28 February 2015

USA: MCMRON-7 and JMSDF Focus on Combined Operations in Annual Mine Warfare Staff Talks

By Lt. Joseph S. Marinucci, MCMRON-7 Public Affairs

WHITE BEACH, Okinawa (NNS) -- Commander, Amphibious Force U.S. 7th Fleet, Commander, Mine Countermeasures Squadron (MCMRON) 7, and Japan Maritime Self Defense Force Commander (JMSDF), Mine Warfare Force concluded a three day mine warfare staff conference at CTF 76 headquarters Feb. 25.

This year's conference highlighted an increased focus on enhancing combined exercises to better integrate U.S. and Japanese forces and capabilities in a live-force environment. Interoperability, cooperation, and tactical development were key themes of the event.

"These talks are another example of the exceptional relationship enjoyed by the U.S. Navy and JMSDF, said Rear Adm. Hugh Wetherald, commander, Amphibious Force U.S. 7th Fleet. "The fact that we can come together to discuss openly on how we can improve our core combat capabilities and interoperability in mine warfare and amphibious operations demonstrates our commitment to this alliance."

USA: Navy Aviation Electronic Attack Squadron Participates in Cope North

A USN E/A-18G Growler lands at RAAF base Amberley (File Photo)

By Tanya M. Champaco Mendiola, U.S. Naval Forces, Marianas, Public Affairs

YIGO, Guam (NNS) -- Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) 135 is participating in the two-week Cope North 2015 Exercise at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, Feb. 16-27.

Cope North is a multilateral training exercise conducted annually. This year's Cope North brings U.S. Air Force, Navy and Coast Guard units together with service members from the Japan Air Self-Defense Force, the Royal Australian Air Force, the Republic of Korea Air Force, and the Royal New Zealand Air Force. 

For the past week, VAQ-135 maintenance personnel have shared a flight hangar with members of the Japan Air Self-Defense Force. The shared space has facilitated collaboration between the U.S. and Japanese units. 

USA: Ambassador Scheinman Travels to Singapore, Malaysia and Japan

Special Representative of the President for Nuclear Nonproliferation Ambassador Adam Scheinman will travel to Singapore, Malaysia and Japan from March 2-4 for consultations in preparation for the 2015 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference (NPT RevCon).

India: Indian Navy Concludes Its Annual Exercise

The Indian Navy concluded its annual Theatre Level Readiness and Operational Exercise (TROPEX) today. This month long war drill encompassed all dimensions of maritime warfare, and witnessed participation of around 50 ships and submarines, along with over 70 aircraft from the three Naval Commands. The exercise also saw participation of units from the India Air Force and the Indian Coast Guard. The area of operations spanned the Arabian Sea and Northern Indian Ocean and was aimed at validating the Indian Navy’s Concept of Operations. During TROPEX-2015, the Navy had deployed two Carrier Task Forces simultaneously at sea, with both Viraat and Vikramaditya operating with their integral flights in an operational scenario. This assumes significance as it makes the Indian Navy, besides the US Navy, capable of deploying more than one Carrier Task Force at sea, at present. 

Editorial: Where Is India's Carrier Fleet Going?

By Robert Farley

India should think long and hard about the logistics necessary to operate a nuclear propulsion carrier.

India is pushing hard on its carrier fleet, but does it have a good sense of where it’s going?
Reports have emerged that India’s second indigenously built carrier, expected to be the third carrier to enter service in the next two decades, may utilize nuclear propulsion. This is alongside a set of other innovations that the Vishal might adopt, including EMALS catapult technology (possibly developed in association with the United States). India has taken strides on nuclear propulsion recently, with the launch of INS Arihant, its first domestically constructed nuclear submarine.
Why would India need a nuclear powered aircraft carrier? Nuclear power doesn’t eliminate the need for local basing (even the all-nuclear task forces the USN assembled in the 1970s and 1980s required support vessels for repair and munitions), although it does reduce a task force’s overall requirements. Countries that build nuclear aircraft carriers (a group that currently includes only the United States and France) typically have either worldwide military responsibilities or worldwide military ambitions.  By decreasing fueling requirements, nuclear power increases range and improves operational tempo. 

Read the full story at The Diplomat

Editorial: India's Submarine Fleet Faces Further Delays

Scorpene class submarine (File Photo)

By Franz-Stefan Gady

Is New Delhi’s submarine fleet in a state of crisis?

This week, Indian Defense Minister Manohar Parrikar announced that the induction of the first of six Scorpene-class submarines will have to be delayed to an unspecified future date. Back in November 2014, the Indian Defense Ministry still maintained that the first vessel would be delivered in September 2016. This new delay, however, makes the on-schedule delivery highly unlikely.
The 1,750-ton, 67-meter Scorpene-class — capable of diving up to a depth of 300 meters —will be equipped with SM-39 Exocet anti-ship missiles. The class is supposed to fulfill a wide range of missions sets for the Indian Navy including anti-surface  and anti-submarine warfare, special operations, intelligence gathering, minelaying, area surveillance, and strikes against land-based targets, according to naval-technology.com.
New Delhi assigns particular importance to building up a modern fleet of submarines. One reason is that the South Asian nation wants to be able to project power deep into the Indian Ocean and dissuade the presence of Chinese military vessels. Another rationale is Pakistan’s effort to upgrade its submarine fleet. 

Read the full story at The Diplomat

Editorial: Indonesia’s New Military Commands - A South China Sea Focus?

By Prashanth Parameswaran

The flash point is reportedly featuring prominently in its future military plans.

Last week, The Jakarta Post reported that the Indonesian military would focus its future operations in the western part of country to deal with foreign threats, including in the South China Sea. The report is interesting to consider given ongoing plans to restructure the Indonesian military’s commands over the next decade.
The newspaper quoted Indonesia’s outspoken military chief General Moeldoko as saying that Indonesia’s forces – which according to military plans would form joint regional commands (locally abbreviated Kogabwilhan) to be in place by 2024 – would focus on the west of the country, especially in Sumatra and Kalimantan given flash points like the South China Sea.
“In the future, we expect that the South China Sea will be a flash point. So a task force, such as the Kogabwilhan, will be very important,” Moeldoko said.
Put simply, the essence of the Kogabwilhan concept is to structure the military into multi-service regional commands consisting of a combination of army, air force and navy units and led by generals who would be able to respond quickly and flexibly to flash points with greater autonomy relative to the central leadership in Jakarta. 

Read the full story at The Diplomat

Editorial: Japan and the ‘Counter-Pivot’

By Robert Dujarric

With the U.S. increasingly engaged elsewhere, should Japan do more for regional security itself?

The U.S. pivot (or rebalance) towards Asia is America’s “I’m back” moment and a warning to China (to paraphrase The Terminator’s“I’ll be back” message). For Japanese who fear Chinese expansionism it is a welcome development.
But there is now a risk of a counter-pivot. A full-scale war with Russia is unlikely. But the invasion of Ukraine, combined with European disunity, vacillation, and weakness, ensures that Washington will focus more on NATO’s eastern borders in the coming months and probably years.
Meanwhile, the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL, the implosion of Yemen, anarchy in Libya, the depredations of Boko Haram, disorder in Mali, the resilience of Al-Qaeda franchises, and other developments are sucking the United States back into the gigantic quagmire that ranges from the Atlantic coast of West Africa to Pakistan. Greater American military involvement, beyond a few targeted strikes and special operations missions, may serve no useful purpose. But Western societies, especially America’s, find it hard to accept that some problems are beyond their ability to solve. The United States could easily drag itself into a Global War on Terror 2.0.
At this point, predicting the extent of future U.S. deployments in the CENTCOM and AFRICOM areas of responsibility seems a fools errand. It could remain fairly small if Americans have the discipline to differentiate what is possible (not much) from desirable outcomes. But fears for the safety of the Persian Gulf oil fields, concerns about attacks at home, and moral outrage against Islamists could bring about a far larger long-term American engagement.
This would be bad news for Japan. The pivot could be partially reversed. China would more easily challenge the U.S.-Japan order in Asia. Asian nations, both enemies and allies, would doubt American credibility.
Can Tokyo alleviate the impact of the “counter-pivot”? It cannot stop it, but there are things that it could do that might limit the damage. 

Read the full story at The Diplomat

Editorial: Japan’s Defense Ministry Seeks to Roll Back Civilian Control

By Mina Pollmann

New reforms would give Japan’s SDF personnel increased say over military decisions.

Japan’s Ministry of Defense (MOD) officials are planning to submit a proposal to the Diet as soon as early March to amend the MOD’s decision-making structure. The proposal aims to put Japan’s Self-Defense Force (SDF) officers on equal footing with their civilian bureaucratic counterparts. SDF personnel as well as current Diet members who formerly served in the SDF support the amendment, which is designed to give uniformed personnel greater control over SDF tactical operations than they currently have.
The move to rank defense-related bureaucrats and SDF personnel equally, so that they would serve the defense minister in the same capacity, stems from the government’s desire to correct the perception that ‘the suits’ are controlling ‘the uniforms.’ Under the current ministry establishment law, bureaucrats “assist the defense minister” when he/she instructs the Joint Staff chief and the chief of each SDF arm — the Ground Self-Defense Force (GSDF), the Maritime Self-Defense Force (MSDF), and the Air Self-Defense Force (ASDF). This ensures civilian input on instructions issued by the defense minister, including directives such as orders for SDF units and personnel changes — much to the frustration of uniformed personnel.
Under the proposed reform, the chiefs of staff of the SDF branches will support the minister as equals to the director-general of ministry bureaus and the director-general of the Minister’s Secretariat. Also, SDF units assigned to respond to a contingency (e.g. missile launches, large-scale disasters) will be able to report directly to the minister and the minister can instruct SDF units directly through the chief of staff of each SDF branch. 

Read the full story at The Diplomat

Editorial: In A2/AD Showcase, Iranian Navy Sinks Nimitz Carrier Mock-Up

By Franz-Stefan Gady

Does the video tell us anything about Iran’s anti-access/anti-denial capabilities in the Strait of Hormuz?

This week, Iranian television broadcasted a video showing the destruction of a U.S. warship replica near Larak Island, close to the strategically vital entrance to the Strait of Hormuz,  during a recent military exercise by the country’s elite Revolutionary Guard.  The military exercise, codenamed “Great Prophet 9,” was conducted by the naval branch of the Revolutionary Guard Corps and was meant to showcase Iran’s anti-access/anti-denial (A2/AD) capabilities.
Gen. Mohammad Ali Jafari, the highest commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, boastfully told the local media during the “Great Prophet 9” exercise: “A unique power has been created, and we do not like to put it into practice. But if, God forbid, such a day comes, Iran’s navy will have the complete control over the Sea of Oman, the Hormuz Strait and the Persian Gulf.”
The Revolutionary Guards’ navy chief, Adm. Ali Fadavi, stated on state television that, “American aircraft carriers are very big ammunition depots housing a lot of missiles, rockets, torpedoes and everything else,” and added that a direct hit by a missile could set off a large secondary explosion within America’s capital ships, according to the New York Times. Fadavi also noted in the past that his forces are capable of sinking an American aircraft carrier in a future military confrontation with the United States. 

Read the full story at The Diplomat

27 February 2015

Industry: Lockheed Martin Australia To Deliver Modern, Affordable C-130J Training Solutions To Royal Australian Air Force

CANBERRA, Australia, Feb. 26, 2015 – The Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) has awarded Lockheed Martin Australia a contract to supply a modern C-130J-30 Virtual Maintenance Trainer and a Multi-Function Training Aid (MFTA) to support maintenance and aircrew training at RAAF Base Richmond.

Through this major upgrade, the RAAF will have a standardised curriculum tailored for its operations and based on decades of C-130 training innovation by Lockheed Martin.

“Delivering these training technologies to the RAAF represents Lockheed Martin’s continued commitment to supporting the RAAF air mobility mission,” said Raydon Gates, Chief Executive of Lockheed Martin Australia & New Zealand. “These capabilities, supported by a network of training services and products across Lockheed Martin’s aircrew training programs, enable the most effective training for the next generation of pilots and maintainers.” 

Industry: Norway and Australia to cooperate on Joint Strike Missile-development

The Australian Government Department of Defence and the Norwegian Ministry of Defence today announced they will cooperate on further development of the Joint Strike Missile (JSM) developed by KONGSBERG.

Australian Minister for Defence, Mr Kevin Andrews, in a statement from the Australian Ministry of Defence said Australian cooperation on the Norwegian Joint Strike Missile, under development by Kongsberg Defence and Aerospace, would ensure the weapon capability would be available for Air Force’s future fleet of F-35A Joint Strike Fighters.

“This agreement builds on the countries’ long-standing bilateral cooperation on research and development of Defence equipment, and acknowledges the importance of a robust maritime strike capability to Norway and Australia.”

“Participating now in a cooperative JSM development program with Norway will maximise the cost effectiveness of Australia’s contribution, and ensure the weapon capability is developed and integrated onto the F-35A in the timeline required by Australia, should the Joint Strike Missile be ultimately considered for acquisition by Government later this decade.”

Industry: Airbus Defence and Space joins forces with Australia’s DSTO to improve protection of aircraft and helicopters

Latest technology enables reliable Hostile Fire Indication

irbus Defence and Space has joined forces with the Defence Science and Technology Organisation (DSTO) of the Australian Ministry of Defence to improve the protection of wide-body aircraft and helicopters. In a joint development program they upgraded Airbus Defence and Space’s proven MILDS AN/AAR-60 Block II Missile Approach Warning system with a HFI (Hostile Fire Indication) capability which allows for reliable warning of the growing threat of small arms fire. As the HFI function is a pure software application within the existing AAR-60, no additional equipment is required to proctect the aircraft. DSTO and Airbus DS have successfully tested the HFI algorithms in field trials with very good results.

Industry: (Australia) Thales to secure critical step for OneSKY Delivery

Thales has been chosen to commence work with Airservices Australia and the Department of Defence on the development of Australia’s OneSKY program, integrating civil and military air traffic control into a single and harmonised ATM system.

Thales has entered into an Advanced Work contract arrangement which is the critical initial step for the delivery of the OneSKY program. This will help enable the delivery of a state of the art system that will bring further improvements to the already safe and efficient movement of millions of passengers in Australia every year.

The system will achieve world’s best practice, incorporating advanced technologies to manage predicted future increases in air traffic volumes. For the first time in global history, one company will provide a truly integrated large-scale single system for civil and defence purposes.

News Story: McCain Points To ‘Dramatic Change’ In Chinese-Built Islands

Fiery Cross "Reef" being turned into an Island by China


WASHINGTON: What began with a tiny artificial island built by China to stake a concrete claim in the South China Sea is fast on its way to becoming 600 acres of at least seven islands spread across the South China Sea. One of the most impressive is so-called Fiery Cross Island, the permanent structure above complete with an air strip and, perhaps, the ability to permanently station advanced weapon systems there to patrol the skies and seas.

Sen. John McCain made a point of asking Director of National Intelligence James Clapper about the Chinese actions just before the end of this morning’s Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on worldwide threats, calling the Chinese actions “a rather dramatic change.”

DNI Clapper told the SASC “this is a worrisome trend of the Chinese because of the tensions this is going to create in the South China Sea. They have been very aggressive about it.”

The biggest worry about these efforts by the Chinese is that they could base advanced aircraft and ships at some of these locations, trying to enforce their so-called Nine-Dash Line claiming most of the South China Sea. That would grant them the presumptive ability to block international shipping in an area every other country in the region — including the United States — says are international waters. It would also provide China much greater range to project power through the region.

Read the full story at BreakingDefense

News Story: P-8 News - Indian Options, Australian Production

Nigel Pittaway

VICTORIA, Australia — A Boeing official said negotiations are underway with India to convert options to buy four P-8I Neptune maritime intelligence-surveillance-reconnaissance aircraft into firm orders.

India ordered eight P-8Is in 2009; six have been delivered.

"We're currently talking with them about executing those four options," said James Detwiler, Boeing's P-8 business development director for maritime systems, at the Australian International Airshow. "We understand there is an interest to get that done sooner rather than later."

Detwiler also said that manufacture of long-lead items for the first of eight P-8As for the Royal Australian Air Force was underway to support an early-2017 delivery.

Read the full story at DefenseNews

News Story: India, Israel To Build Missile Defense System

By Vivek Raghuvanshi

NEW DELHI — India and Israel agreed to jointly develop a medium-range surface-to-air missile (MRSAM) system for the Indian Army to replace Russian-made air defense systems, said a source in the Indian Defence Ministry.

The land version of MRSAM would be an extension of the ongoing Air Force MRSAM project, which is expected to begin induction by 2017, three years behind scheduled. The Army has an immediate need for one regiment (18 systems) of MRSAMs at a cost of $1.5 billion, but the total requirement for these systems is estimated to be more than $6 billion, said an Army official.

The agreement to jointly develop the land version of MRSAM, which will have a range of up to 70 kilometers, emerged during a Feb. 22 meeting here between visiting Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon and his Indian counterpart, Manohar Parrikar, the source added.

Read the full story at DefenseNews

Editorial: When Will North Korea Conduct Its Next Nuclear Test?

By Tae-jun Kang

Analysts speculate North Korea could conduct a test as soon as May — or not at all.

Uncertainty over whether North Korea is about to conduct its fourth nuclear test is causing confusion in South Korea as the media and the government voice different outlooks.
South Korean daily Segye Ilbo reported on February 26 that North Korea is expected to conduct its fourth nuclear test in May, quoting an unnamed government source, while South Korea’s Ministry of National Defense announced on the same day that there is no sign North Korea is preparing for a test.
An unnamed government source told Segye Ilbo that relevant authorities from South Korea and the United States have seen signs of North Korea preparing for a nuclear test in May. The source added the U.S. has been continuing under-the-table work to stop the test.
Segye Ilbo noted that indications of an impending test come along with other recent movements from North Korea escalating military tensions on the peninsula. North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has visited military camps ten times since November last year, and the North Korean Army’s training has been unusually intense. It was reported that the frequency of training has witnessed a twentyfold increase compared to the previous year. 

Read the full story at The Diplomat

Editorial: The Philippines and Vietnam - Strategic Partners?

By Julio S. Amador III and Jeremie P. Credo

Hanoi and Manila are looking to elevate their relationship further in 2015.

Enjoying steady bilateral relations since diplomatic ties were established after the Vietnam War in 1976, the Philippines and Vietnam are now engaging in high-level dialogues to try to establish a strategic partnership.
In May of 2014, President Benigno S. Aquino III and Prime Minister Nguyen Tan expressed an aspiration toward establishing a strategic partnership between the two countries. In November, at the sidelines of the 2014 22nd APEC Leaders’ Meeting in Beijing, China, President Aquino and Vietnam’s President Truong Tan Sang agreed to convene a Joint Working Committee to start discussions on the roadmap towards this partnership.
The China Factor?
The idea of a strategic partnership became stronger during the oil rig row between Vietnam and China. In June 2014, China’s National Petroleum Corporation deployed a giant oil rig near the Paracel Islands, in the waters claimed by Vietnam as part of its exclusive economic zone (EEZ). This unilateral action by China led to a confrontation between Chinese and Vietnamese government vessels, as well as violent anti-China riots in Vietnam that forced thousands of Chinese to flee the country. Adding fuel to the clash was the arrest of six Vietnamese fishermen by Chinese naval ships in disputed waters. These standoffs led to a diplomatic rift between the two states.
The Philippines is the only claimant state in the SCS to have filed an arbitration case against China’s historic claims. In support of this move to promote a rules-based approach in solving maritime disputes, Vietnam submitted its position on this arbitration case to the international tribunal last December 2014. The changing geopolitical context has facilitated the convergence of interests of the Philippines and Vietnam, paving the way for establishing a strategic partnership. 

Read the full story at The Diplomat

Editorial: Indonesia May Kill Brazil Defense Deals Amid Execution Row

By Prashanth Parameswaran

Diplomatic spat could cause Jakarta to rethink procurement of Brazilian equipment.

Indonesia may reevaluate defense deals with Brazil as bilateral ties between the two countries deteriorate over the execution of a Brazilian for drug offenses, local media reported earlier this week.
According to ANTARA News, Vice President Jusuf Kalla said Monday that the Indonesian government was rethinking the procurement of a squadron of 16 Brazil-made Embraer EMB-314 Super Tucano aircraft for Indonesia’s air force as well as an order for Astros II multiple launch rocket launcher systems.
“We are reconsidering our plan to purchase weapons [from Brazil],” Kalla reportedly told the media.
The Post also reported Tuesday that the House of Representatives commission that oversees defense and foreign affairs had said that Indonesia could turn to other countries including Russia to procure weapons systems. Tantowi Yahya, a lawmaker, had earlier said he would hold a meeting with the defense ministry on the broader relationship.
“I think Brazil needs us more than we need them. We have an emergency situation with drugs and we don’t need to be afraid of pressure from Brazil…,” Tantowi said on Sunday. 

Read the full story at The Diplomat

Editorial: Australia and Norway to Work Together on Missile

By Franz-Stefan Gady

A new missile, specifically designed for the F-35A aircraft, will be jointly developed by both countries.

Today, Australian Defense Minister Kevin Andrews announced that Australia has entered into a co-operative agreement with the Norwegian Ministry of Defense to develop the Joint Strike Missile (JSM) for the Lockheed Martin F-35A, aka Joint Strike Fighter. The fifth-generation, long-range, precision-guided, stand-off missile system is designed by Norway’s Kongsberg Defence & Aerospace AS and can be deployed to conduct anti-surface warfare (ASuW) and naval fire support (NFS).
The missile is expected to be realized by 2017, and the F-35A specific version should be ready in time for Australia’s F-35A Joint Strike Fighter reaching final operating capability in 2023 (integration of the JSM should occur between 2022-2024). The JSM will be configured to fit inside the F-35’s armament bay, in order to maintain the stealth capabilities of the plane. Australia is acquiring 72 F-35A Joint Strike Fighters, whereas Norway plans to purchase 52 planes.
According to Defense News, BAE Systems Australia will help with developing an independent sensor to detect and identify hostile radars. “This agreement enables BAE Systems Australia and Kongsberg to continue their industrial cooperation on the passive radio frequency (RF) sensor supporting its transition to qualification and manufacture. We look forward to working with both governments by assisting with the JSM F-35 system integration effort, and supporting any future needs the Australian Government might have,” stated Graeme Bent, BAE’s director of Land and Integrated Systems. 

Read the full story at The Diplomat

Editorial: Taking US-China Relations Global

By Shannon Tiezzi

At a meeting in New York, Susan Rice and Yang Jiechi discussed cooperation on a global scale.

We’re still over six months away from Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit to the United States, but you wouldn’t know it from the number of bilateral meetings being billed as in preparation for Xi’s arrival. The latest, a meeting between U.S. National Security Advisor Susan Rice and Chinese State Councilor Yang Jiechi in New York City, provides some interesting insights into focal points for the big bilateral summit in September.
Both China and the U.S. released reports summarizing the Rice-Yang visit, and the focus was decidedly global. Instead of touching on bilateral subjects, both governments directed attention to U.S.-China cooperation on global issues: the Ebola crisis, the North Korea nuclear issue, the P5+1 negotiations with Iran, and ensuring stability in Afghanistan.
The emphasis on Afghanistan is especially interesting, as it marks a new area of cooperation between Washington and Beijing. The Diplomat has previously reported on the signs China is willing to take a more active role in mediating between Afghanistan and the Taliban, including bringing Pakistan to the negotiating table.
The U.S. role in all of this has been unclear, with some reports indicating that the U.S. has plans to participate in negotiations with Afghan officials and Taliban leaders – which was denied by U.S. government officials. The prospect of a negotiation process with the Taliban led by China and sanctioned by the U.S. could be a critical development for Afghanistan’s future. 

Read the full story at The Diplomat

Editorial: Iran and the United States Locked in Cyber Combat

By Franz-Stefan Gady

A recently published N.S.A. document reveals an ongoing cyber war between the United States and Iran.

This month the news website The Intercept revealed a new National Security Agency document (PDF) outlining the ongoing battle between Iran and the United States in cyberspace. The memo, dated from April 2013, was prepared for then N.S.A. director and head of U.S. Cyber Command General Keith B. Alexander and contains a number of talking points for the general’s interaction with the head of Britain’s Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) — the British equivalent to the American N.S.A.
Most importantly, the document outlines a cycle of escalating cyberattacks and counter-attacks, first initiated by the Israeli-American Stuxnet attack against Iranian computers:
“Iran continues to conduct distributed denial-of-service (DDOS) attacks against numerous U.S. financial institutions, and is currently in the third phase of a series of such attacks that began in August 2012. SIGINT [signals intelligence] indicates that these attacks are in retaliation to Western activities against Iran’s nuclear sector and that senior officials in the Iranian government are aware of these attacks.” 
Read the full story at The Diplomat

Editorial: How Powerful Is the US Military?

US Marines come ashore during an exercise (File Photo)

By Franz-Stefan Gady

A new report assesses the military strengths of the United States, yet falls short in one crucial aspect.

The Heritage Foundation, a conservative Washington D.C.-based think tank, has recently published an index of U.S. military strengths. The report, subtitled “Assessing America’s Ability to Provide for the Common Defense,” predictably decries the current alleged degradation of the U.S. military – despite the world’s largest defense budget – and notes that the United States will have difficulties fighting two regional wars simultaneously (the so-called Major Regional Contingency strategy).
“Overall, the Index concludes that the current U.S. military force is adequate to meeting the demands of a single major regional conflict while also attending to various presence and engagement activities. Clearly, this is what the military is doing now and has done for the past two decades, but it would be very hard-pressed to do more and certainly would be ill-equipped to handle two, near-simultaneous major regional contingencies,” the paper, edited by Dakota L. Wood, states. 

Read the full story at The Diplomat

Editorial: US Admiral - Chinese Subs Outnumber America's

Type 094 Jin class Ballistic Missile Submarine (SSBN)

By Shannon Tiezzi

A U.S. admiral told Congress that China now has more submarines than the U.S. — and is building still more.

China now has a larger submarine fleet than that United States, a U.S. admiral said on Wednesday. Speaking to the House Armed Service Committee’s Seapower and Projection Forces Subcommittee (which oversees the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps), Vice Admiral Joseph Mulloy said that China is building some “fairly amazing submarines,” both diesel- and nuclear-powered. Mulloy is the deputy chief of naval operations for capabilities and resources.
According to Reuters, Mulloy told the subcommittee that China is “out experimenting and looking at operating and clearly want[s] to be in this world of advanced submarines.” He also noted that China is increasing the geographical area of deployment for its subs, as well as the length of time per deployment.
Last year, two Chinese submarines paid separate visits to Sri Lanka, the nuclear-powered, Han-class Changzheng-2 in November and the diesel-powered, 039 Song class submarine in September. At the time, foreign experts (particularly in India) expressed concern about the emergence of Chinese submarines in the Indian Ocean. 

Read the full story at The Diplomat

Editorial: US, Japan Cautiously Rebuild Ties With Thailand

By Hana Rudolph

Concerned at rising Chinese influence since last year’s coup, the two countries adopt a pragmatic approach.

The United States and Japan drew international attention this month, as both countries separately marked positive shifts in their relations with Thailand. While the United States kicked off the annual Cobra Gold military exercises – the largest joint military exercise in the Asia-Pacific – Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe met with Thailand’s Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, releasing a joint statement (PDF) that called for broader bilateral economic ties.
Both actions attracted significant attention, in part because Thailand is currently ruled by a military junta, which came to power following a coup in May 2014. Thailand is governed by martial law and officials have stated that the restoration of democracy will not happen until early 2016.
This political situation notwithstanding, the United States and Japan affirmed their relationships with Thailand, both likely under with the intent of countering China’s growing influence in the region – the United States with security cooperation and Japan with economic aid. Thailand is a longstanding U.S. security ally in the Asia-Pacific, with the Cobra Gold exercises first held at a bilateral level beginning in 1982. 

Read the full story at The Diplomat

26 February 2015

AUS: Norway and Australia to cooperate on advanced maritime strike weapon for the F-35A

Australia will cooperate with the Norwegian Ministry of Defence to develop an advanced maritime strike weapon for the F-35A Joint Strike Fighters, the Minister for Defence, Kevin Andrews announced today.

Mr Andrews said Australian cooperation on the Norwegian Joint Strike Missile, under development by Kongsberg Defence and Aerospace, would ensure the weapon capability would be available for Air Force’s future fleet of F-35A Joint Strike Fighters.

“This agreement builds on the countries’ long-standing bilateral cooperation on research and development of Defence equipment, and acknowledges the importance of a robust maritime strike capability to Norway and Australia.

AUS: DSTO and Airbus Group form strategic alliance

DSTO has formed a new strategic alliance with Airbus Group Australia Pacific.

The agreement was signed in an inaugural alliance management committee meeting during the Australian International Air Show at Avalon.

The alliance will see the two organisations work closely together on a range of research and development projects related to aerospace defence technologies.

In particular, it will facilitate collaboration between DSTO and the Airbus Group in defence aircraft systems (including helicopters) and communications. Initially it will focus on maximising the capability of ADF aerospace fleets throughout their service life, and on improving communications capability.

USA: Patrol Squadron 45 Strengthens Partnership in the Philippines

A US Navy P-8A Poseidon (File Photo)

From U.S. 7th Fleet Public Affairs

YOKOSUKA, Japan (NNS) -- The Pelicans of Patrol Squadron (VP) 45 hosted members of the Philippine air force and navy aboard a U.S. Navy P-8A Poseidon for a familiarization flight to increase understanding and showcase the capabilities of the Navy's newest maritime patrol and reconnaissance aircraft during a detachment to Clark Air Base, Republic of the Philippines, Feb. 17.

The flight was a bilateral patrol mission in airspace off of Luzon Island and allowed the U.S. Navy air crew to demonstrate the P-8A's capabilities in both the littoral and open ocean environment and the flight characteristics of the P-8A in both high altitude reconnaissance missions and low altitude patrol regimes. The air crew also explained the operation of the aircraft's multi-mission sensors.

USA: High Seas Must Remain Open to All, Navy Leader Says

US Navy Adm. Michelle J. Howard
(Wiki Info - Image: Wiki Commons)

By Jim Garamone
DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, Feb. 25, 2015 – The world’s ocean trade routes must remain open to all to maintain global commerce, the vice chief of naval operations said here yesterday.

“The world [economy] depends on those high seas [to] staying free,” Navy Adm. Michelle J. Howard told CNN’s Jim Sciutto during the NewAmerica Future of War Project conference.

Noting that China is building its blue-water navy, Sciutto asked Howard how that could affect the maritime situation. China, she replied, “refers to itself as maturing and is starting to stretch its muscles in terms of who they are and how they see themselves as a world power.”

Countries ask themselves if it is possible to be a world power without military power, and “China has taken the path that in order to be a global power, they have to have military strength,” the admiral said.

USA: Under Secretary Gottemoeller Travels to the Philippines, Vietnam, Australia and New Zealand

Rose Gottemoeller, Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security, will travel to Manila, Quang Tri province, Hanoi, Canberra, Sydney, and Wellington for meetings with counterparts from February 27–March 9.

From February 27–March 1, Under Secretary Gottemoeller will visit the Philippines, meeting in Manila with senior Department of Foreign Affairs and Department of National Defense officials to discuss regional security, bilateral security cooperation, maritime security, and the upcoming Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty Review Conference (NPT RevCon). On February 28, the Under Secretary will visit Subic Naval Station and tour the Philippines Navy Frigate BRP 15 Gregorio del Pilar.

On March 1–2, Under Secretary Gottemoeller will travel to Quang Tri Province in Vietnam to observe U.S.-funded efforts to survey and clear Unexploded Ordnance (UXO) of war. She will also meet with provincial level authorities and non-governmental organizations.

Industry: DRS Technologies to Provide Tactical Integrated Communications Systems For Royal New Zealand Navy Frigates

ARLINGTON, VA, February 11, 2015  ̶   DRS Technologies Inc., a Finmeccanica Company, announced today that its Canadian subsidiary will be providing tactical integrated communications systems to the New Zealand Ministry of Defense for the Royal New Zealand Navy’s ANZAC-class frigates.

This subcontract was awarded to DRS Technologies Canada Ltd. in support of a communications modernization contract from Lockheed Martin Canada in September 2014. DRS Technologies Canada Ltd. is the primary subcontractor to Lockheed Martin Canada.

The subcontract includes the provision of all internal tactical and secure voice switching systems and terminals. DRS will provide its Shipboard Integrated Communications System (SHINCOM 3100) central switching unit, helicopter audio distribution system, public address server, recorder storage units, console dual screen terminals, outdoor terminals, jackboxes and ancillaries, as well as the Avaya G450 PABX phone system.

News Story: PLA carried out further test of JL-2 SLBM last month

Type 094 Jin class Ballistic Missile Submarine

The People's Liberation Army Navy conducted another test flight of its JL-2 submarine-launched ballistic missile again last month, Bill Gertz, senior editor of the Washington Free Beacon writes in an article published Feb. 18.

US military sources said that the JL-2 test was carried out on the same day North Korea tested its KN-11 submarine-launched ballistic missile. No direct link between the two tests has been established, nor have any further details regarding the test of the JL-2 been revealed. Pentagon spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Jeff Pool refused to comment on the JL-2 test, though he said the SLBM was discussed in the Pentagon's most recent annual report.

Pool said the JL-2 was described in the report as a weapons system which enables the PLA Navy its "first credible long-range sea-based nuclear deterrent." The congressional US-China Economic Security and Review Commission in its own annual report also said the SLBM has reached initial operating capability as part of the PLA's expanding strategic nuclear forces. With an attack range of approximately 4,600 miles (7,400 kilometers), the JL-2 gives China the ability to conduct nuclear strikes against the US.

Read the full story at Want China Times