Monday, July 06, 2015

Saab unveils superstealth 'ghost submarine' that is virtually invisible to enemies and even allows divers to silently enter and exit

Surely this is what Australia should be buying rather than more Australian-made rubbish.  Surely the Collins submarine fiasco is enough. It took 13 years to build 6 of them and they have NEVER worked properly.  They are good when they do work but are always breaking down.  There is often only one at sea, with the rest undergoing "maintenance". They are based on a successful Swedish model so it is the build-quality that is the problem, not the design.  "She'll be right mate" is sometimes just not good enough.

And don't mention the mega-bungles of the air warfare destroyer project.  Three were ordered in 2007 but the first is now projected to enter service only in 2017.  Australia just does not have the capacity to build leading-edge military ships

Saab has unveiled what it claims is the world's most advanced stealth submarine.  The A26 sub is 207 feet long, and features a 'ghost mode' to make it virtually undetectable when underwater.

It also features a unique pod that allows special forces divers to enter and exit the sub while it is underwater. 

They have an endurance of 45 days or 18 days underwater. They have a test depth of about 658 feet.

They will be conventional diesel-electric submarines equipped with the Kockums Stirling AIP (air-independent propulsion) system for enhanced stealth.

The firm has already signed a $1 billion deal to build two of the new submarines for the Swedish Navy.

'Extreme stealth is at the heart of the Kockums A26 submarine,' the firm said.  'Sweden is unleashing its GHOST (Genuine HOlistic STealth) technology, thus making the Kockums A26 submarine effectively invisible.'

The order, with a value of about $1.04 billion, is for construction of two Type A26 submarines and conducting mid-life upgrades to two Gotland-class submarines. Work on the two A26s is to be completed by 2024.

Type A26 submarines have an endurance of 45 days or 18 days underwater.

'Sweden has long experience in designing very silent submarines,' the firm says.

'In the Kockums A26 submarine, an extremely resilient platform technique incorporating extensive rubber mountings and baffles is used to minimise noise from operating machines and transient noise, as well as absorbing shocks.

To further reduce emitted noise, the space between the frames is equipped with acoustic damping plates... Hull shape and fins designed to make it appear almost invisible

'Intelligence gathering, surveillance and sea denial along coastlines are becoming increasingly important, ' Saab said.

'Operations in shallow water enable submarines to carry out covert monitoring of targets on land or sea using a range of electro-optical and electromagnetic sensors.

'Moreover, the ability of a submarine to lie motionless on the ocean floor, or 'bottom out', makes it almost impossible to find.'

This highly optimised design also cuts the hydrodynamic signatures and flow noise around the submarine, both in deep water and near the surface.

The magnetic signature is suppressed by an advanced degaussing system that is controlled by external sensors to facilitate compensation in all geographical locations and headings.

Galvanic signatures, primarily electrical but including secondary magnetic signatures are reduced by a specially designed cathodic protection system and careful material selection that minimise electrical signatures without compromising the corrosion protection of the submarine.

The two vessels will be delivered to Sweden's Defense Materiel Organization in late 2018 and late 2019, respectively.

'Saab will deliver world-class submarines to Sweden,' said Hakan Buskhe, president and chief executive officer of Saab. 'Our ability to work closely with customers, to meet their needs with modern manufacturing and products, is one of Saab's greatest skills.

'Saab is also exploring export opportunities to provide complete submarine systems to a select number of countries, plus sub-systems across the wider market.'


How Labor misses the asylum-seeker boat

“So we beat on,” goes the oft-­quoted final line from F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby that seems to have been adopted by the ALP as its border protection theme, “boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.”

Labor, urged on by activists and the political class, refuses to learn the lessons of our asylum-seeker horror story. So, while the boats have been stopped and most voters have breathed a sigh of relief, we have had another chapter in the parlour game that is Labor’s internal contortion on boats.

Former defence minister Joel Fitzgibbon kicked it off by saying Labor might want to embrace all available tools to prevent a restart in the people-smuggling trade. “Now, one of those tools currently is boat turn-backs,” he said, “Personally, I believe turn-backs will remain part of Labor policy.”

In a rational world this would have been an insignificant statement of the obvious. Fitzgibbon was merely urging his party to promise what it pledged in 2007 (but failed to implement) and now would amount only to continuing what the government already was doing successfully.

But, on this issue, the ratio of logic to emotional hyperbole is as skewed as an ABC Q&A audience. Fitzgibbon’s comments triggered days of self-fascinated blather.

Realists see an issue of border security, immigration integrity, 1200 lost lives, 800 boats, 52,000 unauthorised arrivals, overflowing detention centres and refugees who, without cash for people-smugglers, can’t access a full ­humanitarian quota.

But for the compassionistas — including much of the media — it is about political selfdom and identifying as caring rather than cruel, or tolerant rather than ruthless.

On Monday, Labor’s immigra­tion spokesman Richard Marles tried to clarify his party’s stand.

“Well, we retain concerns about turn-backs, it is a really difficult area,” Marles told the ABC’s Radio National, “and there are a range of views on this issue within the party and out there in the community, it’s complex, and I understand those different views, but at the end of the day we are concerned about the impact that turn-backs have in relation to the relationship with Indonesia, specifically when it comes to co-operating with Indonesia around the question of asylum-seekers’ vessels, and of course all of this happening under a shroud of secrecy.” Clear as mud.

Then, as ever, Marles switched quickly from effective outcomes to presumed motives. “We are motivated by a position of compas­sion,” he said, “whereas for the gov­ernment that is really the central piece of an architecture which is really about putting a wall around Australia and turning Australia’s back on the world’s problems.”

The world is, indeed, a cruel and dangerous place and Australia, relatively speaking, is nirvana.  But to commend itself for government, Labor needs to say what it proposes to do.

Politicians can be forgiven, I suppose, for sometimes losing sight of policy outcomes in their pursuit of political success.

This, presumably, is one of the reasons we have journalists: to drive the debate back to what matters — you know, how to keep the borders secure, prevent people drowning and a trade in human desperation.

So after Marles on RN’s Breakfast we heard from Michelle Grattan. “It’s a push that’s really a very pragmatic one,” she said, promisingly, of Labor’s talk about turn-backs. “People who think the policy should be changed feel that it would be electorally very, very difficult for Labor to say it wouldn’t turn back boats because this has been seen as one way of stopping the people-smuggling trade and the government would be easily able to say, ‘Well, you’ll just be opening the door again to it.’ ”

So, when Grattan said “pragmatic” she didn’t mean a practical solution, she meant electorally pragmatic. Still, host Fran Kelly had a chance to steer her back to boats and people’s lives.

“This whole issue of asylum-seeker policy has been a real thorn in the side for the Labor Party for well over a decade now,” she said.

I suppose “thorn in the side” is one way to characterise 1200 dead men, women and children and untold misery for tens of thousands of others.

“A fight within Labor over this is gift to the government electorally,” Kelly went on. “Even if Labor comes down on the side of turning back the boats, which it might think would sort of, you know, take the heat out of the issue, just the whole fight and discussion hurts Labor, doesn’t it, or benefits the government?”

This was a typical and illuminating exchange.

For the political-media class — the group Robert Manne identified from the inside as the “permanent oppositional moral political community” — this issue is always seen through an ideological prism.

When Bill Shorten was asked if Labor would adopt a turn-back policy it proved too hard.

“Labor believes in a compassionate approach to refugees and a constructive approach to asylum-seekers,” he said. “Labor are the people who started regional resettlement to help break the people-smugglers’ model. I am determined to make sure that never again do the seaways between Java and Christmas Island become the opportunity for people-smugglers to put unsuspecting people into unsafe boats and drown at sea. That is our position.”

He was asked again.

“Part of the dilemma with boat turn-back policy is that the government insists in shrouding it in secrecy. We want to see what the actual policies are and how they are actually working.”

As best we can tell, Labor’s policy is that while the government’s policies seem to have worked, they are shrouded in so much secrecy that Labor will keep its policy secret.

Marles audaciously blamed Labor’s confusion on the government. “Now there are legitimate questions in relation to turn-backs and I’ve raised concerns about that,” he said.  “The fact of the matter is the government has been hopeless in answering those.”

By Wednesday on Radio National Grattan was starting to see signs Labor would change its policy. Perhaps she would be comforted by how this could prevent further human misery and trauma.

“A change is necessary if Labor is to be competitive at the election in the whole border protection issue,” she said, preoccupied with the misery and trauma of marginal Labor MPs.

Labor’s lack of self-awareness is extraordinary.  It reminds me of the old joke about two friesians chewing their cuds in a paddock. One cow says, “It’s a bit of a worry, this mad cow disease.”

“Doesn’t worry me,” says the other. “I’m a penguin.”

The opposition needs to see its stand the way most of the public does. First: the present policies are working. And second: no matter what Labor says now, there is little chance it will be believed.

The ALP backflipped on offshore processing in the shadows of the 2013 election and now has seen the Coalition’s strong resolve, temporary protection visas and turn-backs solve the problem — to great humanitarian benefit — yet it refuses to endorse this prescription. Rather, it has criticised the government for everything from secrecy to megaphone diplomacy, from cruelty to cash payments.

The media has been complicit, if not culpable, in the ALP’s folly and indulges the opposition’s introspective debate.

After this month’s national conference, almost two years on from the election, Labor will say it has worked it out and then try to convince the public it can be trusted on border protection.

Sorry, comrades; that boat has sailed.


Qld. Labor set to water down the Bikie laws, inviting criminal bikie thugs back into Queensland

IT HAS been heralded as the most successful anti-crime campaign in Australian history. Outlaw motorcycle gangs in Queensland have been stopped in their tracks by heroic police efforts led by Taskforce Maxima.

The chief of the Australian Crime Commission, Chris Dawson, has commended Queensland's tough laws and praised police efforts to curb bikie terror.

Yet the State Government crazily seeks to wind back the Newman government's anti-gang laws, with Attorney-General Yvette D'Ath going so far as describing them as "a stunt-driven mish-mash of legislation".

That's not the ways police, nightclub owners and restaurateurs see it, especially on the Gold Coast, which was at the epicentre of bikie violence and serious crime.

If Labor waters down the laws, it would be inviting criminal bikie thugs to ride again.

The laws, meanwhile, are the envy of crimefighters not only in Australia but in Asia, New Zealand and the US.

A new set of crime figures confirms the success of the bikie crackdown, which began in October 2013 when Deputy Commissioner Brett Pointing set up Operation Resolute.

Today I can reveal 2214 -offenders have been arrested throughout the state on 6439 charges since the start of Operation Resolute and up until the close of the -financial year on Tuesday.

It's a stunning result and Pointing and his team deserve special commendations.

Taskforce Maxima alone has arrested 1154 bikies or their associates on 3341 charges. The offences included the most serious drug offences, including trafficking, assault, extortion and money-laundering charges.

Although the laws are working well, D'Ath has the gall to criticise the LNP for installing them. She announced an inquiry to be headed by -retired -Supreme Court judge Alan Wilson.

Interestingly, the VLAD laws and the association laws were an extension of tough anti-gang laws first proposed by Anna Bligh's Labor government.

In the most serious cases under the new laws, 156 criminal bikies face 477 charges.

These include 42 charges relating to known gang members assembling three or more in public, six charges of entering a proscribed bikie clubhouse, and 12 charges of entering licensed premises with club colours.

Previously, bikies wore club colours as a way of in-timidating club and restaurant owners and their patrons, Taskforce Maxima Comman-der Mick Niland said.

The laws have worked best on the Gold Coast. Pointing praised the efforts of Super-intendent Jim Keogh and the head of the RAP, the Gold Coast's Rapid Action Patrol Group.

Pointing said the arrests on the Coast had been stunning, with 7175 arrests on 10,311 charges. He said: "The role of RAP was to conduct high--visibility policing on the Gold Coast and to rid the Gold Coast of street violence and gang violence."

He said the streets had been "returned to the public" and the Gold Coast was now "a safer place to live, work and visit". This week Pointing ended his anti-gang involvement, handing control of Taskforce Maxima to the state's crime command under Deputy Commissioner Ross Barnett. Keogh will leave the Gold Coast for a new role in Brisbane.

Niland says Taskforce Maxima remains committed to curbing bikie crime.  "One of the most pleasing things is that more than 300 outlaw motorcycle gang members have disassociated, or quit clubs," he said.

Niland's team had a major breakthrough last week when it smashed a lucrative ice trafficking ring allegedly turning over about $1 million a week being run by senior Queensland Mongols outlaw motorcycle gang members.

Detectives will allege each of the 10 current and former Mongols charged were trafficking up to $100,000 of the drug every week. That works out to be combined turnover of about $4 million a month, with gang members allegedly raking in about $28 million in just seven months.

Shadow attorney-general Ian Walker said the Palas-zczuk Government seemed to be setting the stage for softer gang laws.  One of the inquiry's terms of reference seeks "to advise how best to repeal, or replace by substantial amendment, the 2013 legislation".

Walker feared the inquiry was a "closed shop with a pre-determined outcome". He added: "The taskforce must consult academics, experts, law-enforcement agencies, the Government and people who claim to have been specifically affected by the laws - but is not required to hear from ordinary Queenslanders who, with reason, feel safer in their homes and on the streets with this legislation in place.

"The LNP always planned to review this legislation three years into its operation - we intended a fair process looking at how effective the laws were and whether any reasonable changes needed to be made.

"A review of that sort would have been welcome - but this taskforce has already been told to `get on its bike' and give the Government the result that it wants."


Australia gets a border force

The Australian Border Force Act took effect on Thursday, creating a new body that merges the frontline operations of the Immigration Department and Customs. In the words of Prime Minister Tony Abbott, it will "ensure the legitimate passage of people and goods through our borders while preventing all illegal passage".

Perhaps most controversially, the Australian Border Force Act includes new guidelines for how its staff must conduct themselves – with a heavy focus on secrecy. It says those "entrusted" within the Border Force regime – including doctors, teachers and social workers employed in detention centres – could face two years' jail if they disclose confidential information.

Under the changes, which were supported by the Labor opposition, a professional who works in an immigration facility can speak out only if they have been given departmental approval.

What has been the response?

Doctors, nurses, teachers and contractors who work in immigration facilities expressed their outrage. In an open letter to Mr Abbott, Immigration Minister Peter Dutton and Opposition Leader Bill Shorten, more than 40 former detention centre workers challenged authorities to prosecute them for publicly discussing conditions in centres.

Mr Dutton responded that their claims were inaccurate, and that contractors would still be able to speak out about the conditions under the Public Interest Disclosure Act. That act says a public interest disclosure can be made only if a person believes that there is "substantial and imminent danger to health, safety or the environment".

Mr Dutton says the controversial bit of the new border force act will protect "sensitive operational information from unauthorised disclosure", but that it will not restrict anyone's ability to raise genuine concerns about conditions in detention should they wish to do so through "appropriate channels".

Last year, former immigration minister Scott Morrison used Section 70 of the Crimes Act to refer a number of Save the Children staff working on Nauru to the Australian Federal Police, essentially for leaking information. The staff were cleared of the allegations by an inquiry long after they had been removed from the island. This strategy is something that could be easily used against immigration and contractor staff under the news laws.

Why has Mr Abbott brought in a border force commissioner?

As described by the government, the Australian Border Force has been introduced to protect and secure Australia's borders. Many commentators believe it has been modelled on the US Department of Homeland Security. They say it is militarising immigration, and pushing the Immigration Department far from its role of resettling refugees.

In a recent press statement, Mr Dutton said the border force would undertake "operational responsibilities". They include intercepting prohibited imports at the border, immigration compliance and "maintaining the good order of Australia's detention facilities".

What will the commissioner do, and who will he replace?

Commissioner Quaedvlieg was previously the head of Customs. Mr Pezzullo will remain as the secretary of the Immigration and Border Protection Department and will "work closely" with Mr Quaedvlieg.

Mr Quaedvlieg said he would look after the operational side of immigration, including targeting visa overstayers, unscrupulous migration agents, narcotics traffickers, people smugglers and everyone in between.

At a press conference last week, he said that operational security was "paramount" to conducting effective and tactical operations. That meant he would continue the practice of not releasing information about what the government calls "on water matters".

"I don't intend to stray from the current position in relation to operational security in relation to Operation Sovereign Borders," he said.

The Australian Border Force will also work closely with the Australian Federal Police to target national security threats, with dedicated counterterrorism units at Australia's major airports.


Barnaby Joyce warns Asian countries could see Australia as 'decadent' if same-sex marriage legalised

Federal Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce has warned Asian countries could see Australia as "decadent" if moves to legalise same-sex marriage are successful.

Mr Joyce was asked about comments last week by another frontbencher opposed to gay marriage, Eric Abetz, who is the Leader of the Government in the Senate.

Senator Abetz suggested that if Asian countries did not accept same-sex marriage then Australia should not either, pointing to the often-repeated phrase that for Australia this was the Asian century.

"Eric is right in saying where we live economically is south east Asia, that's where our cattle go," Mr Joyce told the ABC's Insiders program.

"When we go there, there are judgments whether you like it or not that are made about us.  "They see us as decadent."

Insiders host Barry Cassidy asked: "So would they see us embracing gay marriage as decadence?"  "I think that in some instances they would, yeah," Mr Joyce replied.

He added he did not believe marriage should be redefined by the legislation.  "I don't think if you go and pass a piece of legislation and say a diamond is a square makes diamonds squares — they're two different things," he said.  "It's not making a value judgement about either."

Mr Joyce went on to say he viewed marriage as "a process that's inherently there for the support of ... or the prospect of ... or the opportunity of children".

"I think that every child has a right, absolute right to know her or his mother and father and also ... should be given the greatest opportunity to know their biological mother and father," Mr Joyce said.

The issue of gay marriage has been back on the agenda, with confirmation last week that Liberal MP Warren Entsch planned to introduce a private member's bill to legalise same-sex marriage, with cross-party sponsorship, when Parliament resumes next month.

Before the last election Prime Minister Tony Abbott promised to allow the Coalition party room to decide if government MPs and senators should be allowed a conscience vote on the issue, which if it was allowed would give the bill a chance of passing.

However last week Mr Abbott played down the chances of the private member's bill being debated and put to a vote.

"It's quite unusual for private member's bills to come on for debate and vote in the Parliament," he said on Thursday.


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