RUSSIAN NAVY MODERNISATION
Most if not all of Russia’s Project 949A Oscar II nuclear-powered guided missile submarines (SSGN) are to be put through a comprehensive US $372 million upgrade by 2020 to keep them operational into the 2030s.
This action is being taken due to delays in constructing next generation Project 885M Severodvinsk Class attack submarines (SSN). At least 12 third generation Russian SSNs and SSGNs are to be modernised by the end of the decade. The most significant aspect of the Oscar II programme will be substantially increasing the number of missiles. Original armament in the submarines was designed to launch volleys of missiles into US Navy Carrier Battle Groups (CBG).
It is believed that the new armament could consist of a mix of up to 72 SS-N-26 Strobile and SS-N-27 Sizzler supersonic Anti-ship Missiles (ASM) or even the SS-N-30 Kalibr land-attack missile. The hypersonic 3M22 Tsirkon – reportedly capable of speeds of up to Mach 6 – will also be fitted to the Project 949A. The new missiles will fit into the existing missile tubes, therefore requiring no significant hardware modification. An important part of the upgrade will also include updating the Omnibus-M combat information and Simfoniya-3.2 navigation systems.
NORWEGIAN MISSILE FOR US NAVY LCS
The Kongsberg Naval Strike Missile (NSM) is to be fitted to the Freedom Class Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) USS Freedom for her next deployment. The Norwegian company will supply the missiles, as well as equipment comprising mountings and launchers. It will also undertake installation and integration on board the LCS of the NSM system, as well as manage training and provide a training facility.
The NSM FCT Phase II demonstration is to be completed by September 2018. Full system integration into Freedom’s combat management system will not be possible before the vessel’s deployment, however. Therefore, the missile will only receive navigational data. The USN has been interested in the NSM as a potential weapon to arm the LCS for some time.
It was first demonstrated during the Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) exercise in July 2014 when it was fired from a Norwegian Fridtjof Nansen Class frigate. In September 2014 the missile was fired from the Independence Class LCS Coronado. The NSM is a stealthy fifth generation anti-ship and land attack cruise missile optimised for littoral engagements, but capable of carrying out open water combat.
FRENCH FRIGATE RETURNS HOME
France’s FREMM Class frigate FS Provence has returned home to Brest from a five-month maiden deployment that saw her sail as far as the South China Sea. Having departed on November 15 2015, Provence spent 160 days away, steamed 35,000 nautical miles, crossed three oceans, four seas, and transited the straits of Gibraltar, Bab-el-Mandeb, Hormuz, and Malacca. In doing so she became the first of her class to pass through the Suez Canal in the process.
Provence was also the first FREMM to become part of a Carrier Battle Group (joining the USS Harry S. Truman CBG near the Strait of Hormuz, and then escorting the FNS Charles de Gaulle CBG in December 2015 and January 2016). While patrolling in the northern Indian Ocean Provence seized a sizable cache of weaponry comprising hundreds of machine guns, anti-tank weapons, and assault rifles after intercepting a vessel bound for Somalia.
Commissioned in June 2015 Provence is the second French FREMM frigate and though multi-role, is considered to be an Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) platform. The Franco-Italian FREMM design is to be the backbone of both navies and is an export success, with sales to Morocco and Egypt. The design is also being considered by Australia and Canada.
POTENTIAL KILO DEAL
Indonesia is interested in procuring Maritime Patrol Aircraft (MPA) from Russia as part of wider efforts to develop greater bilateral military and technical relations.
Russia is keen to sell to the Indonesians the jet-powered amphibian Be-200ChS multirole/emergency services aircraft.
The procurement of two Improved Kilo submarines is also still under consideration. Much updated from its Cold War original, the submarine has demonstrated its capabilities in anger recently, firing land-attack cruise missiles during Russia’s intervention in the Syrian conflict.