31 March 2012

USA: Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Wendy R. Sherman to Travel to India, Nepal and Bangladesh April 1-6

Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Wendy R. Sherman will travel to New Delhi and Patna, India April 1-4. In New Delhi, Under Secretary Sherman will meet with Foreign Secretary Ranjan Mathai and other senior Government of India officials to discuss preparations for the U.S.-India Strategic Dialogue, to be held in Washington, DC in mid-June. She will also hold meetings with figures from Indian civil society, higher education, political opposition and youth organizations. On Monday, April 2, Under Secretary Sherman will give a speech at the American Center in New Delhi on U.S.-India relations. She will then travel to Patna on April 3, where she will meet with local officials.

On April 4, Under Secretary Sherman will travel to Kathmandu, Nepal, where she will meet with Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai, other Government of Nepal officials and South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation Secretary-General Ahmed Saleem. She will also hold a roundtable discussion with LGBT activists and meet with Tibet community leaders. From Kathmandu, Under Secretary Sherman will travel to Dhaka, Bangladesh on April 5. While in Dhaka she will meet with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, Foreign Minister Dipu Moni, and other Bangladeshi officials to discuss a broad range of bilateral and regional issues including governance, civil society, women’s issues and economic prosperity. Under Secretary Sherman will also visit a Grameen Borrower Group site outside of Dhaka.

News Story: Japan Begins Building Technology Demonstrator Fighter

ATD-X Mock Up (Wiki Info)


TOKYO — Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) announced it has begun assembly of a full-scale, structural-testing model of the prototype Advanced Technology Demonstrator ATD-X fighter, also called Shinshin, ahead of the prototype’s first flight scheduled in 2014.

Shinshin is being developed by the Japanese Defense Ministry’s Technical Research and Development Institute and MHI as a domestically produced, fifth-generation fighter to replace Japan’s fleet of some 49 Mitsubishi F-2 and 135 Mitsubishi F-15 fighters later in the decade. It would be an alternative to, or would supplement, the nation’s planned buy of Lockheed Martin’s F-35 stealth fighters.

Read the full story at DefenseNews

Editorial: Back to Nuclear Drawing Board

By Benjamin Ho Tze Ern

After much political posturing in the lead up to the Seoul Nuclear Security Summit, the two-day conference this week – attended by more than 50 countries and international organizations – ended with a joint communiqué that reaffirmed the need to ensure “a safer world for all.” Not surprisingly, critics have pointed out that such a communique – long on commitments but short on specifics – amounted to little substantive progress. Coupled with the announcement by the United States this week that it was suspending the food aid deal to North Korea, it’s clear we are back to the drawing board.  

To be fair, this nuclear stalemate isn’t unexpected. Indeed, only the most optimistic – or naïve – would have expected anything of consequence to materialize from this meet. Short of North Korea doing an about-face, the status quo was always likely to persist as the key players continue to disagree on some fundamental issues.

Here’s where the main countries now stand:

Read the full story at The Diplomat

Editorial: Is India Strangling its Economy?

By Shreyasi Singh

That India’s growth story is faltering isn’t a secret. In fact, it’s interesting how quickly things can change. Up until about a year ago, India seemed on the threshold of economic stardom – courted by global companies as a must location, and buoyed by forecasts that its decade-long robust growth might continue in perpetuity.

Today, things look very different – thanks to slowing growth, rising inflation and policy paralysis in the union government. Reforms have been stalled, costs have gone up and “good” trade and business deals seem to be drying up. In fact, some global publications and economic forecasters have even suggested that the “I” in BRIC (the grouping of fast-growing economies of Brazil, Russia, India and China) should be changed from India to Indonesia.

Read the full story at The Diplomat

Editorial: Cambodia Readies for ASEAN

By Tim LaRocco

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit will take place April 3-4 in Phnom Penh. As the new chair of the regional bloc for the 2012 year, Cambodia will have an opportunity to show off its capital’s latest developments, both socioeconomic and political. The streets are already being decked out with symbols of national pride, and flags of the other nine ASEAN countries have been hung from the street lights of Phnom Penh’s busiest boulevards.

Judging from the level of security already evident on the streets here for last week’s meeting between Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen and Burmese President Thein Sein, no one anticipates a repeat of the kind of scenes witnessed at the 2009 summit in Pattaya, Thailand. That summit was abandoned after Red Shirt protesters stormed the resort where the conference was taking place, resulting in delegates having to be airlifted from the top of the hotel.
Read the full story at The Diplomat

Editorial: Will ASEAN Tackle South China Sea?

By Luke Hunt

Burma is likely to be the main talking point at next week’s ASEAN summit. But will they dare tackle China’s territorial claims?

Ten years ago, Cambodia took over the chair of ASEAN for the first time amid consternation Phnom Penh was tackling too much too soon. The city’s infrastructure remained devastated by three decades of war that had just ended in 1998, and the global security environment had been turned upside down by the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States.

Cambodia was widely regarded as the regional basket case, and Phnom Penh hardly seemed the place for a gathering of heads of state, their foreign ministers and assorted bureaucrats from as far afield as the United States, China and Australia to those within the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

Thanks largely to efforts by diplomats in the Singapore embassy, however, the summit and Cambodia’s year as chair was carried off with aplomb. Next week, the annual ASEAN summit returns to a vastly improved Cambodia, with Burma – a contemporary regional basket case –at the top of the agenda.

“Myanmar (Burma) isn’t in the official agenda of ASEAN, but regional leaders will use the gathering to discuss political development in Myanmar unofficially,” says Kamarulnizam Abdullah, a professor of national security at the Universiti Utara Malaysia (UUM).

Read the full 2 page story at The Diplomat

Editorial: Burma’s Misguided Drug War

US Soldier in Afghan Poppy Field (File Photo)

By Tom Fawthrop

Keen to impress the West and get sanctions dropped, Burma is cracking down on opium production. But hundreds of thousands may be left in poverty.

Draped in botanical clouds of red white and blue, the poppy fields that spread across Burma’s remote northern mountains should be an attractive destination for eco-tourists. And they probably would be except for one thing – these poppies are full of opium sap, and the Burmese government has launched a fresh campaign to eradicate the crop.

In the meantime, the mountains are crawling with military, militias and rebel armies. They are battling away in a three-decade civil war between ethnic Shan and WA and government forces that has long been fuelled by the profits gained from opium harvests. Opium traders, heroin laboratories and the government’s militarization of the region, meanwhile, have combined to condemn the indigenous people to decades of impoverishment.

Read the full story at The Diplomat

News Story: India and Russia to Develop Hypersonic Cruise Missile

RIA NovostiIndia will carry out the first test-firing of the air-launched variant of the BrahMos Russian-Indian supersonic cruise missile by the end of this yearIndia and Russia to Develop Hypersonic Cruise Missile
13:05 30/03/2012 Russia and India are in talks to jointly develop a hypersonic cruise missile and will soon agree on a general outline of the design, the head of the BrahMos Indian-Russian cruise missile program, Praveen Pathak, said on Friday at the Defexpo defense show in Delhi.> Read the full story HERE <

30 March 2012

AUS: Australia and US host major international military conference

Australia and the United States have hosted a major military planning conference in Sydney involving approximately 100 delegates from 35 countries.

The Multilateral Planners Conference VII was an opportunity for countries to discuss issues of mutual strategic interest, such as evolving global and regional challenges and threats.

A Multilateral Planners Conference is conducted every two to three years. It was first held in Washington in 2004 and this year it was co-hosted by the United States and Australia. This was the first time the conference has been held in Australia. It was conducted on 28 and 29 March.

The Multilateral Planners Conferences are a forum for senior military planners to discuss various issues across the entire operational spectrum, ranging from combat operations to humanitarian activities.

The theme for this conference was “Global Security Challenges: Responding in an Age of Fragility.” Sessions focused on violent extremism, resource scarcity, multilateral institutions and new global common domains, such as cyber space and outer space.

“This conference was an important opportunity for delegates to examine issues of mutual interest and to learn from the experience of others. Tapping into these various perspectives is crucial as each country shapes its responses to these issues,” the senior Australian Defence representative, Air Vice-Marshal (AVM) Kevin Paule said.

“Many of these challenges can appear overwhelming but by working together and sharing knowledge and experience, paths of progress can be identified,” AVM Paule said.

“This conference was a great opportunity to meet with many of our partners and colleagues from around the world and have in-depth, frank discussions on the mutual challenges that we are facing,” the senior US representative, Lieutenant General Terry Wolff said.

News Story: China Warns Against Joint Exercises in South China Seas

Shannon Van Sant

Chinese officials in Beijing are warning against any joint military patrols or exercises between Vietnam and the Philippines in the disputed South China Sea.  

Vietnam and Philippines military officials have discussed conducting joint exercises in the disputed region in meetings earlier this month. The exercises could include joint patrols of the Spratly Islands, which both countries and China claim as their own.

In Beijing, Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei warned against any exercises in the Spratlys, which China calls Nansha. 

China has indisputable sovereignty over the Nansha Islands, he said, and the adjacent waters. Hong also said China is opposed to foreign countries’ violation of China’s sovereign rights and interests.

Read the full story at Voice of America

News Story: Manila offers U.S. wider military access, seeks weapons

(Reuters) - The Philippines is offering the United States greater access to its airfields and may open new areas for soldiers to use, as the Pacific country seeks stronger military ties with its closest ally, moves likely to further raise tensions with China.

In exchange for opening its bases, the Philippines will ask Washington for more military equipment and training, including a another Hamilton-class warship and possibly a squadron of old F-16 jet fighters, Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario told Reuters on Thursday.

"As part of building up our minimum credible defense posture, we would like the Americans to come more often," del Rosario said in an interview at his office near Manila Bay.

Read the full story at Reuters

USA: Royal Thai Navy Assumes Command of Combined Task Force 151

From Combined Maritime Forces Public Affairs

MUSCAT, Oman (NNS) -- The royal Thai navy assumed command from the royal Danish navy as Commander Combined Task Force (CTF) 151, during a change of command ceremony onboard USS Halsey (DDG 97), Muscat, Oman, March 29.

Rear Adm. Tanin Likitawong, royal Thai navy, relieved Commodore Aage Buur Jensen, royal Danish navy, 

The ceremony concluded the royal Danish navy's first command of CTF 151, which consisted of a multinational staff embarked in Halsey. The three month operation further strengthened ties with other counter-piracy naval forces on operations in the region, as well as further developing communication and collaboration within the merchant shipping community.

Jensen's tenure as commander of CTF 151 included visits at sea to the flagships of Commander CTF 465 European Naval Force (EUNAVFOR), Capt. Jorge Manso, and Commander CTF 508 NATO, Rear Adm. Siman A. Tosum, as well as a meeting onboard the Adm. Tributs, flagship to Capt. Ilder Ahmerov, commander of the Russian counter-piracy task group in the region.

"Counter-piracy is a matter of concern for all nations and should be dealt with by all nations," said Jensen of his time as commander of CTF 151. He continued to highlight the coordination with the European Union, NATO, and independent deployers as an outstanding example of international cooperation, with all partners showed willingness to do their upmost to achieve the common aim of defeating piracy.

Since January CTF 151 has disrupted four piracy action groups (PAG), and conducted coastal monitoring for piracy activity along the northern area of the Horn of Africa, and the south Somali coast. International partnerships and eagerness to share information and assets has lead to a drop in piracy in the region. From the time January-March 2012 there was a decrease in piracy attacks on vessels from 41 to 11, and successful pirating from 13 to four over the same period in 2011.

"It is my intent to continue the outstanding efforts of Commodore Jensen, and the progress which he and his team onboard Hasley have made countering piracy in this region," said Tanin. "I am also greatly looking forward to working with all the different nations of CMF."

CTF 151 is one of three task forces under control of Combined Maritime Forces (CMF), based in Bahrain. CTF 151 was established in 2009 to deter, disrupt and suppress piracy, protect maritime vessels of any nationality and secure freedom of navigation for the benefit of all. CTF 151's area of operation encompasses 1.1 million square miles in the Gulf of Aden and Somali Basin.

USA: Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia Meets in New York

The United States will join partners from nearly 70 countries, international organizations, and the private sector at the United Nations in New York on March 29 for a plenary meeting of the Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia. The Contact Group is a broad and growing diplomatic effort taking action against criminal activity that threatens commerce and humanitarian aid deliveries along one of the world’s busiest shipping corridors.

The plenary, hosted by the United Arab Emirates, will be the eleventh gathering of this outstanding international partnership. Since its initial meeting in January 2009, the Contact Group has nearly tripled in size. This is a testament to the global consensus that piracy poses a shared security challenge to maritime safety and to the need for further concerted and coordinated international action. Among its accomplishments to date, the Contact Group has:

  • Facilitated coordination of international naval patrols through the operational coordination of an unprecedented international naval effort from more than 30 countries working together to protect transiting vessels. The United States coordinates these efforts with multilateral coalitions such as NATO’s Operation Ocean Shield and the European Union’s Operation ATALANTA. The United States also looks to further develop counter-piracy cooperation with several other nations deploying forces to the international counter-piracy effort, including China, India, Japan, and Russia.
  • Partnered with the shipping industry to improve practical steps merchant ships and crews can take to avoid, deter, delay, and counter pirate attacks. The shipping industry’s use of Best Management Practices and the increasing use of Privately Contracted Armed Security Personnel are among these measures that have proven to be the most effective deterrents against pirate attacks.
  • Strengthened the capacity of Somalia and other countries in the region to combat piracy, in particular by contributing to the UN Trust Fund Supporting Initiatives of States Countering Piracy off the Coast of Somalia; and
  • Advanced a new initiative aimed at disrupting the pirates’ financial and logistical networks ashore through approaches similar to those used to target other types of organized transnational criminal networks.


CAMBODIA, PHNOM PENH, Thursday 29 Mar 2012 - The Royal Cambodia Armed Forces hosted the 9th ASEAN Chiefs of Defence Forces Informal Meeting (ACDFIM). Themed ‘Enhancing Force Interoperability Towards the 2015 ASEAN Community’, the meeting aptly embodied the efforts of the respective ASEAN armed forces in enhancing its collective role towards the wider strategic aspiration of a community-based ASEAN as the way forward towards the advancement of regional peace and stability. Brunei Darussalam was represented by the Commander of the Royal Brunei Armed Forces, Major General Dato Paduka Seri Haji Aminuddin Ihsan Bin Pehin Orang Kaya Saiful Mulok Dato Seri Paduka Haji Abidin. 

The meeting was also attended by General Pol Saroeun, Commander-in-Chief of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces as the Chair of the Meeting, as well as Lieutenant General J. Suryo Prabowo, Chief of General Staff of the Indonesian Defence Forces; Brigadier General Souvone Leuangbounmy, Chief of General Staff of the Lao People’s Army; General Tan Sri Dato’ Sri Zulkifeli bin Mohd Zin, Chief of Defence Force of the Malaysian Armed Forces; Lieutenant General Kyaw Swe, Chief of Military Security Affairs of the Defence Services of Myanmar; Lieutenant General Jessie D. Dellosa, Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines; Lieutenant General Neo Kian Hong, Chief of Defence Force of the Singapore Armed Forces; General Tanasak Patimapragorn, Chief of Defence Forces of the Royal Thai Armed Forces and Colonel General Do Ba Ty, Chief of General Staff of the Vietnamese People’s Army.

Preceding the 9th ACDFIM were the 9th ASEAN Military Intelligence Informal Meeting (AMIIM) and the 2nd ASEAN Military Operations Informal Meeting (AMOIM) held concurrently on 27 March 2012, attended by ASEAN’s Heads of Military Intelligence and Heads of Operations respectively.  Brunei Darussalam were represented by the Joint Force Commander for AMOIM and the Director of Intelligence for AMIIM.

The 9th ACDFIM ended on a high note with the signing of the Joint Statement where the Chiefs adopted the Two-Year Work Plan for 2012–2014 and the Administrative Arrangement for the conduct of the ACDFIM, AMIIM and AMOIM.  

The Two-Year Work Plan 2012–2014, the fifth of its series, portrays the intensification of practical cooperation most notably through the conduct of multilateral exercises involving ASEAN militaries, where two multilateral exercises are anticipated in the coming two years –namely the ASEAN Information Sharing Exercise (ISX) to be conducted in Singapore in July 2012 and the Second ASEAN Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief Table Top Exercise (HADR TTX) to be co-hosted by Brunei Darussalam and Singapore in 2013. This signifies a significant advancement in ASEAN’s militaries practical activities since the first ever ASEAN-level military exercise - the First ASEAN HADR TTX - was conducted in July 2011.

Meanwhile, the Administrative Arrangements on the conduct of ACDFIM, AMIIM and AMOIM would serve as guidelines to the conduct of an ACDFIM and its subordinate meetings – the AMIIM and AMOIM.

Under the platform of AMOIM, the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) on the use of military assets for HADR the framework of the ASEAN Agreement on Disaster Response and Emergency Response (AADMER) was endorsed, thus highlighting ASEAN’s efforts in enhancing HADR interoperability. The AMIIM, on the other hand, affirmed the success of the First ASEAN Militaries Analyst-to-Analyst Intelligence Exchange (AMAAIE) held in the Philippines in September 2011 in promoting intelligence exchange and interactions between the ASEAN militaries intelligence community.

At the sidelines of the ACDFIM, the ASEAN Chiefs of Defence Forces had a joint courtesy call with the Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Cambodia, His Excellency Samdech Aka Moha Sena Padei Techo HUN SEN. The Commander of RBAF also held bilateral meetings with Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and the Philippines.

Initiated in 2001, the ACDFIM is an annual regional avenue that gives ASEAN Chiefs of Defence Forces the opportunity to interact closely and discuss cooperative matters relating to defence and security, both bilaterally and multilaterally. Over the years, the ACDFIM and its subordinate meetings have become an important part of the regional security  architecture serving as invaluable platforms for confidence building, capacity building and fostering interoperability among ASEAN militaries. For RBAF, its active participation in the ACDFIM reflects its contribution to defence diplomacy and enhanced participation in regional activities, in line with the goals and initiatives outlined in the country’s Defence White Paper Documents. Brunei Darussalam will host the upcoming 10th ACDFIM in 2013.

Raytheon Begins Procuring Parts for India's Munitions Control Unit

MCU will enable Indian Air Force Jaguar aircraft to employ modern precision weapons

NEW DELHI, March 29, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Raytheon Company (NYSE: RTN) has started procuring components required to build the Munitions Control Units for 126 of the Indian Air Force's Jaguar Darin II attack aircraft.

The MCU enables integration of modern weapons on legacy aircraft with minimal to no modifications to aircraft wiring and the flight or stores management software. The MCU's compact size enables it to be located in a weapons pylon or avionics bay of a legacy aircraft. From there, it interfaces between "smart" weapons and the existing software of a legacy aircraft.

"Providing the IAF the capability to enhance their Jaguar fleet is the latest chapter in Raytheon's six-decade history of trusted partnership in India," said Harry Schulte, Raytheon Missile Systems' vice president of Air Warfare Systems. "MCU will give the Jaguar the capability to employ 'smart' or 'advanced' weapons like the Joint Standoff Weapon, Maverick missile, Paveway™ precision-guided munition and AIM-9M Sidewinder air-to-air missile."

Raytheon was awarded a contract to build the MCU in 2011, and funding was authorized for the system in 2012. In anticipation of the contract, Raytheon began preliminary work to integrate MCU on Jaguar in 2008.

About the Munitions Control Unit

  • Dimensions: approximately 13 by 6 by 3 inches and weighs roughly 6 pounds.
  • Enables integration of modern weapons on legacy aircraft.
  • Requires minimal modifications to aircraft wiring and no changes to the flight or stores management software.

Harris Corporation Receives $15.2 Million Order from Australian Department of Defence for Field Support of Falcon Tactical Radios


MELBOURNE, FL/BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA, March 29, 2012 — Harris Corporation (NYSE:HRS), an international communications and information technology company, has received an AUD$14.7 million (approximately US$15.2 million) order to provide the Australia Department of Defence with customer field support for Harris radios procured under its tactical radio modernization program. The order highlights Harris' capabilities in providing service and support for its tactical radio systems worldwide and leverages the recent opening of its Asia-Pacific headquarters in Brisbane.

Australia has procured, and will install and deploy, mounted and dismounted Harris Falcon III® AN/PRC-152(C) multiband, multi-mode radios in vehicular and handheld configurations for line-of-sight and beyond-line-of-sight voice and data communications and Falcon II® AN/PRC-150(C) manpack radios for high-frequency beyond-line-of-sight terrestrial communications. Both radios are being delivered to the Australian Defence Force (ADF) under the Joint Project 2072 Battlespace Communications program. Harris will provide a broad range of support services to the ADF for these radios, including training, installation, maintenance, system integration and engineering.

"Harris is committed to delivering best-in-class products and systems as well first-rate support to our military and public safety customers around the world," said Brendan O'Connell, president, International Business, Harris RF Communications. "Our program management, engineering and customer service teams are the best in the business and they will ensure the smooth deployment and integration of our tactical radio systems."

The AN/PRC-152(C) is the most widely deployed JTRS Software Communications Architecture-certified and NSA Type-1 certified handheld radio, with more than 160,000 units shipped to U.S., NATO and other allied forces worldwide. The radio provides voice and data capabilities over the 30 MHz to 512 MHz frequency range and supports SINCGARS, Havequick II, VHF/UHF AM and FM, APCO P25 and both DAMA and the new Integrated Waveform for satellite communications. The Falcon II AN/PRC-150(C) is part of the most-widely deployed family of HF radios and the only one to offer NSA-certified Type-1 information security. The radio covers the 1.6 MHz to 60 MHz frequency range and comes with a removable keypad/display unit.

Harris RF Communications is the leading global supplier of secure radio communications and embedded high-grade encryption solutions for military, government and commercial organizations. The company's Falcon® family of software-defined tactical radio systems encompasses manpack, handheld and vehicular applications. Falcon III is the next generation of radios supporting the U.S. military's Joint Tactical Radio System (JTRS) requirements, as well as network-centric operations worldwide. Harris RF Communications is also a leading supplier of assured communications® systems and equipment for public safety, utility and transportation markets — with products ranging from the most advanced IP voice and data networks to portable and mobile single- and multiband radios.

Combat System Engineering Group in India - business opportunity moves quickly from concept to execution

Saab and Pipavav will jointly form a group called the Combat System Engineering Group or "CSEG" in India. This group will analyse the Combat System design and architecture, and work closely with Design group of Pipavav to undertake, modelling and simulation and prepare system integration requirements for naval ships constructed by Pipavav, starting with the NOPV, Naval Offshore Platform Vehicle program. This will ensure world class design with risk reduction and ships deliveries in time and budget

The Indian Navy has a major shipbuilding and modernisation program over next decade and there is a major effort in system engineering of front line warships and submarines. With Saab’s worldwide experience CSEG will fulfil this critical technology gap. 

"This is an excellent start to our naval commitment in India and shows Saab is a responsible, high technology partner for the Indian Navy and Indian defence industry. Over time I see large business opportunities," says Gunilla Fransson, the Head of Business Area Security and Defence Solutions, SDS. 

"The Combat System Engineering Group model is a great possibility for Saab to work with Indian partners on world class Naval Combat Systems Engineering. The CSEG will support our partners and the Indian Navy. We are very proud to be pushing the boundaries," says Thomas Kloos, the Head of Command and Control Systems at SDS.

News Story: Defence ties with India strong and growing - Pentagon

WASHINGTON (PTI): The "once-nascent" defence ties between India and US has evolved into a "strong and growing" strategic partnership between two of the pre-eminent security powers in Asia, a top Pentagon official has said.

"Today, US-India defence ties are strong and growing, including a robust slate of dialogues, military exercises, defence trade, personnel exchanges, and armaments cooperation.

"The strong ties between our two militaries reflect this," James Miller told lawmakers in written answers submitted to the Senate Armed Services Committee during a confirmation hearing for the post of Undersecretary of Defence for Policy.

Read the full story at Brahmand

News Story: Taiwan May Build Own Submarines

TAIPEI — Taiwan may build its own submarines, a top military officer said March 29, in a sign that patience is wearing thin after a U.S. offer to sell the island eight submarines has been stalled for a decade.

Chao Shih-chang, a deputy defense minister, told parliament the ministry has continued pushing for the sale since the United States promised eight conventional submarines in 2001.

But while waiting for the U.S. to follow through on the deal, the ministry has also been evaluating calls for the construction of the submarines by the island’s leading shipyard CSBC Corporation, Taiwan.

Read the full story at DefenseNews

News Story: N. Korea Confident of China Rocket Support - Analyst


TOKYO — North Korea is confident of China’s ultimate backing over the launch of a rocket that the West suspects is a disguised missile test, a Japanese defense adviser has warned.

Hiroyasu Akutsu, professor at the National Institute for Defence Studies (NIDS), said the secretive state would not back down over the launch, despite the urging of countries across the globe and the threat of the withdrawal of much-needed food aid.

“They are confident that China will ultimately support them if they launch the satellite” despite international pressure, he told reporters ahead of the publication of the “East Asian Strategic Review” published by NIDS.

Washington has asked Beijing to rein in its errant ally, but the response so far has been muted.

Read the full story at DefenseNews

News Story: India Army Chief Calls Leak of Letter ‘High Treason’


NEW DELHI — India’s army chief on March 29 denounced as treason the leaking of a damning letter he wrote describing the army as unfit to fight a war and urged “ruthless” treatment of the culprit.

Army Chief General V.K. Singh told Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in the letter that India’s tanks lacked shells to fire, its air defenses were out of date and its forces “woefully short” of weapons.

“The leakage of the letter should be treated as high treason ... and sources of the leakage should be found and dealt with ruthlessly,” Singh, who is due to retire on May 31, said in a statement.

Defence Minister A.K. Antony also slammed those responsible for leaking the letter, calling it an “anti-national” move that “only helps enemies.”

Read the full story at DefenseNews

News Story: India Will Not Raise Foreign Investment Limit - Antony


NEW DELHI — India will maintain a 26 percent limit on foreign direct investment (FDI) in local defense companies, Defence Minister A.K. Antony said at Defexpo 2012 here March 29.

A senior executive of the Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industries, the lobbying agency for Indian industry that has been pushing for an increase in the FDI limit to more than 49 percent, said they were hoping Antony would propose raising the limit in his Defexpo speech.

Earlier, Antony opened Defexpo 2012, showcasing systems from the land, naval and security sectors. More than 335 Indian exhibitors and 232 foreign companies, mainly from France, Germany, Israel, Russia, the U.K. and U.S., and 58 official delegations will participate in the four-day show, which has been held biannually since 1998.

Read the full story at DefenseNews

Editorial: Obama and a Tehran Communiqué?

By Javad Heydarian

Iran undoubtedly represents one of the key foreign policy issues for U.S. President Barack Obama. And as the world begins to realize the implications of growing Iran-U.S. tensions (and as Obama watches gas prices climb uncomfortably in an election year) his administration is coming under increasing pressure to find a creative policy solution.

Some see Obama as one of the most successful “foreign policy” presidents in recent times – he handled the Arab uprisings calmly, and has countered China’s purported expansion by executing a skillful U.S. pivot to the Asia-Pacific.  But it’s one of his predecessors’ handling of China that might offer him the most useful guide to tackling the looming issue of Iran.

Read the full story at The Diplomat

Editorial: BRICS Aim High

BRICS (Wiki Info)

By Rajeev Sharma

Thursday’s daylong BRICS summit, hosted for the first time by India, made the right noises on contentious issues like Iran and Syria.

The five leaders – Presidents Dilma Rousseff (Brazil), Dmitry Medvedev (Russia), Hu Jintao (China) and Jacob Zuma (South Africa) and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh – unanimously supported Iran’s right to peaceful uses of nuclear energy. Singh cautioned against rocking Iran’s boat too hard through “political disruptions” that would inevitably trigger volatility in global energy markets.

The leaders also came up with a unanimous position on Syria, advising the international community to deal with the crisis peacefully, but in a way that ensures the legitimate aspirations of all sections of Syrian society are taken into account while respecting the country’s sovereignty.

Read the full story at The Diplomat

Editorial: India General: We’re Unfit for War

Indian Army Pinaka MBRL (Wiki Info)

By Jason Miks

India’s million man-plus armed forces are unfit to fight a war, according to the country’s army chief. “The army’s tanks have run out of ammunition, the air defense is as good as obsolete and the infantry is short of critical weapons,” Gen. V.K. Singh wrote in a leaked letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, India’s DNA news agency has reported.
Singh is said to have approached the prime minister after failing to get a response from the Defense Ministry. He warns in the letter that the state of India’s military is “alarming,” noting that the country’s air defense is “97 percent obsolete,” while the elite Special Forces are described as “woefully short” of “essential weapons.”
“This news is causing a lot of angst here,” said The Diplomat contributor Manpreet Sethi, who lectures regularly at India’s armed forces training centers. “Reports are pouring in from both sides – those who are angry with the general for allowing such a leak to happen, especially in the wake of allegations over a bribe he supposedly made earlier in the week, and those who believe that the corruption in the system can only be cleansed if such issues come out in the public.”
“The government is really on the back foot, as it has been on many issues for some time now,” she said. 

Read the full story at The Diplomat

Editorial: Burma’s Aung San Suu Kyi Fever

By Sebastian Strangio

Burma’s democratic icon is expected to take a seat in parliament following this weekend’s by-election. But is the junta using her as a fig leaf?

It’s not too hard to see where Khin Soe’s allegiance lies. In the run-up to Sunday’s by-elections, the 60-year-old activist has turned his Rangoon home into a giant shrine to the National League for Democracy (NLD), covering it in red party banners and images of its leader, Burma’s democratic icon Aung San Suu Kyi.
In constituencies across Burma, Khin Soe and his fellow activists in the NLD are nearing the end  of their first election campaign in two decades – and they’ve done it in style. Restricted during years of military dictatorship from showing their support for “the Lady”, tens of thousands across the country have turned out to hear her speak. In Mingalar Tuang Nyunt Township, one of four competing constituencies in Rangoon, the party is in the throes of a full-blown celebration. The NLD’s red peacock insignia is plastered on taxi windshields, shop fronts and t-shirts, while campaign trucks filled with young party members drive through the streets blaring campaign songs.
“People are getting more interested in politics day by day,” Khin Soe says, sitting in the shade outside his home. “First of all, the people were a bit afraid to enter membership [of the NLD]. But later the political situation changed so people here have dared to join.”

Read the full story at The Diplomat

Editorial: North Korea Food Deal Suspended

By Harry Kazianis

Some media outlets may have jumped the gun earlier this week, but the United States has now suspended a recent food aid agreement with North Korea over its apparent intention to go ahead with a long-range missile launch next month.
The so-called Leap Day deal between the United States and North Korea would in effect have traded “a moratorium on long-range missile launches, nuclear tests, and nuclear activities at Yongbyon, including uranium enrichment activities” for 240,000 tons of food aid.
The news was confirmed yesterday by Peter R. Lavoy, acting assistant secretary of defense for Asian and Pacific security affairs and Army Gen. James D. Thurman, commander of U.S. Forces Korea, in testimony to members of the House Armed Services Committee.

Read the full story at The Diplomat

Editorial: And You Think North Korea’s Crazy?

By Ralph Cossa

North Korea’s vow to launch a satellite next month has flummoxed some observers. But unless China steps in forcefully, everything will go according to Pyongyang’s plan.

Now what? Just when you thought it was safe to go back into the Six-Party Talks, the North Koreans pulled the rug out from under everyone, including themselves, by announcing a planned satellite launch to commemorate Great Leader Kim Il-Sung’s 100th birthday celebrations.

Pyongyang argues that there’s a difference between long-range ballistic missile tests (which it recently foreswore) and satellite launches using a long-range ballistic missile as the launch vehicle; a distinction lost on most others, very specifically including the U.N. Security Council, which has banned “all missile activity” by North Korea, including “any launch using ballistic missile technology.” While Pyongyang would like to believe that their distinction makes a difference, clearly they understand, post-U.N. Security Council resolutions 1718 and 1874, that the rest of the international community isn’t buying this argument.

Read the full story at The Diplomat

29 March 2012

AUS: Growler Electronic Warfare Aircraft – Long Lead Item Equipment Purchase

RAAF Super Hornet

Minister for Defence Stephen Smith and Minister for Defence Materiel Jason Clare today announced that the Government would spend more than $19 million to purchase long lead item electronic equipment for the potential conversion of twelve of Australia’s F-18 Super Hornet’s to the EA-18G Growler variant.

In 2009, the Government made the decision to wire 12 Super Hornets for potential conversion to the Growler configuration at a cost of $35 million.

Growler is an electronic warfare system that gives the Super Hornet the ability to jam the electronics systems of aircraft and land-based radars and communications systems. The Growler electronic warfare aircraft was used very effectively by the United States Navy during air operations in Libya last year.

The long lead items are systems and equipment that are required for any potential conversion of Australia’s existing Super Hornets and include:

  • Electronic systems;
  • Antennas; and
  • High Frequency modulation receivers

The decision to purchase this equipment has been made now to ensure Australia continues to have potential access to the Growler technology. A final decision on whether Australia converts some of its Super Hornets to Growler configuration will be made after exhaustive assessment by the Government this year. This purchase ensures Australia will continue to have access to specific technologies needed to make any such conversion.

The purchase of this equipment is being made through the United States Foreign Military Sales process. As part of this process, a Letter of Request formally requesting the purchase has been delivered to the United States.

If Australia converts some of its Super Hornets to Growler configuration it will be the only country in the world, other than the United States, operating such aircraft.