Friday, November 11, 2011

U.S. Marines to Be Based in Darwin: Report

SYDNEY - U.S. President Barack Obama will use a visit to Australia next week to announce that America will begin stationing Marines at a base in Darwin, reports said on Nov. 11.
In a front page exclusive, the Sydney Morning Herald said the new permanent military presence was a sign of heightened concern about the rise of China.
The U.S. currently has only a limited deployment in Australia, including the Pine Gap Joint Defence Facility spy station near Alice Springs.
Obama arrives in the country on Nov. 16, visiting the capital Canberra before becoming the first U.S. president to travel to the Northern Territory when he lands in Darwin.
It is in the country's tropical north that he will make the announcement with Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard, the newspaper said.
The Australian also reported the plan, saying that other locations for a U.S. presence were also possible, such as Perth in the west.
The U.S. will not be building a new base in Darwin, but instead will use the existing Robertson Barracks near the city.
The base is currently home to some 4,500 Australian soldiers and will need to be expanded to cater for the U.S. Marines, the reports said, citing sources who declined to detail how many troops or sailors would be rotating through.
U.S. Marines are already based at Okinawa in Japan and on Guam as America's chief combat force in the Pacific theater.
Federal cabinet minister Tony Burke would not confirm or deny the reports.
"Can't confirm it. I don't know the answer to your question," he told the Seven Network while Trade Minister Craig Emerson also would not comment when asked on Sky News.
The Herald cited former intelligence analyst Alan Dupont as saying the move was a response to the rise of China, which is boosting its military capabilities.
"And particularly, it's about the increased vulnerability of U.S. forces in Japan and Guam to the new generation of Chinese missiles."
Andrew Shearer, a former senior diplomat at the Australian embassy in Washington, told AFP: "There's no doubt we will see a significant announcement."
But he played down the China threat. "Everyone draws the China connection but it's as much to do with the rise of India as well. It's not all about defense, but to be able to conduct disaster relief, counter piracy and keep shipping lanes free.
"China certainly comes into their thinking, but it's not all about China," said Shearer, the director of studies at the Lowy Institute for International Policy.

U.S. Navy Ship Set for Alt Fuel Demo

Having powered jet fighters, helicopters and small craft with alternative fuels, the U.S. Navy will conduct its largest-yet demonstration next week when a former destroyer takes to sea with a mixture of algal oil and diesel fuel.
The former destroyer Paul F. Foster will be the largest ship yet to operate with so-called alternative fuels. (U.S. Navy)
The Paul F. Foster, a Spruance-class destroyer now used for experimental purposes, will sail from Point Loma in San Diego to her base at the Naval Surface Warfare Center in Port Hueneme, Calif., powered by a 50-50 blend of hydro-processed algal oil and F-76 petroleum, the Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) said Nov. 10.
The alt fuel will power one of the ship's LM2500 gas turbines used for propulsion, and the ship's service gas turbine.
The short, overnight transit is part of a commitment by Navy Secretary Ray Mabus to demonstrate a Green Strike Group in 2012 and deploy a strike group composed completely of alternatively powered ships, "the Great Green Fleet," by 2016, NAVSEA said in a press release.
In October, the Navy demonstrated the algal oil-F-76 fuel aboard a landing craft utility at Little Creek, Va., where a riverine combat craft also operated with the fuel mix. Yard Patrol training vessels at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md., have also used the alt fuel.
Several different aircraft types have flown with alternative fuels, including F/A-18 Super Hornet and F-15 Eagle jet fighters, a T-45C Goshawk training jet, an EA-6B Prowler electronic warfare aircraft, an MV-22 Osprey tilt-rotor, an MH-60S Seahawk helicopter and an MQ-8B Fire Scout unmanned helicopter.
Another alt fuel test of a Landing Craft Air Cushion (LCAC) vehicle is to take place in December at the Naval Surface Warfare Center in Panama City, Fla.

Norway Should Maintain Submarine Fleet: Study

HELSINKI - Norway's national defense capability would be best served by either extending the life of its submarine fleet or acquiring a next-generation sub, according to a study commissioned by the Ministry of Defense (MoD).
The study, which examined Norway's submarine needs after 2020 when the Navy's Ula-class fleet is due to be renewed, determined that no other military capabilities are suited to replace its submarines. The direct inference is that Norway should replace its submarine fleet with a new-generation of Arctic-class stealth subs.
The study is a collaboration among MoD, the Defense Forces Command and the National Institute of Defense Research. The Ula-class submarines have had midlife upgrades and are due to be phased out after 2020 unless a new investment program is established.
MoD now plans to analyze how the Navy's submarine fleet can be replaced. This investigation will form a central part of a new study to be completed in 2014.
This new study will examine available options, including extending the life of the current Ula-class fleet or acquiring a next-generation submarine after 2020. It is expected that a final recommendation will be submitted to the MoD and parliament in 2017.
The study given to MoD on Nov. 3 considered three primary options before it concluded that maintaining a submarine fleet is in the best interests of national defense and key to the government's High North and Arctic security strategies.
The study contemplated the consequences of halting investment in submarine capability and phasing out the present fleet. The second option considered the impact of a continuation of the submarine fleet. This included the possibility of prolonging the life of the Ula-class subs, a new acquisition program or a combination of the two. A third option explored alternatives to the submarine, such as the expanded use of surveillance technologies, including sensors.
Sweden has had informal discussions on the possibility of selling its next-generation A26 submarine, which is under development, to Norway. Other possible European acquisition options include France's Barracuda-class submarine or the German-designed Type 212 or Type 214 subs.
Norway's submarine capacity was reduced in the late 1990s when the Kobben-class subs were phased out. This left the Navy with six diesel-electric propulsion Ula-class vessels.
The Ula-class boats are primarily active in coastal policing and defense operations, being limited in their diving depth to around 820 feet. All six subs came into active service in 1989-92 and comprise a mix of German, Norwegian and French engineering technologies and weapon control systems, including Kongsberg's MSI-90U torpedo fire-control platforms.