30 September 2012

Editorial: Indonesian Pitch for Disputed Seas

By Luke Hunt

Indonesia is upping the diplomatic ante: by putting the Code of Conduct for dispute resolution in the South China Seas back on the agenda at the United Nations in New York, the country’s leaders have raised the pressure on their regional neighbors while hoping to head off any further embarrassment at the next meeting of ASEAN, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.
ASEAN foreign ministers failed to reach consensus at a meeting in the Cambodian capital Phnom Penh in June about the appropriate way to peacefully resolve disputes between its members over the Spratly and Paracel islands, amid a round of gunboat diplomacy.
The new documents relating to the Code of Conduct are being passed around at the General Assembly in New York by Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa, after President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono urged all parties to the dispute to get on with earnest negotiations and find a legally binding code.

Read the full story at The Diplomat

29 September 2012

USA: Dempsey Releases Concept to Build Joint Force 2020

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Sept. 28, 2012 – At the heart of the Capstone Concept for Joint Operations released today by the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff is an idea called globally integrated operations, which will be used to build and organize Joint Force 2020.

The concept stresses the military’s agility and flexibility as the United States faces unclear and unknown threats in the future.

It is a confusing time, Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey noted in the forward to the concept. While the overall security situation is trending toward greater stability, “destructive technologies are available to a wider and more disparate range of adversaries,” he wrote. “As a result, the world is potentially more dangerous than before.”

To face these varied threats, a globally postured U.S. joint force must be able to quickly combine capabilities -- both U.S. and allied nations -- across “domains, echelons, geographic boundaries and organizational affiliations,” said Marine Corps Lt. Gen. George J. Flynn, the director of Joint Force Development on the Joint Staff. Flynn spoke about the Capstone concept during a recent interview.

A key aspect of the Capstone concept is these networks of forces can “form, evolve, dissolve and reform in different arrangements in time and space with significantly greater fluidity” than today’s force.

Events will happen faster, Flynn said, and the military has to create the ability to operate at “the speed of the challenges.”

There are eight key elements to globally integrated operations. The first is mission command. “This is all about people, it’s all about empowering leaders to be able to operate on trust and on commander’s intent,” Flynn said. This means, he said, developing leaders who understand the environments they are working in, react well to surprise and uncertainty and who can lead transitions.

Another element is to seize, retain and exploit the initiative in time and across domains. “We want to be in position to control the pace of operations or control the tempo,” Flynn said.

The United States will have a smaller force so this is going to rely on partnering, the general said. This means not just partnering with allies, but other U.S. agencies and international agencies.

“Partnering means being able to work with anyone who has a stake,” in the outcomes, Flynn said.

Integrated operations means flexibility, he said. Joint commands can be local or functional or both. “As we look to the future and how we form out joint task forces, this concept says we need to have flexibility in how we do these relationships,” he said. “The chairman sees this document as the lens to see if we are developing the force he needs to do that,” Flynn added.

Globally integrated operations place a premium on partnering, he said. This allows the U.S. military to absorb qualities and capabilities from other agencies, helping to employ the “whole of government” strategy.

Joint forces also must leverage integration to improve capabilities across domains. “What is new today are the cyber and space domains,” the general said. The U.S. military, he said, needs to use capabilities from one domain to increase the advantages it enjoys in these new domains.

Another concept element, he said, involves small-footprint capabilities such as cyber operations, space, special operations, global strike and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance that will play a more important role in the future.

The last element of the concept is joint operations, he said, which will become more and more precise to lessen the risks of unintended consequences.

The Capstone concept will permeate the military from professional military education, to training, to equipping, to mindset, Flynn said.

Last week, Dempsey said that 80 percent of Joint Force 2020 is already in the ranks. The remaining 20 percent that’s being developed must dovetail with the concept, he said, because it will serve as a catalyst for the military.

FREE Download - Capstone Concept (PDF)

USA: Naval Historian Describes U.S. 7th Fleet’s Impact in Asia

By John Valceanu
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Sept. 28, 2012 – The U.S. 7th Fleet has played a key role in American foreign policy and has had a major positive impact in Asia since being stood up during World War II, a historian told an audience of military service members and Defense Department civilian employees at the Pentagon.

Edward J. Marolda, author of “Ready Seapower: A History of the U.S. Seventh Fleet,” outlined the contributions made by the fleet over the past half century. Marolda teaches at Georgetown University and is a former senior historian at the U.S. Naval History and Heritage command. He has authored, coauthored or edited 12 books on U.S. naval history.

“The U.S. 7th Fleet has had a dramatic and lasting influence promoting and protecting U.S. interests in the Far East,” Marolda said. “It’s been a major factor in bringing stability to the region, enabling countries relying on us to prosper economically. By the same token, it’s helped our friends in the region to develop democratic governing systems and universal human rights ideas.”

The historian described the fleet’s trial by fire during its early years in World War II, mainly under the leadership of Vice Adm. Thomas C. Kinkaid. Marolda touched on Kinkaid’s sometimes contentious relationship with Army Gen. Douglas MacArthur, who was the higher-level commander in the South West Pacific Area.

“The most stellar accomplishment of the fleet” in World War II was the Battle of Leyte Gulf, Marolda said, calling it “a key turning point” in the war. The battle took place from Oct. 20 to Dec. 31, 1944, and launched the Allied campaign to recapture the Philippine Archipelago and liberate it from the Japanese.

After World War II, the 7th Fleet became a permanent forward-deployed force based in Asia. Marolda said that presence became an important political presence in the Pacific region, helping to deter aggression among states.

“When all else is quiet, and there are no wars going on, deterrence is still a big part of the mission,” Marolda said. As an example, he cited the China-Taiwan crises of 1954-55, 1958, 1963 and 1995-1996, in which China threatened military action against Taiwan.

“Our naval presence really did stop them from taking any action,” Marolda said. “It gave them pause and cause for caution.”

Marolda quoted Mao Zedong, who led the People’s Republic of China from 1949 to 1976, as saying, “the 7th is the biggest fleet, and it surrounds us.”

In addition to deterrence of aggression, Marolda said the 7th Fleet also helped maintain the freedom of the seas for trade and shipping by suppressing pirates. In doing so, it enabled economic prosperity to flourish.

Allied nations like Japan, South Korea, the Philippines, Australia and New Zealand all benefited from the 7th Fleet’s efforts, he said, as did even the People’s Republic of China, which took advantage of reduced piracy and free seas to expand its international trading activities. The results have been a much more stable region and a proliferation of more democratic governments.

“It has been one of the primary instruments of U.S. foreign policy in Asia,” Marolda said. “Behind the shield of the U.S. Navy, economic and political prosperity were able to occur in the region. By protecting our maritime allies, the fleet was able to counter both Marxist-Leninist and radical Islamist movements.”

Along with deterrence, Marolda said the 7th Fleet used “soft power” to show nations in the region that the U.S. wanted to do the right things and shared in their values. Examples include refugee evacuations, disaster relief and humanitarian operations.

The fleet helped in various ways over the years, including working with North Vietnamese refugees escaping by boat during the Vietnam War and providing disaster relief during the 1991 volcanic eruption of Mount Pinatubo in the Philippines and the 2004 earthquake and tsunami in the Indian Ocean, Marolda said.

Though these are missions for the fleet, the most important reason for its existence is the ability to fight wars, Marolda said, and the 7th is the only U.S. fleet to have been involved in every major conflict since World War II. During the Korean and Vietnam wars, the fleet’s ability to control the sea was critical.

“Both in Korea and Vietnam, naval power was absolutely vital to whatever success we had,” Marolda said, noting that the fleet was able to deny the use of the seas to adversaries, thereby preventing the movement of supplies and personnel.

“We could not have fought those wars the way we did without being able to control the seas,” he said.

Marolda’s book is available for download from the U.S. Navy’s Naval History and Heritage Command site, and it may be purchased in book form through the U.S. Government Printing Office. The presentation was sponsored by the Historical Office of the Office of the Secretary of Defense as part of its History Speaker Series.


Buy Book From - U.S. Government Bookstore

AUS: Promising progress towards hypersonic flight

Test launch from Andoya Range, Norway

DSTO scientists have successfully conducted a test flight of an experimental hypersonic vehicle at the Andoya Rocket Range in Norway.

The test vehicle reached an apogee of 350 km and then achieved speeds of up to Mach 8 on descent in the experimental band which was from 20.5 km to 32 km in altitude.  All sensor and telemetry systems worked perfectly. 

Scientists believe the launch could be a major step forward in the quest for hypersonic flight.

The experimental flight was undertaken as part of a joint research program, HIFiRE (Hypersonic International Flight Research Experimentation), being conducted by DSTO and the US Air Force Research Laboratory. The program is aimed at exploring the fundamental technologies critical to the realisation of sustained hypersonic flight.

This latest launch was the fifth in a series of up to nine planned experimental flights being conducted as part of the HIFiRE program.

Next week, the HIFiRE team will be presented with the prestigious von Karman Award for International Co-operation in Aeronautics at the ICAS Congress in Brisbane.

Sri Lanka: 77 Australia bound Persons intercepted off Thoduwawa seas

Hosted by Flickr - Click to Enlarge

Sri Lanka Navy intercepted 77 persons illegally bound for Australia in a multi-day trawler on 28th September 2012. The trawler named “Nirshani” was intercepted by a Fast Naval Patrol Craft attached to the Western Naval Command 20 nautical miles off Thoduwawa seas.

Among the arrested persons are 61 Tamils, 14 Sinhalese and 02 Muslims that included 75 males, a woman and a child. They are residents of Jaffna, Vavuniya, Batticaloa, Puttlam, Colombo, Udappuwa, Mannar, Chilaw and Kalpitiya. They were escorted to Modara Harbour to be handed over to the CID for further investigations.

News Story: China Rejects Russian Blame for Carrier Snags

RIA NovostiVikramaditya aircraft carrier China Rejects Russian Blame for Carrier Snags
13:49 28/09/2012 China has denied Russian claims that Chinese firebricks were to blame for boiler failures in the Russian-refitted Indian Navy aircraft carrier Vikramaditya, which suffered propulsion problems during sea trials in the Barents Sea last month, local daily Beitsin Chenbao reported, quoting Defense Minister Yan Yujun.> Read the full story HERE <

News Story: China raises stakes in dispute over islands

BEIJING (PTI): Tensions between China and Japan over a group of disputed islands have reached a flashpoint with China saying that it has deployed naval ships around the islets for the first time and slamming Japan for "internationalising" the dispute by raising it at United Nations.

Chinese Defence Ministry spokesman Yang Yujun confirmed on Thursday that Chinese naval ships recently carried out patrolling and military training in waters off the Diaoyu Islands called Senkaku islets by Japan.

The confirmation came in response to Japanese media reports that two Chinese naval frigates were seen navigating waters off the Diaoyu Islands, state-run Xinhua news agency reported.

This is the first time China has deployed naval frigates in the disputed waters. So far, it had been maintaining that it had sent a dozen maritime surveillance ships, akin to Coast Guard.

Read the full story at Brahmand

28 September 2012

Editorial: The Veil Slowly Lifts on North Korea's Nuclear Program

By Axel Berkofsky for the ISN

Recent satellite images suggest that North Korea is modernizing its nuclear facilities. This not only suggests that its determination to acquire nuclear weapons is now irreversible, it may also require the international community to rethink how it entices Pyongyang back to the negotiation table, or so argues Axel Berkofsky.

Does North Korea want the bomb? The answer to this question is ‘most probably yes’, especially if it supports Pyongyang’s commitment to defend the country against ‘US imperialists’ and South Korea’s ‘puppet regime’. Indeed, the most disconcerting evidence to date of North Korea’s determination to develop nuclear weapons came in 2006 and 2009 when it detonated plutonium devices in underground tests. However, more recent reports and satellite imagery suggest that North Korea has made significant progress in the development of its nuclear weapons program over the last 12 – 18 months. Today, North Korea’s new leader, Kim Jong-Un, presides over a program that no longer focuses on graphite moderated reactors and plutonium production, but instead on more complex and sophisticated light water reactors (LWR) and uranium enrichment. This, in turn, suggests that – technical problems and financial bottlenecks aside – Pyongyang’s determination to develop and deploy nuclear weapons is now all but irreversible.

Mixed signals (again)

This has not stopped North Korea from continuing to send out mixed signals to the international community regarding the true purpose and capabilities of its nuclear program. In February 2012, for example, Kim Jong-Un announced plans to terminate uranium enrichment and allow international inspectors to verify and monitor the country’s nuclear facilities. In return, Washington promised to ship much-needed food aid to North Korea. Pyongyang also agreed on a moratorium on the launch of long-range missiles and declared itself willing to resume the Six-Party Talks (after its de facto suspension in 2009).

However, North Korea reverted back to type in April when Pyongyang not only renounced US food and humanitarian aid but also conducted a rocket launch. Despite Pyongyang’s claim that the objective of the launch was to place a weather satellite into orbit, the United States and others were quick to label it a test of long-range missile technology. Indeed, while the rocket eventually crashed into the Yellow Sea, it also reaffirmed beliefs that North Korea now has the limited capability to launch missile technologies and keep them in flight.

Olli Heinonen, former Deputy Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), also writes that even if inspectors were allowed to monitor North Korea’s nuclear facilities, it would most likely be the sites to which the IAEA was granted access under the 2007 agreement reached at the Six-Party Talks. Accordingly, inspectors would have been limited to verifying whether the so-called Uranium Enrichment Workshop (UEW) (operative since 2009) has been shut down (which it has not). There would have been no inspections of Pyongyang’s inventory of low enriched uranium (LEU) or visits to installations that are thought to be part of the conversion and enrichment process.

One bomb per year

Stanford University’s Siegfried Hecker - who visited the North’s Yongbyon nuclear complex in November 2010 - nevertheless argues that North Korea’s enrichment facilities could be converted to produce highly enriched uranium (HEU). He further maintains that the light water reactor at Yongbyon (PDF) could be also developed to produce weapons-grade plutonium. Hecker was also shown a small-scale industrial uranium enrichment facility, which he described as "astonishingly modern (PDF)” and comparable with modern American counterparts.

Indeed, Olli Heinonen adds further substance to Hecker’s observations by confirming that North Korea’s reprocessing plant at Yongbyon could also be easily modified to facilitate plutonium separation. Pyongyang’s current plutonium stocks are estimated to be between 12 and 40 kilograms, an amount sufficient for up to six nuclear weapons. When the Yongbyon light water reactor is fully operational, Heinonen further estimates that it could annually produce up to 12 kilograms of plutonium. This would provide North Korea with enough fissile material to develop one nuclear bomb per year.

Testing times?

And while concerns that Kim Jong-Un would mark his rise to power by conducting a nuclear test turned out to be alarmist, it nevertheless remains an option. To be sure, a third nuclear test would use up the most of plutonium stocks that Pyongyang has invested significant time and resources into developing. What’s more, a further test would inevitably lead to the termination of bilateral food and humanitarian assistance from the United States, Japan and South Korea. Even China - North Korea’s only remaining sponsor and financier of note – might decide to halt energy, economic and financial aid to Pyongyang should it decide to undertake a third nuclear test.

Accordingly, Pyongyang may decide to save its plutonium for ‘later’ and instead conduct a uranium bomb test. However, to undertake such a test, not only would North Korea need to demonstrate that it has produced a sufficient amount of highly enriched uranium, it would also need to show that it has developed a suitable bomb design. Currently, little is known about North Korea’s ability to undertake either project. Finally, Pyongyang may opt not to test anything at all but instead speed up the production of highly enriched uranium. This would save plutonium while still demonstrating the country’s determination to develop nuclear weapons.

And it may well be the case that North Korea is currently playing for time. In June 2012, Pyongyang announced that it does not have any plans to conduct another nuclear test ‘at present’. The announcement followed the publication of satellite images that suggest that the Tonghae Satellite Launching Ground - also referred to as Musudan-ri rocket launch site – is undergoing a major upgrade. Other satellite images show that North Korea has also resumed work on its new experimental light water reactor (ELWR), which Pyongyang claims will produce energy for civilian use. The pictures also suggest that Pyongyang has made significant progress towards completion of the light water reactor containment building. Reports suggest that the next step in construction involves the loading of heavy components, such as the pressure vessel, steam generator, and pressurizer (which could take up to a year).

More recent satellite images show that North Korea has also placed a dome on a light water reactor at Yongbyon. Experts believe that the reactor could be used to produce plutonium and – subject to alterations – highly enriched uranium. The construction also reflects that, despite agreeing in 2007 to dismantle its plutonium program, North Korea was secretly working on a parallel light water reactor (LWR) program. The covert program aimed to develop an experimental 100 megawatt of thermal capacity (MWth) reactor and a ‘Uranium Enrichment Workshop’ (‘UEW’) (which was built in 2009). And while some analysts suggest that it may still be more than several years before the site is operational, others regard the emplacement of the dome as a significant development.

No turning back?

Differences in expert opinion also extend to questions regarding Pyongyang’s ability to solve one of the major challenges confronting North Korea’s nuclear weapons program: manufacturing a warhead small enough to fit atop a missile. While exploding a nuclear device underground is relatively simple, manufacturing and mounting a warhead onto a missile is an altogether different proposition. And given the level of secrecy surrounding Pyongyang’s nuclear program, it remains difficult to verify how close the country is to mastering the technology necessary to mount a warhead onto a missile.

However, the recent advancements made by North Korea suggest that negotiating an end to the country’s nuclear program could become even more difficult in the months and years ahead. The more time passes without progress, the less relevant the Six-Party Talks become, at least as far as Pyongyang is concerned. After North Korea all but indefinitely suspended its participation in the talks in the wake of its second nuclear test in 2009, Pyongyang has yet to agree to return to the negotiation table. And while Pyongyang announced in July that it was ‘ready’ to resume talks, past experience suggests that the international community should keep an open mind. Indeed, in light of the recent satellite images, the resumption of the Six-Party Talks might be the last thing that North Korea actually wants. Instead, the only way to get Pyongyang back to the negotiating table might be to transform the Six-Party talks into a multilateral donor forum that provides North Korea with aid in return for the dismantling of its nuclear weapons programs.

Smart or dumb?

Given past experience, the continued production of highly enriched uranium could in the months ahead be accompanied by all-too-familiar episodes of North Korean nuclear brinkmanship and blackmail. As a country with little else than missile and nuclear programs to bargain with, Pyongyang may be tempted to seek economic and financial concessions out of interested parties, most notably the United States, South Korea and Japan. However, the carrot-and-stick policies employed by Washington, Seoul and Tokyo are by no means as irresistible as they were at the turn of the century. That said, Pyongyang’s ‘all-or-nothing’ strategy of accelerating its nuclear weapons program in order to grab international attention will likely pay dividends even throughout periods of economic hardship. It may also vindicate analysts and scholars who warn against labeling North Korea’s ruling elite as ‘erratic’ or ‘confused’. Brinkmanship may, instead, be the ‘smartest’ policy option that North Korea has at its disposal.

Axel Berkofsky is Professor at the University of Pavia, Italy and Senior Associate Research Fellow at the Milan-based Istituto per gli Studi di Politica Internazionale (ISPI). 

This Article first appeared on ISN and is reposted here under a Creative Commons license.

AUS: Giraffe radars protecting troops in Afghanistan

Minister for Defence Materiel Jason Clare today announced that two new Counter Rocket Artillery and Mortar (C-RAM) Giraffe radars have been delivered and are currently in operation at the multi national base Tarin Kot in Uruzgan Province, Afghanistan.

“The Giraffe radars provide our troops with early detection of attacks from enemy rockets, artillery and mortars, protecting Australian and ISAF forces,” Mr Clare said. 

“This early warning system has been a proven force protection capability for our troops, giving them vital seconds of advanced warning so they can take shelter.”

Australia assumed responsibility for early detection against rocket, artillery and mortar attacks at Tarin Kot from 28 December 2010. 

The new Giraffe radars have replaced leased radars and were manufactured in Sweden by SAAB-AB under an $86.2 million contract, which includes support services.

A third Giraffe radar will be delivered to Australia in January 2013 and will be used as a training support system.

Australia’s C-RAM Sense and Warn capability consists of Giraffe radars, a number of lightweight counter mortar radars and Command and Control and warning equipment.

The deployment of the new radars is the latest in a range of force protection initiatives that over the past few years has delivered $1billion in equipment to protect our troops in Afghanistan including:

  • Up-armouring the Bushmasters;
  • New combat body armour;
  • Heavier calibre weapons; and
  • New ground penetrating radar trucks to clear roads of IEDs before troops travel on them.

Boeing Innovation on Display at Global Aeronautical Science Congress

Boeing will highlight key aerospace technology and research innovations at the 28th Congress of the International Council of the Aeronautical Sciences (ICAS) to be held in Brisbane, Australia from Sept. 24–28.

BRISBANE, Queensland, September 24, 2012 - Boeing [NYSE: BA] Twenty-one leading aeronautical experts from Boeing’s aerospace programs and research facilities in Australia, the United States, and Spain will deliver presentations and facilitate panels on technology developments in both military and commercial aviation.

“As a global leader in aerospace and a founding member of ICAS, since its establishment in 1958, Boeing sees the congress as an opportunity for academics, research organisations and industry partners to influence critical global aeronautics issues such as innovation, international standards, environment impact and airport infrastructure,” said Michael Edwards, general manager, Boeing Research & Technology–Australia (BR&T–Australia). “This year’s event, held for only the second time in Australia, will emphasise issues of Australian significance, including unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), sustainable aviation biofuels, air safety, and advanced composite materials manufacturing.”

As a leading researcher into UAS, BR&T–Australia technical experts will present the successful outcomes of the Smart Skies Project, a research program developed in collaboration with the Australian Research Centre for Aerospace Automation. The program explores future technologies to enhance both manned and unmanned aircraft's safe and efficient use of airspace. A second paper on robust autonomy of unmanned systems will address the Boeing-developed mathematical framework, designed in collaboration with the University of Newcastle, to support the certification and commercial deployment of UAS.

During the event, BR&T–Australia leader Michael Edwards will chair an alternative aviation fuels panel, discussing issues including electric air transport, the production of alternative fuels from algae biomass and subsequent impact on engine performance.

The biannual ICAS Congress facilitates the international exchange of ideas and advances in aeronautics to enable important research to develop rapidly.

Boeing Australia represents The Boeing Company’s largest operational footprint outside of the United States, with more than 3,000 employees working at 27 locations. Business units represented in Australia include Boeing Defence, Boeing Aerostructures, Jeppesen, Boeing Training & Flight Services, Aviall, Boeing Research & Technology, and Insitu Pacific.


Richmond, Australia - BAE Systems Australia has been awarded a contract from the New Air Combat Capability (NACC) Program to develop an operational model to integrate the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) into the Australian Defence Environment.

Under the nine month contract BAE Systems will work closely with the Australian Defence Force and NACC to develop a model that outlines all requirements for JSF operations and sustainment including maintenance, supply, training needs and fleet asset management.

Director Aerospace John Monaghan said: “This contract will play a critical role in ensuring that Defence, industry and our ADF men and women are ready and prepared for a smooth transition when the JSF comes into service.

“Our team will work to define the processes and information that will be required to ensure that the aircraft achieves its maximum operational effectiveness in any deployed environment.”

The company has leveraged its global experience and appointed an employee from the UK JSF team to lead the project. F-35 Tech Specialist Dave Harrison has more than 10 years experience with the aircraft and played a pivotal role working with the British Joint Combat Air Project to support the integration of the aircraft into the UK defence force.

The project also requires plans for follow-on phases that will support the continued integration of the aircraft through to achievement of its Initial Operating Capability in 2019/20.

News Story: No plan to build second aircraft carrier - China

Beijing: China, which commissioned its first aircraft carrier this week, has no immediate plans to build a second one, the defence ministry said on Thursday. 

Chinese Defence Spokesman, Yang Yujun dismissed foreign media reports saying that China is building a second aircraft carrier in Shanghai which it plans to launch late this year. "Such reports are inaccurate," Yang was quoted as saying in a statement. 

Asked about the reports that the navy will create an aircraft carrier formation in the future and build an aircraft carrier base in the eastern Chinese city of Qingdao, Yang said "the formation is generally made up of the aircraft carrier itself, escort vessels, submarines and aircraft." 

Earlier reports in the official media here said China plans to build three aircraft carriers in the next few years to beef up its global naval presence.

Read the full story at ZeeNews

A similar story can be found below at  RIANOVOSTI.

RIA NovostiChina's first aircraft carrier LiaoningChina Denies Second Aircraft Carrier Reports
16:58 27/09/2012 China is not building a second aircraft carrier, Defense Ministry spokesman Yang Yujun said on Thursday.>Read the full story HERE <

News Story: Military Experts - China’s Future Naval Surface Battle Group Will Have Real Core

The official delivery and commissioning of China’s first aircraft carrier “Liaoning ship” has attracted great attention from all sectors of the society. The reporters from the PLA Daily connected military experts and invited them to interpret related issues of the official commissioning of China’s first aircraft carrier. 

Rear Admiral Yin Zhuo, director of the Information Expert Committee under the Navy of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA), said that the official commissioning of China’s first aircraft carrier is of great significance to China’s national defense. 

The aircraft carrier will make it possible that China’s future naval surface battle group will have a real core. In the past, China’s naval aviation force was mainly based on shore and China’s warships were equipped with helicopters only, without much difference from the PLA Air Force. In the future, the naval aviation force will embark on the road of synchronous development of carrier-based aviation force and shore-based aviation force. 

Rear Admiral Yin Zhuo commented that the commissioning of the first aircraft carrier means a major change, i.e. China’s naval force structure will be adjusted to the marshalling style with aircraft carrier formation at the core.

Read the full story at Defense-Aerospace

News Story: India Developing New AESA Radar for Light Combat Aircraft

By Vivek Raghuvanshi 

NEW DELHI — India will mount a homemade active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar on the Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Mark-2, Indian Air Force sources said. However the LCA is nearly 15 years behind schedule, and the Mark-2 prototype is not expected to fly until 2013.

India’s Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO) is developing the AESA radar for the LCA-Mark-2, sources said. They did not reveal to what extent it will indigenous, but said overseas help will be sought for the radar’s completion.

The Indian content of the LCA Mark-2 will be about 70 percent, according to one scientist with the DRDO’s Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA), which spearheads LCA development.

Read the full story at DefenseNews

News Story: (Australia) Alert over ageing Hornets as structural fatigue hits fleet

RAAF F/A-18A (Click Pic to Enlarge - Wiki Info)

THE Royal Australian Air Force has been warned to scale back the use of its ageing fleet of F/A-18 "classic" Hornet fighters to avert structural fatigue concerns.

The 71 fighter jets, brought into service in the mid-1980s, may need to keep flying beyond 2020 because of delays in acquiring the new Joint Strike Fighter, the Australian National Audit Office said yesterday.

It warned to expect a big increase in annual maintenance costs of the old Hornet fleet from $118 million since 2001 to $170m today, with costs expected to blow out to $214m a year by 2018. The report found all but nine of the Hornet fleet had "experienced structure fatigue above that expected for the airframe hours".

The ANAO's upkeep concerns are directed at the "classic" Hornets and not the newer fleet of 24 F/A-18F Super Hornets delivered to RAAF Amberley between 2010 and last year.

Read the full story at The Australian

Editorial: Japan-Australia Ties Key to Regional Stability

By J. Berkshire Miller

With the strategic landscape of the Asia-Pacific changing, Australia and Japan look to deepen their relationship.

During the Tokyo Conference on Afghanistan held in the Japanese capital this past summer, the foreign ministers of Japan and Australia met on the sidelines to discuss the importance of enhanced bilateral relations in uncertain times. During the meeting, both sides discussed future collaboration on issues ranging from Afghanistan’s development to Burma’s diplomatic thaw with the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN). On the multilateral side, Australia and Japan continue to work together at regional cooperation frameworks such as the East Asia Summit and the ASEAN Regional Forum.
Australia and Japan have several common interests but their relationship for the past several decades has been focused almost entirely on economics. There is good reason for this – as Japan and Australia are two of largest and most dynamic economies in the region and also share common democratic and free market values. Bilateral trade amounts to nearly $70 billion annually with a heavy trade imbalance favoring Australian exports to Japan which exceeded $50 billion in 2011. Japan continues to be heavily reliant on Australia’s booming mining sectors such as coal, iron and copper to satiate its manufacturing needs. Meanwhile, Canberra imports motor vehicles, electronics and technological parts from Japan but import growth has largely flat lined due to increased competition from South Korea and China.
Australia has been keen to recognize the dynamism of its backyard. Unfortunately, as result of changing priorities, engagement with Japan has played second fiddle of late to emerging partnerships with Seoul and Beijing. This can no longer be the case. The days when geopolitics and economics were handled separately are a distant memory. Julia Gillard’s administration seems to have recognized this foreign policy gap and has maneuvered its diplomatic compass towards engagement with China while shoring up a strategic foundation with regional allies such as the US, Japan, South Korea and Thailand.

Read the full 3 page story at The Diplomat

27 September 2012

Editorial: India threat?

By Ian Hall

India is presently investing in a sustained program of military modernisation. Some $40bn was earmarked for defence in the budget for 2012–13, with a significant proportion to be spent on new weapons. This year, according to SIPRI, India became the world’s biggest arms importer, and its long ‘wish list’—including fourth-generation fighters, heavy-lift aircraft, attack helicopters and main battle tanks—suggests that it will remain in that position for years to come.

These numbers, however, tell only part of the story. Some of this modernisation program involves upgrades to defensive capabilities, but not all. The mix also includes three new aircraft carriers (a refurbished Russian ship should eventually be delivered in early 2013, with two indigenous carriers soon to follow), nuclear submarines (a leased Russian Akula-II class boat plus a new Indian one) and air-to-air refuelling tankers (six soon to be ordered), as well as those multi-role combat aircraft, transports, helicopters and tanks. Many of these are systems designed more for power projection within and beyond India’s immediate region as well as for territorial defence.

In scale and spend, India is matching parts of China’s longer-running and more expensive modernisation program. In others areas—aircraft carriers and air-to-air refuelling, for example—India is arguably acquiring superior capabilities. Yet while China’s military modernisation is generally considered a cause for cause alarm, India’s program is not. Why?

One recent study by George J. Gilboy and Eric Heginbotham, Chinese and Indian Strategic Behaviour, gives a simple answer: when it comes to India, we’re fooling ourselves. They argue that there is an ‘India Threat’ to the security of the Indo-Pacific region on a par with that posed by China.

They also assert that India has much more in common with China than most Western observers think, including; a strategic culture that emphasises ‘veiled Realpolitik’, for instance, a telling history of using force to settle disputes, and a ‘preference for offensive military doctrine’. India’s strategic behaviour, they think, ought to generate the kind of ‘alarm’ that China’s does. They urge Westerners not to be distracted by the blandishments of ‘democratic peace theory’ or windy rhetoric about shared values, and suggest instead that they acknowledge the very real threat India might pose to regional stability.

Understandably, this argument has had a mixed reception in New Delhi. The highly-respected scholar Swaran Singh asserted in a prominent review in The Hindu newspaper that the book might speak with an ‘American voice’, but in a ‘Chinese accent’. In another review, the veteran strategist C. Raja Mohan expressed some doubts about the thesis, but thought it might have the positive effect of showing what Americans really think about India. Hopefully, Mohan argued, the book might shock sections of India’s elite into a more ‘pragmatic’ view of the strategic partnership with America and give it a better sense of the limits of that relationship.

Mohan’s point is apposite: the notion of an ‘India threat’ has emerged in a difficult stage in the ongoing rapprochement between India and the US. It hands ammunition to the many Indian critics of the strategic partnership, who argue vociferously that American foreign policy is exploitative and fickle, and that India is unwise to commit itself to that arrangement.

But the ‘India threat’ also contradicts most other assessments of India’s military modernisation and strategic intentions, including Stephen P. Cohen and Sunil Dasgupta’s excellent 2010 book Arming without Aiming . These assessments emphasise two points; first, that India remains a relatively weak military power and, second, that its strategic behaviour is characterised by restraint, even in the face of serious provocation. India is modernising from a low base and must import arms because its defence industries are mostly incapable of providing what it needs. And, as Cohen and Dasgupta show, India presently lacks both the will and the means to be more assertive in its own immediate neighbourhood or further afield. Ultimately, the ‘India threat’ rings hollow.

Ian Hall is a senior fellow and the acting head of the Department of International Relations, Australian National University. Image courtesy of Flickr user $wap.

This article first appeared on the ASPI "The Strategist" Blog and is reposted here under a Creative Commons license.

AUS: Defence Minister completes Japan visit

Stephen Smith MP - Minister for Defence

Today I completed my visit to Japan where I held bilateral talks with my counterpart, Defence Minister Morimoto.

This was my first visit to Japan as Minister for Defence and my seventh visit as an Australian Government Minister.

Mr Morimoto and I discussed our shared strategic interests in the region and steps to advance our practical defence cooperation as agreed at the recent 2+2 Ministerial Meeting held in Sydney.

We discussed the potential for Australia-Japan science and technology cooperation in the field of defence, following on from Japan’s 2011 Guidelines for Overseas Transfer of Defense Equipment.

We agreed to discussions on a framework under which technology cooperation could be progressed.

Mr Morimoto and I also discussed Australia and Japan’s cooperation on defence capacity building projects in the region, which includes plans for exchanges of defence officials to better coordinate our defence cooperation programs in South East Asia and the Pacific.

During my visit, I also met with Acting Prime Minister Okada and Minister for Economy, Trade and Industry Edano.

I also met with a range of senior members of the Japanese Parliament, including former Defence Ministers Ishiba and Kitazawa and former Foreign Ministers Maehara and Nakasone. 

I delivered a speech at Japan’s National Institute of Defense Studies (NIDS) on the Australia-Japan bilateral defence relationship.

This year marks the 50th Anniversary of the modern bilateral defence relationship with the visit of four Japanese Maritime Self Defense ships to Sydney in 1962.

Australia and Japan’s bilateral defence and security partnership has grown in strength in recent years. 

In May 2010 Australia and Japan took a significant step toward further improving bilateral security cooperation by signing an Acquisition and Cross-Servicing Agreement (ACSA) to enable logistics support between Australian and Japanese forces cooperating in international operations, such as peacekeeping, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief. 

In March 2011, Australia’s support to Japan in the aftermath of the earthquake and tsunami was an important reaffirmation of the comprehensive Australia-Japan strategic, security and economic partnership and also the growing strength and capability of our trilateral cooperation with the United States.

In an historic first, at one stage during the relief operation Australia had three C-17 aircraft in Japan transporting Japanese Self Defence Force personnel and equipment to the disaster zone to begin the relief effort.

Australian C-17 aircraft worked closely with the United States Forces Japan Air Operations Command throughout the relief mission. This was also a historic first and a very practical demonstration of Australia-Japan-United States trilateral strategic cooperation and the benefit this can provide to the region in responding to an emergency situation of this size.

In May 2012, Australia and Japan signed an Agreement on the Security of Information to provide a framework to shared classified information. This will be crucial for the further expansion of defence and security cooperation.

USA: Panetta Shares Perspectives From Latest Trip

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Sept. 26, 2012 – In a message to the men and women of the Defense Department, Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta shared his perspectives from his recent trip to the Asia-Pacific region.

Here is the secretary’s message:

US SecDef - Leon E Panetta
This week I returned from a week-long trip to Japan, China, and New Zealand, my third trip to the Asia-Pacific region as Secretary of Defense. 

The underlying purpose of the trip was to support our new defense strategy, which calls for the Department of Defense to increase our focus on the Asia-Pacific region. This strategy is part of a government-wide effort that includes increased economic, diplomatic, development, and security efforts – all in order to renew and revitalize America’s role in a region that is becoming more critical to our future security and prosperity.

My first stop was Tokyo, a city that I have visited a number of times in previous capacities, and on my first trip to Asia as Secretary of Defense last year. I am always appreciative of the warm hospitality and genuine friendship that the people of Japan extend to me and all their American visitors. It reflects the fact that Japan is a very close ally in the region, and that our Alliance has served as the cornerstone of peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific for more than 50 years.

This trip took place during a time of increased tensions between China and Japan over competing claims to the Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea – an episode that serves as a reminder of the important role the United States military continues to play in ensuring peace and security in the region. My message to the Government of Japan, which I would later repeat in China, was simple: the United States doesn’t take a position on competing sovereignty claims but we urge both sides to exercise calm and restraint, and we have an interest in seeing this dispute resolved peacefully and through diplomatic means. 

While in Japan, I had very productive meetings with Foreign Minister Gemba and Defense Minister Morimoto that allowed us to make progress on two key issues for our Alliance. First, we agreed to pursue an additional ballistic missile defense radar, directed at protecting the people of Japan, U.S. forward-deployed forces, and the U.S. homeland, from the North Korean missile threat. Second, we set the stage for an agreement, announced later in the week that reconfirmed the safety of the MV-22 Osprey aircraft, enabled the commencement of flight operations, and paved the way for the deployment of the aircraft to in Okinawa. The Osprey is an important new capability that will greatly enhance our ability to defend Japan and respond to crises in the region – with twice the speed, three times the payload, and four times the range of the platform it replaces.

Before departing Tokyo, I had the opportunity to visit with several hundred American service members stationed at Yokota Air Base – a critical hub for our activities in the region. I had the chance to describe our new defense strategy and point out that the key to our strength rests with them – the men and women in uniform serving our Nation. It’s always a highlight for me to have the opportunity to interact with service members wherever I travel in the world.

My next stop was Beijing, a visit that marked my first trip to China as Secretary of Defense. The goal of this visit was to build on the progress we have made toward establishing a military-to-military relationship with China that is healthy, stable, reliable, and continuous. Our two nations have had a series of high-level interactions this year – from the visit of Vice President Xi to the Pentagon earlier in the year to General Liang’s visit in May – that have helped to build sustained and substantive interactions between our leaders. My visit continued this trend. One of the highlights was an elaborate welcome banquet General Liang hosted in my honor at the State Guest House in Beijing, which even included a magic show and a few hundred toasts that we all survived.

In my discussions with key military and civilian leaders, the thing that most impressed me is that we are building the kind of relationship where we can talk openly and candidly about our disagreements. At the same time, we are increasingly able to identify areas where our militaries can cooperate more – such as counterpiracy and maritime security, humanitarian relief and disaster assistance, and peacekeeping operations. In that spirit, I invited China to send a ship to RIMPAC 2014 – the world’s largest multilateral Naval exercise.

I was also encouraged by my interactions with young officers and cadets at the Engineering Academy of PLA Armored Forces, where I gave a speech focusing on the United States rebalance to Asia-Pacific region and had the opportunity to join students for lunch in the cafeteria. The questions that I got from the young cadets were candid and thoughtful, and it was clear that they appreciated my message that a stronger defense relationship between the U.S. and China is critically important to security and prosperity in the 21st century. 

On my third and final day in China, I was able to fly to the coastal city of Qingdao and visit the headquarters of the North Sea fleet. There, I toured a PLA frigate and a diesel powered submarine. I was impressed with the professionalism and discipline of the PLA sailors, and it is clear that they are working to modernize their military. Throughout my visit, I stressed the importance of increasing their transparency as they undergo this modernization, so it was a positive step for me to be given a tour of these ships. 

From Qingdao, we boarded our plane for the final time in China and took an overnight flight down to Auckland, New Zealand, the final stop on this trip. 

It was the first visit I’ve ever made to New Zealand, and I was struck by the similarities in landscape between Auckland and my native Northern California. It was a special honor to be in Auckland because I was the first United States Secretary of Defense to visit New Zealand in 30 years. 

Soon after I arrived, New Zealand’s Defence Forces hosted a welcome ceremony for me that befitted the historic nature of this visit. During the ceremony, a group of Maori tribesman approached me with a ceremonial challenge. My job was to pick up a dagger while not smiling and maintaining eye contact in order to signal that I came in peace. Luckily, I passed the test.

My broader purpose in traveling to New Zealand was first and foremost to recognize that New Zealand has been a stalwart friend over the past decade of war. In Afghanistan, New Zealand has made a variety of contributions to the war effort and continues to lead the Bamiyan provincial reconstruction team. During my visit, I paid tribute to New Zealand’s war heroes at their National War Memorial Museum, and I had the opportunity to recognize five individual soldiers from the New Zealand Defence Forces with Army Commendation Medals.

New Zealand also plays an important role as a provider of security in the South Pacific, and as the United States rebalances to the Asia-Pacific region we are looking for new ways to partner together to enhance regional security. To that end, I was pleased to be able to announce while in New Zealand that the U.S. government is changing some policies that govern interactions with New Zealand’s military, which were put into effect after New Zealand passed nuclear-free legislation in the mid-1980s. Specifically, we have eliminated restrictions on discussions and exercises between our two militaries, and we have established a mechanism to authorize individual visits by ships of New Zealand’s Royal Navy to U.S. military and coast guard facilities, both in the United States and around the world. 

These changes sent a strong signal that we are entering into a new era of defense cooperation with New Zealand. More broadly, my entire week-long trip sent the message that the United States is following through with our strategy to rebalance towards the Asia-Pacific region. Throughout the week, it was heartening to hear Allies, friends and partners in the region welcome the Department’s renewed focus on Asia-Pacific. The high regard they have for the U.S. military is a reflection of the dedication and professionalism of all our men and women in uniform, and the civilians who support them. I am proud of what we have accomplished together and grateful for your continued service to a strong and secure America.