Monday, November 28, 2011

India To Develop AIP Technology for Subs

NEW DELHI - Even as the Indian Navy has announced that it is floating a global tender to procure six air independent propulsion (AIP) submarines for $11 billion, Indian Defence Minister A.K. Antony told the parliament Nov. 28 that the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) is developing such technology itself.
"The DRDO proposes to develop a technology to reduce vulnerability of the submarines available with the Indian Navy. The Naval Material Research Laboratory (NMRL), Ambernath, under the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), is progressing a technology demonstration project, 'Development of Land-based Prototype for Air Independent Propulsion (AIP),' for submarine propulsion," Antony told the parliament in a written reply, according to an Indian Defence Ministry statement.
The system is likely to be demonstrated by 2015, adds the release.
Last year, the Defence Ministry cleared the plan to procure six conventional submarines with AIP technology, and the request for proposals is likely to be floated by the end of the year or early 2012.
In 2004, India contracted the licensed production of six Scorpene conventional submarines for about $3.9 billion, but the production has been delayed by almost two years.
Under the proposal, six submarines are to be procured, of which three are likely to be built at the state-owned Mazagon Docks in Mumbai; one built at the state-owned Hindustan Shipyard in Visakhapatnam, with the help of a foreign collaborator; and two purchased directly from the overseas vendor.
The six submarines are being procured under the Navy's Project-75, and the subs will be equipped with stealth, land-attack capability and the ability to incorporate future technologies, such as AIP systems, to boost their operational capabilities.
The RfP is likely to be issued to French company DCNS, Germany's HDW and Russia's Amur Design Bureau.

French, Germans Should Team on UAV: German Minister

PARIS - Germany's junior defense minister is calling for France and Germany to cooperate on a common UAV program rather than pursue competing projects, business daily La Tribune reported Nov. 28.
Asked in an interview on what programs France and Germany should collaborate, St├ęphane Beelemans said: "Drones, for example. The projects being studied in France and Germany reflect a split from the past.
"And I say it clearly in France and Germany to our companies. I don't believe in two projects of this scale at the European level. And I find it hard to believe there is the political will to realize two competing projects. There is enough political will to do a common project," he said, according to the paper.
There was no sense in having two different kinds of equipment, for reasons of interoperability, maintenance, use and budgets, he said.
The competing projects are the next-generation medium-altitude, long-endurance (MALE) Talarion advanced UAV, proposed by EADS to France, Germany and Spain; and the Telemos air vehicle from BAE Systems and Dassault, pitched to Britain and France.
EADS seeks a place at the top table in the Telemos project alongside BAE and Dassault, but Dassault will only consider a junior subcontractor role for the pan-European company, retaining leadership firmly in the hands of the Anglo-French team.
France, Germany and Spain paid for a 60 million euro ($79.5 million) risk-reduction study for the advanced UAV, but EADS has been unable to convert that into a development and production contract.
Work on a next-generation MALE drone is seen as vital to maintaining a design engineering capability in Europe's military aircraft sector in the absence of development for a manned jet fighter.
The Anglo-French military cooperation treaty calls for joint work on a new-generation MALE surveillance UAV, and collaboration on an unmanned combat aerial vehicle.

Pakistan Blockade Raises NATO Supply Questions

KABUL, Afghanistan - Supplies for NATO in Afghanistan have been hit by a Pakistani blockade enforced after a cross-border strike killed 24 of its troops, but it remains unclear how seriously coalition forces will suffer.
There are around 140,000 foreign troops in landlocked Afghanistan who rely on fuel, food and equipment brought in from outside.
Nearly half of all cargo bound for foreign troops routes through Pakistan, which closed the border to NATO traffic on Nov. 26. But the coalition force insists its fight against the Taliban will not be affected.
"ISAF uses a vast supply and distribution network to ensure coalition forces remain well-stocked in order to carry out their assigned mission across Afghanistan," said Lt. Gregory Keeley, a spokesman for the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force in Kabul.
Some 48 percent of all coalition cargo usually passes through two points on the Pakistan border, while for U.S. forces, who provide around 100,000 troops in Afghanistan, the figure is around 30 percent, he said.
ISAF and the U.S. have been building up alternative supply routes through Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan from the north of Afghanistan as relations between Washington and Islamabad have deteriorated this year.
The so-called Northern Distribution Network has been built up to address concerns about over-reliance on Pakistani supply lines amid what was a growing U.S. troop commitment in Afghanistan.
The northern route accounts for 52 percent of coalition cargo transport and 40 percent for the U.S., which also receives around 30 percent of its supplies by air, Keely said.
But U.S. officials admit that the Pakistan route is cheaper and shorter.
John Bolton, former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, told Fox News that U.S. forces also keep stockpiles in case supply lines are choked as in the past.
"This is not the first time, our forces do have stockpiles on the Afghan side of the border," he said. "It is obviously something that needs to be corrected but there is no immediate concern."
Keeley would not discuss how long stockpiles would tide foreign troops over, calling it an "operational issue."
The last time the Pakistani border was closed to foreign military supplies was in September last year for 10 days following a previous NATO strike that killed up to three Pakistani soldiers.
The deadliest such incident prior to the Nov. 26 strike came in June 2008 when another NATO strike killed 11 Pakistani soldiers.
Some warn that ISAF will need to take swift action to address Nov. 26's murky incident to ensure that supplies are not disrupted in the longer-term.
"Even a closure lasting more than a week should not impact operations on the ground, especially now that stockpiles have been established and the alternative Northern Distribution Network has been significantly expanded," intelligence analysts Stratfor wrote in assessment of the situation.
"But Washington is not yet completely free of its reliance on supplies moved through Pakistan and so will need to find a way to resume the flow."
Retired U.S. Gen. Barry McCaffrey told NBC News that he believed the coalition effort in Afghanistan was "one step short of a strategic crisis."
"I do not believe we can continue operations at this rate," he said. "So we've got to talk to them, we've got to pay them, we've got to apologize for this strike. We have no option, literally."

Russia To Send Warships to Syria in 2012: Report

MOSCOW - Russia will send a flotilla of warships led by its only aircraft carrier to its naval base in Syria for a port call next year amid tensions with the West over the Syrian crisis, a report said Nov. 28.
The ships, headed by the Admiral Kuznetsov aircraft carrier, will dock at the little-utilized Russian base in the Syrian port of Tartus in spring 2012, the Izvestia daily said, quoting the Russian navy.
The Tartus base, a strategic asset for Moscow dating back to Soviet times, is rarely used by Russian vessels. Currently no Russian ship is based there, but civilian and military personnel are present.
A naval spokesman confirmed the plan to send the ships but insisted it had nothing to do with the deadly violence in Syria between forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad and the opposition.
"The call of the Russian ships in Tartus should not be seen as a gesture towards what is going on in Syria," the spokesman told the paper, adding the Admiral Kuznetsov would also visit Beirut, Genoa and Cyprus.
"This was planned already in 2010 when there were no such events there. There has been active preparation and there is no need to cancel this," added the spokesman.
Russia and the West have become deeply split over the situation in Syria, with Moscow insisting that sanctions and pressure against the Assad regime are not the way to solve the crisis.
Izvestia said the Admiral Kuznetsov - Russia's only operational aircraft carrier - would head down from the Russian Far North in December, keeping west of Europe and heading into the Mediterranean through the Strait of Gibraltar. It would also carry around a dozen aircraft.
It said the Admiral Kuznetsov would not be able to dock in Tartus itself due to the size of the vessel but anchor outside and be supplied by the smaller ships accompanying it. The ship has visited Tartus before in 1995 and 2007.