March 31, 2017

Indian submarine update - Slow progress commissioning.

PETE COMMENT

India is facing a rapidly increasing submarine threat from:
-  Chinese SSNs and SSKs visiting (and perhaps patrolling) the Indian Ocean
-  2 x Ming SSKs just commissioned into the Bangladesh Navy, and
-  8 new S20s for Pakistan under construction over the next decade. This is in addition to Pakistan’s
   current force of 3 x AIP Agostas.

This gradually increasing regional submarine threat suggests India should speed up its launching and commissioning of new submarines. Of the few countries that build all submarine classes (SSKs, SSNs and SSBNs) China has a high defence budget [$215 Billion in 2015 (SIPRI)] - but SSN/SSBN development has still been slow. 

Like China India is a relative latecomer to submarine design and construction – so India, from a low base, needs to develop submarines quickly. India’s design, building and commissioning of SSKs, SSNs and SSBN has been even slower than China’s partly because India devotes a much lower budget to defence [only $53.6 Billion in 2015 (SIPRI)].

Pete has discussed the following with an Anonymous knowledgeable about Indian submarine matters.

SLOW SUBMARINE CONSTRUCTION

Since Pete wrote India's Plans for 21 More Subs including SSNs of August 24, 2014 India has only launched 2 Scorpenes of the Kalvari class though - none have been commissioned (yet).

[Pete Comment] India’s desire for 6 to 12 AIP SSKs under Project-75I (for India) may be obstructed by India’s (more precisely DRDO’s) desire that the winning submarine company should transfer advanced AIP technology to India. Advanced AIP secrets are tightly held due to their high strategic and commercial value.

[Pete Comment] The launch of India's first true SSBN, INS Aridhaman, was expected to occur as far back as late 2012/early 2013 but no recorded launch yet. INS Aridhaman is apparently ready to be launched and start trials later in 2017. I suspect the delay is in developing an efficient, quiet reactor for Aridhaman and the 3 x SSBNs to follow.

The reactor problems are also likely to be the main reason no progress has been made in the project to build 6 indigenous SSNs. I’ve read somewhere that the SSN program has been suspended until some SSBNs (starting with Aridhaman) have finally been commissioned. 

Anonymous advises - The Russians have not been very receptive to India’s need for SSN help. Russia has not permitted to lease Yasen type SSNs or handed over Yasen blueprints.

WEAPONS PROGRESS

While there has been only slow progress in launching submarines India has made greater strides in developing missiles for submarine launch. Missiles under development for submarine include

-  the BrahMos supersonic cruise (tested to 450 km with eventual range of 800 km) is capable of
   anti-shipping and (nuclear warhead) land attack. As of now BrahMos has been tested from
   underwater pontoons and will likely be installed on the Kilo subs initially. If the 6 to 12 future
   SSKs for Project 75I end up with VLS they may start with BrahMos initially.
-  the Nirbhay SLCM ( 1000 km initial up to 1500 km finally) for longer range land attack are. 
-  India is likely to fit K-15 SLBMs to its future SSBNs after initially fitting the BrahMos and 
   Nirbhay SLCM to Indian SSKs and SSBNs.

Aridhaman with  its 8 silos for K-4s will weigh at least 7000 tons. “Aridhaman needs a larger reactor.”

SLOW REACTOR PROGRESS


India (probably like China) is only making slow progress in developing powerful submarine reactors that are sufficiently quiet for stealthy operation. India has been heavily reliant, for decades, on Russian assistance for submarine reactors. But Anonymous advises “The [83 MW] PWR made by BARC for Arihant is inadequate.”

“I for one heard unverified news in Delhi last year that BARC has succeeded in providing close to 25,000 kW shaft horsepower which implies a 125-140 MW reactor... I am not ready to believe this as I mentioned before Russian help has slowed down despite [Indian Prime Minister] Modi [offering inducements of leasing] another Akula and [buying the] S-400 SAM system in 2016......" 

Pete Comment - So India is closely protecting the rate of its reactor progress and progress in developing nuclear hulls. Russian assistance in reactor development and testing also remains mostly classified. Only optimistic references to SSK building schedules and missile launchings are regularly publicised.

It is odd the above Youtube talks of INS Aridhaman currently being tested at sea and being inducted/commissioned in 2018. The oddity is that I have seen no reports of Aridhaman even being launched! Would politicians (Prime Minister? Defence Minister?) and other Indian VIPs pass up the opportunity to be reported present at the launch of India's first true SSBN?
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Indian submarine numbers - with a wide gap between "Desired" and actually "Held" as at November 13, 2015. Numbers still current due to slow progress. (Diagram courtesy Indian Express).
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Pete and Anonymous

March 30, 2017

Poland May Buy 2 Used Australian Frigates - HMAS Melbourne & Newcastle?

COMMENTS

The Polish announcement of the possible sale to Poland of two used Australian Adelaide-class frigates (based on the US Oliver Hazard Perry-class) comes as a pleasant surprise.

The two frigates that might be sold to Poland, logically would be the two youngest Adelaides (that were built in Williamstown dockyard, Victoria, Australia (1985-1992)). They are: 
-  HMAS Melbourne (FFG 05) launched 1989, still operational in 2017, and
-  HMAS Newcastle (FFG 06) launched 1992, still operational in 2017,
Both have many types of armament including Standard SM-2 Block IIIA missiles from Mk 41 VLS launchers.

As the Adelaides are heavily based on a US design and subsequent upgrades the future, possible sale would presumably have US approval.

Poland is an especially valued US NATO ally - as Poland shares borders with:
-  the Russian naval-air-army base enclave of Kaliningrad (to Poland’s north see map below), and
-  Belarus which hosts many Russian military forces (to the east of Poland)  
Poland also feels vulnerable on its Baltic coast from Russia’s Baltic fleet, from Russian missiles, jets and the ex-Red-now-Putin Army.

Since 2000 Poland has already been operating two former Oliver Hazard Perry-class frigates:
Launched in 1978 and 1979 respectively and still operational.

These two Polish frigates would be compatible with the two Australian Adelaides in many ways, but they appear to have far fewer weapon and sensor upgrades than the Adelaides.

Poland sees the frigates as integral parts of Baltic defense and its strategy of long range power projection under NATO structures.

Also the two to four frigates might provide ballistic missile defense (BMD) using Polish platforms - meaning  Poland would not be totally dependent on US provision of  BMD. Naturally an unlikely Iranian missile threat is advertised – not the more obvious threat from Putin's missile rattling.
  
DEFENSENEWS ARTICLE

Jaroslaw Adamowski for DefenseNews, March 29, 2017 reports

“Poland eyes frigates from Australia, submarines”

WARSAW, Poland — Poland may purchase two Adelaide-class frigates, based on the Oliver Hazard Perry-class vessel, from Australia for its Navy, said Michal Jach, the chairman of the Polish parliament’s National Defence Committee.

“The acquisition of used Adelaide frigates from Australia would represent a major upgrade for Poland, it would raise the combat capability of our Navy,” Jach said at the Safety Forum 2017 conference in Szczecin, Poland, as reported by local news agency PAP. “These units were modernized and equipped with modern weapons and systems several years ago. After a good negotiation, we will have to pay several hundred million zloty for this. A fully equipped frigate is worth about U.S. $700 million...”


See much larger/more readable image. Some of the upgrades to the Adelaide-class frigates. These include Mk 41 VLS which presumably could take SM-3 BMD missiles.
(Diagram courtesy Defense Industry Daily).
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Poland has a long, sad history of being constantly under threat of invasion - then actually invaded. Russia remains the greatest ongoing threat (conventional and nuclear). Kaliningrad functions as the headquarters of the Russia's Baltic Fleet, ringed by Chernyakhovsk (air base)Donskoye (air base) and Kaliningrad Chkalovsk (naval air base) and hosts powerful Russian ground forces

Also making Poland nervous is Belarus. In Belarus Russia seems to be adding to the already powerful Russian military forces that Belarus hosts.

Pete

March 29, 2017

Peter Jennings' Australia-Japan Strategic Cooperation Commentary

China is not the only country that claims and builds on islands, reefs and shoals in the South China Sea. Above is a map of the Spratly Islands, South China Sea. What looks like the US Stars and Stripes is, in fact, Malaysia's flag. The red flag with large star, dead center, is Vietnam's. Flat Island and Commodore Reef etc are claimed by the Philippines.
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Peter Jennings, the Executive Director of the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) has written a thought provoking commentary, of March 29, 2017. The commentary (at https://www.aspistrategist.org.au/tokyo-canberra-time-recast-defence-ties/ ) is an “edited extract of a speech he delivered to the Japan Institute of International Affairs in Tokyo [on March 28, 2017]”

His main themes are: challenges to the global order generally; especially in the Asia-Pacific, and the need for greater Australia-Japan strategic cooperation.

Some parts I disagree with but I agree with most.

I disagree on:

-  countries “quite explicitly challenging the rules-based order, specifically:
   :  “Russia invaded and annexed the Crimea in 2012 it broke a European norm”.  I think Russia has
      had a naval base/enclave in Crimea since 1783. The change of status/government in Ukraine 
      upset a strategically stabilising Russian influence. Russia used its power to retain the enclave.
      Significantly this Russian resistance is no worse than the US maintaining its enclave/naval base
      at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba even though the legitimate government of Cuba has opposed the
      base for decades. Equally the government of Spain has opposed  the British enclave/base of 
      Gibraltar since 1727. Britain secured Gibraltar by force of arms in 1704.
   :  Iran has forces in neighbouring countries that may be even more legitimate than the concept of 
      great powers and middle powers far from that region injecting their naval, ground and air forces
      into the oil rich countries near Iran (especially Iraq and Syria).
   :  Israel is a constant disturbance to regional stability eg. in the Syrian (Golan Heights) territory and
      Jerusalem". See United Nations Security Council Resolution 2334 adopted on 23 December 2016.
      Israel's anti-rules based ownership of nuclear weapons gives Israel a feeling of immunity when it 
      is bombing targets in Syria and invading Lebanon. Israel's illegal ownership of nuclear weapons
      is also a major motivation for Iran to build a nuclear arsenal.
   :  China considers some South China Sea islands its own just as other countries (Vietnam, 
      Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei etc) in the region consider other South China Sea islands their own       and build structures on them (sea map above).

The most extreme challenger to the international order is North Korea but that goes unmentioned
  
I agree on:

-  Need to build closer military and strategic Australia and Japanese partnership for regional stability.
-  that ASEAN is not a strategic alliance hence fragmented and ineffective in holding China back
-  that Japan has much to be worried about China’s rapid military expansion in military capability. 
-  but even more so Japan should worry about North Korea’s rising nuclear military capability
-  useful common ground for Australia-Japan that includes:
   :  the uses and maintenance of F-35A, “Joint Strike Fighter”
   :  anti-submarine warfare,
   :  ballistic and cruise missile defences,
   :  maritime and air combat capability (eg. Aegis destroyers, maritime patrol aircraft, large
      reconnaissance UAVs etc)
      UAVs etc)
   :  space cooperation
   :  cyber offensive, defensive capability and cooperation.
   :  closer interoperability in all military functions with US and Japan
   :  special forces capabilities for counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency

With mention of “high-end military operations” - could this include submarine operations from Australia in the South China Sea and/or even into the East China Sea?

"S" advises that Julie Bishop, the Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs and the Marise Payne, Australian Minister for Defence, will met their Japanese counterparts at the Australia-Japan Foreign and Defence Ministerial (2+2) Consultations in Tokyo in April 2017.

I agree with Peter Jennings' suggestion when President Trump visits Japan later in 2017 Australian Prime Minister Turnbull (and his advisers) could be invited to participate in trilateral talks with Abe and Trump. China should be confident of its own position not to try to scuttle a trilateral arangement  with more Chinese Demarches of the type that scuttled the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue in June 2007.

Peter Coates

March 28, 2017

South Korea to be 2nd Country To Install LIBs for Submarines

Anonymous reported on March 25, 2017 that China, South Korea (SK) and Japan are all developing next generation batteries. SK is developing a submarine that uses Lithium-ion Batteries (LIBs). Anonymous says he used to think that the first fuel cell FC-AIP+ LIBs submarine would be developed as a TKMS + Siemens’ collaboration. But, SK may utilise TKMS' FC-AIP patent first, to create a FC-AIP + LIBs submarine. Of course the safety or reliability of SK LIBs remain unknown. 

Insufficient information concerns China and LIBs for diesel-electric submarines to judge when China will install LIBs for the electrical system.

SOUTH KOREAN ARTICLE

After using right-click mouse to translate the following Doga A.com SK article Pete has further translated it to more logical English.

The article’s author, Son Hyojoo hjson@donga.com, for Doga A.com, of March 23, 2017, reports  http://news.donga.com/Main/3/all/20170323/83474430/1  

"Longer ~" First applied to domestic lithium battery, propulsion power for next generation submarine”

“The first [South Korean (SK)] submarines to be powered by LIBs will be 3 x 3000-class Jang Bogo-IIIs to be deployed by the SK Navy from 2030.

The SK Defense Agency announced that it held a detailed design review (CDR) meeting on July 23, 2016 on the applicability of a LIB system to the Jang Bogo-III (Submarine Placement-II [KSS-III Mark 2s?]). The detailed design review meeting was the final decision stage to determine the feasibility of LIBs for submarine and the possibility of producing a prototype.

"At this meeting, it was decided that the LIB system is suitable as the main propulsion power supply system for the Jang Bogo-III  (see Submarine Matters’ referenceB-II. [B-II can be taken to mean Mark 2" Based on this, SK will lay the foundations for developing the LIB system in earnest.

If the submarine LIBs are successfully developed, performance will improve in many aspects such as energy density, battery life, submersible power, maintenance and so on compared with the lead-acid battery [LAB] system applied to existing SK developed submarines.

Samsung SDI is developing a lithium battery by participating in the project led by the next generation submarine project of the radiation agency[?]

[Comment – Is South Korea’s next generation submarine project a [South] Korea Atomic Energy Research Institute (KAERI) “radiation” project? Noting KAERI has a small 100MW reactor design known as “SMART”) This is also noting DSME has “Nuclear Propulsion Ship” on its “New Technology [Maritime] List”].

"The submarine-mounted lithium battery system is being developed in advanced submarine operating countries such as Germany, France and Japan," said Chung Il-shik, chief of the next-generation submarine business. "We are already developing globally- It is meaningful to utilize it in. "

Doga A.com article Ends

TABLE

Anonymous has created the following Table of Advanced Batteries for Submarine by Generation.


Name
Composition or abbreviation
Energy density [kW/kg]
(theoretical)
Note
First Generation
LIB
Lithium Nickel Cobalt Aluminum Oxide
LiNiCoAlO2 or NCA
260
27SS, 28SS
Lithium Cobalt Oxide
LiCoO2 or LCO
200 (1014)
Shinkai 6500
Lithium Nickel Manganese Cobalt Oxide
LiNiMnCoO2 or NMC
200

Lithium Manganese Oxide
LiMn2O4 or LMO
140 (410)
Proto-type by JMSDF
Lithium Iron Phosphate
LiFePO4 or LFP
120 (575)
LFYP (China) is family of LFP
Lithium titanate
Li4Ti5O12 or LTO
80
CEP- Japan
LAB
LAB

40

LSB
LSB

(ca.2500)

Second
Generation LIB
Lithium Ion Silicate
Li2FeSiO4
(1584)
High Safety, low cycle performance

Lithium Manganese Silicate
Li2MnSiO4
(1485)
High Safety, low cycle performance

COMMENTS

Anonymous commented: Second gen LIBs (Lithium Ion Silicate or Lithium Manganese Silicate) show excellent properties such as very high energy density and safety. Their main drawback may be low cycle performance. Studies to overcome this issue are being conducted.

Two routes of advanced battery development may be as follows:

Route 1  LABs --- First Gen LIBs --- Second Gen LIBs --- LSBs

Route 2  LABs--- First Gen LIBs --- LSBs

Pete Comment: I think TKMS is doing most of the design work for the KSS-III 3000-class Jang Bogo-III just as TKMS designed the KSS-ls and KSS-IIs.  But I think TKMS does not say it is involved in Jang Bogo-III design because of the cruise or ballistic missiles SK will install in Jang Bogo-IIIs. These missiles may be seen (by China and North Korea) as capable of (but not actually carrying) nuclear warheads.

The other German company Siemens might also say it is not helping with FC-AIP for SK because FC-AIP would make the Jang Bogo-III a more efficient missile carrying platform.

Anonymous and Pete

March 27, 2017

Indian Submarine Propulsion Reactor Needs - Arihant, Aridhaman & Chakra II



Photo of  "S-1" land based prototype reactor at Kalpakkam for India's Advanced Technology Vessel (ATV) (Arihant) Program. S-1 went critical on November 11, 2003, was declared operational on September 22, 2006 and photographed (above) in early August 2009. Kalpakkam is an Indian nuclear enclave 45 km south of Chennai, on India's lower east coast. Kalpakkam is shorthand for the longer, more formal, name of the nuclear enclave which is the Indira Gandhi Centre for Atomic Research (IGCAR) (Photo courtesy The Hindu).
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[Update as at March 27, 2017] The Submarine Matters article below was originally published in October 2015 - which explains why the comments below it are of October 2015. The article is suggested reading before I publish an overt update on India's nuclear submarine program on March 30 or 31, 2017.

Please connect with Submarine Matters US and France in Talks with India to Assist India's Nuclear Submarine Program, September 29, 2015.

INDIA'S INDIGENOUS REACTOR PROGRAM FOR SUBMARINE

The land based prototype reactor at Kalpakkam was designated "S-1" in India's Advanced Technology Vessel (ATV) (Arihant) Program, 
"S-2" - was INS Arihant itself with its 83 MW 1st or 2nd generation reactor
"S-3" is INS Aridhaman the first true SSBN (yet to be launched) which will have a more powerful 2nd or 3rd generation reactor.

The Indian indigenous nuclear submarine program, that produced the Arihant, continues under some  secrecy. Secrecy is not total because Kalpakkam and its parent organisation, the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC), need to demonstrate to politicians and the public that the large amounts of taxpayers money is spent wisely with progress made in the nuclear projects.   

•  Work on the Indian nuclear sub program dates from the 1970's and was referred to as the Advanced Technology Vessel (ATV) Project .

•  The prototype nuclear propulsion plant at Kalpakkam (photo) was developed under the program "Plutonium Recycling Project" or "PRP" under direction of BARC or Bhabha Atomic Research Center (BARC). Kalpakkam nuclear enclave is 45 km south of  Chennai on the lower east coast of India.  

•  The 
Kalpakkam-Arihant prototype plant went critical on November 11, 2003 and after further development was declared operational on September 22, 2006. It was only shown to the press once, in early August 2009, about one week after the July 26, 2009 launch of the Arihant itself. Apparently only one photo (above) was cleared for distribution. 

•  Most sources list the prototype and the Arihant reactors as being rated at 82.5 MW. 
There are around 13 fuel assemblies with each assembly having 348 fuel pins.



Major components of Arihant's reactor were made by Indian companies, including:
-  the reactor vessel, made of special grade steel by Heavy Engineering Corporation, Ranchi. 
-  steam generator by Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited (BHEL) and 
-  Pressure valves were made by Audco India, Chennai.

ARIHANT's REACTOR PERFORMANCE

There is a great deal of difference between a nuclear propulsion reactor in a submarine and a land-based atomic power station to produce electricity. While a land-based atomic power plant gets backup from other power stations on the electrical grid, a submarine nuclear propulsion reactor only has some weak diesel engines for emergency backup. A propulsion reactor has to be miniaturised to fit into the confined space of a submarine and be lightweight but strong enough to endure the shock due to moderately powerful underwater explosions. The reactor must also withstand the pitch and roll of a submarine. The reactor must also be capable of rapidly accelerating and decelerating the submarine - unlike a land-based power plant which ramps up gradually.

The Arihant's 83 MW reactor went critical after many sea trials. Extrapolating from known data on Russian submarines and their reactors - the Akula class has a 190 MW reactor but turbines that are rated at just 32MWGoing by the roughly 20 percent power rule here, the turbines on the Arihant are likely to be around 15 MW, or about 20,000 horsepower. Rating them at higher than that doesn't seem to make much sense, and the figures placing them at 47,000 hp (on wiki right sidebar) seems ludicrous - that sort of power would propel the Arihant's estimated 6,000 tons (surfaced) (perhaps 7,000 tons submerged) bulk past 37 knots (like a high speed SSN). A lower power rating and a speed in the SSBN range of 24 knots seems far more likely. A ballistic missile submarine isn't meant to sprint across the oceans - it's meant to be a ghost, running silent and deep, popping up to deliver its apocalyptic cargo when the time calls.

Arihant, with its 83 MW reactor, must be considered an interm and experimental test bed. The 83 MW reactor is not powerful enough for the second of class INS Aridhaman SSBN. Aridhaman, to carry a larger missile load, may weigh around 8,000 tons (surfaced). So a more powerful reactor, approaching Chakra II's 190 MW reactor, may be India's objective. 

INDIA INTERESTED IN CHAKRA II'S 190 MW REACTOR

A major reason for India funding Chakra II (ex Nerpa Akula's) completion and 10 year lease is Indian interest in developing a reactor with something approaching 190 MW.  It is logical to assume that India has a prototype 190 MW reactor at Kalpakkam with Russian advisers for technology transfer. The Akula SSNs, like Chakra II, use the OK-650 reactor rated at 190 MW. It uses a low end 20%-45% HEU reactor. The OK-650 may have been first used 1980 and is still being placed on new Russian submarines - such as 2 on the Borei SSBN in 2009. The OK-650 and other 190 MW Russian submarine reactors are made by the OKBM Afrikantov company.


Of nuclear submarine powers India may still have reactors less advanced than China's but ahead of Brazil. The most advanced remains the US. USS Nautilus was launched in January 1954 and its reactor went critical in December 1954, under two years after the land based prototype went critical. The US provided the UK with its best reactors and helped the UK build copies. France may have received direct US-UK assistance or they tacitly permitted "espionage" by France.

INDIA INTERESTED IN FRENCH AND US REACTOR ASSISTANCE

As at September 2015 India appears to be encouraging Russia, France and the US to compete in providing nuclear submarine assistance to India. Russia is an overt provider of assistance while France and US may claim that are not actually assisting in Indian submarine reactor development.


Biswajit Pattanaik advised in Comments [Oct 2, 2015 8:42PM] India may want a reactor similar to the K15, 150 MW that France has in the Barracuda SSN. Years ago a retired Indian Navy Admiral said the Navy asked BARC to develop a 190 MW with HEU for possible use for the 2nd Vikrant class aircraft carrier and future SSBNs and SSNs that will appear after 2025 time frame. Biswajit understands India is seeking French assistance to increase the life of the Indian reactor from the current 5-8 years to around 10-15 years. India may also be talking to French reactor builder AREVA about converting the K15 from LEU to a new HEU type reactor. 

Ultimately India would be very interested in developing a reactor approaching the capabilities of the US Virginia class's ninth generation S9G reactor which uses higher HEU of 90+ % and lasts the lifetime of a submarine (33 years).

SOURCES

Sources used include:

 -  Atomic Power Review, August 11, 2013:

-  On the Wings of a White Swan, also August 11, 2013, and 

-  "Warhawk, Jun 23, 2014"

Pete

March 24, 2017

Might Nuclear tipped SLCMs Deter the Chinese Bully?


Nuclear tipped Tomahawks are featured 40 seconds in.
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Even compared to Trump China is a more extreme and unsubtle bully in its foreign relations with less powerful nations in the Asia-Pacific. Australia really needs to consider submarine torpedo tube launched nuclear tipped cruise missiles (SLCMs) to be capable of deterring future Chinese aggression. Perhaps the future Shortfins will mount such nuclear SLCMs.

Perhaps the US restarting production of the BGM-109A Tomahawk Land Attack [Cruise] Missiles – Nuclear (TLAM-A) with a W80 thermonuclear warhead may be the quickest way to nuclear arm Australia, Japan and South Korea. Perhaps nuclear TLAM-As still exist disassembled in storage?

To give an idea of plain Chinese bullying behaviour Angus Grigg and Laura Tingle have written an excellent commentary in the Australian Financial Review, March 23, 2017, which begins: 

"Chinese Premier Li Keqiang has urged Australia not to take sides as happened during the cold war, warning strategic tensions in the region threatened prosperity, as he held out the prospect of greater access for Australian products and services to China.

On the first day of his official visit [to Australia], the Premier issued a less than subtle reminder that Australia enjoyed a $US50 billion trade surplus with China last year and suggested this could be jeopardised by instability in the region.

"We don't want to see taking sides, as happened during the Cold War," he told a lunch hosted by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull at Parliament House on [March 23, 2017]...”

See the whole Australian Financial Review commentary

Pete

March 23, 2017

Japan's Carrier JS Izumo to Defy China

In May 2017 Japan will despatch the carrier JS Izumo to run a type of Freedom of Navigation Operation (FONOPs) against China's new empire on sea. Japan continues to develop and increase the size of its (defensive under the Constitution) “helicopter destroyers”. As viewers would notice these are really small-medium aircraft-helicopter carriers. They are of similar size to Japan’s former WWII carriers. While the current four carriers (see below) are mainly for helicopters they are capable of carrying F-35Bs fast strike fighters - a reality not lost on China.


The carriers JS Izumo (83) and newly commissioned JS Kaga (84) certainly don't look like "destroyers". (Photo courtesy Reuters and South China Morning Post)
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1.  CARRIER CAPABILITIES

1. In comments of 20 and 22 March 2017 Anonymous discussed activities of Japan’s four carriers:
    -  the 27,000 ton JS Izumo (and Izumo’s sister ship JS Kaga (commissioned in March 2017)).
       They can each carry:
       =  medium size helicopters (eg. SH-60Ks and MCH-101s). These helicopters' 
           functions are mainly ASW but they are also capable of anti-shipping, mine counter measures,
           ground attack and troop carrying, or
       =  be modified to carry larger aircraft, eg. F-35B VTOL strike aircraft and V-22
           Osprey fast troop carrying tiltrotor craft.

   -  19,000 ton smaller carrier JS Hyuga (and Hyuga’s sister ship JS Ise). They can each carry:
       =  medium sized helicopters. and
       =  for Western aircraft carriers Hyuga and Ise are unusual in actually carrying some destroyer
           armaments, ie. 16 x Mk 41 VLS and 6 x LWT tubes. 


Carrier comparison. From top ROK's Dokdo class Landing Platform Helicopter,  UK Invincible class,  Charles de Gaulle (France of course), Izumo, USS Nimitz (Diagram courtesy kmozzart).
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2.  JS IZUMO IN SOUTH CHINA SEA (May 2017)

According to REUTERS JPN Japan is sending Izumo to the South China Sea in May 2017 to visit Singapore, Indonesia and the Philippines (President Duterte may be invited aboard ("If [he has] time."). On this voyage see first part of this Youtube.

Might Vietnam, Malaysia and Indonesia also be added to the list?

The South China Sea activity will be Japan’s biggest show of naval force in the region since WWII. Japan will likely send other ships (identities not yet known, but typically they would include a destroyer, replenishment ship and maybe a submarine (for ASW practice)).

3.  JS IZUMO at MALABAR 2017 in July 2017

Izumo will participate in the ASW themed Exercise MALABAR 2017, to be held off India between the USN, Indian and Japanese navies, in July 2017.

Izumo will return to Fleet Base Yokosuka, Japan in August 2017.

4.  CHINA OPPOSES IZUMO’S SOUTH CHINA SEA VOYAGE

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hua Chunying was reallly, really angry about Izumo's South China Sea voyage. On March 16, 2017 she said:

“Out of its selfish interests, Japan has been stirring up troubles and creating splits in the South China Sea. Their behaviour has prompted dissatisfaction and opposition of the Chinese people. If the Japanese side insists on doing so, or even attempts to get militarily involved in the South China Sea, harm China's sovereignty and security, and heighten regional tensions, the Chinese side will definitely take firm actions in response.”

[Hua continued] “I want to remind the Japanese side that they are not a party concerned in the South China Sea issue, and that they have a disgraceful history of occupying China's Xisha [Paracel] and Nansha [Spratly] Islands during its war of aggression against China. The Japanese side should reflect upon the history, and be discreet with its words and deeds, instead of making waves in the South China Sea and impairing regional peace and stability.”

Pete Comment – Clearly China approves of its own increases in power projection into the South China Sea but cannot imagine other countries have rights.

Anonymous and Pete
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A postscript:


IJN Sōryū. At 19,000 tons the same size as JS Hyuga and Ise. A good name for a submarine class :) The Sōryū carrier was part of the Pearl Harbour strike, bombed Darwin, then was sunk at Midway.