In this news digest by Defencyclopedia, we bring you the most recent and relevant happenings in the world of defense. Each report will have our analysis and opinion about it. This series is being revived after multiple requests from our amazing readers.
France unveils new light frigate design, the ‘FTI’
As a complement for its fleet of heavy 6000-ton FREMM frigates, France will acquire a fleet of 4000 ton FTI [Frégate de Taille Intermédiaire] (Intermediate Sized Frigate) with lighter armament. These 5 ships will replace the 5 La Fayette-class light frigates from 2022 onwards. Built with multirole capabilities, the FTI is equipped to handle surface, subsurface, and aerial threats with equal
It will have a 4-faced AESA , the Thales SeaFire 500 as its primary sensor and a modest armament consisting of a 76 mm gun, 16 x Aster-15/30 surface to air missiles and 8 Exocet anti-ship missiles. The land attack capability of the FREMM is notably absent on the FTI. France plans to field these ships as a part of its planned 15 frigate fleet consisting of 2 x Horizons, 8 x FREMM and 5 FTI by 2030.
Watch this video of the FTI and its export variant in computer generated action.
US Navy commissions its most advanced warship, USS Zumwalt
At over 4.4 billion $ per ship, the super-stealthy, alien-looking Zumwalt class is the most expensive surface combatant of the US Navy. The first ship of this class was commissioned at a ceremony in Baltimore, heralding the US Navy into a new era of large, stealthy surface combatants with unimaginable levels of technology. Budget issues have kept this class down to 3 ships from the originally planned 32.
Each 14,000-ton destroyer is equipped with 80 vertical missile launch cells, 2 x advanced 155 mm land-attack naval guns along with the latest radars and sonars. Its helicopter deck is twice the size of the deck on an Arleigh Burke-class destroyer and facilitates operations of the MV-22 Osprey. This ship is unlikely to be deployed on any serious combat missions and will primarily serve as technology demonstrators for a new breed of US Navy destroyers in the future.
Admiral Harry B Harris, commander of the US Pacific Command made a legendary statement “If Batman had a ship, it would be the USS Zumwalt” . I’m inclined to agree with him and if it were up to me, I’d name it the USS Batcruiser and paint it in black.
India signs multiple billion $ deals with Russia
In what is probably the highlight of the week, India (the world-record holder for the slowest defense procurement ever), surprisingly signed a slew of deals with their long-standing strategic partner Russia.
In what could be the single biggest boost to India’s outdated SAM network, an agreement was signed with Russia for the purchase of 5 systems. Each system/battery of S400 will include 8-12 launch platforms (with 4 missiles per launch platform), a similar number of reloading platforms, long-range search and target acquisition radars and command trucks.
The number of missiles which will be purchased with the deal has not been revealed. But we can estimate that there would be at least 3 sets per system, for a total of at least 500 missiles. India has an official requirement of 12 batteries and more purchases are expected to follow once the delivery of this purchase starts in 2020. At present, 3 systems will be placed along their western border and 2 more along their eastern border. It will be interesting to see if India will buy Pantsyr-S1 systems to escort these high value assets as Russia does the same at present. The other option for India is to procure the wheeled Tor-M2 or the Israeli SPYDER SAMs as escorts.
2) Talwar class frigates
Russia had planned a fleet of 6 Admiral Grigorovich [Адмирал Григорович] class frigates, which got bogged down by the war in Ukraine. Only the first 3 ships were completed with their Ukrainian engines before Ukraine decided to stop supplying the engines to Russia.India wanted to acquire more of these frigates to complement their existing fleet of 6, known locally as the Talwar class [तलवार]. They will feature one major modification which involves the replacement of the single arm Shtil SAM launcher with the vertically launched version. India will buy 4 ( 2 unfinished hulls and 2 new ones) of these ships, bringing their fleet of Talwars to 10.
3) Kamov-226T helicopters
After a delayed procurement which involved cancellation and retendering, the light utility helicopter deal was bagged by Kamov [Камов] . The Ka-226 brings superior performance, twin engines and rear loading to the table, which gave it an edge over its competitor, the Airbus Fennec. The deal is for 200 helicopters, out of which 60 would be imported and 140 would be built in India by the state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL).
Related content : Here’s a detailed analysis of the KA-226 which was published earlier
4) 2nd Akula-class submarine lease
Having already leased the K-152 Nerpa [Нерпа] for it’s growing submarine fleet as the INS Chakra, India has signed a deal with Russia for the lease of a second nuclear-powered attack submarine of the Akula class. This will be the K-322 Kashalot [Кашалот], which has seen just over 10 years of active service with the Russian Navy since its commissioning in 1989. This submarine is currently undergoing a major refit for upgradations to modern standards and customization for Indian requirements.
Israel to acquire 3 more Dolphin-class submarines from Germany
Dolphin-class submarines are the third delivery platform for Israel’s nukes, with the other being aircraft and ballistic missiles. Despite being conventional diesel-electric attack submarines, they have the capability to fire nuclear-tipped cruise missiles from their torpedo tubes. Delivery of these 3 new submarines, an enlarged variant of the Type-214, will bring the total fleet up to 9 submarines. The 1.2 billion $ deal is highly subsidized as with all other German-Israeli deals as it is a part of the aid which Germany provides as reparations for the holocaust. A non-subsidized deal would have cost Israel over 5 billion $ for the 3 submarines.
Russian Carrier Battle Group heads for Syria
In a massive power-projection move, Russia has dispatched its sole carrier along with a powerful fleet of warships to Syria, to support their Air Force in carrying out combat air patrol and bombing missions. The battle group centered around the carrier Admiral Kuznetsov [Адмирал Кузнецов] consists of the heavy nuclear-powered missile cruiser Pyotr Veliky [Пётр Великий] and 2 Udaloy class anti-submarine destroyers Severomorsk [Североморск] and Vice-Admiral Kukalov [Вице-адмирал Кулаков]. The ships are expected to deploy for several months and resupply and refuel from the Russian naval base at Tartus, Syria.
The aircraft embarked on board the carrier have been identified as
- Su-33K long range fighter
- MiG-29K multi-role fighter
- Ka-52K attack helicopter
- Ka-27 anti-submarine helicopter
- Ka-31 airborne early warning helicopter
Related content : An aerial grab of the CBG passing through the English Channel today
China unveils new camo for its J20 fighter
As the J20 nears its induction in 2018, the 5th gen fighter has been spotted with a new splinter camouflage. This is said to be done in time for the Zhuhai airshow scheduled for Nov 1-6. China has also finished conducting most of the required tests on the J20 and it is almost ready to enter service. It would be a major achievement for China if they can get their J20 operational before the Russian PAK-FA, which is also scheduled to enter service in 2018. China plans to produce several hundred of these advanced fighters, giving it the edge over all other air forces in the region.