BIG EXERCISES IN YELLOW SEA
The Chinese and Russian navies are conducting a large-scale maritime exercise towards the end of this month (April) in the Yellow Sea. The Russian contribution will be led by the Vladivostock-based missile cruiser Varyag accompanied by three Udaloy Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) destroyers, plus attendant supply vessels, warplanes, helicopters, and marine infantry from the Pacific Fleet. During the exercise, which takes place from April 22 – 29, the Chinese North Sea Fleet will provide the Chinese contribution, though no specific vessels, or types, had yet been named as this magazine went to press. It is the latest in a series of such drills held since 2005 under the Shanghai Cooperation Organization.
KASHIN TO SYRIA
Meanwhile, a warship from the Russian Navy’s Black Sea Fleet (BSF), the Kashin Class guided-missile destroyer, Smetlivy has sailed from Sevastopol, destination Tartus. A leased Russian naval support base, and the only such facility the Russian Navy has in the Mediterranean, a previous visit by a BSF warship in January was allegedly staged to deliver a cargo of arms and ammunition for the Syrian government. The sole remaining Kashin Class ship in service, Smetlivy has been modernised since first commissioning in 1969.
INDIA’S LOCALISED SUBS
French defence giant DCNS has teamed up with Indian company SEC Industries to locally manufacture equipment for Scorpene Class submarines.
The US $60 million contract will see Hyderabad-based SEC manufacturing equipment such as ballast vent valves, cofferdam doors, hull hatches, high pressure air cylinders, knuckle hoses, and weapon handling and storage systems. Last June DCNS also teamed up with Flash Forge India (Pvt) Ltd, to manufacture equipment for the Scorpene programme, and partnerships with more local companies are likely to follow. The six Indian Scorpenes are being constructed at Mazagon Docks in Mumbai and are expected to start commissioning in the middle of the decade.
AIR WING RETAINED
The US Navy has cancelled deactivation of Carrier Air Wing 14 (CVW 14) on the grounds that the National Defense Authorization Act signed into law on December 31, 2011, mandates the USN to maintain a minimum of ten such formations plus an accompanying dedicated and fully staffed headquarters for each. Like all such Carrier Air Wings, CVW 14, based at Naval Air Station Lemoore in California, is a substantial organisation and assigned to USS Ronald Reagan. It was first established during the Korean War, and has been in service continuously ever since. It flies the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet, F/A-18C Hornet, EA-6B Prowler, E-2 Hawkeye, and C-2 Greyhound fixed wing aircraft, and SH-60F and HH-60H Seahawk helicopters.
DARING WITH CVNs
The British Type 45 destroyer Daring, on her maiden front line deployment, has twice joined up with two USN Carrier Strike Groups (CSGs) in the Middle East. During her time exercising with the USS Carl Vinson CSG and USS Abraham Lincoln CSG, Daring swapped sailors with the two super-carriers and also Ticonderoga Class cruisers Cape St George and Bunker Hill, as well as other USN warships. Daring was integrated with the CSGs, using her Sampson radar to monitor vast swathes of airspace over the Arabian Gulf, and also take control of USN F/A-18 Super Hornet fast jets.
SIXTH ISRAELI SUBMARINE
A contract has been signed between Germany and Israel for a sixth Dolphin Class submarine, partly subsidised by Germany. It was not confirmed just how much this entailed, but it had previously been reported it was to the tune of approximately 135 million Euros. The sixth Dolphin was an option in the contract for two submarines currently in the final stages of construction for the Israeli Navy at HDW’s Kiel shipyard.