30 December 2013

Think Tank: What to make of Mr Abe and his visit to Yasukuni

Yasukuni Shrine - Japan

Author: Peter Drysdale, Editor, East Asia Forum

Four days ago, Japanese prime minister, Shinzo Abe, paid a surprise official visit to Yasukuni Shrine, the memorial which enshrines Japan’s war dead including 14 Class-A war criminals in Tokyo.

The immediate effect has been to greatly elevate political tensions in Northeast Asia and to raise deep anxieties about his reliability as the leader of the United States’ major alliance partner in the Pacific. The US response was low-key but crystal clear. The United States ‘is disappointed that Japan’s leadership has taken an action that will exacerbate tensions with Japan’s neighbours‘.

For many Japanese, Yasukuni Shrine is simply a religious site meant for honouring the nation’s 2.5 million war dead. But it also is steeped in controversy, both at home and abroad. Japan’s wartime emperor, Hirohito, and his successor, Akihito, quietly boycotted visiting the shrine after then head priest, Nagayoshi Matsudaira, secretly enshrined war criminals there in 1978. A war museum on the grounds of the shrine justifies Japan’s invasions of Korea and China in the name of freeing Asia from imperialism, with no mention of Japan’s wartime atrocities, such as the rape of Nanking or frontline use of sex slaves. When prime minister Yasuhiro Nakasone visited in the shrine 1985, the international outrage was so strong that no other prime minister visited for another 11 years, until Ryutaro Hashimoto paid a visit in 1996. Junichiro Koizumi visited every year during his prime ministership, between 2001 and 2006, and although they were supposed to be non-official, these visits caused outrage in China and a sharp downturn in China-Japan relations that severed high-level bilateral political exchanges throughout the entire period.

Think Tank: Abe’s Yasukuni visit isolates Japan

Yasukuni Shrine - Japan

Author: Kazuhiko Togo, Kyoto Sangyo University

To those who are general supporters of Abe’s economic, political and foreign policy initiatives, including myself, his visit to Yasukuni on 26 December was a bombshell of disappointment and helplessness.

In order to resolve the issue of Yasukuni visits in Japanese politics that has been dragging on since the time of former Prime Minister Koizumi, I have argued that the Japanese themselves needed to come to terms with their own history. In particular, the question of Japan’s war responsibility needs to be definitively addressed, and until this and other issues are resolved there needs to be a moratorium on prime ministerial visits to Yasukuni.

Since Koizumi’s Yasukuni visit on 15 August 2006 there has actually been a de facto moratorium in place. But this period was not accompanied by a substantive government-led public discussion on how can Japan come to terms with its past. Abe’s visit broke that seven-year moratorium and his speech after the visit — emphasising the need to mourn the war dead and commit to policy of peace — made no mention of Japan’s war responsibility. Rather, his visit merely gives an impression of self-righteous one-sidedness to Japan’s still-incomplete soul searching process of coming to terms with the past.

Think Tank: What was Abe thinking, going to Yasukuni?

Yasukuni Shrine - Japan

Author: Tessa Morris-Suzuki, ANU

When a new Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) government headed by Shinzo Abe came to power a year ago, international reactions were deeply divided. Some commentators expressed alarm at the new prime minister’s nationalist rhetoric, and warned of heightened tensions in East Asia. Others, pointing to the experience of Abe’s earlier brief period in power in 2006–07, suggested that, despite the rhetoric, Abe was a pragmatist who would soon take steps to improve relations with Japan’s most important neighbours, China and South Korea.

A year into Abe’s second prime ministership, it seems clear that the pessimists were right. Over the past year, relations between Japan and its neighbours, particularly China, have sunk to a low point not seen since the Cold War era. Regional tensions have been exacerbated by statements emanating from Beijing and Seoul as well as from Tokyo, but the Abe administration’s nationalist stance has been a major factor in these tensions. That stance was on display again on 26 December, when Abe made a highly controversial visit to Yasukuni Shrine — the Shinto shrine in which the spirits of Japan’s fallen soldiers are revered.

Ever since Abe’s return to power, a possible prime ministerial visit to Yasukuni had been the subject of guessing games. Visits by former prime minister Junichiro Koizumi between 2001 and 2006 were the main cause of a significant worsening of Sino-Japanese relations during those years.

Industry: Harris Corporation Receives $100 Million Order from Australian Department of Defence for Falcon Tactical Radios

Falcon II AN/PRC-150(C) High-Frequency Manpack Radio

> Delivering multiband handheld and high-frequency manpack radios.
> Provides Australian military with line-of-sight and beyond-line-of-sight communications.
> Further expands deployment of wideband radios and tactical area communications systems.

MELBOURNE, FL/ROCHESTER, NY, December 26, 2013 — Harris Corporation (NYSE:HRS), an international communications and information technology company, has received a $100 million follow-on order to provide multiband handheld and high-frequency manpack tactical radios to the Australian Department of Defence.

Harris will deliver the radios in the latest phase of the Joint Project 2072 modernization program. The Australian military forces are fielding and deploying additional Falcon III® AN/PRC-152 handheld radios and vehicular adapters as well as Falcon II® AN/PRC-150(C) high-frequency manpack radios.

News Story: US, Canada firms bag PAF Huey deal

<< A UH-1 Huey of the Philippine Air Force on display at the Armed Forces of the Philippines Museum in Camp Aguinaldo (Image: Wiki Commons)

By Alexis Romero 

MANILA, Philippines - A joint venture of two companies based in North America has bagged the deal to supply 21 UH-1 combat utility helicopters to the Philippine Air Force.

The joint venture of American firm Rice Aircraft Services Inc. and Canadian company Eagle Copters Ltd. won the contract for the supply and delivery of Huey helicopters, the workhorse of the military’s operations.

The STAR learned that the notice of award was issued to the joint venture last week.

Defense Assistant Secretary Patrick Velez said in an interview the Huey helicopters can be used for rescue and internal security operations.

“The helicopters will be used to meet immediate requirements. They will be used to address the dwindling capability of the Air Force,” Velez said.

Read the full story at The Philippine Star

28 December 2013

USA: Officials Praise Decision on Futenma Facility

By Amaani Lyle
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Dec. 27, 2013 – Senior defense officials praised the governor of Okinawa, Japan, today for his approval of construction of a long-postponed air base to replace Marine Corps Air Station Futenma-Camp Schwab in Henoko Bay.

During a media conference call, Pentagon spokesmen hailed the governor’s green light of the landfill permit allowing a new runway to be built as a significant milestone in both the project’s progress and the United States’ partnership with Japan.

“We view this as a very important, critical milestone on our posture in Japan and Northeast Asia at large,” a DOD official said. “It keeps our presence forward in Okinawa … [and] it moves our presence … to the least populated part of the island and reduces our footprint there.”

The base houses U.S. Marine Corps MV-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft and other aviation assets as the United States continues its relocation of Marines to Guam and elsewhere in the Pacific region.

News Story: South Korea has completed development of Bi-Ho twin 30mm gun with Shingung guided missiles

South Korea's arms procurement agency announced Friday, December 27, 2013, that it completed development of a multipurpose air defense vehicle Bi-Ho with Shingung guided missiles based on indigenous technology. This self-propelled anti-aircraft defense system, Bi Ho provides final and close-in air defense against low altitude aircraft and helicopters.

The 30 mm caliber air defense system Bi-Ho was developed by combining the existing self-propelled gun vehicle called Bi Ho with the portable ground-to-air guided missile named Shingung, according to the Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA).

The self-propelled gun has a range of 3 km and the surface-to-air guided missile having a range of 7 km. 

The system development was launched in 2010, led by local defense companies such as Doosan Defense Systems & Technology, Samsung Thales and LIG Nex1.

Read the full story at Army Recognition

News Story: (Philippines) DND seeks release of funds to buy Korean fighter jets

By Alexis Romero

MANILA, Philippines - The Defense department has asked Malacañang to allow the release of a 52-percent down payment to the South Korean firm that offered to supply 12 fighter jets to the military.

Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin said they have submitted their recommendation to the Office of the President, which will have the final say on the matter.

“We recommended approval of the DP (down payment) and progress billing,” Gazmin said in a text message Thursday.

The law permits state agencies to pay a 15-percent down payment to suppliers while the rest of the amount would be paid upon the delivery of goods.

South Korean firm Korean Aerospace Industries (KAI) wants the Philippines to pay 52 percent down payment to cover its manufacturing costs. Such payment scheme would require the approval of President Aquino.

Read the full story at Philstar

Editorial: Japan and the United States Renew Commitments to Maritime Security

By Carl Thayer

The U.S. and Japan have taken to strengthening their alliances across Southeast Asia.

In the second half of December, Japan and the United States separately made renewed commitments to maintaining maritime security in Southeast Asia. Prime Minister Abe hosted the ASEAN-Japan summit on December 14, and held separate summit meetings with the leaders of nine ASEAN states plus the Thai Deputy Prime Minister from December 12-15.
U.S Secretary of State John Kerry visited Vietnam from December 14-16 and the Philippines from December 17-18.
The year 2013 will be remembered for Prime Minister Abe’s renewal of Japan’s security ties with Southeast Asia. During the year he visited each of the ten member states comprising the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.
On October 9, Prime Minister Abe also attended the 16th ASEAN-Japan Summit in Brunei. Maritime security was listed at point twenty-three of the twenty-nine-point Chairman’s Statement.
This stood in contrast to the Joint Statement issued after the ASEAN-Japan Commemorative Summit held in Tokyo to mark the fortieth anniversary of Japan-ASEAN relations.
The Commemorative Summit was held under the shadow of China’s unilateral declaration on November 23 of an Air Defence Identification Zone (ADIZ) over the East China Sea and the right to establish an ADIZ over the South China Sea.
Although the Joint Statement made no reference to China’s ADIZ, maritime issues featured prominently at the Commemorative Summit. This was reflected in the Joint Statement that listed  “maritime security and cooperation” and “free and safe maritime navigation and aviation” second and third among the substantive issues discussed. 

Read the full story at The Diplomat

Editorial: Pakistan Begins Producing Block-II JF-17 Aircraft

By Ankit Panda

The Block-II variant of the JF-17s entered production recently, with more advanced weapon systems and avionics.
According to reports by DefenseNews and DefenseTalk, Pakistan launched production of the Block-II JF-17 combat aircraft at the Pakistan Aeronautical Complex near Islamabad. The Diplomat reported earlier this year that Pakistan expected to begin exporting the JF-17 in 2014; the beginning of production last week is set to keep it on track to meet that deadline.

The Pakistan Aeronautical Complex has already produced 50 older, less-advanced Block-I JF-17s for the Pakistan air force. The newer Block-II variants possess more advanced weapons systems and avionics. The JF-17s are low-cost multirole single engine fighters jointly developed between Pakistan and China. China refers to the JF-17 as the FC-1 Xiaolong.

Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif visited the Pakistan Aeronautical Complex last week for “briefings on the exports of the Pakistan Air Force’s aircraft, the JF-17 Thunder,” according to a report by The Tribune. The event was intended to inaugurate the beginning of the production of the Block-II JF-17s and was attended by Chinese delegates and the Pakistan air force. Sharif said the JF-17 project would “expand the friendship between China and Pakistan.” 

Read the full story at The Diplomat

Editorial: "Smart Power" And Humanitarian Assistance

Image: Wiki Commons

By Robert Farley

The United States has a robust humanitarian assistance capacity in the Pacific and it has multiple objectives.

A recent State Department report highlighted the expansion of U.S. maritime assistance and capacity building in South East Asia. This document falls firmly within the guidelines set forth in the Cooperative Maritime Strategy, as well as in the State Department’s longstanding preferences with respect to regional engagement.
In addition to improving response time, these sorts of agreements will also enhance the ability of the USN to carry out cooperative disaster relief, as it will help create partnerships and familiarity with host state response organizations.  We have more than enough evidence that the increasing concentration of Southeast Asian populations in the littoral will radically increase the incidence and severity of natural disasters, which almost invariably lead to political, social, and economic disruption. 

Read the full story at The Diplomat

Editorial: Taiwan Acquires Submarine-Launched Anti-Ship Missiles

By Zachary Keck

Taiwan announced this week that the U.S. has begun delivering UGM-84L sub-launched Harpoon Block II missiles.

The United States began delivering submarine-launched anti-ship missiles to Taiwan this year, according to a new report released by Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defense (MND).
This week the MND delivered a report on U.S.-Taiwanese defense cooperation to the Legislature’s Foreign Affairs and National Defense Committee. According to local media, one of the revelations from the report was that the U.S. began delivering UGM-84L sub-launched Harpoon Block II missiles to Taiwan in 2013.
The U.S. Defense Security Cooperation Agency first notified Congress of a potential deal to sell Taipei the missiles in 2008. Under the terms of the deal, the U.S. will sell Taiwan 32 UGM-84L Sub-Launched Harpoon Block II missiles and 2 UTM-84L Harpoon Block II Exercise missiles for $195.46 million. All of the missiles and support equipment are scheduled to be delivered by 2016.
According to the report, Taiwan will equip its Dutch-built Hai Lung-class submarines with the HARPOON Block II anti-ship missiles. 

Read the full story at The Diplomat

Editorial: After Deadlock, Okinawa Approves US Air Base Relocation

By J.T. Quigley

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe made the Okinawa governor an offer he couldn’t refuse.

Despite years of protest and stalled negotiations, Okinawa Governor Hirokazu Nakaima approved the relocation of the U.S. military’s fiercely debated Futenma Air Station on Friday morning. The decision comes after years of Okinawan opposition to the Marine Corps’ base and the 26,000 troops stationed there. Promises of a generous stimulus package from Prime Minister Shinzo Abe likely sealed the deal.
“You presented surprisingly impressive proposals,” the governor told Abe during a Christmas Day meeting that paved the way for the agreement. “I express my heartfelt appreciation as the representative of Okinawa’s 1.4 million people.”
Abe’s special arrangement was a lucrative one: an annual $2.9 billion for Okinawa’s economic stimulus budget until 2021 and the guarantee that operations at Futenma would cease within five years. He also promised an early return of the land that Futenma currently occupies.
Nakaima signed off on landfill work that will allow a replacement base to be constructed off the shore of Nago – a less densely populated area than Ginowan, Futenma’s current location. The base, which was initially slated to shut down after a 1996 joint agreement between the U.S. military and its host, has become increasingly unpopular with nearby residents. 

Read the full story at The Diplomat

Editorial: Is Japan Now Finally a Normal Country?

By Lionel Pierre Fatton

What the recent changes to Japanese defense mean in the context of a return to “normalcy.”

So is Japan now finally a normal country? The question has been asked and debated for about two decades, the answer quite naturally depending on the definition given to the concept of “normal country.” A first step to address this question is to approach it in reverse, asking why Japan was seen as “abnormal” in the first place. The answer lies in the contextual reality that surrounded the emergence of the debate on Japan’s “normalcy.”
That debate began with the end of the Cold War, which marked the most important systemic change in international relations since the Second World War. Ichiro Ozawa’s Blueprint for a New Japan, a book that pioneered the debate on Japan’s normalcy, was written shortly after the bitter experience of the 1990-1991 Gulf War. Mainly because of constitutional and other legal impediments, Japan was able to offer only financial support to the multilateral war effort against Saddam Hussein, aid that went almost completely unacknowledged by the international community despite the huge amount of money it entailed.
Ozawa’s book drew lessons from this experience and consequently called for the re-appropriation of Japanese politics by politicians at the expense of the slow and inefficient bureaucracy and for a more active role for Japan in international affairs, including through deeper participation of the Self-Defense Forces to U.N. peacekeeping operations.
Japan thus started being labeled “abnormal” because its legislation that framed the use of armed forces prevented the country from adjusting its foreign policy to a rapidly changing international environment and from playing an active role in the redefinition of the international order underway in the wake of the Cold War.
In other words, Japan was abnormal because of the discrepancy between the foreign policy tools at its disposal and the nature of the international system the country was dealing with. If a foreign policy almost exclusively based on economic power was judged adequate to cope with the relatively stable and slowly evolving East Asian environment during Cold War era, the early 1990s showed Japan that this policy could rapidly become outdated in the new, more flexible international environment. To return to normalcy, Tokyo had to find its place and redefine its role in the new international order, which implied a reorientation of its foreign policy and thus a diversification of the instruments for implementing this policy. 

Read the full 2 page story at The Diplomat

Editorial: China and the US-Japan alliance in the East China Sea Dispute

By Shannon Tiezzi

The U.S. faces important choices in the future as it navigates its alliance with Japan and its rivalry with China.

China has been rising for over three decades. So why there has not been a genuinely confrontational Sino-U.S. stand-off or a new Cold War between these two top economies? In fact, there have been several symbolic incidents between Washington and Beijing after the honeymoon period that lasted during most of the 1980s. A list of these incidents would include the Yinhe Incident in 1993, the U.S. bombing of the Chinese embassy in Belgrade in 1999, the Hainan Incident in the South China Sea in 2001, and the narrowly-avoided collision in the same waters earlier in 2013. Have these incidents been a series of trial attempts between the U.S. and China to test each other’s respective bottom lines before reaching a total stand-off? The truth is: both countries have stumbled through all the discord, conflicts and collisions, and probably will have to continue to slowly walk together through the years to come. For China, a direct confrontation with the dominant incumbent power through conventional approaches like military alliance-building is unwise and therefore cannot be on Beijing’s agenda.
The doubts and suspicions remain, however. Many view a rising China as a confrontation to the dominant western system, usually by referring to power transition theory’s discussion of “power parity” and the “probability of war.” However, we need to think about this theory’s emphasis on the dominant power’s privileged position to accommodate or engage the rising power. The U.S.’s strategies, tactics, policies, and skills with regard to a rising China, therefore, have long-lasting significances transcending the region of East Asia.
Take the U.S.-Japan alliance, for example. This alliance relationship has been emphasized by both Washington and Tokyo on several occasions, particularly after the eruption of maritime disputes in the East China Sea. The Americans and Japanese may be accounting for facts: the rise of China may not be reversed and China will probably overpass the U.S. economically in less than 20 years. Therefore a strengthened U.S.-Japan alliance will help to ensure the strategic balance in the region in the near future at least. This seems to be a rational choice for a relatively declining U.S. to deal with an increasingly more powerful China. 

Read the full story at The Diplomat

Editorial: As China Rides High, a Downcast Taiwan Becomes More Vulnerable

By J. Michael Cole

China is convinced that history is on its side and that its political system is best – what does this mean for Taiwan?

After decades of living in the shadow of superpowers, the Chinese leadership today seems to believe it has developed a political system that is superior to any other on the planet. Combine that with the emergence of what is probably the most powerful leader since Deng Xiaoping and a party apparatus that feels it can finally get things done, and China could be forgiven for regarding itself as the new “shining city upon a hill.” That new sense of superiority has already manifested itself in the form of risky behavior in the East and South China Sea, and could have a substantial impact on Beijing’s “reunification” strategy for Taiwan.
Speaking in Taipei on December 26, long-time China watcher James McGregor argued that Chinese Communist Party (CCP) Secretary-General and President Xi Jinping is now the most powerful man in China since Deng Xiaoping. Unlike his predecessor Hu Jintao, a somewhat out-of-date leader who never succeeded in getting the upper hand on the powerful Central Standing Committee, Xi has quickly seized control over the reform plan as well as the security apparatus, which the just-concluded Third Plenum made all the more evident, McGregor said.
With the Bo Xilai scandal, Xi’s CCP has also sent a powerful signal to other would-be challengers that defiance will not be countenanced and will be dealt with very swiftly, as Bo quickly learned. With the leadership in line and immense powers at his disposal, Xi is now in a position, as McGregor put it, to “use Mao Zedong’s tools to get Deng aims.”
While Xi’s ascension does not mark a return to the totalitarian rule under Mao, we now face a China that is more convinced than ever that history is on its side, a belief that was exacerbated by the Wall Street debacle and the global financial crisis. “The CCP believes it has surpassed democracy and that it now has a better system,” McGregor opined, referring to China’s “democratic centralism.” 

Read the full story at The Diplomat

Editorial: 3 Ways Mao Shaped Naval Warfare

By James R. Holmes

While PLAN officers might not quote Mao anymore, their strategy bears his mark.

As China commemorates the 120th birthday of Chairman Mao Zedong, most Western commentaries have dwelt on how he shaped present-day China for good or, mostly, for ill. This is right and fitting. It helps outsiders know the new, old Asian titan rising in the Pacific.
Mao’s impact on Chinese strategic thought has attracted less scrutiny. It’s worth remembering that the communist supremo was a strategist — one who’s still studied in war colleges across the globe, including my own — as well as an ideologue and a tyrant. It’s not so much that strategists quote Mao incessantly. Nowadays he’s far from a staple of Chinese strategic discourses. But his imprint remains visible. He shapes assumptions about China’s geostrategic environment and how China should manage that environment.
In short, Maoist theory is woven into China’s strategic culture. People need not quote Mao all the time to take inspiration from his ideas and example. It’s unwieldy to restate the source of your assumptions every time you make an argument. Heck, you may not even know where they come from. That’s why they’re assumptions. For instance, the ghost of Alfred Thayer Mahan flits about whenever American military folk discuss command of the global commons. Few have made a study of Mahan’s works; some have never heard of him; many who have want to forget his leaden prose. His ideas endure nonetheless.
Strategy comes in threes, it appears. Thucydides explains human conflict in terms of fear, honor and interest, Clausewitz has his “paradoxical trinity,” Mahan has his tridents of sea power, and so forth. In that spirit, here are three Maoist axioms underlying Chinese strategic thought today: 

Read the full story at The Diplomat

27 December 2013

News Story: Japan's PM Set For Breakthrough On Moving Controversial US Base

TOKYO — Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe looks set to win approval from Okinawa this week for the long-stalled relocation of a US military base after a meeting Wednesday with the island’s pugnacious governor.

A deal with Okinawa would end a long-running dispute that has been a source of friction with Washington and also mark a significant achievement for Abe, who has sought closer US ties amid a simmering territorial row with China.

Abe pledged an unheralded cash bonanza for the archipelago, in the form of stimulus spending that commentators say could help persuade governor Hirokazu Nakaima to drop his longstanding opposition to construction of a new airbase.

“You presented surprisingly impressive proposals. I express my heartfelt appreciation as the representative of Okinawa’s 1.4 million people,” the governor told Abe.

Abe told Nakaima he would set aside at least ¥300 billion ($2.9 billion) for Okinawa’s economic stimulus budget every year until fiscal 2021.

Read the full story at DefenseNews

News Story: Dassault carrying out gap analysis of HAL's capabilities

NEW DELHI (PTI): Preparing to supply 126 Rafale combat aircraft to India, French firm Dassault Aviation is carrying out gap analysis of aerospace PSU HAL's fighter plane production capabilities to recommend upgrades.

Dassault Aviation and HAL have to work together to produce 108 Rafale fighter planes in India as part of the contract to supply 126 Medium-Multi-role Combat Aircraft (M-MRCA) to the Indian Air Force.

"Dassault is interacting with various HAL divisions on work packages related to the M-MRCA contract. As part of the technology transfer, Dassault is recommending production capability required. By carrying out gap analysis, HAL would be planning upgradation of facilities as per norms," HAL officials told PTI.

The Defence Ministry and the French firm are still in the process of negotiating the deal which is expected to cost the Government more than Rs 60,000 crore.

Read the full story at Brahmand

News Story: (Philippines) DND eyes 4 projects to upgrade military bases

By Alexis Romero

MANILA, Philippines - The Department of National Defense (DND) is set to implement at least four projects aimed at upgrading military bases under the new Armed Forces Modernization Law.

The projects, amounting to over P2 billion, seek to support new military assets to be acquired by the government.

The four base-related projects are the Air Force basing support systems for long-range patrol aircraft (P187 million), lead-in fighter trainer jets (P135.99 million), Air Force radar system (P825.52 million) and Navy basing support system (P1 billion).

The base support project for the long-range patrol aircraft will be implemented in Lipa, Palawan and Zamboanga.

Read the full story at The Philippine Star

26 December 2013

Industry: Elbit Systems to Supply Additional Battle Management Systems to the Australian Defence Forces

HAIFA, Israel, Dec. 22, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Elbit Systems Ltd. (NASDAQ and TASE: ESLT) ("Elbit Systems") announced today that the Australian Department of Defence has exercised options for additional quantities under an extant contract via a contract change, and also engaged Elbit Systems to conduct a Risk Reduction Activity via a survey and quote under the terms of an extant contract. The total value of both activities is approximately US$229 million (excluding GST). The contract will be performed over a three-year period.                        

Elbit Systems is the prime contractor of the Australian Defence Forces' ("ADF") Battle Management Systems.

The project, to be performed primarily by Elbit Systems of Australia (ELSA), will support the Australian Army in achieving its digitisation objectives.

Bezhalel (Butzi) Machlis, President and CEO of Elbit Systems commented: "Australia is a very important market for Elbit Systems, and we are proud to be awarded these follow-on orders."   Machlis added: "Elbit Systems is a global leading supplier of tactical Battle Management Systems, which are in operational use in dozens of armed forces worldwide, and we take great satisfaction in this new Australian vote of confidence."

News Report: Kim Jong Un - War Could Occur 'Without Any Prior Notice'

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un (File Photo)

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has instructed his military to boost its combat readiness, warning a war could break out "without any prior notice."

The state-run Korean Central News Agency reported Wednesday that Kim made the comments during a visit to a combat unit on Tuesday.

The move comes as North Korea's neighbors watch the communist country for signs of instability following a shocking purge of senior leadership in Pyongyang. Kim's uncle, Jang Song Thaek, thought to be his mentor and second in command, was executed earlier this month after being accused of trying to overthrow the state.

News Report: N. Korea Nuke Restart 'More Extensive' Than Expected

Yongbyon complex (Wiki Info - Image: Wiki)

A U.S.-based research group says North Korea has likely made "a more wide-ranging, extensive" effort to restore its main nuclear site than previously thought.

The analysis by the U.S.-Korea Institute at Johns Hopkins University is based on recent satellite images of the Yongbyon nuclear complex in the country's northwest.

A five-megawatt plutonium reactor at the compound was restarted in August, weeks after Pyongyang vowed to expand its nuclear weapons stockpile.

Although recent satellite images showed activity had resumed, it was unclear how quickly the reactor could resume making plutonium for nuclear bombs, since a lengthy process to make fresh fuel rods first needed to be completed.

But a piece published Tuesday on the U.S.-Korea Institute's 38 North blog suggested Pyongyang had anticipated this and may have been working on fuel production facilities for years.

News Story: Defence Ministry clears procurement of Barak missiles

NEW DELHI (PTI): Defence Ministry on Monday cleared procurement proposals worth over Rs 16,000 crore including that of the Israeli Barak missiles, whose acquisition was on hold for the last five years due to a CBI probe in an alleged bribery case.

The Ministry had put on hold procurement of Barak-I missiles because of a CBI probe in the case since 2006.

It also cleared a proposal for acquiring 2 deep submarine rescue vessels for the Navy while approving the indigenous construction of the 16 anti-submarine warfare shallow water craft at the cost of Rs 13,000 crore.

Read the full story at Brahmand

News Story: BAE Systems to upgrade S Korea's F-16 fighters

LONDON (BNS): British defence major BAE Systems has been roped in to upgrade South Korea's fleet of F-16 fighter jets under an agreement finalised between the US Government and the Republic of Korea. 

Under the deal, it will perform upgrades and systems integration for the RoK's fleet of more than 130 Lockheed Martin-built F-16 fighter jets, the company announced on Dec. 23.

It will begin the first phase of the work under contract through the US Department of Defence's Foreign Military Sales programme.

Read the full story at Brahmand

Editorial: Kim Jong-Un was “Very Drunk” When Executions Began

North Korean Leader Kim Jong-Un (File Photo)

By Zachary Keck

According to a report, the North Korean leader was very drunk when he ordered the first of the recent executions.

Japan’s largest newspaper reports that Kim Jong-Un was “very drunk” when he ordered the executions of two aides close to his uncle, Jang Song-Thaek.
On Monday South Korea’s JoongAng Daily cited the Japan-based Yomiuri Shimbun in reporting that North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un had been heavily inebriated when he ordered the execution of Ri Ryong-Ha, the first deputy director of the administrative department of North Korea’s ruling Workers’ Party (WPK), and Jang Su-Gil, a deputy director of the department. Both were close aides to Kim’s uncle Jang, who was also later executed.
According to the Yomiuri Shimbun report, which cited a source within the regime, Kim had asked Ri and Jang Su-Gil to give some of the WPK’s most profitable businesses to the military. The two said they had to first consult Jang Song-Thaek, who was then the head of the administrative department of the WPK. This reportedly angered Kim, who ordered that they be executed despite being “very drunk” at the time. 

Read the full story at The Diplomat

Editorial: Indian and Pakistani Military Officials Hold Rare Meeting

By Ankit Panda

The Director Generals Military Operations of each country met for the first time in 14 years.

India and Pakistan look to be in for a calm new year on their disputed border in Kashmir – the Director Generals Military Operations (DGMOs) of each country, among the highest military officials, met for the first time in 14 years to “discuss ways to ensure peace along Kashmir’s de facto border,” according to the BBCAccording to The Times of India, Lieutenant General Vinod Bhatia is leading the Indian delegation and Major General Aamer Riaz is in charge for Pakistan. The two sides met on the Pakistani side of Wagah, the only road border crossing between India and Pakistan.
Little is known about the details of the meeting, but the mere fact that it took place is a reassuring indicator that both sides are serious about resuming the long-stalled bilateral process on Kashmir. The meeting at Wagah resulted in a joint statement in which the two DGMOs stressed their “resolve and commitment” to “continue efforts for ensuring ceasefire, peace and tranquility” on the LoC. Additionally, the two sides ”resolved to work towards improved communications by re-energizing the ‘existing mechanisms,’ establishing a ‘hotline contact’ and ensuring safe return of innocent civilians who cross over inadvertently.” 

Read the full story at The Diplomat

Editorial: Air-Sea Battle to Cost $524.5 Billion Through 2023

By Zachary Keck

A new report finds the U.S. Navy and Air Force will spend more on ASB than the nuclear triad over the next decade.

The U.S. military is increasing its spending on capabilities to implement an Air-Sea Battle (ASB) concept to overcome adversaries’ anti-access area denial (A2/AD) strategies, according to a new industry report.
The report by G-2 Solutions, a market intelligence firm, analyzes the “Fiscal Year 2014 Navy and Air Force procurement and RDT&E budgets through the Air-Sea Battle (ASB) lens.”  From these, G-2 Solutions deemed a total of 191 programs and program elements to be included in the report, based on the “increased importance their capabilities will bring to an aggregate Air-Sea Battle capability.”
In total, the U.S. military will spend $31 billion more in FY 2014 versus FY 2012 on ASB enabling capabilities. Altogether, G-2 Solutions predicts that the U.S. Air Force (USAF) and U.S. Navy (USN) will spend $524.5 billion on ASB capabilities through 2023. 

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Editorial: USS Cowpens Incident: Rule Bending in the South China Sea

USS Cowpens (Image: US Navy via Flickr)

By Robert Farley

The incident stems in part from a desire in China to push back against the United States.

Unsurprisingly, interpretations of the recent “Cowpens Incident,” in which a PLAN amphib swung across the bow of the cruiser USS Cowpens, have varied dramatically. Nevertheless, most analysts seem to agree that the incident stems in part from a desire in China to push back against the United States, especially in contexts where the PLAN cannot reply to the USN in kind.  No Chinese submarines or surface ships, for example, can monitor a new U.S. carrier during the process of undergoing trials. Such games were common in the Cold War, as the Soviet Navy and the USN took a long time to sort through precisely what the rules were, what it meant to bend a rule, and what happened when the rules broke. However, the current situation is a good deal more complex; the PLAN may find that it needs to “push back” against not only the United States, but also India, Japan, Russia, Vietnam, and a handful of other Southeast Asian nations.
The Cold War surely presented its own version of a tense, complex maritime environment, but at least in that case good alliance relations between most of the major navies on either side meant that informal rules of the road could be applied with some confidence.  A Russian SSN playing tag with a French, British, or U.S. nuclear submarine had at least some sense that the other side shared a common purpose, if not always particular tactics. The current situation in East Asia is considerably different. As regional powers seek to increase their naval strength, an ever more complex maritime space develops. Sometimes, the increase in complexity does not even require the deployment of a larger number of ships; the “defensive zone” of the Liaoning is necessarily a relatively new concept for the PLAN. But in less than a decade, each of South Korea, Japan, Australia, India, the United States, and China may be operating carrier/amphib battle groups in rough proximity to one another. A shared understanding of the rules is important both to those who wish to live within them and those who want to test them, and the multiplicity of actors in Western Pacific makes coming to such an understanding exceptionally difficult. 

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Editorial: Taiwan’s All-Volunteer Military

By Shang-su Wu

Taiwan’s military transformation from conscription to an all-volunteer system will not go well.

Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defense (MND) has encountered a number of difficulties of recruiting enough professional soldiers to supplement the manpower gap left by the termination of compulsory military service. The MND’s latest report to Taiwan’s parliament reveals poor recruitment levels at roughly 30 percent of the target, between January and November 2013. In infantry and armored units, the recruitment rates are even lower, at just 4 percent and 16 percent, respectively.
As a consequence, the MND has postponed the introduction of the all-volunteer military from 2015 to 2017. Some relevant policies such as increasing salary and looser requirements are proposed by the MND in order to attract more young people to join the armed forces. However, the MND’s ongoing attempts at constructing an all-volunteer military will be unlikely to succeed and will very likely undermine Taiwan’s defense capacity and capability in several ways. 

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Editorial: The U.S. Humanitarian Presence in Southeast Asia

USNS Mercy (Wiki Info - Image: US Navy)

By Zachary M. Hosford

U.S. humanitarian and disaster response capabilities are unmatched. It should work to keep them that way.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry recently visited Tacloban in the Philippines to witness the recovery efforts following Typhoon Haiyan, which killed more than 6,000 people and flattened an incomprehensibly large swath of land. With Operation Damayan, the U.S. military has once again demonstrated its unparalleled ability to conduct humanitarian assistance and disaster relief (HA/DR) missions, and its performance contrasted sharply with China’s failure to respond effectively to the devastation.
Without viewing their responses simply as an HA/DR competition between the two countries, relief efforts have a very real and consequential effect beyond the importance of saving lives, and the U.S. cannot take for granted that it will maintain its current edge – and its accompanying influence – indefinitely.
To increase its response time, effectiveness and influence, the United States should work with the Philippines to forward-deploy a hospital ship to the region to augment other U.S. rebalancing initiatives. Such a deployment would naturally complement efforts to establish a rotational troop presence and enhance maritime domain awareness and intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance capabilities.
China undoubtedly fumbled its relief effort in the Philippines. By initially pledging a miniscule $100,000 in aid – raising its contribution only after being publicly lambasted – Beijing demonstrated that its ongoing maritime disputes with Manila trumped its renewed effort to improve relations with its neighbors. This did not go unnoticed in the Philippines or in the region. 

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