Joel Matherson comments

Posted in: Trump struggles to explain his 'America first' foreign policy See in context

To all the folks around the world who want to tell us in the USA who to vote for, including the author of this misleading appreciation of Trump's speech. Up yours.

Given that you proclaim yourselves to be leaders of the free world without us even having a vote to that effect nor would we ever choose the USA to take on that role, Its only fair we have a say when your leaders are borderline sociopaths chanting scary divisive drivel and actions on foreign policy can directly affect us.

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Posted in: Japan misses out as Australia awards sub contract to France See in context

There appears to be a lot of inaccurate information and misconceptions on the reasons Japan didnt get this submarine contract. First and foremost, appeasing China had zero impact on their decision not to award the contract to Japan. Doubling the size of their submarine fleet is a direct response to China's expansions that the idea of teaming up with Japan would not have offended the Chinese any more than the reasons for obtaining extra submarines in the first place. In fact the Australian government was put under pressure by the US to award the contract to Japan. Even with this pressure, the evaluation panel, that had several American navy Admirals on it, couldnt help but agree the French option was the best deal. As it turned out pressure from the US State Department that America would not allow its weapons and sonar technology in an European designed vessel was withdrawn when President Obama announced it was Australia's sovereign decision and that he would remove that obstacle.

Some here also seem to imply that the Germans lost out too because they also werent prepared to build the submarines in Australia. This is not true. The Germans were the first to offer to build in Australia knowing recognising reactions from the Australian public. Japan’s reluctance to build in Australia was not just because they wanted complete Japanese manufacturing but also because it was worried that certain secret Japanese technologies would be exposed if manufacturing took place in Australia. It didnt help to insult your buyers stating that they werent smart enough to handle the technologies you had on offer. So too for this same reason, some unique technologies werent going to be offered to Australia for fear they may leak out. The French on the other hand were very open and offered their latest silent propulsion technology that only a few nations, and not even China possess.

I can certainly understand the Japanese pride displayed here but what was actually offered in the Japanese bid was simply not that good. It was an ad hock approach modifying an existing model in an attempt to win over the potential buyers. The most very basic of criteria was at very least the new submarine needed to match the range of the old dog subs Australia were wanting to replace. The Japanese offering didnt even meet this simple criteria. The original offering from Japan had smaller living quarters than the old Collins class. Only when it was pointed out this was the case the Japanese offered a enlarged version but it was not an integrated approach just an after thought. The Australians and the Americans are joint developing their own torpedo technologies, the Japanese had doubts it would would even be able to be incorporated into their hull design. The Japanese bid didnt just slightly miss out, it was a resounding last. They misguidedly thought because previous Prime Minister Tony Abbott gave them the nod that that was sufficient and thought they could get away with an inferior product. Tony Abbott was diposed for his "One Man Rule" approach to government and the Australian Parliament and voting public got sick of it and removed him. The new Prime Minister then ensured that a proper competitive tendering process was undertaken and with that competition Japan didnt step up to the task. They simply thought American pressure would be enough but when the Americans backed off they didnt have much hope.

There is much criticism here that Australian manufacturing wont be up to the task. The idea of teaming with a proven submarine parter is to avoid the same pitfalls that befell the Collins Class submarines. The Collins existed on paper only and their reputation foundered while trying to sort out unforeseen bugs in purchasing and then building a complex machine that had prior only been on a plan. The Shortfin Barracuda is a conventionally powered version of a high tech submarine that will be the premier of the French Navy when the first is launched next year. That gives the French ten years to sort our all the bugs and issues before the first of the Australian submarines come into service. All that development and unforeseen problems will all be ironed out without any cost to the Australian build. That's very appealing to Australia after the faltering start with the Collins class. Mentioned here by some is that Australia doesnt have the capacity to produce the length and type of steel required. But thats the point of bringing this project to Australia is so that they can develop this ability. Its not just about building 12 subs and walking away, its about creating new industries in the process. Believe it or not Australia is the fifth largest weapons supplier in the world. They build lots of unique naval ships for many navies around the world including the USA. Introducing new steal technologies wouldn’t just be used for 12 submarines but also expand their ship building capabilities.

This also flows on to the maintenance of the Submarines themselves and the industries associated with that and the need for those to operate these subs till 2060. The Japanese offering had a maximum of a 19 year service life, considerably shorter than the 30 years as required by the Australian Navy. It takes so long to design tender and build these things they have to have a long life. The Japanese couldn’t offer the long term service and supply of hardware for such a long period. The French Submarines have special hatches to facilitate total upgradability throughout the long life of the submarine. The Japanese had compatibility issues with how to modify it and how Australians were going to maintain the thing long after Mitsubishi had walked away. The French on the other hand made a 50 year commitment. Which would be easy for them as long after they have moved onto another class of submarines they will have a steady parts supply as Australia will probably still be operating this fleet of their early designs. This type of arrangement was seen in Australia's F-111 fleet they were kept running longer there than in the USA and the Americans offered them an abundance of cheap parts. Given the Japanese haven’t had any major weapons export of this type it was impossible to tell what long term commitment Japan would really deliver.

I think Australia should be applauded for getting the most sophisticated conventional submarines in the world and not caving into foreign governments and special interest groups and bringing some of the employment and new technologies to their own people to benefit them as well and local industries. Its rare any government does that including Australia. This was a first attempt for Japan so there will be many opportunities to come. When I read the full quotes there was not a 'demand" to know why Japan was not successful in its bid, it was to ask where it faltered so that it may be successful in the future.

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