Reprinted with pem1issio11 from AMI HOT NEWS, an internet publication AMI International, PO Box 30, Bremerton, Washington, 98337.
From the July 2006 Issue
Press reporting in July 2006 reaffirmed Turkey’s naval priorities for the next several decades. Sources indicate that the three highest priorities remain the MILGEM Corvette Program, the Future Submarine Program and the modernization of the four Atilay class submarines. These three programs are in various stages of procurement activity with major decisions expected by the end of 2006.
In regard to the MJLGEM Corvette Program, a Request for Proposal (RfP) for the MILGEM “Patrol and ASW Ship” Project was originally released in May of 2000. However, none of the subsequent bids were selected due to delays in the program associated with defense spending that started in 1999 and continued through 2004. In early July 2005, the Turkish Undersecretariat for Defense Industries (SSM) re-issued an RfP for the design of the prototype corvette. Responses to the RfP were due back to the SSM by 28 October 2005. An announcement of the design winner is expected by the end of 2006.
A single prototype could begin construction at Istanbul Naval Shipyard by 2007 with commissioning occurring in 2011. Following extensive testing, an additional eleven units of the class are expected to be built under the US$2.4B program. The follow-on units wilt be built at several private yards in Turkey.
The Future Submarine Program continues to move forward under the auspicies of the New Type Submarine Project (AMI Project Report Future AIP Submarine dated January 2006). On 29 March 2006, the Turkish SSM posted a Request for Information (Rfl) for four new submarines to follow the Gur class, of which the final unit will be completed in 2007. The Rfl was posted in order to gather administrative, financial and technical information from companies
who may be willing to participate in the program. Twenty five interested companies, including submarine builders, systems houses and service providers responded to the Rfl (complete list is available on the SSM Website at http://www.ssm.gov.tr/ under the “Announcements Section”).
Although this program is still in its preliminary stages, the New Type Submarine Project was initially envisioned in 1997, when Turkey issued an Rfl for a new class of diesel submarines to follow the four units of the Preveze (Type 209/1400) class. Rather than move forward with a new class, the Turkish Navy decided to continue with four additional units of the Type 209/ 1400 (Gur class). At the time, the sea service determined that there was insufficient time and funding to evaluate and acquire a new submarine design while still keeping the Golcuk and Istanbul Shipyards fully employed building submarines and surface combatants. Now with the impending completion of the Gur class, the sea service is ready to move forward with a new class of submarines.
The Turkish Navy is also expected to begin a modernization program on the final four units of the Atilay class (BA TIRA Y, YILDIRA Y, DOGANA Y and DOLUNA Y). Press reporting indicates that the sea service will sign a US$200M contract with Howaldtswerke Deutsche Werft (HOW) (now part ofTyssenKrupp Marine) by November of this year in order to complete upgrades to the four units. Upgrades to the submarines include 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.
Other priorities of the Navy include the procurement of two dock landing ships (LPDs), a submarine rescue mother ship, two rescue towing ships (see Article #2) and eight landing craft as well as fast patrol boats and attack craft for the special forces. However, some of these programs may be dependent on financing from the European Union (EU), of which Turkey is currently pressing for membership or additional funding by the SSM.
SOUTH KOREA – Naval Update
A. Future Frigate (FFX) Program to Start in 2008
On 13 July 2006, the Republic of Korea Navy (ROKN) selected Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI) as the preferred designer for the FFX program. Twenty-four units are now being planned for the FFX Program. The latest timeline for the FFX Program is as follows: Request for Proposals (RtPs) for construction wilt be issued to HHI in late 2006 or early 2007.
- A construction contract will be awarded in 2008.
- The first six units (Phase I) wilt be built through 2015 with the first unit commissioning in 2011 .
- Phase 2: Nine ships will be built from 2015 through 2023.
- Phase 3: Nine ships will be built from 2021 through 2028 completing the class at 24 units.
Preliminary designs indicate that the new frigates will be around 102 meters (334.6ft) in length displacing 2,300 tons ( +/- I 0%). They wilt have a maximum speed of 30 knots with a cruising speed of 18 knots. Sources indicate that the new frigates will have the following subsystems:
- Indigenous 30 radar similar to the SMART-S Mk2
- Two Ceros 200 multi-sensor directors
- Indigenous sonar
- Eight SSM-700K surface-to-surface missiles (SSMs)
- One RAM Launcher
- One 76mm gun
- One Korean CIWS
- Korean lightweight torpedoes
TAIWAN – US agrees to Two-Phase Approach for Submarine Program
Press reporting in July 2006 indicates that the US has agreed with a Taiwanese request for a two-phase procurement in order to help rescue the stalled submarine program. Sources indicate that the US is wilting to divide the program into two phases; the design phase valued at around US$360M and the construction phase at US$3.64B. The two-phase approach was requested earlier in the year by the Taiwanese Defense Ministry and apparently has the backing of several US Congressional members (with apparent approval by the US Navy) as welt as up to four potential US suppliers (shipbuilders and system houses) .
The new avenue of utilizing two phases is an attempt by the Taiwanese Defense Ministry to gain support from the Taiwanese Parliament to fund the program in phases. This approach would allow Taiwan to commit only a relatively small portion of the overall funding during the planning and definition stages. However, the drawback is increased risk and costs that could develop in the follow-on phases.
Although interest still remains among four potential US suppliers including General Dynamics-Electric Boat (GD-EB}, Northrop Grumman Ship Systems (NGSS), Lockheed Martin and Raytheon; unanswered questions, such as design and approval in the Taiwanese Parliament, apparently are still sticking points. In regard to design options, there appear to be several foreign designs that are being considered including the Navantia S80 and the TyssenKrupp Type 214 although there has been no final determination on whether the Spanish or German governments would allow these designs to be exported to Taiwan. It can also be assumed that other sources such as France, Netherlands and Russia would be considered under the foreign design option.
There is also some speculation that if the US could not gain access to a foreign design, it does have a modem design that has never been produced. This would be risky at best as the last dieselelectric submarine designed and built in the US was the Barbel class in the early 1950s.
Although the US and the Taiwanese Defense Ministry are still attempting to find creative ways to move this program forward, the bottom line is that both parties will need full cooperation from Taiwan’s Parliament in regard to funding ifthe program is expected to begin phase one and more critically, the high cost of phase two. Since President Bush’s 2001 arms package proposal, the Taiwanese Parliament and/or the Legislative National Defense Committee (LNDC) has shot down the entire arms package or portions of the package more than 40 times; although some progression has been made. With the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) and their allies now controlling the Taiwanese legislature, it is becoming increasingly more difficult for the Defense Ministry to move forward with the remaining portions of the arms package. The three major items that remain on the table with no firm funding line in place include the eight submarines as well as 12 P-3 maritime aircraft and three PAC ill missile batteries.
PAKISTAN-New Construction Entrant?
Reporting throughout July 2006 continues to show that Pakistan intends to become an exporter of submarines and surface ships. Statements by the Prime Minister and defense officials indicate that Pakistan has acquired the transfer of technology rights for the French Agosta class submarine. The Prime Minister admitted that any chance of construction for foreign clients would occur at a later date.
The same reporting also indicated that Pakistan may also already have the rights to market and sell the Chinese F22P frigate design. The F22P design is the new Pakistani frigate that will be built in China and Pakistan with the first wiit beginning construction in 2007.
The Pakistani’s have experience in building patrol vessels and fast attack craft and more recently the Agosta 90B class submarine with the assistance of the French. The latest endeavor will be the Chinese F22P frigate design, further expanding the capabilities of Karachi Shipbuilding & Engineering Works (KSEW).
There is no doubt that KSEW is slowly expanding its experience in all areas of naval construction and fully intends on entering the market. The question is; how much longer will it be before the shipyard can become proficient in the construction of major surface combatants and submarines and what market will Pakistan target?
Past reporting seems to indicate that KSEW fully intends on penetrating the Middle East and South Asian markets as it has made offers of submarines to the United Arab Emirates and Bangladesh. With lower indigenous construction costs compared to Europe and the US, Pakistan could be the low-end provider for navies with very limited budgets such as Bangladesh, Indonesia, Vietnam and the Philippines.
From the September 2006 Issue
THAILAND-Coup Effect on Mega Project
On 19 August 2006, Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra was deposed in a coup by Army General Sonthi Boonyaratglin. The Prime Minister was in New York for the United Nations (UNGeneral Assembly when the coup occurred. The General is now head of the Thai Government and has formed a Democratic Reform Council to select a new Prime Minister over the next several weeks.
Although the situation remains stable and a new government will probably be formed over the coming months, what is uncertain concerning the Royal Thai Navy (RTN) is the continuation of Mega Project Mega Project had the backing of Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra and is the ten-year procurement program of frigates, submarines, offshore patrol vessels (OPVs), amphibious ships (LPDs), aircraft and missiles. The frigates and OPVs were expected to start in the next several years although it is now uncertain if these two projects will move forward as well as the entire Mega Project program.
One thing is certain, nothing will move forward until a new Prime Minister is appointed, political stability is reestablished and all associated ripples (new military appointments as a result of the coup) within the military have been resolved.
PAKISTAN-Looking for Nuclear Submarine Fleet?
In mid-September 2006, AMI sources indicated that the Pakistani Navy (PN) is interested in acquiring a nuclear-powered submarine. Pakistan continues to be concerned about the Indian Navy (IN) and its leasing and operation of Russian submarines as well as it’s attempts to design and build indigenous nuclear submarines from its Advanced Technology Vessel (ATV) program. Pakistan is also concerned about India’s general support from the United States, France and Russia in this area of nuclear submarine development.
Pakistan is currently finishing up its Khalid class submarine program with the third and final unit to be commissioned in 2007. In addition, the PN is also considering the procurement of up to five additional submarines of the Marlin class from France. However, the PN understands the limits of conventional submarines and recognizes that if India is building its nuclear boats to advance its strategic goals, then Pakistan should follow suit as well.
Although recent press reports indicate that Pakistan has already acquired the capability of developing its own nuclear submarine, one must view these reports with extreme skepticism. As evidenced by India’s attempt to indigenously produce a nuclear-powered submarine that has taken well over a decade with assistance, one can assume that Pakistan will struggle with the same issues. The main issues are a modern nuclear submarine design, the adaptation and miniaturization of a nuclear reactor, the development of shipboard systems involved in the control and cooling of a submarine nuclear reactor, as well as an experienced yard capable of nuclear submarine construction. AMI believes that Pakistan, with a desire to acquire a nuclear submarine fleet, will face the same hurdles as India (and Brazil). In fact, Pakistan currently does not have any foreign assistance in these areas where India had Russian help in ship design and reactor assistance.
If Pakistan receives any foreign assistance, it will more than likely come from China, a major supplier for the Pakistani Armed Forces. It is not likely that Russia, the US or France will help Pakistan in such an endeavor with a modern hull, construction assistance in Pakistan and certainly not the miniaturization of a nuclear reactor.
Although Pakistan has the desire, it is probably decades away from acquiring nuclear-powered submarines but eventually will, due to its belief that it must match India on this front. If anything, Pakistan is in the very early stages of designing the concepts of a nuclear-powered submarine capability. Just completing the Khalid class, Pakistan’s Karachi Shipbuilding & Engineering Works (KSEW) is still int eh very early stages of actually being able to build an entire hull in country. Building some or all of the Marlin class (assuming the program moves forward) will help, however, they would still require massive design and construction assistance from an outside source to build a nuclear submarine in country.
The issues concerning an adaptable reactor and the price for such a submarine program are entirely another matter. Both will be at the forefront of any future discussions concerning the development of such a submarine in Pakistan. However, it must be realized that similar to the Pakistani nuclear weapons program where the nation had a desire to match India’s strategic capabilities, it was able to do so in the past suggesting that it will do so in the future.
NORWAY-Defense Study FS 07 Underway
In early 2006, the Norwegian Chief of Defense announced the commencement of its latest defense study, Defense Study 07 (FS 07). The study is being conducted at the Anned Forces Command (within the MoD) and is expected to form the blueprint of the armed forces from 2009 through 2012. FS 07 will submit its recommendation to the Chief of Defense by September 2007 and allow Parliament enough time to develop a new plan document for the spring of2008.
The main focus will be to propose measures for attaining a permanent balance between tasks, structure and resources as well as to protect the operational structure and increase the efficiency of the support structure.
FS 07 is organized as a project team and will report to an advisory group appointed by the Chief of Defense. The Norwegian defense forces face considerable challenges in the future including budget shortfalls estimated from US$250-600M annually from 2006 through the indefinite future. This shortfall will come at a critical time as the armed force is completing its last round of reductions and reorganization with an eye on the future force beginning in 2009.
In regards to the Royal Norwegian Navy (RNoN), this time period is critical as the Fridtj of Nansen (F-100 design) class frigates and Skjold class fast attack craft (F AC) programs will be completing by 2009. Following the completion of these programs, the sea service was expected to begin a new submarine program in order to replace the six Ula class submarines built from 1989 through 1992.
In November 2005, the Norwegian Chief of Defense publicly stated the importance of acquiring a new submarine for the RNoN by 2020. However, with FS 07 looming, one can never be certain what the force structure will look like or what programs will be modified, delayed or cancelled as a result of the study.