are now solved”, the spokesperson added.

      DCNS was deeply involved with MDL in producing submarines at an active pace, the spokesperson said drawing attention to Boissier’s comment made during his visit to MDL earlier this week, “we are today conducting a deep transfer of technology (ToT) from the first submarine onward. Through this ToT, MDL will produce submarines at an active pace, and have autonomy for their maintenance. We hope to make significant contribution through our global experience and expertise to MDL”.

      Vice Admiral H.S. Malhi, Chairman, MDL has been quoted as saying during the DCNS chief’s visit, “The ToT has helped us immensely in acquiring expertise in manufacturing pressure hulls. I am sure outfitting phase followed by integration will go off well too. Our MDL team is highly motivated and our partners too. We are all very eager to meet the aspirations of our customer, the Indian Navy”.

India’s oldest sub retires

India’s precariously low submarine strength further nosedived on Thursday with the decommissioning of the Navy’s oldest foxtrot class submarine, INS Vagli that retires after 36 years of service.

Commissioned in August, 1974, INS Vagli was commanded by 23 officers in all major tactical exercises off both sea-boards and in the high seas. With its retirement, the naval submarine strength has come down to 14 ageing vessels out of which only 8-9 are operational at any given point of time.

The depletion in the submarine strength is one of India’s biggest strategic weaknesses straining the blue water ambitions. “For 17 years, we did not commission a single submarine. It remains one of our biggest weaknesses,” Navy chief Admiral Nirmal Verma admitted.

In 1999, the Cabinet Committee on Security decided to create two production lines for submarines with foreign vendors to achieve an indigenous design and manufacturing capability. While the first line to produce six French Scorpene submarines is operational at the Mazgaon Dock, the second line too received government approval recently.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Brazil to have nuke submarine reactor in 2014


Brazil will finish the first reactor for its nuclear submarine in 2014, the navy's nuclear propulsion program chief Andre Ferreira Marques said in an interview.

The reactor will be powered initially with five-per cent enriched uranium and eventually with 20-per cent, he said in the interview with the state's Agencia Brasil news agency.

Brasilia will begin building its nuclear sub in 2016 and complete it in 2021, an adaptation of the Scorpene bought from France.

The sub reactor will be used as a model for future Brazilian nuclear power plant reactors, he added.

Brazil is working towards self-sufficiency in nuclear fuel from 2014, official said. (AFP)

Cheonan Investigators Find Pieces of Torpedo Propeller

Investigators have apparently discovered pieces of a propeller from a torpedo, which could provide valuable clues to exactly what caused the Navy corvette Cheonan to sink on March 26.

A Chinese-made Yu-3 type torpedo like the one in this photo is presumed to have hit the Navy corvette Cheonan.

"In a search using fishing trawlers, we recently discovered pieces of debris that are believed to have come from the propeller of the torpedo that attacked the Cheonan," a high-ranking government source said Monday. "Analysis of the debris shows it may have originated from China or a former Eastern-bloc country like the former Soviet Union."

If conclusive evidence is found for North Korea's role in the attack, the government plans to implement sanctions against the North immediately after announcing the results of the investigation on Thursday. Officials gathered at the presidential office on Monday to discuss specific sanctions, including joint anti-submarine exercises by South Korean and U.S. forces, the resumption of psychological warfare against North Korea, blocking North Korean ships from waters off the coast of Jeju Island and a halt to all inter-Korean trade except the Kaesong Industrial Complex.

Trident: Deadly – and very, very expensive

Trident nuclear submarine HMS Vengeance at Faslane. Photograph: Murdo Macleod

From the hill overlooking Gare Loch, the black-finned body of the nuclear submarine looks as benign as a whale, and almost insignificant against the hulking mountains beyond. But this small beast, tethered to a jetty at Faslane naval base, is a deadly one: it is one quarter of Trident, Britain's nuclear deterrent.

The four horsemen of Trident – Vanguard, Victorious, Vigilant and Vengeance – take it in turn to provide a continuous patrol of the world's oceans, wielding a cargo of up to 16 Trident ballistic missiles. Each missile is capable of travelling at least 4,000 miles; each carries three nuclear warheads, which can be released separately, to hit different targets, once the missile reaches space. And each missile represents the equivalent of many Hiroshimas.

Four hundred metres from the glittering loch, beyond a thicket of barbed wire, a knot of campaigners conduct a peace vigil, draping rainbow CND flags over Royal Navy signs and unveiling their latest work of art: "Cameron-Clegg. Trident value for money? How many deaths to the pound?" the poster, painted in black acrylic, reads. That morning, the hurriedly drafted coalition agreement between the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats promised a commitment to maintaining Britain's nuclear deterrent while scrutinising Trident "to ensure value for money".

"I don't care if it costs a fiver. It's immoral," says protester Barbara Dowling. "How can you value a weapon when once it is used its purpose has failed?" adds Jane Tallents. She and her partner, Brian Larkin, painted the Clegg-Cameron banner. Tallents says she arrived here in 1984 and lived at the "peace camp", a colourful collection of caravans by the side of the base, for six years. Now the mother of two children, she has settled in nearby Helensburgh. "When I first got pregnant, I thought, 'Is it responsible to live next to a nuclear weapons base?' Then I thought there is nowhere in the world that is safe. The safest thing I could do for my children was to stay here and campaign to get rid of it." She pauses, dryly. "It's taken longer than I expected."

Three sailors injured as Australian submarine rolls

Three Australian navy sailors have been treated for minor injuries, after their submarine rolled on its side off the coast of Western Australia.

The crew of HMAS Collins were carrying out some routine tests on Sunday morning when the submarine was rocked heavily by a sudden swell.

Three of the boat's crew were injured, suffering cuts and bruising.

They were taken to the HMAS Sterling Base and have been treated at a medical defence centre.

A Navy spokeswoman says the vessel itself hasn't been damaged and will return to sea soon.

It's believed bad weather conditions caused the submarine to roll. australia.com

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Naval forces get ready to operate N-submarine

The navy is firing on all cylinders to get a headstart on operating nuclear submarines, the most complex machines to be ever built. Indian submariners will get a chance to get into the belly of HMS Talent when the British nuclear submarine pulls into Indian waters off the western coast in June.


A senior navy officer said, “The British hunter-killer submarine is armed with the world’s most advanced sonar gear and weaponry. Our crews are looking forward to getting hands-on experience in operating nuclear submarines”
The 280-foot long Talent carries a crew of 122.

The navy hopes to induct its first indigenously-built nuclear submarine, INS Arihant, by the end of 2011. Arihant will complete the sea-leg of India’s nuclear triad and give it enduring nuclear strike and counter-strike capabilities. India can carry out nuclear strikes with fighter planes and land-launched missiles.

The navy is also on the verge of commissioning the K152 Nerpa Akula-II nuclear submarine being leased from Russia for 10 years. The US, Russia, the UK, France and China are the only countries that can deliver nuclear warheads from a submarine.

The officer said, “We’d like to gain as much experience as we can in operating these complex machines. Working alongside other navies helps.” hindustantimes

Billions could be saved by scaling down Trident

Britain may be able to save about 11 billion pounds in defence costs if it were to end its policy of keeping at least one nuclear armed-submarine at sea at all times, a prominent defence think-tank said.


Defence spending is a prime candidate for cuts as Prime Minister David Cameron seeks ways to reduce a budget deficit set to reach 163 billion pounds this financial year.

Cameron's government outlined plans on Thursday to reduce the deficit, before an emergency budget due on June 22, including cutting defence ministry running costs by 25 percent.

Controversy has swirled around Britain's submarine-based nuclear weapons system, or Trident, with the Liberal Democrat party, the junior partner in the new coalition government, arguing that it should be replaced with a cheaper alternative.

The Conservative Party, the coalition's senior partner, wants to keep Trident.

Britain plans to replace Trident's four submarines when they become outdated, a plan the government estimated would cost between 15 billion and 20 billion pounds at 2006/2007 prices.

Ending Britain's so-called continuous-at-sea-deterrence (CASD) -- having a nuclear-armed submarine at sea at all times -- would remove the need to replace all four submarines, while prolonging the life of existing ones, the Royal United Services Institute think-tank said in its May journal.

SAVINGS

"Only building two or three could reduce the cost of the programme by up to 6 billion (pounds, on current estimates)," RUSI said. "Ending CASD now would further extend the service life of the existing submarines well beyond 2024, with significant savings, estimated at over 5 billion."

Cameron told reporters on Thursday such a move was out of the question.

"The short answer to that is no ... If it wasn't continuous at sea it wouldn't be a proper deterrent," he said.

RUSI argues that the nuclear threat against Britain is low, and that the likelihood of a nuclear attack by Russia, which it says is the only country able to deliver a nuclear first strike against Britain, was "near zero."

The think-tank also says reduced, but more varied, submarine patrols at times of tension would create uncertainty in the mind of the enemy, and that Britain's NATO allies were also a deterrent to attackers, reducing the need for CASD.

Russia postpones Bulava missile tests until November

Russia has postponed test launches of the troubled Bulava ballistic missile until November this year, the Russian defense minister said on Friday.


The latest launch of the missile, which Russia hopes will be a key element of its nuclear forces, from the Dmitry Donskoy nuclear submarine in the White Sea ended in failure in early December 2009. Only five of 12 Bulava launches have been officially reported as being successful.

The Russian Navy earlier planned at least four new test launches of the missile at the end of June, but defense industry experts suggested they would need to build three missiles under identical conditions to establish the causes of the failures.

"We should be ready to resume the [Bulava] tests by November, I think," Anatoly Serdyukov said during talks in Italy, which involved the defense and foreign ministers of both countries.

Serdyukov said that the problems with the missile apparently originate from the faulty assembly process.

"It all comes from the poor quality of assembly. But each failed launch has experienced different problems," the minister said, adding that only the testing of three identical missiles would allow the experts to pinpoint the cause of failures.

The Bulava (SS-NX-30) is a three-stage liquid and solid-propellant submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM). It carries up to 10 MIRV warheads and has a range of over 8,000 kilometers (5,000 miles).

The missile has been specifically designed for Russia's new Borey class nuclear submarines.

The future development of Bulava has been questioned by some lawmakers and defense industry officials who suggest that the Russian Navy should keep using the more reliable Sineva SLBM.

The Russian military has insisted that there is no alternative to the Bulava and pledged to continue testing the missile until it is ready to be deployed with the Navy. (RIA Novosti)

North Korean Submarine Fleet

Note: Some submarines are assigned to reconnaissance and infiltration, for details of this mission and equipment see separate section.

22 x Type 031 (‘Romeo’) diesel-electric attack subs
4 x ‘Whiskey’ class attack/training subs (probably inactive)
20+ x ‘Yugo’ type midget subs
1 x ‘41m SSK’ diesel electric attack sub (probably inactive)
20 + x ‘Sang-O’ type midget subs
10+ x ‘P-4’ type midget subs
??+ x Other midget submarines and wet submarines

Type 031 (‘Romeo’) attack sub



Dimensions: L 76m, W 6.7m, Displacement 1,700t submerged
Armament : 8 x 533mm (21’’) torpedo tubes (6 forward, 2 aft) with up to 14 SEAT-60 heavyweight torpedoes or 28 mines

North Korea received some of these boats from China and subsequently locally produced some. Although they are relatively capable they are somewhat dated and ill suited to open ocean operations. There is no evidence to suggest upgrades.


’Yugo’ type midget sub

Dimensions: L 20m, W 2m, Displacement 90t (submerged)
Speed : 10kts surfaced, 4 kts submerged
Armament: 2 x533-mm externally-mounted torpedoes in drop gear in some variants, possibly torpedo tubes in some and none in infiltration variants.

The Yugo class is so named because it was built to plans supplied by Yugoslavia in 1965. North Korea had started an indigenous midget-submarine programme prior to that but had been somewhat unsuccessful, with a crude submarine being captured by the South in 1965 after its crew abandoned it when it was beached on a mudflat during a receding tide on the Han River:

Dimensions: L 5.7m, W 1.1m, Displacement: 3t (submerged)
Speed : 7kts (surfaces), 3kts (submerged).

Although the indigenous midget submarine appears to have been functional, it was very small and extremely limited for infiltration purposes which appears to be the primary peace-time operation for North Korean Navy.

The Yugo boats however are much larger and have room for 4-6 infiltrators and can carry torpedoes or mines for the attack role. They are relatively short ranged though so for infiltration (or attack in wartime) operations in the far south, off Japan or further away, they require transportation and launch from a mother ship.

The ships were built at Yukdaeso-ri shipyard on the west coast from the late 1960s through to the early 1980s at which time they were superceded by the generally more capable Sang-O type. Contrary to some sources, the North Korean Yugo submarine was not very similar to Yugoslavian operated midget submarines such as the impressive Velebit type.

In the early 1980s North Korea developed a much larger coastal submarine known, rather imaginatively, as the “41m boat”. No prizes for guessing the length of this submarine. It is not clear exactly what the boat looked like except that its sail is not unlike the Yugo’s in profile and that it was not a “teardrop” hull. The type does not appear to have been successful and only one is reported and it is unlikely to still be operable.


’Sang-O’ type midget sub

Dimensions: L 34m, W 3.8m, Displacement: 370t (submerged)
Power: 1 diesel, 1 electric motor, 1 shaft
Speed 7.2kts surfaced, 8.8kts submerged
Range: 1500nm
Max Depth: 150 meters
Crew: 15
Armament (attack sub): 4 x 533-mm torpedoes with no reloads (Inc Russian 53-65 ASW torpedoes)
Armament (recce/infiltration version): None. 5 infiltrators and 6 KWP Reconnaissance Bureau Cadre as passengers

Developed as a much improved follow-on to the Yugo type, the Sang-O is well known because one was captured by the South during a botched infiltration mission in September 1997. The Sang-O is much larger and longer ranged than its predecessor.

Some boats have the torpedo tubes replaced by a passenger space and diver swim-out door for infiltration and sabotage missions. The 1500nm range is useful enough to allow the boats to operate without a mother ship in most cases making them much less susceptible to detection.

Hypothetically these subs could be modified to carry anti-ship missiles or Shkval rocket-torpedoes but neither capabilities are reported. 

Chinese PM to visit SKorea, Japan in four-nation tour

Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao will visit South Korea, Japan, Mongolia and Myanmar on a four-nation Asian trip starting later this month, the foreign ministry has confirmed.


Wen will attend a three-nation summit with South Korean President Lee Myung-Bak and Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama on the island of Jeju in South Korea, ministry spokesman Ma Zhaoyu said in a statement late Friday.

The summit, on May 29 and 30, will likely focus on the North Korean nuclear issue, including the alleged torpedoing of a South Korean naval vessel by a North Korean submarine that killed 46 sailors.

Japan's foreign ministry announced the Japanese leg of Wen's visit earlier this week.

He is due to meet Hatoyama in Tokyo on May 31 and Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko on June 1.

The four-nation trip will last from May 28 to June 3.

Relations between Asian giants Japan and China, the world's number two and three economies respectively, have warmed but are still often strained by their wartime history and ongoing disputes over territory and resources. (AFP)

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Goodrich lands Northrop Grumman deal

Goodrich Corp. has won a supply contract from Northrop Grumman Shipbuilding for parts on eight Virginia-class fast-attack nuclear submarines.

The agreement comprises the design and manufacture of sail cusps, which are composite structures attached to a submarine’s sail and hull. The product enables water to flow smoothly over the submarine’s surface, improving hydrodynamic performance.

Delivery is scheduled to start in the second quarter of next year.

Financial terms weren’t disclosed.

Northrop Grumman Shipbuilding, a unit of Los Angeles-based Northrop Grumman Corp. (NYSE:NOC), includes the former Northrop Grumman Ship Systems and Northrop Grumman Newport News shipbuilding segments.

Charlotte-based Goodrich (NYSE:GR) is a global supplier of systems and services to the aerospace and defense sectors.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Raytheon to develop SWIR sensor for next-generation photonics mast on Navy attack submarines

Electro-optical engineers at Raytheon Vision Systems in Goleta, Calif., are developing advanced short wave infrared (SWIR) hyperspectral imaging sensor technology for the next-generation photonics mast on U.S. Navy Virginia-class fast attack submarines under terms of a $7.4 million contract announced Tuesday.


Raytheon is doing the work as part of the Affordable Modular Panoramic Photonics Mast program. Navy researchers say they expect Raytheon to enhance the current state of art in SWIR imaging by proving higher resolution, area coverage, and sensitivity than is available today.

Awarding the contract are officials of the Office of Naval Research (ONR) in Arlington, Va.

The Affordable Modular Panoramic Photonics Mast program seeks to eliminate the need for mast rotational assemblies and related components, achieve 360-degree "quick look" search time that is five times faster than is available today, and develop SWIR detection and tracking capability under degraded and restricted conditions, Navy researchers say.

For the next-generation submarine photonics mast, Raytheon will develop a SWIR hyperspectral sensor in the 1-to-1.7-micron band that is able to track hostile targets with intermittent contact, as well as to track friendly targets marked with RF microchips or with chemical or physical markers.

Turkish submarine program in place, Greece to sell one

While senior Turkish and Greek officials have voiced a wish to reduce their countries' defense spending, Ankara's major Navy modernization programs, including a multibillion-dollar deal to buy new submarines, remain in place.

The initiative to reduce military spending took off last month when Turkish state minister for EU affairs, Egemen Bağış, suggested the two neighbors cut defense spending.

"Greece doesn’t need new tanks or missiles or submarines or fighter planes; neither does Turkey. It’s time to cut military expenditure throughout the world, but especially between Turkey and Greece," he said in an interview with the Financial Times. "Neither Greece nor Turkey needs German nor French submarines."

The Athens government is presently experiencing a punishing financial crisis, while Ankara was only partly affected by the 2008 and 2009 global economic crisis. The combined Turkish and Greek defense spending in 2008 was 18.4 billion euros, according to NATO (6.9 billion euros for Greece, or 2.8 percent of its gross domestic product, or GDP; and 11.9 billion euros for Turkey, or 1.8 percent of its GDP).

Confidence-building measures

But nearly 15 years after the two former foes almost went to war over a sovereignty dispute in the Aegean, they have agreed on a fresh set of confidence-building measures, including strengthening contacts between their militaries.

Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu and acting Greek Foreign Minister Dimitris Droutsas earlier this month agreed in talks here on a number of confidence-building measures. "These measures will help bring our countries, peoples and armies closer," Droutsas said. "We should allocate our budgets not to arms, but health, education and welfare," Davutoğlu said at a joint news conference on April 8.

The latest measures include joint training programs at Greek and Turkish facilities within the framework of NATO's 22-member Peace for Partnership program. The contacts would also include visits by each other's chiefs of staff to give lectures at military academies, conduct joint research and visit staff colleges.

But there are still problems facing mutual disarmament. Turkey and Greece have territorial disputes in the Aegean and diverging views over Cyprus. The territorial disputes include differences on the sizes of territorial waters, airspace and continental shelf. The two neighbors' navy modernization programs are mostly designed to counter potential threats from each other.

Rival submarine deals

While some political obstacles remain in place, Turkey's defense modernization programs, including major Navy deals, are continuing as planned.

The Turkish Navy will buy six modern submarines, built by Germany's HDW shipyards and Turkish partners. The U-214 type submarines will cost nearly 2 billion euros under a contract signed last summer.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Malaysia inks defence deals worth $3.24 bn at DSA '10

Malaysia has signed defence contracts worth RM10.355 billion (USD 3.24 billion) at the ongoing Defence Services Asia 2010 exhibition here to acquire a number of defence equipment and systems from domestic and international companies.

The deals include eight contracts, five MoUs, three letters of acceptance and four letters of intent, Malaysian official news agency Bernama said.


Among the major agreements is an RM128.5 million deal for the Royal Malaysian Navy to acquire Scorpene-type submarine navigation safety, combat systems, sensors and periscope simulator.

Another RM100 million contract, signed during the international defence exhibition, is for the supply of articles, services and technical assistance for the SU-30MKM (Sukhoi) aircraft which the country is acquiring from Russia.

Deals have also been signed to get helicopters, tanks and a range of arms and artillery for the Malaysian Army, the news agency said.

TNI-AL Tender Ulang Pengadaan Kapal Selam

TNI Angkatan Laut menender ulang pengadaan dua kapal baru dan prosesnya sekarang sudah dimulai dengan sejumlah perusahaan telah mengajukan penawaran.

Ketika dikonfirmasi ANTARA di Jakarta, Rabu, Kepala Staf Angkatan Laut Laksamana TNI Agus Suhartono mengatakan, karena rencana pengadaan sebelumnya belum disetujui maka pihaknya melakukan tender ulang terhadap pengadaan dua kapal selam tersebut.

"Ya sudah dimulai, dan pesertanya bisa dari pemain-pemain lama atau baru. Kami tidak tahu, yang jelas kami lakukan tender ulang karena kapal selam ini memang sangat kami butuhkan," katanya, usai menghadiri Forum Strategi TNI Angkatan Laut 2010.

Pengadaan dua unit kapal selam itu dibiayai fasilitas Kredit Ekspor (KE) senilai 700 juta dollar Amerika Serikat, yang diperoleh dari fasilitas pinjaman luar negeri di Anggaran Pendapatan dan Belanja Negara (APBN) tahun 2004-2009. "Kami sudah tentukan spesifikasi teknisnya, serta kemampuan dan efek penggentar yang lebih dari yang dimiliki negara tetangga, kata Kasal.

Pada tender pertama,d ari empat negara produsen kapal selam yang mengajukan tawaran produk mereka, seperti Jerman, Perancis, Korea Selatan, dan Rusia, TNI Angkatan Laut telah menetapkan dua negara produsen sesuai kebutuhan yaitu Korea Selatan dan Rusia.

Submarine builder axes 41 jobs

 Submarine builder ASC has announced it will retrench 41 staff.

The company has merged its submarine and ship building divisions.

Redundancies at the Adelaide-based firm, formerly known as the Australian Submarine Corporation, were announced on Wednesday morning.

Another 34 vacant positions were also abolished.

Chief executive Steve Ludlam said the reduction in staff numbers "while necessary was regrettable".

"Wherever possible we have taken into account attrition rates and abolished vacant positions in an effort to retain as many employees as possible, but unfortunately we could not retain everyone," he said in a statement.

ASC previously had a contract to build the Collins Class submarines.

Following the redundancies, ASC will have 1500 workers.

But it says it will need another 300 employees during the next three years to build the Hobart Class air warfare destroyers.

Israel builds up deep-sea navy

Israel is building up its navy and it's looking to Germany to provide the warships, most notably two advanced corvettes and two, possibly three, more Dolphin-class attack submarines, that will transform it from a coastal force to a deep-water navy.

Until now, the navy has been largely confined to the Mediterranean countering the naval forces of Syria, Egypt and the Maghreb states further east, with occasional forays into the Red Sea.

The objective of the expansion program clearly seems to be to increase the navy's reach to counter Iran, which Israel views as its primary adversary because of its buildup of ballistic missiles and its alleged drive to develop nuclear weapons.

The main focus of the naval expansion program is negotiations with Germany to buy two MEKO A-100 corvettes from the Blohm+Voss shipyard in Hamburg. Jane's Defense Weekly says the 2,500-ton, 280-foot MEKOs would be adapted to carry Israeli-made systems.

The warships, which carry crews of 94, have a range of 4,635 miles, a top speed of 30 knots and advanced radar-evading capability. They carry one medium-size helicopter and 24 weapons systems -- 16 ship-to-shore and eight anti-ship missile launchers adapted to U.S. weapons as well as air-defense missiles and automatic cannon.

The Israeli navy had shown interest in Lockheed Martin's Littoral Combat Ship to fit its requirement for a new missile ship to be categorized as Saar 5.5. But the U.S. vessel was considered too expensive at $600 million. The MEKO variant sought by Israel costs an estimated $300 million.

Negotiations with the Germans began in October 2007 when Israeli Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi visited Berlin.

The Israelis want a discount on the proposed MEKO deal of 20-30 percent, said Jane's.

The Germans are already funding one-third of the total cost, estimated at $1.4 billion, of two 1,900-ton Dolphin submarines, based on Germany's Type 212A boat currently on order.

These were ordered in 2006 and are scheduled for delivery starting in 2012 to the submarine base at Haifa. That will bolster the Israeli navy's sub strength to five.

The subs, the most expensive weapons platforms in Israel's arsenal, have a range of 2,810 miles. However there were reports in October 2009 that their fuel capacity had been increased to keep the vessels at sea for 50 days without refueling.

German opposition parties, including the Social Democrats, have expressed misgivings about exporting weapons to crisis zones. But the 2006 order for two Dolphins was approved while the Democrats were part of a coalition government.