Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Basis See Conference, Pt5 : Industry Implementations

Speeches by:
Dirk Malgowski : Surface Ship Division, TKMS
Hermann J. Janssen : NAVTEC CONSULT

A number of more or less - rather less - solid proposals from the industry, to finalize this short series of posts.

"Meko Multirole Auxiliary"

TKMS offers this concept "for open discussion in MoD", not as "JSS proposal". Arguably, multi-role/mixed-capability ships with dual amphibious/logistics roles have been gaining market share lately. Examples given are the LPD for Portugal, LHD for South Africa or Canada's JSS.
Externally, the proposal looks remarkably close to the LHD offered by TKMS in the South African tender, i.e. the MHD150.

The Meko Multirole Auxiliary takes Nolting's suggestion of modularization, by offering a triple-role ship with multi-mission modules - TKMS suggests a role change would be possible "within 48 hours", and the modules would use "already introduced standard systems". The three roles to be assumed by this ship would be RAS, LHD and sealift.
  • - RAS role: 6,440t fuel, 600t cargo including ammunition, 3 helos
  • - LHD role: 750 troops, 650 lm, 870t cargo, 440t fuel, 14 helos
  • - Sealift role: 2,500 lm, 500t fuel, 2,500t dry cargo
Such a role change looks rather hefty - though, especially regarding this mix, there's already a decade of experience in the Bundeswehr with the A310 MRTT, which also uses a palletized module system to switch from transport to tanker. A ship of this size would be a far larger application of this of course.

"Trans Sea Lifter"

Another, entirely different concept is proposed by consulting company NAVTEC CONSULT. It proposes a very large system for the Basis See application sealift/transport in a modular framework.

Trans Sea Lifter would be a large SWATH ship. Multiple modules would be carried forward of superstructure. The dimensions are implied with a beam of around 50-60 meters, length in the example with three modules seems to be around 150-180 meters.

The loaded modules would essentially be FloFlo swimming sub-units. Module examples given would be e.g. lighter transport, dry cargo, command, armament.

A number of examples for application are given:
  • - transport modules, which themselves can be submerged for FloFlo (for transport and landing operations with lighters and LCUs/LCACs)
  • - multiple low-draft swimming base/support modules that can be brought into disaster areas and operate there independantly
  • - mothership/tender role in CSW operations to transport and supply small littoral combat surface units or submarines
  • - command/medical/logistics role in supporting land forces by using specialized modules for these applications
  • - modular system for air/surface theater warfare, including protective armament for entire Basis See task force
Especially the last one seems rather far-fetched. According to Janssen, it's only in the conception phase yet, primarily for commercial applications.

Lead from Sea

A number of "Lead from Sea" experiments with command-facility frigates have been going on for the past two years, and are being continued. The positive aspect of this is obvious: It's a cheap, simple solution.
These experiments are primarily intended for small footprint operations; an example situation from last year was leading land units from a F123 frigate to evacuate 50 civilians from a coastal nation.

Horten sees current potential as "Lead from Sea" platforms in those Bundeswehr ships that already have command facilities - the F123 and F124 frigates, the EGV AORs, and the A404 tenders (which house the staff of their squadrons).

In the near future, in particular F125 shows good promise of furthering the approach, as the new CMS being developed by ATLAS for it will be capable of integrating full air/surface awareness for such command facilities; as a first, there'll also be the possibility of integrating AWACS and DCRC into the overall picture through Link 16 interfaces.

ATLAS proposes a containerized proving concept, to be mounted aboard an EGV. The EGV currently possesses basic C2 facilities and Link 11 datalinks; the containerized system would add a Link 16 datalink, upgrade the Link 11, add a air/surface surveillance radar, and add a standard Army C2 system (as has been done in the frigate experiments).

ATLAS sees a number of potential synergy effects for future "Lead from Sea" systems by integrating current more or less experimental software offered by them; such as the ADLER interface that will be used on F125 to tie the 127mm gun into the Army Artillery C3 systems, the MiLiPos protocol integration system that allows exchanging data between different-protocol (Navy, Army, Airforce) command systems via Link 16, or the LexxWar asymmetric combat system that was used in trials last year.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Basis See Conference, Pt4 : Sealift Concepts

Speaches by:
Rüdiger Kloevekorn : Steria Mummert Consulting
Christian Eckel : Surface Ship Division, TKMS

Two speaches that deal with the sealift options available to Germany. Kloevekorn mostly talks about GGSS, Eckel presents some options on GMSV.

As a short introduction: The current system for GGSS used by the Bundeswehr is the ARK contract jointly with Denmark. Under ARK, four RoRo ships are under pre-charter contracts and available as needed to the two nations with a pre-fixed cost limit. However, the ARK contract will end in 2011.

The Bundeswehr has hence looked into 2012+ options for sealift, and Steria Mummert Consulting, along with two other companies, has drafted a study for this at the request of the Bundeswehr.

Some results from this study are presented by Kloevekorn at this conference.

The study takes as its basis a "reasonable" maximum usage of sea transport; for Germany, that means concurrent transport for three different operations in a 30-day timeframe. The three scenarios looked into were apparently a NATO NRF operation, a Military Evacuation Operation, and the rotation of a peace-keeping contingent. The equipment requirements for these operations were given by the Bundeswehr.

Based upon this, an operational need was worked out, with a variation due to the possibility of using different European ports in different distances to the mission theaters - in particular with NRF a definitive option. Effectively, the Bundeswehr needs between 8000 and 13500 lanemeters RoRo sealift (3-5 ships with 2500-3000 lanemeters), plus 1200 TEU for the NRF operation and 70 TEU for the rotation.

As part of the study, a number of options are explored. The container transport would be a case for commercial transport - regular transport lines for the (long pre-planned) rotation operation, and a chartered container transport for the NRF operation.

For the sealift, not surprisingly, a continuation of ARK is suggested. It is concluded that an ARK transport - calling in all pre-contracted ships for 30 days - has similar costs to a commercial charter option. However, ARK adds the security of having the ships available as needed, and provides an upper cost limit. It's suggested that potentially a third German ship should be added to ARK, bringing the total to five ships. Additionally, a pre-charter option for two similar-sized RoRos is suggested to provide an extra 5000 lm, and the formation of a government or Bundeswehr agency that would secure long-term pre-charter contracts (to avoid costly short-term charter) is recommended.

Two alternatives are given. The first would be the option that the Royal Navy took - building (5) ships for the Bundeswehr itself, and then chartering them out through a public-private subcompany to increase cost effectiveness. The second alternative is a purely German version of ARK, implemented together with the German industry (an option if Denmark bows out of ARK, unlikely).

Eckel, a board member of the Surface Ship Division of TKMS, looks into GSMV primarily. GGSS is well-secured through ARK. GMSV is a clear capability lack, and the already noticed option of GMSV providing a shuttle service between a seabourne logistics base and land forces is also mentioned by him.

He sees three potential options for GMSV. The first one is, rather simply, international pooling - i.e. using Allied assets, or joint GMSV operation with Allies. The second option is a domestic design, for which TKMS offers their "innovative system engineering model" of course.

The third option is a bit more interesting - piggybacking on foreign projects. Of course TKMS isn't exactly happy about this option. However, he goes to the extent of naming examples that Germany could hop into - i.e. the French Mistral, the rather widespread Schelde Enforcer, and the Canadian JSS.

The selection of these in particular is somewhat interesting - i'd personally suspect the following reasons: Mistral to appease the government's idea of a "French-German motor" in Europe; Schelde Enforcer because those would at least provide construction contracts for the German industry; and the Canadian JSS because TKMS is already involved in that.

Part 5, the final part, will delve into GMSV a bit further, with some proposals.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Basis See Conference, Pt3 : The Other Services

Speaches by:
Brig-Gen. Markus Kneip : Army C4I/CD&E Staff Division Leader; 2006 commander of ISAF Regional Command North
Brig-Gen. Jochen Both : Airforce C4I/CD&E Staff Division Leader
Brig-Gen. Heinrich Geppert : General of Future Development of the Joint Support Service (SKB)
Col.(Med) Bernd Mattiesen : Medical Service CD&E Staff Branch Leader

Now for the other side. The other four branches of the Bundeswehr get to present their view of Basis See too.

Kneip levels some criticism at the concept. The Navy has a level of ambition of leading up to 1000 ground soldiers from a Basis See command center for example; Kneip thinks that's way too much ambition. He also criticizes the basic issue of Supporting and Supported Commander - in his opinion, the Army commander of the ground troops should in almost all situations be the Supported Commander, with the Navy commander taking a back seat.

However, in his opinion, Basis See still offers a flexible instrument for short missions. Realistic missions named by him are in particular evacuation, extraction, and early entry. Basis See, in his opinion, is inefficient when land bases are operated in parallel.

The airforce sees limited application for the "Lead from Sea" concept of Basis See. There's particular potential for strategic Reach Back for Airforce assets, i.e. relaying tactical information between in-theater airborne assets and strategic C4ISTAR assets. Other applications are seen for example in limited theater C2 e.g. in Evacuation Operations, however a more widely applied maritime C2 infrastructure is seen as not necessary for the airforce, which would use land bases anyway.

Geppert doesn't show any criticism at all; he sees a demand for integration of the Joint Support Service's assets though, i.e. for "Lead from Sea" in particular interfaces to Military Intelligence and the Strategic Reconnaissance Command.

GMSV, the amphibious component, is similarly disputed. The Airforce of course thinks that such a component is not needed in an allied framework, since the Airforce would be the primary supplier of strategic and tactical transport. Geppert, however, sees GMSV as "reasonable", as long as the cost/effect factors are evaluated beforehand.

GGSS, the sealift component, is not in question. Both airforce and SKB think it's necessary and important, especially for logistics.

Mattiesen expands a bit on the medical side of Basis See. For him, the medical chain is important, and navy components of this chain - such as a sea-based hospital - need to have relay capability to land-based and home-based assets worked out. For the Medical Branch, their navy components - such as the MERZ containerized hospital onboard the EGVs - are primarily useful in early entry and similar missions. The primary component for the Medical Branch for longer missions however is StratAirMedEvac by their excellently-equipped A310 MedEvacs.

There is only a limited possibility for the airforce to base its assets on navy platforms. Examples named by Both there are primarily CSAR in Special Operation, but of course also specialized MedEvac helicopters.

The Joint Support Service sees the Basis See concept as "supportable" with their own forces - these would be e.g. logistics, military police, military intelligence etc. The Joint Support Service according to Geppert has apparently already started an internal evaluation of how to fit force packages to Basis See in comparison to the current land-based approach.

Part 4 will present a sealift study done for the Bundeswehr.

Basis See Conference, Pt2 : The Navy

Speaches by:
Vice-Adm. Wolfgang E. Nolting : Inspector of the Navy
Flot.-Adm. Klaus von Dambrowski : Navy C4I/CD&E Staff Division Leader
Flot.-Adm. Karl-Wilhelm Ohlms : Navy Logistics Staff Division Leader

Three speaches that i've grouped together for summarization. These present the Navy point of view, primarily from the Navy planning section at the MoD.

Basis See, from the Navy point of view, has a wide mission spectrum, in particular in joint operations. Of particular value, given previous missions, is the capability for expeditionary operations without Host Nation Support. Dambrowski outlines a number of missions undertaken in the past 10 years - from evacuating troops from Somalia on frigates to disaster support in Bandah Aceh by a EGV - to underline this.

Ohlms gives a description of Basis See that i rather like - according to him, it represents an "Order of Capabilities", which forms an abstract layer between the initial mission concept and the Order of Battle. The Order of Capabilities is derived from the mission context - selecting capabilities out of what the Basis See framework offers to fit the mission - and the order of battle is subsequently derived from the Order of Capabilities - ie selecting ships that offer the selected capabilities.

There are still a number of legal problems for the German Navy when facing non-military threads such as piracy or terrorism. Both for operations inside the German EEZ - German Military may not be used internally - and in certain scenarios abroad. For example, a German ship without a parliamentary mandate can't attack a pirate ship with military means according to Nolting, who proposes a change of constitution to solve this issue - a little change to Article 87, which demands parliamentary approval for peacetime use of the military.

Nolting also notes that Basis See has one distinct plus for German foreign politics - a naval expedition reduces the dangers of being drawn into foreign conflicts in comparison to traditional ground-based peace-keeping.

Dambrowski outlines the immediate further development of Basis See: In particular, the CD&E for the "Lead from the Sea" project will be continued. Also, the recently founded NATO Center of Excellence for Operations in Confined Shallow Waters, located at Kiel, will be used as a think tank of sorts that will bring further development into Basis See.

There is a dilemma coming up in the future according to Nolting. That being keeping traditional conventional warfare capabilities despite the transformation. This is of course something that has been given thought worldwide lately - does specialization for expeditionary warfare - and in particular asymmetric warfare - cripple the navies in a potential conventional conflict. Nolting sees modularization as a possible solution, while traditional specialized units may face obsolescence.

Ohlms also sees an elementary question of mission modularity or multi-mission-capability in future platforms. He brings in the doubtful side though, citing necessary evaluation of cost, logistics and training for such mission modularity, especially when considering potentially necessary in-theater role changes. There are a number of capabilities though that can be exploited without too much of that, namely the increased usage of UUVs, UAVs and USVs from Navy platforms for a number of capabilities. For future units, there's a potential for modularization in both the K131 corvette class and the Joint Support Ship project, according to Ohlms.

Regarding expeditionary warfare, one thing is of course lacking in the German Navy, and that's an amphibious component. This amphibious component is discussed as GMSV in the Navy - Gesicherter Militärische See-Verlegefähigkeit, i.e. Secured Military Sea-Transport Capability. Dambrowski sees GMSV as a necessary component. GMSV is complemented by GGSS - commercial sealift. Both differ of course in that GGSS only offers basic transport, while GMSV has the potential to host force packages. One additional potential use for GMSV is seen in shuttling cargo between GGSS and a mission area by Dambrowski. Nolting however strictly denies that the Navy is seeking a Marine Force service, which would of course be a somewhat logical proceeding from GMSV.

Finally, there's a short introduction into the Industry/Navy relationship presented in these speaches. Apparently, this relationship currently faces some quality and competency issues due to cost-saving pressure and the public market. A possible solution for this is proposed through a sort of public-private partnership, based on the currently developing "structured dialogue" between Navy and industry. Such a public-private partnership could also be applied in other fields, in particular cross-training (to retain competency of specialized personnel) and infrastructure.

Part 3 will be the views of the other services to contrast this.

Basis See Conference, Pt1 : Politics

Speaches by:
Thomas Kossendey : Deputy Secretary of Defense
Dagmar G. Wöhrl : Deputy Secretary of Commerce and Technology and "Maritime Coordinator" of the German Government

Two civilians from the German government spoke at the conference, both the deputy secretaries of their respective ministries. The below summarizes their speaches somewhat.

For the German Political Scene, Basis See is part of the ongoing transformation process to readjust the Bundeswehr to modern conflict types, including enabling the 3-Block-War concept at sea. Primarily, Basis See offers an instrument for the government to flank political and diplomatic actions through expeditionary capabilities.

Additionally, Basis See according to Kossendey can also be a viable instrument to support regional security efforts, such as the "African Ownership" concept, without leaving too much of a footprint, and without exerting too much of a visible external influence.

As part of the transformation, the Navy transitions from an Escort Navy to a modern Expeditionary Navy. This requires in particular new capabilities regarding joint operations. All modernisation of Navy equipment will be oriented towards this new capability profile. Certain elements of this, such as the third EGV, are viewed as definitely necessary among the goverment.

Wöhrl also mentions the second focal point of the new German Navy: That Germany is dependant on sea trade, and the Navy has the duty to secure sea tradelines. This is an issue that is primarily a government position, not one that came from the Navy itself.

The German maritime industry, according to Wöhrl, needs to continue consolidating itself nationally. The next step after that would be consolidation on a European basis, something that of course already started with TKMS' buying spree.

Especially for more synergy effects - and hence less costs - the government desires an increased pan-European cooperation in naval construction. However, there are of course structural and political limitations to this, and certain European Allies are "not ready yet" for such cooperation according to Wöhrl.

The Ministry of Commerce sets a target line for the German industry: Holding and if possible enlarging the German world market share. Officially, Germany holds 70% market share in submarines, and 25% export share in frigates (wonder where they got those numbers though). Also, German maritime industry will need to increase their export quota anyway, since domestic demand will be reduced in the future. Current export share of production is 70%.

Part 2 will present the Navy view of Basis See.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Not Dead Yet

Just as a little inbetween update:

I'm currently working on a (lengthy) presentation of the October 2007 conference on "Basis See" hosted by Griephan Global Security and the Deutsche Marine Institut think tank.
Documentation for that conference, for a sneak preview, can be found here (in German only).

The Bundeswehrplan 2009 should be leaked sometime in the next three weeks. I'll likely put forward some stuff regarding that too, if there's anything "interesting" in there.
The official budget was hammered out last month already. In 2009, the Bundeswehr will have 30.1 billion Euro available; as a positive thing, funding for the new aircraft of the Flugbereitschaft (couple A319 and A340, as well as Bombardier 5000, total about 1.4 billion euro) will not be drawn from the Bundeswehr budget.

50-year aniversary of joint German-British navy training in Plymouth sometime around now. F219 Sachsen is part of the Weekly War there this week.

The first German K130 corvette Braunschweig was commissioned last month. Currently participating in the Mare Aperto maneuvers off Sicily with her squadron tender Donau.

Eight German ships (three minehunters, two frigates, one FAC, two auxiliaries) just returned from taking part in NATO maneuver JOINT WARRIOR off Scotland training asymmetric and mine warfare scenarios. Part of the scenario is protecting an oil platform against attacking insurgents in small aircraft, dinghis, speedboats and even jetskis.
Other scenarios included attack from land, some ASW, and more specific air threats.

NH90 NFH (MH-90) is getting some criticism for delays lately. MoD is supposedly looking for alternatives.
Somewhat interesting in that regard, JOINT WARRIOR apparently saw a British Merlin operating from a German frigate (more than just crossdecking, the relevant article says "air operations").

Other than that, not really much news regarding the German Navy out there.