Category Archives: News & Analysis

Navy Tells Congress Budget Cuts Hurt Readiness

Navy Tells Congress Budget Cuts Hurt Readiness

File photo of Adm. Mark Ferguson. US Navy Photo

File photo of Adm. Mark Ferguson. US Navy Photo 

Department of the Navy officials testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee on Tuesday on the devastating effects the ongoing Continuing Resolution and looming sequestration would have on the services.

By allowing sequestration—the across-the-board cuts—to take effect 1 March and hamstringing the Pentagon and the services as to what they can do under a Continuing Resolution through 27 March, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) said, “We just put the federal government . . . in a position of owing the military a lot of money” to repair the damage caused by deferred maintenance and canceling contracts.
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Jane's: India to Grow to Fourth Largest Defense Spender

Jane’s: India to Grow to Fourth Largest Defense Spender

A new report from IHS Jane’s estimates that India will outpace the United Kingdom, Japan and France to become the fourth largest defense spender in the world in less than ten years.

By 2020 the Indian defense budget is expected to grow to $65.4 billion. That level of spending will be behind only the U.S., China and Russia.

Flanker

An Indian Air Force SU-Mk30 during an U.S. Air Force exercise. U.S. Air Force Photo

“We anticipate that India’s defense spend will overtake France in 2016, the UK in 2018, and Japan in 2020. By the end of the decade, India is expected to be spending up to USD 17.4 billion on the procurement of defense equipment each year,” Craig Caffrey, senior Asia Pacific analyst, IHS Jane’s Defence Budgets on Friday.
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Navy: Lincoln Refueling Delayed, Will Hurt Carrier Readiness

Navy: Lincoln Refueling Delayed, Will Hurt Carrier Readiness

The aircraft carriers USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69), USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77), USS Enterprise (CVN 65), USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75), and USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72) are in port at Naval Station Norfolk, Va. US Navy Photo
The aircraft carriers USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN-69), USS George H.W. Bush (CVN-77), USS Enterprise (CVN-65), USS Harry S. Truman (CVN-75), and USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN-72) are in port at Naval Station Norfolk, Va. US Navy Photo

The U.S. Navy will delay the refueling of the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN-72) for an unknown period because of the uncertain fiscal environment due to the ongoing legislative struggle, the service told Congress in a Friday message obtained by USNI News.

Lincoln was scheduled to be moved to Huntington Ingalls Industries’ (HII) Newport News Shipyard later this month to begin the 4-year refueling and complex overhaul (RCOH) of the ship. Read More

Interview: A Future for Avondale

Interview: A Future for Avondale

Avondale Shipyard in New Orleans. The yard historically built amphibious ships for the U.S. Navy. Owners are now exploring using the yard for manufacturing oil and gas infrastructure. Google Photo Avondale Shipyard in New Orleans. The yard historically built amphibious ships for the U.S. Navy. Owners are now exploring using the yard for manufacturing oil and gas infrastructure. Google Photo

Avondale Shipyards, in continuous operation since 1938, is best known in recent years for constructing Navy amphibious ships, including the Whidbey Island (LSD-41) class and the San Antonio (LPD-17) class. The yard was one of three spun off by Northrop Grumman to form Huntington Ingalls Industries (HII) in 2011. The company announced it would close the yard in 2013 at the completion of the last LPD scheduled there. At its height the yard employed 6,000; currently there are about 2,200 workers.In December, however, CEO Mike Petters announced HII was exploring use of the yard for the construction of oil and liquified natural gas (LNG) infrastructure around the Gulf Coast.
USNI News spoke with Christopher D. Kastner, HII’s corporate vice president and general manager–corporate development, about the future of the yard, its workforce, and what it means for the U.S. Navy.
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Down to One Middle East Carrier

Down to One Middle East Carrier

 Rear Adm. Kevin Sweeney, commander of the Harry S. Truman Strike Group, addresses the media on the pier alongside the aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) on Wednesday. US Navy Photo

Rear Adm. Kevin Sweeney, commander of the Harry S. Truman Strike Group, addresses the media on the pier alongside the aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) on Wednesday. US Navy Photo

Looming budget restrictions means the U.S. Navy will reduce the American presence in U.S. Central Command from two aircraft carriers to one for the immediate future, a defense official told USNI News on Wednesday.

A deployment of the USS Harry S. Truman (CVN-75), planned for later in February, has been delayed to preserve operating a carrier in the Middle East well into 2014, the official said.

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South China Sea: A History of Armed Conflict

South China Sea: A History of Armed Conflict

By Lt. Cmdr. Jeff W. Benson, USN

The father of modern China, Deng Xiaoping, highlighted the South China Sea as part of China’s territory “since ancient times.” For more than 20 years China has avoided armed conflict in the South China Sea, but it is undeniable that things are heating up again in the region

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View South China Sea Conflict in a larger map

China set a precedent for armed conflict in the South China Sea during two encounters with Vietnamese forces, in 1974 and 1988. In both incidents, China used force to stake its claim to territory far beyond its shores. As tensions increase in the region, it’s worth examining those incidents to understand the historical context of conflict in the region.

Over the past two years there have been several events relating to territorial and maritime rights in the South China Sea: scientists planting a Chinese flag on the seabed floor by a submersible vessel, fishing disagreements between China and Vietnam, and the current China and Philippine dispute over Scarborough Shoal, less than 200 nautical miles from Manila. The recent conflict began in April over a fishing disagreement between China and the Philippines causing diplomatic tensions over territorial rights and resulting in more than 15 ships near Scarborough Shoal. Collectively, these incidents indicate the complexity of the Asia-Pacific region, which is now a focal point of the new national security strategy.

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Iran: Danger Points

Iran: Danger Points

Tension levels between Iran and the U.S. are high after Iranian officials voiced threats to cut off the Strait of Hormuz with sea mines in December. As the U.S. and Israel become more vocal about limiting Iran’s ability to develop its nuclear program, Iran has threatened to disrupt the oil supply that passes through the strait. From miniature submarines, to mines and the U.S. Navy’s response what follows is an analysis of the threat Iran could potentially pose to merchant and naval vessels. ~Editor, Sam LaGrone

 


View Iranian Navy in a larger map

A U.S. Naval Institute overview of Iranian naval forces and capabilities and U.S. forces in the Persian Gulf. Information from the upcoming Combat Fleets of the World 16th Edition, Jane’s World Navies, the U.S. Navy and globalsecurity.org.
Icons from mapicons.nicolasmollet.com

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A New Way for Mine Warfare

A New Way for Mine Warfare

“Any ship can be a minesweeper –- once,” goes the old naval joke, but top American commanders in the Middle East are not laughing. Amid the roller coaster of tensions with Iran and a new high-level order to confirm that it can “shoot straight,” the Navy is beefing up its mine warfare capabilities in the Persian Gulf.

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The North Korean Connection

The North Korean Connection

Big surprises often come in small packages and the Islamic Republic of Iran Navy (IRIN) seems to be betting on this adage with its accelerated acquisition of midget submarines in recent years. Open-source reporting indicates that Iran now possesses at least 14 Yono-class mini-submarines. Iranians say these North Korean-designed boats are now being indigenously manufactured in their domestic shipyards. Called the Ghadir-class, production has accelerated since the reported launch of the first Iranian-manufactured unit in 2007 with four of these units launched in 2010 and, according to Jane’s Fighting Ships, another two were launched in the past year.

An undated photo of the Iranian Ghadir-class submarine.

An undated photo of the Iranian Ghadir-class submarine.

The lethal threat loaded in this small package is illustrated by the March 2010 attack on the South Korean corvette Cheonan. The North Korean torpedo attack on the Cheonan broke the ship in half and killed 46 ROK sailors. Forensic evidence, provided by an international team of weapons experts, subsequently revealed that it was a North Korean manufactured CHT-02D acoustic-wake homing torpedo that was used to sink the South Korean ship. The connection to the threat from Iran’s Yono submarines is that many analysts suspect that it was a North Korean Yono mini-sub that launched the attack on the Cheonan. Each North Korean Yono mini-sub is believed to be armed with two such CHT-02D (21-inch) heavy weight torpedoes. It is likely the Iranian Yono units are likely to be armed with the same type of torpedoes.
The IRIN also has three relatively modern, Russian-built, Kilo-class submarines that were purchased in the 1990s. However, the recent emphasis on mini-subs may indicate either a shift in tactics and/or dissatisfaction with the Kilos. The cost, or size and complexity of the Kilos may have caused the IRIN and Islamic Republic of Iran Revolutionary Guard Navy force to seek a more reliable and tactically compatible alternative. The Yono mini-sub is by all observations better matched to the challenging conditions for submarine operations in the gulf than the much larger Kilos. Just as the North Koreans have found the utility of mini-subs in the shallow waters of the Yellow Sea, the Iranians seem to be following suit in the Persian Gulf.

Iran seems to be putting their money where its mouth is when it comes to procurement. By all appearances its investments are matching its naval strategy of waging a guerrilla war at sea. For instance, the procurement of the Yono class boats is paralleled by reported investments in anti-ship cruise missiles, sea mines and the modification of hundreds of fast attack craft/fast inshore attack craft armed with a wide variety of antiship weapons. The ambush tactics for which the mini-sub is designed seem to fit the pattern of recent Iranian weapons procurement and their expressed interest in building a robust anti-access/area denial capability. The relatively short range and endurance of the Yono-class boats makes these units compatible with the Iranian Navy’s coastal defense mission and their presence puts teeth into Iran’s claims to being able to close the vital Strait of Hormuz. It is also noteworthy that as a less than capital asset, these platforms are potentially more expendable than a high value asset like a Kilo submarine. The proliferation of these units, like that of their mini-warship FAC/FIAC cousins, suggests that the Iranian Navy may be willing to lose a few of these units in defense of the nation.

The proliferation of these units presents a number of tactical challenges to the US Navy. As with FAC/FIAC, there is a definite tactical quality to quantity. The sheer number of small but lethal threats that have to be considered when operating in the Persian Gulf, when added up, creates an overall high threat environment. Just like FAC/FIAC, only one Yono needs to slip through a friendly force defensive perimeter and get within torpedo range to possibly achieve success. The threat to friendly vessels is further exacerbated when operating within the confines of the Persian Gulf where, in most areas, the threat axis represents a 360 spin of the compass. Further complicating the problem for blue forces is the inherent difficulty in detecting these small targets amidst the flotsam and jetsam of the cluttered Persian Gulf waters. One conclusion is certain–the development of squadrons of mini-subs and FAC/FIAC are a warning sign that asymmetric threats are on the upswing in the Persian Gulf.