Submarines were the big story in Australia last week, and there was a great deal of coverage focusing on the political dimensions of that story in the Aussie press. The Prime Minister ruled out an open tender for the RAN’s future subs, with the Government to use a ‘competitive evaluation process’ instead. ASPI’s Andrew Davies had this piece in the Financial Review on the topic:
Before news filtered out that Australia’s future submarine project would be subject to what was described as a “competitive evaluation process”, the acquisition strategy for a project that will likely consume tens of billions of dollars of taxpayers’ money was decidedly opaque. The bad news is that it still is.
Australia also took delivery of the second batch of four LCM-1E landing crafts, to be operated from the new LHDs.
Two notable missile stories: first, North Korea tested its new H-35 anti-ship cruise missile with the North Korean press releasing pictures on Saturday of a test-firing from a catamaran-hulled fast patrol craft. Naturally, Dear Leader Kim Jong-Un was present to observe the event.
In a potentially more significant development, the US has found a way to hit a moving target with a Tomahawk land-attack cruise missile using a Super Hornet to provide midcourse updates. That could provide a boost for the USN’s long-range capabilities against mobile targets.
Offering an interesting insight, authors from the AirSea Battle Office and Joint Force Development at the Pentagon ran this rather confident piece in The National Interest which seemed to admit that domain control may be possible only in small bubbles and/or for short periods of time:
…a joint or combined force may not be able to achieve either theatre-wide domain superiority or an enduring and constant superiority, but…it can achieve operational objectives with control that is limited in time or space.
Admiral Jonathan Greenert (pictured above), American Chief of Naval Operations, has been in Australia, and stressed that although US Marines are based in Darwin on a temporary basis, they’re able to carry out joint military interventions with the ADF should the need arise. Admiral Greenert is reportedly interested in discovering whether infrastructure in Darwin could be developed to accommodate the 40,000-tonne Wasp-class amphibious assault ships used by the US Marine Rotation Force. However, some believe that this move has the potential to ruffle the feathers of the Chinese, who ‘don’t particularly like having a forward US presence in the region’.
Apparently China’s Type 055 destroyer will have 128 vertical launch missile cells, according to IHS Jane’s 360. That’s a lot compared to, for example, the Australian Air Warfare Destroyer’s 48, although it does sound like a big bet on the survivability of the Type 055.
Finally, Indonesia has announced that its naval force’s two Tripartite-class minesweepers will soon be decommissioned. Navy chief of staff, Vice Admiral Ade Supandi told reporters that the Indonesian Navy is beginning the procurement process in order to obtain two new vessels.