29 February 2012

News Story: Tokyo May Cancel Order for U.S. Combat Jets if Price Rises

RIA NovostiF-35 Lightning IITokyo May Cancel Order for U.S. Combat Jets if Price Rises
15:57 29/02/2012 Japan may cancel its order to buy 42 U.S.-made F-35 Lightning II stealth combat aircraft if prices grow or delivery is delayed, the Kyodo News Agency said on Wednesday.> Read the full story HERE <

AUS: Preferred tenderer announced for Anzac frigate maintenance

HMAS Perth (ANZAC Class)

A $300 million maintenance and repair contract for the Anzac Class Frigates will be negotiated with Naval Ship Management Australia, following their selection as preferred tenderer.

Minister for Defence Materiel Senator Kim Carr said the new five-year contract was expected to provide better outcomes for industry and more effective, value for money outcomes for the Navy.

“In June of last year my predecessor Minister Jason Clare announced the Government’s intention to reform the naval ship repair sector – commencing with the release of the tender for the repair and maintenance of the Navy’s eight Anzac Class frigates,” Senator Carr said.

“I am pleased to announce the outcome of the Tender evaluation. I congratulate Naval Ship Management Australia, a joint venture of Babcock Australia and United Group Infrastructure, for being selected as the preferred tenderer.”

Senator Carr said the announcement follows extensive consultation with industry on a new approach to contracts for repair and maintenance work.

“In contrast to the previous arrangements which required every new maintenance activity to be individually contracted out, the grouping of ship repair and maintenance tasks offers the potential for significant cost savings. 

“These savings are achieved through reductions in contracting activity, greater ability to forecast work effort, and productivity gains through greater investment in workforce skills and infrastructure.

“This initiative will provide industry with the predictability, certainty and stability that it needs to achieve efficiencies and provide job security for, and investment in, its workforce.

“This new contracting approach is good for industry, it is good for job security and development, it is good for Navy, and it is good for Australian taxpayers who rightly demand maximum efficiency from every dollar spent on Australia’s defence.”

Contract negotiations are expected to be finalised by June 2012.

AUS: Afghan and Australian Special Forces maintain pressure on insurgents

The Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) and Special Operations Task Group (SOTG) have continued operations against insurgent networks in Uruzgan Province throughout the winter period in Afghanistan.

ANSF and SOTG partnered operations have removed five insurgent commanders from Uruzgan Province over a period of six weeks during what is traditionally a time of lower activity.

Commander of Joint Task Force 633 Major General Stuart Smith said these operations had degraded the insurgents’ ability to carry out attacks within Uruzgan.

“These are key leaders within the insurgent network that operates throughout Uruzgan and they are believed to be responsible for the facilitation and placement of Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) and for attacks on ANSF, coalition and Australian troops,” Major General Smith said.

“The SOTG has therefore made a major contribution in support of the overall mission of preparing the Afghans to assume security responsibilities in Uruzgan.”

US Trooper in Afghan Poppy field
Throughout these recent operations, the partnered force has also located and destroyed large quantities of IED materials and drugs including 3750kg of ammonium chloride and 120kg of heroin, 111kg of opium and 150kg of hash.

Commanding Officer of SOTG, Lieutenant Colonel J, said the winter operations had seen remarkable successes.

“The operations conducted by the ANSF and SOTG have targeted the key insurgent leadership, their supplies and their drug trade, effectively reducing their ability to fund and implement their future operations,” Lieutenant Colonel J said.

“Removing five insurgent commanders from Uruzgan Province will not only degrade the insurgents’ capability, it will also improve security for the Afghan people as these IED makers and facilitators are no longer in operation.”

AUS: Defence Minister meets with Brunei’s Deputy Minister for Defence

Today I met with Brunei Darussalam’s Deputy Minister for Defence, Dato Paduka Haji Mustappa bin Haji Sirat.

Deputy Minister Mustappa is in Australia for a formal bilateral visit. We last met at the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore in June 2011.

We discussed our positive bilateral Defence relationship.

Bilateral Defence cooperation activities include exercises, training and personnel exchanges.

Army and Navy conduct regular bilateral exercises with Brunei and military personnel from Brunei observe large-scale exercises in Australia.

A number of Bruneian military personnel have trained in Australia. This year, the first Australian student will study at the Royal Brunei Armed Forces Command and Staff College.

In recognition of our friendly bilateral defence relationship, the Australian Defence Force in 2011 participated in the Royal Brunei Armed Forces Golden Jubilee celebrations, including the Brunei International Tattoo and the inaugural Fleet Review.

We also discussed Brunei’s preparations to Chair ASEAN in 2013.

Australia will work closely with Brunei in the lead up to its chairing of the Defence Ministers’ Meeting Plus (ADMM-Plus) in 2013. The ADMM-Plus is an important regional forum focused on practical cooperation on security issues, including maritime security, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief.

Minister Mustappa and I agreed that the ADMM-Plus is and should be promoted as an important vehicle for advancing regional security and cooperation.

We discussed the important work being undertaken by the ADMM-Plus Expert Working Groups. I thanked Brunei for its contribution to the Expert Working Group on maritime security, which Australia co-chairs with Malaysia.

This morning, Deputy Minister Mustappa and I laid a wreath on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at the Australian War Memorial to commemorate the 1945 Battle for North Borneo (now Brunei and Sabah, Malaysia). 114 Australian military personnel died in Operation Oboe Six, which resulted in the liberation of North Borneo from Japanese occupation.

USA: Asia-Pacific Shift Will Improve Relations, Commander Says

By Lisa Daniel
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Feb. 28, 2012 – The Defense Department’s new strategic shift toward the Asia-Pacific region will solidify longstanding partnerships, build on newer ones, and allow the military to address security challenges in the area, the commander of U. S. Pacific Command said today.
Navy Adm. Robert F. Willard outlined the command’s budget priorities to the Senate Armed Services Committee. Willard noted it was his last planned testimony before the committee before his impending retirement.
The Pacom region covers half the globe, including 36 nations, and contains most of the world’s great national powers, Willard noted. The U.S. military has five strong partners in the area – Australia, Japan, South Korea, the Philippines and Thailand – and is advancing important relations in India and throughout Southeast Asia, he said.
As evidenced by Pacom’s March 2011 response to the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear meltdown in Japan, Willard said, the command’s close cooperation with its partners, as well as its interoperable military systems, make it a quick and solid reaction force in the most difficult situations.
North Korea continues to threaten stability in the Asia-Pacific region, and there is no indication that its new leader, Kim Jong Un, will break from the totalitarian leadership of his deceased father, Kim Jong Il, Willard said. “He is a Kim,” surrounded by the guidance of older relatives, he added.
Meanwhile, China “continues to be a challenge at many levels,” the admiral said. Military-to-military relations “are not what they should be” with China, although they are progressing, he said. China’s army “is advancing capabilities at an impressive rate,” he said, and continues to challenge other Pacific nations in the sea, air and space.
“It’s growth unabated,” he said. “They continue to grow capabilities in virtually all areas.”
There has been increasing demand from Asia-Pacific nations for the U.S. military to reposition itself there after pulling away during 10 years of war in Iraq and Afghanistan, Willard said. While U.S. air and sea power stayed relatively stable, he said, ground forces were reduced by 10 percent.
“The amount of encouragement that has come from virtually all actors in the region for U.S. staying power and increased engagement in the region was the perception in the past decade that our presence was diminished,” he said. “That refrain has not stopped.”
Asia-Pacific nations broadly recognize that the U.S. military will downsize after 10 years of war, as it historically has done, and that the country’s debt and deficit problems will affect the amount of resources it can devote to the region, the admiral said.
Willard also said he is not concerned about a drawdown of aircraft and other assets, because the recommendations were built on sound military strategy. That said, he added, military leaders must keep a watchful eye that the repositioning remains in keeping with operational needs.
One of many needs of the U.S. military in the Pacific region is maritime security and access, Willard said. About $5.3 trillion in commerce flows through the South China Sea -- much of it belonging to the United States – and at least six Asian nations struggle to control it, said he noted.
“What makes China unique is that they’ve laid claim to virtually all of” the maritime routes around Asia, and continue to challenge military and commercial ships, Willard added.
Still, he added, even as power struggles ensue, particularly in Southeast Asia, “from a regional, economic standpoint, China’s rise has benefitted us all.” China is the No. 1 trading part of most of the Pacific nations, he said.
An increasing U.S. presence in the Asia-Pacific region is not just about the economy, but also about the growth of democracies there, the admiral said. “There are a lot of U.S. values that are highly regarded in the region, and our form of governance is one of them,” he said.
The admiral said he is aware of a proposal to put one of three pre-positioned Marine Corps squadrons in the Pacific on decreased readiness status, but said they will not be on Guam or Diego Garcia. The 2012 National Defense Authorization Act requires the Marine Corps commandant and secretary of defense to certify that the change will not affect readiness.
He also said the United States is at a disadvantage by not signing on to the Convention on the Law of the Sea Treaty. Willard noted that the United States has adhered to the legal framework of the treaty since 1994, and believes that elements of the convention, namely commercial provisions, that caused it to be set aside in the 1980s “have all been corrected.”
“This is so important,” he said. “We believe strongly that the United States must have a voice in this and a seat at the table,” noting that China is involved in the process.

RoK: (South) Korea and Australia deepens ties on defense logistics

S. Korean and Australian defense ministries had "the 2nd S. Korea-Australia logistics cooperation conference" in Canberra, Australia on Feb. 21 to discuss ways to improve their mutual logistics cooperation.  

Korean Army Maj. Gen. Cheon Dong-un, the director of the Ministry of Defense Logistics Management Department, and his counterpart Australian Air Force Maj. Gen. Margaret Staib had an in-depth discussion of the issue about the need to build and promote the database about whether the two countries can supply their ammunition to each other both in wartime and peacetime. 

This was the second time after 2010 when the S. Korea-Australia Memorandum of Understanding on mutual logistics cooperation was concluded. In this meeting, the two generals had a time to understand each other's logistics system and policy. They also exchanged opinions on ways to use their equipment and supplies in common and to improve the efficiency of their defense logistics management including equipment substantiality. 

"This conference helped the two sides seek ways to enhance the efficiency of the management of military supplies and to promote the bilateral logistics cooperation," a Korean Defence official said

News Story: Indian MoD approves eight LCA Tejas for Navy

NEW DELHI (PTI): The Defence Ministry has given its approval for production of eight Tejas Light Combat Aircraft for the Indian Navy's indigenous aircraft carrier, which is currently under construction.

The nod to the Naval LCA programme was accorded by the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) headed by Defence Minister A K Antony on Friday last week, Ministry officials told reporters here.

Read the full story at Brahmand

News Story: US concerned over Chinese growing military might

WASHINGTON (PTI): Senior American lawmakers and a top naval commander have expressed concern over the growing Chinese military might in the Asia Pacific region, underlining that the countries in the region are worried about it.

At a Congressional hearing, the lawmakers and Commander of the US Pacific Command also expressed concern over China's exploitation of cyberspace for military and non-military purposes.

"China's growing presence and influence in Asia, and the opportunities and uncertainties that have resulted from it pose the greatest test for USPACOM among its seven challenge areas," said Admiral Robert Willard, Commander of the US Pacific Command.

Read the full story at Brahmand

News Story: US, Indian troops take part in 'Yudh Abhyas' exercise

NEW DELHI (PTI): Over 200 troops of the US Army along with their armoured vehicles will engage an equal number of Indian troops in military drills in Rajasthan deserts during the two-week exercise starting next Monday.

During the 'Yudh Abhyas' exercise, the American troops will also get a "colourful experience" of Holi as part of the cultural exchange between the two sides, Army officials said.

Read the full story at Brahmand

News Story: Indian Navy is to Purchase 9 (Maritime) Reconnaissance Aircraft

Indian Government permitted national navy to buy nine mid-range reconnaissance airplanes to overall amount of $1 bln. According to The Times of India, new airplanes will maintain India's security over the Indian Ocean along with earlier ordered P-8I Poseidon long-range reconnaissance airplanes produced by Boeing. 

The tender for mid-range recon aircraft will be attended by American Boeing and Lockheed Martin, Swedish Saab, French Dassault Aviation, Brazilian Embraer, and European concern EADS, reports The Times of India. Possible date of the contract signing was not mentioned.

Read the full story at RusNavy

Editorial: Singapore’s Populist Budget

By Mong Palatino

Singapore’s ruling People’s Action Party, which has been in power since the 1950s, has been accused of populism by its critics following the presentation of the 2012 state budget. According to the opposition, the budget contains several expenditure items that reflect the desperation of the PAP to regain the trust of voters and party supporters who have expressed dissatisfaction with its traditional brand of leadership.
But PAP could defend the populist measures as concrete proof that the government is willing to try new ideas when necessary to ease the hardships suffered by ordinary Singaporeans. Indeed, PAP could argue that it's not at all wrong for any government to draft a budget program that seeks to build a fair and inclusive society. It can cite, for example, the cash incentives to seniors, the support programs for persons with disabilities, and the subsidies for low-income families as targeted measures to extend emergency assistance to vulnerable groups in society. For a party accused of being indifferent to the situation of its citizens, these “shock and awe” populist measures represent a welcome and refreshing change in the mindset of the party's ageing leadership.

Read the full story at The Diplomat

Editorial: (China & India) Yang Comes Calling

By Rajeev Sharma

India and China are working to forge stronger economic ties, but political-strategic issues remain. It’s against this backdrop that Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi will be arriving in New Delhi on Wednesday on a two-day official visit. Yang’s trip will provide a good opportunity for both sides to try to iron out their differences at a time when the global economic outlook is cloudy, international oil prices are rising, and the Iran crisis is worsening.

The External Affairs Ministry announced Tuesday that Yang’s India visit is part of the mutually agreed mechanism of annual exchanges at the level of foreign minister. Yang will hold formal talks with Indian External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna on a wide range of bilateral, regional and global issues. Both ministers will also hold discussions on the forthcoming BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa) summit to be held in New Delhi on March 28 to 29. Yang would also be calling on Prime Minister Manmohan Singh
Read the full story at The Diplomat

Editorial: The Danger of Patriotic Geeks

By Adam Segal

Governments in Asia may see patriotic hackers as the answer to their cyber vulnerabilities. But cyber militias will likely only destabilize the region.

When people warn of growing cyber insecurity they are often referring to the threat of an arms race, countries trying to outdo each other in the development of offensive weapons and defensive technologies. This is certainly a real risk, but the greater threat to Asian regional stability may not be from technology, but the spread of an organizational framework.
Keio University Prof. Motohiro Tsuchiya has written a commentary suggesting that Japan needs to establish a cyber militia in order to defend itself from attacks. Offense will always have the upper hand over defense, Tsuchiya argues, so the government will always struggle to keep up. The majority of expertise is in the private sector, and government salaries will never be competitive enough to attract and retain the talent needed. What can Japan do but appeal to patriotism? “Success hinges on whether the government can secure patriotic geeks.”
Read the full story at The Diplomat

28 February 2012

Sri Lanka: Sri Lanka Navy hosts the Indian Ocean Naval Symposium (IONS) Operational Issues Workshop

Sri Lanka Navy hosts the Indian Ocean Naval Symposium (IONS) Operational Issues Workshop attended by representatives from 14 countries. Conducted under the theme of “Enhancing Operational Efficiency through Sharing of Information and Coordination”, the workshop will be held at the Galadari Hotel in Colombo from 28th to 29th February 2012.

The Indian Ocean Naval Symposium was launched in 2008 as a regional maritime security initiative in recognition of the centrality of 'Constructive Engagement' as the primary means of achieving and assuring mutually beneficial maritime security, stability, safety, and consequent collective prosperity amongst all littoral states of the Indian Ocean Region (IOR). It provides a regional forum through which the 'Chiefs-of-Navy' of all the littoral states of the IOR can periodically meet to constructively engage one another through the creation and promotion of regionally relevant mechanisms, events and activities.

Sri Lanka Navy, which extends its unstinting support for IONS, is showing its commitment to maintain the regional momentum generated through the regional maritime security initiative alive by hosting the operational workshop, which is expected to enhance Maritime Security and Freedom of the Sea.

The Operational Issues Workshop held in Colombo will provide an opportunity for member Nations to raise issues relevant to Maritime Domain Awareness and sharing of information with a view to achieve better coordination and enhance the operational capability of all entities involved in Maritime Security Operations in the Indian Ocean region. It will be an opportunity to increase the mutual understanding of Maritime Security issues and the related operational concerns. It will also be a forum to discuss and make recommendation for the enhancement of Domain Awareness and information sharing to overcome the Operational Limitations of everyone involved in day to day management of maritime security of the member Nations.

Singapore: Singapore and Malaysian Navies Conduct Bilateral Maritime Exercise

Formidable class (Wiki Info)

The Republic of Singapore Navy (RSN) and the Royal Malaysian Navy (RMN) are conducting Exercise Malapura, a bilateral maritime exercise, from 27 Feb to 7 Mar 2012. Singapore is hosting this year's exercise, the 22nd in the series held since 1984. RSN Fleet Commander, Rear-Admiral Lai Chung Han and RMN Fleet Operations Commander, Vice Admiral Dato’ Wira Jamil bin Hj Osman officiated at the opening ceremony held at Changi Naval Base (CNB) today.

Read the full story at MINDEF


United States Ambassador to Australia, Jeffrey Bleich, and US Consul General in Perth, Aleisha Woodward, today visited Austal’s Henderson facility. There they met with Austal’s Chairman John Rothwell after touring the facility where the designs for the US Navy’s Independence-variant Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) and Joint High Speed Vessel (JHSV) were principally developed.

Austal has established strong ties with the US Government through its operations in Mobile, Alabama over the past 13 years and involvement in the LCS and JHSV programs for the US Navy.

Commenting during his visit Ambassador Bleich said: “The impressive facilities and capability at the Henderson shipyard demonstrates Austal’s ability to provide innovative solutions that meet the requirements of the US Navy.”

“Austal’s significant contribution in shaping the future US Navy fleet through the LCS and JHSV programs highlights the strong partnership between Australia and the United States.”

The JHSV Program will provide high speed, shallow draft transportation capability to support the intra-theatre manoeuvre of personnel, supplies and equipment for the US Navy, Army and Marine Corps. As prime contractor, Austal was awarded the construction contract for the first 103 metre JHSV in November 2008 and now has contracts for a further eight ships including two announced just prior to the Ambassador’s visit. The 10 ship program is potentially worth over US$1.6 billion dollars.

The LCS program began in 2002 with the US Navy’s pursuit of a new class of up to 55 ships with multi-mission capability. The LCS is a versatile, networked, agile, surface combatant capable of defeating anti-access and asymmetric threats in the littorals. Following the award of contracts to design and build two Independence-class LCSs as part of the General Dynamics LCS team, Austal is now the prime contractor for a follow-on 10-ship LCS program, potentially worth over $3.6 billion.

Austal recently celebrated its 13-year anniversary of US operations. In that time it has grown into one of southern Alabama’s largest employers with over 2,400 employees on staff hailing from the Mobile Area, Mississippi, Florida, and beyond. Under the current workload, Austal expects to employ over 4,000 Americans in its US operation by the end of 2013. Ships for both US Navy programs are built at the US facility.

News Story: South Korea, US begin military exercise

SEOUL (AFP): South Korea and the United States on Monday began a major military exercise, a Seoul spokesman said, despite North Korea's threats of possible retaliation.

A spokesman for the Joint Chiefs of Staff said the annual 'Key Resolve' drill had started but gave no details. The computerised command post exercise will continue until March 9.

The North's National Defence Commission has denounced the annual drill -- which will be followed by joint air, ground and naval field training exercise 'Foal Eagle' from March 1 to April 30 -- as a "silent declaration of war".

Read the full story at Brahmand

News Story: India Army to hold largest exercise in Rajasthan

NEW DELHI (PTI): Indian Army will deploy more than 200 tanks and over 20,000 troops in border state of Rajasthan for one of its biggest-ever wargames -- 'Shoorveer', beginning next month, involving its elite 1 Strike Corps and 10 Corps under the Jaipur-based South Western Command.

The wargame comes a few months after the Army held exercise 'Sudarshan Shakti' in Pokharan to validate its new battle-fighting concepts developed after the transformation studies carried under Gen V K Singh.

"The Army will be conducting an exercise in Rajasthan from March to May 2012

Read the full story at Brahmand

News Story: Alenia Warns U.S. Over C-27J Sales

C-27J Spartan


Marcus Weisgerber in Washington and Tom Kington in Rome contributed to this report.

SINGAPORE — In what analysts see as an unprecedented move, Alenia Aermacchi, the Italian maker of the C-27J, is warning the U.S. government that it will refuse to support the aircraft it sold to the United States if the U.S. resells them to other nations.

The move caught some U.S. officials by surprise and threatens to undermine American efforts to resell the planes on the international market, most likely to Australia, Canada or Taiwan.

Read the full & involved story at DefenseNews

Editorial: (Philippines) Between a Dragon and an Eagle

By Javad Heydarian

Philippine politics couldn’t be more fascinating or discordant. Recent months have witnessed open legal warfare between the Benigno Aquino administration and its allies in the legislature, on the one hand, and the judiciary, on the other. The ongoing impeachment trial in the Philippine Senate against Chief Justice Renato Corona is part of an attempt by the government to purge allies of former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo from all key state institutions and eliminate widespread corruption in the bureaucracy.

However, intra-state bickering has spread to other issue areas as well. Thanks to escalating tensions in the South China Sea, and growing calls for a more robust Philippine-U.S. military partnership as America pivots to Asia, there seems to be a new front in the making.
Read the full story at The Diplomat

Editorial: Why U.S., China Destined to Clash

Chairman Mao & President Nixon


By Minxin Pei

Forty years after Nixon’s extraordinary visit to China, a clash of political systems exists that not even shared economic interests can mask.

Few geopolitical events in the 20thcentury could compare to Richard Nixon’s historic visit to China 40 years ago. Today, the “week that changed the world” is chiefly remembered as a bold gamble in diplomatic revolution that paid off handsomely for the American president and the United States. Even more obvious today, however, is that the Nixon visit started a process that eventually ended China’s self-imposed isolation and paved the way for the Middle Kingdom’s re-emergence as a great power. Over the last 40 years, China has gained far more than the United States from the Sino-American strategic rapprochement.

Read the full story at The Diplomat

27 February 2012

News Story: BrahMos plans to conduct research on hypersonic missiles with NIT-Tiruchi

TIRUCHI (PTI): BrahMos Aerospace plans to take up collaborative research work with educational institutions, including the National Institute of Technology here, for development of hypersonic version of BRAHMOS missiles.

BrahMos was roping in various academic and industrial institutions across the country for research on suitable robotics, sensitive materials and others required for the hypersonic missiles, its CEO and MD Dr. A. Sivathanu Pillai said.

BrahMos Aerospace is an Indo-Russian joint venture producing BRAHMOS supersonic cruise missiles.

Read the full story at Brahmand

News Story: First flight of UAV Rustom-2 scheduled in Feb. 2014

Model of the Rustom-H HALE (Wiki)

BANGALORE (PTI): The first flight test of indigenously developed UAV Rustom-2, set to be used solely for defence purposes, would take place in February 2014, a top Aeronautical Development Establishment official has said. 

"Designing of Rustom-2 has been completed, purchase orders have been placed and we are on schedule to fly for the first time in February 2014," ADE Director P S Krishnan told reporters Wednesday.

Read the full story at Brahmand

News Story: Drone Makers Cashing in as War Tactics Evolve

IAI Heron (Wiki Info)

SINGAPORE — They are deadly, hard to detect and fast becoming one of the most sought-after weapons in the air defense industry.

Global demand for unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), better known as drones, is heating up as armed forces invest in new systems to boost their ability to carry out reconnaissance and strikes without putting soldiers’ lives in danger.

Propelled by a rise in Asian defense budgets, annual global spending on UAVs is forecast to almost double from the current $5.9 billion to $11.3 billion over the next decade, according to U.S.-based defense research firm Teal Group. The Asia Pacific is the second largest buyer after the United States.

“Almost every country in the region is trying to get their hands on drones or develop their own ... Thailand, India, Singapore, Japan, Australia, Korea,” said Jon Grevatt of IHS Jane’s Defence Weekly.

Read the full story at DefenseNews

25 February 2012

USA: Assistant Secretary Kurt Campbell's Travel to New Zealand and Australia

Assistant Secretary for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Kurt M. Campbell will travel to New Zealand and Australia February 27 – March 2, 2012.

In Wellington February 29, he will meet with Foreign Minister Murray McCully and other senior New Zealand Government officials.

In Canberra March 1, he will meet with senior officials in the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and the Department of Defence.

Assistant Secretary Campbell will depart Australia for Washington, D.C. on March 2.

News Story: Sikorsky puts in bid to supply 16 choppers

S-92 (File Photo)

Sikorsky Aircraft Corp, the US helicopter producer known for its Black Hawk make, is seeking to expand its market in Thailand by putting a bid to supply aircraft for the kingdom's first dedicated search and rescue operation.

The Connecticut-based company will contest in a competitive international bid to be issued next week by the Royal Thai Air Force (RTAF) to deliver up to 16 helicopters for SAR missions in a transaction that could reach a value of more than US$320 million (9.8 billion baht).

Sikorsky will pitch its S-92, the larger advanced utility which can carry up to 19 passengers in airline-style configuration, against other bidders in the RTAF contest, Daniel Zsebik, Sikorsky's director for sales in Asia, told the Bangkok Post in Bangkok.

Read the full story at the Bangkok Post

News Story: Sukumpol presses ahead with U-boats plan

Defence Minister Sukumpol Suwanatat wants to submit the navy's proposals to buy second-hand submarines to the cabinet next week.

However, he said he was unsure whether they will be submitted in time for the cabinet meeting on Tuesday.

The minister said a few more days are needed to discuss the proposals before they can be forwarded to the cabinet.

ACM Sukumpol said it was a race against time as Germany, which makes the submarines, has given the government until the end of the month to decide whether to buy them or not.

ACM Sukumpol says he supports the navy's position that it needs the submarines to fulfil its maritime defence missions.

Read the full story at the Bangkok Post

News Story: N Korea develops new long-range artillery

SEOUL (AFP): North Korea has developed new multiple rocket-launchers with an effective range of 170 kilometres, based on Chinese and Russian technology, a report has said. 

The new weapons are capable of firing three-metre rockets guided by a Russian GPS device, Seoul's JoongAng Ilbo newspaper reported.

Read the full story at Brahmand

Editorial: How to Boost Bangladesh Ties

By Tridivesh Singh Maini

On numerous occasions, India has failed to seize opportunities to mend relations with its neighbors, largely due to the inability of the political leadership to stand up to domestic political pressure. One clear example was India’s inability to convert the personal rapport between Pakistani President Gen. Pervez Musharraf and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

More recently, Bangladeshi Premier Sheikh Hasina has been attempting to cement a cordial relationship with India, and has at times annoyed hardliners in her own country who accuse her of selling out to Indian demands. However, India hasn’t been able to reciprocate. Indeed, there was an embarrassing moment for New Delhi when West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee refused to accompany Singh on his Bangladesh visit last year.
As a consequence of these failures by the government, Indian non-state actors are beginning to play a growing role in forging ties with the outside world. India’s economic prowess and increasing cultural reach have enhanced the confidence of its business community. In the context of India’s neighborhood relations, it isn’t only business groups, NGOs and peace groups that have made valuable contributions toward more harmonious relations. In 2010, the Times Group began “Aman Ki Asha” – a collaborative project between the two largest newspapers in India and Pakistan, The Times of India and Jang respectively.
Read the full story at The Diplomat

Editorial: Indian Military Stepping Up

By Devindra Sethi

Indian Prime Minister Chanakya, in his treatise Arthasastra back in 350 BC, stated that “Economics is the basis of a strong defense” and that the “geography of a nation will determine its history.”  Both seem relevant when considering the diplomatic challenges that India faces today.
While India’s more immediate neighborhood is wracked by coups or near coups (the Maldives, Bangladesh and Pakistan), New Delhi is also under pressure over Iran’s row with the Western world. Throw into the witches’ brew the civil war unfolding in Syria and the attack on Israeli diplomats in New Delhi, Georgia and Bangkok, and it’s clear that India has plenty on its plate to contend with.

Read the full story at The Diplomat