Monday, December 18, 2006

JMSDF in the Strait of Tiran in 1967

When Egypt closed off the Strait of Tiran to Israeli shipping in May 1967, the UK and US contemplated inviting Japan to join the international naval fleet to open the strait with force, if necessary.

Other candidates were Italy, France, Argentina, Brazil, Canada, the Netherlands, Belgium, Denmark, Norway, Greece, India, Panama and Liberia. Only two countries, the Netherlands and Canada, showed some willingness to contribute their naval forces to the proposed international fleet.

U.S. willingness to see Japan assume an active military role outside the East Asian region goes back to a much earlier date than generally thought.

103. Memorandum From Secretary of State Rusk and Secretary of Defense McNamara to President Johnson/1/

Washington, May 30, 1967.

/1/Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Middle East Crisis, Vol. II. Secret; Exclusive Distribution. No drafting information appears on the memorandum. It was sent to the President with a covering note from Walt Rostow, dated May 30, 6:30 p.m., stating that it was the basic background paper on the Middle East, for discussion and decision at lunch on May 31. A May 30 memorandum from Read to Rostow, which accompanied the memorandum when it was sent to the White House, states that it had been approved by Rusk and McNamara. (Ibid., Vol. III)

Arab-Israel Crisis

1. Middle East Scenario

As you know, our scenario on the Middle East situation envisages three steps:

a. Action in and outside the United Nations to head off the imminent threat of Arab-Israeli hostilities and to seek a political settlement of the Gulf of Aqaba question;

b. Formal and public affirmation by the largest possible number of maritime nations of their support for the principle that the Strait of Tiran and the Gulf of Aqaba are international waterways; and

c. Contingency planning for testing UAR interference with the right of free passage for ships of all nations through the Strait and the Gulf, and contingency planning for the use of force, as necessary, to support that right. Implementing action would be undertaken only after measures in the United Nations had been exhausted and after Congressional approval had been obtained.

2. Handling of Declaration

The debate in the Security Council will probably be long and drawn out; the May 29 session indicated little disposition to agree on any specific resolution at this stage. During Council discussion, there will be substantial opportunity to launch various private negotiations, involving the President of the Council (Denmark, in June); the Secretary General; the British, French and Russians; and the protagonists themselves. These are a part of the UN process which may be of greatest importance in the end. At the proper time, the text of the Joint Declaration should be circulated in the Security Council for the information of UN Members.

a. Preliminary Soundings

The British have already made soundings on the proposed Declaration (without providing a text) with the Italians, Norwegians, Danes, Dutch, Belgians, Greeks, Panamanians, Liberians, and Japanese. We believe they have also discussed the idea of an international naval task force in the Red Sea with these nations.

We have made informal soundings on the Declaration (also without providing a text) and on the possible use of force, with the French, Belgians, Canadians, Dutch, Indians, Italians, and Norwegians.

b. Reactions to Soundings

The reactions to the soundings have varied. Most nations are prepared to support the principle regarding international waterways, but shy away from considering the use of force to secure adherence to that principle. Apart from the British and the Dutch, only the Canadians have so far indicated a possible willingness to participate in a naval task force; the extent to which the Dutch and particularly the Canadians would be prepared to join with us in the use of force is not yet clear.

c. Need to Move on the Declaration

Subject to Congressional consultations, we believe we should move promptly to present the proposed Declaration to the maritime nations, in order that our over-all scenario may move forward. Instructions to our posts on the Declaration (Enclosure 1)/2/ indicate the division of responsibility between the British and ourselves for making approaches in selected capitals. The text of the Declaration is at Enclosure 2.

/2/The enclosures are not printed, but see Documents 111 and 112.

The purpose of these approaches would be to obtain signatures to a Declaration, which reaffirms the principles you set forth in your statement of May 23, but which does not commit the signatories to participate in the use of force. The British and we would inform the Israelis when these approaches are made, and suggest that they back them strongly in certain capitals. We would also at the same time determine whether certain nations would join with us in the use of force, if necessary. These nations should include: Italy, France, Argentina, Brazil, and Japan in the first instance. We have suggested that the British and Dutch approach the Nordic countries.

3. Possible Early Movement of Ships Through the Strait to Eilat

Decisions are desirable on the movement of merchant vessels through the Strait to the Israeli port of Eilat. We have discouraged such tests of UAR intentions thus far, although some ships have gone through to Aqaba, the Jordanian port. All such ships have acknowledged the UAR controls, although none has been stopped, so far as we know. Armed force has not been used.

As part of our contingency planning, we are considering the possibility of tailoring the traffic pattern of ships entering the Strait during the next 10 days, in order to clarify the limits of the UAR policy of blockade--e.g., whether they intend to bar Israeli-owned as well as Israeli flag ships, and how they propose to define "strategic goods." We might for example encourage the attempted passage of an Israeli-owned (but non-Israeli-flag) ship carrying clearly nonstrategic cargo to Eilat; and if that passed without interference, we might attempt passage with a more "strategic" cargo (e.g., oil). Within this period, such tests would involve no armed escort and no counteraction in the event passage was refused. The purpose would be to clarify the limits of UAR policy and to build a public case for support of free passage.

A serious program of this kind would require consultation with Congressional leaders and an Israeli promise to accept the possibility of rebuff without retaliation. Tel Aviv may not be able to give such a promise, and the scheme may prove infeasible for other reasons--e.g., our inability to stage-manage the ownership, flag, and cargo of the shipping headed for Eilat. On the other hand, limited tests appear feasible within the next few days, and we propose to go forward with these where the risks appear acceptable. A Panamanian ship (Israeli-owned) loaded with hides is now heading for the Strait, bound for Eilat. We plan to do nothing to discourage its passage through the Strait.

4. A Military Plan to Deal With the Straits of Tiran Question

A military task force may be required to support, with force, the right of innocent passage, on behalf of the international community, through the Gulf of Aqaba in view of the UAR's announced blockade. The essence of this concept is that an international force could keep the Strait open for all flags, thereby obviating an Arab-Israeli war. Such a task force should be composed of as many maritime nations as are prepared to join it in a reasonable time. In practice, only the US, the UK and possibly the Dutch and Canadians are likely to participate.

Conceptually, the task force would consist of two parts. First, a protective force in the northern Red Sea which would provide a protective presence for merchantmen testing the Straits, and an escort if the UAR, should turn back or fire on unescorted ships; second, a reinforcing force in the Eastern Mediterranean which would be available for reinforcing support if the UAR fired on merchantmen and their escort.

A limited protective force of four destroyers (two US and two UK), a tactical command ship (US), and a light aircraft carrier (UK) could be assembled in the northern Red Sea in about a week. If the carrier Intrepid, now in the Mediterranean, transits the Suez Canal in the next few days, together with her appropriate escorts, these could be added to the force. Application for transit of the Canal has been filed. Even with these additions, however, such a force would be devoid of adequate self-contained air cover and ASW protection and thus subject to attack and damage by UAR sea and air forces in the area (the reinforcing force could provide some air cover over the Tiran area, but the distances from the Eastern Mediterranean would limit operational effectiveness). A stronger, better balanced protective force--augmented primarily by US naval units from CONUS--could be assembled in 25-30 days.

US and UK forces already in the Mediterranean provide a powerful reinforcing force (consisting of 3 US carriers, 1 UK carrier, and numerous other vessels). British air forces in Cyprus may also be available. If the UAR fired on merchantmen and their escorts, aircraft from these Mediterranean forces could, and might have to, intervene in the Tiran area or strike at major air bases and installations in the UAR.

The risks involved in testing the blockade with a limited or even an augmented protective force are not negligible. If Nasser is not deterred, the possibility would exist of wider conflict. This possibility is being urgently studied, both politically and militarily.

5. Congressional Consultation

Much of the Congress is away until Wednesday and some, including Senator Fulbright, will be away longer. We recommend immediate Congressional consultations on the Hill on the Declaration with the leadership, the key Committees (Foreign Relations, Foreign Affairs and Commerce), and with senior members of the Armed Services and Appropriations Committees. This meeting would be for the purpose of: (1) providing an up-to-date briefing on the current situation, and (2) reviewing our general strategy, with specific reference to the proposed Maritime Declaration. We recommend that the formal approaches to other nations regarding the text of the Declaration not be undertaken until after your discussions with the Congressional leaders.

Additionally, we plan to continue our daily efforts to brief other members of the Congress. As in the past few days, however, these briefings will continue to concentrate on current developments, and to avoid speculation about future developments.

In this situation, we believe that a Joint Congressional resolution would be politically necessary before US military forces are used in any way. The timing of a formal request to the Congress for such a resolution should, however, be carefully considered. While it is true that many Congressional doves may be in the process of conversion to hawks, the problem of "Tonkin Gulfitis" remains serious. Thus an effort to get a meaningful resolution from the Congress runs the risk of becoming bogged down in acrimonious debate. We recommend therefore that a formal request for such a resolution be delayed until (1) it has become clear to the Congress that we have exhausted other diplomatic remedies in and outside of the United Nations, and (2) our soundings indicate that such a request will receive prompt and strong support. The text of an appropriate resolution is Enclosure 3.

6. Timing

We hope to complete actions on the Declaration toward the end of this week. We would seek to have the military contingency planning, with the UK at least, well under way by the end of the week of June 5.

7. Recommendations/3/

/3/No indication of the President's decisions on the recommendations appears on the memorandum. Walt Rostow told Rusk in a telephone conversation the next morning that the President wanted "some inventive thinking done on plans for dealing with this thing" and "did not want us to get too locked in to the maritime idea if in fact it turns into bilateral action." In addition, Rostow said, the President wanted the Israelis and the British "out in front in organizing the party." (Notes of telephone conversation prepared by Carolyn J. Proctor, May 31, 11:32 a.m.; National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Rusk Files: Lot 72 D 192, Telephone Calls)

1. That you approve the draft Declaration of the Maritime nations, at Enclosure 2.

2. That following Congressional consultations on Wednesday you authorize us to send a telegram substantially in the form of the text at Enclosure 1, instructing our Ambassadors in selected countries to seek commitments from the Governments to which they are accredited to adhere to the Declaration.

3. That following Congressional consultations, you authorize us to proceed at once to sound out France, Italy, Argentina, Brazil and Japan on an informal basis about the possibility of their participating with us in the use of force if necessary to secure effective observance of the right of free passage for all nations.

4. That you authorize us to add the Dutch, the Canadians, and other prospective members of the action party at a later point to form an international planning group which would be built around the British-American naval consultations.

5. That you approve the enclosed draft Joint Resolution for preliminary discussion late this week, or early next week, with Congressional leaders.

Dean Rusk/4/
Robert S. McNamara

/4/Printed from a copy that bears these typed signatures.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

1964 study to arm Japan and South Korea with nuclear weapons

After China successfully tested its first nuclear bomb in 1964, US Secretary of State Dean Rusk initiated a study to provide friendly countries in Asia with US nuclear weapons as a degree of deterrence to possible Chinese threat.

Similar arrangements were actually made for NATO countries. For instance the West German Luftwaffe maintained a few F-104G Starfighters armed with a single 1MT B43 hydrogen bomb on round-the-clock QRA, fully fueled and ready to take off within 17 minutes of authorization during the Cold War period.

Below is from George Perkovich's book "India's Nuclear Bomb" published in 1999.

While the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission was contemplating providing Plowshares services to India, advisers to Secretary of State Dean Rusk had requested Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs John McNaughton and his staff to study "the possibilities of providing nuclear weapons under U.S. custody" for use by "friendly Asian" military forces in the event that China threatened or attacked them. McNaughton provided a preliminary version of the requested study to Deputy Under Secretary of State Llewellyn E. Thompson in the late fall of 1964, and Thompson forwarded it to Rusk on December 4. The study, which had not been cleared by Defense Secretary Robert McNamara, sought to give the United States means to counter the geopolitical and military gains China might otherwise win through its new nuclear weapon capability.

The basic idea was to make arrangements for friendly Asian countries to receive and militarily deliver low-yield tactical nuclear weapons that the United States would provide to them in the event of Chinese aggression. The study contemplated making nuclear weapons available to Japan, India, Australia, New Zealand, the Philippines, the Republic of China (Taiwan), Pakistan, Thailand, and the Republic of Korea (South Korea). The authors noted that American personnel would have to train military units in the recipient countries to handle and deliver the weapons.

The study paid special attention to India. The authors estimated that India could produce and test a nuclear device "in one to three years after a decision to do so," and could produce "by 1970 about a dozen weapons in the 20 kt [kiloton] range." While noting that the balance of political opinion in India still inclined against the bomb, the study averred that the "chances are better than even that India will decide to develop nuclear weapons within the next few years." The authors believed that American security assurances in the face of Chinese nuclear threats would not be adequate to stem other Asian countries' demands for "some national capability." Thus, "the primary objective of a U.S. nuclear assistance offer to India would be to preclude an independent national nuclear development program."

The study recognized that providing nuclear weapons to India would complicate American relations with Pakistan. Thus the authors suggested that the offer to India "should be low key." The United States would help India modify its fleet of Canberra bombers, train air crews, provide dummy weapons for exercises, and supply "weapons effects data for planning and necessary target data to support the feasibility and desirability of weapon use." Washington would provide the same basic assistance to Pakistan, too, in part to offset that country's reaction to the proposed U.S. arrangement with India. The United States would not store nuclear weapons in either country but instead would develop facilities in each to handle weapons if and when they were needed.

Beyond reducing the proliferation incentives of China's neighbors, the Defense Department staff argued that the plan would give the "U.S. President . . . the option of allowing controlled use of nuclear weapons" against China, without running the more direct risks of escalation to a global conflict involving major U.S. forces. "It could assist in avoiding a direct confrontation between the United States and the [Soviet Union] in a Far East regional conflict." This suggested a possible way to satisfy the desire to "use" nuclear weapons to deter or prosecute war on foreign soil while avoiding escalation that could lead to attacks on the U.S. homeland. Nuclear deterrence ultimately rests on the threat of massive devastation being visited on combatants' homelands, but the United States sought to escape this pitfall of deterrence by finding ways to contain nuclear exchanges to the foreign battlefield or theater level. This possibility--as much as the aim of stemming proliferation in India and other states--motivated the Pentagon's approach to the problem.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Dutch warship to participate in TBMD exercise

The HNLMS Tromp, one of the Royal Netherlands Navy's four LCF air defence frigates, will take part in a US Navy exercise in coming November off Hawaii. The role for the Dutch ship to play in this exercise is to provide early warning to US participants with its SMART-L long-range 3D radar.

The ship's SMART-L radar has already received 'Extended Long Range' modifications to increase the probability of detection against ballistic missile-type targets. An Aegis cruiser will assume the role of shooter with SM-3 missiles. When facing ballistic missile threats, the SMART-L may 'stare' in the direction where the missiles would come from, not rotating at all.

In a scenario the Dutch envisioned, an air defence frigate stationed off the Dutch coast could cover the whole of the Netherlands, Belgium, part of northeast France and part of southeast England against ballistic missiles fired from Iran. The Iranian missile was detected while flying over the Czech Republic and shot down over Germany in the scenario.

Below is Thales Nederland's press release about the upcoming test.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Air-capable destroyer

The image above is from the page 101 of D. K. Brown's Rebuilding the Royal Navy - warship design since 1945. For some unknown reason British designers toyed with the idea of putting two Sea Harrier FRS1 fighters on an enlarged Type 43 destroyer design which was studied until the early 1980's. It turned out to be very uneconomic to carry just one or two STOVL fighters - the minimum economical number was six - and the project died away.

The Type 43 was a very ambitious 'double-ended' design with two twin Sea Dart and four Sea Wolf launchers. The line drawing shows how much the appearance of modern warships has been changed by the advent of multifunction phased-array radars.

This Type 43 had:
two Type 1030 STIRs (Surveillance and Target Indication Radar) for Sea Dart,
two Type 967 target indication radars for Sea Wolf,
four Type 909 Sea Dart guidance radars and
two Type 910 Sea Wolf guidance radars.

Now a multifunction radar like APAR can perform all target indication and guidance tasks, though backed up by a 3D volume search radar in surveillance.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Russia launched 15-year-old ocean surveillance satellite

Russia's recent launch of a 15-year-old US-PU Legend (or Legenda) ocean surveillance satellite that failed to activate one of its two solar batteries is indicative of not only Russia's continuing effort to keep its ocean surveillance system operational, but also obsolescence of the system.

July 03, 2006 Spying Satellite Fails Mission

Launched to orbit June 25, the Legend satellite of offshore electronic reconnaissance has failed so far to get down to performing the tasks. Of two solar batteries, one didn't open and the satellite lacks power to activate devices of surveillance and target indication.

It was the U.S. Space Command that first reported problems of Russia's US-PU satellite. Though the RF Defense Ministry, Russia's Space Agency (Roskosmos) and Space Forces declined to comment, a source with the General Naval Staff said Saturday that Cosmos-2421 [US-PU got this name after delivery into the orbit] really has problems, which are currently tackled by experts.

The satellite spent past week in maneuvers, attempting to open the second battery. All efforts proved fruitless, the source said, but Arsenal Design Bureau that eveloped the satellite still hopes to remove trouble. But the military don't share optimism of producers, the more so that the satellite was made 15 years ago and kept in the stockpile till the launch. Besides, Arsenal has troubles not only with US-PU but also with a new Liana, which is expected to replace Legend.

According to Norman Friedman's Seapower and Space published in 2000, the Soviets were satisfied with the performance of the Legenda system during the Falklands War in 1982 when it allowed the Soviet General Staff to determine the precise moment when the British began to land troops in the Falkland Sound. Some Soviet writers alleged that American anti-satellite weapon programs in the 1980's were an indirect tribute to the success of their space-based ocean reconnaissance system.

The tracks of Russian satellites that monitored movement of British warships in April 1982.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Submarine's role in Anti-Air Warfare - Royal Navy submarines in the Falklands

It seems improbable that submarines should have a role to play in anti-air warfare. However Commodore Michael Clapp, who was commander of the British amphibious forces in the Falklands War, recounted on page 181 of his book Amphibious Assault Falklands that submarines provided early warning of Argentine air raids to ships in San Carlos Water. He did not elaborate how the subs did that but I assume their means of detection of air raids must have been ESM and communication eavesdropping.

However, listening to enemy communications is only half of the story - information collected by a submarine can be an early warning only when it is passed to the user of the information. It should be relayed to surface ships real-time by satellite communication.

Below is an account of a freak incident in which a Royal Navy nuclear-powered submarine could have been hit by jettisoned Argentine bombs.

Jettisoned bombs just missed Valiant
Commander T M le Marchand, captain of nuclear submarine HMS Valiant, remembers the conflict.

`Valiant was on a deep and fast passage across the Atlantic when Argentina invaded the Falklands. News does not travel easily to submarines when deep, and it was by means of the BBC World Service that we discovered the reasons for the Prepare for War signals that had emanated from the Flag Officer Submarines.

`Perhaps we could go straight down there . No, after two months at sea there was not enough food - as ever the human machine is the limiting factor in a nuclear submarine. So the plan evolved: get home fast, top up with stores and torpedoes, and deploy for a long trip, which in the end was to last exactly 98 days under water.

`Earnest preparations at base ensued. Our weapon system was upgraded to the most recent Tigerfish development, stores and provisions for 95 days were stuck down below, and one member of the ship's company married his fiancee. From the outset, we were utterly convinced that this was going to be a shooting war, and that our task was going to be to take the Argentinian navy out of the equation.

`The submarine entered the war zone on May 1 after a high speed transit south. Drills every watch on attacking and torpedo evasion had made us confident that we could do our part; recognition was honed - strangely difficult when our enemy had until recently been friends: it has always seemed `not cricket' to gather intelligence on those whom one expects to be on one's own side.

`More importantly we practised and became very skilled at operating the Tigerfish Mod 1 weapon system - in effect an underwater guided missile - which was to be our prime weapon against all targets, surface or submarine. Not for us the World War II Mark 8 - which was in fact the weapon which Conqueror employed with such devastating effect against the Belgrano.

`On one occasion, whilst at periscope depth, we suffered a near miss from a stick of six bombs, the fourth one of which was close enough to spill cups of tea. Having to assume we may have been detected, though there was no other indication that we had, it was prudent to get some distance between us and where it happened. We later assessed that it was returning aircraft jettisoning their unused bombs before landing back at base that had so nearly scored a fluke hit. The moral was to get off track from their return route. We were lucky, but a few feet closer and it might have been something of a bad luck story.

`A word about the ship's company. We numbered 105, and kept to a six hours on, six off watchbill for the whole deployment. Keeping the highly sophisticated but 21-year-old nuclear submarine at peak performance for night after day was a fantastic achievement. Heroes daily dealt with steam leaks, hydraulic bursts and even the odd fire; one person, the smallest man on board, had to slide 12ft down between the pressure hull and the port main condenser (a space of nine by 18 inches cross-section) to replace a flange from which steam was leaking. Unrepaired we would not have been able to use full power - a crucial get-away requirement.

`Discipline and morale were outstanding - the more so because no one was conscious that such characteristics were under trial. Throughout the deployment all were acutely interested in how the `real battle' was going and determined to do all possible to contribute. There were no defaulters; no one was even ill.

`Valiant returned to base in Scotland in early August. There was one single frozen chicken in the ship's fridges.’

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

F-16NG and Mirage IIING

Flight International reported that Lockheed Martin is studying "F-16NG" which will combine "the best of Block 50 and Block 60, with elements from the F-22 and F-35." Target users are India and existing F-16 operators who need to restock their fighter fleets but do not intend to buy the F-35 soon. According to Lockheed Martin the configuration of the F-16NG can be "less, equal to or better than" the F-16E/F Block 60 depending on each potential customer requirement.

Interestingly in 1982 Dassault Aviation of France also offered a "NG" variant of its bestselling Mirage III/5/50 series which had been operational since 1961. However this NG failed to find a buyer and quietly disappeared in the late 1980's.