31 March 2014

Think Tank: Beijing’s South China Sea strategies - consolidation and provocation

Author: Gregory Poling, CSIS

Recent months have seen a steady progression of China’s long-term strategy in the South China Sea, which can be loosely divided into two parts. Beijing is building up its maritime surveillance forces in the area and strengthening effective control of the features it occupies. At the same time, Chinese vessels are venturing far afield with greater frequency to assert Beijing’s claims to the entire area encompassed by the ‘nine-dash line’, and to provoke missteps by fellow claimants.

Authorities in China’s Hainan Province made waves last November by issuing regulations to implement a 2004 national fisheries law. One regulation requires foreign fishing vessels to receive prior approval before entering waters administered by Hainan, which include all of China’s claims in the South China Sea. This set off alarm bells in Southeast Asia and beyond.

The regulations are a worrying attempt to enforce China’s heavy-handed control over disputed waters, but they do not signal a new strategy. The contentious article in the Hainan fishing regulations repeats almost word for word the language of the 2004 national fisheries law that it implements. The timing of the regulation’s release, in the same month that Beijing declared its Air Defence Identification Zone (ADIZ) in the East China Sea, sparked understandable fears that China was adopting a more hardline approach to maritime disputes.

AUS: ADV Ocean Shield sails with MH370 locator equipment

ADV Ocean Shield (Wiki Info - Image: Wiki Commons)

Today the Australian Defence Vessel Ocean Shield is being fitted with specialist underwater search and location equipment and embarking personnel, to support search operations in the Southern Indian Ocean for Malaysia Airlines MH370.

Ocean Shield has been fitted with United Sates Navy (USN)-supplied specialist equipment that includes a Towed Pinger Locator (TPL-25) and a Bluefin-21 Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (AUV).

The US Navy has also provided specialist Navy and civilian equipment operators who will join the ship’s civilian crew and embarked ADF specialists.

Sri Lanka: Commander of the Navy attends IONS 2014

Commander of the Navy, Vice Admiral Jayanath Colombage attended the Indian Ocean Naval Symposium (IONS) 2014 Seminar and Conclave of Navy Chiefs held in Australia. The seminar was held from 26th to 27th March 2014 under the theme, "Protecting the ability to trade in the Indian Ocean Maritime Economy" while the conclave attended by participating Chiefs of Navies was held on 28th March. The Commander was accompanied by Navy Seva Vanitha Unit President, Mrs. Srima Colombage.

The biennial event was hosted by the Royal Australian Navy, which will hold the IONS chairmanship for the next two years. Between the sessions, the Navy Commander was able to meet a number of high ranking defence and naval officials that included Australian Defence Minister, Hon.  David Johnston, His Excellency the High Commissioner for Sri Lanka in Australia, Admiral Thisara Samarasinghe, Chiefs of Naval Staff Pakistan Navy, Admiral Muhammad Asif Sandila, Chief of Staff of the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force, Admiral Katsutoshi Kawano, Commander-in-Chief Royal Thai Navy, Admiral Surasak Rounroengrom, Chief of Australia Navy, Vice Admiral Ray Griggs, Chiefs of Naval Staff Bangladesh Navy, Vice Admiral M Farid Habib and Australia Aborginal leader.

IONS is a voluntary initiative that seeks to increase maritime co-operation among navies of the littoral states of the Indian Ocean Region. It provides an open and inclusive forum for discussion of regionally relevant maritime issues. At present, there are 35 member Navies, which have been geographically grouped into four sub-regions namely, South Asian Littorals, West Asian Littorals, East African Littorals and South East Asian & Australian Littorals.


BATAM, Indonesia 29th  March 2014 –  The first ever Multilateral Naval Exercise KOMODO 2014 hosted by Tentara National Indonesia Angkatan Laut (TNI AL), is being held at Batam Island, Republic Indonesia, involving 17 participating Nations. The event started with the Opening Ceremony at Swiss-belhotel, Batam Island, Republic Indonesia, which was officiated by Djoko Suyanto, Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal and Secutiy Affairs. In attendance to represent the Royal Brunei Navy was First Admiral Dato Seri Pahlawan Abdul Aziz bin Haji Mohd Tamit, Commander of Royal Brunei Navy.

Soon after the Opening Ceremony, Exercise KOMODO commenced with Command Post Exercise (CPX) as well as Table Top Exercise (TTX) and Field Training Exercise (FTX) discussions involving participants from the various navies. The contingent from the Royal Brunei Navy is led by 612 Major (L) Willie bin Padan, Commanding Officer of KDB DARULEHSAN.


Multilateral Humanitarian Assistance / disaster relief (HA/DR) Exercise, “KOMODO” is being conducted from 28 Mar-03 Apr 14 at Indonesia. The exercise participants include India, Indonesia, USA, China, Russia, New Zealand, South Korea, Japan, Singapore, Malaysia, Brunei, Thailand, Vietnam, Philippines and Laos. Indian Navy is being represented by INS Sukanya with integral Chetak. 

The exercise is being conducted over a duration of six days in three phases viz. harbour Phase, Sea Phase and Civic Mission Phase. Activities during Harbour Phase include table Top Exercise (TTX) on HA/DR, Disaster Relief Command Post Exercise, Sports and Social Interaction. During the Sea Phase SAREX (Search and Rescue Exercise), Cross Deck Flying/Evacuation, lashing, MOBEX (Man Overboard Exercise), Oil Leakage Control, Platform Remnant Exercise and damage Control exercise would be undertaken. In addition, Land and Ship Medical evacuation Exercise (MEDEVAC) and Engineering Civic Action Programme (ENCAP) would be undertaken during the Civic Mission Phase in which personnel from Sukanya would participate. 

News Report: Hagel Prepares for Week Focused on Asia

Colin Lovett

WASHINGTON — U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel is preparing for a week of meetings that highlight the U.S. pivot to Asia. Starting Tuesday, he hosts defense ministers from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, or ASEAN, in Hawaii before traveling to Japan and China.

The U.S. has labeled some of the Chinese actions in disputed waters off its eastern and southern coasts as provocative.

These are Chinese military training exercises in the East China Sea -- as seen in video supplied by China to western news agencies -- where China declared a controversial Air Defense Identification Zone last year. In December, the U.S. said one of its  warships was forced to take evasive action to avoid a collision with a Chinese naval vessel.   

News Story: Commander - US military can’t conduct amphibious operations in the Pacific

LCAC (Image: Wiki Commons)

WASHINGTON — The Navy and Marines do not have enough assets to carry out a contested amphibious operation in the Pacific if a crisis arises, the top commander of U.S. forces in the region told lawmakers Tuesday.

As the war in Afghanistan winds down, Marine Corps leaders want the service to return to its roots of being a force that can attack enemies from the sea, as the Marines did frequently during World War II. But Adm. Samuel Locklear III, commander of U.S. Pacific Command, told the Senate Armed Services Committee that the capability does not presently exist in his area of responsibility.

“We have had a good return of our Marines back to the Asia-Pacific, particularly as the activities in the Middle East wind down in Afghanistan … But the reality is, is that to get Marines around effectively, they require all types of lift. They require the big amphibious ships, but they also require connectors (meaning landing craft and other amphibious vehicles). The lift is the enabler that makes that happen, so we wouldn’t be able to [successfully carry out a contested amphibious assault without additional resources].”

Read the full story at Stars & Stripes

News Story: Rafale deal - Antony refuses govt guarantee to France

NEW DELHI: With the UPA-II's tenure coming to an end, France had wanted India to sign a pact to provide government guarantee for completion of negotiation for 126 fighter aircraft with Dassault company but defence minister A K Antony has refused to do so.

France, whose company Dassault has been shortlisted for supplying the multi-role medium combat Rafale aircraft, had proposed the signing of the agreement apparently to ensure that negotiations for the multi-billion dollar deal do not get affected if a different party comes to power after the Lok Sabha elections.

"The French side wanted government guarantee to the negotiations," sources said.

Antony, however, refused to sign such an agreement, arguing that governmental guarantee cannot be provided as negotiations were still underway, they said.

The defence ministry is still negotiating the price and terms and conditions of the contract with the French firm Dassault Aviation, whose Rafale combat aircraft was selected as the lowest bidder two years ago for supplying 126 warplanes.

Read the full story at Times of India

News Story: S. Korea Wants Lockheed To Invest in Fighter Plan

A model of the future KFX Fighter (File Photo)


SEOUL — South Korea will ask Lockheed Martin to invest in the country’s KF-X fighter jet development project as part of offset deals over its selection of the F-35 joint strike fighter.

The Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) made a final decision March 24 to buy 40 F-35As through the US Foreign Military Sales program.

A final contract on the deal will be signed by September, according to the arms agency, with the first delivery in 2018. The deal is expected to be worth around 7.4 trillion won ($6.8 billion).

Seoul redrew the terms of a $7.8 billion tender to buy 60 fighters last year after dropping an option to buy Boeing’s F-15 Silent Eagle in favor of purchasing a fighter with stealth capabilities. Seoul subsequently reduced the purchase to an initial 40 planes.

Read the full story at DefenseNews

News Story: North Korea Vows Not To Rule Out a New Nuclear Test

SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA — North Korea vowed not to rule out a “new form” of nuclear test Sunday after the UN Security Council condemned its latest ballistic missile launch amid simmering tensions over Seoul’s joint military drills with Washington.

Pyongyang has carried out a series of rocket and short-range missile launches in recent weeks which have prompted stern reactions from South Korea and the United States.

On Wednesday it upped the ante by test-firing two mid-range ballistic missiles capable of striking Japan, sparking condemnation from the United Nations Security Council (UNSC).

“(We) would not rule out a new form of a nuclear test for bolstering up (our) nuclear deterrence,” Pyongyang’s foreign ministry said in a statement carried by the North’s state-run KCNA news agency.

Read the full story at DefenseNews

29 March 2014

USA: US, Republic of Korea Forces Kick Off Exercise Ssang Yong

By MC1 Carla Burdt

<< ROKS Dokdo (LPH-6111) sails alongside amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6) and other ships of the Bonhomme Richard Amphibious Ready Group and ROK Navy during exercise Ssang Yong. (U.S. Navy/MC2 Michael Achterling)

EAST CHINA SEA - U.S. Sailors and Marines from Amphibious Force 7th Fleet and the 3d Marine Expeditionary Brigade (3d MEB) kicked off Exercise Ssang Yong 2014 March 27 in the Republic of Korea (ROK).

Ssang Yong, which means 'Twin Dragons', is an annual combined exercise conducted by Navy and Marine Corps forces with the ROK to strengthen interoperability and working relationships across the range of military operations from disaster relief to complex, expeditionary operations.

"Ssang Yong 2014 is a foundation for future success and demonstrates the Navy and Marine Corps team's ability to operate in a multi-ARG environment with our ROK counterparts," said Rear Adm. Hugh Wetherald, commander, Amphibious Force 7th Fleet. "Forward deployed naval forces and forward based Marine forces are working with our allies to have the ability to provide rapid deployment for a full range of military operations and contingencies in the Asia-Pacific region."

Industry: KAI won a contract to export 12 FA-50s to the Philippines

KAI won a contract to export 12 FA-50s to the Philippines, worthy of $420 million - Shows the competitiveness of the FA-50 aircraft in global market and succeeds in the niche market with its high-performance and low-cost.

Korea Aerospace Industries, Ltd.(KAI) won a contract to export 12 FA-50s to the Philippines for Philippine Air Force's multi-purpose fighter purchase project in a government-to-government way on March 28th.

This contract including training is valued at $420 million and the company will completely deliver 12 aircraft within 38 months after the deal goes into effect.

The variant of T-50 family has received 52 orders from the Air Forces of Iraq(24) in 2013, Indonesia(16) in 2011 and the Philippines(12) in 2014.

T-50 variant aircraft developed in partnership with Lockheed Martin and in operation in the Republic of Korea Air Force.

The FA-50 measures 13.13m in length, 9.45m in width and 4.85m in height and is able to fly with a max speed of Mach 1.5 with up to 4,500kg armed weapons loaded in it.

FA-50 light attack aircraft, in particular earned KAI recognition for its high-performance and low-cost fighter.

KAI is eyeing to further exporting the T-50 variant aircraft to the U.S.A., Botswana, the U.A.E., Thailand and Peru.

News Report: US Denies Providing Excess Equipment to Pakistan

MaxxPro MRAPs (Image: Wiki Commons)

The U.S. military in Afghanistan said media reports that the U.S. has decided to hand over surplus armored vehicles and other military equipment to Pakistan are incorrect.

A statement issued Thursday the U.S. military "does not provide or intend to provide" any equipment from Afghanistan to Pakistan.

The American commander of international forces in Afghanistan, General Joseph F. Dunford, Jr. said Thursday the U.S. has an "unwavering" commitment to the Afghan people and the Afghan National Security Forces.

However, in testimony earlier this month before the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee, Dunford said the U.S. was considering donating some of its 1,200 mine-resistant ambush-protected vehicles known as MRAPs in Afghanistan to neighboring Pakistan.

Editorial: Germany Rebukes China’s Anti-Japan PR Campaign

By Zachary Keck

Berlin strongly rebuffed Beijing’s efforts to use Germany’s wartime past to shame Japan during Xi’s trip to Germany.

Germany has strongly rebuked China’s attempts to use Berlin in its ongoing public relations campaign against Japan.
As my colleague Shannon has reported, Chinese President Xi Jinping visited Germany earlier today as part of a larger swing through the European continent that began with the Nuclear Security Summit in the Netherlands earlier this week, and also included stops in France and Belgium.
Before Xi’s trip was even officially announced, there had been reports that Xi was hoping to use his time in Berlin to advance China’s oft-made claim that, in contrast to post-WWII Germany’s sincere atonement for the actions of the Nazis, post-WWII Japanese leaders have not made a large enough effort to apologize for Imperial Japan’s horrendous actions in neighboring countries like Korea and China. These earlier reports also made clear that Germany had strong reservations about going along with President Xi’s ploy.
Read the full story at The Diplomat

Editorial: Russia May Sell China New Advanced Submarines

By Zachary Keck

Russia has announced it will build a new fifth generation, Kalina-class submarine. Will Moscow sell them to China?

Russia is developing a new advanced submarine class and may sell them to China, according to reports in Russia’s media.
Last week, the head of Russia’s Navy, Adm. Viktor Chirkov, announced that Russia would build new fifth-generation submarines dubbed the Kalina-class.
“Russia is currently designing a fifth-generation conventional submarine, dubbed Project Kalina, which will be fitted with an air-independent propulsion (AIP) system,” Adm. Viktor Chirkov said, according to Russian media outlets.
“Our industry promises to develop this AIP system by 2017 and build the first boat fitted with such a system by 2018,” he added.
The report did not specify what type of AIP technology would be used.
Submarines equipped with AIP technologies offer significant advantages over conventional diesel-electric engines and even nuclear submarines. AIP systems allow submarines to stay submerged far longer than diesel-electric submarines, which must surface more frequently for oxygen, and thus give away their positions to potential adversaries. 

Read the full story at The Diplomat

28 March 2014

USA: U.S. 7th Fleet Adds Second P-8 Poseidon to MH370 Search

U.S. Navy P-8A Posideon file photo.
From U.S. 7th Fleet Public Affairs

PERTH, Australia - In an effort to pinpoint the exact location Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 landed in the Indian Ocean, U.S. 7th Fleet is sending a second P-8 Poseidon patrol aircraft to Perth, Australia, to aid in the search efforts.

The P-8 will fly from Okinawa, Japan, to Perth March 28 to join an international coalition of search aircraft being coordinated by the Australian Defence Force.

"It's critical to continue searching for debris so we can reverse-forecast the wind, current and sea state since March 8th to recreate the position where MH370 possibly went into the water. We've got to get this initial position right prior to deploying the Towed Pinger Locator since the MH370's black box has a limited battery life and we can't afford to lose time searching in the wrong area," said Cmdr. Tom Moneymaker, U.S. 7th Fleet oceanographer.

Harsh weather conditions, including ceilings as low as 800 feet and potential icing conditions, make the addition of the all-weather P-8 extremely valuable. In total, 7th Fleet patrol aircraft have flown 16 missions, flying more than 150 flight hours covering 220,000 square nautical miles.

News Story: Hagel to Host ASEAN Ministerial in Hawaii

By Cheryl Pellerin
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, March 27, 2014 – Next week, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel will convene the first U.S.-hosted meeting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, Defense Department Press Secretary Navy Rear Adm. John Kirby said today in a press briefing here.

Following the meeting, Hagel will travel to the Asia-Pacific region for visits with his counterparts in Japan, China and Mongolia, Kirby added.

The trip will be Hagel’s fourth official visit to the Asia-Pacific, a region of growing importance and emphasis for U.S. foreign policy and its defense strategy, the press secretary said.

“The secretary extended this invitation to ASEAN ministers in his speech at the Shangri-La Dialogue last June [and] participated in the ASEAN Defense Ministers Meeting-Plus last August,” Kirby told reporters.

Industry: Republic Of Korea Air Force Accepts First C-130J Super Hercules

MARIETTA, Ga., March 27, 2014 – The Republic of Korea ushered in a new era in air mobility today with the delivery of the country’s first two C-130J Super Hercules aircraft at the Lockheed Martin [NYSE: LMT] facility here. With today’s delivery, South Korea became the 14th country to fly the proven C-130J.

South Korea’s new Super Hercules will be operated by Republic of Korea Air Force (ROKAF) aircrews, which currently operate a fleet of C-130H legacy aircraft.

“For almost three decades, Republic of Korea Air Force crews have relied on C-130s to support humanitarian and peacekeeping missions in the Pacific Rim region. The arrival of South Korea’s new Super Hercules fleet ensures that these critical missions not only will continue, but extend for many more decades the added capabilities only the C-130J can provide,” said George Shultz, vice president and general manager, C-130 Programs. “Lockheed Martin values its longtime partnership with South Korea and we are honored to welcome it to the Super Hercules family.”

Industry: Maritime Helicopter Support Company Breaks Ground on (Australian) Navy’s MH-60R Helicopter Maintenance Facilities

Royal Australian Navy's 1st MH-60R SeaHawk (File Photo)

NOWRA, New South Wales, Australia - The Maritime Helicopter Support Company (MHSCo) — a Sikorsky and Lockheed Martin joint venture company — today broke ground to build the maintenance and warehouse facilities that will provide Through Life Support logistics services for the Royal Australian Navy’s new fleet of 24 MH-60R SEAHAWK® helicopters. Once completed in early 2015, the two buildings, totaling more than 11,400 square meters (120,000 square feet), will house as many as 120 personnel with the knowledge and ability to keep the fleet in peak flight readiness during its estimated 30-year lifespan.

“Excavation and construction of these Through Life Support buildings begin an important chapter for the long-term readiness of Australia’s most sophisticated maritime helicopter,” said Rod Skotty, President of MHSCo. “Our company’s experience supplying repaired parts for more than 500 U.S. Navy H-60 maritime helicopters around the world will directly carry over to a larger business model specially configured for Australia’s maritime helicopter needs, and carried out by skilled Australian technicians and administrators inside a modern, dedicated space.”

News Story: IAF, HAL tussle on trainer aircraft development continues

Pilatus PC-7 (File Photo)

NEW DELHI (PTI): Despite insistence by state-owned HAL to produce a basic trainer aircraft indigenously, the IAF has decided to procure such planes from abroad to train its rookie pilots.

While HAL has been insisting on producing the aircraft locally since 2009 citing a Defence Ministry decision to do so, IAF has now floated a Request for Information (RFI) for procuring 106 more Pilatus PC-7 basic trainers manufactured in Switzerland.

IAF has already procured 75 Pilatus aircraft from Switzerland and has been opposing the development of HTT-40 basic trainer aircraft by HAL, which claims that its aircraft would be superior to the imported plane.

Read the full story at Brahmand

News Story: US arms supply to Pakistan rising

WASHINGTON (PTI): US arms supply and fresh military aid to Pakistan has quietly gained momentum in the last one year, Congressional sources have said.

The Pentagon, according to publicly available documents, reports total Foreign Military Sales (FMS) agreements with Pakistan worth about USD 5.2 billion for FY2002-FY2012.

The resumption of US military aid to Pakistan is seen as a sign of normalisation of military-to-military ties between the US and Pakistan that had hit rock bottom after the killing of Osama bin Laden by US forces in Abbottabad in May 2011.

Sources said the notable developments over the past one year include delivery of 150 additional radio sets, completed upgrades on 35 Pak F-16s, and imminent delivery of 374 M113 armoured personnel carriers as Excess Defence Articles in April 2014.

Read the full story at Brahmand

Editorial: Is a Philippine-Vietnam Anti-China Alliance in the Making?

By Carl Thayer

Trends indicate that cooperation between the Philippines and vietnam is expanding, but is an alliance on the horizon?

Walden Bellow, a representative of Akbayan (Citizens’ Action Party) in the Philippine House of Representatives, recently wrote an opinion-editorial inForeign Policy in Focus (March 18) entitled, “A Budding Alliance: Vietnam and the Philippines Confront China.”
Bello argued that, “The Philippines and Vietnam are natural allies in their common struggle against China’s drive for hegemony in East Asia. Already partners in ASEAN, the two are likely to be driven closer together by Beijing’s increasingly brazen displays of power as it enforces its claim to some 80 percent of the South China Sea.”
The Philippines and Vietnam share convergent views and concerns over Chinese assertiveness in the South China Sea. This has led to intense diplomatic interaction and some coordination in multilateral institutions, including the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).
A review of defense interaction reveals that over the last five years, progress has been spotty though gradual, but prospects for an alliance still remain over the horizon. 

Read the full story at The Diplomat

27 March 2014

AUS: Royal Australian Navy appointed chair of the Indian Ocean Naval Symposium group of nations

The Royal Australian Navy will from today chair the group of world navies whose nations share boundaries with the Indian Ocean.

Chief of Navy, Vice Admiral Ray Griggs, AO, CSC, RAN, was handed Chairmanship of the Indian Ocean Naval Symposium group by Rear Admiral (Junior Grade) Sagaren L Pillay SM, MMM representing the former chair, Vice Admiral Mosiwa Samuel Hlongwane of the South African Navy, at the opening of the biennial Indian Ocean Naval Symposium (IONS) in Perth, Western Australia, yesterday.

IONS 2014 was officially opened yesterday by the Senator the Honourable Michaela Cash, who delivered the keynote address. Over the next three days, the participating navies will discuss issues affecting the Indian Ocean, with a specific emphasis on protecting the ability to trade in the Indian Ocean maritime economy.

IONS was established in 2008 as a forum to increase maritime cooperation among the littoral states of the Indian Ocean region.

AUS: New helicopter facilities in Townsville a step closer

Parliamentary Secretary for Defence, the Hon Darren Chester MP, today announced that the $54.8 million Replacement Chinook Facilities Project, which supports the acquisition of seven new Boeing CH-47F Chinook Helicopters, has been referred to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works.

“If approved, the facilities project will provide new and upgraded working accommodation, new maintenance hangars, storage and workshop facilities, and a simulator building,” Mr Chester said.

The project will give the Army’s 5th Aviation Regiment, located at RAAF Base Townsville, the modern and appropriate facilities they need to operate, train and maintain the new helicopters and simulators.

“This project will offer strong economic benefits to the Townsville region over the next three years, with potential involvement for local sub-contractors to be part of the development,” he said.

Subject to Parliamentary approval, construction is expected to commence in late 2014 with planned completion by mid 2017.

USA: Pacom, U.S. Forces Korea Commanders Discuss Posture, Risk

Samuel J. Locklear III

By Cheryl Pellerin
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, March 26, 2014 – Increased risk to American forces in the Pacific due to shrinking defense budgets, regional challenges and partnerships and cyber capability were among the topics that Navy Adm. Samuel J. Locklear III and Army Gen. Curtis M. Scaparrotti discussed yesterday before a Senate panel.

Locklear, commander of U.S. Pacific Command, and Scaparrotti, commander of U.S. Forces Korea, United Nations Command and Combined Forces Command, testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee on the posture of U.S. forces in the Asia-Pacific region.

Over the past year, Locklear told the panel, “we have done our very best to remain ready to respond to crisis and contingency. Although we have assumed greater risk, we have maintained focus on key aspects of the rebalance to the Asia-Pacific.”

These include strengthening Pacom’s alliances and partnerships, improving its posture and presence, and developing concepts and capabilities required by the evolving security environment, the admiral said.

News story: Further Delays Predicted for F-35 Program


WASHINGTON — The general in charge of the F-35 told a US House panel Wednesday he sees more delays ahead — four to six months — for the often-troubled fighter jet program.

The House Armed Services Tactical Air and Land Forces subcommittee’s portion of an oversight hearing dedicated solely to the F-35 lasted only about an hour. It would have ended 20 minutes sooner if Chairman Rep. Mike Turner, R-Ohio, had had his way, but Ranking Member Rep. Loretta Sanchez, D-Calif., had additional questions.

And when other members arrived to further prolong the proceedings, Turner jokingly told Air Force Lt. Gen. Christopher Bogdan, F-35 program chief, he nearly “escaped.”

Read the full story at DefenseNews

News Story: President - Myanmar Army Role To Be 'Gradually' Decreased

NAYPYIDAW, MYANMAR — Myanmar’s leader on Wednesday said the role of the powerful military should be reduced slowly in the transition to democracy amid opposition campaigns to ease the army’s grip on political power.

President Thein Sein, a general-turned-reformer, reaffirmed his support for a “strong” military in the former junta-run country, as authorities are yet to strike a national ceasefire with several ethnic armed groups.

“We have to balance democratic maturity with the development of local peace to decrease the role of tatmadaw gradually,” he told lawmakers in a speech to parliament in the capital Naypyidaw, marking three years of quasi-civilian rule.

Tatmadaw is the local name for Myanmar’s army.

Read the full story at DefenseNews

News Story: China will soon have missiles on subs - US commander

Type 094 Jin class SSBN (File Photo)
WASHINGTON (PTI): China will likely have its first credible sea-based nuclear deterrent later this year, part of the rapid modernisation of its military capabilities, a top US officer has said.

"China continues the production of ballistic missile submarines (SSBN). The platform will carry a new missile with an estimated range of more than 4,000 nm (7,500 km). This will give the China its first credible sea-based nuclear deterrent, probably before the end of 2014," Admiral Samuel J Locklear, Commander of the US Pacific Command, told lawmakers during a Congressional hearing on Tuesday.

Acknowledging that China has gained "greater influence" in the world, Locklear said the Chinese military modernisation effort is increasingly focused on developing the capabilities to deny US access to the Western Pacific during a time of crisis or conflict and to provide the means by which China can bolster its broad maritime claims in the region.

Read the full story at Brahmand

News Story: India test fires long range N-missile from underwater

Indian SLBM Test (File Photo)

NEW DELHI (PTI): In a significant step towards completing the nuclear triad available with a few nations, India has successfully test-fired a nuclear-capable ballistic missile launched from an underwater platform with a range of over 2,000 kms.

The missile, which can be launched from submarines, was test-fired on on Monday in the Bay of Bengal and all parameters were met, Defence Ministry sources said.

This is the longest range missile in the underwater category to have been developed by India.

With this development, India has developed the capability of launching long-range nuclear-capable missile from surface, air and underwater.

Defence Minister AK Antony has congratulated the team of scientists involved in the tests.

Read the full story at Brahmand

News Story: Seoul Eyes Secure Satcom, KF-X Tech In F-35 Deal

A model of the single engined KFX Fighter (File Photo)

By Amy Butler

With Seoul’s March 24 announcement of its long-held intent to purchase the F-35A, South Korea is likely securing an offset deal that will include a new military communications satellite and technical assistance in the country’s plans to develop an indigenous stealthy KF-X fighter.

Lockheed Martin, the sole producer of stealthy fighters globally, will provide more than 300 man-years worth of engineering expertise in assisting Seoul in designing its KF-X. The F-22 and F-35 builder will also offer more than 500,000 pages of technical documentation derived from the F-16, F-22 and F-35, says Michael Rein, a company spokesman.

South Korea is looking at multiple KF-X designs, but has recently found that a single-engine option may be as effective at an affordable price point as a twin engine. It is slated to become operational around 2025.

Read the full story at AviationWeek

Editorial: Obama, Park, Abe Meet To Discuss North Korea, Regional Security

By Ankit Panda

The trilateral meeting on the sidelines of the Nuclear Security Summit was necessary ahead of Obama’s trip to Asia.

This week, on the sidelines of the Nuclear Security Summit in The Hague, Netherlands, U.S. President Barack Obama, South Korean President Park Geun-hye, and Japanese President Shinzo Abe met in a trilateral setting to discuss regional security. The meeting marks the first official high-level meeting between Park Geun-hye and Shinzo Abe and comes at a time when relations between Japan and South Korea are strained by the legacy of Japan’s imperial past.
The trilateral summit is a result of the ongoing effort by Washington to ease the tensions between its two allies in northeast Asia. Traditionally, the United States has avoided mediating between South Korea and Japan over their disagreements (including a territorial dispute over the Dokdo/Takeshima islands). However, the distance between Abe and Park is more pronounced than any pair of leaders in Japan and South Korea in recent memory. Shinzo Abe’s right wing rhetoric and interest in revising Japan’s post-World War II “peace constitution” has earned him the scorn of his neighbors. Mistrust of Abe is not only reserved to the South Korean leader; public opinion in South Korea is squarely opposed to Abe as well –  even the despised North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un is viewed more favorably than Abe. 

Read the full story at The Diplomat

Editorial: Are Fighters the New Capital Ships?

By Robert Farley

Air war has, in effect, become as costly as naval war. What are the implications for strategy?

Admirals are notoriously conservative regarding their capital ships. By the early twentieth century, the cost of a battleship and the time required for construction demanded extraordinary care with respect to the survival of the vessels. Capital ships do not simply represent or implement national power; because of their great cost and the long periods of construction, they effectively constitute national power. The loss of a battlefleet represented a catastrophic expenditure of national treasure, not to mention blood. This logic was on the minds of the German and British commanders at Jutland, as well as dear to the Japanese admirals who so desperately husbanded their strength into 1944.
Air forces have not, historically, conceived of air frames in the same way.  Cheaper, with quicker production times, and carrying fewer personnel, generals have viewed aircraft as more expendable. Even as late as Vietnam, the USAF suffered the loss of over 2,000 aircraft across the course of the conflict. 

Read the full story at The Diplomat

26 March 2014

Think Tank: An Indian view of sea power

By Himanil Raina

‘We cannot afford to be weak at sea … history has shown that whatever power controls the Indian Ocean has, in the first instance, India’s seaborne trade at her mercy, and in the second, India’s very independence itself.’ Jawaharlal Nehru (PDF)

Indian strategic culture has been characterised by a preoccupation with land based threats (PDF), a bias evident from an examination of budgetary allocations to the three services. The Navy has traditionally got the least funding, resulting in it being called the Cinderella Service. This has been due to several factors. First, India has a history over millennia of being repeatedly invaded from the Northwestern plains. Second, the British stymied the growth of the Indian Navy, seeing it as a potential strategic competitor. Third, all of India’s major 20th century conflicts in 1947, 1962,1965,1971 and 1999 were against land powers. Finally, the trend was reinforced by the US alignment with Pakistan as a response to India’s perceived tilting towards the USSR, which had the effect of keeping India focused on remaining a land power and not transitioning to a maritime one.

AUS: Government invests in defence industry

The Minister for Defence, Senator David Johnston, and the Assistant Minister for Defence, Mr Stuart Robert today announced a multimillion dollar investment to develop future defence technology in Australia.

Up to $13 million has been committed under Round 18 of the Capability and Technology Demonstrator Program.

Managed by the Defence Science and Technology Organisation, the program supports Australian industry to develop and demonstrate new technologies that could contribute to Defence capability.

“Seven technology proposals from Australian companies and universities have been selected this year to demonstrate possible defence applications,” Senator Johnston said.

“These proposals have the potential to advance Defence capability, produce innovative products for Defence and civilian use, and stimulate Australian industry growth.”

USA: Bonhomme Richard ARG Departs for Ssang Yong Exercise

By MC1 Carla Burdt

<< Naval Aircrewman Philip Franzoni looks on after an MH-60S Knighthawk helicopter takes off from USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6). (U.S. Navy/MC3 Christian Senyk)

OKINAWA, Japan - Bonhomme Richard Amphibious Ready Group departed White Beach, Okinawa March 25 to participate in exercise Ssang Yong 2014.

U.S. Marines and Sailors of the 3d Marine Expeditionary Brigade (MEB) and Amphibious Force Seventh Fleet will participate in the exercise with the Republic of Korea (ROK) Navy and Marine Corps March 27 - April 7.

Ssang Yong is an annual combined exercise conducted by Navy and Marine forces with the ROK in order to strengthen our interoperability and working relationships across the range of military operations.

Rear Adm. Hugh Wetherald, Commander Amphibious Force Seventh Fleet, said that the exercise is a significant opportunity for the U.S. and its regional partners.

USA: Navy Secretary - Naval Forces Support Nation’s Global Mission

SecNav Ray Mabus
(Wiki Info - Image: Wiki Commons)

By Claudette Roulo
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, March 25, 2014 – More than 200 years ago, the architects of the Constitution recognized that the nation needed a naval force to operate continuously in war and peace, Navy Secretary Ray Mabus said today.

At that time, the United States had a crucial role in the world, he said at a hearing of the House Appropriations Committee’s defense subcommittee.

“Today, that role is exponentially larger,” Mabus noted. “Whether facing high-end combat, asymmetrical threats or humanitarian needs, America's maritime forces are ready and present on Day One of any crisis for any eventuality.”

In today's dynamic security environment, the forward presence of naval assets serves to reassure the nation’s partners, he said, “and remind potential adversaries that we are never far away.”

When an international crisis develops, this presence offers the president immediate and capable options, Mabus said. In just the past year, he added, naval forces have operated throughout the Pacific region, in Afghanistan and from the Gulf of Guinea to the Arctic Circle.

USA: Greenert - Forward Presence is Navy, Marine Corps Mandate

Adm. Jonathan Greenert
(Wiki Info - Image: Wiki Commons)

By Claudette Roulo
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, March 25, 2014 – The Navy-Marine Corps team is united in fulfilling the mandate to be where it matters, when it matters, Navy Adm. Jonathan W. Greenert, the chief of naval operations, said today.

Marine Corps Commandant Gen. James F. Amos is “a great shipmate,” the admiral added during a hearing of the House Appropriations Committee’s defense subcommittee.

Interaction between the two services has never been better, Greenert said, noting that he is committed to continuing that momentum.

“Forward presence is our mandate,” the admiral said. By operating from forward locations, the Navy and Marine Corps provide President Barack Obama with options to deal promptly with global contingencies, he explained.

“As we conclude over a decade of wars and bring our ground forces home from extended stability operations, your naval forces will remain on watch,” Greenert said.

The Navy’s efforts are focused in the Asia-Pacific region and the Arabian Gulf, he said, but the service continues to provide presence and response as needed in other theaters. “Now, with this forward presence, over the last year, we were able to influence and shape decisions of leaders in the Arabian Gulf, in Northeast Asia and the Levant,” the admiral said.