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Saturday, March 6, 2010

Russian military yet to identify causes of Bulava missile's woes

The Russian military is still working to establish the reasons for the misfiring of the troubled Bulava ballistic missile, Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov said on Friday.

The Bulava submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) has officially suffered seven failures in 12 tests. Some analysts suggest that in reality the number of failures was considerably larger, with Russian military expert Pavel Felgenhauer contending that of the Bulava's 12 test launches, only one was entirely successful.

"So far the Bulava tests have not been very successful, but we are looking for the causes [of the failures] and working to rectify them, and we will definitely bring this work to conclusion," Serdyukov said.

He also said the Sineva strategic missile would remain in service with the Armed Forces for the next several years.

On Thursday, Russia successfully test-launched a Sineva intercontinental ballistic missile from a submarine in the Barents Sea.

The RSM-54 Sineva (NATO designation SS-N-23 Skiff) is a liquid-propellant submarine-launched ballistic missile designed for Delta IV-class submarines that can carry up to 16 missiles each.

Putin to cement Russia's partner No. 1 status during India visit

Israel and US may be cornering major chunks of the lucrative Indian defence market but Russia still reigns supreme. This will be driven home when Russian PM Vladimir Putin comes visiting here next week, with a flurry of defence deals and joint projects slated for finalisation.

The contracts range from the fresh $2.34 billion deal for refit of aircraft carrier Admiral Gorshkov and the $1.2 billion deal for 29 more MiG-29K maritime fighters to the joint development of the stealth fifth-generation fighter aircraft (FGFA) and the multi-role transport aircraft (MTA), say officials.

Plans are also afoot to procure an additional 40-45 Sukhoi-30MKIs to add to the 230 of these fighters already contracted in deals worth $8.5 billion, as also more regiments of the Smerch MLRS (multiple-launch rocket systems) in addition to three already raised.

Putin's visit is also likely to see the finalisation of the commissioning of the K-152 Nerpa Akula-II nuclear-powered submarine in Indian Navy by May-June, under a 10-year lease flowing from a secretive deal inked in 2004.

The fresh agreement on Gorshkov, rechristened INS Vikramaditya by India, will however be the emblem to pronounce `all is well' in the bilateral defence relationship.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Russia carries out successful test of Sineva ICBM

Russia successfully test-launched a Sineva intercontinental ballistic missile from a submarine in the Barents Sea on Thursday, a Defense Ministry spokesman said.

He said the missile was launched at 7:50 a.m. Moscow time (04:50 GMT) from the Tula (Delta IV-class) submarine.

The RSM-54 Sineva (NATO designation SS-N-23 Skiff) is a liquid-propellant submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) designed for Delta IV-class submarines that can carry up to 16 missiles each.

The Sineva, which is already in service, is seen as a rival to the troubled Bulava, which has been specifically designed for the new Borey-class submarines but whose future development has been called into question by some lawmakers and defense industry officials over a string of failed tests.

However, 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 put into service with the Navy.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Critics worry over attack sub force plan

The fast attack submarine Virginia cruises through the Bay of Naples on Jan. 7 while on a scheduled deployment in the 6th Fleet area of responsibility, the Mediterranean Sea. Critics say the Navy's plan to reduce its submarine fleet by 20 percent will render it unable to meet important requirements.

The Navy’s plan to reduce its submarine fleet by 20 percent will render it unable to meet critical requirements, lawmakers and strategists say.

What’s still a mystery to many is whether the cuts are driven by decreasing missions or decreasing funding — or is this a gamble by the Navy that has a potential payout in the billions?

In the 2006 Quadrennial Defense Review, the Navy argued that a 48-attack-sub minimum is a moderate-risk force necessary to provide the roughly 10 subs that combatant commanders need on any given day.

But the 30-year shipbuilding plan released Feb. 1 would drop the current 53 attack subs to a low of 39 in 2030, then stabilize the fleet at 45 through 2040. The plan also eliminates the Navy’s four guided-missile subs in 2028 and replaces the 14 Ohio-class ballistic-missile submarines with 12 new boomers.

U.S. Navy Conceals Nuclear Weapons Production in California

A U.S. nuclear weapons assembly plant in California is off limits to any kind of photography, information gathering, or reporting. Local residents are unaware of the plant's existence and its potential radiological hazards. (Repost from Indymedia NL)

The United States Navy and Lockheed Martin have been concealing the assembly and movement of nuclear warheads in the densely populated San Francisco Bay Area for decades. The nuclear weapons facility is so secret that not only is photography strictly prohibited, but even making drawings or taking notes about the buildings from a public street is considered illegal. It is internally identified as a Naval Industrial Reserve Ordnance Plant (NIROP), one of several across the country.

Inside a single sprawling industrial building of approximately 100,000 square feet at the corner of 5th Avenue and Mathilda Avenue in Sunnyvale, California individual W88 nuclear warheads are assembled for the Trident II (D5) submarine-launched missile. Labeled externally by Lockheed Martin's designation simply as Building 181, the facility contains loading docks shielded from view from streets for trucks to load and unload their sensitive cargoes away from the eyes of the public or even from aircraft and reconnaissance satellites. Once loaded onto unmarked trucks, often under cover of darkness, the warheads may be moved to or from any of a number of nuclear weapons laboratories around the country or to the Kings Bay Naval Submarine Support Base in Georgia, just north of Jacksonville, Florida. That is where they are loaded onto Trident II missiles at the submarines' home base.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Captain defends BAE Systems Barrow sub Astute 'faults' claim

THE CAPTAIN of Barrow’s newest nuclear submarine has defended his boat against claims it had ‘serious faults’ during sea trials and had worried the crew.

The £1.2bn submarine Astute left Barrow for Faslane naval base near Glasgow, Scotland, last November for sea trials.

It returned back to its Scottish base after nearly two weeks of trials.

But an article in the Scottish Daily Record at the weekend reported the sea trials had been “plagued by serious faults.”

One navy insider told the Scottish paper: “There have been problems with Astute. Every time engineers think they have solved one problem, another crops up. This has to be sorted out quickly.”

The paper said another Navy source told it: “The crew are worried about the problems.

“They must be fixed without cutting corners.”

However, Astute’s captain, Commander Andy Coles, has hit back at the claims.

Jin SSBN Flashes its Tubes

One of China’s two Jin-class SSBNs with two open missile tubes

One of China’s two new Jin-class SSBNs was photographed with two of its 12 missile tubes open when it visited Xiaopingdao Naval Base in March 2009.

The Jins are being readied to carry the JL-2, a single-warhead regional sea-launched ballistic missile that was most recently test-launched in May 2008. The class may become operational soon and replace the old Xia from 1982.

Xiaopingdao Naval Base, which is where I identified the Jin-class for the first time in 2007, serves as an outfitting and testing facility for new submarines and used to be the homeport of the single Golf-class diesel submarine China used for many years as a test launch platform for its first ballistic missile.

Two or three Jin-class SSBN have been under construction, and it remains to be seen if China will build up to five as projected by U.S. intelligence. China’s nuclear submarines appear to be the noisiest nuclear submarines in the world and will probably be highly vulnerable at sea.

Autopilot Systems for Second Series of U212A Submarines

Avio has signed a contract with the Naval Division of the Fincantieri Company for the development and manufacture of two Autopilot systems for the second series of U212 A submarines, destined for the Italian Navy.

Thanks to this contract, worth about EUR 6 million, the overall number of U212 autopilot systems for Avio has risen to eight: four already supplied to the German Navy and two to the Italian Navy for the first construction lot.

In this order, some modernisation has also been included with respect to the previous version.

Production will begin this year – March is envisaged; the working team involved in the project will be that of Naval Automation at the Rivalta di Torino industrial site.

The two U212A submarines will be delivered to the Italian Navy, respectively, in 2015 and 2016.

It is foreseen that Avio deliver the first autopilot in March 2013, and the second by 2014. These will then pass to the shipyard test sessions.

Monday, March 1, 2010

New nuclear sub captain defends £1bn vessel despite technical problems

THE captain of a £1.2billion nuclear submarine being tested in Scotland has defended the vessel amid claims serious flaws were exposed.

Insiders at the Navy's Faslane base, near Helensburgh, Dunbartonshire, say the Astute sub's trials offthe west coast of Scotland have been plagued by technical faults.

One said: "There have been problems with Astute. Every time engineers think they have solved one problem, another crops up.

"This has to be sorted out quickly."

But Commander Andy Coles, Astute's captain, yesterday said he expected the trials to identify issues needing further work.

He said: "I am proud of what my crew have achieved as part of Astute's successful sea trials. They have shown the clear potential of this fantastic new platform.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

China concerned by ASEAN subs

China is concerned by the buildup of ASEAN submarine fleets in seas bordering China, a top Navy official said on Saturday.

According to the Zhongguo Xinwen news agency, Rear Adm. Yin Zhuo said members states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations were seeking to dominate the southern seas and thus posed a threat to China.

"If this continues at the current rate, in several years the ASEAN countries will create powerful naval forces," the admiral said, stressing that "this is naturally becoming a challenge to neighboring countries, including China."

He referred in particular to Vietnam which had signed a contract to buy submarines and started building a submarine base east of the Strait of Malacca between Malaysia and the Indonesian island of Sumatra.

INS Sindhurakshak fire mishap due to explosion in battery: Indian Navy

The Indian Navy submarine INS Sindhurakshak

The fire mishap on INS Sindhurakshak in Visakhapatnam that left a sailor dead and two others injured was caused by an explosion in its battery compartment, Navy officials said here Saturday.

Sindhurakshak, a Russian-origin Kilo class submarine, was in the Visakhapatnam harbour for a routine maintenance when the mishap occurred last evening.

"It was due to a defective battery and Leading Electrical Technician Kump Dand was killed," the official said.

India had bought the 2300-tonne submarine from Russia as part of an early 1980s deal and commissioned it in 1997. It is the ninth of the 10 Sindhugosh class diesel-electric powered vessel that the Navy has in its 16-vessel submarine fleet.

Sindhurakshak is scheduled for a major mid-life refit later this year as part of a programme for this class of vessels which began in 1997 with Sindhuvir.