"I'll Take 'Subs In Countries That Start With 'I'', Alex"
Quite a bit of news from some sub-owning countries in the Eastern Hemisphere today. The Hindu Times is reporting that India will be leasing two Akula-class boats from Russia; interestingly, they say this report comes from the Russian paper 'Kommersant', but a quick search of that paper's website doesn't have any such story. The story says that the boats have been sitting around in various stages of construction for some time, and I'd assume, if the story is true, that the reported $1.8B (U.S.) in lease fees would be mostly paid up front, in order to provide the funds to finish the boats. The reason given for the Indian Navy's desire to lease these subs, instead of waiting for their own nuclear boats to finish, is that the indigenous Indian nukes are experiencing "slippage". If they do end up getting these Akulas, and learn how to operate them, then the Pakistani Navy would have a very short and violent life if they and the Indians ever came to blows.
In other "I" country submarine news, the Iranians announced that they have launched production on their own mini-submarines. I'm honestly not sure how recent this story is; the Tehran Times doesn't say anything, and I blogged back in May that the Iranians had announced that they had started production back then.
You may remember hearing that the Israeli's will likely be buying two more Dolphin-class subs from Germany, with the German government picking up 1/3 of the cost. A reader directed my attention to this article at The Officers' Club, which discussed possible Israeli reactions to the incipent Iranian nuclear threat. (The reader was asking if I knew why the Israeli's painted their subs green; I didn't know. Looking into that question, I did find this page -- and this page -- full of lots of good photos of Israeli subs, though.) I agree with this analysis from Stratfor on the difficulty the Israelis would have in using their subs in any nuclear strike role against Iran. An excerpt:
"Even getting to their launch point would be problematic for the Dolphins, with their range of 4,500 nautical miles. The only way they could get to the Gulf of Oman without needing to stop for refueling would be to go though the Suez Canal -- Going around Africa would mean that they would have to stop in friendly ports at least twice on the way. If a Dolphin from Haifa refuels in Gibraltar, it lacks the range to make it to South Africa. It would have to stop or be replenished along the way. It would also have to refuel on the second leg of its trip, or be replenished at sea.
"Given the advanced state of Israel's aeronautical and defense industry, developing a system that can reach targets deep inside Iran from the Gulf of Oman or the Arabian Sea is certainly within Israel's technical means. If Israel does have a nuclear second-strike capability, it is unlikely to come from Dolphins firing nuclear-tipped Harpoons from the Gulf of Oman or Arabian Sea. However, with an eventual fleet of five subs lurking in the waters around the Middle East, the Jewish state's potential enemies cannot completely ignore the possibility that Israel might be capable of responding to an attack, and must keep that in mind when considering any major action against it."
Since I don't see the Egyptians giving Israeli subs permission to transit the Suez Canal during a crisis, I think the "subs vs. Iran" option is a no-go for Israel. Besides, they have plenty of planes that could do the trick; plus, I'm sure they have some other tricks up their sleeves.
For those who don't like to click links, and might have an idea of why the Israelis use the paint scheme they do, here's a picture of one of their boats:
Isn't it cute?