SIXTY PER CENT OF USN TO BE BASED IN ASIA-PAC
As the swing in focus away from the old Cold War era European centre of gravity gathers pace, US Secretary of State for Defense Leon Panetta, has revealed that within eight years the majority of American maritime forces will be concentrated in the Asia-Pacific region. During a speech to a major defence conference in Singapore, Mr Panetta explained: “By 2020, the US Navy will reposture its forces from today’s roughly 50/50 split between the Atlantic and Pacific to about a 60/40 split between those oceans – including six aircraft carriers, a majority of our cruisers, destroyers, littoral combat ships and submarines.” As part of that rebalancing, US Marine Corps land and air units have already begun rotating through a new training base in Darwin, northern Australia. To come will be the forward deployment of Littoral Combat Ships (LCS) to Singapore and elsewhere, to put them within range of likely future areas of operation. Secretary Panetta said the Philippines may also once again become a major base for forward deployed American maritime forces. “The United States has long been deeply involved in the Asia-Pacific,” Panetta said. “Through times of war and peace, under Democratic and Republican leaders, through rancour and comity in Washington, through surplus and debt. We were here then, we are here now and we will be here for the future.”
CANADIAN BIG SHAKE UP
A far-reaching reorganisation of Canada’s armed forces will see a smaller and more efficient command structure for the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN). It aims to achieve regeneration of an effective fighting force for the demands of future operations. The duplication of some functions by Maritime Forces Pacific (MARPAC), in Esquimalt, and Maritime Forces Atlantic (MARLANT), in Halifax, is to be resolved by coming under a single authority, established at MARLANT. The process of organising, training, and equipping the RCN will be rationalised. Among a number of other changes a new directorate, the Directorate New Capability Introduction (DNCI), is to be created to coordinate the introduction into service of new platforms and systems. DNCI will be a key part of managing the Halifax Class frigate modernisation programme, Arctic/Offshore Patrol Ships and Joint Support Ships (JSS). DNCI will reside within MARPAC and will work with the existing structures and detachments that are already established at Halifax and Victoria. Responsibility for managing and operating the RCN’s submarines and personnel – and creating a sustainable submarine capability – will lie with a new Directorate Canadian Submarine Force (DCSF).
INDIAN CARRIER ON SEA TRIALS
The modified Kiev Class carrier INS Vikramaditya (formerly the Admiral Gorshkov in Soviet Navy service) is in the final stages of being returned to ocean-going service at the SEVMASH Shipyard in northern Russia. The sea trials were scheduled for June having originally been destined for May. Bad weather is said to have forced the delay. The programme has been hit by a series of well-publicised delays, widely escalating costs, technical problems, plus diplomatic, legal and political wrangles. The US $947million contract, signed in 2005, eventually ballooned to US $2.3billion.
The ship is expected to finally enter Indian Navy service in December 2012. The sea trials are taking place in the White Sea and the Barents Sea. On entering Indian service the Vikramaditya will host a very capable air wing consisting of MiG-19K Fulcrum fighters, plus Ka-28 ASW, Ka-AEW and HAL Dhruv helicopters. The naval variant of the HAL Tejas light combat aircraft and the Indian Navy’s remaining Sea Harriers may also be embarked.
AEGIS TRIALS FOR HOBARTS
Tests for the combat systems that will make Royal Australian Navy (RAN) future destroyers formidable warships have been completed by Lockheed Martin and approved by the US Navy. They took place at the Vice Admiral James H. Doyle Combat Systems Engineering Development Site in New Jersey. The facility is the USN’s land based test facility for such systems.
The variant fitted to the Hobart destroyers is to be the AEGIS Baseline 7.1 Refresh 2 version, which when linked to the shipboard sensors, (primarily the Raytheon AN/SPY-1D (V) S-band radar), will allow the vessels to detect, classify, and fire upon airborne threats nearly 100 miles away. Australian, British, and Spanish companies are busy fabricating modular blocks of the destroyers, with the lead ship, the future HMAS Hobart, due to commission in December 2014.
TURKEY REJECTS UK PARTNERSHIP
Ankara has declined become a partner in the British Global Combat Ship (GCS) programme. Thirteen of the frigates are set to enter service with the Royal Navy after 2020 to replace the Type 23 as the backbone of the fleet. However, efforts to interest foreign nations in the GCS have so far not yet yielded results. Canada has also rejected the GCS, which is to be known as the Type 26 in UK service. It had been hoped the Turkish Navy would be interested as part of its TF2000 air-defence frigate programme. It seems the Turkish Navy is determined to carry on with its plan to build upon experience gained from the MILGEM corvette project and nurture domestic design and construction experience. Brazil may yet be interested in joining the GCS programme.