31 January 2014

USA: Official Discusses Chinese Air Force, Missile Trends

By Amaani Lyle
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Jan. 30, 2014 – U.S. intelligence officials visiting Capitol Hill today reported to the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission on the steady progress made by the People’s Liberation Army Air Force and the implications of that development to the United States.

Donald L. Fuell, National Air and Space Intelligence Center force modernization and employment technical director at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, warned against taking a “symmetric” view of PLAAF with a direct comparison to U.S. missile modernization.

“We believe the Chinese are not trying to match the U.S. system versus system,” Fuell said, “but are pursuing more of a system-of-systems approach that exploits what they perceive to be adversary weaknesses or exploitable vulnerabilities.”

Regarding potential U.S. intervention in cases of conflicts involving Taiwan or in regions of the South China Sea, recent Chinese operational literature suggests the People’s Republic of China may be developing a more mature viewpoint on the broad application of military operations against the United States than in year’s past.

Editorial: China Secretly Sold Saudi Arabia DF-21 Missiles With CIA Approval

By Zachary Keck

The CIA secretly approved of China selling Saudi Arabia advanced missiles.

In 2007, China secretly sold Saudi Arabia improved ballistic missiles with U.S. approval Newsweek magazine is reporting.
According to the report, which cites a “well-placed intelligence source,” in 2007 China secretly sold Saudi Arabia DF-21 solid-fuel, medium-range ballistic missiles. The U.S. Central Intelligence Agency quietly sanctioned the deal after confirming that they were not the nuclear-capable variants of the missiles.
The U.S. support for the deal stands in stark contrast to previous Sino-Saudi missile deals. Specifically, in the late 1980s Saudi Arabia clandestinely purchased DF-3 missiles from China, which the U.S. later exposed publicly and harshly criticized the deal. The arms deal created significant concern in some circles over fears that Riyadh’s purchase of nuclear-capable ballistic missiles signaled the Kingdom was intent on developing nuclear warheads.
The Newsweek report tries to play up the possible nuclear angle on the newer DF-21 missile deal, although there’s little reason to think this is Saudi Arabia’s reason for purchasing them given that it already possesses the DF-3 missiles. The report also notes that the DF-21 ballistic missiles have a shorter range but better accuracy than the DF-3 missiles. 

Read the full story at The Diplomat

Editorial: Pakistani Troops Violate Ceasefire With India

By Ankit Panda

After a period of relative tranquility, Pakistani troops violated the LoC ceasefire for the first time in 2014.

Pakistani troops violated the ceasefire on the Line of Control (LoC) for the first time since December 2013, when the Indian and Pakistani Director Generals of Military Operations (DGMOs) met at Wagah. Two such violations took place over the last week: the first was on the morning of Sunday, January 26, on India’s 65th Republic Day, and the other on Wednesday, January 29.
According to The Times of India, Sunday’s episode saw Pakistani troops firing unprovoked across the LoC for three hours. ”Today [in the] morning at 6:15am, when it was dark, there was unprovoked firing from Pakistani side. They fired about three RPG rounds and small arms on to the Kaman post (in Uri sector) on the Indian side,” according to General Officer Commanding of 19 Infantry Division Major General Anil Chauhan.
Wednesday’s episode was similar – Pakistani troops fired small arms across the LoC towards Indian forward posts in Kashmir’s Poonch district. An Indian military public relations officer notes that the Indian troops returned fire during this incident. Overall, the exchange lasted five minutes with no casualties. 

Read the full story at The Diplomat

Editorial: US - North Korea Is Ramping Up Nuclear Program

By Shannon Tiezzi

The U.S. Director of National Intelligence says that Pyongyang is expanding its nuclear and missile launch capabilities.

The Associated Press reported this week that U.S. intelligence has evidence that North Korea is expanding its nuclear program. According to the report, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper believes that North Korea has expanded its uranium enrichment facility and restarted a plutonium reactor that was shut down in 2007. The report appeared in Clapper’s written testimony to the Senate Intelligence Committee about national security threats to the United States.
The issue was not addressed in the public portion of the Senate Intelligence Committee hearing, which focused more on the impact of Edward Snowden’s leaks on the National Security Agency and the continuing intelligence efforts to thwart terrorist attacks. However, Clapper’s testimony meshes with independent reports that North Korea is diligently expanding its nuclear facilities. 

Read the full story at The Diplomat

Editorial: The New Age of Nationalism

By Zachary Keck

The 21st century will be defined by nationalism; not religion or culture.

Over at The Guardian, former British Prime Minister Tony Blair opines that this century’s most “epic” battles will be over religion, not political ideology. In his own words: “The battles of this century are less likely to be the product of extreme political ideology – like those of the 20th century – but they could easily be fought around the questions of cultural or religious difference.” For evidence to back up this claim, he points to a number of ongoing conflicts today. The overwhelming majority of these are occurring in the Arab World and Pakistan, although Blair throws in Russia, Central Asia, Burma, Thailand and the Philippines for good measure.
Blair is hardly the first person to make such arguments. 20 years ago last year, Samuel Huntington argued that civilizations, including Islam, would replace political ideologies as the most important force in international politics. Especially since 9/11, many have felt religion is the driving force in world politics today.
But Blair makes a number of errors in reaching his mistaken conclusion that religion and culture will dominate world politics in the 21st century. The first, as noted above, is that his focus tends to be on the greater Middle East. Although a lot can change in 84 years, there’s nothing to suggest that this will be the Middle Eastern Century. As Hillary Clinton put it, “The future of politics will be decided in Asia, not Afghanistan or Iraq.” 

Read the full story at The Diplomat

30 January 2014

Think Tank: Towards an unmanned air combat capability

By Peter Layton

Malcolm Davis’s recent post considered unmanned air vehicles (UAV) and falling tactical fighter fleet numbers. The issues raised are worth exploring further as they directly relate to the ADF’s future air combat capability.

Simply put, air combat encompasses air-to-ground and air-to-air. The two different activities used to involve specialised bomber and fighter aircraft, although most fighters were also pressed into a secondary fighter/bomber role. But in the immediate post-Cold War period, multi-role aircraft were favoured, although they’re not as effective in individual roles as specialised aircraft. Strategically, this made sense: the Soviets had vanished, air superiority was challenged only by a few surface-to-air missiles and the operational need was for interventions in foreign climes using high-precision air-to-ground weapons. It was the age of the strike fighter: think Super Hornet, Rafale and the aptly named Joint Strike Fighter.

This era is now ending with the sharp acceleration in UAV development. This quickened pace has been driven by real-world operational demands that have stressed air-to-ground roles, broadly defined. Modern precision strike is more than just smart bombs and needs integration with sophisticated intelligence surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) for success. Australia’s Strike/Reconnaissance Group, which operated the F-111C strike aircraft and the RF-111C reconnaissance aircraft, reflected this symbiotic relationship.

AUS: Navy’s historic visit to Bangladesh

Armidale Class Patrol Boat HMAS Childers

The Armidale Class Patrol Boat HMAS Childers arrived at Chittagong, Bangladesh on Monday, 27 January in what is the first visit for many decades to the nation by the Royal Australian Navy, Acting Minister for Defence Senator George Brandis QC announced.

“As one of our Indian Ocean neighbours, Australia values its interaction with Bangladesh and this landmark visit is a significant milestone for our nations’ Navy-to-Navy relationship,” Senator Brandis said.

“With the globalisation of trade and commerce, both our nations are dependent on the sea. As a result, we have shared interests in maritime security, naval diplomacy and mitigating the effects of natural disasters with humanitarian aid and disaster response.

USA: Pentagon Links Prosperity to Asia-Pacific Partnerships

By Amaani Lyle
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Jan. 29, 2014 – U.S. prosperity increasingly is tied to the Asia-Pacific region, a senior Defense Department official told the House Armed Services Committee here yesterday.

Michael D. Lumpkin -- the assistant secretary of defense for special operations and low-intensity conflict, performing duties of the undersecretary of defense for policy -- reported the region accounts for one-third of global trade, including $1.4 trillion in two-way trade annually with the United States.

“Half of the world's shipping by tonnage passes through the waters of the South China Sea,” Lumpkin said. “As countries and people throughout the region become more prosperous, it's ever more important to the global economy [that] the United States will be an active partner in the region's growth.”

The strategic rebalance toward the region, he added, also reflects strong, enduring ties with Asia-Pacific countries, where the United States has long supported security and stability through its military presence and partnerships.

News Report: N. Korea Warns Against War Games in Rare News Conference

North Korea's ambassador to China warned South Korea and the United States Wednesday against upcoming joint military drills on the peninsula.

In a rare news briefing in Beijing, Ambassador Ji Jae Ryong told selected journalists that Pyongyang is committed to denuclearization. But he said the North wants South Korea and the United States to compromise on the annual drills, which last year sparked heightened tensions and threats of nuclear war from Pyongyang.

“This time, we once again suggest that South Korea stop immediately without questions, all hostile military actions with foreign powers which opposes people of their same nationality,” Ji said. “Facing this, I pointed out that South Korea should make up their political mind to stop so-called defensive annual joint-military exercises such as the Key Resolve and Foal Eagles [drills] starting from the end of February."

Washington and Seoul have said the drills, which are one of the largest such military exercises conducted each year, will go forward.

The North routinely denounces the annual drills that occur around March as a prelude to an invasion. Seoul and Washington say they are primarily focused on honing defensive capabilities.  

News Story: P-8A Poseidon Maritime Patrol Aircraft gets green light to enter full rate production

P-8I of the Indian Navy (File Photo)

On the heels of the P-8A Poseidon squadron’s inaugural deployment, the U.S. Navy Maritime Patrol and Reconnaissance Aircraft Program Office (PMA-290) recently announced it entered the full-rate production (FRP) phase of its development.

The approval, reached Jan. 3 from the FRP Milestone Decision Authority will allow the program office, resource sponsor, acquisition community and industry to continue to deliver the P-8A to the fleet with the required capabilities needed to ensure the squadrons are getting a stable and efficient system.

"This significant milestone approval moves the program from low-rate into full-rate production, and allows us to manufacture the remaining aircraft over the next several years with an opportunity for a cost-effective procurement," said Cmdr. Tony Rossi, the integrated product team lead for the P-8A program.

Read the full story at Navy Recognition

News Story: Kendall - China Threatens US Military Superiority

Frank Kendall (Wiki Info - Image: Wiki Commons)

WASHINGTON — China poses an increasing challenge to the US military’s technological edge while budget pressures are hampering Washington’s effort to stay ahead, a senior defense official warned on Tuesday.

Frank Kendall, the Pentagon’s chief weapons buyer, told lawmakers that when it comes to “technological superiority, the Department of Defense is being challenged in ways that I have not seen for decades, particularly in the Asia-Pacific region.”

Citing China’s major investments in anti-ship missiles, stealth fighter jets, hypersonic vehicles and other hi-tech weaponry, Kendall said the United States could lose its dominant position if it failed to respond to the altered strategic landscape.

“Technological superiority is not assured and we cannot be complacent about our posture,” he told the House Armed Services Committee.

Read the full story at DefenseNews

Editorial: Has Obama Abandoned the Pivot to Asia?

By Shannon Tiezzi

Obama’s 2014 State of the Union address implies that the Asia-Pacific is not a priority for his administration.

Yesterday, U.S. President Barack Obama gave the traditional State of the Union address, wherein he laid out his vision for U.S. policy in the next year (a transcript can be found here). Such speeches are intended for a domestic audience (although they are also scrutinized all over the world) and typically focus more on domestic issues. Still, as Dan Lamothe at Foreign Policy wrote, this year Obama’s State of the Union speech “was notable for how little time he devoted to foreign policy — and how little he said that amounted to anything new.” 

Read the full story at The Diplomat

Editorial: India Will Buy 15 Amphibious Aircraft From Japan - So What?

By Ankit Panda

It is likely that Japan will sell India its indigenously developed US-2 amphibious aircraft in 2014.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s visit to India as chief guest at its Republic Day celebrations yielded some important advances in India-Japan relations. Notably on the security front, the two resolved to consult on national security matters between their two national security apparatuses (Japan’s national security council having been formed recently). Additionally, the two will conduct a bilateral naval exercise in the Pacific Ocean in a move that is sure to draw China’s attention. The pending sale of the ShinMaywa US-2 amphibious patrol aircraft–a topic of interest for India since 2011–also inched forward. Abe and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh agreed that India and Japan would follow up on the sale in March with a joint working group meeting. Indian Defense Minister A.K. Antony is set to visit Japan at some point this year (presumably before May, due to the general elections in India) to finalize the deal.
The deal is significant for a variety of reasons. On the surface, it’s another indicator of burgeoning cooperation between India and Japan on security matters. The deal is doubly significant in the context of India’s relations with Japan because once India clinches the deal, it will become the first country to purchase defense equipment from Japan since the latter’s self-imposed ban on defense exports began in 1967. The deal is important for Abe as it would open up Japan’s defense industry for additional contracts with foreign partners and stimulate Japan’s defense industry. It should be noted that negotiations on the US-2 deal began in 2011 under the Democratic Party of Japan, first under Prime Minister Naoto Kan and then under Yoshihiko Noda. 

Read the full story at The Diplomat

Editorial: US Navy Faces Aircraft Carrier Cuts

By Zachary Keck

Even as China moves to quadruple its carrier fleet, the US may reduce the number of carriers it fields and deploys.

Earlier this week, Defense News reported that, while no decisions had been made, the Pentagon is actively considering eliminating one of the eleven aircraft carriers the U.S. Navy currently fields as part of its 2015 fiscal year budget request. The report, which cited numerous unnamed sources “in the Pentagon, on Capitol Hill, [and] in the defense industry,” said that a carrier air wing could also be eliminated as part of the FY 2015 budget.
The report came just days after the U.S. Fleet Forces released a detailed outline of its new Optimized Fleet Response Plan (O-FRP). The plan calls for reducing by at least one the number of aircraft carriers the U.S. would have deployed at any given time. Under the new O-FRP, the Navy’s carrier strike groups will operate under a 36 month training and deployment cycle. Within each 36 month cycle, each carrier strike group would be deployed for eight months.
Under the previous carrier strike group operation schedule, which ended January 13 due to fiscal constraints, each CSG is deployed for 14 of every 36 months. This allows the U.S. to have three to four CSGs deployed at any given time. Under the new plan, which will begin with the USS Harry Truman in November of this year, the U.S. will deploy just two aircraft carriers at sea. It does enable the U.S. Navy to have a surge capacity of between one and two additional CSGs in case of national emergencies, assuming the U.S. maintains its current 11 carriers. 

Read the full story at The Diplomat

Editorial: How Will Japan’s New NSC Work?

By J. Berkshire Miller

The National Security Council brings welcome changes, but will it be able to overcome Japanese bureaucracy?

The administration of Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe implemented its long sought-after National Security Council (NSC) last December. The creation of the NSC was surrounded by the release of other security-related documents such as revised National Defense Program Guidelines (NDPG) and a first-ever National Security Strategy (NSS). While the publication of these documents and the creation of the NSC had been planned for several months, their release still set off some alarm bells across the international press and resulted in some predictable cautioning from Beijing, which raised concerns that Japan was returning to its militarist past. Abe’s bold move in visiting Yasukuni shrine, on the anniversary of his first year in office, provided yet another golden opportunity for his detractors to question Japan’s strategic intentions.
The intentions behind the new security apparatus in Tokyo is another debate unto itself. But lost in the furor of this discussion is the actual operations and purpose of Japan’s new centralized approach to national security. Specifically, there seems to be confusion over the newly minted NSC and its role in Japan’s foreign policy – especially with regard to the simmering dispute with China over the Senkaku Islands. As noted in a previous article on the necessity of an NSC in Japan, the concept is not new or merely an outgrowth of souring ties with Beijing. Indeed, during Abe’s first administration in 2007, he proposed legislation that would enact an NSC but the bill was discarded due to unfinished deliberations.
Tokyo has also used other forms of security and defense councils for several decades, but they have been dogged with inefficiencies caused by information silos and bureaucratic red tape. Abe’s failure to procure accurate and timely intelligence during the hostage taking of several Japanese citizens last year in Algeria seemed to mark another tipping point justifying the need for swifter and more centralized national security decisions. 

Read the full story at The Diplomat

29 January 2014

USA: 7th Fleet Ballistic Missile Team Supports JMSDF in Exercise Keen Edge

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Toni Burton

YOKOSUKA, Japan - U.S. 7th Fleet, U.S. Forces Japan and Japan Self Defense Force (JMSDF) operators will hone their Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) skills in exercise Keen Edge 2014 which runs through Jan. 31.

Throughout the exercise, Japanese and U.S. headquarter staffs will simulate the tactical defensive steps that would be taken in the event of a crisis or contingency.

"The successful defense of Japanese and U.S. interests from unanticipated ballistic missile threats requires detailed planning, precision ship stationing and lightning quick reactions," said Lt. Cmdr. Matthew Klobukowski, 7th Fleet integrated air and missile defense officer. "BMD is one of the many missions the U.S. and Japan train for together."

Since 1986, the United States military and JMSDF have collaborated and planned a biennial joint-bilateral exercise referred to as Keen Edge.

USA: Pacific Fleet Commander Gets Close Look at P-8 Advanced Capabilities

From U.S. 7th Fleet Public Affairs

<< Adm. Harry B. Harris Jr., commander of U.S. Pacific Fleet, center, observes operations aboard a P-8A Poseidon aircraft above the East China Sea, Jan. 24. (U.S. Navy photo)

OKINAWA, Japan - Adm. Harry Harris, Pacific Fleet commander, saw firsthand the advanced capabilities of the P-8A Poseidon on a flight with the War Eagles of Patrol Squadron (VP) 16, Jan 24.

The P-8A flew an eight-hour maritime surveillance mission over the East China Sea, highlighting the full range of the Poseidon's game-changing intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) capabilities.

"This is a super aircraft. Within just three months of arriving for its first-ever deployment, it's already a huge leap forward in capability for the Pacific Fleet," said Harris. "The software upgrades that were put in place last fall have paid off in providing an immediate and effective advantage in ASW, ISR and sensor integration. In my opinion, the P-8A is exceeding its key performance parameters by a wide margin. This is exactly what we need to fight tonight. Send more my way!"

USA: USS Denver Departs For 7th Fleet Patrol, Cobra Gold

By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Bradley J. Gee

<< USS Denver (LPD 9) pulls away from the pier at Fleet Activities Sasebo, Japan, Jan. 27. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Adam D. Wainwright)

SASEBO, Japan - Amphibious transport dock ship USS Denver (LPD 9), departed Sasebo, Japan for deployment in 7th Fleet area of responsibility Jan. 27.

Denver is the second oldest deployable ship in the U.S. Navy behind the USS Constitution.

"The oldest gator in the U.S. Navy, is what we call ourselves," said Operations Specialist 1st Class Jamie Dixon, assigned to USS Denver. "It's an older ship so we face different problems than other vessels in the fleet, but when it's time to get underway we are always up for the challenge."

During this deployment, Denver will participate in its spring patrol in 7th Fleet and the annual, joint exercise Cobra Gold in Thailand.

According to Dixon, Denver and a ship from Thailand will cross deck Sailors, which means members from each others navy will board the other's ship.

"We will train them on how we operate and they will do the same to our Sailors onboard their vessel," said Dixon.

Denver will be conducting these exercises and patrols with the Bonhomme Richard Amphibious Ready Group commanded by Capt. Heidi Agle, commodore, Amphibious Squadron 11 and reports to the Commander, Amphibious Force 7th Fleet, Rear Adm. Hugh Wetherald, headquartered in White Beach, Okinawa, Japan.

USA: Future USS Coronado (LCS 4) Begins Sailaway

Independence class LCS (File Photo)

From PEO LCS Public Affairs

MOBILE, Ala. (NNS) -- The Navy's newest littoral combat ship, the future USS Coronado (LCS 4), departed from the Austal USA shipyard in Mobile, Ala., Jan. 27, en route to her commissioning site in Coronado, Calif. 

Coronado is the fourth littoral combat ship delivered to the Navy, and the second LCS of the aluminum, trimaran Independence variant. It is scheduled to be commissioned April 5, and will be homeported in San Diego, Calif. 

"It is exciting to see Coronado, operated by her Navy crew, exiting the new construction yard en route to her homeport," said Capt. Tom Anderson, LCS Program Manager. "There is a great sense of pride among the many who were involved in her construction in seeing her headed to sea to do what she was built to do." 

USA: Assistant Secretary of State Biswal Travel to Sri Lanka, United Kingdom, Switzerland

Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs Nisha Biswal will travel to Sri Lanka January 31-February 2. Assistant Secretary Biswal will meet with Sri Lankan officials to discuss a range of bilateral issues, including post-conflict reconciliation, justice and accountability issues. During her visit Assistant Secretary Biswal will also travel to Jaffna, where she will meet with Northern Provincial Council officials and civil society leaders.

Assistant Secretary Biswal will then travel to London for meetings with officials from Her Majesty’s Government on February 3. She will also travel to Geneva, for meetings regarding our intention to sponsor a resolution on Sri Lanka in the March session of the UN Human Rights Council. This resolution will build upon previous resolutions in 2012 and 2013, and will urge Sri Lanka to do more to promote reconciliation, justice and accountability in the wake of the civil conflict.

News Story: South Korea To Hold Live Fire Drill Despite North Warning

SEOUL — South Korea said it would carry out a live fire exercise Tuesday near the disputed sea border with North Korea, despite Pyongyang’s warning of “grave consequences” if it went ahead.

Defence Ministry spokesman Kim Min-Seok told reporters that the North had sent a faxed message on Monday, demanding the exercise involving artillery batteries on Baengnyeong and Yeonpyeong islands in the Yellow Sea be called off.

The message from the North’s top military body, the National Defence Commission (NDC), threatened unspecified “grave consequences” if the drill went ahead, Kim said.

The South responded that the exercise was a “legitimate military drill” that would be carried out as scheduled, and warned of “strong retaliatory strikes” to any provocation from North Korea.

Read the full story at DefenseNews

News Story: South Korea To Finalize F-35 Jet Fighter Deal This Year

SEOUL — South Korea plans to finalize the purchase of 40 next-generation F-35 jet fighters from US aerospace giant Lockheed Martin later this year, Seoul’s military procurement agency said.

“We will ... push to sign the contract in the third quarter ... after testing and further negotiations,” Jung Kwang-Sun, the Defense Acquisition Program Administration’s aircraft department director, told reporters in a briefing late Monday.

The South’s air force has been looking to upgrade its aging fleet of Boeing F-4 and F-5 fighters in light of North Korea’s growing nuclear threat.

Jung did not specifically name the F-35s, but they are the only jet fighters on offer that meet the requirement — laid down by the South Korean joint chiefs of staff last month — for a stealth-capable fighter.

Read the full story at DefenseNews

News Story: (USA) Hill Rises in Support of 11-Ship Carrier Fleet


WASHINGTON — Responding to this week’s Defense News story that the Pentagon is strongly considering moves to reduce the US aircraft carrier fleet, 11 congressmen, led by Rep. Randy Forbes, R-Va., sent a letter Tuesday to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel in support of current fleet levels.

House Armed Services Committee chairman Rep. Buck McKeon, R-Calif., three other Republicans, and six Democrats joined Forbes in signing the bipartisan letter.

“The Secretary of the Navy was right this past fall when he noted that a smaller aircraft carrier fleet would be unable to execute the missions described in the Defense Strategic Guidance,” Forbes wrote. “Such a reduction in the Navy’s carrier force would profoundly damage U.S. national security, limiting our ability to deter aggression around the world and respond to crises in a timely manner. It is unacceptable to pretend that the United States lives in anything less than an 11 carrier world given China’s growing assertiveness in the Asia-Pacific, rising instability in the Middle East and the persistent danger of global terrorism. As Rear Admiral [Thomas] Moore [the Navy’s program executive officer for aircraft carrier] has phrased it so starkly, we’re an eleven carrier Navy in a 15 carrier world.”

Read the full story at DefenseNews

News Story: Indonesian firm wins PAF aircraft supply deal

C-212 Aviocar (Wiki Info - Image: Wiki Commons)

By Alexis Romero

MANILA, Philippines - The Air Force is acquiring two new light lift aircraft from Indonesia to boost the delivery of supplies and personnel to remote areas.

Indonesian firm PT Dirgantara Indonesia has won the bidding for the light lift fixed-wing aircraft acquisition project, worth P814 million.

The STAR learned that the defense department issued the notice of award for the project early this month.

Air Force spokesman Col. Miguel Okol said the aircraft could land even in areas that do not have airstrips.

Larger planes like the C-130 and medium lift fixed-wing planes require long runways.

“The light lift fixed aircraft can bring more goods than helicopters.

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It can operate in areas with small runways,” Okol told The STAR yesterday.

He said the plane is more flexible, particularly during disaster response operations. 

Read the full story at The Philippine Star

News Story: (Philippines) PAF to receive 2 attack AW-109s this year

by Jigs Nepomuceno

MANILA — The Philippine Air Force (PAF) said on Tuesday that two units of the attack version of the AgustaWestland AW-109 "Power" helicopters will be delivered this year.

"Two units will be delivered by 2014 and (by) 2015 (the remaining) six units will be delivered. As per signed contract, two units will be delivered 365 days upon LC (letter of credit) opening," PAF spokesperson Col. Miguel Ernesto Okol said.

He added that the pilots and flight crew who will man the brand-new aircraft have already been identified.

"Pilot(s) and (flight) crew (are now) identified. However, the date for training is TBDL (to be determined later)," Okol said.

The Philippines and AgustaWestland signed the P3.44- billion contract for the attack version of the AW-109s last Nov. 6.

The PAF’s AW-109 "Power" configuration will feature a dedicated mission package and equipment, including a combination of weapon systems.

Read the full story at ZamboTimes

News Story: (Philippines) PAF expects delivery of 10 Hueys by June

By Rebelander S. Basilan

THE Philippine Air Force (PAF) will have more aircraft this year, as it upgrades its capability to respond to disasters.

Lt. Gen. Lauro Catalino Dela Cruz, PAF commanding general, said 21 Huey helicopters will be delivered this year, with seven to 10 expected to arrive in the first half of the year.

Dela Cruz, who graced the 35th anniversary celebration of the PAF Second Air Division yesterday, said they are converting four helicopter gunships into air ambulances.

He also revealed that President Benigno Aquino III approved their request to buy two more C-130 aircraft.

The PAF has three C-130 planes.

“As part of our capability upgrading program, the AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines) will also buy three medium-lift aircraft. These are lower versions of the C-130s. If this will materialize, we will have eight cargo aircraft,” Dela Cruz said in an interview.

Read the full story at SunStar

Editorial: Why to Ignore China’s Aircraft Carriers

By Harry Kazianis

A lot of Chinese hardware could challenge US primacy in the Pacific. Carriers are not among them.

As someone who has made a career of tracking China’s latest defense technologies, let me clue you on a little secret: Beijing’s new carrier, supposedly being built in Dalian, is no military threat for the foreseeable future. In fact, don’t even waste your time reading about whatever rumor comes next. There is a lot of Chinese hardware that could challenge U.S. primacy in the Pacific— but carriers are not one of them.
Before I get into why, a little background is in order.
China has been researching, thinking about, and studying carrier technology for decades but is just now building its own flattops. PLAN Admiral Liu Huaqing, who most scholars consider the founder of China’s aircraft carrier research program, believed that Beijing’s maritime doctrine should evolve through a two stage effort with carriers being a big part of such a plan. Step one would be (PDF) “a ‘green-water active defense’ that would enable the PLAN to protect China’s territorial waters and enforce its sovereignty claims in the Taiwan Strait and South China Sea.” While scholars can argue the point, in many respects, China seems close to achieving such a goal. The second part would be to “develop a blue-water navy capable of projecting power into the western Pacific.” As noted back in 2004 in the US Naval War College Review (PDF) (USNWCR),  “aircraft carriers were needed to protect China’s sovereignty and maritime resources, especially with regard to Taiwan and the South China Sea; guard China’s sea lanes of communications as the country industrialized and increasingly became a major trading power; enable China to keep up with regional powers such as India and Japan; and give the PLAN a decisive edge in future naval warfare.”
Read the full story at The Diplomat

Editorial: New Japanese Teaching Guidelines Treat Senkakus, Kurils, Takeshima As 'Integral Territories'

By Ankit Panda

Japan’s new teaching guidelines will add tension to an already fraught region.

In a move that is sure to increase tensions in an already fraught region, Japan moved to revise its middle and high school teaching guidelines to refer to the disputed islets at Takeshima (known as Dokdo in South Korea) and Senkaku (known as Diaoyu in China) as “integral territories of Japan,” according to Japanese Education Minister Hakubun Shimonura.
Shimonura added, “As we are striving to develop human resources who can do well globally, it is only natural to teach students about our territories in a correct manner.” He brushed off the implications for Japan’s relations with its neighbors, noting that Japan would “provide polite explanations for both China and South Korea.”
South Korea immediately summoned the Japanese ambassador to Seoul upon learning of the news, and foreign ministry spokesman Cho Tai-young condemned the Japanese policy. Cho said that South Korea’s government ”strongly condemns this [action], and demands that they withdraw this immediately. If the Japanese government does not follow this, our government will take firm measures that corresponds to this right away.”
China responded to the policy via a regularly scheduled Foreign Ministry press conference. Spokesperson Hua Chunying said “We express grave concerns over this, and we have lodged solemn representations with the Japanese side.” She added, “We urge the Japanese side to respect historical facts, stop provocations, teach the younger generation with a correct historical perspective and improve its relations with neighbors with concrete actions.” 

Read the full story at The Diplomat

Editorial: Why the First World War Matters for Japan

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe

By Yong Kwon

Abe’s reference at Davos could draw Japan’s attention to some useful lessons from that era.

Responding to a question on the conceivability of a war between the two largest economies in Asia, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe made waves at Davos last week when he compared ongoing tensions between Japan and China to Anglo-German relations in the period leading up to the First World War. Although a sobering reminder that the world does not resemble the neo-liberal utopian dream of Thomas Friedman, this reply was a poorly timed statement that will serve only to put further distance between two countries whose relations are already frayed following Abe’s visit to Yasukuni Shrine and Beijing’s unilateral declaration of an Air Defense Identification Zone around the disputed islets in the East China Sea.
At the same time, there is more to the seemingly anachronistic analogy than first meets the eye. The war in 1914 played a critical role in informing the nascent Japanese Empire about its strategic limitations in the modern era. It was the lessons from the German defeat in particular that emboldened Japan to pursue territory in mainland China and sowed the seeds for the discord that has relentlessly stymied closer ties with China in recent years. Indeed, Abe drawing attention to the First World War can be seen as equal parts caution to Beijing and an admission that Japan still struggles from the same strategic limitations it faced a hundred years ago. 

Read the full story at The Diplomat

Editorial: China, Taiwan To Hold First High-Level Meeting Since 1949

By Shannon Tiezzi

Taiwan’s Mainland Affairs Council Minister Wang Yu-chi will travel to China to meet with his counterpart, Zhang Zhijun.

Taiwan’s Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) Minister Wang Yu-chi announced that he will meet with China’s Taiwan Affairs Office (TAO) Director Zhang Zhijun in the mainland Chinese city of Nanjing on February 11. While in Nanjing, Wang will also visit the tomb of Sun Yat-sen, the father of the KMT or Nationalist Party and a celebrated figure in both China and Taiwan. Wang will travel to Shanghai for meetings on February 13 before returning to Taiwan on February 14.
The meeting will be the highest-level dialogue between officials from China and Taiwan since 1949. However, Wang and Zhang have met before — they both sat in on a meeting between Taiwan’s former Vice President Vincent Siew and Chinese President Xi Jinping on the sidelines of the APEC summit in Bali. This format was far more typical for China-Taiwan meetings: a current government official from one side, and a retired, unofficial representative from the other. During that meeting, Xi Jinping expressed his intention to “push forward the peaceful development of cross-Strait relations.”
The APEC meeting was also the occasion of Xi’s much-quoted statement that cross-strait political issues “must reach a final resolution … these issues cannot be passed on from generation to generation.” The quote sparked a flurry of speculation that Xi was angling to solve the Taiwan issue once and for all. 

Read the full story at The Diplomat

28 January 2014

AUS: Royal Australian Navy accepts first two Romeos in Jacksonville

by Ms Natalie Staples (author)

The first two MH-60R Seahawk Romeo maritime combat helicopters were accepted by the Royal Australian Navy at an ‘In Service Date’ ceremony conducted by NUSQN 725 at Naval Air Station Jacksonville, Florida on the 24th January.

The first two of twenty-four airframes on order from Sikorsky and Lockheed Martin were delivered to the Defence Material Organisation (DMO) in early December 2013.

 Commanding Officer of NUSQN 725, Commander David Frost says the Sea Hawk Romeo represents a big step forward from Navy’s current ‘Classic’ Sea Hawk, which it is replacing.

“The MH-60R is a potent maritime combat helicopter and they will primarily be used in the Anti Submarine Warfare Role.  The aircraft will also contribute to Navy’s anti-surface warfare role by providing an air-to-surface missile capability,” said Commander Frost.

News Story: Russia to deliver 37 BMP-3F amphibious armoured infantry fighting vehicles to Indonesia

Russia will deliver 37 Russian-made amphibious armoured infantry fighting vehicles BMP-3F to the Indonesian armed forces. With this new vehicles, Indonesia has now a total of 54 vehicles in service with the Indonesian Navy Marine Corps.

The Russian arms export agency Rosoboronexport will provide the Indonesian defense department with 37 BMP-3F armoured infantry fighting vehicles. " The official ceremony for the delivery will be held on the polygon of Karang Tekok, a military base of the Indonesian Navy Marine Corps. The ceremony will be attended by the Indonesian Minister of Defense Purnomo Yusgiantoro ," said the official source.

In December 2012, Indonesia has ordered 37 BMP-3F amphibious armoured infantry fighting vehicles from Russia, in addition to the 17 ones already in service with the Marine Corps.

Read the full story at Army Recognition