Thursday, 18 August 2016

Appreciating the BALT MILITARY EXPO's Appreciation

It is always helpful to have feedback from our conference and exposition partners.  
My thanks to Amber Expo and the Balt Military Expo organisers.Video Highlights Link Click Here!

The time and sentiments expressed by the President of the Board  Gdansk International Fair Co. (MTG SA) / Amber Expo - Mr Andrzej Kasprzak - and the Project Director organising the very successful Balt Military Expo - Mr Marek Buczkowski -  are especially appreciated considering the time pressures people in their positions face.

We enjoy our continued cooperation with the Balt Military Expo (BME) and hope to increase our efforts in the future.  

In this professionals personal opinion, the BME offers a far more focused and professional audience than is found annually at MSPO in Kielce. It is the best and only event that expands beyond just Poland to include the other Baltic States and their Nordic Neighbours.  The BME's  "Quality," "Context" and "Appropriateness" over  MSPO's confused rabble-volume are the watch words for all serious defence professionals concerned with the Baltic region.

If your Naval Defence, Coastal Homeland Security, MSAR, or Maritime Security-related organisation has an event and is interested in some sort of partnership with NAVAL FORCES magazine, please let me know your thoughts and - although not a guarantee of participation - we will certainly consider your proposal; but, we need at least 12 months lead time...

Stay Safe, People!

Stephen Elliott esq.
Co-Publisher of

An Important Message from Conference Organisers Regarding “NATO Towards Challenges of a Contemporary World – After the Warsaw 2016 Summit”


An Important Message from Conference Organisers 
We would like to kindly inform you that a date of the conference entitled “NATO Towards Challenges of a Contemporary World – After the Warsaw 2016 Summit”, held in Lodz (Poland) is now moved from November 17-18 November 2016 (Thursday and Friday) to 15-16 November 2016 (Tuesday, Wednesday). All deadlines remain valid. Updated information available at:

Apologies for any inconvenience.

Thursday, 28 July 2016


More than 12.700 units of weaponry for the Ukrainian army in 2 years.
Export contracts valued in excess of $1,3 billion in 201.5

More than $600 million worth of items sold to the world market in 2015 alone.
This is what the Ukrainian Defence Industry is accomplishing these days, according to a media advisory from Ukroboronprom.
According to the announcement: "Ukraine-made up-to-date weaponry is highly-appraised both by the Ukrainian troops and by partners worldwide. State-of-the-art creations of Ukroboronprom have been endorsed by world experts. We (hold) the ninth position in the Forbes Ukraine rating of the most innovative companies in Ukraine."

To learn more about the Ukraine, where it is and where it is heading in a defence and political context, please refer to the newly published 2016 WORLD DEFENCE ALMANAC - available for purchase by clicking here.

Learn more about changes and successes of Ukroboronprom in the last 2 years from their presentation by clicking here. 

Monday, 18 July 2016

Bringing Together Technologies

Interview with Ronen Nadir, CEO of BlueBird Aero Systems

Ronen Nadir, CEO of BlueBird Aero Systems Ltd.: “[…] the military, law enforcement [forces], and border control [organisations] really need UAVs with better reliability, with longer endurance.”
(Photos: Stefan Nitschke)
BlueBird Aero Systems Ltd. from Israel describes it as a major player in the tactical UAV industry. Established in 2002, it specialises in the design, development, and production of micro, mini, and tactical systems, as well as peripheral equipment for different applications in the military, Homeland Security, and civilian markets. At EUROSATORY 2016 in Villepinte, France, the manufacturer presented its ThunderB, a small tactical UAS with an endurance exceeding 24 hours and an extended range of 150km (81nm), depending on the configuration and type of mission.

Answering the Global Need for UAVs
Speaking to NAVAL FORCES in Villepinte, BlueBird Aero SystemsCEO Ronen Nadir stated that the ThunderB Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) can operate in GPS-denied and COMJAM (Communications Jamming) environments. Much smaller than the ThunderB, the short-range MicroB system can fly for one and a half to two hours. “The new MicroB [creating a new niche in the UAS segment] can fly almost two hours, with the same avionics, with the same payloads and batteries”, he said. “It’s a very aerodynamic and efficient design, combined with a very economic engine and control system. This is why our system can [offer] better capabilities than the systems of our competitors […] With these [operational] parameters, you’ll get a very efficient system.”
In an earlier announcement, Nadir said that the company owns “expanded UAS capabilities outside the traditional tactical Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance [ISR] world” and has added a number of unique features, including ultra-high-resolution photogrammetric [mapping and 3D] payloads; locator units for Blue Force Tracking; HD (High Definition) video transmission; Wireless Mesh Network (WMN) technology; advanced Remote Video Terminal (RVT); and more. He added, “Since its recent upgrade, [the] ThunderB UAS has attracted significant international attention, [and] has already been sold to customers in Europe and Asia, and is undergoing evaluation by a number of additional customers.”

The MicroB system creates a new niche in the UAV segment, offering an endurance of over one hour.
Questioned about the market penetration, Nadir noted that the company’s first military customer was the US Marine Corps (USMC), adding that “the second customer was the US Special Operations Command [USSOCOM].” As to the civilian or commercial market, Nadir suggested to NAVAL FORCES that, “with some kind of shift of attention, in order to meet customer requirements, it is not ready for drones from the regulations point of view.” He continued, “If this [civilian airspace] is flooded with ‘quadcopters’ for short-time, short-range missions, there will be problems. But the military, law enforcement [forces], and border control [organisations] really need UAVs with better reliability, with longer endurance.”
Nadir informed that the company is not looking for a specific market; “but, we are answering the global need for UAVs with three major [design] characteristics: long endurance, long range and reliability.” He told NAVAL FORCES if the user needs proper results from the UAV missions, “you’ll need to use a very expensive payload, [...] say US$150,000. When you put such an expensive, cooled infrared [IR] sensor with stabilisation [onto the aircraft], you want back the very best [results] from a reliable UAV that offers no engine [failures], no loss of communication, no avionics malfunction.” As to future scenarios, this aircraft offers the ability to operate a GPS-denied environment. “That’s why we concentrate on very reliable aircraft”, Nadir commented.
NAVAL FORCES learned that the latter would pose risks, however. Nadir informed that BlueBird Aero Systems has answers to tackle the problems. “We use three different frequencies to [overcome] such [risks] in a jamming environment. You can switch automatically to [another] link, [which] is undetectable and hard to jam by the other side.” He continued, “This switching enables you to fly in a COMJAM environment.”
If GPS is denied or jammed, the company has three solutions on the table. First, there is a GPS anti-jamming technique thanks to special antennae electronics that can eliminate the hostile signals. Second, there is the ability to work with different GPS systems (GLONASS, additional satellite networks and different satellite frequencies). Nadir described the third methodology as an “all-round” solution: “If your GPS is completely jammed by the other side, you’ll use our INS [Inertial Navigation System] in order to calculate your [own] position, so you can estimate your position, and by using a good INS or even a better compass, you can adequately calculate your [actual] position with relatively good results, say a few hundred metres per hour of flight.” He added, “We found a way to automatically update the UAV’s position by fixing on a known landmark position. Using the [UAV’s] video camera, we can look at those landmarks and automatically update [its] position. So, we can fly for 24 hours without using GPS, while maintaining our targeting capability.”
Nadir confirmed that the company’s systems currently on offer are complementary solutions. “You can use them to pinpoint [time-critical] targets, undertake surgical missions [countering snipers] or securing a football event.” For almost two hours, the MicroB can survey a large area at very low cost. “If you need more than that […] and if you need to fly out for about 80km [or for] four hours of endurance, you can use our SpyLite UAV, and you can launch two or three of them for a more extensive mission [as] to enhance border control, to search for immigrants at the borderline, or to [watch at] survivals in the desert”, he explained. A company brochure reads that SpyLite is a combat-proven, electric mini-UAS optimised for providing covert, ‘over-the-hill’ or extended-range intelligence and/or mapping on demand capabilities. BlueBird Aero Systems noted that SpyLite is unique in its ability to operate even in strong winds and on cloudy or rainy days, assuring high operational availability for three to four hours and a communication range of up to 50km. The latter can be extended up to 70km. Nadir informed NAVAL FORCES that shipboard operations are an easy task. “[...] if you need to [operate] a UAV for an even more extended-range mission [for 24 hours or over a range of 160km], you can launch the SpyLite from a ship under severe [weather] conditions.” He added, “After 15, 16 hours, you don’t need to return to the ship; but, you can send it to the [land] base, and [that] can be far away, say 500km. You can use your SATCOM communication in order to transit the UAV from the ship to the land-based station. After nine or 15 hours of flight, it can automatically land there. You don’t need to field all of the recovery equipment on a ship, which is expensive and not always working.”

Thursday, 7 July 2016

Weibel Muzzel Velocity Radar Ideal for Hanwha Techwin's K-9 Thunder Howitzers

Weibel Scientific hosted a signing ceremony at Eurosatory two weeks ago with Hanwha Techwin for a cooperation agreement regarding Weibel's MVRS-700SC muzzle velocity radars for Hanwha Techwin's  K-9 Thunder howitzer. 

Weibel Scientific’s family of tactical MVRS radars measure the muzzle velocity for artillery systems in order to increase the hit probability. 
Integrated into various third-party defense systems, these compact radars provide high reliability since Weibel Scientific started producing them in 1992. 

Weibel’s muzzle velocity radars are mounted on third-party systems, and through self-calibration and active motion compensation technologies, the MVRS-700 radar sets the global standard for measurements of modern artillery with minimum maintenance and logistic requirements. Today more than 1,500 Weibel Scientific systems have been delivered to 20 countries.

During and after Eurosatory, Weibel reports having recieved  a lot of interest around its new MVRS-700MS muzzle velocity radar - for heavy mortar systems, and its new SeaEAGLE FCRO Fire Director -  for naval platforms, as part of Weibel's long range tracking and discrimination GFTR-2100 radars for ballistic missile defence.

Sea Eagle FCRO has been designed to provide a high level of automated operation, reducing operator workload and improving performance under high-stress conditions while
lower training requirements. The system will automatically detect, acquire and track targets with both the radar and electro-optical

CONFERENCE ALERT: NATO Towards the Challenges of a Contemporary World – After the Warsaw 2016 Summit

On behalf of the Organizing Committee, Dr Robert Czulda from the Department of Theory of International and Political Studies at the prestigious University of Łodz, Poland writes:
In cooperation with NATO Public Diplomacy Division, the International Relations Research Institute in Warsaw and Faculty of International and Political Studies (University of Łodz, Poland) in cooperation with Institute of Political Studies (Charles University, Czech Republic) have a pleasure to invite you to participate in the international conference “NATO Towards the Challenges of a Contemporary World – After the Warsaw 2016 Summit.”

The conference will be held by the University of Łodz (pronounced "Woodj") in Poland from 17 to 18 November 2016. The invitation is addressed to scholars, researchers, experts and professionals who are interested in NATO issues and the transatlantic security.

The conference will address all major issues related to NATO and the Warsaw Summit 2016, including: 
  • NATOs Eastern Flank (including VJTF)
  • NATOs Southern Flank (including migration crisis and the Islamic State)
  • NATOs Northern Flank (including cooperation with Sweden and Finland)
  • Current and future NATO Strategic Concept
  • Air and missile defense (including EPAA)
  • The transatlantic defense and security relations
  • Regional dimensions of NATO (including the V4 cooperation)
  • Out of area (including the Middle East and Afghanistan)
  • Psychological/information warfare
  • NATO towards new and potential partners (including Ukraine, Georgia, and others)
  • Open door policy
  • NATO and Russia
  • NATO European Union
  • NATO and cyber-security
  • NATO and energy security
  • Smart defence and capability building
  • Nuclear deterrence (both tactical and strategic)
  • Other issues related to current NATOs agenda and the Warsaw Summit 2016
More details, including the application form, is available at


NAVAL FORCES and MILITARY TECHNOLOGY magazines are proud media partners of this important conference event.

CONFERENCE ALERT: NATO Towards the Challenges of a Contemporary World – After the Warsaw 2016 Summit

On behalf of the Organizing Committee, Dr Robert Czulda from the Department of Theory of International and Political Studies at the prestigious University of Łodz, Poland writes:
In cooperation with NATO Public Diplomacy Division, the International Relations Research Institute in Warsaw and Faculty of International and Political Studies (University of Łodz, Poland) in cooperation with Institute of Political Studies (Charles University, Czech Republic) have a pleasure to invite you to participate in the international conference “NATO Towards the Challenges of a Contemporary World – After the Warsaw 2016 Summit.”

The conference will be held by the University of Łodz (pronounced "Woodj") in Poland from 17 to 18 November 2016. The invitation is addressed to scholars, researchers, experts and professionals who are interested in NATO issues and the transatlantic security.

The conference will address all major issues related to NATO and the Warsaw Summit 2016, including: 
  • NATOs Eastern Flank (including VJTF)
  • NATOs Southern Flank (including migration crisis and the Islamic State)
  • NATOs Northern Flank (including cooperation with Sweden and Finland)
  • Current and future NATO Strategic Concept
  • Air and missile defense (including EPAA)
  • The transatlantic defense and security relations
  • Regional dimensions of NATO (including the V4 cooperation)
  • Out of area (including the Middle East and Afghanistan)
  • Psychological/information warfare
  • NATO towards new and potential partners (including Ukraine, Georgia, and others)
  • Open door policy
  • NATO and Russia
  • NATO European Union
  • NATO and cyber-security
  • NATO and energy security
  • Smart defence and capability building
  • Nuclear deterrence (both tactical and strategic)
  • Other issues related to current NATOs agenda and the Warsaw Summit 2016
More details, including the application form, is available at


NAVAL FORCES and MILITARY TECHNOLOGY magazines are proud media partners of this important conference event.

Tuesday, 5 July 2016

NATO declared a "Long Rivalry with Russia"

NATO expects a long-term strategic rivalry with Russia, said Deputy Secretary General of NATO Alexander Vershbow, in The Washington Post.
"There is a very serious feeling that we are dealing with a long-term strategic rivalry with Russia. It will be a very dangerous attitude, work on which will have to carry on with great care in order to move forward, "- said Vershbow.
In Warsaw, July 8-9, will be held Summit of the Member States of NATO. Earlier, the alliance agreed to expand military operations in Europe, in particular, the deployment of four battalions on the eastern borders of the alliance on the basis of continuous rotation in Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia and Poland.
Moscow has repeatedly said it will not seek confrontation with the West, but Russian authorities are willing to make reciprocal steps to ensure the country's security.
Source: RIA Novosti 

Harris Wins US Navy EW Decoy Technology Contract

Harris Corporation received a U$27 million order to deliver maritime electronic warfare (EW) payloads for the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory’s Advanced Decoy Architecture Project (ADAP) program.  The order was received during the fourth quarter of Harris’ fiscal 2016.

Nulka decoy. Source Royal Australian Navy 
The order, issued under a three-year, U$54 million ceiling IDIQ contract received in September 2015, also includes testing and engineering services to help meet current and future EW mission requirements.  The Harris-developed ADAP EW payloads represent an upgrade to the existing Nulka decoy, currently in service with the U.S. Navy, Coast Guard, Royal Australian Navy and Royal Canadian Navy.

“Decoys are an essential layer of shipboard protection, often serving as the last line of electronic defense,” said Ed Zoiss, president, Harris Electronic Systems.  “Harris ADAP payloads defeat the most sophisticated RF-guided anti-ship weapons with electronic techniques built upon decades of electronic warfare and countermeasure design experience.”

Source: Harris Corporation Press Release

Monday, 4 July 2016



Australia Decided Over Future Submarine

On 26 April 2016, when Australia’s Prime Minister, Malcom Turnbull, faced the cameras on the premises of the South Australian ASC shipyard in Adelaide, he had good news for the laggard region.

The Shortfin BARRACUDA, slightly smaller than the existing BARRACUDA
nuclear-powered submarine under construction for the French Navy, evolved
as the winning design in Australia’s Future Submarine project.
(Photo: DCNS)
Hidden Agenda
For the German and Japanese bidders, however, it was a bitter pill to swallow when he said, “DCNS of France has been selected as our preferred international partner for the design of the 12 future submarines, subject to further discussions on commercial matters.” With just a few weeks to go until the parliamentary elections on 2 July, the Prime Minister claimed that, “this AUD50Bn investment would directly sustain around 1,100 Australian jobs and a further 1,700 Australian jobs through the supply chain.” The decision came 14 months after the Competitive Evaluation Process (CEP) had been initiated and five months after the submarine design’s submission. Nearly 30 years after Howaldtswerke-Deutsche Werft (HDW) had lost the bid for the “Collins” project to Sweden, today’s thyssenkrupp Marine Systems (TKMS) must once again suffer a painful defeat. It is also a big blow to Japan which despite its inexperience in global defence deals was long considered to be the favourite pick for what Turnbull referred to as the “largest and most complex defence acquisition Australia has ever undertaken”.
What were the decisive factors? Why did the champagne corks pop in Cherbourg? Why do Kiel and Kobe have to lick their wounds? In the following, I will first briefly highlight the CEP from its kick-off on 20 February 2015 until the deadline for submitting the designs on 30 November that year. Then, I will address the evaluation phase of the competitive designs before finally analysing the causes that determined the outcome of the decision. There are rumours that the result could be an indication for a ‘hidden agenda’ to eventually go for nuclear-powered submarines, although Minister for Defence Marise Payne vehemently denies this.

Think Big
The three CEP competitors, TKMS, DCNS and the Japanese government together with Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) and Kawasaki Heavy Industries (KHI) shipyards, announced on 20 February 2015 that they had been working since for long times on their Australian submarine designs. DCNS proposed a conventionally-powered derivative of the BARRACUDA attack submarine now under construction for the Marine Nationale, displacing approximately 5,000 tons. TkMS, with its 4,000 tons Type 216, has a certain design relationship to the German Navy’s existing, but much smaller Type 212A boats. The Japanese, with their GORYU, proposed a design based on the “Soryu” class submarine already in service, displacing roughly 4,000 tons.
The CEP team was headed by an active Australian and a retired American Rear Admiral. The Australian Government established an Expert Advisory Panel chaired by a former Secretary of the US Navy to oversee the process that was peer reviewed by two other retired US admirals. The two European competitors founded Australian subsidiaries (TKMS-A, DCNS-A) and appointed two completely different indigenous personalities as Chairman and CEO, respectively. The Germans selected an experienced senior industry executive who had already cooperated with the German licensor B+V when he managed the ANZAC frigate project. Bringing it to a successful conclusion had earned him high reputation in Australia’s naval surface shipbuilding community. The French appointed a former submarine officer with close ties to the Government, who had previously held the position of chief of staff with Australia’s Minister for Defence. The Japanese, represented in the competition by their Government, apparently did not deem the establishment of an Australian-based project office necessary – at least until the spring of 2016 – counting instead on the commitment of the Ambassador in Canberra. They seemed to be relying on the fact that the submarine deal had been practically sealed by handshake between Prime Minister Tony Abbott and his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe.
During the CEP, the competitors realised more and more how much importance – for employment policy reasons – Australia attached to an Australian build of the Future Submarine Programme (FSP), even though all three bidders were also required to submit an overseas build and a hybrid build option, with the first submarines to be built overseas. Right from the beginning, TKMS readily provided the media with drawings and data of its Type 216, and the Germans were just as accommodating with respect to the actual business. As early as October 2014, TKMS’ Deputy CEO was the first to agree to having the complete FSP built at the ASC shipyard, guaranteeing a fixed price of AUD20Bn. The Chairman of TKMS-A adopted this position, advocating in a senate hearing that the boats could be built in Australia for the same price and within the same timeframe as in Kiel. He added that TKMS was interested in buying and modernising the shipyard and in turning it into a service hub for all TKMS submarines in the Asia-Pacific region. In August 2015, he told the Nikkei Asian Review that TKMS would deliver “a superior submarine for the Australian Navy with the latest technology from all over the world”. During his visit to Australia in early September that year, TKMS’ Chairman again confirmed the fixed price of AUD20Bn for 12 submarines, assuring that his company would spend over 70 percent of the overall amount in Australia. According to the Daily Telegraph he said, “A group like ours has deep pockets and if we promise to do something we have to deliver.”
The French employed different tactics. They did not endorse the Australian build option until July 2015 and openly stated their opinion that the most efficient option was the hybrid build involving the training of Australian personnel during the construction of up to two submarines in France. Cost estimates were only given in a vague and cautious manner. DCNS informed media that the French design was dubbed Shortfin BARRACUDA Block 1A and released an artist’s impression which apparently was the look-alike of its nuclear-powered sister. In an interview with Nikkei, DCNS-A’s CEO emphasised that his company would use France’s best technology to build the FSP. This country’s submarines were very powerful, disposed of unique stealth signatures, and Paris had never approved to share their technology. That this was now possible with Australia was due to the fact that the government of the French Republic had declared the FSP to be a strategic programme. They would offer a fixed price contract but were not yet in a position to make binding commitments.
The Japanese, who had established the legal requirements for restricted arms exports no earlier than 2014, were reluctant to make any promises. A conference held in Adelaide in March 2015 dubbed
‘Submarine Summit’ was neither attended by the two shipyards nor by any Japanese Government representatives, only two retired Vice Admirals delivered presentations and were available for interviews. They caught media attention, saying that Prime Ministers Abe and Abbott were determined when it comes to cementing the submarine deal and that there was no problem in building Japanese submarines in Australia. It was not until early May 2015 that Defence Minister Nakatani approved Japan’s participation in the CEP and confirmed Tokyo’s willingness to establish a strategic partnership with Australia. Shortly afterwards the National Security Council of Japan gave ‘green light’ to the release of classified information within the framework of the bidding process.
In April 2015, Australian Minister for Defence Andrews visited Germany and France, accompanied by naval experts and journalists to meet his German and French counterparts Ursula von der Leyen and Jean-Yves Le Drian, and to tour the shipyards. Various newspapers reported that Andrews had spent a couple of hours at the Kiel shipyard, where he had been informed that over the last 50 years TKMS had delivered 161 submarines to 20 Navies around the world and that he had been impressed when spotting nine submarines in different construction and repair states during a helicopter flight over the premises. He reportedly had grasped the message, “Germany is an industrial power house and submarines are its specialty.”
The French presented the venerable DCNS shipyard at Cherbourg, informing the Minister that more than 100 submarines had been built there to the present day and did not tire to stress that submarine technology, due to its relevance for nuclear deterrence, counted among France’s best-kept state secrets, which one was not ready to share with any other country than with Australia. When asked about his impressions, Andrews was quoted with having said, “gigantic”. This comes as no surprise.
Witnessing full shipyard capacity utilisation with the ongoing serial production of the six nuclear-powered BARRACUDA (“Suffren” class) submarines displacing over 5,000 tons provides a first-hand impression of what Australia is up to with its FSP comprising 12 submarines of almost the same size: “Think big”.
Although, primarily in view of the country’s majority pacifist sentiment, it remained unsaid during Andrews’ visit to Japan in early July 2015 that Tokyo considers a Japanese submarine design for the Royal Australian Navy a milestone toward establishing a future US-Japan-Australia triple alliance, Andrews certainly drew the right conclusions. Naturally, the two shipyards MHI and KHI did not fail to impress Australia’s Defence Minister with their potential. In light of the previous strict export ban, both shipbuilders had for decades been guaranteed cost-effective shipyard utilisation with the implementation of a new submarine design for the Japanese Maritime Self Defence Force (JMSDF) every 10 years. Japan’s inexperience in global defence deals became obvious when Japanese representatives gave apparently uncoordinated interviews during Andrew’s visit. ABC News published a retired Vice Admiral’s opinion that the lack of skilled welders in Adelaide could complicate the successful processing of the extremely high tensile steel required for building the Japanese submarines. Two senior officers were reportedly expressed being convinced that Japanese submarines were the world’s best non-nuclear boats and therefore Japan must refrain from sharing their core technologies. The same newspaper quoted them as saying that they were concerned about proliferation to China once their know-how was in Australian hands. Although the Japanese side later denied the correctness of these interview quotations, damage was done and the article probably  thwarted official assertions that Japan was seriously considering the Australian build option.
The majority of Australian media speculated that there had been a ‘captain’s pick’, i.e. that a secret deal between Abbott and Abe had already been made back in 2014. The reader may recall that Abbott Government’s announcement of a CEP was suspected to have been initiated to dispel rumours of a setup in favour of Japan in the first place. Still in August 2015, a Japanese delegation of industry officials visiting Adelaide remained tight-lipped with respect to questions about cooperation options with the local supply chain, i.e. the involvement of Australian companies in case Japan should be awarded the submarine contract. The alleged captain’s pick was no longer an issue when Malcom Turnbull had ousted Tony Abbott and seized the prime ministership on 15 September 2015. This did not bode well for the Japanese as Turnbull is seen as being pro-China and it was believed to also play into the hands of TKMS given that Turnbull’s wife was the then-honorary President of the German-Australian Chamber of Industry and Commerce. On 21 September, the Turnbull Government appointed Senator Payne Minister for Defence, making her the first female to hold this post.

Propaganda War
The three competitors had timely submitted their design proposals by 30 November 2015. Shielded from external influences and fully committed to its task of identifying the best solution for Australia, the evaluation team went to work, advised and overseen by high-ranking experts from the US. In the ‘outside world’ actions erupted that are best described as propaganda war of each against all. Every day journalists presumably on the payroll of the respective competitors published newspaper articles and blogs providing the public with new speculations and analyses, alleged technical deficits of competitive designs, politico-strategic hypotheses, personal defamations, anti-Japanese comments close to xenophobia, and conspiracy theories relating to the alleged influence of Beijing and particularly Washington. I will only single out a few aspects to illustrate the battles that were fought. With its gigantic financial framework and its long term influence on regional employment , this most complex military procurement project Australia has ever undertaken is of fundamental domestic political significance, which I will, however, refrain from addressing any further.
In February 2016, the CEO of DCNS-A attracted attention with a publication about a strategic partnership of both countries. He called France a “complete submarine power”, which on the one hand played in the same club as the US and Great Britain by exclusively operating nuclear-powered submarines, but on the other hand had the expertise to also design and build conventionally-powered boats. If Australia selected the French design, it would join this club, acquire regionally superior capabilities, and gain access to technologies derived from nuclear missile and nuclear attack submarines. The best technological example was pump-jet propulsion only possessed by the club members mentioned above, which would be exclusively shared with Australia as part of the Shortfin BARRACUDA design. DCNS proposed to develop centres of excellence in Australia from the beginning of the FSP that would focus on advanced manufacturing, engineering methods, and emerging, as well as evolving technologies, which would be embedded into the French scientific, educational, and research and development programme planned to beyond 2080.
TKMS was not slow to respond. The Germans, not members of this exclusive club, focused on putting straight some technological aspects and pointed out that pump-jet propulsion systems were not suitable for the low-speed spectrum that conventionally-powered submarines operate in most of the time. TKMS emphasised that they had developed a new lightweight composite carbon fibre propeller already being in operation on the German Navy’s Type 212A submarines. In mid-March, the TKMS’ Chairman, together with Germany’s Ambassador to Australia, spoke at the National Press Club in Canberra promising that, if being awarded the contract, TKMS would introduce the ‘digital shipyard’ concept in Adelaide and bring to bear the advantages of the German transformation to Industry 4.0, equivalent to nothing less than the next phase of the industrial revolution. The Chairman went on to announce that TKMS would massively expand its existing Australian subsidiary turning it into a ‘Shipbuilding Centre of Excellence’ that, in the long term, could support the Royal Australian Navy not only in the area of submarines but beyond.
Despite the replacement of the ‘japanophile’ Abbott by Turnbull, Japan for the time being remained the favourite in the eyes of the media, now no longer due to an alleged deal between the two Heads of Government but to the strategic interest of the US in a future triple alliance. The Financial Times reported that both the French and the Germans had lost significant ground on their Japanese rival; the former over security concerns of the US and the latter as they had never built such a large submarine before. Furthermore, the deal was purely strategic for Japan, whereas for the Germans, in particular, it had an exclusively commercial value given that they were not a regional power. While officially Washington declared its neutrality among the rival bids, and denied allegations that the combat system to be integrated on the FSP would only be provided to a Japanese boat, claims by an US Admiral that the Japanese held the undisputed technological leadership in the field of conventionally-powered submarines were hitting the headlines. Shortly afterwards, in early April, an article authored by an anonymous team, appeared in Australian Defence Reporter dispelling all pro-Japanese myths. Japan did not possess the sophisticated submarine technology it claimed, on the contrary, the Japanese “Soryu” class boats were in most respects even technically inferior to the Australian “Collins” class. Shortly afterwards, MHI made public that it was in the process of hiring an Australian Managing Director and committed to establishing an Australian design centre which would – adapting an ‘Australia first’ approach – progressively grow even larger than their own in Kobe.
Then came 19 April 2016, when a funeral service was held in Canberra for a former State Secretary of the Defence Department that was attended by many knowledgeable people, some of whom considered it appropriate to leak FSP insider information. Rumours spread that the recommendation of the CEP had been submitted to the Minister for Defence and that the decision would be announced as soon as 28 April. Also, the National Security Committee had already discussed the issue, it said. Referring to “two people familiar with the matter”, the Wallstreet Journal reported on 20 April that Japan had been “virtually eliminated” from the competition as the Japanese bid was viewed as having “considerable risk” given their inexperience building naval equipment overseas. The German competitor was “emerging as a front runner”, the article said. As a consequence, the Germans took it as an indication in their favour that the Prime Minister’s wife had resigned as honorary President of the German-Australian Chamber of Industry already on 13 April.

Reasons, Mistakes, Influencing Factors
On 26 April, two days earlier than the rumours had it, Prime Minister Turnbull announced the award to DCNS. This was not only due to the pressure caused by the leaks, especially concerning the elimination of the Japanese, but prompt action was also needed since the Head of Government intended a ‘double dissolution’ of both Houses of Parliament on 11 May in order to call for federal elections on 2 July. As the Government cannot take any budget decisions while in ‘caretaker mode’, the early announcement to build 12 new submarines in Adelaide was a welcome AUD50Bn election pledge, promising thousands of new jobs in South Australia.
The Japanese had gradually lost their position as a favourite and the bonus of a political deal after Prime Minister Abbott’s ousting. In retrospect, the support by the US, unofficial though, but subtly leaked to the public by influential persons, had not been helpful, it seems. It may even have been counterproductive, as nothing offends Australians more than allusions to ‘51st state of America’. It is noticeable that Turnbull’s announcement explicitly named the three former US Admirals and the former Secretary of the Navy as responsible players in the CEP, as if to say, “Look how independent we have been in our decision-making in spite of this.” In the media, analysts concluded that opposition to the export deal had been unmistakably widespread among Japanese Government and industry alike, that the presentations by some representatives had not been very convincing and their interviews uncoordinated at best, and that the concession of a complete build in Australia had been offered too late. Almost more humiliating to the Japanese than the official defeat was the fact that their early elimination from the CEP became public through a leak. Some Japanese media also speculated that the submarine decision might have something to do with a ‘kowtow’ by the ‘sinophile’ Turnbull to pressure from Beijing.
On 13 May, the Australians were as fair as to hold debriefings for the defeated contenders at their respective shipyards. Leaks of the event’s content in Kiel made it into the media, and the The Australian ran a detailed article, entitled “Why Germany lost subs bid”, on 30 May. As for the Kobe event, a similar article appeared in the same newspaper on 16 June. So why did the German and the Japanese bids fail?
Reportedly, TKMS engineers and government officials were stunned to hear that their design was assessed to radiate noise at an unacceptable level, especially at a particular – yet undisclosed – frequency; in other words, the French boat was seen to be stealthier. Obviously, DCNS had managed to penetrate the thinking of the CEP evaluators to such an extent that they believed whatever they were told, even that the modelled noise projection of the French paper design was by far superior to the projection of the German opponent’s likewise non-existent boat. The reported revelation that the Type 216 was modeled using the noise signature of the SCORPENE boats contains three subtle, if not perfidious messages: First, the German offer was nothing else than an up-scaled, off-the-shelf export design – its signatures interchangeable with the one DCNS sells to third world customers; second, the Shortfin’s better performance therefore is self-explanatory since its technology is based on the French Navy’s premium nuclear attack submarine; and fourth, Australia alone, as DCNS’ valued customer would benefit from this ‘second-to-none’ technology. In their debriefing at the MHI shipyard, according to The Australian, a different approach was taken to prove the likewise acoustic inferiority of GORYU design relative to Shortfin, since the Japanese do not export off-the-shelf submarines and competed with a variant of their own premium “Soryu” class. By claiming they could model the SORYU’s noise profile using the very limited set of data provided by the Japanese for the CEP, the Australians had the nerve to rebuff the Japanese even more than they had done with the Germans. Furthermore, the Japanese were told that they lost the bid because their inexperience in defence exports was deemed too high a risk. The debriefing concentrated on technical reasons and broader strategic issues reportedly were not a factor in the final decision. With respect to my focus on Germany, I will not elaborate any further on how much all of this strained relations with Japan. As to whether Tokyo would now reconsider its ties with Canberra, a Japanese analyst stated that a deepened security partnership with Australia not only continued to be in his country’s interest but, from a strategic point of view, Japan needed Australia more than vice versa.
DCNS had not only convinced the Royal Australian Navy but also the American experts in the CEP team of the advantages of the pump-jet propulsor. The Shortfin BARRACUDA was considered to be quieter than the Type 216 over the entire speed range and to have significantly more efficient sonar systems. In both, the German and the Japanese designs, the proposed lithium-ion batteries met reservations about safety and the German ‘digital shipyard’ concept had failed to dispel doubts about a successful up-scaling from the current maximum displacement of 2,400 tons the Germans have built so far to more than 4,000 tons. DCNS’ clever move to prepare its CEP bid to a large part in its Canberra office instead of in headquarters, as the rivals did, was another convincing point.
As disappointing an outcome it was for the Germans, it has to be noted, though, that their media campaign was elaborate and the political support exceptionally committed by German standards, with supporters ranging from the Chancellor, over the Defence Minister and State Secretaries, the German Navy Chief, down to the branch levels. The German Federal Foreign Office, too, recognised the enormous geopolitical and defence industrial significance that attaches to a submarine deal with a country like Australia. Notably, the German Ambassador did not seem to have any reservations towards the armaments industry in his efforts to support the German cause.
Yet, the overall effort was still a ‘far cry’ from the ‘unified national endeavour’ of the French. In their 2008 book, entitled “The Collins Class Submarine Story”, Yule and Woolner explained the reasons why IKL/HDW lost their tender to Kockums in 1987: “...the Germans were too conservative with their design and since the Swedes were agreeing to give Australia everything it asked for the Germans should have responded. [...] that message never got through to the German designers, who remained with their strategy of satisfying the base requirement and winning on price.” This time, however, the design was not conservative and to some extent exceeded the basic requirements. It certainly was the best German engineering can offer and, in terms of technology, at least equal to the French design. It is therefore surprising that TKMS did not rectify the media’s repeated allegations that Type 216 was merely an up-scaled version of the Type 214 submarine, an off-the-shelf design for export, so to speak. As a double deck submarine, Type 216 has indeed a lot more design commonality with U212A, that is, the premium boat of the German Navy, the “special and unique one”, which is so important to the Australians.
It is true that the Germans have never built a boat displacing more than 2,400 tons. However, the claim that it was difficult or even impossible to achieve the required displacement of more than 4,000 tons for the Type 216 boat by up-scaling a smaller design is nonsense, and there is ample proof: For the FSP, the displacement is to be almost twice the displacement of the largest boat made in Germany to date, the DOLPHIN AIP (Air Independent Propulsion) for Israel. The development of the U212A as the successor of U206A, however, already was a triplication in size. Nevertheless, U212A had been a success right from the start. Why did TKMS never bring up this simple truth? Instead, media users almost daily read about the powerful company and its successful export history over the past 50 years, that is, with off-the-shelf boats. If they looked in the business section, however, the balance sheet information on TKMS was far from positive. Moreover, the Germans tried again and needlessly (AUD50Bn is not an austerity budget) to win on price. The early and repeatedly confirmed promise of a fixed price of AUD20Bn, together with the unconvincing assertion that a build in Adelaide could be accomplished as well-priced as in Kiel, may have been a grave mistake.

Sitting Duck
In the German Navy, unlike in France and in Australia, submarines are considered as operational assets at best, such as Mine Countermeasures (MCM) forces or corvettes. This probably had not gone unnoticed by the attentive Australians, who for strategic reasons opted for the most expensive defence project in their history and finally chose a partner that had positioned itself strategically from the start: For more than a hundred years, France has been an ally and a Pacific power – even though with rather modest military presence in the regional overseas territories. It is also a nuclear power whose nuclear deterrence is almost entirely based on globally-deployed submarines. Germany is not part of this club.
The design philosophy of German post-war submarines was determined by the operational situation of the Cold War, resulting in compact boats according to the principle “as small as possible and as large as necessary”. With its approximately 4,000 tons, the Type 216 is still significantly smaller than the French winning design. The Australians, however, never shared the German philosophy; their principle was “think big” from the start. But you cannot outsmart the laws of physics. With almost 5,000 tons, the Shortfin BARRACUDA, which evolved from the nuclear sister design, will have a dangerous ‘target strength’ especially versus low-frequency active sonar detection, highly advanced coating, and structural acoustic reflection measures. Nuclear-powered submarines have unlimited sprint reserves, can therefore rapidly clear a datum (position of detection) and cover a large distance. In contrast, a conventional boat of this size probably can run at flank speed for little more than half an hour, even if its batteries are fully-charged, before having to slow down drastically. The pump-jet propulsor that the Australians obviously value so much will even worsen this condition. The Japanese, being the only contender with operational experience in boats of this size, have already taken the necessary action against this ‘sitting duck’ phenomenon: From 2020 on, the last two “Soryu” class boats to be commissioned will be equipped entirely with lithium-ion batteries instead of a Stirling AIP system and conventional lead acid batteries. Not only will this substantially improve their indiscretion ratio (reduce snort time), i.e. make them stealthier on transit; but, another key advantage of this new technology – shunned by the French and their new Australian following – is a four times higher discharge reserve at maximum speed.
There is no doubt; the CEP team included the Royal Australian Navy’s most outstanding submarine experts who certainly know about these parameters. For this reason, I cannot exclude the possibility of a hidden agenda envisaging the transition to the Shortfin’s nuclear-powered sister. Following a five-year design phase, the build will not commence until the 2020s, with the commissioning to be expected no sooner than in 2030. Enough time for Australia, not least in light of China’s rising sea power, eventually to choose to go nuclear.

By Raimund Wallner
Raimund Wallner, Captain German Navy (Ret.), was in command of submarines and a submarine squadron. He also served as his country’s defence attaché in Tokyo. When the Australian project SEA 1000 began in 2008, he was branch chief for underwater systems in the Armaments Directorate of the Federal Ministry of Defence and was involved in the government support provided to German industry.

Friday, 1 July 2016

Nice to Have...

It is always nice to have feedback from our conference and exposition partners.  
My thanks to IMarEST and the INEC conference organisers.

The time and sentiments expressed by INEC 2016 Conference Chairman, Cdr Matt Bolton of the UK's Royal Navy, are especially appreciated considering the time pressures someone in his position faces.

We enjoy our cooperation with IMarEST and INEC and hope to increase our efforts in the future.

If your Naval Defence or Maritime Security-related organisation has an event and is interested in some sort of partnership with NAVAL FORCES magazine, please let me know your thoughts and - although not a guarantee of participation - we will certainly consider your proposal.
Thank you,
Stephen Elliott esq.

MEDIA ADVISORY: Student Teams Compete at CMRE AUVs They Designed & Built

The following text is directly from official Media Advisory...

SAUC-E 2016 Media Day
8 July 2016, 11 AM 
CMRE (formerly NURC), viale San Bartolomeo 400, La Spezia (Italy)

On 3-8 July 2016, teams from University of Applied Sciences Kiel,  International University of the Canaries, the University of Vigo with ACSM Subsea Services company, ENSTA Bretagne (with two teams), University of Florence, University-Polytechnic of Marche, University of the West England, will participate in the 11th SAUC-Europe (Student Autonomous Underwater Vehicle Challenge – Europe edition at STO-CMRE (Science and Technology Organization – Centre for Maritime Research and Experimentation), hosting it for the 7th time in a row.

For one week student teams will compete at CMRE waterfront, in La Spezia, Italy, using autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs) that they have designed and built.
The new twist for this edition is the connection with the ROBOCADEMY FP7 EU project, organizing a parallel workshop in the final day of SAUC-E with 13 PhD international students. An exhibit of local and international companies will be also running during the competition. 

Journalists will have the possibility to attend and film the final runs of the competition, interview the participants and meet CMRE representatives. Please note that the final scores and prizes might not be released before 5 PM.

If you are interested in attending this media event at CMRE, or for more information about it, should contact the CMRE Public Affairs Office at +39 0187 527 350 or at Due to security reasons, journalists are asked to sign up by 6 July at 11 AM (local time).  Meeting point: Porta Ferrovia, viale San Bartolomeo 400, La Spezia (Italy), 10.45 AM.

About CMRE. The STO-CMRE (Science and Technology Organization – Centre for Maritime Research and Experimentation) is located in La Spezia, Italy.  Formerly NATO Undersea Research Centre (NURC), the Centre focuses on research, innovation and technology in areas such as defence of maritime forces and installations against terrorism and piracy, secure networks, development of the common operational picture, the maritime component of expeditionary operations, mine countermeasures systems, non-lethal protection for ports and harbours, anti-submarine warfare, modelling and simulation, and marine mammal risk mitigation.  CMRE operates two ships, NATO Research Vessel Alliance, a 93-meter 3,180-ton open-ocean research vessel, and Coastal Research Vessel Leonardo, a smaller ship designed for coastal operations.  In addition to its laboratories the Centre is equipped with a fleet of autonomous underwater and surface vehicles and a world-class inventory of seagoing sensors.

CMRE Press office: Francesca Nacini,; +39 335 7809721

Thursday, 30 June 2016

TNO: Resilient Ship Design Course | 18 – 21 April 2017, Rotterdam

Although warships have several layers of defence, history shows a multitude of incidents where these failed and resulted in a ship's severe battle damage. 

The ships design can provide an adequate level of resilience against anti-ship missiles, UNDEX threats, shaped charges, gunfire or asymmetric threats. You can learn all about it in this course organised by TNO Defence Research from The Netherlands.

The course was created with the following in mind:
- Navy personnel
- Survivability experts
- Shipyards
- Designers of naval vessels
- Naval ship manufacturing industry
- Managers of new naval projects
- Project engineers who make specifications of naval equipment and installations
- Engineers who monitor naval building or upgrade projects
- Technical procurement officers
- Classification societies

The main purpose of the course is to understand the basics of designing against modern above water and underwater threats. The course is specifically focused on early design stages in which crucial decisions have to be made within short periods of time. Participants will learn the principles of ship survivability, so that they are able to design themselves, to communicate with specialists, to tackle an underwater shock problem or to deal with above water threats. The knowledge can also be applied to upgrade ships for new threats.

The program of the four day course can be found in this flyer and on 

18 - 21 April 201
STC - Mullerzaal, Lloydstraat 300, 3024 EA Rotterdam, The Netherlands

€ 3.200 for the four day course, excl. VAT. 
The price includes a hard copy of the course proceedings, 
A digital copy on a USB stick
Lunches and beverages. 

N.B. There is an early bird discount of 10% for applications placed before 31 January 2017.

For registration and administrative inquiries you can contact Louise Michon by e-mail or by phone (, +31 88 86 63350)

For further information on the Resilient Ship Design Course please contact Rogier van der Wal (, + 31 88 8661332).

Tuesday, 28 June 2016

Lockheed Martin Passed the Test: Q-53 Radar Demonstrates Counter-UAS Capability

The Lockheed Martin AN/TPQ-53 counter-fire radar recently demonstrated its ability to identify and track unmanned aerial systems and pass that information to a command and control node, a key capability as the battle-space rapidly becomes more crowded with emerging air threats.

"The demonstration showed that the Q-53 radar can provide soldiers in combat real time awareness of air threats," said Rick Herodes, Q-53 program director, Lockheed Martin. "The inherent flexibility of the Q-53's active electronically scanned array hardware architecture allows us to constantly evolve the Q-53's software to deal with emerging threats. This demonstration provided further verification that the Q-53 enables the war-fighter to stay ahead of changing global threats."

The demonstration was part of the U.S. Army's Maneuver and Fires Integration Experiment (MFIX) at Fort Sill, Oklahoma. The annual MFIX exercise brings together military, industry and academia to assess solutions to future war-fighting needs in a live environment.
In the demonstration, the Q-53 radar showed it can be readily adapted to provide both air surveillance and counter fire target acquisition in one tactical sensor.  The radar identified and tracked several unmanned aerial systems and provided data to Forward Area Air Defense Command and Control. Simultaneously, the Q-53 radar performed its original mission by providing accurate targeting data on rockets, artillery and mortars, providing a multi-mission radar capability.

The solid-state phased array radar system detects, classifies, tracks and determines the location of enemy indirect fire in 360 or 90-degree modes.

Lockheed Martin is manufacturing multiple Q-53 radars per month. Since Lockheed Martin won the development contract for the Q-53 radar in 2007, the company has won five additional contracts for a total of more than 100 radars and delivered more than 60 systems to the U.S. Army. The Army is expected to award a full-rate production contract this year bringing the system total to more than 170.

Work on the Q-53 radars is performed at Lockheed Martin facilities in Syracuse and Owego, New York, Moorestown, New Jersey, and Clearwater, Florida.
For additional information, visit their website:

(Source: Press Release)

Monday, 27 June 2016

Qatar Orders Super Mushshak Trainer Aircraft from Pakistan

The State of Qatar has signed a contract for the purchase of “Super Mushshak” training aircraft from the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, Qatar News Agency (QNA) reported. 

The contract was signed for Qatar by HE Commander of Al Zaeem Mohamed bin Abdullah Al Attiyah Air College Brigadier (Pilot) Salem Hamad Al Nabet for Qatar, and for Pakistan by Deputy Chairman of Pakistan Aeronautical Complex (PAC) Air Vice Marshal Arshad Malik. 
Brig. Al Nabet expressed pleasure for signing the contact, noting that the new aircraft will provide the support needed to train pilots candidates in the College and will give a great impetus in the development of the training process. 

He hailed the unlimited support which Al Zaeem Mohamed bin Abdullah Al Attiyah Air College enjoys from HH the Emir of Qatar Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani and the wise leadership. 

He also extended thanks to HE the Minister of State for Defense Affairs who pays all the attention for training and education in the armed forces and for preparing qualified cadres of Qatari pilots annually. 

The signing ceremony was attended by the Ambassador of Pakistan to Qatar Shahzad Ahmed and a number of senior officers of the Qatari Armed Forces. 

The PAC Super Mushshak (Proficient) is a more advanced, upgraded variant of the MFI-17 Mushshak basic trainer. It was designed by and is being manufactured at the Aircraft Manufacturing Factory, Pakistan Aeronautical Complex.

Fitted with an American 260 hp engine, cockpit air conditioning, electrical instruments, and electric/manual elevator and rudder trim, the aircraft has been developed to meet FAR part 23 certification in normal, utility and aerobatics categories. It has a spacious side-by-side cockpit allowing good contact between the pilot and the co-pilot/observer or between the student and the instructor. 

The Super Mushshak meets the requirements of a modern primary training syllabus and is an ideal basic trainer for basic flight training and instrument flying.
According to sources, operators of the Super Mushshak include:
Pakistan Air Force - 40
Royal Saudi Air Force - 20
Royal Air Force of Oman - 8
Iraqi Air Force - 20 ordered in February 2014. 
Islamic Republic of Iran Air Force - 25
Uni Group Holdings (Pvt) Ltd, South Africa - 5
Syrian Air Force - 6

(Source: official press release)