Royal Australian Navy Discussions and Updates

Tasman

Ship Watcher
Verified Defense Pro
Given the dearth of different specific threads for the RAN, I thought I'd open a more general one so that each time a RAN topic comes up, it doesn't need it's own thread in the future. So here goes with a couple of questions that I've come up with.

Now that the Seasprite seems to be scrapped and that Seahawks are likely on the horizon for the RAN, are there plans to fit the Penguin Mk 2? If so, any idea on what the timeframe would be? Also, with the NSM now coming out, is it like that the RAN (and possible the RAAF too) might be interested for mounting on helis? With the Harpoon Block II now being fitted to the Anzac, and the Adelaides already operating the Harpoon, I don't think it would make sense for a ship-mounted version of NSM.

With the FFG Upgrade, is the datalink system being updated, and to which standard? My Janes guide (several years old :( ) has the Adelaides equipped with a helo-link, but not Link 11 or 16. It would make sense to me for that to be updated... Similarly, are the datalinks aboard the Seahawks being updated as well?

Also, again according to the same Janes book, the Huon MHC are equipped with Link 11 receive only. Are any plans to (or have they been) upgraded to also send data? Given the limited armament on a Huon, I'm not sure it could make effective use of a datalink unless it was also able to transmit, thus acting as another potential observer.

-Cheers
I think the idea for a thread with this title is a good one. Once the present 'hot' topics such as the AWD thread 'cool' down this thread could eventually cover all RAN discussions. There is certainly repetition across some of the RAN threads (same as with RAAF topics in Military Aviation).

It would have been logical, IMO, for the Seahawks to have been fitted to operate the Penguin in the first place and I imagine this will be done when the Seasprite program is laid to rest. However, AFAIK there has been no comment from Defence sources about this. BTW the expected announcement confirming the scrapping of the Seasprites has not yet been made. With so many projects already under way I doubt that the RAN would be looking at the NSM at this stage.

Sorry I can't answer the questions re the datalink systems. Hopefully someone else will be able to.

Cheers
 

Tasman

Ship Watcher
Verified Defense Pro
Link 16 in Australian FFGs

With the FFG Upgrade, is the datalink system being updated, and to which standard? My Janes guide (several years old :( ) has the Adelaides equipped with a helo-link, but not Link 11 or 16. It would make sense to me for that to be updated... Similarly, are the datalinks aboard the Seahawks being updated as well?

-Cheers
Link 16 is being fitted to the 4 FFGs being upgraded.

Significant upgrades are in train or planned for both classes of ship in order to maintain their effectiveness in a multi-threat environment. Both classes will have significant and uniform capabilities including the Harpoon anti-ship missile providing a significant anti-surface warfare capability, good close range Anti-Air Warfare (AAW) capability through the Evolved Sea Sparrow Missile (ESSM) and Phalanx Close-In Weapon System, a strong defensive undersea warfare suite, and the highly capable Link 16 tactical data link system.
The FFGs have a 76mm dual-purpose gun, and a limited area air warfare capability with the Standard SM-1 missile. The four remaining FFGs are being progressively fitted with the long range Standard SM-2 missile, which will provide an improved, although not leading edge, area AAW capability. FFGs embark and operate one or two Sikorsky S-70B-2 Seahawk helicopters, which are fitted with an ASW sensor suite and carry lightweight torpedoes. The Seahawk is also a very capable surface search and targeting platform for the Harpoon missile.
http://www.navy.gov.au/spc/ncamo/chap8.html

Re the Seahawks:

The info about the mid life upgrade of the Seahawk provided with publicly available documents for Air 9000 doesn't specifically mention Link 16, but Australian systems currently use Link 11 and are moving towards Link 16. Air 9000 states that:

The ADF Helicopter Strategic Master Plan will provide the guidelines to ensure this capability is developed to achieve optimum mission effectiveness with maximum commonality with other aircraft configurations (either within the ADF or with other major fleet operators world-wide).

http://www.defence.gov.au/capability/AIR9000/Project_Details.asp
From this I would presume that the Seahawks will have Link 16. However, I would be very happy to be corrected by anyone who has better information about this.


Cheers
 
Last edited:

old faithful

The Bunker Group
Verified Defense Pro
Tas,any word on the LHD,s? There seems to be a lot of advertiseing for the Mistral,s in Defence mags at the moment. I had a feeling that the Navantia,s were leading the race. Maybe ADI are just hopeing for the best!
 

Tasman

Ship Watcher
Verified Defense Pro
Tas,any word on the LHD,s? There seems to be a lot of advertiseing for the Mistral,s in Defence mags at the moment. I had a feeling that the Navantia,s were leading the race. Maybe ADI are just hopeing for the best!
The only info that I have is a report that there is a desire to make a decision about the LHD and get a contract in place prior to the election.

CONTACT, Contact Publishers, Dickson, ACT, March 2007.

I haven't heard anything about the Mistral being ahead but a few things that have happened suggest that it might have a good chance.

I'm not sure about Navantia 'leading the race' at any stage. I think most people following the program have agreed that the Navantia BPE offers far more growth potential, especially the capability to carry F-35Bs, if it is decided to acquire them in the future. However, the fact that Defence is considering an 'Australianised' Mistral that has not been lengthened as was earlier thought likely, suggests to me that the ADF is only looking at the baseline requirements (i.e. 16 NH90/Tiger ARH helos, 1000 troops and 150 vehicles, including the M1A1). If this is the case the decision may come down to one of cost and risk. If that is the case I expect the Mistral may have the edge. Personally, I hope the ADF takes a long term view and factors in the benefits that the Navantia design could provide ten years down the track, if future circumstances demonstrate a need for the ADF to be able to deploy fixed wing aircraft at sea.

Having said that there is no doubt that if the Mistral is chosen, it will still greatly enhance the ADF's power projection capability.

Maybe Navantia might be able to put forward an attractive package to Australia involving both the BPE and the F100 candidate for the AWD project. The interesting question then would be how Defence and the RAN would react if the G&C Evolved design was preferred for the AWD and the BPE design was preferred for the LHD! I think we will just have to wait and see.

Cheers
 

StingrayOZ

Super Moderator
Staff member
ADI is heavily advertising the Mistral. Its fair to say they are still in the race.

But the BPE is hardly a paper ship. Its being built now, it will be in the water around the time of the decision later in 2007. While it won't be fully operational, it will allow the government to see, touch and tour it. Also costs will be more finalised.

But regardless of the F-35b capability of the BPE, its still more suitable. Which is why ADI had to put in a long wheel base bid in the first place, because really its not designed with 1000+ troops in mind and for the operations we would use it for. It bigger, carries more, better amphibious, better potential, and absolutely huge hanger. I belive its cheaper too.
 

Tasman

Ship Watcher
Verified Defense Pro
ADI is heavily advertising the Mistral. Its fair to say they are still in the race.

But the BPE is hardly a paper ship. Its being built now, it will be in the water around the time of the decision later in 2007. While it won't be fully operational, it will allow the government to see, touch and tour it. Also costs will be more finalised.

But regardless of the F-35b capability of the BPE, its still more suitable. Which is why ADI had to put in a long wheel base bid in the first place, because really its not designed with 1000+ troops in mind and for the operations we would use it for. It bigger, carries more, better amphibious, better potential, and absolutely huge hanger. I belive its cheaper too.
I hope you are right about the cost as I think that would clinch it. I don't think there is any doubt that the BPE would be the better long term option.

Cheers
 

Todjaeger

Potstirrer
I hope you are right about the cost as I think that would clinch it. I don't think there is any doubt that the BPE would be the better long term option.

Cheers
Another important factor is how much "local content" can be arranged if the Canberra LHD is built in Australia. Even if there is a higher price for the Mistral, if due to outfitting, more of that money is directed back into the area economy...

Either way, I would like Australia to acquire build rights for which ever design is selected. That way if a third (or more) LHD is decided as advisable, Australia could to go off the existing plans. This I think might have more importance if the BPE design is selected. If an LHD is acting as a CVL, then there only 1 LHD available for deployment, assuming it isn't in a training or maintenance cycle. If a total of three were built instead, then one could always be down for maintenance or training, and still have two vessels available to task as LHDs or CVLs.

-Cheers
 

Tasman

Ship Watcher
Verified Defense Pro
Armidale Class Patrol Boats Return to Service

ABC News Online has announced that the Armidale class patrol boats that had been withdrawn from service, following a fuel contamination problem, have returned to duty .

The Defence Department says new fuel pumps have been installed in six of the troubled Armidale patrol boats to allow them to return to duty.

The entire Armidale fleet was withdrawn from service more than a month ago because of a recurring problem with the fuel system.

It was the second time in six months the new boats had been ordered back to dock.

The Navy and shipbuilder Austal found water created by condensation was leaking into the fuel tanks.

They have adjusted the fuel systems and installed new pumps.

That has allowed six boats to return to service.

The Defence Department says a long-term solution, which requires significant modifications on a ship by ship basis, is being developed.

The four boats yet to be commissioned will have a full modification before they are introduced into service.
http://www.abc.net.au/news/newsitems/200703/s1874041.htm

A bit of good news for the RAN! :)

Cheers
 

Tasman

Ship Watcher
Verified Defense Pro
Another important factor is how much "local content" can be arranged if the Canberra LHD is built in Australia. Even if there is a higher price for the Mistral, if due to outfitting, more of that money is directed back into the area economy...

Either way, I would like Australia to acquire build rights for which ever design is selected. That way if a third (or more) LHD is decided as advisable, Australia could to go off the existing plans. This I think might have more importance if the BPE design is selected. If an LHD is acting as a CVL, then there only 1 LHD available for deployment, assuming it isn't in a training or maintenance cycle. If a total of three were built instead, then one could always be down for maintenance or training, and still have two vessels available to task as LHDs or CVLs.

-Cheers
Good point Todjaeger. A number of factors other than cost will be considered. The former Defence Minister advised as follows when the First Pass approval was announced in August 2005:

Senator Hill said the ship builder would be determined once a thorough financial and technical comparison was made between Australian bids and overseas build options.

"The Government’s preference is to see the ships built in Australia, however Australian industry will need to demonstrate it can deliver the project at a competitive price," Senator Hill said.
http://www.minister.defence.gov.au/Hilltpl.cfm?CurrentId=5039

Cheers
 

Todjaeger

Potstirrer
Good point Todjaeger. A number of factors other than cost will be considered. The former Defence Minister advised as follows when the First Pass approval was announced in August 2005:


http://www.minister.defence.gov.au/Hilltpl.cfm?CurrentId=5039

Cheers
Dipping slightly into politics... I just hope the vessel design selection doesn't also factor in where the vessels will be built, and how that area votes. Apparently (and other senior members/defence pros can confirm) the selection of the ADI Bushmaster was partially contingent on the fact that the local elected offical (MP? or maybe lower house, not sure) didn't have a good hold where the Bushmaster was built. To support that official, the product built there was selected. As opposed to the S600-series from Tenix, which was to be built in a district that was a solid Opposition seat. From what I understand about performance the S600 was equal to the Bushmaster, but was expected to have lower lifecycle costs, being based off the Unimog.

-Cheers
 

Tasman

Ship Watcher
Verified Defense Pro
Dipping slightly into politics... I just hope the vessel design selection doesn't also factor in where the vessels will be built, and how that area votes. Apparently (and other senior members/defence pros can confirm) the selection of the ADI Bushmaster was partially contingent on the fact that the local elected offical (MP? or maybe lower house, not sure) didn't have a good hold where the Bushmaster was built. To support that official, the product built there was selected. As opposed to the S600-series from Tenix, which was to be built in a district that was a solid Opposition seat. From what I understand about performance the S600 was equal to the Bushmaster, but was expected to have lower lifecycle costs, being based off the Unimog.

-Cheers
You can never write of politics as an influential factor in awarding a contract! Another factor though is proven performance. Here I think the reputation of Tenix has been enhanced during construction of the Anzac class. Thales Australia (formerly ADI) would need to convince Defence of their ability to deliver.

Cheers
 

rossfrb_1

Member
You can never write of politics as an influential factor in awarding a contract! {snip}
Cheers
Cough, cough, cough, gasp....
Tassie, I have to ask.
Was there just a little irony in that particular statement? You really played that one with a straight bat, not an emoticon in sight.
I of course refer to the cancelled air 6000 evaluation program and the selection of the.....JSF!

rb
 

Tasman

Ship Watcher
Verified Defense Pro
Cough, cough, cough, gasp....
Tassie, I have to ask.
Was there just a little irony in that particular statement? You really played that one with a straight bat, not an emoticon in sight.
I of course refer to the cancelled air 6000 evaluation program and the selection of the.....JSF!

rb
Er...umm... Probably! :confused: I think without actually saying it I was trying to suggest that I favour the track record of one of the competing companies over the other and I would hate to see the contract awarded to the one I have reservations about simply because it is based in a marginal seat. I also prefer the 'good guys' design! :D

In relation to the JSF I bet the pollies wish they had followed through a selection 'process'. Even if the end result had been identical it might have avoided some of the flak flying around at the moment. :rolleyes:

Cheers
 

ELP

New Member
A few concerns I have about the Mistral LHDs if they are the pick, is that:

-Any type of STOVL fighter aircraft isn't in the requirement. Nor are STOVL F-35s.
-Even if a STOVL jet was required you would need not only the ski jump deck but a deck that could sustain the increased weight of something like a STOVL JSF ops. Currently the flat deck for Mistral isn't rated for that kind of weight. Which would require additional expense. Someone correct me if I am wrong but aren't the two LHDs capped at $2 billion total for both?
-Any LHD program assumes all goes well with the new air defence warship that is being looked at in order for the LHD to even be partly safe.
-I am seriously seriously concerned about how these LHDs loaded up with so much prime gear and personnel, would be protected. There isn't a nuke attack sub in the inventory to help quickly sanitize the path they would take. P-3s and helos would have to drop acres of sonar bouys. The air threat, assuming the air defence ship works, is still of concern. Even one leaker of a cruise missile would turn an LHD into a bonfire. The bad guy only has to get lucky once. Which brings up yet another good reason to have F-22 as because of it's better battlefield mobility over JSF, could better set up to intercept cruise missiles. Super Hornet Block II is very good at killing cruise missiles ( tests have shown this ), and JSF would have the sensor fit to do well and the latest AMRAAM variants are tuned up for cruise missile intercept, however Super Hornet is a bit portly to be covering real estate vary fast, and JSF won't have any kind of real super cruise to hang your hat on. LHDs with an umbrella of F-22s backed up by tankers is critical. The air warfare ship should be pretty hot but I wouldn't depend on it to catch everything. A defence in depth with the air warfare ship and F-22 would be the safer option. The LHDs will demand lots of defence in depth from a lot of platform types if you want to keep them safe in a real shooting war.
 

Ozzy Blizzard

New Member
This adds weight to the F35b STOVL aquisition in conjunction with the natiaviania design. A deployment beyond the effective range of F22 + Tanker would be realistic, however with the F35 available for intercept or the outer layer of defence would be practical anywhere in the world. Also the collins class boat is an exellent anti shipping platform with a very long range for a diesel boat, and i doubt the LHD would leave home without one.
 

Tasman

Ship Watcher
Verified Defense Pro
A few concerns I have about the Mistral LHDs if they are the pick, is that:

-Any type of STOVL fighter aircraft isn't in the requirement. Nor are STOVL F-35s.
-Even if a STOVL jet was required you would need not only the ski jump deck but a deck that could sustain the increased weight of something like a STOVL JSF ops. Currently the flat deck for Mistral isn't rated for that kind of weight. Which would require additional expense. Someone correct me if I am wrong but aren't the two LHDs capped at $2 billion total for both?
-Any LHD program assumes all goes well with the new air defence warship that is being looked at in order for the LHD to even be partly safe.
-I am seriously seriously concerned about how these LHDs loaded up with so much prime gear and personnel, would be protected. There isn't a nuke attack sub in the inventory to help quickly sanitize the path they would take. P-3s and helos would have to drop acres of sonar bouys. The air threat, assuming the air defence ship works, is still of concern. Even one leaker of a cruise missile would turn an LHD into a bonfire. The bad guy only has to get lucky once. Which brings up yet another good reason to have F-22 as because of it's better battlefield mobility over JSF, could better set up to intercept cruise missiles. Super Hornet Block II is very good at killing cruise missiles ( tests have shown this ), and JSF would have the sensor fit to do well and the latest AMRAAM variants are tuned up for cruise missile intercept, however Super Hornet is a bit portly to be covering real estate vary fast, and JSF won't have any kind of real super cruise to hang your hat on. LHDs with an umbrella of F-22s backed up by tankers is critical. The air warfare ship should be pretty hot but I wouldn't depend on it to catch everything. A defence in depth with the air warfare ship and F-22 would be the safer option. The LHDs will demand lots of defence in depth from a lot of platform types if you want to keep them safe in a real shooting war.
I share your concerns about the self defence capability of the LHD. It is true that they are capped at $2bn for the pair which suggests a very basic fit out. Hopefully they will at least have space and weight allowed for additional sensors and weapons if more money is available later. I expect that initial armament will be limited to a couple of RAM systems (Or equivalent) and few Mini Typhoons (this is speculation on my part based on the single CIWS and a few HMGs, supplemented by Army RB70 detachments in the present LPAs). This will be OK if deployment is limited to the South Pacific but would need to be supplemented if the ships deploy to a 'hot' situation. I suspect that the navy will be reluctant to enhance the self defence capability in the design at this stage because their first priority will be to get the hulls in the water before someone decides we don't really need them. Keeping the design simple and the price down will help achieve this but hopefully growth potential will be built in.

I agree that only the Spanish design would be able to operate the F-35B.

Cheers
 

alexsa

Super Moderator
Staff member
Verified Defense Pro
A few concerns I have about the Mistral LHDs if they are the pick, is that:

-Any type of STOVL fighter aircraft isn't in the requirement. Nor are STOVL F-35s.
-Even if a STOVL jet was required you would need not only the ski jump deck but a deck that could sustain the increased weight of something like a STOVL JSF ops. Currently the flat deck for Mistral isn't rated for that kind of weight. Which would require additional expense. Someone correct me if I am wrong but aren't the two LHDs capped at $2 billion total for both?
-Any LHD program assumes all goes well with the new air defence warship that is being looked at in order for the LHD to even be partly safe.
-I am seriously seriously concerned about how these LHDs loaded up with so much prime gear and personnel, would be protected. There isn't a nuke attack sub in the inventory to help quickly sanitize the path they would take. P-3s and helos would have to drop acres of sonar bouys. The air threat, assuming the air defence ship works, is still of concern. Even one leaker of a cruise missile would turn an LHD into a bonfire. The bad guy only has to get lucky once. Which brings up yet another good reason to have F-22 as because of it's better battlefield mobility over JSF, could better set up to intercept cruise missiles. Super Hornet Block II is very good at killing cruise missiles ( tests have shown this ), and JSF would have the sensor fit to do well and the latest Aver Super Hornet is a bit portly to be covering real estate vary fast, and JSF MRAAM variants are tuned up for cruise missile intercept.
And your point is?

Following this logic we would never send a ship to sea if there was any risk. The logic being the AWD is to support these ships. It is not beyong the capability of a Collins to provide support, admittedly not with the same persistance as a nuke given the need to snort but still very capable. It is also worth noting that there is a project in the 2006 capability plan to upgrade ship based ASW detection.

A platform like the BPE equipped with NH-60 (hopefully with a dipping sonar) escorted by FFG's and AWD's with Seahawks (don't forget they are an ASW platform), or what ever replaces them, would provide a pretty useful ASW deterant. ANZAC's and SeaSprite (if they survive) fitted with Penguin ASM provide a very good Littorial capability against FAC and other smaller combatants.

The carriage of F-35B would provide credible air defence, CAS and anti shipping strike, particualry if we get helo based AEW. In other words the same system the UK used with reasonaable sucecess until the SeaHar was paid off (which reduced the air defence side a tad). In other words the whole package would provide excellent capability in any scenario we would expect to ahve to play alone in.

however Super Hornet is a bit portly to be covering real estate vary fast, and JSF won't have any kind of real super cruise to hang your hat on. LHDs with an umbrella of F-22s backed up by tankers is critical. The air warfare ship should be pretty hot but I wouldn't depend on it to catch everything. A defence in depth with the air warfare ship and F-22 would be the safer option. The LHDs will demand lots of defence in depth from a lot of platform types if you want to keep them safe in a real shooting war.
Sorry this pre-supposes one outcome ....... the shore based F-22's, f-18Fs or JSF are within effective range of where the ships are operating. I suggest that is not always going to be true and if they are wihtin range it will be at the end of a long (tanker) support string to ensure effective time on task. in other words coverage is going to be poor. Even the P-3 would spend a considerable time in transit. As such organic air is the most effective option to ensure coverage.

When HMAS Melbourne was disposed of one of the arguemtns was that the RAAF had the capability to provide fleet air cover. This was, still is, and will be in the future (with the current and anticipated numbers of airframes) complete rubbish unless the fleet remains in reasonable proximity to the Australian coast (and air bases for that matter) noting that continual coverage at the extremes of the EEZ would be a stretch (and would absorb airframe hours at a thunderous rate of knots).

I would love to see the F-35B at sea along wiht a decent ASW helo and helo based AEW for this reason, but ....... I am not holding my breath.
 

Todjaeger

Potstirrer
A few concerns I have about the Mistral LHDs if they are the pick, is that:

-Any type of STOVL fighter aircraft isn't in the requirement. Nor are STOVL F-35s.
-Even if a STOVL jet was required you would need not only the ski jump deck but a deck that could sustain the increased weight of something like a STOVL JSF ops. Currently the flat deck for Mistral isn't rated for that kind of weight. Which would require additional expense. Someone correct me if I am wrong but aren't the two LHDs capped at $2 billion total for both?
-Any LHD program assumes all goes well with the new air defence warship that is being looked at in order for the LHD to even be partly safe.
-I am seriously seriously concerned about how these LHDs loaded up with so much prime gear and personnel, would be protected. There isn't a nuke attack sub in the inventory to help quickly sanitize the path they would take. P-3s and helos would have to drop acres of sonar bouys. The air threat, assuming the air defence ship works, is still of concern. Even one leaker of a cruise missile would turn an LHD into a bonfire. The bad guy only has to get lucky once. Which brings up yet another good reason to have F-22 as because of it's better battlefield mobility over JSF, could better set up to intercept cruise missiles. Super Hornet Block II is very good at killing cruise missiles ( tests have shown this ), and JSF would have the sensor fit to do well and the latest AMRAAM variants are tuned up for cruise missile intercept, however Super Hornet is a bit portly to be covering real estate vary fast, and JSF won't have any kind of real super cruise to hang your hat on. LHDs with an umbrella of F-22s backed up by tankers is critical. The air warfare ship should be pretty hot but I wouldn't depend on it to catch everything. A defence in depth with the air warfare ship and F-22 would be the safer option. The LHDs will demand lots of defence in depth from a lot of platform types if you want to keep them safe in a real shooting war.
The concern about the ASW escort for the LHDs is IMV a valid one. The RAN would have to rely on surface warships and shipbourne helis when away from Australian home waters. The Collins SSK, while very good, is an SSK and doesn't have the speed to keep up with a taskforce and remain silent and submerged. The AP-3C Orions are tasked with patrolling the maritime approaches to Australia and would IMO not be tasked to maintain an overflight of a RAN taskforce. There would be too many requirements to providing such an escort (AAR, overflight permission, need for aircraft maintenance and rotation, etc.) This leaves the shipmounted sonar arrays and torpedoes, as well as any ASW helicopters (like the Seahawk and possibly the NFH-90 in the future) aboard the frigates/destroyers and LHD itself. Given the apparent growing interest in SSKs in the region this is of potential concern.

As for air threats... Assuming the AWD systems are as anticipated, the LHD should be fairly well protected. Particularly if the Anzac upgrades also go as desired with a 2nd 8 cell Mk 41 8 VLS, CEA-FAR and CEA-Mount. Again, for similar reasons given for the AP-3C Orion, I don't see a land-based aircraft escort available outside of home waters, although the possibility exists for some support from land-based radars (JORN comes to mind) to provide some warning of incoming threats. Now, if the Navantia BPE design is selected, and some F-35Bs are purchased, the LHD could have airborne defences to augment the escort ships. Otherwise, I would imagine that the LHDs would have rather minimal armament. For example, USN carriers only mount Sea Sparrow SAMs for short-range air defence, and Phalanx for CIWS. The reason of the air defence responsibility lies with the escorts and air group. The Wasp-class LHD has a similar armament, and the San Antonio-class LPD replaces the CIWS with RAM, and adds in 2 30mm guns, granted there is space for a 16-cell Mk 41 VLS but it currently isn't fitted.

One thing that might be a good idea, and could be used regardless of which LHD design is selected is an AEW&C helicopter. Something similar to the AEW&C Sea Kings used by the RN, perhaps based off of the MRH-90 airframe. Such a "portable" asset could assistance in maintaining situational awareness as well as providing greater potential detection ranges and response time. This could become invaluable particularly if the BPE is adopted and F-35Bs purchased. As the RN found out in the Falklands in 1982 which led to the development of a heli-bourne AEW&C.

As mentioned though, a well thought out defence in-depth, covering air, surface and underwater approaches is needed.

-Cheers
 

Tasman

Ship Watcher
Verified Defense Pro
The concern about the ASW escort for the LHDs is IMV a valid one. The RAN would have to rely on surface warships and shipbourne helis when away from Australian home waters. The Collins SSK, while very good, is an SSK and doesn't have the speed to keep up with a taskforce and remain silent and submerged. The AP-3C Orions are tasked with patrolling the maritime approaches to Australia and would IMO not be tasked to maintain an overflight of a RAN taskforce. There would be too many requirements to providing such an escort (AAR, overflight permission, need for aircraft maintenance and rotation, etc.) This leaves the shipmounted sonar arrays and torpedoes, as well as any ASW helicopters (like the Seahawk and possibly the NFH-90 in the future) aboard the frigates/destroyers and LHD itself. Given the apparent growing interest in SSKs in the region this is of potential concern.

As for air threats... Assuming the AWD systems are as anticipated, the LHD should be fairly well protected. Particularly if the Anzac upgrades also go as desired with a 2nd 8 cell Mk 41 8 VLS, CEA-FAR and CEA-Mount. Again, for similar reasons given for the AP-3C Orion, I don't see a land-based aircraft escort available outside of home waters, although the possibility exists for some support from land-based radars (JORN comes to mind) to provide some warning of incoming threats. Now, if the Navantia BPE design is selected, and some F-35Bs are purchased, the LHD could have airborne defences to augment the escort ships. Otherwise, I would imagine that the LHDs would have rather minimal armament. For example, USN carriers only mount Sea Sparrow SAMs for short-range air defence, and Phalanx for CIWS. The reason of the air defence responsibility lies with the escorts and air group. The Wasp-class LHD has a similar armament, and the San Antonio-class LPD replaces the CIWS with RAM, and adds in 2 30mm guns, granted there is space for a 16-cell Mk 41 VLS but it currently isn't fitted.

One thing that might be a good idea, and could be used regardless of which LHD design is selected is an AEW&C helicopter. Something similar to the AEW&C Sea Kings used by the RN, perhaps based off of the MRH-90 airframe. Such a "portable" asset could assistance in maintaining situational awareness as well as providing greater potential detection ranges and response time. This could become invaluable particularly if the BPE is adopted and F-35Bs purchased. As the RN found out in the Falklands in 1982 which led to the development of a heli-bourne AEW&C.

As mentioned though, a well thought out defence in-depth, covering air, surface and underwater approaches is needed.

-Cheers
I think what you have said is valid. I'd just make two points:

1. Someone with more technical knowledge about the Collins might correct me but, AFAIK, this class, whilst limited so far as surface speed is concerned, has a reasonable underwater speed for an SSK and given the moderate speed of the LHDs I think it could contribute effectively to an ASW screen.

I would not be surprised to see at least a pair of dedicated ASW/ASuW NH90s assigned to these ships when they are deployed operationally.

Cheers
 

Todjaeger

Potstirrer
I think what you have said is valid. I'd just make two points:

1. Someone with more technical knowledge about the Collins might correct me but, AFAIK, this class, whilst limited so far as surface speed is concerned, has a reasonable underwater speed for an SSK and given the moderate speed of the LHDs I think it could contribute effectively to an ASW screen.

I would not be surprised to see at least a pair of dedicated ASW/ASuW NH90s assigned to these ships when they are deployed operationally.

Cheers
Regarding the Collins SSK, from the info I have, and well all know how accurate public domain info is... ;)

The listed surface or snorting speed is 10 kts, and the max submerged speed is 20 kts. The issue as I see it becomes the persistance of the Collins while in transit. The listed endurance on batteries is 400 n miles at 4 kts. I could be mistaken, but I wouldn't think that it would have long time on batteries while moving at greater speed. I would also expected that the normal cruising speed for the LHD would be a minimum of 10 kts, possibly 15 kts. That is where I see a problem. How long can a Collins escort a taskforce moving at 10+ kts without surfacing? Also (and this is directed a sub people) what effect does traveling on the surface or snorting have on a sub's acoustic signature? I would imagine that a surfaced sub is more easily detected by hostile subs than one completely submerged. If I'm wrong, happy to be set straight.

Once an LHD & taskforce is on-station though, a Collins would provide a very sneaky, and unpleasant surprise. It's the escort in transit where I see vulnerabilities.

As for the LHD helicopters, I would assume there would be a few tasked with supporting a taskforce or the LHD itself. An NFH-90 with a ASW/ASuW configuration like the "Romeo" Seahawks would be quite valueable. Able to track surface, sub-surface and even limited air traffic while relaying this to different ships. And able to take action against detected hostile surface and undersea threats. One or two configured as such wouldn't go amiss.

One thing I do wonder, and I admit I lack the background to know if this is foolish question or not. How useful are some of the other RAN sonars at detecting subs or augmenting existing ASW assets? For example, as part of the upgrade of the Anzac frigates, they are to be (or have been) fitted with a mine avoidance sonar. While not being designed to do so, could information gathered by a mine avoidance sonar assist in conducting ASW operations? Or could the sonar used aboard the Huon MHC also assist in detecting subs? I understand that ASW wasn't what these systems were designed for, what I am interested in knowing is if secondary uses are possible, and if so, is ASW a possible secondary use?

-Cheers
 
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