Sunday, January 31, 2010

Simpler Collins class submarine replacement

The Australian Government is considering a Collins class submarine replacement. Twelve larger, longer range vessels are proposed, which can carry special forces and deliver strategic weapons on land. This is overly ambitious, given that currently only one of the six Collins class submarines is operational. The greater complexity of the proposed replacement the project has minimal of success and it is unlikely that any of the twelve submarines would become operational, if they were built.

An alternative approach would be to prioritise what is required and build simpler, smaller vessels. The primary mission of the submarines is surveillance, secondary is to attack shipping. Accommodation of special forces can be done by providing dual purpose space which can be used for storage or people on a particular mission. Strategic attack of land targets using missiles is not a priority.

Assuming the current Collins class submarines could be made reliable, their capacity to carry special forces and their range could be increased by reducing the weapons systems and loads. Halving the number of torpedo tubes and halving the maximum load of weapons would free up about 50m3 of space, for more supplies or special forces. Using precision guided weapons, less should be needed for any mission.

However, problems would remain with the Collins class. A better alternative would be to build a proven design, with the minimum of modifications. As an example, the German Type 214 submarine is built in several countries. It has a crew of half the Collins class. The 214 design could have half its torpedo tubes and half the weapons storage removed to add more room for stores. The submarine could be lengthened by 6m to add more room. The speed would be reduced, but that is acceptable given the primary mission of the submarine is surveillance.

In addition Australian designed and built Joint High Speed Vessels could resupply the submarines in friendly ports or at sea. The US Defence Department has confirmed it will order two more of these vessels. A fleet of twelve type 214 submarines and six JHSVs to support them would cost less and use a smaller crew than twelve improved Collins class vessels, be faster to bring into service and more likely to actually work.

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Friday, January 22, 2010

Joint High Speed Vessel for US Marines

AAV launched from the well deck of a US shipAccording to a news report, General James Conway, Commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps, is looking at using the Joint High Speed Vessel (JHSV) as a Marine troop carrier. He is concerned that new US Navy transport ships lack a well deck to launch their equipment at sea. But it occurs to me that the Marines simply drive their Amphibious Assault Vehicles (AAV) off the ramp of the well deck, they don't flood the deck unless unloading a landing craft. The JHSV is designed with a rear ramp to unload Abrams main battle tanks. The ramp could be lowered into the water and the Marines drive their AAVs off the end. This would also have the advantage that the AAVs could be launched when the ship is underway. It may be possible to recover the AAV's replacement the Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle (EFV) at speed on water.

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Thursday, January 21, 2010

Australian High Speed Ship to Transport Haiti Aid

High speed catamaran Alakai sister ship to Huakai in HawaiiThe US government is deploying the Australian designed 113 metre high speed catamaran “Huakai” to assist with Haiti relief. Completed last year as a vehicle ferry for Hawaii, the ship can carry up to 800 tonnes at 40 knots. It has a shallow draft of 3.7 m, water jets and 20 metre ramp, allowing it to dock and unload without assictance. It is likely the ship will shuttle between Haiti, Guantanamo Bay and Miami.

A similar operation was carried out by the high speed catamaran HMAS Jervis Bay, operating between Darwin and East Timor from 1999 to 2001. Like Huakai, this was a surplus commercial ferry taken up for government use. The US military were impressed with this and leased a number of Australian designed catermarans.

The US Department of Defence has contracted Austal (who built the Huakai), to build up to ten similar "Joint High Speed Vessels" (JHSV) for military transport. The first named “Fortitude” (JHSV 1) is being constructed in the USA. Tjhis will be followed by Vigilant (JHSV 2) and Spearhead (JHSV 3).

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Sunday, July 12, 2009

Common electronic system for multi-hull Australian warships

In Naval Systems (Proceedings of the US Naval Institute, June 2009) Edward J. Walsh describes the electronic core mission system to be used on the Australian designed USN Navy littoral combat ship Coronado (LCS-4). The Coronado will be the second trimaran LCS for the UN Navy, following the USS Independence (LCS-2), which began sea trials recently. He reports at a simplified version of the same electronic system will be used for the Joint High Speed Vessels (JHSV). The JHSVs are designed by the same Australian company, Austral, as the LCS-2 and LCS-4.

Austal are using a similar trimaran hull for the lower cost Multi-Role Vessel and so the same core mission system would be an option for these vessels. If the MRV was purchased by Australia, that would provide some commonality with UNS systems, as well as between different classes of Australian ships.

The Austral design for the LCS is competing with the Freedom class mono hull design by Lockheed Martin. The Israel Navy has abandoned plans to acquire Freedom class ships and is now reported to be looking at the more conventional German Kedah class ships, as used by Malaysia.

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Sunday, June 14, 2009

Australian Offshore Combatant Vessels

F-35b V/STOL Joint Strike Fighter embarked on offshore_combatant_vessel (artist's impression)According to "Navy the Big Winner - but but when" (Kym Bergmann, Asia-Pacific Defence Reporter, May 2009), the Australian Government has decided to rationalise the Navy's patrol boats, mine counter measures, hydrographic and oceanographic vessels into one class of twenty "Offshore Combatant Vessels". These will be larger than the current patrol boats, at up to 2,000 tonnes. This would appear to be the role the Austal Multi-Role Vessel was designed for. The MRV can be thought of as an Armidale patrol boat welded onto the front of a Joint High Speed Vessel (JHSV), making a lightly armed trimaran which can also carry containerised loads and operate a helicopter, or even a F-35B.

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Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Austal Multi-Role Vessel

Austral Multi Role CorvetteAustal have proposed a long range, high speed, patrol ship called the Multi-Role Vessel (MRV). This is essentially the Independence-class littoral combat ship (LCS), which was designed for the US Navy, but with the expensive weapons and electronics removed to make a lower cost, long range multi-purpose ship for military and policing purposes.

The MRV is a trimaran with one large hull in the middle and two outriggers. This gives a wide area accross the three hulls at the rear for cargo and a large helicopter flight deck on top. The wider hull projecting at the front provides good sea keeping and space for weapons and sensors. The slim outer hulls allow for high speed.
The Austal Multi-Role Vessel can provide offshore and littoral war fighting roles, border protection tasks, long range counter-terrorism and counter piracy operations, support to special forces and missions in support of security and stability in the immediate neighbourhood surroundings.

The Austal Multi-Role Vessel (MRV) utilises the unique and proven Austal Trimaran platform coupling high speed and superior seakeeping performance with unparalleled deck space.

From border patrol to ASW to humanitarian relief missions the Austal Multi-Role Vessel (MRV) is the truly reconfigurable seaframe.

See Also:


Multi-mission helicopter capability
Large flexible mission / logistics deck
Open architecture systems network
Systems packaged mission modules
  • EEZ border patrol
  • Command & control
  • Surveillance
  • Humanitarian support
  • Theatre hospital
  • At sea replenishment
  • Force transportation
  • Special forces support
  • Amphibious operations
  • SAR
  • ASW

From: Multi-Role Vessel, Austral, 2009

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Monday, May 18, 2009

Influence Squadrons for the Australian Navy

In "Buy Ford not Ferrari" Commander Henry J Hendrix, US Navy (Proceedings of the US Naval Institute April 2009) argues that the US could deploy more smaller naval units, in place of large Carrier Strike Groups (CSG). This may make a good model for the Royal Australian Navy.

In place of a large nuclear powered aircraft carrier, Commander Hendrix's "Influence Squadrons" would be formed around an America class amphibious assault ship (confusingly know by the acronym LHA(R)). Protecting the LHA(R) would be a guided missile destroyer. In support would be a littoral combat ship, Joint High Speed vessel and a high speed vessels like the M80 Stiletto.

What makes this relevant to Australia is that while such a small nation cannot afford the US style CSG, the Influence Squadron is well within its capabilities. Several of the ships proposed have been ordered by the RAN. Other of these ships are Australian designed, some built in Australia and some overseas.

The LHA(R) is similar in concept to the two Canberra class Landing Helicopter Dock ships ordered by Australia. Although the Australian ships are smaller than their US equivalents, they are still capable of operating V/STOL fighter/attack aircraft. The Aegis equipped Spanish Álvaro de Bazán class frigates ordered by Australia will have similar guided missiles to a US destroyer.

The Joint High Speed Vessel mentioned by Commander Hendrix is USS Swift, which was made in Hobart by Incat. New US JSVs will be made to a West Australian design by Austral. One of the two Littoral Combat Ship designs for the US Navy, the USS Independence (LCS-2) is also from Austral.

While Australia has no ships like the M80 Stiletto, such a vessel could be built using the same high speed multihull technology developed by Incat and Austal and others. It is rumoured that the Chinese Type 022 Houbei Class Missile Fast Attack catamaran is based on an Australian multi hull design. The Type 022 does not appear to exploit the stealth characteristics inherent in the multi-hull design, but this could be added in an Australian designed ship.

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Sunday, May 03, 2009

Submarines and Stealth Aircraft for Australia

The Australian Government released "Defending Australia in the Asia Pacific Century: Force 2030" on 2 May 2009. This is a detailed policy document ("white paper") , the unclassified version being 143 pages (PDF 1.83 Mb). The most notable proposals are for 12 long range submarines and 100 stealth fighter bombers. The document is deficient in not discussing the role automation will have in changing defence by 2030. Also the report fails to plan for the use of ICT in defence, which could provide significant savings to pay for the proposed equipment.

There has been concern from commentators over the $100B cost of the proposals and $20B in savings the Government plans to obtain from Defence to pay for them. As a former official in the ADF HQ I can understand that such savings will be difficult to achieve. However, a greater problem may be finding the increased numbers of highly trained personnel to operate all of the proposed equipment and to pay for their training and salaries.

Unmanned Vehicles

A major failing in the white paper is the lack of recognition of the role of automation in reducing the cost and extending the capability of military equipment. While Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV), are known in the popular press, there are also now also robot submarines: Autonomous Underwater Vehicles (AUV) , and robot tanks: Unmanned ground vehicles (UGV).

The Australian Government plans to acquire seven large high-altitude, long-endurance UAVs in the class of the RQ-4 Global Hawk. Underwater and land based autonomous vehicles are less developed and currently only short range add-ons to manned platforms, but this likely to change before 2030.

Eight new Future Frigates, are envisaged to embark a combination of manned naval combat helicopters and maritime Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV). However, apart from that and the long-endurance UAVs, there is no mention of the role of automation in Australia's defence.


The paper proposes 12 new longer range submarines. Using conventional technology these vessels will require larger crews that the current submarines, for which the RAN is already having difficulty finding personnel. There are ways in which the submarines to be ordered could be operated with smaller crews. Australian designed and built Joint High Speed Vessels could also extend the range of the submarines.

In addition to automation of the submarines to reduce crews they can have their capabilities extended with Autonomous Underwater Vehicles (AUV) , which are essentially torpedo shaped robot submarines. Australia has expertise in this area, with the Australian National University developing a miniature short range AUV and CSIRO operating "gliders" which can operate for 30 days, covering 200 km and relaying data by satellite.

Aircraft Carriers

Australia has already ordered two "Landing Helicopter Dock" (LHD) ships, to be be named HMAS Canberra and HMAS Adelaide (Canberra class). The Spanish design has a "ski jump" on the flight deck for operating aircraft such as the F-35B Joint Strike Fighter. The defence department has denied that there are plans to use these ships for other than helicopter transport. However, it would seem to be reasonable for 24 of the Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter aircraft to be the F-35B Short Take-Off Vertical Landing (STOVL) model, so they can operate from the ships.

Cyber Warfare

The white paper appears to have missed the point that computers and telecommunications have revolutionised the way industry and government operate. The words "Internet" and "Web" do not appear in the document at all. The role of computers and telecommunications are discussed only as an infrastructure to be protected from Cyber Warfare, not as a primarily tool for defence planning and operations. A Cyber Security Operations Centre is proposed to be staffed by ADF and DSTO personnel. It will not be possible for the ADF to maintain the needed level of expertise without civilian assistance of organisations such as AusCert. Without outside assistance the ADF will be vulnerable to cyber attack.

The Department of Defence needs to plan to use ICT to improve both its administrative and military operations. This will require giving up the idea that expertise lies within the department and that there is a unique military approach which only defence personnel can provide. One way the proposed $20B savings can be obtained is by making the operations of the department and the ADF more efficient by increased effective use of ICT.

My experience of nine years in Defence ICT was that while the organisation wanted the benefits of ICT, it was not willing to change the way it operated so as to make the ICT effective. The result was that system projects failed or did not achieve the planed results when implemented, because old ways of working were continued with the new systems.

Excerpts from Defence 2009 White Paper 2009
9.3 For the reasons spelled out in Chapter 8, the Government has decided to acquire 12 new Future Submarines, to be assembled in South Australia. This will be a major design and construction program spanning three decades, and will be Australia's largest ever single defence project. The Future Submarine will have greater range, longer endurance on patrol, and expanded capabilities compared to the current Collins class submarine. It will also be equipped with very secure real-time communications and be able to carry different mission payloads such as uninhabited underwater vehicles.
9.4 The Future Submarine will be capable of a range of tasks such as anti-ship and anti-submarine warfare; strategic strike; mine detection and mine-laying operations; intelligence collection; supporting special forces (including infiltration and exfiltration missions); and gathering battlespace data in support of operations.
9.5 Long transits and potentially short-notice contingencies in our primary operational environment demand high levels of mobility and endurance in the Future Submarine. The boats need to be able to undertake prolonged covert patrols over the full distance of our strategic approaches and in operational areas. They require low signatures across all spectrums, including at higher speeds. The Government has ruled out nuclear propulsion for these submarines.
9.6 The complex task of capability definition, design and construction must be undertaken without delay, given the long lead times and technical challenges involved. The Government has already directed that a dedicated project office be established for the Future Submarine within Defence, and will closely oversee this project. ...

Air Combat Capability
9.57 On coming to office, the Government commissioned the Air Combat Capability Review to provide advice on aspects of Australia's air combat requirements. That study and its findings were incorporated into the Force Structure Review.
9.58 The Air Combat Capability Review assessed that the squadron of F/A-18F Super Hornets being acquired as a bridging air combat capability is a highly capable 4.5 generation aircraft and, as long as it retains commonality with the planned US Navy development path, will remain effective until at least 2020. The F/A-18F Super Hornet will begin to enter service from the end of 2010.
9.59 The Review concluded that a fleet of around 100 fifth generation multirole combat aircraft would provide Australia with an effective and flexible air combat capability to 2030. A further judgement of the review was that the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) is the preferred solution for that requirement. Other fourth and fifth generation combat aircraft considered by the Review were judged to be less capable of fulfilling Australia's multirole air combat capability requirements.
9.60 The Government has decided that it will acquire around 100 F-35 JSF, along with supporting systems and weapons. The first stage of this acquisition will acquire three operational squadrons comprising
78 Defending Australia in the Asia Pacific Century: Force 2030
Defence White Paper 2009
not fewer than 72 aircraft. The acquisition of the remaining aircraft will be acquired in conjunction with the withdrawal of the F/A-18F Super Hornet fleet, and will be timed to ensure that no gap in our overall air combat capability occurs.
9.61 Australia's future air combat capability will therefore be based on four operational air combat squadrons consisting initially of three JSF squadrons and a squadron of Super Hornet aircraft, which will be replaced by a fourth JSF squadron. Defence will continue to progressively upgrade the systems and airframes of the current F/A-18 aircraft to ensure that they remain capable and sustainable until the JSF enters service with the ADF.
9.62 Maritime strike capability will be provided by the Hornet and Super Hornet fleets using Harpoon missiles, with the Government to acquire a new maritime strike weapon for the JSF. New air-to-air and air-to-surface weapons will also be acquired.
9.63 There has been considerable public interest in the potential acquisition of the JSF. The Government has examined its capabilities very carefully in the context of the Air Combat Capability Review, and remains confident that the JSF's combination of stealth, advanced sensors, networking and data fusion capabilities, when integrated into the networked ADF, will ensure Australia maintains its strategic capability advantage out to 2030.
9.64 The Government has decided that it would be prudent for the ADF to acquire an airborne electronic attack capability. To that end, it has decided that the production arrangements for the second batch of 12 Australian F/A-18F Super Hornets will include wiring those aircraft to enable them, should later strategic circumstances dictate,to be converted to the electronic warfare 'Growler' variant - the EA-18G. Should we acquire this capability, it would provide a potent ability to protect our own communications and electronic systems while jamming, suppressing or otherwise denying an adversary the full use of the electromagnetic spectrum in the area of operations. ...

Maritime Surveillance and Response
9.69 To meet this challenge, the Government will acquire eight new maritime patrol aircraft to replace the current AP-3C Orion fleet. These new aircraft will provide a highly advanced surface search radar and optical, infra-red and electronic surveillance systems. With these systems, along with a high transit speed and the ability to conduct air-to-air refuelling, these aircraft will provide a superior capability for rapid area search and identification tasks. They will also provide a highly advanced ASW capability, including an ability to engage submarines using air-launched torpedoes. After subsequent upgrades, they will be capable of firing stand-off anti-ship missiles.
9.70 We will also acquire up to seven large high-altitude, long-endurance UAVs to supplement the manned maritime patrol aircraft. These large UAVs, with an ocean-spanning range, will markedly expand the surveillance coverage of the maritime approaches to Australia, in both area and duration. They will also have a significant overland capability to provide support to our ground forces in a range of circumstances. Strategic UAVs provide persistent ISR, enhancing our situational awareness in both the land and maritime domains. ...

Cyber Warfare
9.85 In the past decade the growing importance of operations in cyberspace has become more apparent. Our national security could potentially be compromised by cyberattacks on our defence, wider governmental, commercial or infrastructure-related information networks. The potential impacts of such attacks have grown with Defence's increasing reliance on networked operations. Therefore, we must focus on developing capabilities that allow us to gain an edge in the cyberspace domain, and protect ourselves.
9.86 This emerging threat will require significant and sustained investment by Defence in new technology and analytical capability to guard the integrity of its own information and ensure the successful conduct of operations.
9.87 The Government has decided to invest in a major enhancement of Defence's cyber warfare capability. A comprehensive range of expanded and new capabilities will maximise Australia's strategic capacity and reach in this field. Many of these capabilities remain highly classified, but in outline they consist of a much-enhanced cyber situational awareness and incident response capability, and the establishment of a Cyber Security Operations Centre to coordinate responses to incidents in cyberspace.
9.88 The Cyber Security Operations Centre will include a continuously staffed watch office and an analysis team to respond to cyberthreats in a timely fashion. Its staff will include ADF and DSTO personnel. This new Centre will be created within the Defence Signals Directorate (DSD), which already possesses significant cybersecurity expertise.
9.89 While this capability will reside within Defence and be available to provide cyber warfare support to ADF operations, it will be purpose-designed to serve broader national security goals. This includes assisting responses to cyber incidents across government and critical private sector systems and infrastructure. Whole-of-government coordination will be achieved through the appropriate representation within the Centre from relevant Government agencies. Those agencies include the Attorney-General's Department, which has the lead on e-security programs for Government and the private sector, as well as the Australian Federal Police and relevant agencies of the Australian intelligence community.

From: "Defending Australia in the Asia Pacific Century: Force 2030", Australian Department of Defence, ISBN: 978-0-642-29702-0, 2 May 2009.
In addition to the white paper itself there are available Media Releases
the previous Defence Response to the Mortimer Review and outlines of parts of the white paper proposals:
  1. The 2009 Defence White Paper – The Most Comprehensive White Paper of the Modern Era [18.3 KB]
  2. The Australian – United States Alliance [17.3 KB]
  3. Australia’s Commitment to the United Nations and Multilateral Engagement [18.1 KB]
  4. Cooperation with South East Asia and Pacific Nations [16.6 KB]
  5. A Globally Flexible Force [25.9 KB]
  6. A New Strategic Environment [25.5 KB]
  7. A Smarter Defence for a More Complex World [26.7 KB]
  8. What the White Paper Means for the Royal Australian Navy [28.1 KB]
  9. What the White Paper Means for the Australian Army [28.3 KB]
  10. What the White Paper Means for the Royal Australian Air Force [27.8 KB]
  11. White Paper Development Process – The Most Comprehensive Yet [17.8 KB]
  12. A New Defence White Paper Every Five Years [17.1 KB]
  13. The Largest Ever Defence Reform Program [16.7 KB]
  14. Remediating Shortfalls and Underinvestment in the Defence Budget [18.1 KB]
  15. A More Potent and Capable Submarine Fleet [18.1 KB]
  16. Navy to Receive Larger and More Capable Anti-Submarine Warfare Frigates [17.3 KB]
  17. A New Era For Navy’s Fleet Air Arm [17.5 KB]
  18. Planning Underway For New Offshore Combatant Vessels [17.8 KB]
  19. Greater Strategic Sealift For Amphibious Operations [17.7 KB]
  20. New Class Of Heavy Landing Craft For Navy [16.2 KB]
  21. Navy To Acquire A New Underway Replenishment Vessel [14.5 KB]
  22. A Balanced And Flexible Army [17.1 KB]
  23. Enhanced Survivability And Mobility Of Land Forces [16.6 KB]
  24. A Networked Army On The Battlefield [17.1 KB]
  25. Modernisation For Australia’s Dismounted Soldiers [16.4 KB]
  26. Delivering A More Potent Helicopter Fleet For The Army [16.6 KB]
  27. New Artillery Systems For The Army [16.6 KB]
  28. New Fire Support Weapons System For The Australian Army [15.3 KB]
  29. Protecting Australia’s Land Forces [16.5 KB]
  30. More Language Training For Defence Operating In The Global Village [15.1 KB]
  31. UAV Technology To Play A Large Role In The Future ADF [15.3 KB]
  32. New Focus On Non-Lethal Weapon Technology For ADF [16.2 KB]
  33. Equipping Our Special Forces For The Future [15.2 KB]
  34. Government To Enhance The Incident Response Regiment [15.3 KB]
  35. Next Generation Of Air Combat Capability For Air Force [18.2 KB]
  36. Enhanced Capability for Super Hornets [16.8 KB]
  37. Recognised Air Picture Of Australia’s Primary Operational Environment To Be Developed [16.9 KB]
  38. Improved Air Traffic Control, Navigation And Communication Systems [16.5 KB]
  39. New KC-30A Multi-Role Tanker Transport Aircraft Soon To Enter Service [16.8 KB]
  40. Air Force All Set For Advanced Airborne Early Warning & Control Aircraft [15.4 KB]
  41. Air Force To Acquire Advanced New Maritime Patrol Aircraft [16.9 KB]
  42. A New Era Of Uninhabited Aircraft Operations For Air Force [16.8 KB]
  43. New Airlift Capabilities For Air Force [17.5 KB]
  44. Navy To Be Equipped With Land Attack Cruise Missiles [16.4 KB]
  45. Government Commits To Better Integration Between Reserve And Regular Service in The Australian Defence Force [22.8 KB]
  46. Government to Enhance The High Readiness Reserves [17.1 KB]
  47. An Enhanced Intelligence Surveillance And Reconnaissance Capability [23.0 KB]
  48. Government To Acquire Satellite With Remote Sensing Capability [19.4 KB]
  49. Government To Integrate The Defence Intelligence Information Systems [19.8 KB]
  50. Enhanced UHF Satellite Communications For Deployed Forces [17.4 KB]
  51. New Cyber Security Operations Centre To Enhance Cyber Warfare Capability [18.0 KB]
  52. Enhanced Electronic Warfare Capability For Defence [22.1 KB]
  53. Joint Command Support System To Be Enhanced [20.3 KB]
  54. Government To Build A Networked ADF [22.3 KB]
  55. Government To Enhance ADF Counter-Weapons Of Mass Destruction Capabilities [20.0 KB]
  56. Government To Improve The Management Of Defence Force Preparedness [20.2 KB]
  57. Government To Reconstitute Explosive Ordnance Warstocks [17.2 KB]
  58. Substantial Boost to Simulator Training For Defence [16.7 KB]
  59. Government Agrees To An Output Focused Business Model For Defence [19.6 KB]
  60. A New Independent Advisory Board To Oversee Defence Reforms [21.9 KB]
  61. Changes To The Defence Funding Model [24.9 KB]
  62. Multi-Million Dollar Investment To Reform Defence ICT [17.5 KB]
  63. Government Reform To Defence Shared Services And Procurement Support Services [16.9 KB]
  64. DSTO Laboratories For The Future [17.4 KB]
  65. Investing In The Defence Force Of The Future [18.5 KB]
  66. Government To Improve Housing For Defence Personnel And Their Families [16.8 KB]
  67. Defence Families To Receive Improved Support [15.0 KB]
  68. Government Announces Additional Investment In Australian Defence Force Health Care [18.1 KB]
  69. Increasing Diversity In Defence [25.9 KB]
  70. Reforming The Defence Workforce [17.5 KB]
  71. Fixing Navy’s Critical Workforce Shortfall [17.6 KB]
  72. Government To Invest In Aging Defence Infrastructure And Upgrading Old Accommodation [17.3 KB]
  73. Improved Planning For The Future Defence Estate [23.0 KB]
  74. Updating Defence Ranges For The Forces Of Tomorrow [15.2 KB]
  75. Government To Replace And Consolidate Outdated Logistics Infrastructure [16.8 KB]
  76. Government To Enhance Logistics Infrastructure In Townsville [14.8 KB]
  77. Government To Enhance Logistics Infrastructure In Darwin [16.7 KB]
  78. Government To Enhance Operational Logistics Support Infrastructure In Western Australia [15.0 KB]
  79. Government To Invest In Improved Logistics Planning And Management [15.0 KB]
  80. Government To Deliver Billions In Savings [16.6 KB]
  81. The Government’s Response To The Mortimer Review [25.3 KB]
  82. Government To Support Defence Priority Industry Capabilities [17.6 KB]
  83. The Defence White Paper Delivers For Local Industry [17.3 KB]

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Monday, March 09, 2009

Smaller crews for Collins class submarine replacement

The Australian Government is considering a Collins class submarine replacement with SEA 1000. This is likely to be made in Australia, for political reasons, and a stretch of the exiting Collins class. for a longer range. One topic not discussed is the crewing for the submarines. While the capital cost and technical complexity of submarines is frequently discussed, the limiting factor currently for the RAN is the availability of trained crews for them. One option which should therefore be given priority is to reduce the current complement from 45 to about 20. As well as reducing costs this would extend the range of the vessel, provide more comfort for the crew and allow more room to carry special forces.

Techniques similar to those discussed in "Operations Analysis Guides LCS Employment" (by Lieutenant Ben Abbott, U.S. Navy, in US Navy Institute Proceedings, February 2009 ) could be used to calculate the optimum crewing and deployment. Replenishment at sea using the Australian designed and built Joint High Speed Vessels could also extend the range of the submarines.

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Sunday, February 08, 2009

Australian design selected for US Military Transport Ships

Artist's impression of the Austal design for the Joint High Speed Vessel
The design from West Australian based Austal has been selected by the US Department of Defence for the Joint High Speed Vessel (JHSV), worth around US$1.6 billion, if all ten ships are built. The aluminium 103-metre ship design is derived from that of Austal's car ferries, one of which, the “WestPac Express” was leased to the US Marines. Austral's main rival is also Australian: Incat of Hobart, who have also leased ships to the US military. One reason for Australia's success in building such ships is expertise in welding aluminium.

The JHSV ships will be built in Mobile, Alabama, USA, not in Australia. These vessels are likely to be less controversial than the Littoral Combat Ship, USS Independence (LCS 2), being completed by Austal. The Independence was due for sea trials in early 2009. But both it and the competing design from Lockeed Martin (USS Freedom LCS1) have had problems with delays and cost overruns. See: "Checkered Past, Uncertain Future" By Commander Otto Kreisher, U.S. Navy Reserve (Retired) in Proceedings U.S. NAVAL INSTITUTE, January 2009.

Unlike the complex weapons and sensors used in the LCS ships, the JHSVs are more basic conversions of civilian transport ship design. Also the role of the transport ships is less controversial. This raises the interesting possibility of using the JHSVs for some of the roles envisaged for the LCSs.

The LCS are designed to use removable "mission modules". These are typically housed in ISO shipping container sized units loaded onto the ship as required. Some of these modules contain off board sensors and weapons, such as UAV helicopters and some the control consoles. Such containers could easily be accommodated in the JHSV's large interior . Modern computer technology may make much of the mission modules unnecessary.

Modern sensors and weapons can be controlled from ordinary laptop and desktop computers, with no need for specially designed operator consoles. Therefore the ships could be equipped with general purpose computer consoles which could be used for whatever sensors or weapons were placed on board. In other cases the operators of the modules could arrive carrying the laptops needed to operate the equipment.

The JHSV's are designed for roll-on/roll-off operation with a rear ramp allowing large articulated trucks with shipping container sized units to drive on board.
Equipment designed for field use by the military could therefore be driven onto the ship and operated on-board, without the need to develop special modules or interfaces. Equipment from the Army, Navy or Marines could be used on the ship. The generous space available would remove the need for expensive compact packaging of equipment and the design lead time which goes with it.

Clearly the JHSV's could not do every role the LCSs are intended for, but could many of them and at a lower cost.

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Monday, October 06, 2008

High speed Australian designed trimaran warship for US Navy

Diagram of USS Independence
The Australian designed USS Independence (LCS-2) was launched on Saturday. This is one of two competing prototype littoral combat ships for the US Navy. These are relatively small (127-meter), fast (90 km/h) ships with small crews (40) and flexible weapons mix. Perhaps the Australian Government should acquire some of these ships, as they can be made in Australia.
The Independence is more radical looking, than its rival, USS Freedom (LCS-1). Independence has a trimaran hull, looking like one of Austral's car ferries at the back with half a warship welded onto the front. In contrast Freedom is a conventional single hull warship. The Independence design provides advantages with more deck space for helicopters and more storage, but creates a large shape which will be easier to detect, than the Freedom. Austral is also one of the two Australian makers of high speed transport ships for the US military.
The project has been controversial. Some argue that more conventional, cheaper proven designs for the US Coast Guard would be better, such as the USCGC Bertholf. The practicality of the flexible weapons mix has also been questioned.

The Navy will christen littoral combat ship (LCS) Independence at 10:00 a.m. CDT on Saturday, Oct. 4, during a ceremony at Austal USA Shipyard, Mobile, Ala. ...

Independence is one of two LCS seaframes being produced. LCS 1, Freedom, completed its acceptance trials and was delivered to the Navy on Sept. 18, 2008. Freedom is scheduled for commissioning on Nov. 8, 2008.

The LCS is an innovative combatant designed to operate quickly in shallow water environments to counter challenging threats in coastal regions, specifically mines, submarines and fast surface craft. It is capable of speeds in excess of 40 knots and can operate in water less than 20 feet deep.

Independence will address a critical capabilities gap in the littorals. It will serve to enhance maritime security and it is capable of performing the core capabilities that define the Navy. It will deter hostility in troubled waters, maintain a forward presence, and it is capable of projecting power and
maintaining sea control.

Under the current shipbuilding plan, the Navy is programmed to purchase 55 Littoral Combat Ships. These 55 ships will improve the Navy’s capacity to respond to more globally distributed threats and will help the Navy reach its ultimate fleet
goal of at least 313 ships.

The advanced design of Independence will allow it to launch and recover manned and unmanned vehicles. It will support interchangeable mission packages, allowing the ship to be reconfigured for antisubmarine warfare, mine warfare, or
surface warfare missions on an as-needed basis. The LCS will be able to swap out mission packages pierside in a matter of a day, adapting as the tactical situation demands. These ships will also feature advanced networking capability to share tactical information with other Navy aircraft, ships, submarines and
joint units.

Independence will be manned by one of two rotational crews, blue and gold, similar to the rotational crews assigned to Trident submarines. The crews will be augmented by one of three mission package crews during focused mission assignments. ...

In May 2004, the Department of Defense awarded both Lockheed Martin and General Dynamics separate contract options for final-system design with options for detail design and construction of up to two LCS ships. The future USS Independence (LCS 2) is the General Dynamics’ lead hull in that ship design.

In October 2005, the Department of Navy awarded General Dynamics - Bath Iron Works, a contract for detail design and construction of their first LCS. General Dynamics - Bath Iron Works teammates include Austal USA of Mobile, Ala. and General Dynamics – AIS of Pittsfield, Mass. A keel laying ceremony was held Jan. 19, 2006, at Austal USA Shipyard in Mobile, Ala., where the ships is being built.

More information on the LCS can be found at:

From: Navy Christens Littoral Combat Ship Independence, US DoD, 2008

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Sunday, July 06, 2008

Wider role suggestsed for High Speed Vessels in US Military

HSV-2 Swift United States Navy High Speed VesselIn "Widen the Lens for JHSV" (Proceedings of the U.S. NAVAL INSTITUTE, June 2008 Vol. 134/6/1,264), Commander Robert K. Morrison III and Lieutenant Commander Phillip E. Pournelle (U.S. Navy) suggests widening the role for high-speed vessels.

Morrison and Phillip were the commanding and executives officers of HSV-2 Swift, an experimental Australian built US navy high speed ship. The US DoD has a Joint High Speed Vessel (JHSV) program designed to implement the results of the programs run my US Army and Navy. However, Morrison and Phillip argue that the joint program has lower performance requirements than those demonstrated by Swift in actual operations and will unnecessarily limit the uses which such ships can be put.

The authors argue that the JSHVs should be thought of like transport aircraft more than ships. They can quickly deliver a cargo, or a military force and rapidly leave the scene, under cover of dark if necessary. The ships can operate from undeveloped ports without the need of shore facilities using their built in vehicle ramps and cargo arms. They can carry tanks, carry helicopters and deploy small raiding craft.

Australian industry has an interest in this debate, as it has two shipbuilders: Incat and Austal who dominate world as suppliers of such ships.

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Sunday, March 23, 2008

High Speed Hospital Ships

In From Warrior to Lifesaver (Proceeding of the UN Naval Institute, February 2008), Commander Wayne M. Gluf, of the U.S. NavyMedical Corps, argues that Tarawa-class amphibious assault ships (LHAs) could be converted into hospital ships. Recent US hospital ships, USNS Mercy (T-AH-19) and USNS Comfort (T-AH-20) were built from commercial tankers. Commander Gluf argues that these ships are deficient as they can handle only one helicopter at a time and have limited loading from boats. In contrast the LHAs have ten helicopter landing spots and can land wounded from landing craft and air cushion vehicles via the stern door.

However, converting LHAs would be an expensive business and use of a converted warship would tempt its use for warfare and risk attack from combatants. The existing hospital ships look very different to a warship and so would be harder for a combatants to accidentally attack (or use the excuse they mistook it for a warship). Also the lack of facilities for mass offloading of troops would make it less likely a military commander would be tempted to misuse the hospital ships for war fighting.

An alternative might be to adopt the US Navy's Joint High Speed Vessel (JHSV) as the basis for a hospital ship. The JHSV program is adapting high speed, multi hull, commercial vehicle passenger ferries as military transports. Miltihull vessels have a large deck area and so can provide more space for helicopters that single hull ships. They also have a rear ramp for limited loading from landing craft at sea.

The JHSV requirements (see; "US Navy launches competition for JHSV preliminary design concept development, Richard Scott, Janie's International Defence Review, March 2008) are based on Australian designs that have been used for military transport, such as USAV Spearhead (TSV-1X): High Speed US Army Transport Ship, built by the Incat, in Tasmania and modified from a ferry and similar ships from Austal. These ships are only about 112 m long with 1,869 square metres of usable space and single spot flight deck. The design could accommodate a second helicopter spot and could be expanded for a much larger vessel.

Because of the larger deck area to displacement ratio of a catamaran, a far smaller ship than the Tarawa-class LHA could be used to provide multiple helicopter spots in a ship of far less than displacement than a LHA. The transport ships would look very different to the eye and on radar than a LHA and so less likely to be attacked accidentally. The ferries do not have floodable docks and so would be less useful for a military assault for conveying tanks and other heavy equipment, but still efficient for evacuating causalities. The large vehicle deck could be used for containerised modular medical facilities.

The JHSV Program is a result of a merger between the separate Army
Theater Support Vessel (TSV) and Navy High Speed Connector (HSC) Programs. The merge was accomplished to take advantage of inherent commonalities and to create a more flexible asset for the DoD, and to leverage the Navy’s core competency in ship acquisition.

•The Joint High Speed Vessel program is a Navy led acquisition
program. The Navy Program Office staff includes Navy, Army and Marine Corps
personnel. PEO Ships will conduct acquisition for both services, but each
service will fund its own ships.

•JHSV will provide the ability to lift medium
loads quickly without reliance on shore based infrastructure and in austere
environments over intra theater distances.


JHSV will reach speeds of 35-45 knots, have draft under 15 feet, and allow for the rapid transit and deployment of conventional or Special Forces as well as equipment and supplies.

•JHSV will include a flight deck for helicopter operations and an
off-load ramp that will allow vehicles to quickly drive off the ship. The ramp
will be suitable for the types of austere piers and quay walls common in
developing countries.

•A mature technology base already exists, and there is
little need for further technology development to achieve required capabilities
prior to production. JHSV has very low technology risks and challenges.

•JHSV will identify a common set of requirements and parameters for the hulls.
Benefits envisioned are common hull forms, economies of scale, joint C4ISR
capabilities, and reduced life cycle costs. The goal is to have a common hull
and minimize the amount of service-unique equipment needed per ship.

... The JHSV Initial Capabilities Document was
approved by the Joint Requirements Oversight Council in November 2005 and the
Analysis of Alternatives was completed in December 2005. A request for proposals
was released in August 2007, and the lead ship is expected to be delivered in

From: Joint High Speed Vessel -JHSV, US Navy, 10 October 2007

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Friday, February 01, 2008

Australian designed missile ships for China

PLA Navy Type 022 missile FAC in exerciseThe Lowy Institute for International Policy has reported that a new generation of missile-armed catamarans for China’s navy are based on an Australian design by AMD. The US military have previously used several designs adapted from Australian fast ferry designs.

The Lowy report, released on 31 January 2008, is not exactly news, as the use of a wave-piercing catamaran hull design for "boat 2208", was reported in the blog in 2004. and the Proceedings of the U.S. Naval Institute, July 2005 ("Combat Fleets", by Eric Wertheim). At the time I noted the similar appearance to Australian high-speed catamarans. The wikipedia describes them as the "Houbei class missile boat" and that entry was updated with mention of AMD in April 2007:

The Houbei class missile boat is the newest class of missile boat in the People's Liberation Army Navy that first appeared in April 2004. The boats incorporate obvious stealthy features and were first built by the Qiuxin Shipbuilding Factory at Shanghai. These wave-piercing catamaran boats numbered from 2208 through 2211 and more are planned and built.

The design of the Houbei class was reportedly developed with AMD Marine Consulting, a leading Australian company on catamaran designs for fast ferries.


  • Displacement: 220 ton
  • Length: 43 m
  • Beam: 12 m
  • Draft: 1.5 m
  • Speed: 36 kt
  • Armament:
  • Propulsion: 2 diesel engines @ 6,865 hp with 4 waterjet propulsors by MARI
  • Radars:
    • Surface search radar: 1 Type 362
    • Navigational radar: 1
    • Electro-optics: HEOS 300
From: Houbei class missile boat, Wikipedia, 00:19, 23 December 2007.
The ships are produced by Chinese company, GUMECO, which has built an AMD designed ferry
(YS438,170-seat aluminum catamaran passenger vessel).

The USAV Spearhead (TSV-1X): High Speed US Army Transport Ship was built by the Incat, in Tasmania and is a modified high speed ferry. The HSV-2 Swift is a similar ship from Incat, used by the US Navy, modified with a helicopter flight deck and armament. The Western Australian company Austal. is building a Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) trimaran for the US Navy in conjunction with General Dynamics.

Apart from their high speed, the Australian designed passenger ferries have a low draft and large deck area. The low draft allows them to unload cargo and vehicles rapidly in unimproved ports or to landing craft. The large deck area provided potential for use with helicopters.

What might be worrying to military analysis is that the same Chinese company converted the former Soviet aircraft carrier Minski into a tourist attraction. The company would therefore have details of what is needed to build an aircraft carrier. China could combine this with the Australian technology to produce amphibious assault ships.

The Australian Defence Force has chosen a conventional mono-hull design for its HMAS Canberra and HMAS Adelaide, the first of which is due in 2010. These are "Landing Helicopter Dock" (LHD) ships, looking like small aircraft carriers. The have a dock in the stern which can be flooded to accept landing craft, as well as a flat deck for helicopters.

Other nations have used a lower cost design for their support ships, using a modified car ferry. This includes the New Zeland HMNZS Canterbury. This does not have a dock, but ramps and cranes can be used to transfer vehicles and cargo in calm water. The multi hull designs of the Australian car ferries can be used similarly, but with the advantage of much higher speed, lower draft and larger deck area. Such a ship may be completely unarmed and look far less threatening that a missile equipped patrol boat, but be far more effective for projecting military power at long distances.

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Sunday, November 11, 2007

Joint High Speed Vessel

The new term for military high speed transport ships is Joint High Speed Vessel (JHSV). The two major makes of these are the Australian companies Austal and Incat. Incat built ships HSV-X1 Joint Venture is used by US Special Operations Command and HSV-2 SWIFT for army transport and civilian relief operations. Austal built MV Westpac Express (HSV-4676) is used by Military Sealift Command (MSC). While the Australian ships have worked well in practice, both the joint nature of the vessels and their Australian origins case problems for the US Military. The US military is having difficulty delineating roles for the Arny and Navy in operation and tasking of such vessels. Also the lease on Swift HSV-2 expires in July 2008 and under US law can't be renewed as this is a foreign made ship.

The Joint High Speed Vessel program is managed by PMS 325. It is a Navy led
acquisition of a platform intended to support users in the Department of the
Navy and Department of the Army. The Joint High Speed Vessel (JHSV) program is a cooperative effort for a high-speed, shallow draft vessel intended for rapid
intra-theatre transport of medium sized cargo payloads. JHSV will reach speeds
of 35-45 knots and allow for the rapid transit and deployment of conventional or
Special Forces as well as equipment and supplies.

The JHSV will be capable of transporting personnel, equipment and supplies over operational distances in support of maneuver and sustainment operations. The JHSV will be able to transport Army and Marine Corps company-sized units with their vehicles, or reconfigure to become a troop transport for an infantry battalion. This will enable units to transit operational distances while maintaining unit integrity,
reducing the need for conducting RSO&I operations following offload.

The JHSV will include a flight deck for helicopter operations and an off-load ramp
that will allow vehicles to quickly drive off the ship. The ramp will be
suitable for the types of austere piers and quay walls common in developing
countries. The JHSV will also be shallow draft (under 15 feet) that will further
enhance access by enabling the JHSV to operate in shallow waters. This makes the
JHSV an extremely flexible asset able to support of a wide range of operations
including maneuver and sustainment, relief operations in small or damaged ports,
flexible logistics support, or as the key enabler for rapid transport. ...

From: Joint High Speed Vessel, US Navy, 2007