Reprinted with permission from AMI HOT NEWS, an internet publication AMI International, PO Box 30, Bremerton, Washington, 98337.
From the June 2004 Issue
SWEDEN-Viking Program Dead?
On 02 June 2004, the Danish Government released its new white-paper Danish Defence Agreement 2005-2009 outlining Denmark’s new defense posture. One of the provisions was for the phasing out of Denmark’s Submarine Force, which effectively eliminated the Danish from the Viking Submarine Program. Denmark was one of the remaining two participants in the Viking Program, with Sweden being the other. Norway, the third participant, officially canceled its involvement in the Viking Program in April 2002 due to funding shortfalls.
Original plans were for the Danish Navy to purchase up to four Viking class submarines beginning in 2007. However, since 2003 it was reported that the Danish Navy would purchase two used Swedish Vastergotland class submarines instead of purchasing the new Viking class submarines, saving the Danish Navy over DKR 2B (US$325M) and further delaying the Viking in regards to Denmark. The sale of the Vastergotlands from Sweden would also reduce their Submarine Force from seven units to the required level of five units again allowing Sweden to delay its Viking participation until a much later date.
However, with the Danish Navy now departing the submarine business, the Viking Program, although not yet official, appears to be dead for the Swedish as well. With a requirement for five hulls over a decade away, it would make absolutely no sense to procure minimal numbers of hulls with technology that will be over two decades old when construction would actually start. When Sweden’s Submarine Force does finally meet the end of its useful service life around 2019, it is questionable if Kockums will still be in the business of designing submarines. Therefore, if there is a follow-on class it may well be a HDW/Kockums design.
From the July 2004 Issue
CHINA-Surprise, a New Submarine is Rolled Out
In early 2004, China launched the first of a new class of submarine from Wuhan shipyard. Reporting from July 2004 indicate that this is the first time the new submarine has been observed publicly, virtually a surprise to sources outside China.
From AMI’s analysis, the submarine appears to be based on the Russian Amur 1850 design, perhaps a larger version than the 1850. However, this has not been confirmed. In fact, Russian sources responding to AMI’s query reported,” … does not belong to Amur type since Russia did not supply the submarines of this type to China and did not grant the rights for their license construction.”
If true, this suggests that this is an indigenous design developed by China even though it is amazingly similar to the Amur 1850. Identified as the Yuan class, the submarine is a diesel powered attack submarine and appears to have followed the commissioning of the last Ming (Type 035) class vessel which was commissioned at the end of 2002 at the Wuhan shipyard. If the submarine began construction in mid-2002, it could have easily been launched by early 2004 and may be commissioned by late 2005 or early 2006. It is undetermined how many of the new Yuan class will be built, however, if the People’s Liberation Army-Navy (PLAN) expects to maintain current diesel boat force levels (round 51 units), the sea service will probably build at least twenty units of the Yuan class to replace the aging Romeo class and the oldest units of the Ming class. Of note, Wuhan shipyard has consistently operated two submarine construction lines since the late 1960s (currently Song and Yuan classes).
Currently, the PLAN is involved in three diesel submarine procurement including the Song class of which seven units have already commissioned, the new Yuan class as well as the procurement of eight additional Kilo (Project 636) class submarines from Russia. This new program suggests that China will continue to build two classes of indigenous submarines while procuring foreign-built submarines from Russia in order to keep its industrial shipbuilding base intact while at the same time importing sorely needed technology from foreign sources.
From the August 2004 Issue
Proposed Revision of Naval Shipbuilding Plan
In August 2004, the US Navy (USN) announced its Proposed FY-06 Shipbuilding Plan, which has sent shock waves through the naval community. What has Navy and industry officials concerned is the fact that only four ships are scheduled to be constructed in FY-06, which is a reduction of two ships from what was proposed in the FY05-09 Shipbuilding Plan. The worst hit by the proposed shipbuilding plan is General Dynamics Bath Iron Works (BIW) Shipyard.
With the last three DDG-51 s being awarded in FY-05, BIW will have to wait until FY-08 for the second OD(X). Originally, the first DD(X) was scheduled to begin construction in 2005, but has now been pushed to the right by two years, and will not commence construction until 2007 and the second in 2008. With this pause in new ship construction, BIW faces the risk of having to Jay off experienced engineers due to the Jack of work. AMI International anticipates that the FY-06 Shipbuilding Plan will be fiercely debated right up until June/July 2005 when Congress is expected to approve the FY-06 defense budget.
A major problem for the Navy, is that it is attempting to build a transformational sea service under the strategy SEAPOWER 21 while at the same time, continuing with programs that were started under the per-transformation era. As an example, the USN is attempting to procure at least 30 Virginia class attack submarines at the rate of two units per year in order to maintain an inventory of 55 attack submarines. The concept of a total force of 55 attack submarines was scripted before the USN’s transformation ideology.
Due to new technologies, reduced maintenance requirements, and reduced manning, a force level of 55 attack submarines may not be needed. Recent studies suggest that the post-transformation Submarine Force may require as few as 30 units, although some USN and industry officials are still pushing for a force of 55 units. Other examples of per-transformation force levels that may require reductions include Expeditionary Strike Groups (ESGs), which in this new plan have been reduced from 12 ESGs to 10. As a result the planned procurement of 12 LPD-17s is being reduced to 10. Other programs will undoubtedly also be affected. Legacy systems such as those listed above, in combination with transformational programs such as Littoral Combat Ship (LCS), DD(X), CG(X), and Maritime Pre-position Forces (MPF) have forced the USN into an unattainable ship building program that needs to be rationalized.
The USN as well as industry officials must make some tough decisions in the coming years. Although the defense budget has grown by over US$100B in the last 5 years, the USN still does not have the funding to maintain its current procurement plan. The USN must make a fine decision on its pre/post transformational programs as well as taking an evolutionary approach vice a revolutionary approach for the post-transformation era programs. With programs such as LCS, DD(X), and CG(X), the USN is currently moving away from the evolutionary approach. The revolutionary approach that the Navy is taking may increase the risk to transformational programs substantially as can be seen by Congress reaction.
This confusion in the shipbuilding plan is simply a symptom of the important debate being conducted by the U.S. Congress, the DOD and the Navy in their effort to establish a level of capability that will meet the needs of the nation. The leadership is finally admitting that the bow wave of large number of new ship construction, which is always found in the out years of the Future Year Defense Plan (FYDP), is never going to come. A clear course for the Navy is unlikely to be in place until the FY08 budget, the first budget that will reflect the policy of the next Quadrennial Review.
INDIA-Hike in Defense Budget
Press reporting of 10 August 2004 indicates that the Indian Armed Forces may receive a substantial increase in the 2004-2005 defense budget. The new national budget drawn up by Parliament, which is over four months late (should have been approved in April), raised the overall defense budget to US$ 16.14 B for the 2004-2005, up US$3.14B from the US$13.6B 2003-204 budget.
The majority of the increase is to pay for recently approved procurement programs such as the Hawk trainers, Su-30s fighters and the Phalcon early warning aircraft for the Air Force and Howitzers for the Army.
Specifically for the Indian Navy, the sea service will receive US$2.7B or 16% of the budge total and US$400M over the 2003-2004 budget. Procurement funding increased from US$ l B in 2003-2004 to US$ l .3B in 2003-2004. The funding increase is expected to fund new and continuing programs such as the:
- Aircraft carrier GORSHKOV
- Six SCORPENE submarines
- Funding for a new deep submergence rescue vehicle (DSRV) program
- Six Barak surface-to-air missile systems.
- Lead funding for the Air Defense Ship-now with the design assistance of Fincantieri.
- Possible lease of an AKULA II class submarine from Russia
Although the procurement increase is considered significant for the Indian Navy, these major increases were needed by the sea service in order to carry out its ambitious naval plans as set forth in fifteen-year naval plan 2002-17. Without the injection of additional procurement funding this year and in future years, the Indian Navy will find it difficult to re-capitalize and expand its fleet as envisioned under the current naval plan.
For the Indian Coast Guard, the proposed budget for 2004-2005 is US$ l 52M, an increase of US$ l OM over 2003-2004 levels. Some of these funds will be utilized for continued acquisitions of the Advanced Offshore Patrol Vessel (AOPV) program, which began in 2004.
Plans to Revive Stalling Shipbuilding Industry
Since early 2004, naval shipyards in Germany and the Nether-lands have both begun to look at ways to stop the impending slow down due to a lack of naval shipbuilding orders. Both navies, with major modernization programs completing in the past several years in conjunction with continued reductions in force levels have left the shipbuilding yards in both countries looking forward to very difficult times.
The German Navy, due to recent force reductions and the cutting back of future programs, is now in the process of completing its last major programs for the foreseeable future, leaving the ship building industry in search of future work. Major programs that will be completing in the next several years include the SACHSEN (Type 124) class destroyer program, of which the final unit will commission by 2005. The Type 212A program, initially thought to be a class of up to twelve units, now appears to have been reduced to six units with the final three units of batch I (first four units) due to commission by around 2006 and two additional units scheduled to be ordered in 2008. The main shipbuilding program that was expected to carry the shipbuilding industry for the remainder of the decade was the 1,600-ton K-130 corvette program with a total of 15 units.
However, in the latest rounds of reductions in April 2004, the German Ministry of Defense announced that the K-130 corvette program would be reduced from its original number of 15 to 8 or perhaps even as low as S units. Additionally, the German Navy’s plans for two large Amphibious Transport vessels was also canceled and the future Type 125 future destroyer, expected to start in 2013 was also reduced from eight units to four.
The only bright spot in the latest reduction announcement was that a third Berlin (Type 702) combat support ship would be built. This single Berlin class in conjunction with eight K-130 corvettes will apparently be the mainstay of naval construction for the shipbuilding industry through 2014, which is very light considering three major shipyards generally split the majority of work for the navy.
What these cutbacks have lead to is a push from various circles within the Germany Navy and the shipbuilding industry to move up the construction of the Type 125 destroyer program by several years to 2010 and the two additional units of the Type 212 submarine to 2006 from 2008 to reduce the gap in naval building programs. Press reporting indicates that the Defense Ministry has in fact also moved in the same direction in order to avoid any slow down at the nation’s shipbuilding yards. It appears that the biggest stipulation is that the yards must provide advance financing in order to move forward with the Type 125 as well as batch II (units five and six) of the Type 212 submarine. German budget regulations do not allow for the financing of programs, which will leave it entirely up to a slowing and consolidating shipbuilding industry to work out the financing terms. It appears that financing models are now being discussed by Thyssen Krupp (owner of TNSW, Blohm+ Voss, and HDW) in order to proceed forward with a new time schedule for both programs.
If there is a failure to advance these programs as currently planned, HOW and TNSW completing the first batch of the Type 212 submarine program by 2006 will be out of domestic submarine work until 2008 and TNSW completing the Sachsen class destroyer program by 2005, will only be left with portions of the domestic K-130 corvette program, which will be shared with Blohm-+ Voss as well as Luerssen Werft.
One bright spot that exists within the German Naval Industry is its export opportunities in cooperation with other indigenous and international corporations such as Thales Naval Nederland, EADS, Atlas Elektronik, Raytheon and Lockheed Martin that may assist in bringing in new orders. One prime example is the German Navy destroyer SACHSEN (F219), which just finished successful test firings of Raytheon’s STANDARD Missile 2 and ESSM from the Lockheed Martin MK 41 VLS during the month of August 2004. This advanced destroyer with its European developed combat management system (Thales Naval Nederland, EADS, ATLAS Elektronik, and others) proved its ability in managing the world’s most advanced and robust anti-air warfare missile solutions.
The test firing results signify the great success enjoyed in US and German cooperation. This cooperation is further highlighted in that the builder of the SACHS EN (F2 l 9), Blohm+ Voss, has also enjoyed great export success of its various MEKO Frigates, most of which have been outfitted with U.S. weapon and other key system solu-tions. Blohm+Voss also developed the MEKO containerization system. For example the German Navy frigate SACHSEN (F219) has MEKO containers with the U.S./German developed RAM launcher, as well as the Lockheed Martin/United Defense Mk 41 VLS. This type of system makes great sense for flexibility in changing out various weapons, sensors, and other mission systems on a ship -much like is envisioned on Littoral Combat Ship. Indeed, Blohm+Voss is teamed with Lockheed Martin for the Littoral Combat Ship.
This cooperation of Gennan shipyards with other international corporations could very welt also be an alternative to the slowing of the Gennan naval industry as a result of declining orders from home.
The Netherlands’ shipbuilding industry also faces a similar situation. With the De Zeven Provincien class destroyers being completed by Scheide Naval Shipbuilding in 2005, the shipyard faces a similar crisis as in the Gennan shipbuilding industry. The original plan by the Dutch Navy was to follow the De Zeven Provincien class destroyers with a smaller class of corvettes in order to replace the Karel Doonnan class frigates. However, in late 2003, the Defense Ministry released its latest white-paper, Integral Defense Plan (IDP) 2004-2013, which cut the frigate force from ten units to six, effectively canceling the corvette program in favor of a new frigate program with construction beginning in 2016.
In recognition of the dire consequences to the nation’s shipbuilding industry, the National Maritime Cluster (NMC) (all the major Dutch naval players are represented, such as Thales Nederland, Imtech and Darnen Shipbuilding) ordered a study by the Clingendaet Center for Strategic Studies (CCSS) In April 2004.
The Clingendael study highlighted the naval force that will be needed to meet the RNLNs current and future requirements and follows several other studies recently conducted by the Research and Technology Organization (TNO) and the Policy Research Corpora-tion (PRC). The basic conclusion of the study is that the RNLN has a requirement for a new force of corvettes as well as a large helicopter support ship (HSS) to replace the ZUIDERKRUIS fast combat support ship (AFS) as well as serve as a general-purpose amphibious ship (LHD). The study believes that the LHD should begin no later than 2006, which would be beneficial to schedule Naval Shipbuilding since it will have no naval work following the commissioning of the two Sigma corvettes for Indonesia in 2007. Additionally, if the canceled corvette program (four units) would be re-instituted starting in 2008, Schedule Naval Shipbuilding would have naval work through at least 2013 or 2014 significantly closing the gap with the future frigate program, which is presently scheduled to start in 2016. If these programs do not materialize, Scheide Naval Shipbuilding could literally be out of the naval new construction business for the better part of a decade.
Increasing Defense Budget for 2005
Reporting on 24 August 2004 indicates that the Russian defense budget for 2005 will be increased by 28% over 2004 levels. The 2005 overall government budget ofUS$114B was approved by the Cabinet and contains US$18B for defense. The higher budget is a trend that started over four years ago when President Putin took power and reflects his personal commitment to rebuilding Russia’s defense.
Russia’s defense budget has grown steadily from US$5B 1999 and 2000 to US$7.5B in 2001, US$8.3B in 2002, US$11B in 2003 and US$ l 3.5B in 2004. The increasing budgets in conjunction with the de-militarization of the country since the end of the Soviet-era in 1991 are finally starting to pay dividends, although this must be considered only the beginning. It also appears that the Russian economy is finally starting to stabilize with significant growth rates over the past several years enabling the country to invest more in defense.
Although the budget continues to increase, the Russian military services are trying to make up for over a decade of neglect and the higher defense budget is only the beginning of what is really needed over the long term. The importance of the recent defense budgets is that the Russian Armed Forces may have finally stopped the slide of the past decade and be headed in a positive direction.
For the Russian navy, additional funds will enable the sea service to finally move forward with stalled programs such as the BOREY (Project 955) class nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarine (SSBN), Y ASEN (Project 885) class nuclear-powered attack/guided missile submarine (SSN/SSGN). SAINT PETERSBURG (Lada -Project 677) class diesel submarines, STEREGUSHCHY (Project 20380) class corvettes and SCORPION (Project 12300) class fast attack craft (F AC). Alt of these naval programs have been on hold for the better part of up to five years.