Indonesia picks France for its new sub ambitions

Indonesia plans to acquire France’s Scorpene-class submarines in a move away from refurbishing its old German-built boats

By GABRIEL HONRADA

Indonesia’s Navy has announced plans to acquire France’s Scorpene-class submarines. Formalizing a deal expected to jettison South Korea as Jakarta’s primary submarine technology partner.

Scorpene-class subs are jointly built by French shipbuilder Naval Group and Spain’s Navantia. It feature a modular design that can carry a large payload at reduced manning and lifecycle costs.

The diesel-propelled boats measure 66 meters to 82 meters in length. They displace 2,000 tons, carry a crew of 25 to 31 members and feature the SUBTICS Combat Management System.

On February 10, Indonesia’s PT PAL and France’s Naval Group signed a preliminary agreement to collaborate on the construction of two Scorpene submarines and to establish a joint research and development facility in Indonesia.

Both sides aim to finalize a contract by mid-2022 to facilitate the integration of weapons and systems onboard the submarines and the provision of training for operation, construction and sustainment with technology transfer in mind.

The Indonesian Cakra class submarine KRI Nanggala 402 docking at the naval base in Surabaya before its April 2021 disaster. Photo: Handout / Indonesia Military / AFP

The contract may also provide a lead-in for the construction of two more Scorpene subs in Indonesia

That’s likely bad news for Seoul. On February 21, South Korea’s Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Kim Jung-soo opened the sensitive topic of Indonesia’s order for a second batch of submarines from Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering (DSME).

The project to deliver three DSME subs to Indonesia has been in limbo for three years. Indonesia has refused to make the down payment necessary for deliveries to officially begin.

Indonesia is apparently considering canceling the contract in order to reduce defense expenditures amid expectations of shrinking budgets in coming years. The 2021 loss of the KRI Nanggala submarine may have served as an impetus for Indonesia to acquire new-build subs over refurbishing their older German-built, South Korean-refurbished Type 209 units.

 

Preserving strategic independence

France has sold Scorpene subs and Rafale jets to India, and has sold Rafales to Indonesia as well. These arms sales may reflect converging interests between these three countries.

Both France and India harbor fears of becoming subordinate partners within a US-led security architecture. Indonesia has long maintained an independent foreign policy. It has built its defense capabilities without becoming overly reliant on one source.

As such, Indonesia’s purchase of Scorpene subs and Rafale jets may form yet another concrete focal point in an emerging trilateral defense relationship between Indonesia, France and India.

These countries all share democratic principles. Yet they are keen on preserving their strategic independence and national interests without being overly reliant on the US.

The best Non-Pesticide Cannabis Pest Solutions

Eliminating pests doesn’t have to start with hazardous chemicals

Pests and farming go hand in hand – you can’t grow a crop of anything without a few headaches. Unfortunately, over generations, many of our farmers have chosen to rely on pesticides and other environmentally harmful substances to manage their crops. That’s not our only option, though.

WORK WITHIN NATURE FOR BETTER PEST CONTROL

Bioengineering feels in between industrialization and magic. Yet science is at a place today where BioPhero offers yeast-derived pheromones capable of disrupting insects’ mating patterns. The process of using insect pheromones to reduce mating effectiveness is a familiar idea in agriculture. However, BioPhero’s method allows them to offer products in the same price range as insecticides. 

Why shouldn’t we rely on insecticides? Well, there are many issues we’re all familiar with, from runoff to the decimation of native bee populations. Using pheromones instead of insecticides reduces all of these issues, but the mechanism is also superior. When you attempt to kill off bug populations with chemicals, many develop resistance to said substances. Thus, an arms race necessarily follows. This process is very similar to the creation of superbugs via over prescription of antibiotics.

Mating disruption does nothing of the sort, instead of relying on trickery rather than extermination. The way that insects breed is that the females release pheromones which the males trace back to them. Then, once together, they mate. However, by spraying a field with female insect pheromones, this entire process can be disrupted by reducing the ability of the insects to find one another. 

Each species requires specific pheromones, from the Rice Stem Borers to the Cotton Bollworm, but the mechanism remains the same. Spray and make the insects lose their way, so their population drops due to failure to mate adequately.

(Image Courtesy BioPhero.com)

STERILIZATION CAN ALSO REDUCE NUMBERS

Separately from spraying pheromones to disrupt the pattern, another option is to release large numbers of sterilized males. Doing so means that the infertile males will mate with the available females, thus outcompeting at least a portion of the viable males. At the end of this process, much of the pest population dies out before having a successful mating cycle. So the population thins. 

While similar to using female pheromones to trick males, this process is more demanding. Instead of buying pheromones in bulk, one would need to source large quantities of sterilized males of specific insect populations. The theory and the technology are valid but likely more applicable to cull mosquito populations than manage cannabis farms at the moment. 

IPM AND WORKING WITH INSECTS

A charming idea, tending towards holistic attitudes, is IPM, or integrated pest management. This philosophy can contain any combination of various methods, from disrupting mating to crop rotation or introducing different insects to change the balance of the economy. For example, farmers could manage their fields to attract desired insects by planting foods that those insects like to eat along with their crops. Additionally, they could alter their soil content to mimic the desired habitat of certain insects. 

After managing their farm in such a way, they could engage in IPM by working with Parabug Solutions. Their company offers the release of beneficial insects by drone, perhaps the only way to do so in a truly efficient manner on larger farms. Human labor for the same task is simply too expensive for most operations, especially if the process has to be done more than once. Parabug offers a solution that can provide a 50% reduction in application costs through using their system. 

Additionally, if the farm were prepared so that the insects thrived in the environment, it would be less likely that their population would collapse or leave. Thus, through IPM, farmers could save money by nurturing their insects rather than reintroducing insect populations continuously, reinforcing their numbers rather than replacing them. 

THERE’S NO REASON TO SKIMP

Profits aren’t profits if we’re all dead. Insecticides, fertilizers, and other chemicals used on mono-crop farms have ravaged the American landscape for decades and caused many deaths. While the farmers using them might have seen some profits, their runoff has created ecological disasters in many of our natural water resources.

If we’re making money from cannabis and hemp, then we must use the planet. There are several alternative options, from using beneficial insects to disrupting mating and even simply balancing the nutrients in your soil correctly, that might save your harvest. Before we turn to more extreme options, it’s paramount to see what we can achieve through holistic means.


KARHLYLE FLETCHER

Detroiter Karhlyle Fletcher is the host of High Lit, a cannabis research and classic literature podcast featuring leading voices and independent music. In addition to years in written and video cannabis journalism, he is also a traditional author


This is the first post looking at various technologies used in agriculture. Why starting it with canabis? Probably because it has some great properties that are not widely known. I hope you will come to the same conclusion after reading this and many following articles. Thank you for your support in advance.

UAE’s China Jets Purchase Shows US Relations in ‘Crisis’

China has stepped in to supply the emirate with combat aircraft after a $23bn deal with the US fell through over a row about tech espionage protections

When Iranian-made Houthi missiles and drones hit the international airport in Abu Dhabi in January. It proved to be a wake-up call.

The United Arab Emirates, a federation that prides itself on being safe and business-friendly, was suddenly vulnerable to outside attacks.

It likely contributed to the UAE’s decision to sign a contract with China National Aero-Technology Import & Export Corporation (CATIC) to buy 12 L-15 training and light combat aircraft. With the option for 36 additional jets.

The news was a dramatic boost for the Chinese arms industry. It may help it snare more business in the Middle East.

It is another blow for the US. The deal came hard on the heels of the collapse of the UAE’s plan to spend up to US$23.37 billion on 50 American F-35As, up to 18 MQ-9Bs, and advanced munitions.

The UAE government informed Washington by letter in December that it planned to abandon the deal, according to a December report in the Wall Street Journal.

The L-15 announcement reflects “a confidence crisis, and the US should review its calculations and mend the relations with the UAE,” Fahd Al Halabieh, a Dubai-based defence analyst told Breaking Defense.

He attributed this crisis to a series of recent political spats over many issues related to Iran, the war in Yemen and ties with China.

The UAE also ordered 80 fourth-generation multi-role Rafale fighter jets from France last year in a deal worth US$16 billion.

The UAE’s latest move is another signal that all is not well in the military relationship with the US. It is the China factor that’s the focus of concern.

US ‘Espionage’ Safeguards

The F-35 deal fell through due to concerns over stringent safeguards required by the US to protect against Chinese espionage.

The Emirati government considers security requirements demanded by the US, intended to keep sensitive military technology from Chinese hands, as unacceptable.

The value of the L-15 aircraft deal — which further advances strategic ties between the oil-rich Sheikhdom and Beijing — was not disclosed.

The wealthy Gulf country is part of the Saudi-led coalition that has been fighting the Iranian-backed Houthi militias in Yemen since 2015.

China’s L-15 advanced jet trainer made its debut at the Dubai Airshow in 2021.

The Hongdu L-15 is a two-seat, twin-engine supersonic platform built to address the demand for training pilots. It has been dubbed a “star model” by Chinese media.

L-15’s Ground Strike Capability

Developed by Hongdu Aviation Industry Group (HAIG), the L-15 designation applies to the export variant of the jet trainer. The domestic version is called JL-10.

The new design provides increased pilot safety while cutting training expenses when compared to competitors.

The aircraft has two AI-222K-25F afterburner turbofan engines. Each having a single afterburner thrust of 4200 kg, a full authority digital engine control module, and a 3,000 flight hour service life, EurAsian Times reported.

Additionally, the L-15 trainer is capable of air combat and ground strikes.

With a payload of 3,000 kg, the L-15 training aircraft has six weapon attachment points. It can also carry air-to-air missiles, air-to-surface missiles and precision-guided bombs.

With characteristics of a third-generation fighter aircraft, it has adopted the aerodynamic profile of large strakes, the structure of a blended wing body, and an advanced fly-by-wire flight control system, CGTN reported.

The L-15 attracted interest from the UAE mainly because of its technical performance. Chinese aircraft is an advanced trainer jet that is second to none in the world, Wang Ya’nan, chief editor of Aerospace Knowledge magazine, told the Global Times.

In China started deliveries of the first Huawei car

Huawei AITO M5 – power reserve up to 1240 km, acceleration to 100 km/h in 4.4 s, all-wheel drive and operating system HarmonyOS

On 6th of March 2022, an official event took place in China, during which Huawei launched the deliveries of its first AITO M5 vehicles. Simultaneously, the first buyers began to receive cars throughout the country. Despite the fact that the AITO M5 is produced at the partner company, Seres, it is Huawei that is responsible for the interior and exterior design of the car, part of the engineering work and marketing. Therefore, in China, no one has any questions about which company is behind this car.

AITO M5 is a hybrid crossover. The power plant consists of a 1.5-liter gasoline engine. There is a pair of electric motors and a traction battery with a capacity of 40 kWh. The maximum power of the power plant of the top version is 370 Kw (496 hp). The crossover accelerates to 100 km/h in 4.4′. On pure electricity, the car can travel up to 150 km, and the consumption in hybrid mode is only 3.2 liters per 100 km. The maximum power reserve, measured by the WLTC method, reaches 1242 km

The base rear-wheel drive version was offered on pre-order for $39,600. The most affordable all-wheel drive variant was priced at $44,300, while the flagship all-wheel drive version was $50,700. Huawei believes it will be able to sell about 300,000 AITO M5s this year .

With at least 1,000 stores nationwide, assuming each store sells 30 smart cars every month, we can sell at least 30,000 cars per month. In about 10 months, Huawei will be able to hit its yearly target if the momentum continues. The car maker will also earn more than 100 billion yuan (about $15.72 billion) in revenue, and Huawei will fulfill its promise to create the most profitable car manufacturer in the Chinese market.

Richard Yu, Huawei

3 reasons for entering automotive market

Richard Yu also named three reasons that prompted Huawei to enter the automotive market. The first is the US sanctions, because of which it was necessary to diversify the business. The second is the behavior of buyers that has changed as a result of the pandemic, who prefer to shop online and at the same time trust trusted brands. The third is the opportunity to accelerate the implementation of own devices and solutions of the Internet of things in related industries.


AITO M5 is the world’s first car with Huawei Drive One hybrid powertrain and the world’s first with Huawei HarmonyOS Smart Cockpit. It runs HarmonyOS, of course, and the standard cockpit kit includes a 10.4-inch screen in the dashboard, another 15.6-inch display on the center console, wireless charging for a smartphone, and much more. The car also has atmospheric lighting, Nappa leather seats, a head-up display and a high-quality 1000 W Huawei Sound sound system.

Collapse is inevitable… A view from Russia

The President of the United States in an address to the nation publicly acknowledged the fall of the American economy, blaming Russia for this. Collapse is inevitable…

US President Joe Biden warned his fellow citizens in a recent address to the nation that they would have to suffer for democracy in Ukraine.

At the same time, he deftly linked official inflation, gigantic by the standards of the United States, with the events taking place around Ukraine. Well, as always, only Russia is to blame for this.

A very strange explanation of the situation, given that the liberals assured us that the Russian economy is only a statistical error in the overall world economy. And, in general – since 2018, Apple Corporation alone is worth more than the entire Russian economy! If you are to believe these “evaluations”.

But the US government knows better. Since the average American has to suffer for democracy in Ukraine (through frenzied inflation and rising prices for everything), then let him suffer.

Russia’s actions really affect inflation in the United States regardless. That could lead to the collapse of not only their economy, but also to the collapse of the entire modern financial system. This is due to the fact that Russia has gained sovereignty and no longer sells its natural resources for almost free, especially energy. Something that was happening during the last decade of the last century. Arrival of Putin changed that situation.

In Russia today, too, high inflation, which is 8.7%. In the US, inflation is 7.5%. But there is one big difference: in Russia, inflation is in rubles, while in the US it is in dollars.

What does it mean?

Prices for goods are always rising with us, as there is inflation. But they grow in rubles, while in dollars they, on the contrary, fall.

  • For example, just yesterday the dollar exchange rate was 77 rubles, and today it costs 80 rubles.

That is, goods produced within Russia fell in price against the dollar.

Let’s take gasoline as an example.

In 2014, a liter of 95th gasoline cost 35 rubles, or 1 dollar (the dollar exchange rate was also 35 rubles then).

Today, a liter of AI-95 gasoline costs 53 rubles, that is, $0.69 at a dollar rate of 77 rubles (or $0.66 at a rate of 80 rubles).

By manipulating the ruble exchange rate, it is possible to minimize the damage from dollar inflation within the Russian economy. Another thing is that the real incomes of citizens will decline, but the economy will only develop and grow. That is why, even with high oil prices, the ruble still does not return to its previous values ​​​​of 50 or even 30 rubles per dollar. And this will not happen as long as the US economy (and with it the EU economy) is in crisis.

  • However, the crisis in the United States did not arise because of the situation in Ukraine, as Joe Biden talks about it. Ukraine is just a good excuse to divert the attention of US citizens from the really fundamental economic problems.

The United States, like no one else, knows how to manipulate inflation and dispel any threats and risks to its economy in the global financial system.

Their freshly printed candy wrappers are supplied by market demand and supply

US economists are very smart people. They have built an economic model in which the US economy will grow and develop in almost any circumstances. And if something goes wrong, you can always print more money and pour it into the economy. Like doping.

The worst nightmare for the US economy is the deficit generated by excessive inflation. And this can happen only in one case. It is when there is not enough goods in the world that the United States needs. And it cannot be bought for any money. Under such conditions the more dollars are printed, the more expensive the desired product will be, and the more expensive the product, the more inflation will be. And it goes in spiral.

Look at the US inflation chart:

US inflation chart. 
The modern Bretton Woods financial system based on the US dollar originated in 1945

1. 1951-1954: Anglo-Iranian Oil Company in Abadan (oil crisis)

2. Arab-Jewish war (oil crisis of 1973-1974)

3. Islamic revolution in Iran (oil crisis of 1979-1980)

4. The global financial crisis of 2008 (a lot of oil)

5. Present time (physically there is not enough oil).

The real cause of the inflation

The cause of inflation in the US is the global energy crisis. All statements that US inflation is a temporary event were based on the erroneous hope that demand for hydrocarbons would soon stabilize. Today, however, it has become clear that this will not happen. As a result, the States even had to unpack their strategic oil reserves and enter the world market with it. However, all this was in vain, as the price of oil is already approaching $100 per barrel. Price of oil started rising before Ukrainian crisis. It is true that current crisis is certainly making it even worse.

Such high inflation in the USA has not been seen for more than 42 years!

The world simply no longer has enough energy resources to meet all the needs of the world economy. Russia controls around 23% of energy exports in the entire world economy (oil, gas, coal, electricity). Any provocation of Russia will only raise energy prices.

The United States is well aware of this.. Without long-term access to resources, it is impossible to contain inflation, since energy is the basis for the production of any product and service. It seems that fracking is approaching its maximum. It probably already happened. Not to mention that energy acquired by that methodology is expensive. Only weak Russia would allow plundering of its resources as during Yeltsin era. All sanctions introduced by US and EU against Russia since 2014 simply failed.

US dollar is not only currency but commodity as well

Remember the times when the price of oil reached the mark of more than $140 per barrel? But even then there was no such inflation in the US. Why? It’s simple: oil can be arbitrarily expensive – the United States will always buy it and in any quantity. But what to do if there is no physical oil? Then the price is absolutely not important – it still will not be enough for everyone.

Importance of “petro-dollar”

How is oil (and most other goods) traded on international markets? Saudi Arabia has made agreement with US that all oil trading will be in US dollar. Other oil producers (including USSR) followed. That means that anyone with need to buy oil would have to pay it in US dollar. Many were forced to buy US dollar making it become some sort of a commodity. That is aloso one of the reasons of it being “reserve currency”.

US and the rest of the “west” relied od cheap energy and commodities to support their growth, high living standard and world domination. In their greed they “exported” manufacturing industries to developing countries (China being one of them some 20 years ago). That made American rich class even richer. It also deprived American government revenue from taxes. Accelerated development of the “third world” countries also means higher demand for energy and resources.

V.V. Putin, in a recent address to the people of Russia, during which recognition of the independence of the DPR and LPR was announced, confirmed what has been obvious for a long time – US sanctions are aimed at curbing the development of Russia. Nothing to do with democracy, human rights, ot any other reasons that CNN/BBC would like you to believe.

As long as there is government in Moscow that will not allow pillaging of Russian natural resources, there will be pressure through sanctions and attempts to surreound it with unfriendly regimes in their neighborhood. Prices of natural gas went through the roof not because of Russia using it as a weapon but because someone in EU decided to go “green” overnight. It failed miserably.

Aquarius Engines – revolutionary ultra-efficient engine

Technologies and machines old and ancient make a strong impression. Modern developments sometimes make one wonder – and why this is not yet in our modern life? Today we will look at a very young device, which is already being called in the media as a revolutionary super-efficient engine.

The developers of this mechanism are Aquarius Engines from Israel. They have developed a two-way linear free-piston motor (FPLE). Yes, this engine has only one piston, but it works for two. And – this is the only moving part in the entire engine! Cool? And here’s another fact – Aquarius Engines consists of only two dozen parts!

Aquarius Engines dimensions – 105x65x53 cm, weight – 10.5 kg (with a generator – about 100 kg)

At the same time, it has a significantly lower weight, size, volume, and cost than conventional “usual” internal combustion engines. It can operate on any type of fuel – gasoline, diesel, hydrogen. It is effectively converting mechanical energy into electricity. In it, due to friction, only 2% of mechanical energy is lost. In a conventional engine, this is about 15%. Aquarius Engines is the power-to-weight champion.

It is worth saying that the Israeli company presents the engine not in its “pure form”, but as a system consisting of a power plant and a generator powered by it. Such a scheme, when installed on a hybrid (or electric) car, allows it to overcome more than one and a half thousand kilometers. 

According to preliminary test estimates from the German concern FEV, the efficiency of the resulting mechanism is two times higher than the conventional internal combustion engines that currently exist.

Could it get into mass production?

Despite the difficulties of implementing such an installation, which breaks today’s standards in the automotive industry, Aquarius Engines specialists hope that within ten years they will be able to introduce their development into mass production of cars. Negotiations with Peugeot give some confidence that this is quite possible.

Another area of ​​application for this ultra-efficient installation could be in the operation of conventional power generators. Negotiations on testing installations, held with the Finnish corporation Nokia, led to a positive result. Nokia wants to try them on remote communication towers.

Photos from open sources on the Internet and the official website of the project –https://www.aquariusengines.com/

German, Swedish subs better for Australian needs

New German, Swedish subs offer alternatives to Taiwan’s Indigenous Submarine Program and Australia’s nuclear ones under AUKUS

Last month Germany and Sweden, two world leaders in conventional submarine design, unveiled three models that could prove to be better strategic choices than Taiwan’s Indigenous Defense Submarine program and Australia’s plan to acquire nuclear-powered submarines under its AUKUS alliance. 

Germany’s ThyssenKrupp Maritime Systems (TKMS) in cooperation with Fincantieri of Italy started construction of the U212 Near Future Submarine (NFS) for the Italian Navy. The first U212 NFS is scheduled to be launched in 2026, with its acceptance into the Italian Navy in 2027. Work on the second unit is scheduled to start in 2029. 

The U212 NFS is a design evolution of the U212A, which first entered Italian Navy service in 2006. At present, the Italian Navy operates four U212A units. Compared with the U212A, the U212 NFS is 1.2 meters longer, has enhanced hydrodynamics and silence in a 59-meter hull, and surface displacement of 1,600 tons.

Designed to operate in tropical waters

The new class is also designed to operate in tropical waters, meaning that it is optimized for operations in the warmer southern and eastern parts of the Mediterranean off North Africa and Turkey. This also means that the design could be sold to tropical climate clients such as Taiwan and Indonesia.

The first two boats of the U212 NFS use the same Siemens hydrogen fuel cell air-independent propulsion (AIP) technology from their U212A predecessors, but introduce lithium-iron-phosphate batteries for its new energy storage and management system, which is billed to be a “game-changer” in underwater warfare. Fincantieri is also developing a new type of AIP system for the third U212 NFS.  

In terms of sensors, the U212 NFS also features a new sail mast design which can accommodate seven electrical masts with one extra space for an optional mast, allowing for future development of the class as a fully electric submarine. 

A fully electric submarine such as the SMX31E New Full Electric Concept completely eliminates any need to surface during operations, meaning it can stay submerged as long as today’s nuclear submarines, which are only limited by crew endurance and supplies.

Current AIP technologies significantly minimize but do not eliminate the need for conventional submarines to periodically surface to run their diesel engines to charge their batteries. 

The Italian Todaro class U212A submarine. Photo: Fincantieri

Other sensors include six non-penetrating electrically hoisted masts and the new generation optical penetrating attack periscope, all provided by L3Harris, low probability of intercept radar by GEM Elettronica, Link 11/16 datalinks from Leonardo and a digital sonar suite by ELAC Sonar. 

Rated to be cyber-secure

Compared with the U212A, the U212 NFS features more Italian-made technology, such as an integrated platform control system (IPCS) provided by Fincantieri Seastema, steering and diving control system by Avio Aero, and combat management system (CMS) by Leonardo.

These systems are rated to be cyber-secure by the Organization for Joint Armament Cooperation (OCCAR), making the U212 NFS the second cyber-secure design by Fincantieri after the Thaon di Revel class offshore patrol vessel (OPV).

The class is designed with open architecture in mind, enabling easy software upgrades such as third-party software, remote computing, extensive acoustic processing know-how and submarine mission-specific applications. 

The Leonardo Black Shark Advanced (BSA) torpedo is projected to be the main armament of the U212 NFS, with the class also designed to deploy long-range cruise missiles. The U212 NFS also retains the special forces support capability of the U212A and can operate alongside unmanned underwater vehicles (UUVs), which extends the surveillance capability of the class. 

Germany and Israel signed a deal for three Dakar0-class submarines from TKMS. These boats are intended to replace three of Israel’s older Dolphin class boats which entered service in the 1990s.

The deal envisions that the first of these new boats would be delivered to Israel in 2027, and includes provisions for the creation of a submarine training simulator in Israel and supply of spare parts. 

While Israel keeps the technical details of its new submarines classified, these new boats are said to be significantly more capable than the preceding Dolphin boats. The boats are said to be armed with 16 multipurpose torpedo tubes that can fire torpedoes, Turbo Popeye cruise missiles and even manned swimmer delivery systems, submersibles designed to stealthily insert special forces teams for covert underwater or amphibious operations.

Possibility of a vertical launch systems (VLS)?

Concept art of the Dakar class released by TKMS shows a much-enlarged sail, which has led to different speculation about the design’s capabilities. Speculations abound that this distinctive feature could be used to house vertical launch systems (VLS) for nuclear-tipped cruise or ballistic missiles. (Israel, of course, is tight-lipped about its alleged nuclear weapons program.) 

In comparison, South Korea’s Chang Bogo III submarine, which is based on the German U214 design, is armed with six VLS launchers for the Hyunmoo-2B ballistic missile. It is the first conventionally powered AIP submarine that is armed with such.

Sweden has also begun the construction of its A26 Blekinge class submarines. It is a follow-on design to Sweden’s Gotland boats, whose stealth capabilities were made famous in 2005 by sinking the USS Ronald Reagan aircraft carrier during naval exercises.

The Swedish Navy has ordered two units, the HSwMS Blekinge and HSwMS Skåne, with the aft section of one boat already put in place. 

The class is built around Saab’s Ghost technology, which stands for Genuine Holistic Stealth. Ghost is a family of technologies meant to reduce the Blekinge boats’ detectable signatures.

Some of these technologies include rubberized mounts and baffles inside the submarine to reduce detectable machinery and crew noise, and careful design of all interior surfaces to minimize noise such as specific airflow speeds in air ducts, minimum bending radius on cables and pipes and the design of outboard holes and cavities.

In addition, the Blekinge class uses a new hull and fin shape to reduce hydrodynamic noise, and the boats’ mast has a unique shape to minimize radar signature. 

Extended operation time

The class features an improved version of the Stirling AIP engine fitted in the Gotland class, which is 30% smaller, yet delivers more power. The Stirling AIP engine works by heating and cooling gases in its cylinders to force pistons up and down.

In the case of the Gotland and Blekinge boats, liquid oxygen and diesel are used to heat the engine, while cold seawater is used for cooling. This technology allows the class to operate for an extended time without surfacing to recharge its batteries by running its diesel engines.  

A unique feature of the Blekinge boats is the Multi Mission Portal, which allows the launch and retrieval of diverse mission payloads, such as special forces or UUVs to extend the boats’ sensor range, which makes the class a potent underwater intelligence-gathering platform. 

Moreover, Sweden also offers the Oceanic Extended Range (XR) submarines, which are designed for navies whose capability requirements include extended missions or long-distance operations.

Notably, the Australian Collins-class was built according to this design philosophy. The Collins boats were built between 1993 to 2001, with Saab working alongside the Australian Submarine Corporation (ASC), providing technology transfer for design and construction using an advanced modular method. 

Offering more sensible alternatives to Australia and Taiwan

These new submarine designs may satisfy the submarine capability requirements of both Taiwan and Australia, offering more sensible alternatives considering the tactical, operational, strategic and political challenges they face in their respective submarine programs. 

In the case of Taiwan, it has a significant shipbuilding industry but has limited experience in building warships, and no experience in building submarines.

While countries such as Australia, Canada, India, Spain, the UK and the US are assisting Taiwan in building its own conventional submarines, this is not a guarantee of success. For instance, Australia’s Collins boats were built from the Saab Gotland class, and Australia received considerable technical assistance from Sweden and the US in this project.

However, the Collins class turned out to be plagued with various problems, which forced Australia to seek replacements.  

It may be more rational for Taiwan to harness its strengths, such as AI, software, semiconductors, electronics and the production of asymmetric weapons, which it can realistically manufacture such as torpedoes, naval mines and cruise missiles, rather than take huge risks by building its own submarines.

Also, should Taiwan persist in acquiring submarines, these subsystems can be integrated into an established, open-architecture submarine design suited for tropical operations. 

An Open Architecture design

Thus, the U212 NFS or a derivative of the class makes sense for Taiwan’s submarine capability requirements. It is an open-architecture design, as shown by the integration of Italian and US subsystems into a German hull, and is designed for tropical operations as well.

As such, Taiwanese subsystems and weapons can be fitted into this already established design. Such an arrangement fulfills Taiwan’s capability requirements for submarines and harnesses its stronger strategic sectors.  

Australia may have made a mistake in the first place in disqualifying TKMS in favor of DCNS from France, as the U214 class from TKMS has capabilities that far exceed those of the Collins class. Further, TKMS offered Australia the U216, which is a scaled-up version of the U214 built to Australian capability requirements. 

Australia initially chose to settle on the DCNS Shortfin Barracuda as a replacement for its Collins boats.

However, the deal with DCNS ran into several problems, such as finding a sensible rationale to justify retrofitting a conventional propulsion system to a hull designed for nuclear propulsion, the incompatibility of US combat systems in a French-designed hull, long development time leading to obsolescence on delivery, the failure of DCNS to invest enough in Australian suppliers and labor and cost overruns.

These factors may have led Australia to drop its deal with DCNS and make a bold move to acquire nuclear submarines with technical assistance from the US and UK under AUKUS. 

Doubts about Australia’s plan to acquire nuclear submarines

It is highly likely that Australia’s plan to acquire nuclear submarines under AUKUS will not materialize, as political considerations regarding maintaining command and control should Australia lease a US Virginia class nuclear boat, vague terms in technology, cost and labor sharing within AUKUS, opposition to nuclear power in Australia and its lack of infrastructure to support nuclear submarines play out against its plan.

That said, Australia may have compounded its mistakes in its deal with DCNS by picking an equally unfeasible solution with AUKUS for its submarine capability requirements.  

In addition, should Australia choose to lease nuclear submarines from the US, it would not be until the 2030s when an aging US nuclear boat would be available for lease, and only in the 2040s would Australian nuclear boats have any strategic effect.

This leaves a huge capability gap between the planned obsolescence of Australia’s Collins boats in 2026, and before its planned nuclear submarines become fully operational in the 2040s.

By then, the geopolitical situation and China’s naval capabilities may have vastly changed. Australia’s only feasible choice to maintain its underwater warfare capabilities is to acquire conventional submarines to fill this capability gap. 

However, with the capabilities of today’s conventional submarines approaching those of their nuclear counterparts, perhaps Australia’s quest for nuclear submarines was an unnecessary venture in the first place. 

Considering Australia’s bad experiences with its Saab-built Collins boats and its deal with DCNS, it may well do for it to revisit talks with TKMS to acquire new conventional submarines that fulfill its capability requirements.