NORWAY TO TOUGHEN UP DEFENCES AGAINST RUSSIA
Norwegian defence minister, Ine Eriksen Soreide has ordered a thorough evaluation of her nation’s military’s capabilities. She said European insecurity had grown following Russia’s annexation of the Crimea – the first time a European state had seized the territory of another since WW2 – and Moscow’s ongoing intervention in eastern Ukraine.
The last time there was a re-evaluation of the Norwegian national defence capabilities was in 2012. There will now be a full re-evaluation of Norway’s post-Cold War military co-operation and partnerships with Russia in light of the latter’s increased military capabilities and willingness to use force. Both nations share a border in their far north and the Arctic is of increasing economic and military strategic importance.
Though there is presently no obvious direct threat, increasing Russian military activity in the region is also of concern as is growing tension in the Baltic. The defence review will be led by Norway’s uniformed defence chief, Admiral Haakon Bruun-Hanssen, who has been given a year to carry it out.
NATO BOSS ASKS FOR MORE
Vice Admiral Peter Hudson is proposing more large-scale naval exercises in Europe. It is a move that would require a greater European presence for American naval vessels at a time when the USA’s main strategic focus has become Asia-Pacific.
The NATO maritime commander’s efforts are being driven by heightened tensions with Russia. There is thought to be a need for more joint integrated training opportunities between warship types and also involving larger formations such as amphibious and carrier strike groups.
Presently there are four NATO standing groups consisting of two groups of destroyers and frigates and two devoted to mine warfare. These standing groups have been operating at half strength in recent years, with, for example, the much-reduced Royal Navy no longer making the same level of commitments it did in the past.
It is not yet clear if USN assets are being requested by Vice Admiral Hudson, a Royal Navy officer based at Northwood in north London, to specifically make up for the shortfalls in what could be the alliance’s first line of response in further crises.
CHINESE CARRIER WORK
Recent satellite pictures show the Liaoning has undergone a four-month maintenance period that has included the resurfacing of the flight-deck as indicated by the lack of deck markings.
There is also a mock-up of a Shenyang J-15 Flying Shark strike jet on the dockside, which has been interpreted by analysts as a calibration model that is aiding the maintenance programme. There is no other indication of shipbuilding activity at the Dalian facility that would otherwise explain its presence.
Despite widely anticipated construction of a second carrier there does not appear to be any major work underway at present. However, test construction has been undertaken on sample modules. Meanwhile, it is uncertain if any fabrication work is ongoing in workshops and hangars in dockyard facilities.
NORTH AFRICAN ASSAULT SHIP
Algeria’s first Landing Platform Dock (LPD), named Kalaat Beni-Abbes, has been delivered by her Italian builders, Orizzonte Sistemi Navali (OSN), a Fincantieri and Selex ES joint venture. The ship is a development of the Italian San Giorgio LPD, three of which are in service with the Italian Navy.
The Algerian vessel appears capable of carrying a larger landing force than the Italian vessels but at the expense of ability to embark armoured vehicles. The deal includes not only construction and delivery of the vessel but also an extensive training package in conjunction with the Italian Navy that commenced in September 2013. It will allow the Algerians to fully operate and maintain the LPD.
The training of the Algerian crew is scheduled to be completed by the end of October, before operational sea training commences in Taranto on simulators and with further help from the Italian Navy. Full qualification will be provided in the first quarter of 2015.
The Brazilian state-owned EMGEPRON (Empresa Gerencial de Projetos Navais) was to unveil the design of its proposed Oceanic Patrol Ship at the Euronaval 2014 show in late October. The project is being developed by the Ship Projects’ Centre of the Brazilian Navy. The OPV is designed to perform surveillance missions within an Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).
The BR-OPV, as it is known, will have a displacement of approximately 2,000 tonnes and a crew of 125 men. Its length is to be 103.4m, with a beam of 11.4m, draught of 3.95m, and capable of 25 knots maximum, with a range of 4,000 miles at 12 knots. It will have Combined Diesel and Diesel (CODAD) driving variable pitch propellers through a single gearbox.