The Collins Class is a Lesson Learned the HARD WAY.
  • McPherson


    It has long been my contention that the Australian government, of the day, made one fundamental error when it chose a vendor for its first indigenous submarine project.


    Kockums, the core designer and vendor for the Collins Class submarine project, had no tradition or history of building a submarine designed for long endurance operations in the Pacific ocean environment. Nor was its tech base and experience, compatible with either British or American practice. The blunt facts of the situation as the Australian government went into the submarine building business, was that it was an inexperienced nation trying to learn how to build the most complex weapon system afloat, short of an aircraft carrier with no experience of its own at all in the management or process for such an undertaking.

    And to be frank, one should have wondered why it choose Sweden, of all the possible vendors?

    The history of submarine manufacture and operation does not list Sweden as a prime candidate of first notice.

    The usual suspects: France, Germany and the UK were available, but their bids were rejected.

    And despite the whitewash of the program since then: the actual life cycle price operating costs to fix these gold plated turkeys is an eye popper. Not even the Americans have a blow-out per unit life cycle cost this big and they are legendary for their programs going off budget.


    a. Take a look at the environment in which the system operates. In this case the western Pacific basin and the Indonesian and Philippine archipelagos and the east Asia littoral waters are an extremely challenging submarine environment, by far the worst operations area on earth for an operator to conduct naval patrol missions by submarines.
    b. Develop a list of criteria for what the nation expects it submarine force to accomplish in peace and war.
    c. Start asking friendly nations about the true STAGGERING costs of operating submarines, from initial industrial startup to life cycle maintenance, to human costs, to institutional training and education maintenance, to just plain fixing the inevitable day to day goofs.
    d. Develop a real budget from c.
    e. Sell the program and get the navy, the professional bureaucracy and then the polity on board for the 3 to 5 decade life of the program.
    f. Then submit requests for information.
    g. Then draw up the requirements as a formal request for bids.
    h. The g. involves bow-waking the construction of a shipyard, the training of a workforce, the creation of satellite industries, and the plank-owning of EVERYTHING from mining the ores and gathering the raw materials to actually making all the components to rolling the end-product out of the assembly shed, to building a submarine base and school to house and train and man the boats and crews.

    This is an undertaking that would daunt a major first class power who would be able to launch moon-rockets! For that is the comparable aviation type program in complexity with all of its uncertainties. Building a blue water diesel-electric submarine from practically zero is the functional equivalent to building a moon rocket from the same start point.

    A nation which embarks on such an endeavor should select its partner vendors with the greatest of cares with the chief criteria, not being the lowest bids, but which consortium has the greatest proven expertise and most successful track record as submarine builders or operators in an environment most like what the end-user desires? Money is going to be spent and it must be spent wisely.

    At the time, there were only three realistic choices. The Germans, the French or the Americans.

    Given the politics of the time and the costs and experience, the first end-user choice should have been FRANCE. If the Americans had been possible, then they would be Plan B, as they finally turned out to be in reality.
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    Problems and little noticed details.
  • McPherson

    Purely technical answer. No politics.
    Regardless of what anyone says the Collins class is a superbly functional long range Submarine with excellent weapons and sonar. The process of getting to that point was long and expensive. Realistically the Collins class should have become an evolutionary design with a tranche of 4 subs every 15 years being built etc. The current French Submarine is the most expensive submarine ever designed with 80 billion dollars being earmarked for what is a very troubling program. As for conventional Submarines being built at present the options are few, The Germans make excellent boats with short legs, The French build good subs but every nut and bolt had better be pure gold for the cost. Japan builds probably the worlds best conventional Submarines and is not far away.
    1. The Collins class currently is capable. However, the RIMPAC flashbulb reports on proven capability may give the wrong impression of what is possible with these boats. See 2. (Especially the underlined.).
    2. The Collins class was first out the gate. It was to be expected that there would be problems with welds, with sound isolation and with the combat control systems. Buying the subs at the 1985-1990 computer revolution was most unfortunate. These were simple, though expensive back-fit fixes. However, shaft alley seal leakage, harmonics in-balances, the diesel engines, wrong screw selection, completely botched periscope mounting, wrong hull form, (non-correctable by the way.), and botched tail control should have been foreseen before the first hull metal went wet. And there will never be a way to fix that drive train misalignment, either, or actually the sail turbulence fails. Mitigations did / will help, but the boats are floating sound shorts. With full war capability employed and not exercise limited, foreign boats will be able to exploit these factors against the Collins class.
    3. Japan's submarines are evolved 3rd generation Barbels. The baseline Soryu uses an all Japanese developed diesel-electric power train propulsion system with a Stirling AIP tertiary creep speed motor and with dense battery (Lithium-ion is speculated as being back-fit as the result of results with the battery in the 11 th boat which tested it.). How much of the combat control systems and weapon effectors is "Japanese" is speculative. When it looks like a duck and quacks Yankee, one starts to look at the red, white, and blue feathers.
    4. Best D/E boats? Well, those who are incompetent in the trade are the UK and Germany among the western builders. Sweden is another one. The Netherlands has been out of the business for too long. They would be a start-up. FRANCE is worrisome, because they proposed a nuke boat as their baseline for an Australian D/E model. The current builders in the Pacific, the RoKs and Japan, are the best local vendors aligned with the West. There is little to choose between the two... technically. What problems they represent are NCP issues.
    5. Then, there are the Russians. Do not laugh. Their diesel boats are "decent".
    I have zero doubt the French Submarine will be as good if not better than a Collins but at a cost of 7.8 billion per submarine we could buy 2 Virginia class Submarines at the same price, Alternatively the Japanese Submarine costs 600 million roughly, even at double that figure the choice of DCNS is highly suspect.

    Australia is sadly unable politically to operate the Submarines that would give it the capability it wants, ie nuclear powered mobility. Our Collins class are a threat to any maritime power.
    6. NCP about nuclear power. Technically, Australia has little civil nuclear tech based infrastructure to piggyback a fission reactor propulsion or fueling program off. A marine nuclear plant would be an out of nation purchase event as would be its fueling and MAINTENANCE. Look at the problems the UK has with its nuclear fleet. If Australia had bought nuclear boats for the Collins class she would have tied herself almost irrevocably to a foreign navy and lost her independent action options. This has not been a technical route and limitation that Australian naval professionals have been willing to accept, for sound geo-strategic reasons as well as practical technological ones in the past, since WWII.
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    Italy as a bidder?
  • McPherson

    Odds and ends.

    Were the Italians considered as possible suppliers ?

    They have been building subs since before WW1, and their boats are generally considered to be good.
    Fincantieri has not succeeded in its efforts to independently increase submarine exports, despite having entered numerous bids. It entered a bid based on the Sauro-class to replace Australia's Oberon-class vessels, but later withdrew its offer. [9] Similarly, the shipyard was an unsuccessful contender for the South African and Portuguese Agosta and Daphne-class replacement programs. [10] Reportedly, eight Italian submarines were offered to the Taiwanese Navy, which may have been a combination of decommissioned and about to be decommissioned Sauro and older Toti-class units, but ultimately Taiwan preferred to purchase new submarines. [11]

    I do not know. Let me look at it. Might be a few days before I have a good answer as to why that happened.
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    Answer why the Collins class is a big fat boat?
  • McPherson

    Do any other nations currently expect to use conventional submarines in all the roles that Australia does ?
    1. Russia, China, Indonesia, Pakistan, India, Israel, Taiwan, South Africa, maybe France, Beazil (If they can get their act together), Chile and any nation that expects to power project and sea deny with a D/E boat.
    Mmmmmm. I'm not a great fan of how the Collins played out but Australia is in a unique situation which requires unique solutions, this is particularly relevant for nukes. I'm very interested to see how @McPherson addresses this reality.
    2. At the end of this long post, I will do a systems and situation analysis. Bear in mind, that I am not privy to the Australian government's data or intent, but I hope to avoid the Air Power Australia pratfalls (I hate that guy, because he gives analysis a BAD name.), that come from superficial understanding of the problems, the available means and the necessary compromises one has to make in a central strategic program like this one.
    For mine I'd try to work on making Australia less unique rather than trying to fit submarines into this niche by establishing Darwin and Cairns as forward operating bases for submarines. Much of the Collins and future sub's size comes from the need to sail an extra 8,000km per patrol from Perth or 5,000km from Sydney to get to the threshold of the operational area. If say 2/3 of patrols were launched from Cairns and Darwin and much smaller submarine, one that much more closely approaches an 'off the shelf' design could be utilised.
    3. The long transit times are a direct consequence of harbor and operating sea depths up north and terrible tidal conditions. The geography and infrastructure problems have not changed since WWII either. This is well known to me as I have researched the reasons why the Americans operated from where they did and why. There are sustainment and sea hazard reasons to want DEEP water and shallow tides for sub bases.
    I'd also attempt at least to use existing naval ship building yards and organisations rather than attempt to develop them from scratch. It's likely a small thing, but a yard building FFGs should be more easily able to transition to building subs than developing a greenfields site from scratch.
    4. Submarines are not frigates. I would be leery of Whyalla for example, which was kind of old fashioned. To build a modern sub, is a barrel and internal hoops process, with the more advanced sub builders, building the boats in modules. DCN and Electric Boat built that way.

    Going to nuclear subs.
    Interesting idea but I don’t think the USN, NAVSEA08, or NNSA would ever agree to it. USN reactors use highly enriched uranium (Our own NNSA wants them to go to 5% due to, well not really having a mission), just don’t see that being sold. The USN is crazy secret about their sub technology, even older 688s. Then the Nuke problem. Where does the RAN get people to operate the reactor plant? Send them to the USN pipeline for 1.5-2 years? That’s every officer and around 40 enlisted per boat. The Nuke pipeline is designed for just the amount of people the US needs. The prototypes don’t have the capacity for extra people. Then you need replacements and shore based repair people. I’d love for them to buy 12 Virginia’s instead of a new conventional class. Just can’t see it happening though.
    5. What @gatordad699 references is submarine powerplant training ASHORE. There are marine reactor plants that duplicate US submarine systems currently in use. Like telescopes and observation of targets time, the time in those "schools" is metered by training slots down to the exact students and exact minutes. If Australia buys into the US program, that means one of two things; Australia has to buy the scarce time slots and expert instruction or Australia has to BUILD her own school marine reactor power plant ashore and both nations will then have to share it, because such a school in Australia would have excess slots for a small fleet. Otherwise Australia does what Russia does, designate a training school boat and accepts the inevitable low standards of operator expertise and casualties both mechanical and human.
    To get SSNs you need to be willing to continue to mobilise the population against the government in the decade after 1975. Historically parties chose to demobilise the population and the end result was the self-castration of the union movement and the evaporation of working class mobilisation through the labour left and communist party.
    6. I do not see the parallel with Scotland and the British Labour party and those two giant LPHs the British crown government built, but I do understand the Australian PTBs, both left and right, trying to generally sabotage the labor movement and existent industry as a matter of social policy knifing the other fellow every other election. Kind of shooting one-self in the face with a shotgun loaded with jello, but that is socialist me. MOO. YMMV. How does a communist support the Collins program? That one I do not get at all. Not unless Australia goes Non-aligned and decides for nationalist reasons to assert local MEEZ zones and play the offshore MAHAN card. (Which she should do anyway, but I'll get to that one in the analysis.).
    That’s a massive domestic win for the kind of people who build submarines. Probably worth more than a nuclear capacity. I’m not going to propose that Fraser or Hawke had such prescience but both those and potential Peacocks or Early Howards would be pushed away from a nuclear option due to the central issue of taking generalised Australian manufacturing out the back and putting it out of its misery. All while knackering the unions for 20 years until my ban on contemporary politics horizon kicks in 20 years ago.

    The only thing that comes to mind, is that Fraser knew as much about submarines as Hawke knew about moon rockets (zero), but both were governance technicians of a high order in that they knew their constituencies and how to gin an elections. Beyond that observation, I think industrial policy by both was kited into the wrong direction during that period of inflation and severe unemployment. Think from my PoV of Jimmy Carter as an example and his style and lack of substance or governance expertise, when it came to economics and political compromise and or realism. Knew he, how to get elected one-time, but once in there, clueless as to what the polity needed in the macro or in the specifics of a coherent defense policy.
    Nuclear is off the table for domestic reasons. And not “oh but it’s nasty,” instead, “it’d give life to that annoying 100 year old social movement that is busy tearing its own life support out hand over fist.”
    8. I would think that the failure to invest in a fast breeder reactor (Israel), would be the decision killer as the Australian option is a practical bottleneck more than an ideological one.
    Darwin and Cairns basing (not forward basing, but basing) makes expensive sense and plays perfectly into a nationalist production narrative right when you’re killing off bonds undies or Eveleigh railway workshops.
    9. But not hydrographic sense.
    Just to provide some context around Australia's nuclear industrial capacity.
    • 1958-2007 10mW thermal, HEU reducing to LEU HiFAR research reactor from Britain
    • 1961-1995 100kW thermal, HEU MOATA training reactor from USA
    • 1965-1983 secret, small scale centrifuge uranium enrichment, reduced from small scale to very small in 70s.
    • 1996 SILEX laser enrichment developed, not used on a large scale in Australia
    • 2007 20mW thermal, LEU OPAL research reactor from Argentina
    None of this is remotely close enough to provide a basis to support the operation of nuclear submarines.
    10. One commercial complex of at least 100 mW output and a fast breeder for HEU and plutonium. Problem? Austrailia has just joined the H-bomb club. Plus the HEU paths will need to be robust enough to provide the fuel cores for 10 reactors.
    A possible route might be getting a small power reactor from the US rather than MOATA in 1961, and then using the enrichment plant to partly supply it. This might give us enough momentum to support nuclear submarines, but would be vastly less than other SSN operators.
    11. About enough for three boats.
    While Australia has since WW2 often struggled to make its own equipment and ships on time and on budget I can fully understand why it wanted to pick a design that it had the ability to make and support and use as it saw fit.
    12. See 1,2,3,4,5,7,9, and 10..
    Take for example the use or lack of use of RAAF Mirage III fighters during the Vietnam war.

    They were prevented from using the Aircraft due to the 'Embargo controversy'

    Sweden and Switzerland had also restricted use of their equipment in the Vietnam war

    So Australia has several issues with the building of the submarines
    • It has to be built domestically to prevent the above situations from occurring - so they cannot and will not buy from abroad
    • It has to be none nuclear - because Nuclear is bad (meanwhile would you like to buy some of our uranium)
    • It has to be capable of delivering on its role
    • It has to be capable of being built by Australian industry
    In the 80s when the design was being picked the obvious designs for the type of Submarine required are the Vickers Type 2400 and the Dutch Walrus (both long range long endurance D/E boats with an advance sensor and a heavy weapon loadout)
    13. The Upholders were competent but high maintenance designs. They were not easy to build and if one got the piping or welds wrong in the builds, as the British DID , it would be VERY expensive to fix these mistakes as the Canadians discovered.

    14. The Walrus boats based on a mix of French and American technology had a tortured design and construction industry, mainly due to the electrical systems and possibly poor industrial practices by the builders, Rotterdamsche Droogdok Maatschappij. Whether ASC could have done a better job with the Dutch design, is open to others to decide. I think the Dutch design was sounder than the Upholder to build, but QCA was very substandard.
    However both are top shelf complex and expensive designs that while right for the role are not capable of being built by Australia's Industry of the day
    15. I tend to agree. But I object to Kockums, and I will explain why in a moment.
    So 'lesser' designs are looked at and eventually the Kockums Type 471 is picked
    Such was the perception of changed practice in the early development of the submarine project that it confounded many in political, naval and public spheres. This was especially the case with the selection of Kockums, a Swedish submarine design and construction company, to build Australia's new submarines. Swedish defence materiel suppliers had been held in bad odour in Defence circles since the Vietnam War, when Sweden banned the supply of ammunition for equipment operated by the Australian Army. Furthermore, Kockums had built only small submarines, suited to the Baltic Sea and not the deep ocean deployments intended for the Royal Australian Navy's (RAN) submarines.

    To some, the only explanation for such a decision lay in reasons outside the quality of the company's offering. Rumours of corruption, political influence and mistaken judgment came to be heard. Indeed, allegations of improper conduct were investigated. These produced no evidence to substantiate claims that they might have had an effect on the selection of Kockums. In the future, when the relevant documents become public, the clams of 'irregular' practice can be more fully evaluated. In the meantime there is evidence enough to suggest that the influences behind the decisions in the project lay elsewhere.​
    16. The rest of the critique is not relevant to my objections. If one is going to design a submarine to customer blue water specifications, then one BETTER NOT SCALE UP a coast defense submarine. Somebody tried it, and found it did not work. (Mackerels). See Next.


    Barbel Class drawings | Submarines, Blueprints, Nuclear ...

    From Wiki.

    General characteristics
    Class and type:Barbel-class diesel-electric submarine
    • 1,744 tons (1,778 t) light[1]
    • 2,146 tons (2,180 t) full
    • 2,637 tons (2,679 t) submerged[1]
    • 402 tons (408 t) dead
    Length:219 ft 6 in (66.90 m) overall[1]
    Beam:29 ft (8.8 m)[1]
    Draft:25 ft (7.6 m) max[1]
    • 12 knots (22 km/h) surfaced
    • 25 knots (46 km/h) submerged[1]
    • 30 minutes at full speed
    • 102 hours at 3 knots
    Test depth:
    • 712 ft (217 m) operating
    • 1,050 ft (320 m) collapse
    Complement:10 officers, 69 men
    Armament:6 × 21 inch (533 mm)[1] bow torpedo tubes, 18 torpedoes
    17. Somebody had the blueprints and the experience. (^^^) Since they had fought in Australian waters and knew the conditions and BUILT to them, themselves, why were they not asked? That is the question that has always perplexed me. Only one outfit has ever fought a successful submarine campaign in the Pacific Ocean and it could be argued anywhere, period. That campaign was in the very waters the RAN would operate.
    Now remembering the 4 points above it was always going to be a difficult and expensive process regardless of the design they chose and given no prior SS building experience.
    18. Keep It Simple, Stephen. The Albacore was barrel and hoop and modular construction with internal ballast. The Barbel built off her, was basically a D/E designed to be a sea-fighter like the WWI US boats, but with the performance and endurance of a US WWII fleet boat. The planform was evolved with GUPPY lessons and best USN practice. Nothing fancy was involved. It was a simple effective design. Modern Japanese and RoK boats trace their heritage to Barbel, not Europe. There is a reason for that.
    I equate the Collins to the F22 Raptor production (other examples are available) which due to politicians wanting to show that every state in the USA had an equal share in its construction, rather than a proper tendering process ensuring that the best bidder and best cost were chosen this resulting in increased cost and time (in this case resulting in the fleet being limited to 200 odd airframes and not the 500 it should have been).
    19. US Air Farce politics abounded. The service's fighter mafia wanted a dogfighter instead of a signal emissions controlled missile ambush bird that could also BIM in Deep Battle as Northrop thought it should . Well, the FM bozos got neither a dogfighter, nor BIM bird. They bought a Turkey and the next bird, the F-35? Is a signal emissions controlled missile ambush bird and a limited BIM deep battle platform. Sheesh, the USAF was stupid.
    20. How does that apply to the Collins class? Australia wanted to build her subs, herself, and wanted as close to top of the line performance as she could afford. Reading the specs, she wanted a non-nuclear Sturgeon (and still does.). Kockums promised that performance. Did they deliver? Current 33% deployment availability and no land attack capability, I would suggest "maybe".
    Due to the nature of way in which Australia decided the Collin class needed to be built domestically and the same sort of Politics that hamstrung the Raptor also in play here we end up with domestic Australian Industry attempting to deliver the majority of the construction and parts for the Collins - with the corresponding increased cost and increased time and issues due to inexperience.
    21. Well, building a submarine without experience indicates 2 ways of doing it.
    a. Invite a company who builds subs to come in and venture capital and stand up an Australian subsidiary. Management and technical experience would be foreign until a domestic management and workforce was trained up. Neither Fraser or Hawke is going to invite in RDM or VSEL (politics) and Ixnay on the Electric Boat-ay.
    22. Do a foreign technology transfer and cross train with the host company that designed the boat and learn by trial by error the HARD WAY.

    That teaches from day one, deep knowledge, but it is expensive and unless the hard earned experience is kept current, the institutional lessons learned will be forgotten. Sub-building is a perishable skill. One needs to be building one continuously to keep the welders trained and to keep the spare parts contractors in business.
    The only way to avoid this would be to buy from abroad but as we have already established this was not politically acceptable - so we are left with only the OTL process which was always going to be fraught with issues and the subsequent overruns and technical issues that plagued the subs and of course made apparently worse as it was used as a useful political bat for the then opposition and hostile press to beat the labour government of the day over the head with.
    23. YMMV. Should have hired Electric Boat, from day 1. They DID hire Electric Boat... eventually. Choose option a.. and build off a proven blueprint. Sure the costs would have been frontloaded, but American combat system, American weapons, American methods, and American fixes, and crew training, so why not an AMERICAN design from the start?
    So the only real alternative - is not to have submarines in the RAN
    24. See 16-23..
    There would be a limit to what level of maintenance could be undertaken at a regional city like Darwin or Cairns so they'd have to go back to Perth or Sydney after a certain number of patrols. This might be 2 or it might be 5, but the intervening patrols could be of reasonable length and undertaken by a much more reasonably sized submarine.
    25. Actually, this is a good argument if one wants a limited out of area deployment capability. Patrol time on station (subs today can refuel and replenish at sea) in the South and East China Seas or into the Indian Ocean means a bigger boat.

    The single biggest factor behind the purchase of a Submarine for Australia is not self defence it is instead as a deterrent. Our Collins class Submarines got designed and ordered back when the expected operational area was just like in ww2 up around Japan and further afield. The real problem with forward basing in Darwin and Cairns is one of strategic vulnerability. Sydney and Perth are far enough away from the rest of the world to have a significant defence by distance. This is not perfect but the advance towards those ports is not going to be fast. Cairns and Darwin also have choke points and other vulnerability.
    26. See MAP for the battlespace conditions.


    Abb4_Pacific Ocean Floor Map_Detail | Die bemerkenswerte Karte

    Map - 1969 - Pacific Ocean Floor | Unique maps
    27. Note that the shallow basins are < 200 meters? That includes the shelf waters between Australia and Indonesia off East China and around Japan. There are submarine lanes well known to the USN PACFLT, an example is the Exmouth Plateau boundary that S curves past Cebu and twists through the Palawan Passage into the South China Sea. That is why Fremantle was selected. Good route to evade ASW forces.
    The Conventional Submarine as ordered from DCNS is seen as highly capable by the Submariners who have the expertise and as a joke by the same experts who claimed the F-35 was not as good as an F-16. DCNS is a very experienced submarine manufacturer and apart from the price i can see no reason to complain.
    28. We will have to see if they can transfer the Rubis over to their Barracuda proposal. I have my (severe) doubts.
    To be slightly controversial on the possibilities of building whole bases up north, and as a thought experiment on the limits of the possible:

    North Queensland State movement
    Strike at Lithgow and declining coastal coal => let the Yanks build Newcastle with SEZ regulations regarding union laws
    Strike at Lithgow => Port Kembla
    Couple of tram and rail strikes and coastal shipping comps and commo docks and “Jesus we need tanks” => Ford/Holden v8s and DMR funding to private roads constructors

    If you can corruptly channel government money to private contractors while assuaging nationalism and the government has its head in a tizzy over an unnecessary defence capability while you castrate an active union movement full of lefties. Maybe still build it in Adelaide for the votes but base out of FNQ and WA for votes. Fifo the maintenance staff from Syd Perf and Use it to destroy a hold out red metals union or something. Yes I know the main metals were commo *and* invented the wages and prices accord to castrate themselves. But some kind of Nick Origlass and a pack of bastards who animate some cabinet member enough to build a major industry in a back water shithole. Obviously I’m not talking about wonderful Port Kembla as the comparison example, as I’m Novocastrian.
    29. No politics involved. One must build the navy to function in the battlespace within the tech limits, budgets and human resources available or allocated to the purpose the leadership defines.
    “let’s build it here,” has been done a bunch of times. Sometimes the product is eventually admirable. It’s construction is fraught, corrupt, political, anti-union mobilisation, and on the whole a sup to regions: Australian politicians are involved.
    30. A navy exists to use and deny the sea (MAHAN). Anything political that corrupts that naval purpose for Australia, is contra-indicated.
    I really don’t know what to make of your latest screed seemingly about mostly dead politicians and union movements, but I will say something about northern basing: It’s fallen out of favour somewhat because it does nothing for retention, and personnel funnily enough are our biggest challenge.
    31. One can build or expropriate a resort for the morale reasons needed. Hotels and a Cocoa beach type community is CHEAP.^1 The real reason for no northern basing is Hydrography and infrastructure and human factors.

    ^1 NASA built a town on Florida deserted beach for the Astronaut Corps, Walt Disney showed up shortly thereafter.
    Sorry, perhaps I was being obtuse, or the historical South Australian procurement was in response to existing Sydney or Newcastle capacities union antics.
    32. Politics and sea-power only mix well when in collusion and not conflict. Ever since Corbett corrupted HMG and the RN, the British navy has gone downhill via rocket-sled. When one sticks to MAHAN, one does it right. A navy is a COMMERCIAL tool. It is there to regulate the use of the sea for oneself and to make sure no-one else dictates that use to oneself.
    I was trying to gesture at the habit of Australian Governments in establishing Brand New Industries in opposition to existing problematic-union industries. Newcastle Steel came out of iirc a Lithgow strike and ongoing Newcastle Coal actions as an "American style" plant. Lysaghts Wollongong came out of definitely a Lysaghts strike as open to existing unions, but with a reconfigured terrain so they wouldn't be uppity like in Lithgow.
    33. See 28-31..
    I guess I was suggesting that Nick Origlass staying in the docks through the 70s or 80s with equal success to being Balmain Mayor might encourage rather than an Adelaide greenfield with Perth and Sydney basing, an Adelaide greenfield with Northern basing.
    34. See 7.
    Apart from Newcastle being safe labor, the death throws of the metals unions in Newcastle was a procurement risk compared to South Australian in real life.
    35. Nationalize and knock heads together.
    I'm trying to see what level of weight would actually push full base construction in the North. Absence of population isn't a reason as we've seen with FIFO mining, or the creation of Port Kembla. I wasn't trying to argue it was sensible, but see how much weight would be needed on the scale. I don't understand the pull factors of military science, having done most of my work after undergraduate in working class organisation, so I tried to see with "push" factors along the lines of, "I wouldn't get my tinnie serviced in Sydney, bloody painters and dockers." etc.
    36. Inadequate population skill sets, infrastructure and wrong geography. Then one gets into regional politics. If one knows anything about how regional politics can screw up naval procurement and the "military" and economic systems logics, then wonder why an American Georgia peanut farmer and a !@# !@#$ submarine base parked in a Russian sub kill lane are congruous.


    USGS OFR01-154: Introduction

    Kings Bay Base, Georgia (GA) ~ population data, races ...

    sorry for distractions, or friday night post quality,
    Sam R.
    I will have more to write later.
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    Too shallow for awash conditions, lanes, keeping up with the Joneses and how is that USN Mudskipper doing?
  • McPherson

    I'm struggling to see why people are talking about basing Submarines in either Cairns or Darwin, even with a tender, its not practical.

    The water is too shallow for submarine operations through most of the surrounding area's. You'd probably struggle to even submerge in the Arafura Sea or Torres Straight, and would likely be plainly visible from the air if you managed it.

    So basically you are going to be spotted leaving base and your general direction by anyone half paying attention. From Freemantle and/or Sydney, you leave harbour, you dive. You could be going anywhere.
    3. The long transit times are a direct consequence of harbor and operating sea depths up north and terrible tidal conditions. The geography and infrastructure problems have not changed since WWII either. This is well known to me as I have researched the reasons why the Americans operated from where they did and why. There are sustainment and sea hazard reasons to want DEEP water and shallow tides for sub bases.
    Conditions for submarine operations are worse than for the Persian Gulf, where water below keel is often forty meters or less in the narrow traffic lanes used by fat oil tankers at the Straits of Hormuz. Subs enter and exit that bathtub basin by riding and hiding in the prop wash directly behind one of those behemoths at mast depth.



    EagleSpeak: Hormuz Strait Word Games Ratcheting Up

    Australia Was Settled Deliberately, Not By Accident ...
    (^^^) Those waters are marginal conditions for submarine operations. The only "lane" is off Timor.

    That would be the "mudskipper". Why is it significant?

    The neighbors (the Joneses) appear to be trying it out for themselves. They are going to learn the hard way... what Uncle discovered.
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    Australian options and what those options entailed.
  • McPherson

    The Netherlands offered the Walrus class type submarines, which fitted nearly all Australian practical, tactical and strategical needs and demands for a long range conventional powered submarine.

    Notice the obvious telltales. The five scimitar bladed prop / screw is one. The turbulence deflector at the sail top which is a tadpole tail is also obvious. The X-cruciform tail control implies a computerized helm. The sail planes indicate the same for awash or mast depth high speed to prevent roll-out during turn maneuver conditions. This thing was designed as a submarine fighter, intended to get in close and shark-fight another submarine if the creep-stalk ambush failed. She uses, according to published sources, Mark 48 torpedoes and Harpoon missiles^1

    I would not be surprised to learn the same Honeywell weapon systems are aboard the Collins class as of this date. Since Harpoons CAN attack land targets, I wonder at the science fiction that Collins class submarines lack land attack capability. They just have to get in closer than would be comfortable.
    The only drawback was it was a relative complex, double hulled, design which probably would not be build in Australia, while domestically construction was one of the main demands of the Australian government.

    Notice the automated torpedo missile loaders and the conn. Also notice the compartmentation pass through and the power train details. This sub was designed by fatalists.
    Honestly, it seems that the RAN has backed itself into a corner when they decided to go non -nuclear. The US, and UK are off the table simply because they don't offer any DE conventional submarines (not counting the UK abomination known as the Upholder class). That leaves you with France, which will gladly build you a conventional submarine, but the most recent class available (at the time the Collins were being procured) was the Agosta class which are Oberon era ships. The Scorpene class is still in the planning/works so unless you are willing to hold out to the early/mid 2000's France isn't exactly an option rn. The French iotl offered a conventional powered version of their Rubis class (which imo would have been theoretically one of the best options on the table assuming no design problems arose from converting from nuclear to diesel).
    Have commented on this option. Let one add that the engineering spaces volumes for the Rubis fission reactor steam plant are HUGE by ratio compared to the life and work spaces set aside for the crew. The diesel electric drive might be about 1/2 the volume. Alternatively, the battery which is rather small on a fission reactor heated steam turbine electric motor propelled boat; is definitely an auxiliary and would be much larger on a D/E conversion of such a design. The ballasting of the float sausage sections would have to be recalculated as to segmented mass distribution. Compartmentation and hull framing (hoops and decks in the modules) would have to be recalculated. This would actually be a new boat for all practical purposes which "might" account for the cost blow-out in the current Australian program.

    Suppose I was the French Marine National and I wanted to design a new D/E boat for own use and for export, and suppose I did not want to eat the cost for designing the new D/E boat? Could I "get" a customer onboard to bear the costs for me?
    Next are the Nordic countries/ Germany who make great subs, but they are built for the Baltic sea/ North Atlantic, totally different operating conditions from the Hot, Humid, South Pacific. Not to mention said subs are usually smaller (once again defending the Baltic sea and not usually far from a friendly port) so if you choose one of the designs you will have to enlarge it to fit the needs of the RAN who have a greater distance and are to patrol/secure. And thats how the Collins class fiasco started.
    Have commented on this one.
    A nation that was not given a chance to compete though is Japan. Their Oyashio-class submarine seemed somewhat closer to the RAN specifications (well closer then the OTL choice of the Kockums Vastergotland proposal). However given Japans strict weapons export policy i can see why it was not considered.
    This is not the case, now. Get an ally to talk to the Japanese. They "could" fix their boloed proposal to insist that they build it and try again with an in Australia construction option. The problem is the politics and long memories.. It is not quite too late. Next year it WILL be.
    As a proud Canadian, I would gladly have exchanged your Collins-class program for our Victoria-class program. Seriously, if you're looking at an ability to mismanage procurement program, we "win" that competition without breaking a sweat.
    I would point out that the Canadians have accomplished marvels with the Upholders / Victorias. They went into it with too much misplaced faith in the vendors who sold them the subs. They, the Canadians, proved that they were miracle workers. The Victorias are capable at the costs of a steep learning curves.
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    The Fremantle Problem explained.
  • McPherson

    So our subs head west from Perth to deep water then head north in a deep channel? Wouldn't a predictable route make them vulnerable to ambush?
    Subs move like airplanes for they can hide in a lane or underwater canyon vertically and horizontally in the baffled sound paths. Sub versus sub in that terrain is "iffy" in my Darwin example. The guy with the better ears and who knows the terrain will have the ambush edge. If a Russian wants to die inside the Timor Lane to Australian ASW birds overhead, let him. In war that would be "sanitized" anyway before a Aussie sub ever entered the lane.

    Besides, with Fremantle, the eastern Indian Ocean sea bottom terrain is much better for Australian operations. See Map.


    1. Map of the eastern Indian Ocean and western Australian ...

    2. The run to Zeewyck sub-basin is a quick one and there is lots of sea room to dodge a mouse-holer stupid enough to park near Fremantle. Just have to watch for ambushes from Covier Plateau and Quook's Rise (spelling?) as one threads Houtman Basin to reach operations areas north around Christmas Island.

    3. Or one could run west and watch for ambushes from that ragged patch of sea mount about 1300 kilometers west. But Soviet detection ranges are not that good, so Houtman Basin should be "fairly safe" to transit.
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    Outside observations and a bit of Dutch realism,.
  • McPherson

    Dutch realism.
    Just for my knowledge, what do you mean; designed by fatalists?
    Despite the double hull and its shark-fight characteristics, the Walrus class is designed to fight as an ambush boat. The boat is not expected to survive any successful counterfire so crew escape options are "limited". Many classes of Russian boats have escape modules or capsules, where a section of the crew can retreat and blow the escape module from the rest of the boat clear by explosive disconnects and it will ascend to the surface after the boat is hit with a torpedo. This is frankly ridiculous. In the days of the lightweight air dropped torpedo or ship or sub launched weapon, such as the Mark 46=>54 series or the NT 37 series and its derivatives and in the expecteed shallow depth ASW band combat, such a survival capsule might have made some sense. But since the evolution of the general purpose heavyweight sub-killing torpedo and the greater depths of engagement (below 100 meters) and the higher shark-fight speeds (above 10 m/s or 12 knots.), nobody, and I mean nobody, survives a hit from even a modern lightweight torpedo. So, why bother with such complex and useless combat escape systems? Hence "Fatalists" designed the Walrus. The Dutch are realistic.
    I know the Dutch submarine division was relative large compared to the rest of the RNN, pre-ww2. During the interbellum this submarine division developed a very advanced submarine tactic, close cooperation with aircraft, focused on destroying a Japanese invasion fleets in the at that time Dutch East Indie. This was the transport ships carrier the invasion forces. Due to a change in Command at a crucial time, were the commanding officer had a very different view, this hunter pack tactic never materialized.
    Alligator tactics. The Dutch taught the Americans these ambush tactics. (...Those Marvelous Tin Fish: The Great Torpedo Scandal Avoided. Current contributor. pp30-45, the ABDA section of SWPOA.)
    Any how, the submarines of that time already were designed for long distances and the pre WW2 tactic was very aggressive with could risk the boat and crew.
    This history still have an echo in Dutch submarine designs or submarine wishes of the RNN to have conventional submarines with long range capabilities.
    The desire was to operate in the North Sea and into the North Atlantic as part of the Dutch NATO contribution. The result is a "global" boat with a sortie radius of 3,000 km. and a patrol endurance of 1,000 hours. This is about the characteristics of a Dutch WWII O' class or a Gato.
    Now we tackle some of the technical drivers of Australian procurement policy. For what sort of mission is the defense policy designed, and how is procurement driven by it?
    This was far from the first time the Aussies had a shot at unique locally produced vehicles, and at least it led to something.
    There is a schizophrenia in policy from two opposing polity mind-sets that led/leads to two different procurement criteria.
    The light destroyer of 1966-72 was originally meant to be on the low end of the RAN fleet as a COIN unit with a downgraded sensor/armament fit than conventional war ships, but was more or less killed when it turned into a destroyer replacement with helicopters and the Tartar SAM.
    For the purposes of this schism in policy and how it drives technical choices, I am going to label the two Australian defense community factions, the "power-projection faction" (PPF) and the "homeland defense faction" (HDF). Without going too deeply into the history, I will suggest that this schism has its roots to the peculiar relations the Australian polity had as a member of the British Empire. The PPF has inherited the PPF mantle from the "Imperials" of the Australian colonial period, while the HDF has been the opposition to that heritage.

    For the record, I hate imperialism in all of its forms and by all its practitioners especially the American version.

    So, this is an added burden to the decision making process that befuddles Australian equipment procurement. It depends on which faction of the defense experts controls the procurement decision cycle and it leads to a political yo-yo. See next.
    There was also the Waler AFV project meant to produce 500-1000 vehicles locally (bid given to the winning foreign designer-local contractor duo) with an emphasis on advanced armor (the French AZUR armor kit was made for it), hull layouts, powerpacks, started in 1981 with entry into service in 1995. New Zealand was interested in joining.
    Project Waler. Somebody decided in the early 1980s that Australia needed an infantry fighting vehicle dragoon carrier which could accompany tanks. Guess who initiated that project? (PPF) Guess who cancelled that project? (HDF). This was a lot of Australian dollars flushed down the loo. Clockwise; no less.
    This was based on an army plan "to build a mix of light and mechanised capability based amongst the population centres of Australia ready for deployment rather than isolated in the far north west. The 1st Brigade located in Sydney in the 1980s was to relocate to Victoria (Pucka) where it was to join with the reserve 4th Brigade as a new mechanized 3rd Division. The reserve brigade was to be boosted with higher numbers of regular personnel (as was later tested on this brigade) and brought up to a mechanised standard. The division HQ which had been reserve but was winding down was to be a reestablished as a regular HQ. The existing 1st Division with 3rd and 6th (regular) Brigades was to stay in Queensland and focus on the light role. The Waler AFV was to be the primary equipment of the new 3rd Division".
    Just to make it clear... the PPF wanted an infantry fighting vehicle that would be suited for combat in an NBC environment that could be transported by a C-130. Further with half the crew dead and thoroughly compromised and contaminated, the vehicle was expected to operate for an additional hour after an NBC attack.

    WTH? Even for PPF types that is a whacky requirement. Did the Australian Army expect to fight in the CENTAG or in Iran? Last time I looked at the areas of interest, the terrain was JUNGLE or Pacific desert islands. A de-salinizer and tropical and desert terrain light infantry kit made and make a whole lot more sense. The army has to make sense according to practical limits of mission and means available.
    New Defence Minister Kim Beazley cancelled it in 1985 and in 1987 the Aussies purchased some 257 ASLAVs. Now there were claims that the project was too ambitious, too expensive and that it was very hard to make it producible by Australia. However allegedly Kim's policy was to essentially sit out foreign conflicts and thus he wanted to slash the Army to reinforce the Navy and Air Force to defend against an invasion of the mainland. In hindsight however, this policy failed as Australia would have to intervene in multiple conflicts in the 1990s.
    See previous comments. ASLAV makes sense within "context". No comment about Beazley, but someone in the Australian Defense Forces must have described the C-130 "problem" and shown him a map.
    Personally, I think the Aussies could have pulled it off if they had looked at how the South Africans did it. The Rooikat program which was a Thyssen-Henschel vehicle tailored to SADF needs is pretty remarkable in this regard.
    That was South Africa. Home defense has higher priorities than tooling around the world in a Stryker-like AFV. Besides, the Roolkat in its primary configuration is a tank destroyer / recon vehicle, not an infantry carrier. It was designed to fight T-55s in southern Africa.
    Australian defence thinking has long swung between two main poles - continental defence and expeditionary warfare ("forward defence"). In 1986, there was the Dibb Report, which was written by Paul Dibb a politics professor for Kim Beazley. He made the main points:
    1. Australia is a long way from anyone else, except New Zealand, who might be a potential enemy.
    2. Any encroaching enemy needed to first capture bases in the Indonesian archipelago in order to attack Australia.
    3. Australia was surrounded by a "sea-air gap" that a potential aggressor had to cross in order to attack the Australia continent.
    4. Australia's defence forces were based primarily in the SE Corner of the continent.
    5. Australia need to redeploy its forces to the "top end" in order to prevent a potential aggressor to gain a foothold there.
    6. Australia's primary defence forces were the RAN and the Air Force, followed third by the Army.
    7. Australia's defence budget needed to be directed to build up the RAN and the RAAF at the expense of the Army.
    8. The Army needed to re-equip to reflect this and needed to adopt light armoured vehicles and rapidly deployable forces.
    9. The RAAF needed to establish new bases in the "top end" (ie Tindal rather than Darwin, Learmonth, etc.).
    10. The RAN needed to establish a larger deterrent force - submarines for example.
    This alarmed America coming at the height of the Cold War and not long after New Zealand had adopted it's anti-nuclear stance.

    The 1987 Defence White Paper kept the core of Dibb's report.

    Everybody was happy, until the Army realised that the RAAF and the RAN was getting all the glory and the medals when they were deployed overseas when the Army had previously been the main offensive arm. That resulted in the Army seeking a new chance to shine in overseas deployments and to gain once more a few medals and some glory. Along came East Timor, Afghanistan and Iraq at just the right moment.

    Submarines were intended to be a functional deterrent to any potential aggressor. The COLLINS class were purchased as a consequence. The COLLINS were built on a Knockum's design. Initial problems have been basically overcome. Afterall, they were the first submarines constructed in Australia. Everybody makes mistakes - the British once welded a complete hull section on, upside down on one of their SSNs, the Americans had to scrap an entire SSK on the stocks because the welds were done incorrectly. I feel that the COLLINS class has come under a lot intense scrutiny without anybody really understanding the problems.
    1. It is spelled Kockums.
    2. Initial problems with the Collins class, such as the sound shorts identified upthread, can never be fixed.
    3. Ohio class. It is literally a matter of national life and death to get the fundamentals correct.
    4. Feelings in procurement do not matter. Acceptable performance metrics do. See the Walrus class example above and note "fatalists".
    Rickshaw has given more of the background to this thinking, but you're broadly right. The Defence of Australia philosophy promoted in the Dibb Report was politically driven, and we still see that now non-event in Hugh White advocating similar thoughts.
    HDF paper. "1986 Review of Australia's Defence Capabilities"

    Primary error in the paper is the failure to address the continuing infrastructure shortfall in Australia herself, the road and rail nets, air base and airport shortfalls and the need for amphibious and airborne lift. Someone should have shown Dibb a map.
    The policy was always going to fail because it's a reality of both historical and contemporary Australian politics that this country will engage in military expeditions well beyond our shores. Dibb and his fellow travellers wanted to constrain future governments from actions they would wish to take. That's the opposite of good planning.
    It is a strategic choice for the HDF. Whether the PPF agrees is a matter of policy. The PPF has to explain why fighting in the middle east is in Australia's interests. If they can make that case, then strategic airlift and an air mobile mechanized brigade get into the estimates. If they cannot, then MARINES become much more sensible.
    I don't think it has "long swung" between those poles. For most of our history we've been firmly in the forward defence camp.
    I would like to comment on this one, but I am an American and it is not my business. I will suggest from the American version of this same schism, that the United States does better when she keeps her nose out of things and only fights when her central interests are in issue. For reasons of history the Atlantic and Pacific Ocean, and who controls those assets, IS a central issue and a matter of national survival as a free actor. Hence American choices are the navy and her air farce. Whether HDF or PPF, there is no schism in that choice between the American factions. Our squabble is among platform selections and inter-service politics. Right now for example, the American army, once again, is trying to kill off the Marine Corps. Idiots.
    I disagree everyone was happy. It hardly ushered in much greater capabilities for either of those services. Yes, there were the Collins, the subject of the thread, and I agree with everything you've said on that score. But the Anzacs were - as envisioned by Dibb - supposed to be much less capable. And what did the RAAF gain through this period? In truth, Dibb and the then Labor governments delivered very little other than the "block obsolescence" problem inherited by their successors.
    See previous comments on the Dibb report. Someone really should have instructed using maps and MAHAN.
    As for the Army, I don't see any evidence to think they were "seeking a new chance to shine". I think the tail end of that is a bit offensive, painting them as glory-seeking warmongers. The Army had no influence on those conflicts erupting (not that you're quite suggesting that), and very little on the government of the day's decision-making in terms of getting involved. They did have influence on force structure and so forth, of course, and it is important to note that significant changes began under the Howard government before East Timor.
    Were the East Timor Lessons Learned, learned?

    Force from the Sea.pdf

    Maybe. Where are the marines?
    The suggestion above was that under Hawke/Beazley Australia decided to avoid paying the insurance premiums in blood, that Army got miffed, that F-111s were perfectly good Dam Photography Planes, etc. etc.. And that due to an abberant mode of Parliamentary engagement, somehow Australia wasn't paying the insurance premium to imperium to possibly get A**US activated if someone attacked A****.
    "If we help the ally, the ally will help us."

    Alfred Thayer Mahan had a sour observation about that one.
    “The history of sea power is largely, though by no means solely, a narrative of contests between nations, of mutual rivalries, of violence frequently culminating in war. The profound influence of sea commerce upon the wealth and strength of countries was clearly seen long before the true principles which governed its growth and prosperity were detected. To secure to one's own people a disproportionate share of such benefits, every effort was made to exclude others, either by the peaceful legislative methods of monopoly or prohibitory regulations, or, when these failed, by direct violence. The clash of interests, the angry feelings roused by conflicting attempts thus to appropriate the larger share, if not the whole, of the advantages of commerce, and of distant unsettled commercial regions, led to wars. On the other hand, wars arising from other causes have been greatly modified in their conduct and issue by the control of the sea. Therefore the history of sea power, while embracing in its broad sweep all that tends to make a people great upon the sea or by the sea, is largely a military history...”
    ― Alfred Thayer Mahan, The Influence Of Sea Power Upon History, 1660 - 178
    Translation: a sea (air) power will do what it must to secure its commercial interests by use of the sea / air and its denial to its competitors and that means it will use any means to hand. Obligations and a moral sense of shared responsibility is not in the compass of such calculations. Mutual national interests are.
    In actuality Army was deployed to Namibia and Cambodia in the 1980s and 1990s before my Ban on Politics kicks in mid way through Howard. Army showed up. Cleared Mines. Made sure people weren't massacring their neighbours on TV. Now that might be boring compared to spurring the innovation of a generation of folk-rock songs, but if I remember correctly Poland *and* Canada paid insurance premiums to their principle insurers by observing a DMZ.
    Colonial police. Ugh. If the moral compass were actually swinging true north, then peace-keeping would be a globalist universalist exercise, instead of a UN whack a mole selection process with some moles getting the peacekeeper whack and other moles being left to pop up in

    "people massacring their neighbours on TV" events.

    There seems to be an economic and geographical driver in that process. Refer to Mahan above.
    Army was fully participatory in Forward Defence even when the Government of the Day wanted to do weird things and the only premiums to pay were UN peacekeeping and some weird 1990s thing. As a child UNTAG and UNTAC were featured heavily on ABC's propaganda/education content for primary and secondary school children.
    See previous comments on the PPF selling their point of view and driving the procurement decision making process in buying military gear.
    If I am completely obtuse at this point: the insurance policy analysis is a left or marxist version of "forward defence" which postulates the Australian states' somewhat pathetic adventurism in the context of the Australian state paying in soldiers blood to hope that their best mate doesn't abandon Singapore in the middle of a European war, or complete drop its guts in a small colonial war and limp home barely able to station Germany. That by providing forward defence our best mates might possibly not decline our phone call if everything goes to shit.
    Price of admiralty insurance premiums? Make sure Australia is economically and politically important to the "right mate" in terms of economics and the Marines will show up. This national policy is firmly, or should be, grounded in Machiavelli and its military corollary is: "We will take care of SWPOA while you handle that other thing over there, because we both do not want it to spill over down under."
    On the other hand the "insurance policy," framework sounds rational compared to Hawke/Beazley's policy developments.
    Realistically, for Australia, it is necessary to decide what is in HER interests. So far, as an outside observer, "We will take care of SWPOA." sounds like a fair mutual interest investment within either the HDF or PPF definitions. That makes Australia important and is "realistic".
    Dibb recognised and made plain for the first time that Australia was not a great military power. All the bullshit about "punching above it's weight" is just that, bullshit. Australia is a middle military power. We need to recognise that and Dibb and the '87 White Paper made that clear, once you take away the bullshit which was to satisfy Washington. Australian Governments need to understand that or you have the situation of the PM (John Howard) announcing on radio that Australia was going to commit an "armoured brigade group" to the invasion of Iraq. Everybody's ears pricked up, "what armoured brigade group was that?" We all asked. We don't have such an organisation and never have had such an organisation. Howard was reaching into the never empty bag of empty promises.
    And this describes "The Margaret Thatcher school of Defense Policy".

    If you have scrapped your Catobar capability and have no Marines and something unexpected comes up, and you make a policy choice without the proper means, then you are diddled. And the blood price will be STEEP. P^7IPEDAD^1 McGee.

    Proper prior planning provides prompt performance parameters; improper planning equals disaster and debacle.
    Only since WWII for about 30 years did we believe in "forward defence" as the role of the ADF. Before that, we believed in Imperial Defence and since then we have believed in "Continental Defence". We have swung back and forth over the 100 years of the ADF's existence.
    See previous remarks.
    The RAAF acquired P3c Orions, Blackhawk helicopters (which it then lost to the Army), Chinook helicopters, F/A-18 fighter bombers. The RAN acquired the ANZAC class of patrol frigates. They also acquired two Canberra class LHDs, a class of minehunters, two new patrol boat classes, a new class of DDGs the Hobart class, a new supply ship the Sirius, an amphibious warfare ship, the Choules and several new survey ships plus the COLLINS class. Not a bad haul in all.
    See map.

    Lesson learned? Sea and air power are the coin of national survival.
    I am not painting them as "warmongers". I am however being realistic as to why people join the army. They want to travel, see the world, meet strange and exotic people and kill them and to win medals in doing so. They don't want to sit on their bums staring at an empty beach, hoping that someone wants to meet them and take their land off of them. I did that for 10 years in the 1980s. It is deadly boring. The Army's only influence over force structure was their ability to lie to treasury and government in Senate Estimates Committees about how cheap it was to operate their tanks.
    To be clear about this one...


    An Australian Army M1A1 Abrams tank from 1st Armoured ...

    Based on what I have covered (^^^). WTH?
    No one in their right mind ever thought Australia was a great military power, or could be. Dibb didn't need to disprove that furphy you just made up. And nor did anyone need to carry on about punching. Dibb didn't make any of that clear. Have you actually read his report? He and his ilk wanted Australia to become more isolationist, which just isn't realistic to the way we have seen or the way we do see our place in the world. Dibb, White and others focus on the geography rather than the fact that we are part of Western civilisation and will act as such.
    PPF argument.
    The "armoured brigade" was an embarrassing utterance or two that comes from not being overly across the subject. Howard and Hill didn't know what one was, because if they did they wouldn't have used the term, they would have known that we didn't, and don't, have one. Howard just wasn't across the lingo. Can you show us where he announced we were committing such a brigade? My recollection is he was asked about what we might send, be asked to send, and that's where such words were thrown around. But he never committed as such or else then he would have had to retract said commitment, wouldn't he?
    Refer to the video. "But Madam Prime Minister, you scrapped it." IOW, the military professionals failed their duty to educate their political civilian masters as to what was in the cupboard and what decisions being made will do to the contents and what that means IN CAPABILITY in light of the selected political and military policy. Refer to the Australian M-1 tank and Howard and Hill. THEY ARE DIRECTLY RELATED.
    Imperial defence is arguably forward defence. Anyway, neither here nor there. We agree the thinking has changed. I'm only disagreeing on how long it was on the "Defence of Australia" side of the pendulum.
    Um, hang on. The P-3 was acquired well before the Dibb Report or Labor coming to power. There was the upgrade, but that was just standard life / capability extension; trying to save money by not actually replacing the aircraft. Same as with the F-111. In hindsight, a bad idea. The Chinooks? No. Labor retired without replacement all of our Chinooks in 1989 as a cost saving measure, and only returned a small number to service a year or so before losing office. Hornets? Wrong again. They were ordered under the Fraser government, only delivered under Hawke. The Anzacs? Yep, they were, as I said, a consequence of the Dibb Report, except they became a lot more capable than Dibb had envisioned because blind Freddy could see we would want our "patrol frigates" to potentially sail in harm's way. And, as for the rest, are you kidding? Most of these - particularly the Canberras - started life under the Howard government. I'm hoping you just didn't read what I wrote properly?
    There were some good reasons for most of the choices. If I were ADF I would have hung onto the Chinooks. Too useful to either faction's point of view. Kind of like a national guard, territorial or Marine asset. Never know when vertical lift may be needed for a natural disaster or East Timor event.
    We've been here before. The attitude you're projecting is not one I've ever truly encountered from a serviceman or woman, and I do still question your claimed service. The Army obviously has had a lot of influence over its own force structure, and indeed that of the other services.
    No comment. Not in this topic.
    Not to derail too far.....

    But for our Aussie friends, can you give your impressions of the real level of threat posed by CCP-loyalists within your borders? Although the CCP has proven willing to use all available assets to drive its rise to power, from the outside it's hard to tell what level of damage they could do, if given instructions to act.
    No comment, but in the US in the past (1960s), it was a SEVERE problem.
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    Why do the Russians and Chinese use a mixed submarine force.
  • McPherson

    But do they really expect to do that at long range with SSKs?

    R/C/F have a mix so can use SSNs at long range.
    The rest are far more concerned about operations far closer to home?
    1. Those nations cannot afford all nuclear reactor steam-electric fleets of submarines and are interested in sea denial instead of control, so they hi-lo mix for numbers and surge operations in sea denial operations. How long they will last against the USN is a big question mark.
    2. Dutch boats have peace-kept on the high seas, performed anti-piracy duty as part of UN and NATO peacekeeping in the Indian Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, and are global in sea control mission and role. They were built for sea control.
    3. France is, of course, France. One presumes they would want an all nuclear reactor steam turbined submarine sea control force, but they cannot afford it. They split the baby.
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    Why does Australia now have a submarine centered navy?
  • McPherson

    Really? So why do we have six Collins and before them six Oberons? I'm sorry, you might know about submarines, but you're not showing much knowledge of Australian defence thinking.
    Read the ...Those Marvelous Tin Fish: The Great Torpedo Scandal Avoided. Current contributor.pp30-50 and then we will discuss how much I know about Australian Defense Thinking. Pay close attention to the infrastructure, logistics, hydrographic and other battlespace characteristics issues.

    The argument about and for submarines is actually WWII lessons learned; specifically USN WWII lessons learned in the Southwest Pacific Ocean Area as applied to sea denial and control when the enemy has absolute naval and air superiority which the Australian political class and RAN observed and absorbed. Prior to that experience, what was the Australian policy and attitude on subs and the RAN in general? Muddled and confused.
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    Politics? What do I know about politics?
  • McPherson

    As I said, you know about submarines. What I’ve seen of that work I appreciated. But the decisions that led to the Colllins - along with the not inconsiderable problems that plagues it - must be understood in the context of the politics. That’s where your thinking is lacking.
    Howso? Seems to me, that the politics is clear enough. I am not unfamiliar with the pork barrel.
    A factory was built in 1907 to manufacture steam torpedoes for the Navy. The torpedo factory became a major employer in the Newport area, as Rhode Island congressmen protected it from competition. The Torpedo Station designed the Mark VI magnetic influence fuze for torpedoes during the 1920s.[3] The Naval Torpedo Station researched and tested underwater weaponry through World Wars I and II, creating additional facilities on Rose Island, Fox Island, and Gould Island. In 1951, the station on Goat Island was reorganized:
    Point is that politics was a prime problem behind the US Navy torpedo scandal.

    The Great Torpedo Scandal: Lessons Learned

    E. W. BLISS CO. v. UNITED STATES. | Supreme Court | US Law ...

    Because of Congress and the short-sightedness of politicians... The Mark XIII torpedo, designed by the Bliss Leavitt company and NOT Goat Island was made in two batches. The last of the 200 fish made by Bliss Leavitt were used at Coral Sea with fair to good results. They worked and HIJMS Shōhō sank as a result of some of those Bliss Leavitt torpedoes blowing out her bottom.

    But then Goat Island made the second batch and the further follow-ons. The Rhode Island Congress cretin delegation pushed for the government arsenal to be the sole source supplier in the early 1930s. Now that was not just the Mark XIII air dropped weapon, but the Mark XIV submarine torpedo and the Mark XV destroyer weapon. Stinking politics. I cover that in the SAME section in (...Those Marvelous Tin Fish: The Great Torpedo Scandal Avoided. Current contributor.) where I pointed out that Darwin was impossible as a base because of hydrography and no railroad and poor roads from Alice Springs existed (political decisions not to build or improve.), The Battle of the Coral Sea that led to Midway, historically to the USN, is especially bitter because of the break in the torpedo production runs occurred in the national stockpile right at the end of the Battle of the Coral Sea. All of the Bliss Leavitt fish were used up and now; the only fish left were the Goat Island "civil service made" products. Stinking politicians made that decision without understanding, that you always use TWO independent sources of production and proof to check each other as to quality control and test-evaluation.
    “let’s build it here,” has been done a bunch of times. Sometimes the product is eventually admirable. It’s construction is fraught, corrupt, political, anti-union mobilisation, and on the whole a sup to regions: Australian politicians are involved.
    Some 57 American airmen died to drop torpedo weapons that failed to function at Midway. Another 160 or so died in support or in attempts to drop faulty bombs also developed out of those accursed Goat Island workshops.

    Want to hear about the uniformed politician who managed to screw up the Wildcat because he would not listen to end-user's complaints or to Grumman Aircraft? Another 50 airmen died at Coral Sea and Midway because of "politics". The United States Navy Air Service was practically massacred to achieve anything at all at Coral Sea and Midway because of "politics" that I supposedly don't understand.

    And don't get me started about the 3000 American submariners who died because of this bastard uniformed politician and apple polisher who failed to make sure the weapons effectors worked when he was Chief of the Bureau of Ordnance when the weapons were "tested".

    Upthread I posted a video about how Australian politicians, both uniformed and in the government, are SCREWING UP Australia's latest submarine buy. Might want to watch it.

    I'll post it again in case it was missed.

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    Why picking a submarine is difficult and the process is misunderstood.
  • McPherson

    This thread is a bit of a mess. The problem with defence in Australia is pretty simple - we combine a lack of specific threats with a general reluctance to spend money but also some LARPist fantasies from our political leaders. The end result is a defence force that can do a little bit of everything but which if actually required to fight a high intensity wore would be unable to function for more than a month or two due to the absurdly shallow force structure.
    Australia's defense matrix is a case of a large geographic area, held by a tiny population in an a portion of the planet that until recently was remote enough to be mostly ignored by possible aggressors. That has changed as the area has become a target for resource exploitation. In a normal sane world, the situation would develop into one where trading partners would conduct commerce in which goods and services flow, but a metastasis has arisen in which the kind of colonialist imperialist mindset which raped the planet and plunged it into war a century ago has reemerged. Criminal gangster regimes who have bought into the loot and plunder and theft model of "mercantile imperialism" have emerged again to plague humanity in general. Vulnerable states with riches that these rogue regimes wish to exploit, and Australia is one, have to look to their defenses. That is not a messy thread development, that is the reality of THIS thread and underlies the geopolitical thesis behind the curtain in which I present how not to procure a submarine.
    The Collins Class is a very good boat if you want to have a long-range conventional submarine, but which cost more than it should have. There's a lot of emotion in that debate due to the questions of fundamental Australian industrial competence and the limited number of options we allow ourselves due to spending, but I don't think there's much serious debate these days as to the issues with the program. It was a mess that was eventually fixed and which delivered a good boat. Given that we don't have an active need for it the questions regarding the trade off between production and numbers versus bespoke capabilities is pretty abstract.
    With my previous comment, let me explain why a long range sea control platform is Australia specific and necessary. I HATE to repeat myself constantly, but the lesson learned is...

    a. The enemy has absolute air and surface sea superiority over Australia in the Australian area of operations, in peace and war. in those prime areas of interest which are vital to Australian independence as a free actor in the international community.
    b. The enemy is the set of rogue regimes who wish through soft and hard power to coerce Australia through means short of all out war into actions that create economic and political subservience and dependency on these imperialists so that Australia can be looted.
    c. In such bump and scrape intimidation and economic and political extortion cold war conditions, the Australian polity needs an independent set of platforms that operate clandestinely or openly under enemy air and space assets in such a fashion to monitor and interfere with enemy use of the sea and to control access (limited as that capacity might be due to the small Australian population, scattered infrastructure and limited industrial capacity.)
    d. Australia's own defense is leveraged. That is she relies on allies to provide the depth in base and effort, she cannot afford or build herself. To that end her most prudent planners have picked such allies and have tailored her own defense efforts so that the combined alliance efforts not only compliment each other, but serve Australia's interests and give her a voice in the collective alliance councils on what the allies should and should not do.
    e. Therefore, any stupid political decisions which impinge the efficiency of that leverage are detrimental to Australia's interest as a free actor. Buy the WRONG kind of submarine. Pick the wrong aircraft, invest in land systems that do not meet the sea air space leverage conditions needed to allow independent actions and influence in council with the allies and Australia has wasted her means to shape events and trends.

    Technically by NOW in this thread, the questions should have been asked:

    1. Can the Collins class maintain a two boat patrol regime at sea?
    2, Can the Collins class operate undetected adjacent or inside rogue gangster regime dominated waters to collect information and to track the rogue regimes' piratical activities? In other words, in a certain example, can a Collins class boat track sea traffic IN PEACE by shipping that violates economic embargoes or violates international treaties. In that specific rogue regime's case, sensitive nuclear materials in exchange for oil was freightered through waters to another gangster regime that would be likely of intense interest to Australia. The ally caught it and thwarted it, but the ally was / is stretched to the limit. There was no Collins class boat available to provide coverage because of the historic maintenance issues noted upthread. The ALLY had to leave other areas of interest uncovered to deal with that incident. Something could have happened that the ally would not be able to track and act upon, that would be inimical directly to Australia. And I mean events in train close enough that Australians could have died as a result.

    The nuclear debate is, I think, missing the point. We can talk for hours and years about the many differences between the two type of subs but the reality is that without a clear overriding mission it's extremely difficult to say with certainty what we should go for. In terms of what they actually do on a day to day basis, there's no difference. Australia is a rich country and would have a reasonably to very good boat irrespective of its type, capable of cruising around the region undetected by the likes of the ASEAN fleets. Beyond that is hypothetical - are we actually planning on fighting China in the Taiwan Straits? If so, conventional is better. Or are we expecting to have to fight to defend our trade routes not just in the SCS but around the continent? Nuclear probably is better there, though in part for the oft-citied industrial advantages we'd gain by just buying one. 'Sovereign Industrial Capabilities' sound good, but realistically we wouldn't have the time to build new boats during any plausible modern conflict. IMO there's no real end to this debate until we face a very specific threat, as a military that is unable to be geared to specific mission(s) is always going to be one without straightforward ways to analyse what makes a good or appropriate capability.
    Technically, that is the wrong set of questions. And it reveals a fundamental misunderstanding about what Australia should and a certain ally actually desires in a submarine.

    f. Can the boat stay on patrol? Nuclear boats have higher presence on station than diesel electric boats because their fuel limitation is not existent. Also, as odd as it seems, a fission reactor heated turbine electric propulsion system, provided that it is a natural convection circuit design, is simpler and more mechanically reliable than a diesel, aip, electric setup. Though when something does break, as it will, the cost and repairs involved are an order of magnitude worse to fix. Operation availability in peace with a nuclear boat of 33% rotation is easy, especially with Blue / Gold crews. Diesel boats are manpower cheaper but 25% on station is the trade for that unit crew per boat cost savings. Coverage is what is wanted.
    g. Can the boat stay quiet and hide? Diesel electric boats on the battery are ideal for submerged presence, especially in coastal waters of intense interest. The PROBLEM is that once they, at more than creep speed, move either on AIP or their diesels through the snort, and when they move any distance in general across blue water, they are easy to spot, easy to track and easy to quietly KILL; if that becomes necessary. Ally and enemy know this diesel electric boat operating characteristic. Certain Australian allies (Japan publicly) have worked on that problem and might have figured out a solution which no one else (France for example has not figured it out.) has.
    h. Can the boat snoop? See g.
    i. A certain ally has worked hard on fission reactor heated steam turbine boats based on f-g. criteria. They have tried for quiet, for hide, for presence, for snoop, and for the ability to kill through deniability in peace and war. They have good reason to be pleased so far with the results, but one cannot rely on enemy incompetence forever. The rogue gangster regimes know about the same stuff I described. They work hard to overcome. And as I noted the ally is stretched to the limit.

    The ADF has not played a crucial role in Australia's security since at least Konfrontasi, as we have not been meaningfully threatened since then. The flag waving idiocy of following the US has been a waste of money and has had zero impact on the US' commitment to Australia - all expeditionism is the LARPist fantasy previously mentioned. It is unneeded but also unthreatening, and easily dispensed with whenever necessary. Defence in Australia is fundamentally not taken seriously by anyone outside of a small sphere of academics in and around Russell Hill because fundamentally it is not a pressing issue - though this might change sooner than we'd like. Until then, the capability debate will be a thoroughly cultural debate and no different to debates around ANZAC Day or indeed Australia Day.
    j. See my previous comments?
    Oh dear. I get that you’re very passionate. I feel for those poor American submariners who died back in WW2 too, really I do. But the relevance is lacking. You just keep missing the point that for all your thoughts on the Collins project it didn’t happen in a vacuum. You have shown you don’t understand Australian politics around defence. You just don’t. And you don’t care to. Australians with even a passing interest in politics know there were serious shortcomings and cost overruns with the Collins subs. Those of us who post here and have an interest in defence know more, of course. And you’re not really shedding any light on facts we didn’t already know, while your opinions are just that - your opinions, devoid of any understanding of the Australian context.
    k. How are corrupt incompetent Australian civilian politicians who do not understand the technical and FATAL consequences of their wrong choices different from the American bastards? The ones I really hold in contempt are the uniformed professionals who KNOW what a wrong choice means. It does not matter what nation or what interest; a military professional who knows the outcome of a technical decision...

    a1. Narrow body C-130.
    b1. Augusta helicopter gunship whose vibration is so bad the missile systems are rendered useless.
    c1. M1 tank too heavy to sealift with the means to hand.
    d1. Noisy submarine that because of hull turbulence, botched screws, diesel engine harmonics, and faulty welds is limited to certain speed bands and operating depths. A noisy boat cannot hear what happens around it. It will be easy to find and chase off or neutralize. A rather mechanically defective platform that has availability of less than 25% leaves holes in the alliance coverage means that other "friends" have to fill a void and it renders Australia's voice at the collective decision table impotent because a lack of capacity means no money in the game that others at the table will notice or care about.

    will mean failure in peace and war. THAT is the context. That is the thesis and that is the depth of the problem.
    The problem with the critics of the Future Submarine project is they lack a better alternative. Sure SSNs would be better, but they aren't available to us and certainly wouldn't be cheaper, as I've said there is no shelf off which to buy SSNs. Off shelf diesel electric subs also come with a host of problems in the Australian context, even the Japanese subs don't meet our needs and that's before the problem of being Japan's first ever weapons export.
    l. Japan was and IS the better alternative. They have the battery. It has lots of problems, but it at least works and exists.
    The only solution is a bespoke one, and no bespoke piece of military kit comes easy or cheap.
    m. Nuclear is in evolution. The USN is "optimistic".
    DCNS at least has a very long history of making decent submarines. Heck the current Rubis class submarine cut and weld job is an example of some pretty nifty Engineering skills. Saw someone post the hull may be depth limited but i am curious on that as the welds would be on the same scale as a new hull in terms of the welding and I am sure the engineers would have known what they intended.
    n. French steels are quite good. French metallurgy is on a par with the best. The question is the type of welding used. The French are not known for deep operations requirements, so their welds are not "stringent" or full through (Like Sweden.). Look at their areas of interest, off the west coast of Africa and in the Mediterranean sea and eastern Atlantic. Deep is not a requirement. It might not be for Japan, Australia or the RoK because of similar "floor depths" but the three nations have decided a through full through weld is their requirement.
    Not just making but exporting too, and France has been a major exporter of military equipment for well over a century. This counts for more than having a sub that is closer to Australia's requirement from a supplier with no idea of how to support a customer for decades to come.
    o. French firms have lobbied and bribed and influenced. (Which nation has not? Cough "Lockmart" cough.). As long as the purchaser involved understands these firms are known to have done this behavior and looks out for the lying, conniving, and chicanery, then doing business can be "manageable". Naval Systems Group has promised the dense storage slow discharge battery that will make Barracuda work. They do not have it. See the video above for what I mean. They are not there yet. Eventually they will get it, because the French are good, but in two years? That is the gamble with NSG that Australia makes, that their Australian dollars will result in a French success in such a submarine battery. Australian taxpayers fund that research. Note the word... research?
    You know I want to break open the coffers - just not for Army! The RAAF and RAN need to be doubled in size at the very least.
    p. That is a political decision.
    Konfrontasi presented a genuine risk at creating a situation in SE Asia that was not to our benefit. To be sure, this was a pretty remote possibility. There's just not any other possible example of the ADF having an active role in our security post-WW2. And as others have said, LARP=Live Action Role Play, of which politicians like Howard and Abbott were incredibly fond of.
    q. That is called geo-politics, not live action role play. It is a small planet and no one knows for certain when some maniac somewhere will take it into his head to hijack an LNG tanker, false flag it, and try to sail it into a harbor and detonate it to cause an international incident and make a political statement. Having a sub in trail to kill it out in the middle of nowhere unnoticed might be a LARP option. Surface ships and aircraft tend to be noticed.
    Giving NSW to the Royal Navy as the problem owner from 1770. No “shire,” probably no Coal River special camp. No “crowded by the mountains,” mentality. No squatocracy attempt. A different attitude towards mounted police and occupying land.
    r. An interesting "political" POD. See map.

    Uranium | Geoscience Australia

    NSW Government expected to lift ban on uranium mining ... New South Australia would be more "interesting".

    People asked for a different mentality. That’s a pretty obvious route.

    The existing coastal transport industry in NSW was deliberately obliterated by the Labour state government’s road programme. This was in part because individual car ownership made for a better class of worker engaged in the Australian project. And it was because seaman’s unions and dock unions and maritime metals fabricators and maintainers were run by the factions in the labour movement that Cahills faction opposed.
    s. Mining interests? Remember the US steel industry and the modern steel United States Navy? Civilian economic policy (West Virginia coal miners, too.) drives military outcomes. I need not point out Goat Island?
    The economic potential for long term shipbuilding has to overcome or accommodate these unions. Accommodation can work fine: NSW Teachers federation was demobilized by 50 years of accommodation. The Sydney printing trades were allowed to fade softly into the night along with the Sydney Journalists. So it isn’t predetermined that expanding (teaching) or contracting (print media) industries with militant left unions will be fought rather than accommodated into passivity. The difference is margins. Much like construction where left militant unions have been coddled teaching and print advertising had high margins.
    t. The soft power exertion by external agents has altered economies and this has largely gone unnoticed. Policy decisions influenced by narrow sighted, short term oriented or frankly incompetent political governing classes has also allowed certain technical bases to wither and left polities at the mercy of external agents. I think the classic naval example is how the British Crown Government abandoned or curtailed operating and building aircraft carriers and submarines in the UK. Now look at them. Incompetent is kind of generous to describe their recent amateur efforts in these two areas now that they've discovered they NEED the capabilities as a matter of national survival in the 21st century. They are an ISLAND nation damnit.
    Maritime trades didn’t. Maritime transport has a history of hell ships running on margins tighter than their workers belts. And tight margins means brutal fights.
    u. Keep a capacity or another East Timor becomes undoable. Want to rely on someone else for sea and air lift? Like the Ukraine?
    Which is why you send it to a greensfield like south Australia. So you want Ming to set up in the 1950s a greens field military construction facility in south Australia which’s produce monopolist coastal transports in the lean RAN years. That’s wacky, it’s not impossible, but it’s wacky. Maybe nobody has fit ships during the birth of Indonesia and Ming realizes that the Australian National Associated Line of Ships needs to exist now, to give him options later. And part of that is a destroyer and below build programme / landing ships ongoing. It isn’t impossible for Ming: he founded public universities and expanded free university dramatically to invest in long term economics.
    v. See previous comments.
    Then you’ve got a non-Gardeners Island option that’s clean from NSW unions or NSW Labour detesting coastal shipping. Because Labor isn’t going to provide such a capability in office: left unions control the docks and 50s or 60s Labor will be ALP right.
    w. Politics (domestic) has unforeseen military consequences. (r->v.). Generally, wherever one finds domestic political decision making (Like the IBEW in the United States, is still federally encouraged to run a robust apprenticeship program so that journeymen electricians will be a thing in the American deep south where a lot of shipbuilding happens...). Not all American politicians (Carl Vinson for example who was pro-labor in a certain specific case.) were or are incompetent stupid bastards.
    I am of the view that given a few assumptions (which I think are defensible) if we do not begin with an aim of increasing the air and sea forces of Australia by that sort of margin we will find ourselves as New Zealand by mid century, that is, strategically impotent on a very essential level. These assumptions are:
    x. Getting there.
    1. Meaningfully growing the modern defence force rapidly is probably impossible. The depth of training and expertise required is such that it can only grow slowly, and while capital acquisition can be sped up if need be that is far less efficient than steadily building up over time, and would probably be of inferior quality given our experience with how difficult it is to develop Australia-appropriate capabilities using international suppliers from different contexts. RAN more than the RAAF on this one. If we need a powerful defence force today, we needed to start investing in it at least a decade ago - probably a lot more.
    y. Getting there.
    2. Despite their own incompetence, our neighbours are societies on such incredible scales that for us to keep up with the sheer quantity that they will be able to field by mid to late century we need to invest tremendously in our defence force to retain strategic autonomy and significance. It's worth noting that even a country like Thailand will be able to outspend us fairly easily if they approach even half our GDP per capita, and they will during our lifetimes.
    z. Getting there.
    3. Beyond just keeping up with our neighbours, we will be living in extremely unstable circumstances. US power has collapsed and we don't know what the floor is, the PRC may or may not meaningfully pursue regional hegemony but they're hardly the only state that could grow to destabilise the region over the next century.
    aa. Collapsed? Changed. Look to the skies and ask what is happening in the new frontier. That is where the vector is.
    4. We've seen the ADF gutted several times since WW1, and every time it has been due to political incompetence. It is impossible to fully insulate against this, but a larger defence force will be much less vulnerable given that it will represent a much more significant part of the electorate directly and indirectly. I fundamentally distrust every political party in Australia on this matter, including my own, and I'd like to see the ADF less vulnerable to their capricious cuts.
    bb. Still not quite there.
    5. Least important but still worth mentioning, I think this would represent sufficient continuous investment and the creation of a sufficiently large skills base to greatly support the industrial and technological capacities of the nation. Not a reason to do it on its own, but a valuable benefit.
    cc. But headed in the right direction. Domestic decisions have consequences.
    I don't have a specific set of capabilities in mind when I say this, nor a number of ships/planes/subs or the like. A doubled RAN/RAAF would be a fundamentally more capable force and could do things the current iterations cannot try to do. I don't think we need a carrier, for example, but that would be within reach with the kind of funding I'm suggesting. I guess the obvious ones would be a lot more subs and a lot more F35s/equivalents, and missiles of various types. I wouldn't stop there of course. Some sort of space capability might become necessary in coming decades, and I rather suspect the nuclear option will be seriously explored if the global order continues to decay.
    dd. Submarines and a near space reconnaissance and presence capability go together. Think about it.
    In terms of Army, IMO the army is strategically irrelevant and therefore mostly a waste of money. I don't say this with the sort of glee you might imagine my fellow inner city lefties would tend to, but I cannot see a situation where Army would actually play a role in defending us other through land-based missiles perhaps. Light infantry and useful in the context of the South Pacific, we should have some at least, but beyond that I don't see the point.
    ee. The planet is 70% covered by water and 100% by air, and weather effects define the use and control of those media we call the ocean and the atmosphere. Australia is an island and refer to dd. Think about it.
    You know I basically agree with almost every word. I mean, I do think if you're going to double the Navy then a carrier should be on the table, or at least a couple of ASW optimised helicopter carriers (like the Japanese have built), and I disagree about the Army, but otherwise pretty agreeable.
    ff. The aircraft carrier is a limited expensive OBVIOUS effector. Sharp eyes, a knife and quick wits are of more use than a loud clumsy shotgun in the street alley planet we now inhabit. Refer to q and r and remember Australia is an ISLAND nation with a limited population and means.

    Pick that submarine WISELY.

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    Lockmart and "electric" propulsion.
  • McPherson

    Did Lockheed Martin have the worlds largest DE submarine on offer and we overlooked it? Or do you think it was some giant bribery scam?
    LockMart is working on "electric" naval propulsion and there was a giant bribery scam involved somewhere (LCS). Just not with the "electric" propulsion.
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    Japanese law and Chief of state contacts.
  • McPherson

    Maybe if we were buying a lot of stuff from Japan and Korea we'd set up a purchasing and liaison organisation for East Asia, but that hasn't been the case for decades so it currently doesn't exist.
    That reason did not stop the attempt to purchase Soryus did it? I mean that is a huge purchase. The IJG kind of boloed it on their end?
    Get Uncle to help.
  • McPherson

    Sweden did supply ammo for Carl Gustav RCLs during Vietnam, hardly a show stopper.
    1. Negotiations were twisty. The USG had to steal a Swedish sub machine gun and grant a window patent for a US gun-maker to make a clone and issue it to US MAC and ARVN forces. Swedes were burned and they got the message.
    Political decisions between Japan and NZ in 2018 were not tainted by WW2, the Kiwis really liked the P1, apparently it's much better than the P8 at low level which impressed them. But they bought the P8 because they didn't want to be the guinea pig for Japans first major defence export on the cornerstone of the RNZAF's force structure.
    2. The MacArthur Constitution was what I meant.
    3. The P-8 is optimized for mid-band altitude detect, acquire, track, engage. What that means is that it can fly higher and sense a sub over a wider patch of ocean in a single pass and kill that sub without coming down into SAM range. Some subs do carry SAMs.
    4. The P1 is a good bird. Just not the right ASW bird for many ASW users. See 3.
    FYI the AUSTEMBs in Washington DC and London coordinate purchasing for the US and Europe respectively that includes Italy, Sweden, France and well as Britain. There is no machinery in place for Australia to buy things off Brazil and this counts as much as how supposedly great their new tank is.
    5. That include Japan as one of the outs? Get Uncle to help.
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    Neutrals, workarounds and Lockmart.
  • McPherson

    On technical terms I agree, but the technical issue weren't the problem. Japan was looking to be a nightmare as a supplier, the first hurdle we were looking at was if Japan was constitutionally permitted to export submarines! What country in their right mind would get into bed with a supplier that might have to later pull the pin because they were never allowed into bed in the first place. New Zealand was having similar issues a few years ago, they were very interested in the Kawasaki P1 ASW plane to replace their P3Ks but were terrified that Japan would leave them in the lurch so chose the Boeing P8 because the US is a known quantity as a supplier.
    a. I believe Sweden pulled the permission for Swedish weapons in use on Australia for use during the Vietnam war?
    b. Political decisions in New Zealand and Japan at that time were tainted by the legacies of WWII. Times have changed.
    c. The P8 is a better option.
    If nuclear power is off the table for Australian society then it's off the table for the the Navy, however that isn't the end of the story, Even if nuclear power was on the table we lack the nuclear industry to support SSNs so they're off the table in a practical sense.
    d. Pay attention to LockMart and cross one's fingers.
    I'm aware of what French firms have done, they linked the Eurocopter buys with Thales remaining open in Australia for other stuff. Which is all well and good, but Eurocopter built a facility in Brisbane to 'build' 87 helicopters and maintain them so had both carrot and stick, not to mention the MRH90 won the competition.
    e. About the !@# !@#$ed NH90.

    Should have bought Sikorsky.
    What were the alternatives to the C130 and M1? The M1 is very cheap ("the Cortina of Tanks") but still world class and easily supported, what battle proven tanks available in 2005 could be moved with the means at hand?
    f. Look around, and demand a widebody Hercules, like the Americans should have done and be doing.
    g. Look around. New entry company desperate for a sale. The tank was tested. It was a good tank.
    I assume the gunship is the Eurocopter Tiger, not the Agusta. Yes, that has been troublesome and I'd say a partial failure, but better that than Thales withdrawing their operations from Australia and placing an over reliance of the US as a supplier.
    i. Same problem, but yes the Tiger is another p.o.s. . Refer to e. and ask, "WHY repeat the mistake?"
    A noisy sub that exists is better than one that doesn't exist because after wasting years in negotiations we find the Japanese government has to change the constitution to supply a sub and won't because they fear China's nukes and there is no domestic support for such a change. Or they do change but their inexperience leads them to deliver the worst failure in Australian procurement history.
    j. I answered this upthread. Ask Uncle to "fix" it. Or go RoKs. Or... Taiwan's planned submarine fleet could forestall a ...
    k. There are always options and tweaks.

    I thought that Japanese law had been changed and we were more concerned with whether Japan was willing to sell the tech that allows us to build the sub locally. And then I believe there were concerns about the lifespan and safety of the subs given Japanese subs were generally built to last shorter than how long we normally operate them for and that lithium battery was considered too premature to invest in.
    l. It was changed. See j. and thank Uncle.
    m. Lifecycle on a Japanese submarine can be whatever the local vendor builds.
    n. The Japanese are not the "only" nation with dense charge storage slow discharge battery tech adaptable to submarines. Just the only "publicly known one".
    o. Keep an eye on LockMart and be prepared to move quickly if Barracuda goes fins up.
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    Lockmart electric propulsion.
  • McPherson

    The US system is nearly ready and somewhat in use. On subs.
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    Indonesians lose a submarine. Lessons learned?
  • McPherson

    On a related note.

    One should pay attention to hull stress over time. Upthread, it was pointed out that the JMSDF replaces submarines every 13 years. Part of that replacement cycle is to prevent block obsolescence, but part of the policy is is lessons learned that parts wear out and hull stress reduces safe operating depth possible over time as the Indonesians may have discovered for themselves the hard way. The sub lost was 44 years old. That is twice the age I would think is safe for a German built boat. May those 53 brave souls rest in peace.

    As for claims that the Republic of Korea shipyard refit may have contributed to the loss, that is hogwash. I find it significant that the wreckage appears in 3 pieces, bow, midsection and stern. Also pieces of torpedo tube, prayer rugs and a periscope grease bottle were recovered. This debris does not provide enough evidence to ascertain cause of loss. It just suggests that unusual debris floated and ascended from the three wrecked sections of the submarine. One will have to await the board of inquiry to see the findings for cause of loss.
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    Why French promises may be difficult to keep.
  • McPherson

    So you're talking about a component rather than the whole boat?

    The current Australian procurement contract philosophy is to 'solutionise' as little as possible, the contractor will know what's what and what will produce the best product. Now whether that's the best way to go about things is up for debate, but if the Government demands the supplier use a particular battery that they are unfamiliar with or whatever that's as likely to produce bad results as good.
    I mean system. The battery does no good for the USN if it cannot put thrust through the screw.

    The heart of the Barracuda is the electromotive plant components and the ability to maneuver at speed for several hours on the stored battery capacity. And by speed I mean competitive to a high energy output noisy and HOT AIP heat engine boat which is at least 5 m/s underwater, and much faster than creep speed but very silently. American nuke boats have tertiary battery and motive capacity that is assumed to be not much better than the SARGO II battery and electric motors of almost 70 years ago. AFAICT this actually changed about the time the Virginias began construction. The French do not yet have that tech. They have to either research or obtain it. I know of two western sources; Japan definitely and possibly the United States who have that electro-motive system. I suspect the Chinese have it as well in the enemy camp because they STOLE it.

    Much as I think the French may have to if they want it within two years.
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