The Philippine Coast Guard is running a slideshow chronicling the dismantling of the USS Guardian (MCM 5) on their website, the sad end to an American warship. If it doesn’t hurt too much to watch a vessel cut to pieces, it’s worth a view.
The Polish Navy is expected to receive 6 Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) and 6 Search and Rescue (SAR) helicopters starting in 2014-2015 as part of a much bigger yet-to-be-awarded deal, totaling 70 helicopters and more than $2.5 billion. The new fleet will replace 10 aging Mi-17 and 4 Kaman SH-2 helos used for ASW and SAR. Poland’s Ministry of Defense announced its intention to purchase the helicopters as a result of National Security Review, which calls for higher mobility in the armed forces. Another 10 of the 70 helos will go to the Air Force in SAR configuration, but most of the fleet, 48 in the troop transport version, will be troop transport versions for the Army. The Polish military speaks (in Polish) about “common-base airframe,” but it is not clear if that refers to all versions, as requirements between services differs significantly. It is also expected that the helicopters will at least in part be produced in Poland.
Potential contenders for the contract are Sikorsky, Eurocopter, Agusta Westland, and AW’s Polish subsidiary, PZL Swidnik, bidding separately. A brief look at the actual range of aircraft makes it interesting to see what the sales strategies of the companies will be. Sikorsky and AW already have production lines in Poland. Sikorsky and Eurocopter (specifically NH Industries) could offer common-base airframes. The closest replacement to the Mi-17 in terms of size is the Super Cougar from Eurocopter, but the short lead time makes it difficult to integrate ASW gear into a new airframe.
New ASW helicopters, in contrast with the Mi-17, are more likely to operate from the decks of Coastal Defense Ships (CDS), for which specifications are being drafted and should be ready this year. Their rather enigmatic name, according to Commander in Chief means ships that differ from classic corvettes in mission priorities and equipment. The ship should also be able to operate as part of allied task groups beyond the Baltic. Such a definition will certainly will hangers with the necessary facilities to support air operations .
The first new assets in the modernization of the Polish Navy will not be ships, but helicopters. Additionally, the ill-fated Gawron corvette program seems to have come to a reasonable end as the MoD approved the final configuration for the unfinished Meko A-100 corvette as a patrol ship. Under the name Slazak she will join the fleet in first quarter 2016.
Przemek Krajewski alias Viribus Unitis is a blogger In Poland. His area of interest is broad context of purpose and structure of Navy and promoting discussions on these subjects In his country
By Ben Brockschmidt
It has been over a month since Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner called for the U.K. to give up the Falkland Islands to Argentina. While this could have been nothing more than an attempted distraction by President Kirchner from a multitude of domestic issues, the dispute over the islands is constant background noise for both countries. In the meantime a referendum on the future sovereignty of the islands is scheduled for March. What this latest uptick allows is an opportunity to look at the logistics of fighting on the other side of the world and the role of aircraft carriers in modern conflict.
During the Falkland Islands conflict in 1982, the UK deployed two aircraft carriers and a sizable fleet to the South Atlantic. Since then, the end of the Cold War and shifting priorities have changed the composition of military forces for both Argentina and the UK. There is ample research comparing the naval forces of 1982 with those of today, but the lack of a British aircraft carrier remains of particular concern. This disadvantage was evident during the intervention in Libya. The absence of a mobile platform to launch aircraft contributed to a more expensive conflict as RAF sorties were flown out of airfields in Southern Europe. The result was longer flight times, fewer missions, and higher rates of fatigue.
With the exception of the facilities maintained in the Falklands themselves, the region is as far away as the U.K. can get from its bases, and it won’t have the benefit of friendly airfields and support sites nearby. While the U.K. has significantly increased the units deployed in defense of the islands, its airfields are known targets.
During the gap between carriers (The first of the two new Queen Elizabeth-class carriers isn’t expected to undergo sea trials for at least a year), questions remain about the functionality of the future ships. The carriers in development lack capabilities that existed during the first Falklands conflict, such as aerial refueling, that are essential for lengthy engagements.
What turns aircraft carriers into a truly formidable force are the carrier strike groups and support craft. By themselves, carriers are offensive weapons and have limited operations. Strike groups combine a carrier with a mix of frigates, destroyers, supply ships, and other vessels. These ships ensure non-stop air operations while protecting the carriers from land-, air-, and sea-based threats. Under its current makeup the Royal Navy, while smaller than it used to be, still maintains a modern and efficient force with all the pieces of a carrier strike group in place, minus the carrier.
The next round of predictions on the Falklands Islands won’t start until after the referendum in March. Until then, the UK needs to identify how it plans to projects its power and defends its interests abroad – both while short a carrier, and in view of the carriers’ limitations.
A 2006 graduate of Illinois State University, Ben Brockschmidt moved to Washington, D.C., on a whim in 2007. Concurrent internships in the U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate, Ben worked for Congressman Tim Johnson of Illinois (retired) who was a senior member of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee (T&I). He is a 2012 CDE graduate of the U.S. Naval War College and today is the Executive Director of the Infrastructure Council and Director of Federal Affairs for the Illinois Chamber of Commerce.
This article appeared in its original form at TheRiskyShift.com
Read more with LT Kurt Albaugh’s examination of the effects the Falklands’ “Tyranny of Distance” had on the outcome of the war.
By Aaron Willschick
Since the attacks of September 11, 2001, border security between Canada and the United States has become a much greater concern for both nations. Because of the many waterways that they share, the interest of border security between the neighbouring nations extends far beyond land issues. As a result of the difficulty of monitoring and regulating activities in the great lakes and other regions, maritime border security remains a significant challenge for policymakers.
Despite increased cooperation between the two countries since 9/11, recent reports and assessments suggest that there may still be significant obstacles remaining to aligning on maritime border security. A recent report published by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security released last fall calculated that there is a low risk of terrorism against North American shipping and ports, and along shared waterways. The report goes on to state that maritime attacks by al-Qaeda or its affiliates are rare and have only occurred in the Middle East and East Asia. The high level of marine transport system governance and law enforcement in North America creates a less-permissive maritime environment for carrying out attacks, according to the report.
However, this U.S. government report stands in stark contrast to an assessment handed down by Defence Research and Development Canada in January 2012. This review concluded that the threat to Canada’s maritime borders has increased. It came to this conclusion by analyzing the terror risk posed by millions of small boats in high-traffic border regions such as the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Seaway, and against targets such as bridges and nuclear power plants. The Canadian report concluded that Canada has no coherent strategy for dealing with this growing national security threat in high-traffic border regions.
When comparing the two reports, the results are rather perplexing. The sharp differences in the assessments are alarming given the increased cooperation between Canada and the U.S. on border issues and the fact that they share so many expansive waterways. It is also surprising given the high-tech coordination that the governments have begun using to monitor activities over the waters. Radar systems are now used over the Great Lakes to track hundreds of ships and boats simultaneously, as well as analyzing their behavior and to alerting law enforcement officials to anything suspicious. Such a system flags any encounter between vessels, such as a meeting in the middle of Lake Ontario between boats from opposite sides of the border.
With so much coordination between governments, technological resources dedicated directly to monitoring and acknowledgement of the issue of maritime security, how could the two countries’ reports come to such different conclusions?
The difference between reports suggests that there is a clear lack of agreement on the terms and scope of threat. More troubling, it creates concerns that there are other areas in which Canada and the U.S. need better coordination and awareness regarding maritime security, and that there needs to be a greater acknowledgement of maritime security as an inter-state, cross-border concern. The only avenue for improving the security of waterways is by working closely with neighbouring nations through a close exchange of information, ideas and best practices. With maritime security a key component of its security doctrine, NATO could play a vital role facilitating such cooperation. It could provide the forum for not only acknowledging maritime security’s importance, but it could also be the forum for a clear exchange of ideas, best practices, and standardized threat conceptualizations.
If Canada and the United States are going to come to such drastically different conclusions in their own governmental reports, then perhaps a NATO-led evaluation could yield a more uniform approach. With NATO no longer as active as it once was as a military organization, functioning as a strong forum for collaboration between members on specific security concerns such as maritime security would be an ideal role for the Alliance. Leveraging the advantages of working through NATO would be highly beneficial in this instance, especially as the issue of maritime security is an ever-present security concern that is likely to become even more prevalent over time.
Aaron Willschick is a graduate of the MA program in European, Russian and Eurasian Studies at the University of Toronto’s Munk School of Global Affairs. He also holds an MA degree in political science from York University and a BaH from York University’s Glendon College. His research interests include the European Union, European security and defense policy, NATO enlargement to Eastern Europe, and democratization. He has extensive experience in policy and research, and worked as a trade assistant at the U.S. Consulate in Toronto and a research assistant to well-known Canadian author Anna Porter and York University political science professor Heather MacRae.
Any views or opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the authors and the news agencies and do not necessarily represent those of the Atlantic Council of Canada. This article is published for information purposes only.
This article was cross-posted by permission from the Atlantic Council of Canada and appeared in original form here.