Sea, air and land updates

Sea State

Germany has offered India a formal proposal to build six diesel-electric Type 214 submarines. According to Indian defence officials, the Ministry of Defence is currently reviewing the proposal, which would see the submarines be built by Howaldtswerke-Deutsche Werft in Kiel, Germany. It’s been a big few weeks for India’s navy; on 1 May INS Kalvari— first of India’s new indigenous diesel-electric attack submarine class—completed sea trials outside Mumbai Harbour, while the country’s first indigenous nuclear-powered submarine is expected to be commissioned in coming months. In light of these developments, The Diplomat has taken a look at why India requires both nuclear and conventional submarines.

Iranian forces have declared they will prevent the US and its allies from accessing the Strait of Hormuz if they continue to ‘threaten’ the country, according to Iranian state media on 4 May. The two countries have a history of tensions regarding the straitincluding the capture of 10 US sailors by Iran in January 2016. Foreign Policy has an interesting analysis of the strategic implications of the Persian Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz here.

For a look into the operations of the USN’s Virginia-class nuclear-powered submarines, CNN joined the crew of USS Missouri last week for exercises off the Florida coast. You can check out the footage of their visit here.

Flight Path

In preparation for reaching full rate production of the F-35 in 2019, Lockheed Martin is reshaping its final assembly line. Defense One has taken a look at how the Joint Strike Fighters are being assembled in a mile-long building formally known as Air Force Plan 4, with bits and pieces coming from around the world to form the fifth generation fighter. Last week, Lockheed received a nearly US$1.3 billion contract for the F-35 program during fiscal 2016 budget negotiations to deliver 13 jets. Motley Fool has crunched the numbers and the cost of the F-35 is going down—they’ve estimated it’s now costed out to around US$116 million per plane, consistent with USAF budget figures, compared to the Government Accountability Office’s estimate of US$138 million.

The US aerospace industry is experiencing a new lease on life with a growing number of cutting-edge experimental airplanes, or ‘X-Planes’, under development. This article from Reuters looks at the shift towards X-planes in the US and argues that the shift could lead to advances in civil and military aviation, boost the American economy and strengthen US military power. Looking at American competitiveness, a recent article on War on the Rocks examines the threat to US air dominance and argues that the USAF needs to respond by building an innovative, adaptable and resilience air force.

Rapid Fire

The other week ASPI suggests brought you headcam footage from a Daesh fighter during a battle against the Kurds in northern Iraq—this week The Guardian has released exclusive footage taken from a cellphone showing US special forces, Kurdish commandoes and Daesh fighters during a battle. The fighting resulted in the death of US Navy seal Charles Keating IV, who is the third US fatality of the US latest engagement in Iraq.

The US  is bolstering its military presence in the Middle East region, announcing on 25 April that they will be sending in another 250 US troops to Syria to fight Daesh militants and will provide military support, intelligence, ships and special operations forces to Yemen as the Yemeni fight al Qaeda militants. This last pledge comes on top of a ‘small number’ of US soldiers already on the ground in Yemen supporting operations headed by the Yemeni military and the UAE, which have recently taken the port and airport city of Mukalla, once a bastion of al Qaeda.

Interested in the size range of the US military arsenal? YouTube channel MetaBallStudios have put together a virtual tour going from the small .45 calibre bullet and working their way through a series of rifles, vehicles, planes, and ships right up to the Gerald R. Ford-Class aircraft carrier.