As the Russian PM Medvedev arrives in Vietnam for a visit, on his agenda will be to seek access to the Vietnamese port Cam Ranh for the Russian Navy. Vietnam is already an important export market for Russian arms.
The satellite launch company Sea Launch, which launches satellites on rockets from a mobile sea platform that have its main land service base in San Diego in California, is contemplating to move its operations to Cam Ranh. Sea Launch is majority owned by the Russian company Energia since emerging from bankruptcy in 2010.
Russia currently only has one naval base on foreign soil, Tartus in Syria, which is under threat from the civil war in Syria. In addition to Vietnam, Russia is in talks with Cuba and the Seychelles on establishing bases for its navy.
The German subsidiary of European missile systems company MBDA has developed a solid-state laser weapon with an output of 40 kW. The purpose of the weapon is to take down airborne mortar shells and is claimed to have cut through 40 mm-thick steel plates “in a few seconds”.
Germany’s new laser gun
MBDA is owned by European aerospace and defense giants BAE Systems, EADS and Finmeccanica. BAE Systems and EADS have proposed a merger recently.
MBDA’s laser gun is said to be ahead of its US competitors who have only managed a 25 kW laser zap-gun so far.
The Royal Australian Navy is looking to replace its fleet of submarines currently consisting of 6 Collins-class submarines. The Collins-class is an enlarged version of Swedish shipbuilder Kockums’ Västergötland-class, built in Australia between 1990 and 2003 with design and assistance by Kockums. The fleet has been plagued by problems and at times only two submarines have been in active service concurrently.
The Collins-class submarines are due to exit service around 2025 and Australia are looking to buy up to 12 replacement ships according to a 2009 defence report. The Australian government has ruled out nuclear propulsion and have short-listed a number of conventional European off-the-shelf options. In the running are Spanish S-80 class, the French-Spanish designed Scorpène class, the German-designed Type 214, and Japan’s Sōryū class. A decision on the design should be taken before 2013 with construction to start in 2016.
One of six Collins-class submarines currently in service