Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Countdown for OTO Gunship Concept

OTO Melara's gunship concept, a development for a roll-on/roll-off palletised gunship system for use in modern transport aircraft, awaits results from next phase of live airborne trials. The Italian manufacturer provided additional details on its OTO Gunship demonstrator in December 2014, saying that the system is now under evaluation at the Italian Air Force’s test facility (Reparto Sperimentale di Volo) at Pratica di Mare Air Base, with live airborne firing tests scheduled for February/March 2015. NAVAL FORCES was invited to see the demonstrator in September 2014 and first reported on the concept in issue V/2014 (page 50/53). The 20mm GATLING cannon (designated M61 A1) fitted to the demonstrator is a very precise weapon: at 2km slant range, 50% of the rounds hit within 3m from the target. In anticipation of the upcoming live airborne trials, OTO Melara expects a high lethality and a minimum of possible collateral damage. NAVAL FORCES understands that the system has a CEP (Circular Error Probable) of 4-5m when firing from an altitude of some 1,500m. RIVISTA ITALIANA DIFESA, in its February 2015 issue, speaks of an CEP of 3-4m, when firing from a slant range of 2,000m. NAVAL FORCES also understands that the demonstrator will be fired from a higher altitude during the course of the testing. The Italian Air Force is presently testing the gunship concept for a possible installation on its Alenia-Aermacchi C-27J transports, but the weapon system is also fully compatible with the Lockheed Martin C-130 HERCULES, including the oldest variants. The C-27J, armed with the OTO Gunship, could be available for deployment in an operational theatre by spring 2015.

The OTO Gunship technology demonstrator pictured here at OTO Melara’s manufacturing site in Brescia consists of a 20mm GATLING cannon (designated M61 A1) that is mounted on a roll-on/roll-off pallet together with the gunner panel (from OTO Melara), Central Processing Unit (CPU), and two-axis, stabilised sensor turret (EOST 46 family) provided by SELEX ES. The M61A1 cannon offers a rate-of-fire of 4,000rpm.
(Photo: OTO Melara)

Callisto – Modular Sensor Float for Deep Submerged Submarine Operations

Gabler Maschinenbau GmbH in Lübeck, Germany, is the innovator and manufacturer of the CALLISTO communications buoy system selected to equip the German Navy's Type U212A batch 2 fuel cell submarines. Hendrik Goesmann, the company's Head of Naval Sales, told NAVAL FORCES that the CALLISTO system enables submarines to communicate from a deep submerged position. This is done by releasing an optimally streamlined float from a hoistable mast, so that it ascends to the water surface on the end of a towing cable. The high-power, multi-band antenna is integrated in the float and enables the submarine to serve the following frequencies:
- HF reception and
- IFF and GPS.

CALLISTO locked in the mounting system of a communications mast aboard the Type U212A submarine U35.
(All photos: Gabler Maschinenbau GmbH)
This allows the submerged platform to be fully integrated into Network Centric Operations without the need to leave its deep submerged position. The buoyant body itself can be released and retrieved repeatedly for different operations.
CALLISTO can be integrated in different locations in the submarine: in the upper deck, in a mounting system in the sail, or as a hoistable mast. Thereby, this system is not only applicable for new-construction submarine designs, but also in case of refit/modernisation of in-service submarines.
The CALLISTO float can be equipped with an extremely wide range of different sensors. In addition to the aforementioned communications means, the float can also be fitted with options such as radar early warning device and/or optronic systems. This communications system now forms an integral part of the German Navy’s two Type U212A Batch 2 submarines. After successful integration and technical acceptance, the next step is to test CALLISTO in a series of deep water trials that will be accomplished during the first half of 2015.

CALLISTO in retracted position integrated in the sail.
Gabler Maschinenbau GmbH is the leading producer of tailor-made hoistable masts and special equipment for submarines with the goal to further improve and widen the capabilities and skills of naval submarines and their crews, with the CALLISTO system being the latest proof.

Thursday, 22 January 2015

MENA Countries Address New Strategic Plans

Connected for Security

The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region increasingly attracts the interest of the European Union (EU) and NATO. Some EU (and NATO) members, notably France, Italy, and Spain, had recognised the importance of the region, not only because of its huge oil and gas resources.
The Mediterranean Dialogue (MD) led to closer ties between MENA, NATO, and EU member states since at least the mid-1990s, with a great potential identified in closer military cooperation and emphasis on maritime security in the Mediterranean and Arabian Sea. The MD, which was founded shortly after the end of the Cold War in 1994 and initially encompassed the five member states Egypt, Israel, Mauritania, Morocco, and Tunisia. These were all considered stable and friendly toward the West. Lacking other MENA states, like Algeria (which was invited in 2000 to join), Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, and Syria at that time, the MD, as a consultative forum, was to seek to contribute to security and stability in the Mediterranean as a whole, to achieve better mutual understanding, and to correct any misunderstandings of the Alliance’s purposes that could lead to a perception of threat, according to a statement by the NATO spokesman on NATO’s Mediterranean Initiative on 8 February 1995. The bilateral forum developed over the years into a more substantial cooperation.

Nabil Elaraby, Secretary-General of the Arab League since 1 July 2011, said Arab countries needed to make a “clear and firm decision for a comprehensive confrontation” to, what he called, “cancerous and terrorist” groups.
(Photo: Amr Nabil/AP)
Interest in the region also increased with disputes over territory: Ankara’s tensions with Syria and Iraq over the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers; Madrid’s tensions with Rabat over the Melilla and Ceuta dispute. Also, the emergence of the self-designated Islamic State (IS), with terrorist actions now affecting Iraq and Syria, calls for dialogue and cooperation.
One observation makes it clear: Despite the differences between NATO and the Arab world, security relations between them may led to an “about-turn in the space for two decades”, according to Dr. Florence Gaub, a researcher and lecturer in the NATO Defence College’s Middle East Faculty, in her Strategic Studies Institute Monograph entitled “Against All Odds: Relations between NATO and the MENA Region”. Published by the US Army War College in August 2012, the author states: “...MD countries (Morocco and Jordan) have contributed to NATO operations in Kosovo, Libya, and Afghanistan. Six of the seven MD countries have concluded Individual Partnership Cooperation Programmes, designed to deepen their relationship with NATO by offering tailored advice on reforms.”
Also, Operation UNIFIED PROTECTOR, the first NATO operation in an Arab country, led to closer ties with the four Arab nations Jordan, Morocco, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) which took part in the military actions against Libya’s military. Former Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa stated on 22 February 2011 that Libya’s membership in the Arab League had been suspended: “The organisation has decided to halt the participation of the Libyan delegations from all Arab League sessions.” The Arab league, which has no military force like the United Nations (UN) or EU, called the UN Security Council to impose a no-fly zone over Libya.
Not to forget security of the region’s natural resources. EU member states put security of natural resources in the MENA region high on the agenda. Programmes under a cooperative manner have been initiated to help improve the understanding of the region’s natural resources and develop strategies to protect them against terrorist, criminal, and other unlawful actions. Following decades of burdens, relations between the West and Arab nations also made an about-turn in the space. With Beijing and Moscow seeking to expand their influence over the oil- and gas-rich countries in the region, there is profound progress in the development of common EU/MENA or EU/GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) projects, mainly in the fields of energy, telecommunications, shipbuilding, and transportation. The latter includes waterways like the Nile River, for which two countries – Egypt and Sudan – have started to improve the navigation system.

Exercise PASSEX 2013 enhanced the common understanding between Morocco and NATO. Pictured is the Royal Moroccan Navy’s SIGMA type patrol ship "Sultan Moulay Ismail" (914; front) sailing in formation with the MEKO200TN frigate TCG "Salihreis" (F 246) of the Turkish Naval Forces (left), the Spanish Navy’s air defence frigate EPS "Alvaro de Bazan" (F 101; background), and the German Navy’s air defence frigate "Sachsen" (F 219 right).
(Photo: NATO)

Energy Challenges in the 21st Century
Modern-day development of the Gulf region is influenced by its richness in crude oil. The six GCC members Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE are expected to host around one third of known global reserves of crude oil and nearly a quarter of the world’s natural gas reserves. Strategists in certain GCC countries like Qatar and the UAE group them as the region’s main challenge.
The GCC’s oil and gas resources are known to be hosted by the Qusaiba-sourced Paleozoic Total Petroleum Systems, for which the US Geological Survey (USGS) estimates a mean of 37 billion barrels of oil and 808 trillion cubic feet of gas as undiscovered conventional resources. According to the USGS report “Undiscovered Oil and Gas Resources of Lower Silurian Qusaiba-Paleozoic Total Petroleum Systems, Arabian Peninsula“, which was released in January 2012, organic-rich shale of the Lower Silurian Qusaiba Member of the Qalibah Formation is a prolific source rock for hydrocarbons in four Paleozoic Total Petroleum Systems of the Arabian Peninsula. According to the report, the basal part of the Qusaiba is the most effective hydrocarbon source-rock facies (formation), with as much as 75m of hot shale having total organic carbon as high as 14%. However, exploration for Qusaiba-sourced hydrocarbons of the Arabian Peninsula is generally at an early stage.

Paleozoic Total Petroleum Systems of the Arabian Peninsula. 
(Map: US Geological Survey)
Some Arab countries declared an interest in nuclear power. According to The Oxford Institute for Energy Studies, the use of nuclear power by the GCC member states is seen as an important step that could extend the lifetime of hydrocarbon reserves. However, limited Research & Development (R&D) programmes based on research reactors were known to occur only in Algeria, Egypt, and Libya, as well as Iran. As to recent statements from Riyadh, nuclear energy is a strategic choice for Saudi Arabia. The Kingdom has announced plans to install some 18GW of nuclear power for domestic use by 2032, with infrastructure established on the Gulf and the Red Sea. However, it is not clear what type of nuclear reactor will be utilised.
The UAE is expected by nuclear experts to emerge as the first Arab nation to produce nuclear power for domestic use. The country is on schedule to commission four South Korean-designed 1.4GW APR-1400 pressurised water reactors (PWRs) at Barakah on the Gulf between 2017 and 2020. An additional 20GW is expected by 2030. Jordan, which is completely dependent on imported energy, established a nuclear commission in 2007 and has conducted pre-construction evaluations since 2008. Russia’s BOO proposal for two 1GW reactors at the Al Amra desert site has now been selected and is being finalised. A decision to proceed is expected in 2015, with first unit operation in 2021.
Another MENA country for which the nuclear power option provides a secure alternative energy source to meet demand is Egypt. The Egyptian government has reactivated its nuclear energy programme that foresees the pre-construction planning of four 1.2GW reactors at the El-Dabba site. However, it is expected that the current transitional political environment will delay the programme. Almost 70% of Egypt’s energy needs come from domestic gas resources which are predicted to be depleted within two decades.
Nuclear energy projects in the MENA region could benefit from significant quantities of uranium that can be recovered as a by-product of phosphate production. Examples include Gantour (Morocco) and Al-Abiad (Jordan). Exploration expenditures in Egypt (divided between grassroots exploration for new deposits and confirmation drilling in and around existing discoveries) during the past 10 to 20 years have been reported at over 6% of the worldwide total, according to the 2005 IAEA report “Recent Developments in Uranium Exploration, Production and Environmental Issues“.
In some MENA countries, like Egypt, Jordan, and Morocco, nuclear energy could be an option to reduce reliance on the import of expensive fossil fuels. Also, nuclear power can contribute towards lowering the MENA region’s overall carbon footprint.
Renewables are also a challenge. Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah City for Atomic and Renewable Energy (K.A.CARE), established in 2010, encourages the use of alternative energy technologies for power generation and water desalination. The K.A.CARE set a 54GW renewable energy target: Some 16GW is to come from Photovoltaic (PV) and 25GW from Concentrated Solar Power (CSP); 9GW from wind; 3GW from waste-to-energy; and 1GW from geothermal. Energy experts said that costs of PV and CSP have been declining substantially in recent years – a trend that is expected to continue.
The UAE have been at the forefront of renewables investment to date, with Abu Dhabi adopting a 7% target for installed electricity capacity equivalent to 1.5GW by 2020. Masdar Power, in a Joint Venture with TOTAL and Spain’s Abengoa, completed the Shams 1 CSP 100MW plant in Madinat Zayed and sponsors a 30MW wind installation at Sir Bani Yas. In the planning stage are the 100MW Noor 1 PV plant, Taqa’s 100MW waste-to-energy plant, and a 500MW solar rooftop programme.
Other GCC countries to embark on renewables are Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, and Bahrain. The State of Kuwait recently announced a target of 1% of electricity generation to derive from renewables by 2015, 10% by 2020, and 15% by 2030, of which the latter figure will be equivalent to 2GW. Oman has set a target of 10% of its electricity to come from renewables by 2020, and Qatar expects to generate some 2% (640MW) of electricity from CSP by 2020. The Kingdom of Bahrain wants to implement a 5% renewable energy target by 2020.

Strategic Commodities are Where you Find Them

Three countries in the MENA region – Egypt, Morocco and Saudi Arabia – are known to host significant quantities of strategic commodities like tantalum, tin, and rare earth elements (REE). In Egypt, Tantalum Egypt JSC (owned by Gippsland Ltd. of Claremont, Australia) and the Government of Egypt were planning to exploit tantalite ore from the Abu Dabbab and Nuweibi deposits located in the Eastern Desert. Tantalum usage has developed significantly over recent years and is now extensive in electronic applications, in super alloys, in specialty metal products, as well as in metal carbide. According to a report released by Gippsland Ltd. in 2011, it was planned to produce about 300mt (metric tons) of tantalum pentoxide (Ta2O5) annually from the Abu Dabbab prospect from 2013. H.C. Stark Group of Germany committed to buy 300mt/year of contained Ta2O5 for the first 10 years. Gippsland reported proven plus probable reserves of 33.18Mt (million metric tons) of ore averaging 0.0252% Ta2O5 plus 0.09% tin dioxide (SnO2) for Abu Dabbab. At Nuweibi, indicated plus inferred resources were quoted at 98Mt at an average grade of 143g/ton Ta2O5 and 95g/ton niobium pentoxide (Nb2O5).
Four Saudi Arabian deposits carrying REE and zirconium (Zr) are known to occur in peralkaline rare-metal granites in the so-called Arabian-Nubian Shield (ANS). The deposits include both light REE (LREE) and heavy REE (HREE) types, with estimated sizes ranging from 6 to 440Mt of ore with yttrium (Y) contents ranging from 0.13 to 0.52%. The country’s most promising project, Ghurayyah, contains a carbonatite-hosted REE resource of approximately 385Mt of ore averaging 245g/ton Ta2O5, 2,840g/ton Nb2O5, 8,915g/ton zirconium dioxide (ZrO2), 140g/ton uranium oxide (U3O8), and 1,270g/ton yttrium oxide (Y2O3), according to an inferred mineral resource estimate by SRK Consulting (UK) Ltd. International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) sources in Vienna, Austria, quote a potential for uranium in the range of up to 25,000mt of U3O8. The Ghurayyah alkaline granite stock is about 800m in surface diameter and contains disseminated tantalum and niobium ore minerals, chiefly columbite-tantalite and pyrochlore. Their distribution appears to be remarkably consistent throughout the granitic body, according to the British Geological Survey (BGS) in a report released in April 2011.
The Government of Somalia also announced proven tantalum reserves. After the discovery of tantalum mineralisation by the BGS in the 1950s, several occurrences have been explored and partly exploited in the country, among them a cassiterite- and spodumene-bearing pegmatite at Majayahan, containing a resource of 1.6Mt grading 0.018% Ta2O5. The current annual tantalum production in Somalia is estimated close to 10mt.
In Morocco, Australia’s Kasbah Resources is developing the Achmmach Tin Project. This resource was discovered by the Moroccan government agency BRPM (Bureau des Recherches et de Participations Minières) in 1985. The project is located 140km southeast of the Moroccan capital Rabat and 40km south-southwest of Meknes on the western edge of the El Hajeb Province in Northern Morocco. Project financing of the Achmmach Tin Project, with an estimated value of US$181M, commenced in the third quarter of 2014. Kasbah Resources announced that it has signed a shareholders agreement with Toyota Tsusho Corporation (TTC) and Nittetsu Mining Company (NMC) to develop and operate the Achmmach mining project. A definitive feasibility study on the project was released at the end of March 2014 for an underground mining operation producing 5,300mt of contained tin in concentrate over a nine-year life, starting up in the second quarter of 2016.
By Stefan Nitschke

The Achmmach Tin Project (Meknes Trend), with a drill-indicated reserve of 14.6Mt of ore grading 0.9% SnO2, ranks among the principal tin resources in the MENA region.
(Map: Kasbah Resources)

The Permit #233263 exploration area, located in Morocco’s Sub-Atlas Range about 260km east of Marrakech and just 5km south of the world-class Imiter silver mine, has excellent resource potential and is well situated for future development.
(Photo: Maya Gold & Silver Inc.)

Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Pirates Stopped Cold by Ghanaian Navy’s Hot Pursuit

OFF the coast of Nigeria, the Ghana Navy freed hijacked crude oil tanker MT Mariam on 17 January 2015 which was enrouted to Togo. The crew is said to be safe; unfortunately, the tanker’s oil had vanished. Eight Nigerians on board, who obviously did not belong to the crew, were suspected of hijacking and arrested.

Colonel Aggrey Quarshie form Ghana’s Navy informed the press that the suspected pirates were handed over to Ghana’s Bureau of National Investigations. It was also reported that the armed pirates used AK-47-style rifles.

According to the ship’s owner, it was loaded with approximately 1,500 metric tons of crude oil when it was hijacked on 11 January 2015.

The freed tanker was brought to Tema Port (Ghan) where armed guards watch over it. The search for the oil is in process.

Find more information on Ghana’s Navy on page 108 of Weyers Flottenhandbuch 2013-2015 (German-English edition).

Source:, photo: Mönch Publishing Group

Posted by Stefan Nitschke

Monday, 19 January 2015

Relief for Voyagers - US Coast Guard takes Action against Sea Vessel Crimes.

PASSENGERS disappear, become victims of thieves or are sexually assaulted daily. According to the US Coast Guard (USCG), incidents of this kind happen more frequently than in the past. Finally, they take action.

Only recently, the USCG has proposed amendments to the Cruise Vessel Security and Saftey Act of 2010 to improve the security of voyagers and staff on board.

The USCG advises surveillance systems and data recordings to be kept for extended time as one of the keys to fight and solve crimes on board. Additonally, the presence of special trained ship's personnel to manage and prevent incidents.(Photo:tokamuwi/

Naval Forces asks:
"What do you think should be done?"

Posted by Stefan Nitschke

Thursday, 15 January 2015

Under Water - FaQ on Submarines

Naval Forces Mag shows: Sketch, Wilhelm Bauer, Brandtaucher, Submarine
"Brandtaucher", sketch by Wilhelm Bauer

How is a submarine propelled? How does the fuel cell system work? How is the crew catered for? These questions and many more are answered here.

THE dream of mankind to be able to dive under water for longer than the human body is capable of unassisted is at least as old as the dream of flying. Swimming like a fish below the surface, enclosed in a capsule, is something people attempted in ancient times and in the Middle Ages. In 1492, the Italian Roberto Valturio drew a sketch of a submarine that in its external shape very closely resembles modern-day submersibles. In 1851, the German inventor Wilhelm Bauer staged a trial of his ‘incendiary diver’. It was the first modern submarine and was built according to the inventor’s plans (left) at the Schweffel & Howaldt engineering works and iron foundry in Kiel. MTU started making engines for submarines in 1959 and they can now be found in service in all the world’s oceans. But how does a submarine move? How do you build one, and how does a diesel engine function under water? MTU submarine expert Arndt von Drathen and Dr. Ute Arriens of ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems (TKMS) provide the explanations.

How is a submarine propelled?
In a submarine with diesel-electric propulsion, a diesel engine drives a charging generator. The generator set acts as a battery charger and charges the batteries with electric current. That electric current powers the electric propulsion motor, which in turn drives the propeller. As well as submarines with diesel engines and fuel cells there are also atomic subs with a nuclear reactor for generating the power.

ThyssenKrupp Marine System Class 212 A with MTU
ThyssenKrupp Type 212A submarines
are equipped with Air Independent Propulsion (AIP) systems. 

Where does the engine get its air from and where does the exhaust go?
The submarine’s charging generator can only be operated when the vessel is on the surface or at periscope depth because the engine needs air for fuel combustion. At periscope depth, the sub is just a few meters below the surface and the air for combustion is drawn in through the snorkel, from where it passes to the engine in the engine room. So that the submarine can remain undetected, however, it should only remain at periscope depth for as short a time as possible. The exhaust is discharged under pressure below the surface. For every meter of water above the exhaust outlet, the engine has to generate an extra 100 mbar of exhaust pressure so that the water cannot run into the engine. That is only possible with a special boost pressure system developed by MTU.

How does the snorkel work in heavy seas?
In heavy seas a cap briefly closes off the snorkel to prevent water running through it into the submarine. In that short period, the volume of air inside the sub serves as a temporary reserve for supplying air to the engine.

How fast can a submarine travel?
On average, submarines with diesel-electric propulsion can travel at 20 knots (37 kph) submerged and about half as fast on the surface.

How long can a submarine stay submerged?
Submarines with diesel-electric propulsion generally have to surface every couple of days to run the charging generator and recharge the batteries. However, with a special fuel cell system, subs can remain under water for longer. The present record – set by an HDW Type 212A submarine – is 14 days. If a submarine is unable to surface, the regulations require that the crew is able to survive for at least six days.
Naval Forces Mag knows how long submarines can stay submerged.
How long can submarines stay submerged?

How does the fuel cell system for submarines work?
ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems is the only supplier to offer an air-independent fuel cell propulsion system and has successfully commissioned numerous installations. For this type of supplementary energy generator, the sub requires a supply of liquid oxygen and hydrogen on board. The two fuel components are fed into the fuel cell, which converts them into electricity. It is like the process of electrolysis that you learn about in school – only in reverse. Besides the electric current generated, the only waste product is pure water.

What special requirements does a submarine diesel engine have to meet?
For operating in a submarine, an engine should at least be very quiet so that the sub is less audible. It should also be as small as possible to leave room for the very many other systems required for sustaining life and navigating under water. High power is also an important consideration, of course, so that the batteries can be charged as quickly as possible. And so that the sub has a long operating range, economical fuel consumption is equally essential. More recently, compliance with current exhaust emission specifications has become an added requirement for submarine diesels.

How long does it take to build a submarine?
In contrast with surface vessels, submarines move in three dimensions in space, and as distinct from aircraft, they have to be able to maintain a static position in the water even without propulsive power. As well as that technological challenge, there are a large number of life-sustaining, communication and navigation systems to be included in the construction process. And everything has to be brought together in the smallest of spaces. So every submarine design has to be very carefully conceived and planned. The coordination work between client, shipbuilder and supplier can occupy a number of years before the shipyard can start the actual process of building the boat, which likewise takes several years. The preparations for the development of the MTU Series 4000 submarine unit took two years and the development process proper up to delivery to the client will require five years.

How is a submarine built?
As is the general rule in shipbuilding, a submarine is built in sections. As the work progresses, the shipyard workers weld the sections together to build up the complete vessel. It is fascinating to see how all the bulkheads, decks and, in particular, the piping and ducting in the individual sections fit together so precisely when they are brought together. Because it operates under water, a submarine only has very few and very small openings to the outside. Therefore, anything that will not fit through the hatches of a sub – from the engine to the proverbial kitchen sink – has to be installed in the individual sections before they are assembled. This particular situation also has to be taken into account for the servicing and repair of all equipment installed on board. All spare parts have to be designed to fit through the hatches. So for MTU it is all the more important to supply an especially reliable and low-maintenance charging unit.

What is everyday life in a submarine like?
A submarine is in operation 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It is workplace, home and leisure space all at the same time too. In a sub, a lot of people are living together in a very confined space breathing an artificial atmosphere. For weeks on end they see no daylight and there is no day/night routine. Instead, the time is divided into four-hourly sections. Four hours on watch followed by four hours for eating, sleeping, showering or leisure. If ever there are problems, however, the crew members are immediately called back on duty even in their off-watch periods.

How is the crew accommodated?
Until a few years ago, crew members often had to share berths. Today, however, each crew member generally has his/her own bunk. It is not much wider than a person of average build and does not even offer enough overhead room to stretch your arms out. This means that more bunks can be fitted above one another and only a curtain provides the sleepers with a certain amount of screening from the general goings-on in the submarine. But because of the shift-working system in a submarine, there is never any peace and quiet. Only the captain has his/her own cabin so as to be able to work undisturbed on confidential documents.

How is the crew catered for?
At the beginning of a voyage, every inch of available space in the submarine is used to store food. The galley in a sub is very small. It is just about big enough for the ship’s cook to turn a pirouette. And providing a continual supply of meals for the other crew members means that the cook also works around the clock.

What might future submarines look like?
One of the next technological leaps for submarine applications will undoubtedly be the changeover in battery technology to lithium-based batteries. Compared with the lead-acid batteries generally used today, the maintenance work required by a lithium battery is minimal. What is more, a lithium battery can store many times more energy and be fully charged at any time. For submarines operating below the surface for long periods, that will substantially reduce their visibility in conventional diesel-electric mode. MTU Friedrichshafen has already taken this possibility into account and designed its new charging unit to work equally effectively with lead-acid or lithium batteries.
Copyright: MTU-Report, posted by Stefan Nitschke; Images: Thyssen Group Marine.

Tokyo to Move On with Ambitious Defence Acquisition Plans

Money is Expected to go Towards Patrol Aircraft and Ships

PRIME Minister Shinzo Abe’s cabinet has approved Japan’s largest ever defence budget of 4.98 trillion yen (US$42Bn; £28Bn). Ambitious procurement programmes to be funded by the budget increase will include 20 Maritime Patrol Aircraft (MPA) to deal with the “changing situation” around Japan, as stated by new Defence Minister Gen Nakatani. The procurement plans also list: five tilt-rotor aircraft (which have both airplane and helicopter functionalities); six stealth fighters; 30 amphibious vehicles; and an Airborne Early Warning (AEW) platform; the latter can detect ships and other aircraft from a long distance.
The Defence Ministry announced in November 2014 it has selected the Bell Boeing MV-22 OSPREY tilt-rotor aircraft. According to the five-year midterm National Defence Programme Guidelines unveiled in July 2014, as many as 17 tilt-rotor aircraft will be procured by fiscal 2018.

Some 15 countries are interested in buying or conducting training exercises with the MV-22 OSPREY tilt-rotor, including Japan. Two US Marine Corps aircraft are pictured here conducting exercises with the "Osumi" class landing ship JS "Shimokita" (LST 4002).
(Photo: US Navy)
Japan's cabinet has approved the record 4.98 trillion yen budget for defence spending amid a long-running maritime dispute with Beijing over some East China Sea islands - known as the Senkaku/Daioyu islands - that are claimed by both Japan and China. When looking at the unique geography of the region, the disputed islands are located only 16nm (30km) from the Japanese island of Yonaguni, which overlaps with Japan’s own unilaterally imposed Air Defence Identification Zone (ADIZ), but also covers Ieodo, a submerged rock that is the source of a territorial dispute between China and South Korea. According to Defence Minister Nakatani, the situation around Japan is changing. "The level of defence spending reflects the amount necessary to protect Japan's air, sea and land, and Guard the lives and property of our citizens", he said. Naval ships of the People's Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) were appearing more frequently near Japan's waters and Chinese fighter jets were being flown "abnormally close" to Japanese aircraft. The Defence Minister prompted criticism from Beijing, which said its maritime activities were "completely legitimate". Beijing itself has also seen a sharp increase in its official defence budget, which is more than two and half times larger than Japan's.
By Stefan Nitschke

Wednesday, 7 January 2015

Sensonor's MEMS Gyro Module Selected for SIMBAD RC System

The STIM210 three-axis gyro module developed by Norway’s Sensonor AS has been selected to mitigate effects of wave motion of a remote controlled variant of MBDA's SIMBAD twin launcher system. The high-precision gyro module, launched in 2011 and first introduced at the Sensors Expo in the United States in June that year, is the highest performance ITAR-free MEMS (Micro-Electromechanical Systems) gyro module available on the market today, according to Sensonor in November 2014. According to Sensonor's Vice President Sales & Marketing, Hans Richard Petersen, MEMS gyros will continue to advance in performance. The device is closing the performance gap to Fibre Optic Gyro (FOG) systems, representing a viable alternative to current solutions. It offers lower Cost, Size, Weight, and Power (CSWaP) consumption with high reliability and efficient integration into defence applications.

Weighing only 55 grams, the STIM210 gyro module displaces large, expensive, fragile, and prone-to-wear, current Fibre Optic Gyro (FOG) or mechanical gyro sensors.
(Photo: Sensonor/MBDA)