Reprinted with permission from AMI HOT NEWS, an internet publication AMI International, PO Box 30, Bremerton, Washington, 98337.
From the April 2005 Issue
UNITED STATES-Cuts in the ASDS Program
In April 2005, the Department of Defense released the Selected Acquisition Report December 2004, which indicates that the US Navy’s (USN) Advanced SEAL Delivery System (ASDS) program is the subject of budget cuts. Program funding has decreased by US$755.7M, from US$ 1.9B to US$ 1.2B. This is in large part from the total requirement of six units being reduced to three. The exact reason for the reduction in the total procurement of ASDS units is not known at this time. However, that the ASDS program is years behind schedule and hundreds of millions of dollars over budget must be considered contributing factors.
Northrop Grumman received an initial contract in September 1994 for US$69.8M to design and build the first ASDS prototype, with an option for five more vehicles. Initial estimated unit production cost for follow-on vehicles was US$30-35M per unit, however, by mid-1999 the protoype vehicle cost had increased to US$169.6M. It is now estimated that the follow on units could cost as much as US$125M per unit.
Originally, the first ASDS was scheduled to be delivered in August 1997. Four years behind schedule and US$210M over budget, the first ASDS was conditionally delivered to the US Navy in August 2001. The delay in delivery and cost overruns was in part due to the fact that during the construction of the ASDS, requirements for the boat became more technical, and the design became more complex, thus increasing the cost and pushing back the scheduled delivery date. The ASDS was finally turned over to the Navy in June 2003 after successfully passing its operational evaluation.
Defense authorization conferees have approved US$23.6M for the procurement of a second ASDS in FY06, however, they stated that none of the funds shall be used until the Secretary of Defense notifies the defense committees in writing of a favorable milestone C decision. A milestone C decision was initially planned for June 2003, but with concerns over battery life, sub survivability, propeller noise, as well as life support systems, a milestone C decision is not expected until December 2005. While a third ASDS may eventually be funded, no date has been set, and may be subject to cancellation as well.
Of note, in March 2003, the General Accounting Office (GAO) released a report stating that the ASDS program needed increased oversight. Sighting cost overruns, technical problems with the sub, and the fact that the ASDS program is years behind schedule, the GAO report suggested canceling the ASDS program and re-opening the bidding to other contractors. The Navy rejected the GAO’s proposal on re-opening the bidding process for ASDS. However, the Navy has urged Northrop Grumman to seek partnerships in order to get the program back on schedule and to reduce overall costs.
Although the ASDS program has not been cancelled, the three-unit reduction in the program could be the Navy’s way of meeting the GAO’s suggestion half way. Instead of canceling the ASDS program altogether, the Navy may take the approach of procuring up to two additional ASDS units, followed by a re-bid for additional units after all the discrepancies have been worked out of the first three units.
GERMANY-Finding Homes for the Type 206A Submarines
Reporting of mid-April 2005 suggests that the German Government has offered to sell Indonesia some of its submarines under a counter-trade scheme. Although the types of submarines have not been released to the public, the Type 206A submarines are more than likely the class being discussed. Germany still has eleven Type 206A submarines in service, however, the entire class will be decommissioned by the next decade as the Submarine Force is downsized from its current level of 12 units down to six by 2015. The first units are becoming available now as the Type 212A submarines are beginning to enter service.
With this in mind, one must ask where will the Type 206A fleet go? It appears that on 12 December 2004 Germany offered two units to Egypt in order to help replace the aging Romeo fleet. Now with the offer to Indonesia, it appears that the German Government is actively marketing the Type 206A fleet. AMI believes that there are several candidates that could take over the Type 206As if offered from the German Government. Options include:
- Egypt – Two already offered, however, could grow to four units as the Egyptian Navy is trying to replace its entire Chinese-built Romeo force and has had no success in trying to acquire new submarines from the USA.
- Indonesia – Apparently offered several submarines, probably two as the Indonesian Navy has an immediate requirement for two additional submarines to supplement its two Type 209s currently in service. However, this deal will have to be pretty attractive as Indonesia has apparently been offered the much more modem South Korean Chang Bogo (Type 209) class built in the 1990s. Indonesia is also involved in a large-scale amphibious acquisition program (Tanjung Dalpele class LPD) with the South Koreans as well as other naval modernization efforts.
- Thailand – An on again off again program for submarines strictly depends on the navy chief. Currently, in the off again mode, however, for the right terms the Royal Thai Navy (RTN) may reenter the submarine business. Again we stress the right terms as the sea service is currently procuring two Chinese-built OPVs and is apparently close to agreement for the purchase of two new corvette/frigates from the British. These two surface programs are utilizing the majority of procurement funding for the RTN and other government sources. If the RTN would reacquire a Submarine Force, it would be no larger than three units.
- Romania – Still in the submarine business, could take one of the units if the terms were right. Although a Submarine Force is no longer mentioned in Romania’s defense documents, it still utilizes the single Kilo class for training and continues to delay its modernization. If Romania decides to stay in the submarine business and not modernize the Kilo, it could be a candidate for a single Type 206A.
- Bulgaria – Also still in the submarine business with one Romeo class. Similar to Romania, the Bulgarian Navy is still maintaining its last unit. Additionally, in 2004, the sea service had apparently inquired with the Danish Government concerning one of the Tumerlen class, although the deal has not materialized. Bulgaria could also procure one unit if it decides to stay in the submarine business.
SINGAPORE-Growing the Submarine Force
In mid-May 2005, AMI received information that the Republic of Singapore Navy (RSN) is discussing with the Swedish Navy about the procurement of Sweden’s final two V ASTERGOTLAND (A 1 7) class submarines when they decommission. These two submarines would supplement the RSN’s four Challenger class (former Swedish Sjoormen-Al2) that were procured from Sweden in the late 1990s (a fifth unit was procured but used for spare parts only).
Sweden will probably decommission the final two units (V ASTERGOTLAND and HALSINGLAND) in late 2005 or early 2006 in order to meet the reduced Submarine Force level prescribed in Defense Resolution of 2004. The submarines would be overhauled and modernized in Sweden prior to delivery to Singapore, very similar to the transfer process that took place with the four Sjoormen class when they were transferred to Singapore beginning in the late 1990s. An important but open question is whether they would be outfitted with air-independent propulsion (AIP) like the others of the A-17 class SODERMANLAND and OSTERGOTLAND recently received. There is a strong argument to modernize at least one of them with AIP so that they could commence evaluating and gaining experience with it before deciding on their future submarine.
Singapore apparently has been very satisfied with the Sjoormen class since the master plan for the RSN was to operate used submarines first on a trial basis and only if successful, would it consider procuring the next generation submarine and maintain a Submarine Force. With the decision to acquire two more submarines, it is clear that RSN has decided that submarines are now an integral part of the fleet. Further with six total active units, the RSN could operate its force in the standard rotation of having two vessels operational, with two in the maintenance cycle and two in the training cycle. This procurement deepens their ties with Sweden and would appear to improve the chances for a viable Viking project.
IRAN-Mini-Subs in the Pipeline
On 11 May 2005, Iran officially announced the production of the country’s first indigenous produced submarine. The Ghadir (IS 120) class mini-sub is of similar design to the North Korean P-4 class submarine. In the mid-l 980s North Korea exported at least one unit to Iran, which could be the basis for the new construction units currently being built.
Iranian defense ministry spokesman Mohammad Imani was quoted as saying, “the enemy would not be able to detect his submarine.” At approximately 20 meters in length (65.6 ft) and displacing around 110 tons submerged, the mini-submarine would be hard to detect in the shallow Arabian Gulf. Reportedly able to launch both torpedoes and missiles, the Ghadir class is likely equipped with two similar tubes as the P-4 class ( 406mm) thus limiting the number, size and range of any weapons it is capable of carrying.
It is not likely Iran is building these submarines in large numbers, but even a few of these stealthy weapons could disrupt shipping through the Strait of Hormuz and must be considered a threat to the region.
It must be advised that the program name of Ghadir is sometimes spelled as Qadir and is also referenced as part of the follow-up program to the Al-Sabiha 15 class swimmer delivery vehicle (SDV). The Al-Sabiha class SDV program was terminated at three units in favor of three units of the Qadir class. Naval program names, ship classes and ship type identifications are frequently misidentified in the press in order to add confusion to Iran’s potential adversaries.
From the June 2005 issue
Turkey’s plan to acquire four Air Independent Propulsion (AIP) capable submarines to replace the four oldest units of the Atilay class appears to be solidified. Under the ten-year plan the SSM approved the acquisition of up to four submarines in two batches with a total cost estimated at US$ I 8. Although the contract date was not publicly released, it appears to be on schedule with Turkish Navy plans that call for a construction contract by around 2010 followed by commissioning in 2014. This schedule would seem to fit the sea services procurement budget with corvettes contracted by the end of 2005 followed by a single LPD in the 2006 or 2007 time frame.
If funding is constrained due to other obligations, the contract date could in fact slip to around 2012 with the first unit entering service by 2016. Regardless of the time line, the AIP submarine procurement is expected to be financed by foreign state Joans guaranteed by the Turkish Treasury.
SUBMARINE RESCUE VESSEL
In the latest-ten-year procurement plan, the SSM announced that one Deep Sea Rescue Vessel (auxiliary ship) would be procured during the decade. This program is in the very early stages and no finn dates are currently available for the program. With funding expected to be tied up for the foreseeable future with the MILGEM Corvettes, LPD, and AIP submarines, this vessel may not be funded until the end of the ten-year window around 2016.
Considering a 2016 construction contract date, an RfP could be expected to be released by around 2014. Like most Turkish Navy programs, it can be anticipated that the new auxiliary will be built in Turkey with design and construction assistance by a foreign supplier.
ATILA Y CLASS SUBMARINE MODERNIZATION
The Turkish Navy is expected to initiate talks with Gennany’s Howaldtswerke-Deutsch Werft (HOW) by early 2006 regarding the modernization of four units (Wildfire, Betray, Dogbane and Delaney) of the Aitlay class submarine. The sea service estimates that the modernization program will cost around US$200M and will include the upgrade of the weapons and fire control systems, overhaul of diesel engines and electric motors, replacement of batteries, and the upgrade of the sonar suite and towed array. The modernization is expected to take place at the Golcuk Naval Shipyard. The modernization is expected to be financed by foreign state loans guaranteed by the Turkish Treasury.
The sea services current plan is to utilize HOW as a single source for the modernization unless negotiations fail, at which time the SSM will open an international tender for the program. The modernization of the first unit is expected to start no later than early 2007.
INDIA-Rebid for Project 75 Submarines?
The Indian Annaris Scorpene submarine deal has in fact been put on hold by the Indian Ministry of Defense. It appears that Howaldtswerke-Deutsche Werft (HOW) has entered the fray by offering the Type 214 design to the Indian Navy as an alternative to the Annaris Scorpene. On 04 March 2005 HOW was removed from a blacklist that it had been on since questions arose on the Type 209 deal concluded with the Indian Navy in the late 1980s. It was exoner-ated of all wrong doing by a Delhi High Court. This cleared the way for the company to re-enter the competition for Project 75.
Indian Cabinet approval on the Scorpene deal has been in a holding pattern since 2003. A final approval was expected by the Indian Government Cabinet in early 2005 in what was to have been the last step in the Indian Navy/Armaris deal for the procurement of 6 (and possibly up to 12) Scorpene submarines built in India. The majority of the small details in the Indian Navy/ Armaris deal had apparently been worked out with the price tag of US$ l.8B for the construction of the first six Scorpene Class submarines at India’s Mazagon Dock Ltd (MDL).
Reporting indicates that when the Indian Navy began the submarine program in 1998. HDW was not considered a viable candidate as the company was blacklisted. With HDW blacklisted, the Armaris scorpene design became the frontrunner in a non-competitive process, with the program maturing to the brink of Indian Cabinet approval.
With the favorable ruling for HOW, HOW is now working on an off er for the Type 214 design for the Indian Navy, which is expected in the next few months. Similar to the Scorpene deal, HDW is willing to build the submarine in India under a licensed production agreement as well as provide all transfer technology arrangements as necessary.
The Indian Navy will probably now re-bid the program likely delaying any decision until 2006. In head to head competition HDW may have the upper hand. HOW and India have a working relationship through the HOW Type 209 program. India also has two distinct supply lines for submarines, one with Russia and one with Germany. To move forward with the Scorpene would mean a third logistic chain, one that the Indian Navy may avoid now that is has an option for additional German submarines (as well as systems and weapons). Thirdly, if the Indian Navy elects to utilize Air Independent Propulsion (AIP) at a later date, it wouldn’t be using the same system as Pakistan (MESMA), reducing a potential security risk.
CHINA-Additional Kilo (Project 636) Submarines
Information received by AMI in mid-June 2005 indicates that the Peoples Liberation Army-Navy (PLAN) may be interested in additional Russian Kilo (Project 636) class submarines. Currently, the PLAN has six Kilo class submarines (two Project 877 EKM and four Project 636) in service and five additional units on order with deliveries expected through 2007. It is thought that the PLAN is already in negotiations for the additional units beyond the twelve they have purchased.
Reporting indicates that acquisition of additional units of the Kilo class is tied to the procurement of the Nova tor SS-273M54E1 (Klub) surface-to-surface missile (SSM), which the PLAN has been attempt-ing to acquire in large numbers for its submarine fleet. Industry sources suggest that Russia will not allow the sale of the Klub missiles without commitment by the PLAN for additional units of the Kilo class. This has been typical of Russian practice in order to maximize its export potential, tying various sales together in a package.
Although the number of units for the next batch has not been determined, the PLAN may order up to eight additional units as the sea service works at replacing large numbers of the Ming class that were commissioned in the 1970s and 1980s and as well as the Romeo class submarines that were commissioned from the 1960s through the 1980s. This replacement program will certainly not be on a one-to-one basis.
With the Kilo (project 636) line staying open, the PLAN continues to move forward with its tradition of running three diesel-attack submarine lines, two domestic (Yuan and Song classes) lines in order to develop the indigenous capability while still relying on the Russian-produced Kilo class in order to receive the numbers of modern units in a timely manner.
CHINA-Type 094 Submarine Launches SLBM
On 16 June 2005, the Peoples Liberation Army-Navy (PLAN) test-fired a ballistic missile from what is believed to be a Type-094 Jin class SSBN that was launched in December 2004. The missile was launched from the submerged vessel located south ofTaiwan and flew approximately 3,862 kilometers (2,300 miles) to a target point in the Xinjiang Desert. The test was a success.
The submarine launched ballistic missile (SLBM), designated Ju Lang-2 (JL-2), is a navalized version of the Dong Feng-31 ICBM that has a range of about 8,000 kilometers (4,960 miles) and contains three independent re-entry vehicles (warheads). The JL-2 was originally fitted into the Type 031 (Golf) class SSB in 1995 and had its first successful test firing in 2001.
With the successful implementation of the JL-2 onboard the Type-094, China now possesses a weapon capable ofreaching any target in the world. When loaded to capacity with JL-2 missiles, the Type-094 would contain 48 separate 90-kiloton warheads.
It is not currently known whether the JL-2 is ready for full-scale deployment but according to a report issued by the Pentagon regarding China’s nuclear forces in May 2004, the number of SLBMs could increase to 30 by next year and 60 by 2010. It is unknown how many SLBMs will be JL-2s but as the Type-094 class becomes operational, it is likely that emphasis will be placed on equipping them due to their greater strategic deterrence ability.