2018 World Naval Operational News Highlights

The ten most significant naval news stories / trends / themes this year included:

  • The completion of the first Indian Navy SSBN deterrence patrol. When will India be able to do this routinely?

  • The US Navy’s purchase of its first operational UAV, the MQ-25 tanker. Will its commitment to this operational concept remain strong, or fade as it has in the past with prior US Navy UAV programs? And when will the US Navy start investing as heavily as the Chinese Navy has in USVs and UUVs?

  • The operational collapse of the German armed forces in general and the German Navy in particular. What is the point of having a navy that is not fit for sea?

  • The slow but steady NATO military build up in the Baltic against Russia topped off by Exercise Trident Juncture this fall. When will the US consider Russia contained and focus most of its energies on the Chinese threat?

  • The Royal Navy reacquiring a fixed wing aircraft capability at sea with the F-35B. Will they be able to afford enough aircraft to field a viable capability?

  • The US Marine Corps rededicating itself to an offensive mission of seizing and holding advance bases that they can use to practice their own form of anti-access area denial. Will this be a mission they hold uniquely or share with the US Army?

  • The Japanese Maritime Self Defense Force taking a more serious approach to defending the Senkaku Islands, including activating a Marine unit and buying F-35B’s for its Izumi-class carriers. Is the tale of the popular Japanese manga story Kubo Ibuki coming true?

  • China weaponizing its sand castles in the South China Sea with defensive and offensive missiles and aircraft. When will the US have the political will to hold military exercises in the South China Sea with its allies to counter these actions rather than just conducting FONOPs?

  • China’s use of predatory financing to take control of critical infrastructure around the world including ports and airports. When will the world realize you don’t want your greatest rival owning you?

  • The ever-increasing use of new commercial cubesat constellations to monitor commercial activities at sea and in port. When will they be weaponized and start being used to monitor operational naval activities at sea and in port?