31 July 2014

AUS: Hellfire missile firing a first for new Navy helicopters

The Royal Australian Navy’s newest maritime combat helicopter, the MH-60R Seahawk ‘Romeo’, has successfully fired its first ‘Hellfire’ missile in the United States.

The AGM-114 Hellfire air-to-surface missile was fired by Navy’s 725 Squadron from aircraft currently deployed to the United States Navy’s Atlantic Undersea Test and Evaluation Centre off the Florida coast.

Commander Australian Fleet, Rear Admiral Stuart Mayer, said the Seahawk Romeo’s cutting edge mission systems provided a formidable naval platform.

“Navy’s next generation submarine hunter and anti-surface warfare helicopter will be the cornerstone of our working Navy’s aviation combat capability.

“The new aircraft’s multi-mission and multi-target precision strike capabilities will increase our versatility and potency as a high-end fighting force,” RADM Mayer said.

AUS: Defence celebrates expansion of Cultana Training Area

Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Defence the Hon Darren Chester MP attended a celebration at Whyalla today to mark the expansion of the Cultana Training Area.

Mr Chester was joined by South Australia’s Minister for Defence Industries, Martin Hamilton-Smith, as well as representatives from the Barngarla people. Federal Member for Grey Rowan Ramsey MP, Mayor of Whyalla Councillor Jim Pollock and Mayor of Port August Councillor Sam Johnson also attended the event.

The South Australian Government has granted Defence a Miscellaneous Lease for Defence Purposes over the Cultana Expansion Area (PDF), which expands the Cultana Training Area from 50,000 hectares to 209,000 hectares.

“The expansion of the Cultana Training Area will provide the service men and women of the Australian Defence Force with vital resources and facilities to enable them to train and prepare for their critical roles in the defence of Australia and its national interests,” Mr Chester said.

USA: Defense Department Calls on North Korea to End Military Buildup

By Cheryl Pellerin
DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, July 30, 2014 – Defense Department officials are aware of reports that North Korea has fired short-range ballistic missiles into the Sea of Japan, and call on that nation to end its military buildup, Director of Pentagon Press Operations Army Col. Steve Warren said today.

Warren made his remarks to Pentagon reporters during an off-camera briefing on a range of topics.

“We are aware of … reports that the North Koreans fired several short-range ballistic missiles,” Warren said. “Rather than spend their money polluting the waters around North Korea, they should spend their money feeding their people.”

USA: Locklear Briefs on Asia-Pacific, Partners, Security

By Cheryl Pellerin
DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, July 30, 2014 – The commander of U.S. Pacific Command briefed Pentagon reporters yesterday, discussing the U.S. rebalance to the Asia-Pacific region, successful engagement with partners there and conditions for continued stability and security.

Navy Adm. Samuel J. Locklear III described some of Pacom’s most important activities so far this year, including a visit to Hawaii by Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, who in April hosted the first informal meeting on U.S. soil of defense ministers from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, or ASEAN.

The meeting, Locklear said, “was an excellent opportunity to build upon the friendships and strengthen our bilateral relationship with ASEAN member nations.”

Next, the admiral said, Rim of the Pacific, or RIMPAC, the world’s largest maritime exercise, began June 26 and will end Aug. 1. More than 25,000 military personnel from 22 countries are participating, including troops from China, who are participation for the first time.

Industry: Royal Australian Air Force scores direct hit with JSOW C

TUCSON, Ariz., July 30, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- The Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) successfully tested a Raytheon Company (NYSE: RTN) Joint Standoff Weapon C (JSOW C) against a hardened wall target at the RAAF Woomera Test Range. Launched from an F/A-18F Super Hornet at an operationally representative stand-off range and altitude of 25,000 feet, the JSOW C scored a direct hit.

The RAAF test marked the third successful employment of JSOW C this year against one of the most challenging target sets. Previously, two JSOW C air-to-ground weapons also destroyed simulated cave targets in U.S. Navy flight tests at the China Lake flight test range.

"All of these successful shots demonstrate that JSOW C's tandem warhead with selectable fuse settings is fully capable of defeating targets fortified by the latest in defensive hardening technology," said Mike Jarrett, vice president of Air Warfare Systems. "JSOW's tactical stand-off range and extreme accuracy within five feet of the target enable U.S. and allied warfighters to deliver decisive battlefield effects from outside the threat rings of most surface-to-air missiles, denying sanctuary to our adversaries."

JSOW C is designed to provide fleet forces with robust and flexible capability against high value land targets, at launch ranges up to 70 nautical miles.

About JSOW 
JSOW is a family of combat proven, low-cost air-to-ground weapons that employ an integrated GPS-inertial navigation system, with highly capable guidance algorithms; and is the only U.S. standoff weapon in production to fit internally in the Joint Strike Fighter. More than 5,000 JSOWs have been produced since 1997, with more than 400 employed in combat. JSOW C prosecutes fixed land targets, and uses an imaging infrared seeker for increased accuracy in the terminal phase. A JSOW C-1 variant adds the two-way Strike Common Weapon Datalink enabling additional target sets with moving maritime target capability.

About Raytheon 
Raytheon Company, with 2013 sales of $24 billion and 63,000 employees worldwide, is a technology and innovation leader specializing in defense, security and civil markets throughout the world. With a history of innovation spanning 92 years, Raytheon provides state-of-the-art electronics, mission systems integration and other capabilities in the areas of sensing; effects; and command, control, communications and intelligence systems, as well as cyber security and a broad range of mission support services. Raytheon is headquartered in Waltham, Mass. For more about Raytheon, visit us at www.raytheon.com and follow us on Twitter @Raytheon.

News Report: China's Offshore Military Drills Seen as 'a Show Intended For Japan'

China's live-fire military wargames in the East China Sea, which have resulted in massive flight disruptions in and around Shanghai, are purely a form of psychological warfare aimed at Japan, experts said.

Beijing's Ministry of Defense announced the five days of drills that began on Tuesday off the eastern seaboard opposite Japan, sparking a red alert by civil aviation authorities and a partial shutdown of some 19 airports in the region.

Among those affected were Shanghai's two international airports, which have a throughput of tens of thousands of passengers daily.

Live-fire drills are also slated for the Gulf of Tonkin, near Vietnam, and the Bohai Strait and Yellow Sea, opposite Korea, according to official media reports.

News Story: Taiwan 'will pay close attention' to PLA exercises

Taiwan will pay close attention to the exercises held by the People's Liberation Army Navy simultaneously in the East and South China seas while maintaining calm, Tan Chih-lung, a retired admiral of the Republic of China Navy and researcher with the Taipei-based Society for Strategic Studies, has told our sister newspaper Want Daily.

Although Taiwan had developed closer cross-strait economic and cultural relationships with mainland China, the possibility of a sudden attack on the island by forces taking part in the exercises remains. Tan said Taiwan's defense ministry will pay close attention to the exercises, which he said are essentially being held for the PLA to demonstrate its confidence and force projection capability.

Read the full story at Want China Times

News Story: China's Asia-Pacific range war against the US

To entrench their leading positions in the Asia-Pacific region, the United States and China are engaging in a "range war" against each other, reports the US-based National Interest magazine.

The stunning tactical performance displayed by US forces in the Persian Gulf War of 1991 and the Third Taiwan Strait Crisis in March 1996 persuaded the Chinese leaders to launch two decades of military modernization program aimed to improve PLA "counterintervention" capabilities, wrote Robert Haddick, a contractor working for US Special Operations Command and an expert in Chinese military development.

Back in 2007, the RAND Corporation published a report claiming that the US military could lose to the PLA and its "counterintervention" forces should a crisis take place in the region again. Any response would be met with a barrage of various Chinese ship- and submarine-launched anti-ship cruise missiles such as: the YJ-83 with a range of 160 kilometers, SS-N-22 Sunburn with a range of 250 kilometers and SS-N-27 Sizzler with a range up to 300 kilometers. US vessels would likely suffer heavy losses before sailing within attack range.

Read the full story at Want China Times

News Story: Japan and Brazil to make joint statement against China - Kyodo

Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe and Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff are to announce a joint statement on August 1 which will include mention of counter-measures against China, reports Japan's Kyodo International News on July 27.

A leaked draft of the statement says that both Japan and Brazil respect rule of law and that China's declaration of an air defense identification zone (ADIZ) over the East China Sea last November and its growing aggression in the East and South China seas require counter measures. The draft states that "conflicts in the South China Sea should be resolved peacefully and in line with international law without the use of force or threat," according to the report. The statement also says Japan and Brazil will cooperate in their efforts to reform the UN Security Council.

Both Sankei Shimbun and Nikkei Japan Review interpreted Abe's visit shortly after Xi's visits to the same region in early July, as intended to strengthen Japan's influence in Latin America and to counter growing Chinese power there.

Read the full story at Want China Times

Editorial: Red Team Analysis - What a Russian Pivot East Might Mean For Japan

By Clint Richards

An increased Russian presence in East Asia would likely heighten tensions with Japan.

This article is along the lines of what the intelligence community calls a “red team” or alternative analysis, something that seeks to explore alternative or low-probability scenarios against what are generally accepted geopolitical narratives. While it is hardly certain at this point that Russia will make a dramatic and strategic shift toward the East, considering how such a shift might impact its relationship with a country such as Japan is worthwhile, especially given that the two have attempted to maintain working relations despite the ongoing crisis in Ukraine and Japan’s attachment to U.S. foreign policy.
As my colleague Ankit noted yesterday, on Monday Japan imposed sanctions on Russia over its support of anti-Kiev rebels accused of shooting down Malaysian Airlines Flight MH17, in line with measures taken by the EU and G7. These new sanctions, while tougher and obviously detrimental to ties between Tokyo and Moscow, did not appear to quite measure up to the measures that have been imposed by the U.S. Nevertheless, Japan’s sanctions showed that it had sided with its security guarantors in Washington D.C. over advancing negotiations concerning the disputed Kuril Islands/Northern Territories or possible future energy deals with Russia.
On Tuesday however, two more events showed that Russia and Japan’s relationship may be souring even further, or that perhaps the status quo in Northeast Asia could shift in the near future if events in Europe continue to go against Russian interests. Without a pro-Moscow government in Kiev, or at least one not hostile to its interests, Russian energy export options in Europe dwindle as a large part of its exports go through Ukraine. As Russia’s recent sweetheart natural gas deal with China shows, Moscow is seriously considering a strategic shift in its energy market away from Europe and toward the large population centers of East Asia. 

Read the full story at The Diplomat

Editorial: US Welcomes China’s RIMPAC Spying

By Zachary Keck

The top U.S. military leader in the Pacific sees a silver lining in China’s military surveillance of RIMPAC.

The top U.S. commander in the Pacific said he welcomes China’s spying on the Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) maritime exercises.
As The Diplomat previously noted, China sent an uninvited Dongdiao-class auxiliary general intelligence (AGI) ship to the 22-nation maritime exercise off the coast of Hawaii this month. The ship, which is operating inside Hawaii’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ), is “designed to gather electronic and communication data from surrounding vessels and aircraft,” according to USNI News. Although China sent a similar vessel to observe the RIMPAC exercise in 2012, this year China is actually participating in the exercise for the first time.
But Admiral Samuel J. Locklear III, Commander of the U.S. Pacific Command (PACOM)– which leads RIMPAC– is not only unconcerned about China’s surveillance, he appears to actually welcome it in some regards. When asked about the AGI ship’s presence at RIMPAC during a press conference on Tuesday, the admiral began by responding:
“The good news about this is that it’s a recognition, I think, or an acceptance by the Chinese of what we’ve been saying to them for some time, [which] is that military operations and survey operations in another country’s EEZs, where you have national — your own national security interest, are within international law and are acceptable. And this is a fundamental right that nations have.” 

Read the full story at The Diplomat

Editorial: Should China Care About the Future of Its Airpower?

By Robert Farley

There’s little reason for China to concern itself with its air force’s organization structure at this point.

Ankit’s recent post (building on Rebecca Grant’s  longer list at Air Force Magazine) opens the question of whether China has structured its military institutions such that they support the sophisticated development and dynamic use of military aviation.
In short, how does the organizational configuration of Chinese airpower matter for how China will fight, plan to fight, and procure?
There is no single optimal way to organize military forces. Different organizational constellations produce different outcomes for warfighting, procurement, and strategic thought. Reorganizations are costly, and shouldn’t be undertaken at the drop of a hat, but nevertheless provide an opportunity to better align organizational imperatives with national goals. 

Read the full story at The Diplomat

Editorial: Japan, US Conduct Amphibious Landing Exercises

By Ankit Panda

The exercises took place on the sidelines of RIMPAC 2014.

The Japaneses Self-Defense Forces (SDF) exercised amphibious landings this month with U.S. forces in Hawaii, according to the Associated Press. The Japanese military has emphasized amphibious landings recently as tensions have risen with China over the sovereignty of the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands specifically and more generally in the region. In any scenario where Tokyo would have to reclaim territory it currently administers through the use of military force, it would need to be ready for an amphibious landing  — one of the toughest imaginable scenarios for a modern military.
The exercise took place on the sidelines of the broader RIMPAC 2014 maritime exercise, which is also taking place in the waters off Hawaii this month. According to the AP, “Helicopters dropped a reconnaissance team of Japanese soldiers into the ocean off a beach at a U.S. Marine Corps base during Rim of the Pacific exercises on Tuesday. The soldiers climbed aboard inflatable rafts and inspected the shoreline before waves of U.S., Australian and Indonesian marines followed in amphibious vehicles.” 

Read the full story at The Diplomat

Editorial: The Haqqani Threat to the US-Pakistan D├ętente

By Michael Kugelman

America and Pakistan have seen relations improve in recent months. Unfortunately, the Haqqani network could derail this.

The Haqqani network — a family-run syndicate that happens to be one of South Asia’s most fearsome militant groups — has long been a source of tension for the volatile U.S.-Pakistan relationship. And it’s easy to understand why.
U.S. military officials often describe the Haqqani network as one of its biggest threats in Afghanistan. John Allen, who commanded U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan from July 2011 to February 2013, says the group wounded or killed more than 500 of his troops. It’s been blamed for an attack on the U.S. embassy in Kabul. It held Bowe Bergdahl, the only U.S. POW in Afghanistan, in captivity. It has close associations with Al-Qaeda (PDF), and the State Department has formally designated it as a terrorist organization (this status does not apply to the Afghan Taliban, with which the Haqqani network is affiliated).
The Haqqani network also has links to Pakistan’s security establishment, which views the group as a strategic asset that limits the influence of archrival India in Afghanistan (it frequently assaults Indian targets in Afghanistan). In 2011, Mike Mullen, then the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, infamously described it as a “veritable arm” of Pakistan’s main intelligence agency. An angry Pakistan rejected the accusation and threatened to cut off ties with Washington. 

Read the full story at The Diplomat

30 July 2014

USA: Teamwork Key to Anti-Submarine Warfare for RIMPAC Participants

By MC1 Jason Swink,
Submarine Force Pacific Public Affairs

<< JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM, Hawaii - (July 25, 2014) - Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) exercise participants Command Master Chief Adam Powars of undersea warfare operations, left, Flight Lt. Marty Young, future operations watch officer of Command Task Force (CTF) 174 for the Royal Australian Air Force, and Lt. Cmdr. Tomoyuki Amanuma, liason naval officer for the Japan Maritime Self Defense Force, discuss operations for the exercise on Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, July 25. (U.S. Navy Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Steven Khor/Released) 

(PEARL HARBOR, Hawaii) – Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) 2014 exercise provides Anti-Submarine Warfare Force 3rd Fleet (CTF-34) the opportunity to bring together a cooperative training environment for multinational anti-submarine warfare (ASW) June 26 through August 1.

Liaison Naval Officers (LNOs) from Australia, Republic of Korea, Canada and Japan stand watch with CTF-34 staff helping coordinate various air, surface and subsurface assets taking part in the complex task of multinational anti-submarine warfare.

USA: U.S. Pacific Command Kicks Off Exercise Fortune Guard

By Jim Garamone
DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, July 29, 2014 – U.S. Pacific Command is hosting personnel from 31 nations as part of the proliferation security initiative Exercise Fortune Guard.

The exercise will be held in Hawaii and marks the beginning of a six-year series of exercises that various “expert” nations in the region will host. These are New Zealand, Australia, Singapore, Japan, South Korea and the United States.

The initiative seeks to stop the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. Over its 11-year history, the initiative has built resolve and capacity worldwide, said a senior defense official speaking on background.

News Story: US should press on China's vulnerabilities, says article

To deal with the expansion of Chinese influence in East Asia, the United States should give more consideration to Beijing's specific weaknesses and vulnerabilities in dealing with Washington, professor Robert Sutter from George Washington University writes in the US-based National Interest magazine.

China is using non-military coercive measures against the United States and its allies in the region and it is time the US did likewise, the professor wrote. China has more weaknesses and vulnerabilities than the United States, and should continue to pursue close engagement with China while letting the leadership in Beijing know the cost and risks they are likely to face if they undermine the US position in the region, he added.

The surfacing of US attack submarines near disputed areas of the East and South China seas in conjunction with Japanese and Australian submarines would remind China of its serious anti-submarine limitations. It would require a prolonged, tremendous drain on the PLA's costs and divert resources, Sutter wrote. This would also leave Chinese military and civilian leaders fighting for budget priorities.

Read the full story at Want China Times

News Story: Japan, France Agree on Defense Equipment Cooperation

TOKYO — Japan and France on Tuesday agreed to enhance defense cooperation, including the joint development of military equipment, Japanese officials said.

Japan’s Defence Minister Itsunori Onodera and his French counterpart Jean-Yves Le Drian signed a memorandum of understanding in Tokyo despite Japanese concerns about a planned sale of French warships to Russia.

The agreement comes shortly after Japan’s government — led by conservative Prime Minister Shinzo Abe — expanded the scope of the country’s forces, allowing it the right to go into battle in defense of its allies.

It also follows a commitment made by Abe and French President Francois Hollande in Paris last May to start talks on a deal to jointly develop defense equipment.

“By signing the memorandum, we agreed to further advance our defense cooperation,” Onodera said.

Read the full story at DefenseNews

Editorial: Imagining U.S.-China Relations Under (President) Hillary Clinton

By Shannon Tiezzi

Should Hillary Clinton become president in 2016, her negative reputation in China might be a problem.

Over at the Wall Street Journal, Brookings Institution analyst Michael O’Hanlon looks at Hillary Clinton’s China policy. Clinton is presumed to be the frontrunner to be the Democratic candidate for president in 2016, although she has so far declined to confirm or deny that she will run. As O’Hanlon notes, the China policy of a hypothetical President Hillary Clinton deserves our attention, particularly as Clinton focused much of her attention on the Asia-Pacific region during her time as Secretary of State.
Many analysts have noted Clinton’s unusual emphasis on the Asia-Pacific, even for an administration that prided itself on its new focus on the region. Clinton was seen as one of the architects of the “pivot to Asia” — indeed, the policy was heralded by her October 2011 Foreign Policy article entitled “America’s Pacific Century.” Clinton was also the public face of the pivot (later dubbed the “rebalance”), traveling frequently to Asia and staking out American positions on regional issues. Most famously, in a speech at the 2010 ASEAN Regional Forum she declared U.S. national interests to be at stake in the South China Sea disputes. Clinton’s role in U.S. Asia-Pacific policy was so influential that Elizabeth Economy pointed to her departure as one of the major factors hindering the pivot to Asia in Obama’s second term.
Given this background, O’Hanlon notes that Clinton’s Asia-Pacific strategy, and particularly her thoughts on China, deserves more attention. He points to a “firmness” in Clinton’s remarks on China. O’Hanlon quotes from Clinton’s recent memoir, Hard Choices, in which Clinton notes the “lukewarm reception” President Obama received during his 2009 visit to China. Clinton’s emphasis on China’s military provocations, especially in the South China Sea, suggests that she agrees with those who wonder “whether we were seeing a new phase in the relationship, with an ascendant and assertive China no longer hiding its resources and enhanced military capabilities.” O’Hanlon writes that Clinton’s “respect for China and awareness of how assertive it can be—and the stakes for the U.S.–bode well for how she would handle Beijing as president.” 

Read the full story at The Diplomat

Editorial: Geography and Indian Strategy

By Akhilesh Pillalamarri

India can take advantage of its location to become a major player in Asia.

In a recent article over at Flashpoints, Ankit Panda argues that India ought to play a bigger role in security in the Indian Ocean, its own strategic backyard. I agree. If India wants to be a major geopolitical player in Asia, it needs to leverage its geographic location to its full advantage.
India’s geographic advantages and its role in India’s grand strategy were clearly grasped by Lord Curzon of Kedleston, former Viceroy of India during the British Raj. Lord Curzon understood the geographic advantages of a state that ruled the subcontinent, truths that hold true today for an independent India. In his 1909 essay “The Place of India in the Empire,” he wrote:
It is obvious, indeed, that the master of India, must, under modern conditions, be the greatest power in the Asiatic Continent, and therefore, it may be added, in the world. The central position of India, its magnificent resources, its teeming multitude of men, its great trading harbors, its reserve of military strength, supplying an army always in a high state of efficiency and capable of being hurled at a moment’s notice upon any given point either of Asia and Africa- all there are assets of precious values. On the west, India must exercise a predominant influence over the destinies of Persia and Afghanistan; on the north, it can veto any rival in Tibet; on the north-east and east, it can exert great pressure upon China, and it is one of the guardians of the autonomous existence of Siam. On the high seas it commands the routes to Australia and the China Sea. 

Read the full story at The Diplomat

Editorial: US-India Strategic Dialogue - All About Building Momentum

By Ankit Panda

John Kerry, flanked by several high-level U.S. officials, will be in New Delhi this week.

The United States and India will meet for their fifth annual Strategic Dialogue on July 31. The dialogue will mark the first significant high-level bilateral diplomatic interaction between the two sides since Narendra Modi and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) came to power in India following a landslide electoral victory. Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj will lead the Indian side at the Strategic Dialogue.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, who is scheduled to travel to New Delhi later this week, set the tone for the dialogue in a speech at the Center for American Progress (CAP) in Washington D.C. on Monday. Kerry noted that the Strategic Dialogue could be a “potentially transformative moment” for U.S.-India bilateral relations. Not only will the United States begin forging closer ties with a new Indian government under the BJP, but the dust appears to have finally settled from a scandal involving the arrest of an Indian diplomat in New York last fall which caused a massive rift between the two countries.
In his remarks Monday evening, Kerry specifically emphasized the United States’ interest in working with the Modi government. Kerry praised Modi’s development initiatives, specifically citing Modi’s “Sab ka saath, sab ka vikas” slogan (“Together with all, development for all”). State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki also emphasized the importance the United States is attaching to this week’s Strategic Dialogue with India: ”Secretary Kerry’s visit underscores the importance of the U.S.-India partnership, and will lay the groundwork for Prime Minister Modi’s September visit to the United States.” She added that ”in addition to holding the Strategic Dialogue, Kerry will meet Modi, the first cabinet level meeting with a U.S. official since the inauguration of the new Indian government.” 

Read the full story at The Diplomat

Editorial: The New Thailand-Myanmar Axis

By Pavin Chachavalpongpun

With China’s backing, post-coup Thailand and Myanmar– ASEAN’s quasi-democracies– are moving closer together.

The Thai military staged a coup on May 22, claiming to restore peace and order after months of protests against the elected government of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra. In reality, it was a military scheme to take control of politics ahead of an uncertain royal succession. In the process, it destroyed democratic institutions and violated the people’s human rights.
Immediately after the coup, an army of Western countries voiced their concern about the disappearance of democratic space. Subsequently, they imposed “soft sanctions,” with the United States suspending its financial support for the Thai military and the European Union freezing all cooperation with the kingdom.
Amid international sanctions, the Thai junta has found some comfort in the warm embrace of China. Shortly after the coup, photos surfaced of Army Chief, General Prayuth Chan-ocha– who’s also serving as the interim prime minister– shaking hands with Chinese business owners, demonstrating the Thai tactic of employing China to counterbalance Western sanctions.
But China is not Thailand’s only friend in its time of need. On July 4, Myanmar Supreme Commander Senior General Min Aung Hlaing paid a visit to Bangkok, making him the first leader from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to meet the Thai junta after the coup. 

Read the full story at The Diplomat

Editorial: China Conducted Anti-Satellite Missile Test

Artists impression of an Satellite's destruction by an ASAT weapon

By Zachary Keck

The U.S. says that China conducted an anti-satellite missile test last week, not a ballistic missile defense test.

The U.S. is claiming that China conducted a “non-destructive” anti-satellite test last week.
Both Space News and the Associated Press are reporting, citing the U.S. State Department, that China conducted a non-destructive anti-satellite test last Wednesday.
In an email to Space News, the State Department called on China to refrain from conducting anti-satellite tests.
“We call on China to refrain from destabilizing actions — such as the continued development and testing of destructive anti-satellite systems — that threaten the long term security and sustainability of the outer space environment, on which all nations depend,” the State Department said, according to Space News. “The United States continuously looks to ensure its space systems are safe and resilient against emerging space threats.”
Back in 2007, China shot down one of its defunct weather satellites. That test is believed to have used the ground-based, medium-range SC-19 ballistic missile to shoot down its Fengyun-1C weather satellite. Some foreign analysts also believe that China conducted an anti-satellite test in May 2013 as well. Beijing claimed that test was of a scientific rocket. 

Read the full story at The Diplomat

Editorial: Aegis, Missile Defense and the US Pivot

Readying an Aegis System for testing
By Robert Holzer & Scott Truver

The U.S. Navy’s Aegis Weapon System is the lynchpin for regional missile defense in Asia.

Geopolitical developments across the Western Pacific region are generating a rise in military modernization efforts among U.S. allies and partners and other countries.  One of the military systems receiving increased focus and resources is missile defense—especially ship-based defenses against cruise and ballistic missiles.  In that regard, the U.S. Navy’s Aegis Weapon System is emerging as a centerpiece of these efforts, and will play a significant role in enhancing regional missile defense cooperation, interoperability and integration against common adversaries––particularly North Korea but also China as well.

Regional Missile Threats
Many nations in the Pacific are growing increasingly uncomfortable with the pace of China’s military modernization as well as its regional expansionism. Likewise, the North Korean regime’s continued bellicosity combined with its testing and deployment of new, longer-range ballistic missiles is ratcheting up regional tensions.
According to the Pentagon’s 2014 report to Congress on China’s military, the PLA Navy has experienced at least a decade of modernization that has yielded an impressive force with modern ships, submarines and an aircraft carrier entering the fleet.  In mid-2014, the PLAN boasts nearly 200 major combatants, and some experts project it will surpass the size of the U.S. Navy as early as 2020.  In 2013, the PLAN laid down, launched or commissioned more than 50 ships and similar numbers are expected  in 2014, including a new-generation guided missile destroyer armed with anti-ship cruise missiles (ASCMs), land-attack cruise missiles, surface-to-air missiles and anti-submarine missiles––the PLAN’s equivalent of the U.S. Navy’s Burke guided missile destroyers (DDGs) that first went to sea in 1991.  New destroyers and guided-missile frigates provide a significant upgrade to the PLAN’s air defense capability, which will be critical as it expands operations into “distant seas” beyond the range of shore-based air defenses.
Read the full 3 page story at The Diplomat

29 July 2014

AUS: Defence Minister approves First Pass for SEA 1397, Nulka upgrade

Nulka Active Missile Decoy System
(Wiki Info - Image: Wiki Commons)

Minister for Defence Senator David Johnston today announced the Government has given First Pass approval to update the Nulka Active Missile Decoy launch capability under project SEA 1397 Phase 5B.

Nulka is a sophisticated anti ship missile defence system, jointly developed by Australia and the United States during the 1990s, and today is in service with the Royal Australian Navy and the navies of the United States and Canada.

By 2019, the Nulka system will be fitted to 166 ships worldwide, including protecting United States aircraft carriers.

“I am pleased to be able to announce that the Government has approved First Pass for SEA 1397 Phase 5B – Nulka launch sub-system upgrade, including around $45 million in funding,” Senator Johnston said.

“This project aims to update and replace the existing Nulka launch sub-system for Australian ships.”

USA: Ships Arrive in Singapore for CARAT

By Lt. Lauryn Dempsey, Destroyer Squadron 7 Public Affairs

<< USS Halsey (DDG 97), left, arrives July 28 as USS Wayne E. Meyer (DDG 108) sits moored along the pier at Changi Naval Base. (U.S. Navy/MCC Kimberly R. Stephens)

CHANGI NAVAL BASE, Singapore - USS Wayne E. Meyer (DDG 108) and USS Halsey (DDG 97) are in port Singapore July 28 in advance of the 2014 Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) exercise with the Republic of Singapore Navy.

Under the command of Destroyer Squadron 7, the two ships will participate in a number of in port exchanges and underway evolutions with their Singaporean counterparts.

"The RSN is one of the world's most capable navies and a terrific partner in this incredibly important maritime region of the world," said Capt. Fred Kacher, DESRON 7 commodore and co-commander of the exercise's task group. "Over the next week, our two navies will execute one of the most advanced underway programs in the CARAT exercise series and I can't wait to see our navies working together again at sea."

USA: Counselor Podesta Leads U.S. Delegation to the Pacific Islands Forum

Counselor to the President John Podesta
(Wiki Info - Image: Wiki Commons)

Counselor to the President John Podesta will lead a high-level U.S. Government delegation to the Pacific Islands Forum Post Forum Dialogue (PIF PFD) on August 1 in Koror, Palau, to highlight and build upon our historic relations with the peoples and nations of the Pacific. The U.S. delegation will include senior officials from the National Security Council, United States Pacific Command, U.S. Coast Guard, Department of State, Department of the Interior, U.S. Peace Corps, U.S. Agency for International Development, and the State of Hawaii.

Following former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s attendance at the PIF PFD in 2012 and Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell’s attendance as Head of Delegation in 2013, this high-level delegation demonstrates continued U.S. commitment to the rebalance to the Asia-Pacific region and to issues that are of utmost importance to the Pacific Islands, including oceans, climate change, renewable energy, economic growth, sustainable development, and environmental conservation.

India: IAF Receives the 6th C-17 Globemaster III in the Presence of Hon’ble Defence Minister Shri Arun Jaitley

IAF C-17 Globemaster III Transport Aircraft (File Photo)

The IAF received its Sixth C-17 Globemaster III when it touched down at 1205 hrs at Palam Airbase today. On its arrival, the Hon’ble Defence Minister Shri Arun Jaitley visited the Airbase and familiarized himself with the aircraft. The Chief of the Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal Arup Raha conducted the Hon’ble minister through the aircraft and briefed him on the Strategic Capability and Role of the aircraft. The Hon’ble minister was also given a detailed brief by the Commanding Officer Group Captain BS Reddy. 

The government accorded approval to buy 10 C-17 Globemaster III along with associated equipment for the IAF in June 2011. The first of the 10 aircraft touched down in India on 18th June 2013 and the delivery of all 10 is expected to be completed by December 2014. This aircraft will enhance the operational potential of the IAF with its payload carriage and performance (about 75 Tones) and would augment the strategic reach (about 4500 Kms) of the nation during Operations, Disaster Relief or any similar mission. 

The ceremony was attended by Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Western Air Command (WAC) Air Marshal SS Soman and other senior IAF and MoD Officials. 

News Story: China Air Force will need 400 Y-20 military transport aircraft to catch up U.S. and Russian Air Forces

Y-20 Cargo Aircraft

The People's Liberation Army will need at least 400 Y-20 cargo planes produced by the Xi'an Aircraft Industrial Corporation in order to catch up with the force projection capabilities of the United States, Russia and India, according to a report published by the National Defense University of China cited in the party-run People's Daily.

The report said that the three-dimensional transportation network in China consisting of air, ground and maritime vehicles will play an important role in improve the force projection capability of the Chinese military. During an exercise in 2009, passenger and cargo planes from civilian airlines were mobilized to transfer 50,000 officers from China's four different military regions to participate in the exercise along with military aircraft and ground transporation.

Read the full story at Air Recognition

News Story: India To Sell Partial Stake in HAL

Tejas LCA currently under development by HAL


NEW DELHI — India will sell 10 percent of its 100 percent stake in monopoly military aircraft producer Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. (HAL), a senior Defence Ministry official said. All formalities have been cleared and the 10 percent stake will be put on sale by October, the official said.

HAL, with an annual turnover of US $2.53 billion, is the country’s sole producer of military aircraft. It plans to use money from the sale to finance a $5 billion modernization of the company, said the MoD official.

The government, however, has no plans to privatize HAL by selling over 50 percent of its stake in the company, the MoD official clarified.

Read the full story at DefenseNews

Editorial: North Korea's Middle East Pivot

By Zachary Keck

North Korea has a long history of funneling weapons to Palestinian and other Middle Eastern militant groups.

Over at China Power, Shannon notes that Beijing is reluctant to get deeply involved in the Middle East. China’s client state in Pyongyang, however, appears to be much less apprehensive.
According to Con Coughlin, the Defense Editor at the London Telegraph, Hamas and North Korea are currently negotiating an arms deal to resupply the Palestinian militant group with missiles it has lost during its current conflict with Israel.
“Security officials say the deal between Hamas and North Korea is worth hundreds of thousands of dollars and is being handled by a Lebanese-based trading company with close ties to the militant Palestinian organisation based in east Beirut,” Coughlin reports.
The report, which cites unnamed Western security officials, says that the deal is reportedly for hundreds of missiles and communications equipment. It also claims that Hamas has already provided a down payment on the weapons. 

Read the full story at The Diplomat

Editorial: Japan Sanctions Russia Over Ukraine

By Ankit Panda

New Japanese sanctions against Russia lower hopes for a resolution to the Kuril Islands dispute between the two countries.

Japan announced that it will impose greater sanctions against Russia over its actions in Ukraine, including support for the anti-Ukrainian government separatists that are accused of shooting down Malaysia Airlines flight MH17. This answers one of the questions Zach and I briefly discussed on The Diplomat‘s Asia Geopolitics recently: would Japan jeopardize the diplomatic progress made between Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Russian President Vladimir Putin on potentially resolving the long-standing Kuril Islands dispute in order to bring its policy towards Russia in line with that of the United States and Europe? A consequence of Tokyo’s decision to continue to sanction Russia is that the Kuril Islands territorial dispute between the two countries, which appeared to be heading towards a bilateral diplomatic resolution earlier in Abe’s second term, will likely be shelved for a different era in Russia-Japan relations.
According to the Associated Press, Japan will freeze the assets of “individuals and groups supporting the separation of Crimea from Ukraine” and restrict imports from Crimea. Japan will additionally freeze funds for new projects in Russia in line with the policy of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development. The sanctions are yet to be officially endorsed by Shinzo Abe’s cabinet but that decision is expected later this week. Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga called on Russia to help resolve the conflict in Ukraine: ”We urge Russia to exercise influence over separatist groups in Ukraine so that they will cooperate in the international probe into the Malaysia Airlines shoot-down,” adding that ”Japan truly hopes that the Ukrainian situation will be resolved as soon as possible through diplomatic dialogue.” 

Read the full story at The Diplomat