Crash Dive: America’s Pending Submarine Crisis

CIMSEC – The future of naval warfare is increasingly shifting to undersea competition, in both manned and unmanned systems. American seapower has excelled in this domain and holds a competitive edge today beneath the waves. But the U.S. Navy, by a combination of compressed funding and potentially crippling procurement cost increases, may not be well positioned to sustain its mastery of undersea warfare.

Ilyushin Unveils Il-38 ASW Upgrade for Russian Navy

AIN – The Ilyushin design bureau and the Russian navy have revealed details of a mission systems upgrade and airframe refurbishment of the Il-38 antisubmarine warfare (ASW) aircraft. At a ceremony on January 31 at Ramenskoye airbase south of Moscow, Russian naval aviation commander Gen. Igor Kozhin said that “about 30” of the 54 Il-38s in the inventory will be modernized, in a program that will continue until 2025.

India’s Submarine Arm – Returning to Even-Trim

CIMSEC – The Indian Navy’s Submarine Arm will celebrate its Golden Jubilee Year in 2017. The imminent commissioning of the Kalvari — in her new avatar as India’s first Scorpène Class submarine — is, therefore, an especially timely portent of happier times for the underwater sentinels of our freedom. For some time now, much media-time has been devoted to lamenting the several perceived inadequacies in the country’s submarine prowess, especially after the tragedy that struck INS Sindhurakshak in Mumbai on 14 August 2013, resulting in the loss of 18 precious lives and the loss of an invaluable combat platform…

China’s Naval Shipbuilding Sets Sail

National Interest – China has parlayed the world’s second-largest economy and second-largest defense budget into the world’s largest ongoing comprehensive naval buildup, which has already yielded the world’s second-largest navy. All that is only part of an extraordinary maritime transformation—modern history’s sole example of a land power becoming a hybrid land-sea power on a sustained basis. Underwriting this transition are a vast network of ports, shipping lines and financial systems, and increasingly advanced ships. It also raises the rare prospect of a top-tier non-Western sea power in peacetime, one of the few instances to occur since the Ming Dynasty developed cutting-edge nautical technologies and briefly projected unrivaled power across the Indian Ocean six centuries ago. These factors raise a critical question for our age: Where is China headed at sea, and to what end?

Russia’s Evolving Arctic Capabilities

CIMSEC – Far from the battlegrounds of East Ukraine and Syria another confrontation with Russia is brewing. As the Arctic ice retreats countries with claims in the Arctic are more willing to extract the resources found in this inhospitable location. The U.S. estimates the Arctic seabed is home to about 15 percent of the world’s remaining oil, up to 30 percent of its natural gas deposits, and about 20 percent of its liquefied natural gas. Like the U.S., Canada, Denmark and Norway, Russia has its own claim on a section of the Arctic which it is now looking to defend and expand. Today we are witnessing a resurgent Russia in the Arctic, deploying more troops and equipment to the Arctic in support of its claims.

Grounded: Nearly two-thirds of US Navy’s strike fighters can’t fly

Defense News – The US Navy’s F/A-18 Hornet and Super Hornet strike fighters are the tip of the spear, embodying most of the fierce striking power of the aircraft carrier strike group. But nearly two-thirds of the fleet’s strike fighters can’t fly – grounded because they’re either undergoing maintenance or simply waiting for parts or their turn the aviation depot backlog. Overall, more than half the Navy’s aircraft are grounded, most because there isn’t enough money to fix them.

Islands on the frontline of a new global flashpoint: China v Japan

The Guardian – Ishigaki Island does not look like a frontline. Japan’s own tropical idyll, it is a sleepy place of pineapple fields and mango orchards, where thousands of tourists potter along white sand beaches and scuba dive in crystal clear seas. Yet this tiny dot on the edge of the Pacific is the closest Japanese town to the uninhabited but fiercely disputed Senkaku Islands, once inhospitable home to a tuna processing factory, now abandoned but key to lucrative fishing grounds, oil and gas fields and a strategic shipping route.

China Gains on the U.S. in the Artificial Intelligence Arms Race

New York Times – The United States no longer has a strategic monopoly on artificial intelligence technology, which is widely seen as the key factor in the next generation of warfare. The Pentagon’s plan to bring A.I. to the military is taking shape as Chinese researchers assert themselves in the nascent technology field.