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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.

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.


"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)