Monday, 29 February 2016

DIMDEX 2016 Preview

Tomorrow's Armed Forces' Needs

Roketsan Presents New Defence Solutions

The L-UMTAS long-range anti-tank missile can be integrated on various platforms, including helicopters, light assault aircraft, UAVs, land vehicles, stationary platforms, and naval platforms.
(All photos: Roketsan)

Less than a month to DIMDEX 2016, NAVAL FORCES looks at some of the latest defence solutions Roketsan, one of Turkey’s leading defence equipment manufacturers, will present in Doha. The country’s missile house par excellence offers a bundle of defence systems and solutions military forces need to cover most of today’s and tomorrow’s battlespace requirements. Roketsan announced that it will have on display the CİRİT laser-guided missile; the UMTAS long-range anti-tank missile; the OMTAS medium-range anti-tank missile; the HİSAR air defence missile system; and a completely new Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) rocket and launching system. All of which were originated and supported by the Turkish Ministry of Defence’s SSM (Savunma Sanayii Müsteşarlığı) armament procurement arm.
Also on display is Roketsan’s latest weapon system for agile manoeuvre forces, the Multi-Barrel Artillery Rocket Launching System (MBRLS). It is designed as a fire support system with a “mass lethal fire range” varying between 3km and 100km. MBRLS includes the T-107/122 (107/122mm) and T-122/300 multi-calibre (122/300mm) multi-barrel rocket launchers that are available in wheeled and tracked versions. Another innovation – called TEBER – is described by Roketsan as a new-generation Laser Guided Kit, consisting of a Semi-Active Laser (SAL) seeker and an Inertial Navigation System (INS) combined with a GPS/GNSS receiver. Roketsan expects growing interest in the TEBER system from Gulf countries.

The shipboard Roketsan ASW weapon system is designed to be used against subsurface targets at ranges varying between 500m and 2,000m.

Exceptional Innovations

Roketsan describes its 2.75” CİRİT laser-guided missile as a “unique all-up round missile” designed to eliminate light armoured stationary and moving targets with high precision and at affordable cost. Although CİRİT is designed for rotary-wing aircraft like the T-129 ATAK Turkish attack helicopter and AH-1W COBRA combat/support helicopter, the weapon has also been adapted to fixed-wing aircraft, Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), and both “stationary and moving land platforms”. CİRİT is a combat-proven system, Roketsan said, and it is the first weapon of this kind to be delivered to allied Armed Forces on the basis of series production contracts. The missile can be deployed from a smart launcher with “various configurations”, depending on customer requirements. Quoting a range of over 10km, the precision-guided weapon contains an Inertial Measurement Unit (IMU) based on Micro-Electro-Mechanical (MEMS) technology. Additionally, the warhead and rocket motor are insensitive against bullet impacts and liquid fluid fire. Under contract with Tawazun in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), CİRİT has been successfully integrated and is currently being deployed on AT- 802i border patrol aircraft. In addition, integration of the system is ongoing for Bahrain Air Force AH-1E COBRA attack/support helicopters.

The CİRİT laser-guided missile has been delivered to the Turkish Armed Forces in 2012 and to the UAE Armed Forces in 2014.

Another precision-guided weapon Roketsan is promoting in Doha, the UMTAS long-range anti-tank missile system, comes in two versions – one equipped with a laser seeker named L-UMTAS and a follow-up version featuring an imaging infrared (IIR) seeker. Both variants are labelled as “effective against all armoured threats.” According to the manufacturer, the development and qualification of L-UMTAS have been completed in 2015, and the system has demonstrated its capability to engage land targets (when launched from the T-129 ATAK helicopter) and targets at sea when adapted to and launched from the SH-60 SEA HAWK helicopter. With the success of recent test firings, production of the L-UMTAS missile has already been started for the Turkish Armed Forces, with the system scheduled for delivery in early 2016. UMTAS/L-UMTAS is capable of operating in all weather and day/night conditions in Fire-and-Forget and Fire-and-Update modes with a maximum combat range of 8km, according to Roketsan. The system’s Lock-On-Before Launch (LOBL), Lock-On-After Launch (LOAL), and Lock-On-Update capabilities enable the weapon to engage ‘masked’ targets.

SOM-J is offered as an anti-surface stand-off missile for F-35 JSF fighter aircraft.

Also on display is Roketsan’s next-generation Stand-Off Missile (SOM), which is a long-range (250km), fully autonomous Air-Launched Cruise Missile (ALCM) featuring low observable (‘stealth’) technologies and both a modern seeker head and warhead to engage highly defended stationary and moving targets on land and at sea. Designed as a version for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF), SOM-J is on offer as an “anti-surface stand-off missile” for carriage on the Turkish Air Force’s (TuAF; THK Türk Hava Kuvvetleri) upcoming F-35 fighter aircraft. Roketsan and Lockheed Martin’s Missiles and Fire Control division already signed a contract for aircraft integration. Both companies will jointly develop, produce, market, and support SOM-J for internal carriage on the JSF or external carriage on other aircraft. Roketsan expects flight tests of SOM-J from TuAF F-16 Block 40 fighter aircraft to begin during the first quarter of 2017. Series production is expected to begin in 2018.
Already under series production, the ‘basic’ SOM is already in use with the TuAF, which deploys the weapon from its F-4E/2020 Terminator and F-16 Block 40 fighter aircraft. Roketsan also signed a cooperation agreement with Airbus Defence and Space for integration on the Eurofighter TYPHOON fighter aircraft and other future platforms. Negotiations are also ongoing in the Gulf region.
By Stefan Nitschke

Thursday, 25 February 2016

Advance Welcome to DIMDEX 2016

"On behalf of the Qatar Armed Forces, and as Chairman of DIMDEX, I wish to welcome you to the show.

"DIMDEX 2016 is organised and hosted by the Qatar Armed Forces, and we are confident that the latest edition of the event will be delivered with the high level of professional excellence our VIP delegations, military officers, industry vendors and trade visitors have come to expect from DIMDEX.

"Under the leadership of our patron, His Highness Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al-Thani, Emir of the State of Qatar, DIMDEX reached record heights in 2014 by welcoming over 13,000 dedicated visitors, 184 exhibitors, and 82 VIP delegations from 58 countries. These statistics underline DIMDEX’s now international reputation as a leading maritime and naval defence exhibition and conference.

"DIMDEX 2016 promises to build on our past success, with an expected increase in number of exhibitors, greater exhibition space and an expansion in scope to cover new sectors such as maritime aviation, naval base security, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), maritime patrol aircrafts and coastal surveillance systems. As in previous years, DIMDEX 2016 will also feature the high-level MENC Conference offering a comprehensive insight into the key factors influencing the maritime defence industry in the region, VIP delegations and the visit of warships to Doha Commercial Port.

Dr T. A.  Al-Kuwari visiting the NAVAL FORCES 
Stand when DIMDEX and "NAFO" first penned their 
Cooperation Agreement that started a long term relationship
"With a mix of hundreds of industry vendors, buyers, experts and senior delegations in the superb surroundings of the Qatar National Convention Centre, DIMDEX 2016 provides a unique platform to meet and network with the people that matter, build partnerships and do business.

"The Qatar Armed Forces will continue their unwavering commitment to the success of DIMDEX and it will be an honour to welcome you to Doha in March 2016."

Brig. Dr. (Eng) Thani A. Al-Kuwari
Assistant Minister of State for Defence Affairs for Financial Affairs
and Chairman – DIMDEX

QNB Group is the Main Sponsor for DIMDEX 2016

QNB Group and the Organizing Committee of the Doha International Maritime Defense Exhibition and Conference (DIMDEX) have jointly announced that QNB Group is the Main Sponsor for DIMDEX 2016 at an Official Sponsorship Signing Ceremony.

Brig. Dr. (Eng) Thani A. Al-Kuwari (photo left), Assistant Minister of State for Defense Affairs for Financial Affairs and Chairman of DIMDEX said: 

“We are delighted to have the support of QNB Group, Qatar’s largest bank with a global presence strengthened even further with QNB Group as Main Sponsor of DIMDEX 2016.”

Mr. Abdulla Mubarak Al Khalifa (photo below, right), Executive General Manager, Chief Business Officer at QNB Group said: “QNB Group is proud to support DIMDEX 2016 due to its positive contribution to Qatar. In terms of Qatar’s economic development, DIMDEX welcomes
thousands of international visitors to Qatar and attracts major defense industry companies. DIMDEX also enhances Qatar’s international reputation by hosting delegations from over 50 countries together in Doha and is showcasing maritime defense technologies that are used to safeguard trade.”

QNB Group is the biggest bank in Qatar and a leading financial institution in the Middle East and Africa. QNB Group’s presence through its subsidiaries and associate companies extends to more than 27 countries across three continents providing a comprehensive range of advanced products and services.

The contract was signed by Staff Brigadier (Sea) Abdulbaqi S. Al-Ansari DIMDEX Deputy Chairman and DIMDEX Board Member, and by Mr. Abdulla Mubarak Al Khalifa, Executive General Manager, Chief Business Officer on behalf of QNB Group.

Following the Official Sponsorship Signing Ceremony was a diplomat briefing session held by the Qatar Armed Forces - the organizers and hosts of DIMDEX 2016 - for Ambassadors, Defense Attachés and the media at the Diplomatic Club, Doha.

“2016 is a notable year in the history of the show, as it marks the first edition of DIMDEX to be both organised and hosted by the Qatar Armed Forces. We are honoured by the huge international support received from participating nations, which has helped DIMDEX grow to become comparable in size and reputation with the largest shows of its type in the world,” the Chairman of DIMDEX said:

DIMDEX 2016 is expected to be the largest edition of the show to date, with new countries participating for the first time, exhibitors demonstrating new technologies, and an expansion in DIMDEX’s scope to cover new sectors such as maritime aviation, naval base security, Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), maritime patrol aircraft and coastal surveillance systems.

Official VIP delegations comprising of Ministers of Defence, Chiefs of Staff, Chiefs of navies, coastguard commanders and heads of defence industries had been invited to participate.

The panel invited DIMDEX 2016 visitors to tour warships berthed a short distance away from the exhibition in Doha Commercial Port during the event. The audience was also briefed about the security protocol and logistics for these visiting warships and their organised activities, including a sports tournament between the crews.

The panel summarised the format and content of the Middle East Naval Commanders Conference (MENC), a high-level conference that encourages international cooperation and exchange of information. The panel revealed the theme of this year’s conference is: “The Maritime Domain – The Centre of Gravity for the Regional Security Complex of the Arabian Gulf”, and how the speakers will address the issues from a range of military and non-military perspectives.

DIMDEX is a biennial event held under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani, Emir of the State of Qatar. Hosted and organised by the Qatar Armed Forces, DIMDEX 2016 will take place in Doha from 29 to 31 March 2016.

Wednesday, 24 February 2016

Standing-room only at MAST Asia briefing

Yes, it was standing-room only at MAST Asia briefing  in Tokyo this week, with over 120 attendees.  
According to CEO Warren Edge "...interest in Wednesday’s sponsors/VIPs/media briefing in Tokyo for MAST Asia 2017 well exceeded expectations."  

MAST Asia 2015 in Yokohama was the first-ever defence exposition and conference in Japan. MAST Asia repeats this in 2017 despite  Japanese Aerospace Show, autumn 2016.

During the media and industry briefing day in Tokyo, MAST Asia exhibition stand bookings and reservations were taken, and the top level sponsorship is now reserved and will be officially announced soon.

MAST Asia Chairman Professor Satoshi Morimoto (photo, left) the former Defence Minister, and current Advisor to Defence Ministerheaded the list of speakers, and outlined the plans to develop MAST Asia as Japan’s only credible international defence trade show, conference, and most productive networking facilitator.

The MAST Asia post-briefing event was also very well-attended, giving participants a chance to swap stories and insights in relaxed and social environs.  
"This is rather typical of the friendly, collegial atmosphere within the MAST organisation itself," said NAVAL FORCES magazine Co-Publisher Stephen Elliott.

"The NAVAL FORCES magazine team - and its parent the Mönch Publishing Group -  is thrilled to be the named lead media partner supporting MAST Europe 2016 and MAST Asia 2017 because MAST is very much in line with our strategic editorial mission and paradigm of current and future naval defence and maritime security - above, on and below the sea."

Prospective sponsors and exhibitors can sign up now by contacting any of the MAST team (Europe or Japan based). 

Ahead of MAST Asia 2017, attendees to MAST Europe this June will have the opportunity to meet key Japanese government figures in Amsterdam. 
Find out more about MAST Asia 2017

 MAST Europe 2016 – including the complete Amsterdam conference timetable via 


Evac Launches New Electro-Chemical Ship's Wastewater Treatment Plant

ORCA IV is Evac’s new electrochemical waste water treatment plant designed to treat black and grey water aboard multiple vessel types, including navy and coast guard vessels, offshore platforms and other marine-based platforms. ORCA IV is a purely electrolytic waste water treatment plant that fulfills the requirements of IMO MEPC 227 (64).

The compact and modular design of the ORCA IV (photo, right) makes it ideal for retrofitting to existing vessels, as well as for installation on new ships. It operates on a continuous basis, is fully automatic in normal operation, and requires low maintenance only once every 3 months.  The hydraulic load for black and grey vacuum waste water treatment ranges from 1500 to 70000 liters per day, depending on the model. The system does not require chemicals and there is no need for a separate sludge tank.

According to Evac, the ORCA IV has a low installation cost, offers high efficiency, and is suitable for installation in small and narrow spaces. Submitted to NAFOMAG.COM via press release

Tilt-Rotor by Russian Helicopters Makes its First Flight

A unique unmanned tilt-rotor has successfully completed a new testing stage by performing its first  
flight.  The aircraft was created by VR-Technologies, an innovative design bureau, part of Russian Helicopters. A number of oil and gas companies and various government agencies are already showing interest in the unique project (photo, right, model).
"The development of the unique aircraft started in 2015.  Since then, we have achieved significant results and have already started the first stage of flight tests," said the CEO of VR-Technologies Alexander Okhonko (photo, left).  

The project is implemented as part of the Speed program adopted by Russian Helicopters. The main objective during the development of the unmanned aircraft was to create a flying test bed to determine the efficiency of design layouts and search for innovative solutions.  

A number of potential customers are ready to buy the unmanned complex for tasks related to monitoring and environmental control in areas with no possibility to use air strips.  The complex can maintain smoke control in forests and restrained urban conditions, make aerial photographs, conduct monitoring of oil and gas facilities, and transport medical supplies to hard-to-reach areas.  

The project of the future multi-role unmanned aerial vehicle was first unveiled by Russian Helicopters in August 2015 during MAKS International Air Show. 

Tilt-rotors are a special class of rotorcraft that have a number of advantages over traditional aerial vehicles built up according to the airplane or helicopter schemes.  They can make vertical takeoffs and landings on restricted landing pads while transporting passengers or cargo with greater speed and over longer distances than traditional helicopters. 

Russian Helicopters performed the tests of the tilt-rotor at Skolkovo Innovation Centre (photo, below- right). 

VR Technologies was created in 2014 as an innovative design bureau of Russian Helicopters to provide competitive scientific and technological solutions for helicopters.  

Russian Helicopters, (part of State Corporation Rostec), is one of the global leaders in helicopter production and the only helicopter design and production powerhouse in Russia. Russian Helicopters was founded in 2007 and is headquartered in Moscow. 

The company comprises five helicopter production facilities, two design bureaus, a spare parts production and repair facility, as well as an aftersale service branch responsible for maintenance and repair in Russia and all over the world. Its helicopters are popular among Russian ministries and state authorities (Ministry of Defence, Ministry of Internal Affairs, Emergency Control Ministry), operators (Gazpromavia, UTair), major Russian corporations. In 2014 its IFRS revenues increased 22,8% to RUB 169,8 billion. Deliveries reached 271 helicopters.

State Corporation Rostec is a Russian corporation founded in 2007 for the purpose of promoting the development, production and export of hi-tech civilian and military industry products. It comprises 700 organisations, nine of which have now been formed as holding companies of the military-industrial complex, five of them are involved in civil industries and 22 are directly controlled. Rostec's portfolio includes recognised brands such as Avtovaz, Kamaz, Russian Helicopters, and VSMPO-AVISMA. Rostec's organisations are located in 60 constituent entities of the Russian Federation and supply their products to the markets of more than 70 countries. 

Tuesday, 16 February 2016

DIMDEX 2016 Preview

Gulf States Navies Modernise

Gulf States Navies are heading toward multipurpose, re-equipping, and training suited to extended patrol, EEZ protection, coastal security, and anti-terrorism duties.

The first of two new “Abu Dhabi” class corvettes based on the COMANDANTI design was delivered to the UAE in 2012. Her main armament to deal with surface, subsurface, and air threats includes one OTO Melara 76/62 Super Rapid Gun and two MARLIN-WS 30mm cannons.
(Photo: Courtesy of UAE Navy/Fincantieri)

Don’t Underestimate GCC Countries

The Gulf Cooperation Council’s (GCC) approach to establish a ‘GCC naval force’ can be summed up by one of its credos: “Interoperability wins. Create a joint maritime force.” GCC’s preparedness, combat efficiency, and cooperation could make the ‘GCC Navy’ a deterrent force in the region. Naval observers agree that countering the Iranian naval threat requires new longer-range, multipurpose combatants like frigates and corvette-sized ships, longer-range patrol craft, transport ships, and an improved mine countermeasures capacity. A recently published report said that “threats to regional waters over the past year [2014] have extended from the Strait of Hormuz further south to the Bab Al-Mandal gateway in Yemen and north to the Red Sea.” UAE Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed said in The National, a UAE-based electronic news publication, on 19 August 2013 that the international community has made great strides in fighting piracy off the coast of Somalia; but, the UAE believes that maritime piracy, notably in the Gulf of Aden and the western Indian Ocean, remains a serious global concern. “Counter piracy remains a top priority for the Emirate as maritime security is an important factor in the economic growth of the GCC region”, he said.
Some of the GCC member states fought hard in 2014 and 2015 to undertake a continued modernisation of their fleet inventories, including the Sultanate of Oman’s strategic role as the GCC’s gateway to the Persian Gulf and Indian Ocean rim hub. Additionally, Oman’s location geographically close to conflict fragmented Yemen poses opportunities for the GCC to achieve a peaceful resolution to Yemen’s ongoing conflict. Yemen’s admission to the GCC could be longer term goal, Arab media reports stated. However, Oman is the only Arab country that declined to participate in the Saudi Arabian-led intervention in Yemen.

Robust GCC Response at Sea

There are several options for the GCC member countries to participate in the envisioned GCC naval force. First, GCC member states could offer much of their patrol ship forces for patrolling international waters from the Persian Gulf to as far away as the Gulf of Aden, off the coast of Yemen, in a matter of months. These efforts, presently known as the Arab Navy Task Force, may be able to ensure security of international waters in the region, also including the Gulf of Oman and the Arabian Sea. Both the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Oman were able in recent years to further modernise their patrol ship and corvette forces as a result of several ambitious shipbuilding programmes: the UAE Navy (UAEN) took delivery of three of six ordered “Al Baynunah” class missile corvettes and one “Abu Dhabi” class corvette; the Royal Navy of Oman (RNO) commissioned into service three 99m, 2,700 tons displacement “Al-Shamikh” class (Project KHAREEF) corvettes and ordered four “Al Ofouq” class Offshore Patrol Vessels (OPVs). One unit of the latter has been accepted and two additional units are in the process of outfitting. Both missile-armed corvettes and helicopter-carrying OPVs can play an important role in counter-piracy operations in the region. The UAE has also funded its major Fast Attack Craft (FAC) project – the 55.8m “Ganthut” class built under the FALAJ 2 programme. The first unit, “Salalah” (P 252) was launched in 2012 by the Italian shipbuilder Fincantieri. Under license, UAE’s Etihad Shipbuilding will assemble four additional units that are expected to replace the fleet’s aging “Ban Yas” class (Fr. Lürssen Werft TNC 45 design) FAC. In sum, three types of surface combatants – missile corvettes, OPVs and FAC – could be deliver extra capabilities to the GCC naval force. Oman’s three Project KHAREEF corvettes are larger and more seaworthy than warships of other Gulf nations as Oman’s southern coastline borders the open waters of the Indian Ocean.
However, much more is required to fill in existing capability gaps: new frigate-sized ships in Saudi Arabia; new and upgraded Mine Countermeasures Vessels (MCMVs) in Saudi Arabia and UAE; unmanned systems – Unmanned Surface Vehicles (USVs) – in the UAE; multimission-capable naval helicopters in Saudi Arabia, UAE, and Oman; Maritime Patrol Aircraft (MPA) in Saudi Arabia, Oman, and the UAE; Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) systems in UAE. The latter are to defend against the Iranian submarine threat in the region; but, their procurement requires a “fair assessment” of the threat and a “perfect knowledge” of the submarines’ characteristics, capabilities, missions, activities, area of patrols, and weaknesses, according to UAEN sources.
Keeping alert to the Iranian undersea and mine threat, the UAEN awarded a contract to Fr. Lürssen Werft and ATLAS Elektronik GmbH in 2012 for the modernisation of two ex-German Navy “Frankenthal” class MCMVs. Renamed the “Al Murjan” class, the vessels have received installation of the ATLAS Elektronik Integrated Mine Countermeasures System (IMCMS) at Abu Dhabi Ship Building (ADSB). 
Although there have been serious delays in surface ship and maritime aviation procurements in Saudi Arabia during 2014 and 2015, the Government in Riyadh is keen to improve its naval capabilities mainly under the auspices of the Saudi Naval Expansion Plan (SNEP II). It calls for the acquisition of new frigates, corvettes, and MCMVs. Additionally, there are plans to develop an own submarine force. Media reports said that Riyadh seems to be interested in procuring diesel-electric submarines of “Western design”, Saudi media reports said, with thyssenkrupp Marine Systems’ Type 209 design having been discussed. In 2013, reports stated that five boats are to be purchased for €12Bn (US$13Bn). Smaller then Iran’s KILO submarine, the Type 209 will be better suited to operations in the Gulf, a task the Royal Saudi Naval Force will need considerable preparation to achieve, however.
There were also unconfirmed reports from Abu Dhabi that also the UAEN may be committed to acquire a submarine capability. However, it is unclear for the moment what type of submarine and weapon outfit is required. Senior UAEN officers publically addressed the issue at the Gulf Naval Commanders Conference held in Abu Dhabi on 6 November 2013.

Good News 

New corvettes and patrol ships are also on the wish list of Bahrain and Kuwait. Due to its small size, the 1,200 strong Royal Bahrain Navy (RBN) is interested in procuring three new corvettes, one specifically to replace the single “Sabha” class (ex-“Perry” class USS “Jack Williams”) frigate. The new corvettes will also replace two “Al Manama” class corvettes built by Fr. Lürssen Werft for commissioning in 1987 and 1988. This is a “good news story”, according to leaders from across the GCC who met at the GCC Doha Summit in December 2014. These hulls will likely augment the patrol craft fleet until a new programme commences.
There are also good news from Kuwait: ADSB signed an agreement with the Kuwait Ministry of Defence to build and supply landing craft and high-speed protection vessels worth over AED260M (US$70.77M). A total of eight vessels of varying sizes and capabilities will be designed and built by the UAE’s premier shipbuilder to handle the task of protecting Kuwait’s territorial waters and maritime facilities from all threats. Under the contract, the Kuwait Ministry of Defence (MoD) will receive boats with state-of-the-art equipment, technology, and advanced protection capabilities to ensure they are able to carry out required tasks efficiently and accurately. According to the Kuwait MoD, the aim of this contract is to improve the security control of the country’s maritime boundaries. The vessels will have “high-level” requirements, making them “globally competitive” protection vessels, said the MoD. Following the brokered deal with the Eurofighter consortium in September 2015 over 28 TYPHOON fighter aircraft, Kuwait is looking to modernise its Armed Forces amid increased security concerns in the region linked to the rise of the jihadist Islamic State (IS) group and sectarian conflicts. Additionally, the Kuwait MoD signed a contract for the purchase of 24 Airbus-built CARACAL helicopters in November 2015.


All naval fleets in the Gulf region pose significant challenges, with some of them remained largely unchanged since the early or mid-1990s. However, the next few years will see the modernisation of the force structures – mainly in Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the UAE – with the introduction of new multipurpose platforms (frigates, corvettes, OPVs), FAC, MPA, and rotary-wing aircraft, as well as the modernisation of existing assets (e.g. MCMVs). With these new acquisitions, the ‘GCC Navy’ will become reality.

Thursday, 11 February 2016

MAST Europe Call for Papers Over-Subscribed

The MAST Technical Conference Committee had an immense task in allocating the best papers for this year’s conference programme, and had to turn away a record number of abstracts than for any previous MAST.

The highly decorated and acclaimed MAST-Amsterdam 2016 Conference Chairman, Ir. André van Koningsbrugge, COMO RNL Navy (ret.) assured NAVAL FORCES magazine that the submitting authors will be informed of the committee’s decision via the MAST secretariat on 16 February. According to Koningsbrugge, the timetable will show that such a response has prompted the august MAST Organising committee enlarge the conference to four parallel technical sessions that are necessary to accommodate such a high number of high-quality papers within the structure of MAST.

Warren Edge,  MAST CEO, encouraged delegates and participants to register early: "Early-bird delegate registration is open until only 15 April, at which time the rates will increase. 

"So, it is best for interested specialists, companies, and VIPs from academia, armed forces, naval academies, relevant governmental bodies and maritime organisations to book their conference seats ASAP as space will be limited, considering the vastly expanded programme and accompanying exhibition.  
For more information visit and download the MAST Prospectus. 

Monday, 1 February 2016

NAVAL FORCES 2016: Missions in Report - Part 1

After 35 years since the launch of NAVAL FORCES, 2016 marks the 60th anniversary of its parent the Mönch Publishing Group – the only family-owned global defence and security-focused publishing house.  

As part of celebrating six-decades (three generations!) of success, Mönch and NAVAL FORCES are making some special efforts in support of key naval defence and maritime security conferences, expositions and symposium.  
 Mönch CEO & Publisher V. Schwitchenberg 

signing agreement with DIMDEX, 
one of several strategic partnerships 
over the decades

Much of Mönch’s success is due to a strong bond with the global Military-Industrial Complex, that NAVAL FORCES has served much better than any publication or publisher of its kind. Personal and professional relationships – the one-to-one human contact and meeting of the minds – and accessibility on all sides is peerless at Mönch. 

Another attribute of its success is due to Mönch’s unshakable determination to provide technical analysis and understanding for its readers.  Hence, this year’s NAVAL FORCES events participation in particular underscores this mission.  Mönch is about more than arms and defence sales.  Mönch dedicates itself to enlightening its professional community of readers with knowledge and information it can use to develop and succeed. 

You will be able to find Mönch and NAVAL FORCES prominently involved in these events around the globe in the first half of 2016, bringing unmatched insight and influence into the decision making chain at all levels of armed forces, government and industry

DIMDEX – Doha; 29-31 March 2016. Hosted and organised by the Qatar Armed Forces, the 5th edition of Doha International Maritime Defence Exhibition & Conference – DIMDEX 2016 will have the first-ever Arabic-English Official DIMDEX Show Daily produced by sister Mönch magazines, AL DEFAIYA and NAVAL FORCES.  Contact NAVAL FORCES for information on how exhibitors can capitalise on this unique marketing tool.  


 S. Elliott esq meets with head of 

Iran's R.G. Navy at DIMDEX
DIMDEX witnesses continuous growth since its founding in 2008.  It has worked hard to become the leading event in the international maritime defence and security calendar. DIMDEX is much more than just an exhibition: the three-day event exclusively hosts the international, strategic Middle East Naval Commanders Conference (MENC), with participants selected from a global array of top naval commanders of visiting warships to Doha, along with elite VIP delegations from the world’s cooperative navies.  
AL DEFAIYA Editor-in-Chief General Ismail Abou Salim 
leads the team at DIMDEX

DIMDEX is a unique opportunity to seize opportunities and a position for current and future naval requirements of the region.  It provides a gateway to the lucrative GCC-states and developing MENA market. NAVAL FORCES experienced first-hand the vast occasion to network with top-level defence decision-makers, such as: senior representatives from the Qatar Armed Forces; foreign VIP delegations; and, industrial leaders from around the world.

IMarEST / INEC – Bristol; 26-28 April 2016. The International Naval Engineering Conference and Exposition (INEC) is the foremost professional event in the naval engineer's calendar and seeks to build on previous successes and expand its international credentials in 2016. This is the second time NAVAL FORCES collaborates with IMarEST to raise increase the promotion of naval engineering and the goals / ambitions of the parent organisation IMarEST in fostering the next generation of naval engineers and development of new technologies.

BALT MILITARY EXPO – Gdańsk; 20-22 June 2016. BME’s partnership with Poland’s General Command of the Branches of Armed Forces Inspectorate for the Navy is critical as the Polish Navy and other armed forces are implementing the Technical Upgrade Plan 2012 and the 2013-2022 Polish Armed Forces Development Programme.  BME’s has close physical and ideological ties to the sea and the coast, focusing on: maritime security, latest defence systems, and SAR.  

Dr S Nitschke, Editor-in-Chief NAVAL FORCES
meets with exhibitors during the NATCON
session breaks
The Polish Armed Forces and National Security Services use this opportunity to examine and scrutinise products and system solutions by developers and manufacturers from around the globe. NAVAL FORCES is encouraged by the deep Polish, NATO and broader international participation in this unique event, attended by the armed forces, civilian / commercial offshore professionals, foreign diplomatic staff based in Warsaw, international military industrial partners, and procurement officers across the maritime-naval spectrum.

NATCON – Gdansk; June 20-22, 2016. This is the Seventh International Tech-Science Conference "Naval Technologies for Defence and Security", hosted by maritime technology development leader OBR CTM SA Maritime Technology Research and Development Centre. We have the pleasure participate in this particular edition of the NATCON International Conference. While still under Communist Party control, NATCON originated in 1987 during a symposium on military maritime technology organised by CTM as a forum to exchange ideas and research about maritime sciences and technologies. This event became NATCON Conference organised by “CTM” and the Polish Naval University’s Institute of Naval Weapons. 

Elliott (left) meets with  Poland's 

Naval Inspectorate Head 
VAdm Richard Demchuk (centre)  
and Marek Buczkowski the Director 
of BME (right)
Traditionally hosted alongside the BALT MILITARY EXPO, the goal of this programme is to foster an international Baltic Sea-based platform to exchange naval defence and maritime security technology through presentations and dialogue between the scientific community, the industry and end-users.  

There are three over-arching themes for the NATCON 2016 main topics

  1. Naval Combat Systems; 
  2. Maritime Security Systems; and, 
  3. Naval Technology Exploitation. 

NOTE: Working closely with CTM, NAVAL FORCES will share many of these findings with its readership throughout the year in its magazine (digital & print) and blog articles (with podcast and video links).  

Dr Nitschke greets MAST G-M. Mr W. Edge 

during a previous MAST
MAST Europe – Amsterdam; 21-23 June 2016. Following on its ground-breaking success having been the first-ever defence expo and symposium in Japan in 2015, MAST comes home to Europe in 2016 before returning to Japan in 2017 at the behest of the Japanese defence ministry and industries.  NAVAL FORCES has been a proponent of MAST in its early years; but, as it is now more than just “another niche expo,” NAVAL FORCES has become an active partner in MAST for the past four years with membership on its technical committee.   

Long-established as the only international conference and trade-show dedicated to senior-level technologists in maritime defence and security, MAST promotes debate among experts from surface, undersea, and air & space domains, giving new perspectives on developments to meet future capabilities.  MAST offers participants unmatched, diverse global profile of participants, delivering solutions for today and tomorrow’s naval problems through lively discussion, discovery and debate. 

Elliott (far left) & Nitschke (second from right) are welcomed 
onto the MAST Steering Committee by Edge (centre) and 
P. Donvin (far right)as proposed by S. West (second from left) 
Atlas UK
Perhaps what is most important from NAVAL FORCES’ perspective is that all papers presented at MAST are exclusive and only available at MAST.  Impressive line-ups of speakers deliver ‘views from the top’ that set the themes for “MAST week.” Plenary speakers offer debate on additional key topical/regional issues. Within the framework, this creates, parallel technical sessions with speakers who have world-leading credentials in their specialist fields – notably, many appear at other conferences as a keynote speaker.

NOTE: NAVAL FORCES will provide insights and additional reports on key presentations from MAST Europe, after the event, throughout the rest of 2016.

This and the following issues of NAVAL FORCES will have exclusive and in-depth coverage of topics and learnings from these events. You are encouraged to keep abreast of these events through your dedicated readership of NAVAL FORCES magazine and its popular blog (, if not through active participation in these worthy events.

Too Soon To Tell?

Air Power Over Syria Faced With Proxy War Risk

The nuclear-powered aircraft carrier “Charles de Gaulle” (R 91) began airstrikes against Islamic State (IS) targets in Syria on 23 November 2015, 10 days after the terrorist attacks in Paris, with her air component consisting of 31-34 aircraft of different types. The carrier is shown here sailing in formation with the German Navy’s Type F122 frigate “Augsburg” (F 213).
(Photo: German Navy)
Proxy War
An often forgotten issue that is relevant to the Syrian Civil War is the fact that the conflict has transformed into a nearly full-scale proxy war. The term ‘proxy war’ is most typical of the ongoing conflict in Syria. The conflict not only involves Syria’s neighbours and the regional powers Iran and Saudi Arabia, but also major Western powers – France, the UK and the US – and numerous fighters from more than 25 countries. Moscow has warned Washington of the risk of a ‘proxy war’ in the Middle East after the US said it would send Special Forces to Syria. After US warplanes have started intercepting Russian aircraft over Syria at the beginning of the campaign, there are now signs that the US is now turning the Russian effort to save Syria from greater suffering to a ‘proxy war’ of the super powers. Zbigniew Brzeziński, a former Carter Administration national security adviser, said: “Russia launched air attacks at Syrian elements that are sponsored, trained, and equipped by the Americans, inflicting damage and causing casualties”, and asked Washington to convey to Moscow “the demand that it ceases and desists from military actions that directly affect American assets.”
Where key players stand on Assad or not, is the premier question when assessing recent month’s airstrikes in Syria. Russia, which has returned to the Middle East through a direct military intervention in Syria, was literally invited by the Assad regime to put down rebellions with the help of air power. However, as shown in recent months, Russia has also ‘tripped’ into other regional players’ spheres of influence in the region, including those of Turkey, the Gulf countries, the Kurds, Jordan, and Israel.
Moscow’s military intervention in the Syrian Civil War began on 30 September 2015, following a formal request by the Syrian government. The activities consisted of airstrikes against militant groups opposed to the Assad regime primarily in the northwestern part of the country. Russia, which is the only foreign power that has its military assets openly deployed in the country, always claims the attacks were against Islamic State (IS) positions. However, according to reports, the Russian Air Force’s airstrikes may have targeted positions held by the Army of Conquest coalition, including the Saudi/Turkish-backed al-Nusra Front and the Salafi-Jihadi coalition.
Meanwhile, Moscow has stepped up its military presence in Syria, deploying 12 Su-25 ground-attack aircraft; 12 Su-24 interdiction aircraft; six Su-34 fighter-bombers; four Su-30 multirole combat aircraft; and 15 helicopters (including Mi-24 attack helicopters), plus a yet unspecified number of  Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) for reconnaissance purposes. On 1 October, the Russian Defence Ministry stated it had deployed over 50 planes.

Schematic representation showing the major players backing each side in the Syrian Civil War.
(Map: Courtesy of Business Insider)

Franch, UK Intensify Airstrikes
Since about late September 2014, a large coalition – including the US, UK, France, Belgium, Denmark, Australia, Canada, as well as the Sunni countries Bahrain, Jordan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) – has carried out about 3,000 attacks on IS-held strongholds and territories in Syria. Germany, following the terrorist attacks in Paris on 13 November 2015, joined the anti-IS coalition last January, providing up to six TORNADO reconnaissance aircraft, refueling capacities, and up to 1,200 military personnel in addition to a single frigate. France’s President François Hollande, met the leaders of the US, Russia, Germany, and Britain separately over four days last November and December to build a global military coalition to defeat IS following the Paris attacks. However, Germany will not join countries like France, the UK, the US, and Russia in conducting air strikes. There has traditionally been reluctance to engage in military missions abroad in the German society, so the decision by the German Parliament to take direct action in Syria has been largely met with support.
Since mid-November 2015, French military aircraft are conducting air strikes in Syria. During Opération CHAMMAL, aircraft hit key IS facilities, dropping between 16 and 20 GBU-12 PAVEWAY II laser-guided bombs during each raid on the city of Raqqa. Six RAFALE fighter aircraft, one to two Maritime Patrol Aircraft (MPA), and a Boeing C-135FR STRATOTANKER have been stationed at Al Dhafra Air Base in the UAE. Additionally, three Dassault MIRAGE 2000D and three MIRAGE 2000N fighters, as well as a Boeing E-3F SENTRY Airborne Electronic Warfare & Control (AEW&C) aircraft have been stationed at al-Azraq Air Base in Jordan.
A major contribution is underway from the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier “Charles de Gaulle” (R 91), which encompasses the French Task Force 50 with 18 RAFALE fighters, eight SUPER ÉTENDARD strike aircraft, and two Northrop Grumman E-2C HAWKEYE AEW&C aircraft. The Task Force, which was deployed to the Eastern Mediterranean Sea during the second half of November 2015, launched its first air strikes on 23 November.
After the UK Parliament overwhelmingly backed the UK government’s motion to extend Operation SHADER early December 2015, UK air raids over Syria includes four TORNADO GR4 aircraft that are being operated from Royal Air Force (RAF) Air Base Akrotiri in Cyprus. Initial air raids were targeted at the IS-held Omar oil fields in eastern Syria as part of the US-led coalition operation, codenamed Operation TIDAL WAVE II. GR4s and TYPHOON FGR4s targeted the oil installation by using laser-guided PAVEWAY IV bombs, of which each aircraft was carrying three weapons. The GR4s flew alongside allied aircraft and were refueled in flight by a VOYAGER airborne tanker. In total, the UK deployed 10 GR4 strike aircraft, six Eurofighter TYPHOONs, 10 REAPER drones, and two large spy aircraft in the region. According to the RAF, daily air raids include five missions with two aircraft each; many of the airstrikes are being carried out at night to try to limit the risk of civilian casualties.

Coming Together
Canada joined the coalition in April 2015. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s cabinet sent a total of nine aircraft, six of them C/F-18 HORNET fighters. However, on 20 October 2015, Prime Minister-elect Trudeau announced the impending withdrawal of Canadian air forces from the theatre. 
Australia’s part in the coalition efforts over Syria is Operation OKRA that was initiated in August 2014. The Australian Defence Force (ADF) deployed a number of different aircraft in the fight against IS, including six F/A-18 HORNETs, one E-7A WEDGETAIL AWACS (Airborne Early Warning and Control System) aircraft, and one Airbus KC30A MRTT (Multi-Role Tanker Transport). All of them are being operated from Al Minhad Air Base in the UAE. During September 2015 alone, a total of 18 sorties were flown over Syria.

On 30 September 2015, Russia started military intervention in the Syrian Civil War, consisting of airstrikes primarily in the northwestern part of Syria against militant groups opposed to the Syrian government. Pictured is a multifunctional Sukhoi Su-34 fighter-bomber at Hmeimim Air Base in Syria.
(Photo: Courtesy of Astafyev)

Russia’s airstrikes against Syria are its first military operation since the collapse of the former Soviet Union, with more than 550 air raids conducted against ground targets and the first joint bombing mission performed by Russian Sukhoi Su-25 fighters and Syrian Air Force MiG-29 aircraft during the first half of January 2016.
(Photo: Courtesy of CIGeography)

Arab States and…
It was found that Sunni Arab states were concerned that Iranian arms transfers are changing the balance of power in the region. As a consequence, the Arab League gave its members ‘green light’ to arm the Syrian rebels on 6 March 2013. At the Arab league summit in Doha three weeks later, the organization recognised the National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces as the legitimate representatives of the Syrian people. ISIS’ rapid gains in Syria and Iraq have raised alarm in Saudi Arabia, the largest and most influential Gulf state. The Saudi government has already agreed to train moderate rebel fighters on its soil, according to US officials. Strike missions are being flown mainly by F-15S EAGLE and TORNADO fighter-bombers. Riyadh ordered 84 new-build F-15SAs and close to 70 kits to upgrade their existing F-15S fleet to the SA configuration in July 2015, making the F-15SA the most advanced production F-15 EAGLE ever built, according to company representatives. Bahrain, also a key US ally in the region, hosts the US Navy’s Fifth Fleet. As a regularly participant in US-led coalitions, its involvement in the airstrikes is not surprising. The countries’ contribution consists of four F-16 fighter-bombers apparently flying out of al-Azraq Air Base in Jordan.
The Jordanian Air Force joined the US-led bombing of IS in Syria with at last four F-16 fighter aircraft on 24 December 2014, during which one airplane was shot down over Syria and its pilot captured and executed. The UAE was previously reported to have offered to support the US attacks against IS, flown by F-16 and MIRAGE 2000 fighter aircraft, and the country is also hosting Australian combat aircraft on its soil. Additionally, F-16 fighter jets from Morocco, also presently stationed in the UAE, are used for the Saudi Arabian-led intervention in Yemen. 
And finally, there is Qatar. The Gulf state had already flown a number of humanitarian flights to help anti-IS efforts in Iraq; but, its involvement in the military strikes in Syria significantly raises its commitment. Air strikes are flown by MIRAGE 2000 fighter-bombers.

…Turkey, Egypt Deploy Too
Together with Saudi Arabia and Qatar, Turkey has provided rebels in Syria with arms and other military equipment, thus tensions between Syria and Turkey significantly worsened after Syrian forces shot down a Turkish fighter jet in June 2012. Turkey’s Operation MARTYR YALÇEN involved airstrikes against IS headquarters, an IS gathering point in Syria, and an area west of Kobane, with F-16 fighter-bombers operated from the air bases at Diyarbakir and Dyarbakir. Additionally, reconnaissance missions were flown by unmanned aircraft taking off from Batman Air Base in the southeastern Anatolia region. On 22 July 2015, Ankara agreed to let the US use Incirlik Air Base in the southern part of the country to launch air attacks against IS, a deal that was seen as a major shift in policy. On 24 November 2015, Turkish air defence shot down a Russian fighter-bomber aircraft that apparently had violated Turkish airspace despite prior Turkish warnings.

The Pentagon released the imagery of a compound near Ar Raqqah attacked by US Air Force F-22 RAPTOR stealth fighters before and after the raid conducted by the aircraft.
(Photo: Courtesy of Department of Defense)

With all these measures of air power, there remain several questions unanswered: Why is the coalition to be rather limited in its efforts to push back IS forces? Does the coalition really have a valuable overall concept? Are the weapons not effective enough? Is the intelligence provided to the coalition sufficient for achieving the desired effects? After all, everyone knows that airstrikes can be effective, but you need a ground component to go along with them. When is this going to happen and by whom?

By Jürgen Pöppelmann