Sunday, 7 December 2014

Australian Navy integreating itself in the US Navy

Australia has been aligning itself with the Unites States ever since World War 2. The latest developments and acquisitions by the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) will further integrate the RAN with the United States Navy (USN).

Among the latest acquirements of the RAN the following weapon systems can be found: The SM-6 missile, the F-35B aircraft and the AEGIS system. This means that the RAN will not only operate the same weapons as the USN but also have the same control systems to operate these weapons. This allows the RAN to integrate its naval forces quickly in any USN task force. US naval commanders can immediately calculate the extra fighting power the RAN brings to their task forces and make a correct assessment of its offensive and defensive capabilities.
Hobart class destroyer: although a copy of the Spanish
Alvaro de Bazan class frigate it will be equiped with
United States weapons

The acquisition of the F-35B deserves a special note. A new concept in the US Navy, called NIF-CA (Naval Integrated Fires-Counter-Air), will also become available to the RAN. NIF-CA is a special set up that gathers all data by every sensor the fleet or task force can deploy and shares this integrated picture with all users. The F-35B plays a key role in the NIF-CA. Every plane will act as a sensor and they all share their information over the same network. Commanders thus get a far better integrated picture of what is out there. This translates itself in a better situational awareness and deployment of weapon systems.
Just as the F-35B the SM-6 missile plays a key part in the NIF-CA concept. The SM-6 is designed to operate beyond the radar horizon of the ship that fires the missile. It is steered by data link towards the area it needs to be deployed and can use its own active seeker in the last phase of the attack. This can only be done in a scenario where the firing ship has a clear situation awareness and receives information of sensors deployed beyond its own sensor horizon.
The F-35B and SM-6 missile therefor allow the RAN to not only integrate themselves in the US Navy but also to deploy themselves in the new NIF-CA concept.

The most important fact of the RAN capable in joining the NIF-CA concept is that it gives the RAN an edge when confronting the Chinese Navy (PLAN). As the PLAN can bring more planes and ships to any theatre of operations the RAN needs do deploy itself very carefully and use quality to beat the Chinese quantity. NIF-CA allows ships and task forces to have a far better situational awareness then other naval task forces. Every F-35B acts as both a sensor and a node in the network so the loss of several F-35Bs will not have a dramatic impact on the situational awareness as long as other F-35Bs can cover the area. A better situational awareness over greater distances and being able to deploy weapons beyond the ships radar horizon, thanks to the network provided by NIF-CA, allows the RAN to detect and engage the PLAN long before the PLAN can even detect, let alone shoot back at, the RAN.

By integrating themselves with the US Navy in both weapon systems as well as the new NIF-CA concept the RAN is capable to create a capable deterrence against the PLAN, whom is viewed as the most destabilizing force in the Pacific over the next years.

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