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World Navies In Review
Finding the Right Mix
By Eric Wertheim
Proceedings, March 2006
The world's major maritime powers clearly have the money and commitment to maintain carefully balanced forces to project power. It seems, however, that many other, smaller navies can ill afford to continue shopping for ultra-expensive and difficult-to-maintain amphibious ships, aircraft carriers, and submarines while anti-piracy and counter-terrorism remain their stated top priorities. This force-mix debate will inevitably persist, and the arguments over which types of warships will be most useful in the future remain anyone"s guess. This annual review of the world's navies is arranged by region, with maritime nations discussed alphabetically in each subheading.
Australia and Asia
. Australia. Long a key Pacific partner of the United States, the Australian Navy has seen some major programs begin to mature during the past year. Among the most important of these programs may well be the new air warfare destroyer (AWD), which Australia hopes will enter service around 2013. A total of three destroyers are planned with construction work expected to begin in Australia around 2008. A final design has yet to be agreed on, but it is known that the destroyers will be fitted with the American Aegis system, significantly increasing both the capability of the ships and cost of the total program budget, which currently runs in the neighborhood of $6 billion (Australian). With the destroyers still many years away from commissioning, Australian Oliver Hazard Perry-class and newer Anzac-class frigates will bear the maritime burden until then, soldiering on thanks to many ongoing upgrades. As it now stands, all eight of the Anzac frigates, the final unit of which will enter service in 2006, are to be modernized with a phased-array radar between 2009 and 2012. Though the older Perry-class frigates are beginning to retire, those remaining in service are also undergoing significant upgrades.
HMAS Armidale, first of the class of new patrol boats for the Royal Australian Navy, is shown here on sea trials during 2005
In August 2005, the Australian government approved the start of initial work on a multi-billion dollar amphibious assault ship program to meet Australia"s 21st century troop transport and peacekeeping requirements. Intended to transport 1,000 troops and up to 100 vehicles, French and Spanish amphibious designs currently top the list of potential bidders. Expected in service around 2012, the new amphibious ships would replace three Australian amphibious vessels now in service.
With the number of large transport vessels soaking up much of the limelight, analysts should not discount the importance of patrol craft when it comes to maritime capabilities, something the Australians have taken to heart. In 2005 the first of 12 Armidale-class patrol craft entered service while older boats of the Fremantle class are retired in turn.
. Brunei. Throughout 2005, Brunei steadfastly refused to accept its new BAE-constructed corvettes into service, leaving BAE Systems to ponder the cause of rejection. As the warships appear to be in working order, Brunei's manpower or infrastructure requirements may not yet be in place to support these advanced warships. Though the true cause remains open to conjecture, the issue is now making its way through the international court system and the debate will be interesting to watch during the coming year.
. China. While many industrialized nations spend a great deal of time talking about modernization, far fewer follow through in budgetary plans. One of the few exceptions to this rule appears to be China. From surface combatants to submarines and from aircraft to Aegis-type radars, the Chinese fleet of 2010 will be very different from that of 2000. Many new classes of warships are in different states of design and development, including new nuclear-powered ballistic-missile submarines (project 094), nuclear-powered attack submarines (project 093), three classes of conventionally powered attack submarines (Song, Yuan and improved Kilo-classes), new project 052C class and ex-Russian Sovremennyy destroyers, Jiangwei-II-class and project 054 frigates, in addition to new stealthy fast-attack craft and a number of new amphibious assault ships.
Few will doubt that China's military and its navy in particular are in the middle of a dramatic shift away from large numbers of lower quality warships toward a smaller, far more capable fleet. Though there has been much debate concerning the possible addition of an aircraft carrier to the Chinese fleet, little hard evidence supports the assumption that carrier aviation will be a significant path of investment for the Chinese during the next five years. Rather, missile-carrying submarines and surface ships seem to be the direction of continued growth for the ever-expanding fleet. Not that an aircraft carrier is out of the question, but rather, submarines and surface warships seem better suited to the anti-access strategy China appears to be preparing.
. India. Trailing not far behind China in terms of maritime modernization would most certainly have to be India. The nation has some lofty desires, though its domestic shipbuilding capability is only just beginning to arrive at a point worthy of these goals. In the meantime, until domestic shipyards are fully up to the task, India continues looking abroad, primarily to Russia, in search of weapons.
India hopes to have at least two new aircraft carriers in service by 2012. INS Viraat, shown here, is likely to remain in service until at least 2010 when the ex-Russian Kiev-class Admiral Gorshkov (now Vikramaditya) enters service.
First among its many naval programs is a new 40,000-ton aircraft carrier currently under construction at Cochin Shipyard. India hopes to purchase as many as three of the class, the first of which, Vikrant, is due to enter service around 2012 and carry two dozen aircraft, including MiG-29 fighters and Sea King helicopters. Even before the Vikrant enters service, an older ship, the long-retired ex-Russian Kiev-class aircraft carrier Admiral Gorshkov, will be joining the fleet. Recently purchased from Russia, the carrier has been renamed Vikramaditya and is currently undergoing refit in Severodvinsk, Russia, with final outfitting to be done at Cochin Shipyard in India. When Vikramaditya enters service by 2010, India's current carrier, Viraat, is expected to be decommissioned.
In June 2005, India finalized its plan to build six conventionally-powered Scorpène-class submarines, with the boats now due to enter service between 2012 and 2015. Mystery continues to surround India's nuclear-powered submarine program, the most pressing question being whether the reported advanced technology vessel (ATV) submarine is an SSBN (nuclear-powered ballistic-missile submarine) or in actuality an SSGN (nuclear-powered cruise-missile submarine) fitted to carry land attack cruise missiles. Recent media reports indicate that the ATV is currently under construction at Mazagon Dockyard in Mumbai and isn't due in service until at least 2009. Until then, India has apparently been looking to Russia in the hopes of ordering a number of Akula-class nuclear-powered attack submarines. Though discussions on the Akulas have persisted for nearly a decade, current reports indicate that negotiations are all but finalized for a "lease-to-buy" option on two Akula submarines for delivery in the near future.
Submarines and aircraft carriers are only one aspect of the Indian fleet modernization. An increasingly powerful surface combatant fleet is also in the works. A new Bangalore (Project 15A)-class guided-missile destroyer was launched at Mumbai in 2005, and three of the class are expected in service between 2008 and 2011. If all goes as planned, the Bangalores will join a multitude of new ships, including the Shivalik-class (Project 17) frigates in service between 2006-2008 as well as a new class of corvettes tentatively named Project 28, which is still in the preliminary design phase. Already in service with the fleet are new units of the Delhi-class (Project 15) destroyers along with improved Godavari-class (Project 16A) and Talwar (Russian Project 11356)-class frigates, of which three more are planned.
. Indonesia. While larger navies aim for a blue-water fleet, and small navies sometimes look to brown-water riverine operations, Indonesia has plans for what it calls a green-water navy, often described as a compromise between a blue- and brown-water force. Regardless of titles, the Indonesian Navy has recently received help in its efforts to fight piracy and to patrol its often-dangerous coastal waters. Japan in particular has pledged to help build a strong Indonesian Coast Guard, while a number of new Type-35 and Type-36 patrol craft were recently accepted into service along with two corvettes, soon to be delivered from the Netherlands. In the coming years, the Indonesian fleet will also see its amphibious transport capability grow with the acquisition of four 7,300-ton amphibious transport docks. The first two were constructed in South Korea, and the second two will be built domestically by Indonesian shipyards. Indonesia also aims to acquire two or three Type 214 submarines and between two and four 1,700-ton small frigates from the Netherlands during the next five years.
. Japan. With all these changes going on among the naval forces of its neighbors, Japan's Maritime Self Defense Forces haven't exactly been idle. Work continues on the first new 13,500-ton helicopter-carrying destroyers that will likely enter service around 2008. The new warships are expected to replace the Haruna class and eventually the Shirane class now serving the fleet. Equally powerful but a bit smaller are the two Atago-class Aegis destroyers, launched recently in Nagasaki.
Indicating just how seriously Japan takes the ballistic-missile threat from potentially hostile neighbors, the Japanese government in 2005 pledged joint cooperation with the United States on tests of the SM-3 Standard missile interceptor as well as announcing the intention to purchase the latest SM-2 Block IIIB surface-to-air missiles for its guided-missile destroyers. Though technology advances, the number of Japanese submarines is expected to drop modestly in the coming year as older subs are retired without one-for-one replacements by the newer Oyashio-class now on the production line. New units of the Sugashima-class mine countermeasures ships continue to enter service, with the ninth and tenth ships having been delivered. Additionally, the maritime helicopter fleet will continue to grow in capability as the first new SH-60K helicopters were delivered in 2005. New EH-101 helicopters will arrive in 2006, though a reduction in the Navy's fleet of P-3C Orion maritime patrol aircraft is also expected, with the number of P-3 airframes in service likely to drop by up to 30% once this drawdown is completed.
. Kazakhstan. Elsewhere in Asia, even Kazakhstan was able to purchase new fast-attack craft this past year, inking a deal for three Sea Dolphin-type fast-attack craft built in South Korea.
. Malaysia. Malaysia recently saw the birth of a new organization, dubbed the Maritime Enforcement Agency, which took over maritime law enforcement and coast guard duties for the nation. The first of two Scorpène-class submarines is set to enter Malaysian service in 2009, though early problems forced delays for the already expensive project. As of June 2005, the first of these Scorpènes were reportedly 35% complete. New offshore patrol vessels are also in the offing for the Malaysian sea services during 2006. Based on the MEKO-100 design, six of the class are being built for Malaysia, though Navy officials are hoping to order as many as 20. There is reportedly also interest in purchasing at least two 18,500-ton amphibious assault ships for the Malaysian fleet. Most likely they will be built in South Korea during the next few years.
. New Zealand. In 2005 New Zealand decommissioned the last of its operational Leander-class frigates, HMNZS Canterbury. New vessels will soon be entering service as the important Project Protector acquisition program promises a new fleet of patrol ships by 2008. The program includes plans to purchase four small inshore patrol vessels, two mid-sized offshore vessels, and one larger multi-role vessel that must be able to carry an infantry company along with associated vehicles and combat equipment. Steel was cut for the project's first craft this past year by Tenix, which was chosen as prime contractor in 2004.
. Pakistan. In mid-2005 Pakistan announced that it planned to purchase four Jiangwei II-class (F 22) frigates from China. Expected to become operational sometime between 2011 and 2012, the frigates will likely be armed with antiship and surface-to-air missiles in addition to Chinese versions of the French Dauphin helicopter. Eight P-3C Orions also joined the Pakistani fleet in 2005, and will be armed with new anti-ship missiles as Pakistan recently requested the purchase of 50 Harpoon block II antiship missiles to supplement the block I weapons already in service.
. Philippines. It is hard these days to discuss Philippine naval forces without placing an ever-increasing emphasis on their marine corps. Viewed as a key element of their maritime power, one can expect significant growth of the marine corps in the future, which would bring the force more in line with its growing importance to the maritime capabilities of the island nation. Small craft still play a vital role, however, and Emilo Jacinto-class patrol craft will soon begin an overhaul and modernization program that will include installation of a 25-mm cannon and new weapons fire-control and on-board fire-suppression systems.
. Singapore. For Singapore, work continues on its Formidable-class frigates, the first of which entered service in 2004. The sixth and final ship of the class, Supreme, was launched in July 2005 and is scheduled for commissioning in 2009. Perhaps most surprising is the recent announcement that the small nation will purchase two soon-to-be-retired submarines from Sweden for an expected delivery around 2010. The new submarines are expected to replace some of the older Sjöormen-class subs, also purchased previously from Sweden.
HYUNDAI HEAVY INDUSTRIES
South Korea's KDX-III-class destroyers will carry the Aegis weapon system. The first of the class is expected to enter service in 2008.
. South Korea. The first new 14,000-ton South Korean amphibious assault ship was launched in July 2005, and she is to be followed in the near future by a second vessel. Both are more than 650 feet long and can carry 700 troops, ten helicopters, and a number of landing craft in their docking wells. In the meantime, work continues on the final South Korean KDX-II-class and the first KDX-III-class destroyers, the latter of which will be fitted with the Aegis weapon system, and the first Type 214 submarine, expected in service during 2007. In April of 2006, South Korea agreed to reactivate and upgrade eight P-3B Orion aircraft as part of the nation's maritime patrol expansion project. Delivery of the final modernized airframe is expected in 2010.
. Taiwan. Although Taiwan's quest for a new class of submarines continues, the nation is in the process of gaining a powerful new capability in the form of four Kidd-class destroyers purchased from the United States. The first of the class was modernized and delivered to Taiwan in late 2005, and the remaining units are expected to follow by the end of 2006. Meanwhile, Taiwan has continued its efforts to equip its forces with ever-improving weapons and equipment. It is in the process of equipping its fleet of eight Knox-class frigates with SM-1 Standard surface-to-air missiles, providing the class with a balanced mix of antiair, antisubmarine, and antisurface capabilities.
Taiwan's submarine force will also get a weapons boost with the addition of new Harpoon antiship missiles set to be installed in its two Dutch Hai Lung-class submarines, in service since the late 1980s. Work continues on an advanced, domestically-produced missile known as the Hsiung Feng 3 (HF-3), which was test-fired in 2005. Of course aviation plays a key role for any maritime force, and 2005 saw the delivery of three E-2 Hawkeye airborne early warning and control planes, which will undoubtedly lend a significant boost to Taiwanese command, control, and patrol capabilities.
. Thailand. Aircraft purchases also made news in Thailand, where new Lynx 300 helicopters were accepted into service. The purchase was overshadowed, however, by renewed Thai interest in laying the groundwork for a submarine fleet in addition to an ongoing requirement to purchase two frigates. Bids have been submitted by a number of European and Asian shipbuilders. If purchased, the frigates would join two new Chinese-built 95-meter offshore patrol vessels, the first of which was delivered in late 2005 and the second expected in 2006. Interest also remains high in purchasing a number of new patrol craft from China in years to come.
. Belgium. In Europe a number of interesting ship transfers have taken place, especially among NATO members both new and old. Belgium was one of the primary traders this past year with announcement of the transfer to Bulgaria of a Wielingen-class frigate in 2005 and the Belgian purchase of two Dutch Karel Doorman-class frigates, to be delivered in 2007-08.
. Bulgaria. As Bulgaria takes delivery of its retired Belgian frigate, it is also looking to modernize its submarine force, most likely by purchasing a retired submarine from Denmark. Bulgaria is also looking to acquire six newly built corvettes from Germany.
The Esbern Snare, newest of Denmark's Absalon-class flexible support ships, formally enters service this year. Though bearing the armament and appearance of a frigate, the ships are considered multi-role auxiliaries.
. Denmark. Though the Danish Navy is still mourning the decommissioning of its last submarines, 2005 was not all bad news as the first Absalon-class flexible-support ship was commissioned early in the year while a second unit, Esbern Snare, is to be formally commissioned in 2006.
. Finland. Mine countermeasures were apparently on the mind of the Finnish Navy as negotiations continued for the purchase of newer mine-warfare vessels to replace their older Kuha-class by 2012. Additionally, it looks like a new Hamina-class guided-missile patrol boat will be entering service in the near future since a contract was signed in February for construction of a fourth vessel in the class.
. France. In France, state-owned Directions des Constructions Navales (DCN) shipyards and electronics giant Thales announced consolidation plans during December 2005, and in January 2006 aircraft carrier design plans were purchased from the United Kingdom for construction of France's new non-nuclear-powered aircraft carrier. The French carrier, dubbed PA2, can be expected to have a high degree of commonality with the planned British Queen Elizabeth-class carriers.
Concerning destroyers and frigates, there may be some competition for funding between the larger, more expensive Horizon-class destroyers and the smaller project FREMM (Frégate Multi-Mission) frigates. The first French Horizon-class destroyer, Forbin, was launched in March 2005 with delivery expected in late 2007, while a second unit of the class, Chevalier Paul, is expected in December 2007. An additional two Horizon-class units were to have been built, but they were canceled and two Franco-Italian FREMM ships may instead be built. France intends to construct 17 of the new frigates with delivery of the first expected in 2010.
French power-projection capabilities will also get a boost in 2006 when the second and final unit of the Mistral-class helicopter-carrying landing ships enters service. Tonnerre and sister Mistral will supplement the two 12,000-ton (full load) Foudre-class dock landing ships and replace the aging French amphibious ships Ouragan and Orage, which have been transferred to Argentina.
On the French submarine front, initial design work continues on the next-generation Barracuda-class nuclear-powered attack submarines, while development is under way on the new M 51 submarine-launched ballistic missiles. Once operational in 2010, the M 51 will carry six MIRVs over a range of 5,500 miles and will replace the current generation of M 45 missiles now arming France's ballistic-missile submarine fleet.
The Braunschweig, the first of five German K-130 corvettes, will likely be ready for delivery in 2007.
. Germany. Another European naval powerhouse, Germany, also had a big year in 2005. During the past decade, there has been a concerted effort to move the German Navy from the escort force of the Cold War toward an expeditionary fleet of the 21st century. To help meet this goal, a number of naval projects are in the works, including the acquisition of K-130 corvettes, U-212 submarines, F-125 frigates and NH-90 helicopters. The third and final Sachsen-class air-defense frigate joined the fleet in 2005, completing a major acquisition program for Germany. Also in 2005, P-3C Orions were purchased from the Netherlands, enhancing German maritime aviation capability, which had been frustrated by the recent retirement of Tornado attack jets and their associated combat capability. Braunschweig, the first of five K-130 corvettes, is to launch in April 2006 and is expected for delivery in 2007. Two new Type 212 submarines are expected to commission in 2006, joining two very capable sisters delivered during 2005.
. Greece. The Hellenic Navy's first new air-independent propulsion (AIP)-equipped Type 214 submarine, Papanikolis, conducted sea trials off Germany in February 2005 with delivery taking place later in the year. Work upgrading Greece's older Type 209/1200 submarines will continue through 2012 under the Neptune II modernization program. This past year, Greece accepted delivery of its fourth Pomorik-class air cushion vehicle, but a number of older ships were also decommissioned, including two remaining Charles F. Adams-class destroyers which had been retired by 2005. The Hellenic Navy continues to express a strong interest in purchasing new guided-missile frigates to replace the Adams-class destroyers; designs under consideration include the Dutch De Zeven Provincien- and German Sachsen-class frigates. A contract for the warships is expected in 2007.
Three of five Super Vita guided-missile patrol craft have now entered Greek service, and recent reports indicate that the United States will be transferring two Osprey-class minehunters to the Hellenic Navy in the 2006-07 timeframe. A single Hunt-class minehunter may also be purchased from the United Kingdom.
. Italy. As with France, Italy is currently grappling with ways to finance both its Horizon-class destroyers and its new multi-national FREMM frigate program. On 14 October 2005, Italian shipbuilder Fincantieri launched Andrea Doria, the first of Italy's Horizon destroyers, with delivery expected late in 2007. Sister ship Caio Duilio is expected to launch in 2006 with an in-service date of 2009.
The Italian FREMM program has faced many challenges, not the least of which was the major budget cuts sustained by the Italian Navy in 2005. Not only did this hamper the FREMM program that Italy hopes will bring six new multi-role/land-attack and four antisubmarine frigates into service during the coming decade, but it also forced delays on many other acquisition projects. Though construction has been completed on the first two Type 212 submarines, the third and fourth boats of the class have been delayed at least a year.
Still undetermined will be the impact of budget cuts on Italy's hoped-for modernization of its Maestrale-class frigates, which must last at least until arrival of the FREMM replacement ships. As far as larger ships go, the new Italian aircraft carrier Cavour is expected to complete construction later this year for an expected 2007 commissioning. The Italian Navy has also expressed interest in purchasing a large 20,000-ton amphibious assault ship, though the program is still in the very early stages of development and may not make it off the drawing board.
. Latvia. In July, Latvia purchased five Alkmaar-class mine hunters from the Netherlands that will enter service between 2006 and 2008. Among the warships they will replace are the soon to retire ex-German craft Nemjes.
. The Netherlands. The Dutch announced a new armed forces command structure in 2005, transferred two Karel Doorman-class frigates to Belgium, and ordered 30 Tomahawk missiles from the United States. In January 2005, the contract for a new 214-meter Netherlands Antilles' support ship was signed, and she will likely be named Pelikaan, replacing an older vessel with the same name. The verdict is still out on the future of a proposed Dutch joint support ship program, though the Netherlands has historically proved able to build highly efficient warships at affordable rates, so this new program may ultimately prove successful.
. Norway. During 2005, sea trials were under way on board the Norwegian frigate Fridtjof Nansen, the first Norwegian warship to carry the Aegis weapon system. Five of the class are planned with the third unit, Otto Sverdrup, scheduled to launch this year. Work on the Skjold-class guided-missile patrol combatants continues, but Norway must wait until 2009 before all six vessels will finally be in service. Norway continues to advance cutting-edge programs and in December 2005, the navy expressed interest in a new class of fleet support vessels, which may be purchased beginning around 2009.
. Portugal. Portugal received a number of additions to its maritime aviation mix during 2005. Twelve EH-101 Merlin helicopters were delivered in January 2005 and five P-3C Orions were purchased from the Netherlands. Two Type 209 submarines will soon begin construction in Germany for delivery sometime after 2008. Plans are also in the works for a Portuguese amphibious transport dock to be built under contract in the Netherlands. If funding permits, the new amphibious warship and six utility landing craft could be in service as early as 2010.
. Romania. In Romania hopes are high that funding will remain available for the upgrade of two frigates purchased from the United Kingdom in 2004. If all goes as planned, work on the Regele Ferdinand and Regina Marina would begin in Romanian shipyards around 2008.
. Russia. For the Russian Navy, work continues on a number of different warship types. Construction is not moving as fast as the navy may have hoped, but it appears that in recent months emphasis on fleet operations has increased, perhaps at the expense of speedy completion of ongoing projects. The aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov deployed during the summer of 2005 carrying Flanker fighters, but only a small number (said to be less than a dozen) of qualified pilots were reportedly on board to fly the jets. Plans for construction of a new aircraft carrier have been postponed until at least 2010.
After years of competition between the Russian shipyards Baltiisky Zavod and Severnaya Verf, the two finally reached a five-year agreement in 2005, stipulating that Baltiisky Zavod will build only civilian ships while rival Severnaya Verf will work exclusively on military projects. Other shipyards are still able to focus on both sets of clients, however, and what has been reported as a new tank landing ship (LST) was laid down in at Yantar shipyard in Kaliningrad during December 2004. Construction continues on the 6,000-ton vessel, known as Project 11711, and the first unit could be ready for service by 2008. If funding persists, four additional Project 11711 LSTs may also be built.
A third project 20380-class frigate was launched in 2005 in St. Petersburg. Named Boiky, she joins sisters Steregushchiy and Soobraziltel'nyy, both still in the shipyard in different stages of construction. The Kirov-class nuclear-powered cruiser Admiral Nakhimov, non-operational for many years, will reportedly undergo modernization and refueling in 2006 and could be back in service by 2007 or 2008.
Submarine construction remains strong at the Russian yards with a Delta III-class SSBN beginning a major refit and service-life extension in November 2005. A third Lada-class (Project 677) submarine was laid down in July 2005 at Severnaya Verf and the first of the class Sankt Peterburg is currently undergoing sea trials that began in December 2005.
. Spain. Expeditionary warfare has taken on renewed importance for the Spanish Navy, and funding has been funneled in that direction for several years. Beginning in 2006, the Spanish aircraft carrier Prìncipe de Asturias will undergo a two-year modernization and service life extension, while preliminary design work continues on her eventual replacement. Additionally, a new Spanish amphibious helicopter landing ship is under construction, and the keel of that 27,000-ton vessel was laid down in May 2005. Current plans call for the vessel to launch in late 2007 and be commissioned in late 2008.
Spain's fleet of Aegis-armed guided-missile frigates continues to grow, with a fifth unit ordered in 2005 and a sixth unit expected to follow. Spain has expressed interest in purchasing 60 Tomahawk cruise missiles to arm these F-100 frigates in addition to their current armament of Standard and Harpoon missiles. As the newer warships enter fleet service, older vessels such as the Baleares-class frigates and Descubierta-class patrol ships are being retired.
Out with the old and in with the new is a theme familiar to the Spanish submarine force, which has ordered four Scorpène-class submarines from Spanish shipbuilder Navantia (formerly Izar). The first of these new submarines is expected in service during 2008, by which time the remaining two Daphné-class submarines will have long retired. If more Scorpènes are purchased in the future, they will likely replace the French Agosta-class boats, in service since the 1980s.
. Sweden. The United States leased a Swedish AIP-equipped submarine during 2005 to assist with antisubmarine tactics and training. The program appears so successful that talks are already under way to extend the lease through 2007. The fourth Visby-class guided-missile patrol combatant, named Nykoping, was launched during August 2005, and she is due for delivery later this year. Sweden's mine warfare forces will also be getting a boost in the near future, as five Landsort-class minehunters are undergoing modernization to carry remote mine hunting vehicles and new sonar. Additionally, three aluminum-hulled air cushion vehicles have been ordered by Sweden for delivery between 2006 and 2007.
The first of Turkey's Aydin-class minehunters, Alanya, entered service in 2005.
. Turkey. Based in a historically strategic location, Turkish naval forces always seem to have a full set of maritime tasks, not the least of which has been coping with a 50% increase in tanker traffic through the Dardanelles during the past three years. A good mix of fleet capabilities is therefore essential for the Turks, and this is reflected in a well-balanced list of priorities. By 2014, the nation hopes to have its Type 209/1200 and Type 209/1400 submarines upgraded at a total cost of $1 billion. The navy hopes that $1.3 billion will also be set aside to purchase three air-defense frigates between 2010 and 2016, though funding for this program is by no means certain. The same can be said for a new class of seven corvettes envisioned between 2010 and 2020, which could cost $1.2 billion over the next decade. A number of acquisition programs have gone forward, and Turkey is now seeing the fruits of its labor in the form of new guided-missile patrol craft (the fourth of which, Tufan, was commissioned in May 2005) and a new class of coastal minehunters (the first of which, Alanya, was delivered in March 2005).
Swiftsure-class submarine HMS Spartan retired from service in January 2006.
. United Kingdom. Unquestionably, one of the biggest programs now under way in Great Britain is construction of two 60,000-ton Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carriers. Originally, the program was to have received final approval in 2003, but this has now slipped to 2006. Even though the project enjoys widespread support throughout the highest levels of the Defence Ministry, the ships' 2012 and 2015 in-service dates are likely to slip, while costs will likely rise as construction commences. To save money, the oldest of three Invincible-class carriers, HMS Invincible, was decommissioned in August 2005, following a final deployment last January. Sister ship Illustrious recently took over as fleet flagship after completing an extensive refit designed to extend her service life at least a decade. Youngest of the class, Ark Royal, will undergo a similar refit beginning in 2006.
Construction continues on the Astute-class nuclear-powered attack submarines. The keel of Artful, third of the class, was laid down in March 2005. Completion of the first unit has been delayed almost two years, and HMS Astute is not expected in service until late 2008 or early 2009. If delays are extended much longer, older submarines may be forced to remain in service beyond the current decommissioning schedule. The third Swiftsure-class boat, Spartan, was decommissioned early in 2006, and the newest of the class, Superb, is scheduled to remain active until late in 2008, at which time many of the Trafalgar-class boats will also be preparing to retire. Obviously, this creates a dilemma if the new Astutes are delayed.
Britain's four Vanguard-class nuclear-powered ballistic-missile submarines have begun their mid-life refueling and overhaul, as efforts continue to keep them sailing smoothly into the future. HMS Victorious is currently undergoing a three-year refit and refueling, the second of the class to receive such maintenance. Though these vessels are still early in their service lives, the United Kingdom must put some serious consideration into the next generation of nuclear deterrent. It is not uncommon for SSBN development to take a generation, especially now that the requirements no longer demand the same Cold War priorities once afforded to nuclear forces.
The Type 45 destroyer program has also come under great scrutiny. Though 12 ships were originally planned, budget cuts have forced the number down to eight, and it is possible that only six will end up in service. 2006 brings with it the launch of the first Type 45, HMS Daring, now expected in service by 2009. Second of the class, Dauntless, and the third unit, Diamond, are to follow in 2010 and 2011 respectively. To make room for the new destroyers, older ones are preparing for retirement. Three Type 42 destroyers are scheduled to be decommissioned in 2009, one in 2010, two in 2011, two in 2012, and one in 2013. Of course, these dates are subject to change, depending on requirements and funding.
All four of the Largs Bay-class dock landing ships are near completion. The final vessel, Cardigan Bay, was launched in April 2005, while the third of the class, Mounts Bay, began sea trials off Scotland in November 2005. These ships will provide the United Kingdom with a strong and capable amphibious assault force that will sail alongside HMS Ocean and the two Albion-class assault landing ships, the newest of which, Bulwark, was in service by 2005. The long-planned joint casualty treatment ship appears to have become a casualty itself, though there is still debate as to whether a dedicated hospital ship is required or if the role can instead be fulfilled by a multi-purpose amphibious ship outfitted for the casualty treatment mission. Other Royal Navy programs under way include delivery of a new Falkland Islands patrol ship in late 2006 and upgrades to the surviving Hunt- and Sandown-class mine countermeasures vessels that are expected to remain in service during the next decade.
Middle East and Africa
. Egypt. On the African continent, Egypt is looking to enhance its submarine force and is eying with interest four Type 206A-class submarines recently retired from the German Navy. An Egyptian submarine program has been ongoing with the United States, but appears to have so far come to naught.
. Iran. In Iran, negotiations continue with Russia to upgrade and modernize the three Kilo-class submarines first delivered in the 1990s. Each is in dire need of refit. If Russian media reports are to be believed, modernizations will include arming the Iranian submarines with the 100-plus-mile range 3M-54 antiship missile, sometimes more commonly referred to as the "Club." The modernization deal appears almost certain to happen, and two shipyards are said to be in fierce competition over the $80-90 million modernization contract.
. Iraq. In Iraq, the two Asaad-class corvettes that had for many years been under embargo in Italy are in the process of being repatriated to the Iraqi Coastal Defense Force. Though actual dates have not been announced, training of Iraqi crews has already begun. Once in service, the Assad class will join five 27-meter patrol craft delivered from China in 2004 and six newer units reportedly under construction in Iraq.
Israel took delivery of two Super Dvora III-class fast-attack craft in 2005. A total of six are expected in service by 2006.
. Israel. Though budget realities have forced Israel to abandon, at least for the time being, plans for a large amphibious assault ship, one of the most interesting stories in recent months has been its decision to purchase two additional Dolphin-class submarines from Germany. Rather than invest in a new class, the decision to purchase the cost-effective submarines, three of which are already in service, was announced late in 2005. Delivery of the two submarines is expected in 2009 and 2010, and the program is estimated to cost roughly $850 million. Despite the fact that most of Israel's military funding goes to its army and air force, the maritime force still manages to make due and was proud to take delivery of two Super Dvora III-class patrol craft and four small Defender-class boats during the past year.
. Kuwait. Small boats and guided-missile patrol craft are also high on the shopping list of the Kuwaiti Navy, which plans to acquire 12 new Mark V Interceptor-class craft during the next few years.
Nigerian frigate Aradu surprised many when it sailed to Great Britain in 2005, taking part in celebrations commemorating the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Trafalgar.
. Nigeria. The Nigerian Navy took delivery of its first Defender-class small patrol boats in 2005 while also proving that Aradu, Nigeria's lone MEKO 360-class frigate, was, at least for short periods of time, still seaworthy. Long considered non-operational, the frigate surprised many when it sailed to Great Britain, taking part in celebrations commemorating the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Trafalgar.
. Oman. In the Middle Eastern nation of Oman, the Royal Oman Police ordered three 88.5-foot fast patrol boats paid for by U.S. foreign military sales funds. The boats, built by U.S. Marine in New Orleans, Louisiana, are expected in service by 2007. Several shipbuilders are also expressing interest in a new Omani offshore patrol vessel program, announced in 2005.
. South Africa. South Africa's new naval vision sees its military forces contributing significantly more capabilities to combat piracy and smuggling operations. In line with this requirement, a number of new programs are being considered, including the purchase of several additional MEKO frigates. The navy is apparently pleased with its MEKO A-200SAN (Valour-class) ships, the last of which, Mendi, was delivered in 2005. With delivery of the last of three Type 209/1400 submarines during 2005, the navy now has a viable submarine force to help meet its underwater needs for at least a generation.
. Tunisia. During 2005, Tunisia strengthened the ranks of its navy via the purchase of six Type 143 fast-attack craft. Though the craft were exported from Germany without their Exocet antiship missiles, they can still pack a punch. Capable of traveling at speeds in excess of 35 knots, the craft will likely carry a 76-mm cannon and torpedo tubes in addition to small arms.
. The UAE. The United Arab Emirates' new Baynunah-class corvettes are yet another major naval combatant program originating in the Middle East. The first of at least four ships was laid down in France on 8 September 2005 and is due for delivery to the UAE by 2008. The remaining corvettes of the class will be built at Abu Dhabi Shipbuilding and delivered at six-month intervals. The warships will be armed with French antiship missiles and an advanced radar system. Current UAE naval plans also include the purchase of three 64-meter landing craft and upgrades to its German-built TNC-45-class guided-missile craft and possibly the acquisition of four 26-meter supply vessels. The UAE has even expressed interest in developing a submarine fleet, though as yet, the interest has been purely preliminary, and no plans have been formally announced.
In February 2005, Yemen took delivery of ten 37-meter patrol boats. Built by Austal in Australia, the craft were delivered simultaneously via heavy-lift ship.
. Yemen Also in 2005, Yemen took delivery of ten 37-meter patrol boats built by the Australian shipbuilder Austal. The vessels will be used for coastal patrols around the Gulf of Aden and surrounding waterways.
. Argentina. In a boost to Argentine amphibious warfare capabilities, two 8,500-ton Ouragan-class dock landing ships have been purchased from France for delivery in 2006 and 2007. One of the ships will reportedly be used operationally while the second unit may be used as a source for cannibalization spares. Until these vessels are operational, the only amphibious capability available to the Argentine fleet can be found in its former British Sheffield-class destroyer that was converted to carry marines and special operations troops and a 7,600-ton Costa Sur-class amphibious transport.
A major corvette program is also now in the works for Argentina. The PAM project (Patrullero de Alta Mar-high seas patrol craft) calls for up to five corvettes to be built. The PAM corvettes will likely enter service between 2008 and 2013.
. Brazil. For more than two decades, the Brazilian Navy has maintained the hope that a locally-built class of nuclear-powered attack submarines will some day be purchased. Until that time, however, work continued on the nation's conventionally-powered Type 209/1400 submarines built in Germany and Brazil. The fifth and final Type 209, Tikuná, completed sea trials in November 2005 and was commissioned in December. Tikuná's commissioning concludes a very long five-ship Brazilian naval construction program that began when the first Type 209 was laid down in 1985 and the last unit was completed 20 years later. With that program out of the way, Brazil has begun expressing interest in purchasing an unknown quantity of Type 214 submarines from Germany. Doing so, however, could result in serious budget shortfalls elsewhere in the Navy and will likely cause further delays to other important programs, including the incomplete frigate Barroso that has remained under construction since 1994.
. Canada. In Canada, there has been little relief for the beleaguered submarine program that has been getting a steady stream of negative media coverage since a serious fire killed one and injured several others on board HMCS Chicoutimi in 2004. As the government began a major submarine safety program, the navy was eager to put its best foot forward and get on with ensuring that all four of the submarines purchased from the United Kingdom were both safe and operationally effective. For a number of months, the entire class was taken off sea duty, but by the spring of 2005, HMCS Victoria was again operational and taking part in exercises. Unfortunately, she too suffered an on board fire late in 2005, and though the blaze was quickly extinguished, a figurative cloud of black smoke seems to remain hanging over the boats.
LEO VAN GINDEREN
HMCS Montreal was the first Canadian Halifax-class frigate to complete modernization. Improvements include the addition of Evolved Sea Sparrow Missiles (ESSM).
Some hopeful signs can be found, however, in the form of three important surface ship programs now under way in Canada. Work on the Joint Support Ship design continues as the navy looks to purchase three multi-role vessels to replace the Protecteur-class replenishment ships now in service. Additionally, work continues on modernizations and improvement to the Halifax-class destroyers, with HMCS Montreal the first to complete modernization. As both the Iroquois- and Halifax-class destroyers show signs of aging, there has been an increased effort to find replacements for them, though it now looks as though a single class will eventually take their place rather than two separate designs.
The first of two new Scorpène-class submarines, O'Higgins was delivered to Chile in September 2005.
. Chile. With modernization high on the Chilean Navy's priority list, it seems as if its planning is finally beginning to pay off. The first of two Scorpène-class submarines, O'Higgins, was delivered in September 2005 with sister Carrera due to arrive in mid-2006. The boats, built in France and Spain, will join two Type 209/1400-class submarines while replacing the two Oberon-class boats O'Brien and Hyatt, that were retired a number of years ago.
Rather than go forward with a new class of MEKO A-200 frigates, Chile looked to the Netherlands and recently purchased two each of the modern, albeit second-hand, warships of the Jacob Van Heemskerck and Karel Doorman classes. The frigates are due to enter service between 2006 and 2007 following refit and modernization in the Netherlands. Chile also brought a shopping list to the United Kingdom, and the resulting deal to purchase three Duke (Type 23)-class general-purpose frigates, built during the 1990s, was announced in September 2005. The $350 million purchase price for the ships is said to include Harpoon and Sea Wolf missiles and training of Chilean crews to serve on board the three British warships. Scheduled for transfer between 2006 and 2008, the Duke class will replace Chile's Leander class now in service.
. Ecuador. For Ecuador, construction is under way on three 300-ton patrol craft for the coast guard, built by Babcock Marine. The vessels are expected in service by 2007.
. Peru. In neighboring Peru, the first of four recently transferred Lupo-class frigates arrived from Italy in June 2005. A second pair was delivered in January 2006. These four ships join four older Lupo frigates already in Peruvian service.
. Trinidad and Tobago. On the Caribbean island nation of Trinidad and Tobago, plans are under way to construct three 80-meter offshore patrol vessels for maritime security in local waters. The first of these new patrol boats is expected in service around 2007. Though designs have yet to be finalized, several European shipbuilders have expressed interest including Blohm + Voss of Germany and Vosper-Thornycraft of the United Kingdom.
. Uruguay. In April 2005, the German replenishment oiler Freburg was retired and transferred to Uruguay where she has been renamed General Artigas. At 3,900 tons full load displacement she is by far the largest vessel serving in Uruguay's navy.
. Venezuela. With the current political climate in Venezuela rife with anti-American sentiment, it comes as no surprise that Washington is paying careful attention to recent military purchases made by the South American nation. Flush with cash as oil prices remained high during the past year, Venezuela has ordered four patrol boats and four 102-meter corvettes from Spain. As of January 2006, however, the United States has been working to block the orders on the grounds that their sale would violate technology transfer laws. Recent reports indicate that the Venezuelan Navy may also be looking to Russia with the expressed interest of purchasing three Amur-class submarines as early as 2007.
Mr. Wertheim, a defense consultant in the Washington, D.C. area, is the author of the Naval Institute Guide to Combat Fleets of the World, published by the Naval Institute Press. This article updates the 2005-06 edition of the book.
Last edited by rickusn; 17 Mar 06, at 23:49.
Nice. Thank you.
Nothing like the Foreign Navies Issue of Proceedings magazine every March. Lately this issue comes out late, towards the end of the month.
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