In the spotlight 2021: international acquisition

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This article is part of a series looking back on the best naval stories of 2021.

This year, rivals and allies of the United States have made major strides in the development of extended naval capabilities, from expanding the capacity of aircraft carriers to developing new hypersonic weapons.

AUKUS

(Lr) Minister of Defense the Honorable Peter Dutton MP, United States Charge d? ? Affairs Michael Goldman and UK High Commissioner Victoria Treadell CMG, MVO, before the signing of the Naval Nuclear Propulsion Information Exchange at Parliament in Canberra. Image from the Australian Department of Defense

In September, the United States and the United Kingdom announced an agreement to share their nuclear submarine technology with Australia as part of a technology transfer agreement between London, Washington and Canberra.

“Our first initiative under AUKUS is. . . a shared ambition to support Australia’s desire to acquire nuclear-powered submarines and we will launch an 18-month trilateral effort, which will involve teams – technical and strategic and navies from all three countries – to identify the way optimal delivery of this capability, ”a senior Biden administration official told reporters at the time.

The addition of nuclear attack boats to the Royal Australian Navy has sparked protests from Beijing.

“Australia’s nuclear going navy will give them the legs to be viable in the western Pacific regions,” a retired US submarine admiral told USNI News at the time.
“This is a message for China. China has economically punished Australia and this could be an answer to that.

The deal canceled an agreement between France and Australia to build conventionally powered submarines for the RAN, sparking a row with Paris.

The US, UK, and Australia are now in the middle of a study period to refine how best to go about building. The agreement also opens the door to sharing other defense technologies.

China

Chinese Type-075 lead preparing for sea trials. Photo via Weibo

The People’s Liberation Army Navy grew to 355 ships, meeting the US Navy’s fleet size target in 2016, according to the Pentagon’s military report on China in November.

“Towards the PRC’s goal of building a ‘strong and modernized naval force’, the PLAN is an increasingly modern and flexible force that has focused on replacing its previous generations of platforms that had limited capabilities in favor of larger, modern multi-purpose fighters, “the report read.” As of 2020, the PLAN is largely comprised of modern multi-role platforms with anti-ship, anti-ship weapons and sensors. advanced air and anti-submarine aircraft. The PLAN also emphasizes joint maritime operations and joint integration into the PLA. This modernization aligns with the increasing focus by the PRC on maritime domain and the increasing demands for the PLAN to operate at greater distances from China.

By 2030, the Chinese fleet is expected to reach 460 hulls, according to the Pentagon report.

“Towards the PRC’s goal of building a ‘strong and modernized naval force’, the PLAN is an increasingly modern and flexible force that has focused on replacing its previous generations of platforms that had limited capabilities in favor of larger, modern multi-purpose fighters, “the report read.” As of 2020, the PLAN is largely comprised of modern multi-role platforms with anti-ship, anti-ship weapons and sensors. advanced air and anti-submarine aircraft. The PLAN also emphasizes joint maritime operations and joint integration into the PLA. This modernization aligns with the increasing focus by the PRC on maritime domain and the increasing demands for the PLAN to operate at greater distances from China.

Type 052D Destroyer Hohot (161). Photo via Naval News

The third aircraft carrier PLAN continued to embark at the Jingnan shipyard outside Shanghai and is about to launch CSIS analysts presumed in november.

Unlike the first two Chinese carriers based on legacy Russian designs, the Type 003 feature will be a catapult design with dimensions closer to those of US carriers Nimitz and Ford. according to Naval News.

In January, US officials highlighted China’s intention to use long-range ballistic missiles to endanger rival ships.

“They’re investing a lot of money in the ability to line their South China Sea coast with anti-ship missile capability. It’s a destabilization effort in the South China Sea, in the East China Sea, all of those regions. When their claims on some of these disputed islands – they militarize those areas, ”Vice Admiral Jeffrey Trussler, deputy chief of naval operations for information warfare (OPNAV N2 / N6) at a virtual event hosted by the Intelligence and National Security Alliance.

In November, USNI News reported that China had created a complex target in the Taklamakan Desert in central China in the form of US aircraft carriers.

“Mock-ups of several likely US warships, as well as other warships (rail-mounted and movable), could simulate targets related to target search / acquisition tests,” according to the AllSource analysis summary , which indicates that there is no indication of weapon impact zones. in the immediate vicinity of the models. “That, and the many details in the mockups, including the placement of multiple sensors on and around the ship’s targets, makes it likely that this area is intended for multiple uses over time. “

In October, The Financial Times reported that the Chinese had tested a hypersonic weapon capable of launching a nuclear weapon.

“I don’t know if it’s a Sputnik moment, but I think it’s very close to that. He has our full attention ”, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley said Bloomberg.

Russia

Illustration of the Belgorod submarine. HI Sutton Image used with permission

New details of Russia’s new strategic nuclear submarine Belgorod emerged in February, USNI News reported.

The submarine will line up the Poseidon nuclear torpedo.

“The school bus-sized torpedo is a strategic weapon designed to slip under the US ballistic missile defense network. The weapon is designed to “destroy important economic installations of the enemy in coastal areas and cause guaranteed devastating damage to the territory of the country by creating large areas of radioactive contamination, rendering them unusable for military, economic or other for a long time, “according to a 2015 translation of the original BBC documentUSNI News reported.

Like the Chinese, the Russians continue to develop hypersonic weapons.

In October, the Russian Navy test launched the Tsirkon missile is launched from a submarine into the Barents Sea after four tests from surface ships in 2020, reported Naval News.

UK

Type 31 frigate design.

In September, the British Royal Navy cut steel for the first of its new class of Type 31 frigates.

“With the total number of frigates and destroyers in service with the Royal Navy declining, service is expected to reach a record 16 to 17 hulls by the mid-late 2020s. The five Type 31 frigates of the “Inspiration class” are part of the drive to push the total to over 19, ”USNI News reported.

UK too continued progress on its first two Dreadnoughts nuclear missile submarines being built in collaboration with the American Columbia-class SSBNs.

In October, the HMS Prince of Wales (R07) was declared operational by the Royal Navy, joining sister ship HMS queen elizabeth (R06) which had just completed its first deployment in December.

The UK closed the year with a report to Parliament in December calling for the Royal Navy to expand.

Japan

In October, Japan continued to develop its aircraft carrier capabilities by testing the US F-35B Lighting II Joint Strike Fighter of Marine Fighter Attack Squadron (VMFA) 242 “Bats” aboard the JS. Izumo (DDH-183).

“This check is the first time that an F-35B fighter has landed on a [Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force] ship, and Japan is striving to improve its capabilities in the maritime and air sectors by gradually modernizing the Izumo-class destroyer in order to acquire the capacity to operate STOVL planes, ”a statement from the JMSDF read on Tuesday. .

The Japanese Self-Defense Force plans to use 42 F-35Bs to operate from Izumo and her sister ship JS Kaga (DDH-184).

In December, the Japanese cabinet approved a 2022 budget of $ 47 billion that includes five surface ships and a submarine.

“This includes $ 957 million for the ninth and tenth Mogami-class frigate ships, $ 641 million for a sixth Taigei-class submarine, $ 116.7 million for a fifth Awaji-class minesweeper, 242 , $ 9 million for an oceanographic research vessel and $ 170.7 million for a fourth Hibiki-class ocean surveillance vessel, ”USNI News reported.

South Korea

The ROKS Ahn Junggeun is a Son Won-il (KSS-II) class disel-electric (SSK) based on the Type 214 design of
German shipbuilder TKMS. The class represents the second stage in the development of submarines in
South Korea undertaken by DSME which was a key part of the transition to an indigenous SSK design
aptitude. Photo of the Armed Forces of the Republic of Korea

The ROK Navy is in the process of expanding its fleet beyond the threat from North Korea into a more capable maritime force, USNI News reported.

“South Korea’s new Medium-Term Defense Plan (MTP) 2021-2025, released at the end of 2020, has reinforced this shift towards more expeditionary operations. It increased the defense budget by 6.5%, providing some $ 235 billion over five years, of which about a third (100,000 billion kW) was for the purchase of new equipment, ”USNI News reported.

The new ships will include the CVX – a 30,000 ton light aircraft carrier, a modified class of guided missile destroyers and a guided missile submarine.

“Ultimately, ROKN plans to form a true ocean surface fleet from the early 2030s, made up of three flotillas, something like the Fleet Escort Force of the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Forces; as well as destroyers KDX-II, KDX-III and other new ships in the future, ”defense researcher Kim Jae Yeop told USNI News.


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