Tagarchief: ASW

Comments on the RNLN plans

In the first blog I pointed to the JSF and reasoned that I don’t believe the positive quote ‘Now it is our decade’. In the second part I tried to look into the plans which where shown in an article.

The Royal Netherlands Navy (RNLN) is planning the replacement of its mine countermeasures (MCM) vessels, its M-Frigates and replacement of its four Walrus class submarines.

With this third blog I will write something about the problems (which I already talked about in a previous blog) the delusional High technological – high cost (mostly poor quality (you won’t believe it) but high budget and high results for shareholders of the MIC) part which is meant for intervention, stand-off ranges… in short best described as the Joint Strike Fighter concept. In this blog I will focus on the implications for the RNLN. In order to do this I will point out that the Navy has good quality ships(units) but in to small numbers.

Concessions not capabilities
People who have read my blog know that I’m not a fan of the OPV (Holland class) and JSS (karel Doorman class). And that’s because I believe that these were more political and industrial oriented concession projects. First of all, I believe that we should have kept the incredible robust MP frigates as they where. The ministry of Defense (while it should be a political decision) used this argument that they where to costly with big manning costs.. but these costs – on the total cost of sailing a (big) vessel are peanuts. And that’s the same for an OPV or a frigate. The MP Frigates could sail with a smaller crew of about 80 people on “coast guard missions” instead of about 150 people in full war configuration> This ability is lost with the great OPV’s.

The OPV’s are solutions for tasks and have a performance profile that could have easily been done by less costly ships. They are classes of ships full of concessions. I said it many times before. The Dutch (and you can fill in most of the NATO member countries except US but included the UK) have created a split in two parts of Defense:  the High technological – high cost (mostly poor quality but high budget and high results for shareholders of the MIC) part which is meant for intervention, stand-off ranges… in short best described as the Joint Strike Fighter concept….and the second part is the “good for peace & security operations” forces.. called UN peace keepers… they (the soldiers believing in these concepts) imagine to be capable of warfighting… for the public and the politicians.. but they can’t… Why because they depend on the ideal (calculated) scenario’s if everything goes as planned…. Neglecting Murphy”s law.  Just read my last blog and the quote of Brigadier Simon Humphrey (British Army/UK)

“Brigadier Simon Humphrey said budget cuts and an over-emphasis on low-end insurgency operations have left Nato forces at risk of being “overwhelmed in the early stages of a high-intensity conflict”.
….
He added that the continued reliance on close air support – a capability that kept ground troops safe in Afghanistan and Iraq – was a “flawed assumption” for future campaigns.

….

An accompanying video presentation declared that “Nato’s rocket and gun platforms are outnumbered, outranged and outgunned by all their likely peer adversaries. The enemy would overwhelm our forces with greater range, volume and access to large-calibre munitions.

“A rocket engagement with a mix of sensor fuzed, thermobaric and proximity munitions against dispersed Nato battle groups would be devastating.” ”

Remember what is really wrong with the Dutch armed forces:

What I mean is that the Dutch armed forces – especially the land forces lack offensive capability and depend completely on others and “Airpower” which is an illusion. But also the Royal Netherlands navy lacks capabilities.. 

I am aware that it isn’t the same “problem” as the Army has which has a complete lack of offensive weapon systems.. No the Netherlands navy indeed has capable frigates, it’s Submarines are very good: unmatched in capabilities and quality, they form a special class on their own, since most of the other submarines are much smaller and the Walrus class ships are capable of transiting much greater distances on their own without any help. The current class of Mine Counter Measure (MCM) ships are also very good. The problem with the navy is especially that the force mix is to small to have enough ships available for the “four stroke” which is needed to be able to train for the worst… that’s what our fighting forces are for. Units need to be able to do peacekeeping (and other secondary role) missions, but also train for worst case scenario’s and that’s the point, there are to few ships, and to low on crews to do that. This in combination with the policies of the governments since 2008 have been disastrous for all branches (even the Air Force with their continued focus on ALL AMERICAN (in)doctrine, equipment and their fight on (terror and money for the MIC).  There used to be a capability mix of different kind of systems which together formed a system of systems… It was called a layered defense. That’s all gone now. We have just one layer with offensive capabilities and some disguised / fake layers without any capacities what so ever. Back to the Navy, we came from a force structure with lots of fighting ships – support vessels – Mine Counter measure vessels – integrated Marine units – maritime patrol aircraft – naval helicopters… a complete and cooperative layered team effort.

In a blog from a couple of years ago (2014) I reflected on the Dutch navy situation compared with 2004 >  Focusing on the key area of Anti Submarine Warfare (ASW).

  The last couple of years… well almost 10 to 20 years, many European governments, like the Dutch government seem to have forgotten why we need a well-equipped war fighting capable navy. A new trend have arose where full fletched destroyers, frigate’s and corvettes have been replaced by so called Ocean capable  (a term also used: Offshore) Patrol Vessels. These vessels are mostly capable of operating in a coastguard role, with some weaponry and sensors and often helicopter facilities.  One of the main area’s which this “rebalancing” of fleets have led to is a large diminish of Anti-Submarine warfare capabilities. The European navies decreased the number of submarines, submarine hunting vessels, Anti-Submarine Maritime Patrol Aircraft and Helicopters capable of these important tasks.  Besides that navies tend to invest less in training hours for these kind of operations. Why? The threat of the Soviet fleets have disappeared right? To give you an example: The Dutch Navy in 2004 (ten years ago) had:

  • 13 (around 2004 it where 10)P3C Orion Maritime Patrol Aircraft in the latest modernisation standard. These aircraft where capable of searching and destroying submarines and surface vessel at great range and long endurance. Also capable of Search and Rescue (SAR) missions. Later some were improved for operation over land (EW and SIGINT operations)
  • 24 owned (during 2004 they had 22)SH-14D Lynx naval helicopter These helicopters where integrated on naval frigates and surface ships to help defend and hunt enemy submarines to secure the vicinity of own and friendly ships, both military and merchant vessels in convoy. These helicopters were also used for SAR, Special Forces Insertion, Transport and security operations (like Operation Atalanta)
  • Surface vessels: The Dutch Navy had several types of surface vessels which are capable of Anti-Submarine warfare, with or without naval helicopters.
    • 2x Replenishment ships capable of carrying 2 Lynx helicopters and loads of Aircraft fuels, spares and torpedo’s
    • 1x Air defence frigate with Torpedo tubes, and sonar
    • 7x Multi purpose Frigates with Torpedo tubes, and a bow sonar and equipped with one Lynx helicopter. Besides the hull mounted sonar these frigates are also fitted with a special towed sonar specifically intended for Anti Submarine Warfare. (Anaconda DSBV-61A towed array sonar)
    • 2x Landing Platform Dock ship with the secondary capability of operating as an ASW command and support ship with room for 6x naval helicopters.
    • 4xAir defence and Command Frigates. These are armed with hull mounted sonars
  • Submarines:4x Walrus class submarines armed with torpedo’s and if necessary armed with Harpoon Anti Ship missiles (never bought by the Dutch Navy though).

If we look at the current status of the Dutch Navy… don’t fall of your chairJ I start with the actual decrease/increase (if there is any) by – xx! or + xx!

  • – 13!No more MPA; all sold to Germany (8) and Portugal (5). These aircraft replaced older/other aircraft so in the end EU/NATO decreased this important capability.
  • – 8!ASW capable helicopters; as a cost-cutting measure all flying Lynx helicopters stood down on September 2012. At that time there were a couple of new NH90 in service. But this project has many problems so these where scaled down versions, not full Operation capable. Also the number of ASW capable versions are scaled down, 12 are planned as ASW naval helicopters, the other 8 where intended as naval transport helicopters for marines support operations.
  • Surface vessels:
    • -1! only 1 Replenishment ship operational; 1 Joint Support ship in construction, but because of the broad tasks it is supposed to fulfil it couldn’t always function as a replenishment ship. Besides that it is expected that the purposely build Replenishment ship Zr.Ms. Amsterdam (A836) will be sold around 2014. Effectively this means that the capability will be decreased more than just -1. Say -1,5!
    • Frigates:
      • -1!The Air defence frigate was effectively out of service around 2005.
      • -5/6!Originally there have been 8 Multi-Purpose frigates serving the RNLN. These ships where the backbone of Dutch Submarine hunting capacity. During the year 2004 Hr.Ms. Abraham van der Hulst (F832) was sold. Therefore I speak of a loss of 5 frigates compared to the current situation. The Dutch navy has only 2 of these specialized submarine hunting frigates left. Ofcourse we can count in the 2 Belgian ones because they are integrated within the Admiral BENELUX. But for EU/NATo thise meant a loss because they replaced their 3 frigates with two former Dutch MP frigates.
      • 0!The 4 Air defence and Command Frigates still remain in service.
    • 0! The 2 Landing Platform Docks still remain in service.
  • Submarines: 0!The 4 Dutch submarines eventually survived numerous “attacks” of politicians who wanted to get rid of the submarine service. One quote in particular is very interesting because it’s from the current Dutch minister of foreign affairs Timmermans:

Timmermans (Labour), “Yes, but it’s not the answer I want to hear I want to hear that there were no life-sustaining investments would be done in the submarine service.”. When (minister of Defence) Kamp stuck to his point, the parliamentarian Timmermans decided to break with: “Then this decision wil be the nose of the camel and I predict that we will never get rid of the submarine service.”

The Dutch submarine service has lost a lot of “fat from the bones”… it’s a very tiny service with very few personnel. But the effects it can generate is very interesting. They do a far more better job than the Canadians, Australians and many other countries operating the same or more ships with a lot more personnel. All those other services deliver fewer hours at sea at larger cost.

We can say that the RNLN now has a half replenishment ship. A half ship because the Netherlands has a Joint Support Ship, it also has to be used for transport tasks, It can be used as a marines landing ship besides this the Netherlands has to share this ship for several days/hours per year with the German navy.  But as I suggested before there seem to be plans now for a dedicated “simple” Combat Support ship…like the LOGISTIC SUPPORT VESSEL REPLENISHER 20000 off-the-shelf…. So Navy / MoD please buy a “simple” ship and don’t try to develop it yourself…. Other surface ships are still the same at the moment.

Logistic_Support_Vessel_Replenisher_20000.jpg

Yes I didn’t mention the Ocean Going Patrol Vessels… we have 4 of them, and they are being sold to the politicians and to the public as a great success. I don’t agree. I didn’t mention these ships because I was talking about ships with ASW capability. And there you’ll have it.  This is what I think about these ships – which to be honest – look beautiful and decent.

My critical views on the OPV short sum-up:

  • Tasks for a coastguard like ship which have could be done by less advanced and smaller ships like the Belgians opted for. 2 ships for € 26,6 milion.
  • A civil duty ship but with a heavy canon armament of 1 × 76 mm, 1 × 30 mm Oto Melara Marlin WS, 2 × 12.7 mm Oto Melara Hitrole NT, 6 × 7.62 mm FN MAG machine guns. Yes…… for a Coastguard tasked vessel)
  • A sensor /radar suite (I-mast 400) which normally equips full fletched Frigates… instead of a “civil / coastguard tasked” patrol ship.
  • A large and relative heavy ship like this was needed to accommodate the NH90 helicopter.. and that is just because the navy didn’t want the (leftist polictical) arguments… oh, you need less helicopters because you have less ships to equip…
  • A ship like this wouldn’t be bad if it was designed as a ship that was ‘fitted for, but not with’ which means that the ship could be (up or re)-armed from a simple Coastguard suite up to a heavier (equipped) ship which could function as a corvette. What it has meant to be in the original navy ship study of 2005.
  • Also this ship is to slow to be used for military tasks, And this issue isn’t really an option to do anything about, technical specialists told me that it just isn’t possible to squeeze more knots out of this vessel… and that’s what the political left wanted and get thanks to Mr. Hans van Baalen. (yes, that one, shouting from Maidan square, selling his soul to the big car industry e.g.)
  • There is one positive note: because of these ships the frigates can be dedicated for other roles. But as I said earlier, this could have been done with other, smaller, less expensive and less advanced vessels. And no, I don’t believe the OPV’s will ever be used in the South-China Sea, the gulf or the Horn of Africa, since this could be the result for that unfortunate OPV. so claiming these ships will be used for global roles is not a reality and not necessary, smaller ships will be faster, and helicopters could be made available from the near land bases. But even Damen has designed and build several patrol boats. One of the bigger alternatives would for example be the

That’s it for now, stay tuned!

Do you know what a SLOC is?

Well it stands for Sea Lines of Communications (SLOC) and it’s more important than you may think. in this age of digital worldwide web, we (and our governments) seem to have forgotten how we get our stuff and all the things we need to live from A to B. Yes you may order your things on Internet, through Ebay, Amazon or some fancy Chinese webstores. But the next thing will be to ship it from A(sia) to B (or Europe:) ofcourse most of these goods come to Europe through our Dutch Main port of Rotterdam. Yes im proud of that.

Well just see and observe this visualization of the world’s shipping routes

“Just remember what DutchForce21 is all about. A maritime focus to (Dutch) armed forces, just because this is the reality.”

About 11 billion tons of stuff gets carried around the world every year by large ships. Clothes, flat-screen TVs, grain, cars, oil — transporting these goods from port to port is what makes the global economy go ‘round.

And now there’s a great way to visualize this entire process, through this stunning interactive map from the UCL Energy Institute

Some previous articles:

Solutions:

Nederlandse toevoeging:

Iedereen die dit fimpje ziet, begrijpt hopelijk direct waarom Dutchforce21 de krijgsmacht een maritieme focus wil geven! En ook waarom dit op een expeditionaire manier zal moeten… en dus de JSF totaal ongeschikt is!!

Lees de serie:

 

 

A modest proposal for South East ASEAN own A2/AD

Before you ask… what is A2/AD …. no it’s not a new robot from Star Wars…. it stands for: Anti-access/Area denial. And it’s a big fancy way of saying… a layered defence organisation capable of restricting other nations (especially their military systems) to enter a specific area. for example your own territorial waters (near the Spratley islands….)

The term “Anti-access” (A2) means the action to hinder other nations’ power projection into a theater, while “Area denial” (AD) means the action to hinder other nations’ operation within a theater.

I wrote before about South-East Asia. Bluntly said these (now) peaceful countries are under threat of one big country… namely China. Which would like to incorporate the South China sea within their own territorial waters. Lately I wrote about the Philippines and how they are trying to beef up their military capabilities after years of neglecting and corruption they are bound to change this. Other countries in the South East Asia region are doing this to. They also have established a cooperation for the region. something like the EU. but not as powerful (economically) yet.

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations, or ASEAN, was established on 8 August 1967 in Bangkok, Thailand, with the signing of the ASEAN Declaration (Bangkok Declaration) by the Founding Fathers of ASEAN, namely Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore and Thailand.

Brunei Darussalam then joined on 7 January 1984, Viet Nam on 28 July 1995, Lao PDR and Myanmar on 23 July 1997, and Cambodia on 30 April 1999, making up what is today the ten Member States of ASEAN.

Island claimes SouthEast Asia Malacca-2

The defence cooperation is a part of this in the form of the ASEAN Defence Ministers’ Meeting (ADMM).

The objectives of the ADMM, as outlined in the Concept Paper for the Establishment of an ADMM endorsed at the Inaugural ADMM in Kuala Lumpur on 9 May 2006, are as follows:

 

  • To promote regional peace and stability through dialogue and cooperation in defence and security;
    • To give guidance to existing senior defence and military officials dialogue and cooperation in the field of defence and security within ASEAN and between ASEAN and dialogue partners;
    • To promote mutual trust and confidence through greater understanding of defence and security challenges as well as enhancement of transparency and openness; and
    • To contribute to the establishment of an ASEAN Security Community (ASC) as stipulated in the Bali Concord II and to promote the implementation of the Vientiane Action Programme (VAP) on ASC
    .

On diverse blogs and forums you can read the signs that the cooperation between ASEAN nations is bound to increase and improve. In my opinion one of these areas which need to be addressed is the acquisition and (joint) development of military hardware. Adoption of joint operational doctrine and procedures (and training).

IMO only the strength and determination of these “smaller” countries together can deter the Chinese will to occupy this area.

Modest proposal
A modest proposal starts with the question what if I had a say in it? What should i do? Well there are some rumours about Saab at the moment. they are quietly delivering proposals to many countries. With attractive offers.

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Interesting news from #Indonesia : Since there is growing interest in South East Asia for what i call the “Thai approach” Im interested what Indonesia will make of this.

Rather than offering only the latest generation of its light, single engine Gripen jet fighter, Swedish defense and security giant Saab throws a complete set of air defense systems.

The offer also includes Erieye airborne early warning and control (AEW&C) for maritime surveillance and control; ground-based Command and Control; tactical data link to share data among various platforms; industrial cooperation, including transfer of technology and local production; and extensive job creation, reaching into the thousands.

The Thai approach
Also interesting of course is the offer to Malaysia and Vietnam as well. The Thai approach doesn’t only consist of a very capable fighter (already the C/D standard is internationally very modern and capable.) But also the Airborne Early Warning and Control (AEW&C) is a very powerful instrument for each country which would like their sovereignty be respected. And at rather low costs as well. I would also like to see the possibility of these countries. Interesting thing to note hear is that all these countries have made their interest clear to buy the (IPTN

ERIEYE_SAAB340

Reasoning behind this?
What if Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia,Vietnam and the Philipines, buy the same affordable Air Superiority fighter with outstanding Anti Ship capabilities (RBS15) + the Airborne Early Warning (and let’s say Maritime Patrol Aircraft versions) of each single country into one joint ASEAN network?

C-295 AEW Erieyeyourfile

CN295 in both transport and C-295 ASW / ASuW. If the Saab Erieye could be integrated on this platform it would safe these countries considerable costs – they already use this platform (not all but this would be possible because they need this transport platform to) To have a common fleet of Gripen Fighters but also a common fleet of Supporting aircraft (Transport – Tanker (just to name it) – MPA – AEW&C – EW/Intel) all combined in one basic platform. Besides the CN295 option there are of course other alternatives as well, each should be looked at their merits. If these countries can take the same Fighters and Supporting aircraft they can also integrate easily the very silent data link which make them more effective in a joint ASEAN vs China situation.

There are some downturns to this CN295 option though. Range and payload for example…. (not the same as an Orion or other real ASuW platform I read somewhere 11 hrs at a 200nm patrol range) But as these aircraft will be used mainly for national sovereignty missions (Air and Sea denial) this could be not a real point. the positive side would be that these aircraft are relative cheap to buy and operate. This means countries can spend more on their payloads (over platforms) which means they can acquire sophisticated Long range weapons, Meteor BVRAAM, etc. to deter an aggressive dominating country like China for example.

IMO only the strength and determination of these “smaller” countries together can deter the Chinese will to occupy this area. IMO this could be a very useful sign of jointness and an effective force….  A force which could make China think twice before it would really attack the region. these thought’s arent that strange. A Japanese Research fellow, Mr. Junichi Fukuda of the Institute for International Policy Studies(IIPS), suggests this same idea… and calls it “mini-A2/AD capabilities” .

The “mini-A2/AD capabilities” hinder the power projection of an adversary by using asymmetrical methods. This could thus be viewed as turning the tables on China for its posture towards the U.S. The “mini-A2/AD capabilities” represent even more vital capabilities for Japan than the U.S., given Japan’s particularly vulnerable position in geography. The principal challenges for Japan and the U.S. in the future would appear to be to efficiently allocate defense resources and to build and share strategies and operational concepts for conflict, according to the approach outlined above. For example, the former requires efforts to optimally allocate the defense resources based on the strategic priority, while the latter requires efforts to build and share a common strategy.

This should be a tool in the overall toolbox of Defence organisations together with boots on the ground, ships in (and under) the water. Only the you can protect your countries integrity and sovereignty.

In the end I come back to the Netherlands… and Europe. This same capability network and thus the ” mini-A2/AD capabilities” could be ours too. Making us less dependent on US And I think it can be done within cost, within timeframe and with enough numbers to be effective and…. deterrent!

Submarine Ahoy: Good news for both Sweden and the Netherlands!

This morning the press releases from both Damen Schelde Naval Shipbuilding and Saabgroup (through its subsidiary Kockums Saab Naval systems) revealed a teaming agreement:

Swedish defence and security company Saab is teaming with Dutch shipbuilder Damen Shipyards Group to explore future opportunities in the international submarine market. The companies have signed an exclusive teaming agreement to work together in pursuit of the potential Walrus-class submarine replacement programme for the Netherlands. In addition to this project, Saab and Damen will also explore ways in which they might bid jointly on other submarine procurement programmes.

Read the full Press releases @ Saabgroup and @ Damen Naval.

kockums_a26_468

On July 30th 2014 I wrote the following:

Business case JFS: part 1

You think I misspelled that? Well your wrong. It stands for a new project called: Joint Future Submarine (JFS). No not again…. You could think! First let me explain the used terms:

Joint – A submarine is a strategic asset important for the whole defence force. It will gather intelligence over sea, and over land, it will insert and extract Special Forces, it will influence warfare on land with land-attack missiles and act as a (satellite) communication relay, between forward / expeditionary positioned land and air forces, if necessary.

Future – this one should be clear, a submarine design must be compatible for future uses. Just like the Walrus class we may expect them to operate for long lifetime. They must be built in a modular way to insert future technology at the moment not even available.

Submarine – yes ofcourse, the vessel is a submarine. They will be of the non-nuclear type. But must be fitted with Air Independent Propulsion systems. The type, just as the Walrus class should be able to operate independently on long ranges and without any direct support vessels.

Well we can learn from past mistakes now do we? So if some projects failed in the past because they had the program management wrong, they put new demands into the program in between, and they produced aircraft while testing had not been finished… yes than such a project is bound to fail…. Again. But if we get this the right way… well than such a project can be very promising.

This wasn’t the first time I mentioned this option though, I already had this in mind years ago when I was still developing the DutchForce21 concept for the reorganization and reequipping the Dutch Armed forces.  Read some of the other posts on my blog, about the future Submarine need and about (future) Anti Submarine Warfare (ASW) needs for the Netherlands and Europe.

  1. Business case JFS: part 1
  2. Joint Future Submarine: part 2
  3. Future need for Anti-Submarine Warfare capabilies in European context – Part 1
  4. ASW capabilities: the European context – Part 2
  5. Business case JFS: short addition

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How things can change over a year isn’t it? I remember it was December 2013 when the news arose about problems at Kockums with their greedy mother company TKMS / HDW. I received some information and found others through my network of defense experts worldwide.

Maybe that the naval domain can show the “air domain” how a cooperative project must be done. Both Damen and Saab know how to build vessels on a modular way. within budget, within technical scope so the products they build can be used what they were meant for.  No paper planes … eh… submarines i mean, but real ones, operational available and enough of them to operate properly.

I will keep an eye on this Joint Future Submarine project.

Business case JFS: short addition

Remembered the new project proposal I called: Joint Future Submarine (JFS)? A project to replace the current Dutch Walrus-class submarines with new ones in a joint cooperative program… because the Dutch lost their full capabilities to deliver new submarines themselves.

class_walrus2_2

 

Joint – A submarine is a strategic asset important for the whole defence force. It will gather intelligence over sea, and over land, it will insert and extract Special Forces, it will influence warfare on land with land-attack missiles and act as a (satellite) communication relay, between forward / expeditionary positioned land and air forces, if necessary.

Future – this one should be clear, a submarine design must be compatible for future uses. Just like the Walrus class we may expect them to operate for long lifetime. They must be built in a modular way to insert future technology at the moment not even available.

Submarine – yes ofcourse, the vessel is a submarine. They will be of the non-nuclear type. But must be fitted with Air Independent Propulsion systems. The type, just as the Walrus class should be able to operate independently on long ranges and without any direct support vessels.

In short just look at the new Kockums A26 propsal from Sweden’s Saab Group!

download (1) kockums_a26_468

ASW capabilities: the European context – Part 2

I previously wrote :

kockums_a26_468

I will contiue with some conclusions regarding the detailed numbers i wrote in part 1.

Numbers, people and training
Not only do numbers matter, people to operate the systems, and training… for ASW does matter. The number of people available have declined, and because there are less ships (and people) to do more operations (other than ASW) their availability for dedicated anti-submarine operational training is at a very dangerous low point. The last factor will be: the wearing out of the ships, because all ships will be at a high level of operational availability for low intensity operations… like anti-piracy  in the horn of Africa or on station.  Ships and systems aren’t available for what they were intended for… but are available for operations they are too expensive to operate for. Even the OPV’s are relatively high cost because of the High tech sensor suite and the high load guns on board. (compare it to the French Gowind L’Adroit OPV, or the Spanish BAM for instance. Or take the very expensive NH90 naval helicopter which may be very good for Anti-Submarine warfare and other military operations, but way over the top for SAR, training, Drug and law enforcement operations.

Imbalance
This imbalance isn’t only visible in the Netherlands. The whole of Europe, at least the modern Western-European armed forces have suffered the same decline in ASW capabilities.  The Netherlands and other EU-member states should rethink the decline of (their) relevant capabilities!

Read about it in this indepth special report from a workshop from 2008: DV C. Parry Maritime developments and their

 

 

Read all the answers to questions like: Why is it important? Where do we need it for? But first let me start by elaborate on the necessity for a European approach to our maritime security. Personally I think it is possible to do this in a manner that both respects the sovereignty of (our) nation(s) and create an effective European force if necessary. Besides that it will be necessary to better control our borders, surrounding waters and Exclusive Economic Zone’s (EEZ) both in times of peace (coastguard operations) and war (military naval operations Sea Control / Sea Denial)

“Although the interests of European countries can also be differing, we have one big shared interest: We all live on the European continent.”

Not alone but in partnership
In my opinion a European approach to Security & Defence is a very important thing to do because Europe will face imminent threats in the years to come. At the same time we see the forces of the NATO split into the United States (80%) and the rest. European countries are lacking many important capabilities and the Armed Forces of the United States are (re)focusing on the South East Asian and Pacific theatres of operation. Besides that we see that the United States interests aren’t always the same as European and European countries interests. In contrast even, sometimes the interests of the United States and European countries are diametrically opposed to each other. Both Russia and China are following a more aggressive stance while Western (especially European) countries take a more avoidant stance. At the same time we see the West giving priority on short term financial benefits by decreasing defence spending and trying to secure for example (defence) export deals with both countries (thus selling them high tech weaponry and technology transfer) while ignoring possible future conflict situations with both countries. We see a lot of developments in our back- and front yards:

threats to europe

  • Russia: Ukraine, threat full maneuvers in the Baltic Sea, claiming territories in the North pole area, an aggressive stance against some of the Visegrad group of counties and (other) Baltic states e.g.

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  • China: claiming territories and islands in the South China Sea area, setting up no fly zones over other countries territories (Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia)  the same for Taiwan, South Korea and Japan areas.

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  • Turmoil in several Mediterranean countries: With lots of refugees and civil war in Syria, Iraq and many problems surrounding the whole Southern European (Mediterranean) borders.

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Common interests in Europe within NATO
My conclusion is that Europe and the European member states should do more to become more independent from the United States, within NATO structures if necessary, and act as fully responsible and as an assertive (group of) countries. Although the interests of European countries can also be differing, we have one big shared interest: We all live on the European continent. Eventually this also benefits the United States and NATO but on our own terms.

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One continent, common threats
European countries share one continent, they thus share common threats to their borders and to their common interests in regard of flow of goods, fuel, raw- and rare materials. Al these interest depend on open and (European) controlled seas. But what if we (Europeans) do not have the ships, submarines, maritime patrol aircraft, helicopters and people to secure those Sea Lines of Communication (SLOC)? Ships with all the things we need (and that’s a lot because many things we can’t make ourselves because its cheaper to buy in Asia….)   sail from Asia to Rotterdam. For example its about 9.343 NM from Singapore to Rotterdam if you take the Suez canal. What if there is a chokepoint, lets say the Suez canal is closed? Ships have to re-route to sail around Africa which means a trip of 14.181 NM. What if there are problems around Africa too? And the northern passage to go round Russia and China isn’t possible? Can we defend our merchant vessels? Against pirates? Ok, but can we defend our merchant vessels against, submarines, enemy fighter attack, long range anti-ship missiles? Is this really a delusional idea? Who would have thought that Russia would be waging war against a country with borders to Europe? Is it really unthinkable that China will wage war against small ASEAN countries like the Philippines, Vietnam e.g.? Does the Netherlands have (or even needs) the capability to perform these kind of operations all by itself? No, that won’t be possible unless it would arm all of its merchant ships… But the European navies together can make a very impressive capability to secure our SLOC. But then we need to cooperate.

No to full integration, Yes to full cooperation
A fully integrated European Armed Force and additional overhead is totally unnecessary in my opinion. This would build a water head without any muscles. I see possibilities for mutual respectful cooperation and standardisation using NATO standard procedures, training, doctrine, (modular) weapon and sensor systems, fuel and spare parts. This will also improve the cooperation with our US allies. Burden sharing with the US will benefit both. We can secure their interests: merchant vessels on route from Asia to the US, and they can secure European merchant vessels en route to Europe. But there is even a broader possibility there are other countries to cooperate with. Brazil, India, South Africa (BRIC countries…. Without China unfortunately) could be security partners too.

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Read about some of the current and proposed Maritime Patrol Aircraft market.

Future need for Anti-Submarine Warfare capabilies in European context – Part 1

Some time ago I wrote two blogs about the need for a future RNLN Walrus class submarine replacement:

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Of course just having four submarines isn’t the only thing needed to have an effective Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) capability. With this blog I will try to make a case for a European improvement of ASW capabilities. With this first blog I will look at the decreasing numbers of some capabilities within the Netherlands Armed forces. The next blog will show the European context and the last blog will point out… the necessity of submarines, ASW capabilities and the ultimate goal: being able to command the seas: and thus perform Sea Control / Sea denial operations, where we want it, whenever we want it!

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Spend more, getting less in return
European defence forces spend less on their defence capabilies is a very common remark… but is that really true? Because the numbers are declining and the costs for new systems and operating them are skyrocketing.

The Dutch MoD assumes that it will cost around € 270 million to operate 35 + 2 (test) JSF thingies from two main operating bases per year.. This wil be the same as it is until now…. But only then we now operate about 68 F16 fighters. So There may be less budget, but the budget that we have will be used to operate almost half the fleet we used to operate. So in the end we spend more… per aircraft… while we will get less output: less aircraft operational at one time, less training hours, and very, very expensive aircraft for certain “simple” tasks like QRA. And as we can see in many unbiased official documents, Other fighters have their qualities too, are proven and effective… and can be very affordable.

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The last couple of years… well almost 10 to 20 years, many European governments, like the Dutch government seem to have forgotten why  we need a well-equipped war fighting capable navy. A new trend have arose where full fletched destroyers, frigate’s and corvettes have been replaced by so called Ocean capable  (a term also used: Offshore) Patrol Vessels. These vessels are mostly capable of operating in a coastguard role, with some weaponry and sensors and often helicopter facilities.  One of the main area’s which this “rebalancing” of fleets have led to is a large diminish of Anti-Submarine warfare capabilities. The European navies decreased the number of submarines, submarine hunting vessels, Anti-Submarine Maritime Patrol Aircraft and Helicopters capable of these important tasks.  Besides that navies tend to invest less in training hours for these kind of operations. Why? The threat of the Soviet fleets have disappeared right? To give you an example: The Dutch Navy in 2004 (ten years ago) had:

  • 13 (around 2004 it where 10) P3C Orion Maritime Patrol Aircraft in the latest modernisation standard. These aircraft where capable of searching and destroying submarines and surface vessel at great range and long endurance. Also capable of Search and Rescue (SAR) missions. Later some were improved for operation over land (EW and SIGINT operations)

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  • 24 owned (during 2004 they had 22) SH-14D Lynx naval helicopter These helicopters where integrated on naval frigates and surface ships to help defend and hunt enemy submarines to secure the vicinity of own and friendly ships, both military and merchant vessels in convoy. These helicopters were also used for SAR, Special Forces Insertion, Transport and security operations (like Operation Atalanta)
  • Surface vessels: The Dutch Navy had several types of surface vessels which are capable of Anti-Submarine warfare, with or without naval helicopters.
    • 2x Replenishment ships capable of carrying 2 Lynx helicopters and loads of Aircraft fuels, spares and torpedo’s
    • 1x Air defence frigate with Torpedo tubes, and sonar
    • 7x Multi purpose Frigates with Torpedo tubes, and a bow sonar and equipped with one Lynx helicopter. Besides the hull mounted sonar these frigates are also fitted with a special towed sonar specifically intended for Anti Submarine Warfare. (Anaconda DSBV-61A towed array sonar)
    • 2x Landing Platform Dock ship with the secondary capability of operating as an ASW command and support ship with room for 6x naval helicopters.
    • 4x Air defence and Command Frigates. These are armed with hull mounted sonars
  • Submarines: 4x Walrus class submarines armed with torpedo’s and if necessary armed with Harpoon Anti Ship missiles (never bought by the Dutch Navy though).

If we look at the current status of the Dutch Navy… don’t fall of your chairJ I start with the actual decrease/increase (if there is any) by – xx! or + xx!

  • – 13! No more MPA; all sold to Germany (8) and Portugal (5). These aircraft replaced older/other aircraft so in the end EU/NATO decreased this important capability.
  • – 8! ASW capable helicopters; ass a cost-cutting measure all flying Lynx helicopters stood down on September 2012. At that time there were a couple of new NH90 in service. But this project has many problems so these where scaled down versions, not full Operation capable. Also the number of ASW capable versions are scaled down, 12 are planned as ASW naval helicopters, the other 8 where intended as naval transport helicopters for marines support operations.
  • Surface vessels:
    • -1! Replenishment ship operational; 1 Joint Support ship in construction, but because of the broad tasks it is supposed to fulfil it couldn’t always function as a replenishment ship. Besides that it is expected that the purposely build Replenishment ship Zr.Ms. Amsterdam (A836) will be sold around 2014. Effectively this means that the capability will be decreased more than just -1. Say -1,5!
    • -1! The Air defence frigate was effectively out of service around 2005.
    • -5/6! Originally there have been 8 Multi-Purpose frigates serving the RNLN. These ships where the backbone of Dutch Submarine hunting capacity. During the year 2004 Hr.Ms. Abraham van der Hulst (F832) was sold. Therefore I speak of a loss of 5 frigates compared to the current situation. The Dutch navy has only 2 of these specialized submarine hunting frigates left. Ofcourse we can count in the 2 Belgian ones because they are integrated within the Admiral BENELUX. But for EU/NATo thise meant a loss because they replaced their 3 frigates with two former Dutch MP frigates.
    • 0! The 2 Landing Platform Docks still remain in service.
    • 0! The 4 Air defence and Command Frigates still remain in service.
    • Submarines: 0! The 4 Dutch submarines eventually survived numerous “attacks” of politicians who wanted to get rid of the submarine service. One quote in particular is very interesting because it’s from the current Dutch minister of foreign affairs Timmermans:

Timmermans (Labour), “Yes, but it’s not the answer I want to hear I want to hear that there were no life-sustaining investments would be done in the submarine service.”. When (minister of Defence) Kamp stuck to his point, the parliamentarian Timmermans decided to break with: “Then this decision wil be the nose of the camel and I predict that we will never get rid of the submarine service.”

The Dutch submarine service has lost a lot of “fat from the bones”… it’s a very tiny service with very few personnel. But the effects it can generate is very interesting. They do a far more better job than the Canadians, Australians and many other countries operating the same or more ships with a lot more personnel. All those other services deliver fewer hours at sea at larger cost.