31 March 2015

Think Tank: Rapid Fire (31-Mar-2015)

Sarah Hately

In this week’s Rapid Fire we update on Boko Haram, Yemen, the Tikrit campaign, US troops in Afghanistan, chemical weapons in Syria, and the ‘Warlord Problem’ in Ukraine.

Trouble continues in Nigeria as the presidential election commences. Troops from Chad and Niger claim that without a sustained Nigerian presence they have to ‘take certain towns twice’ which has significant ‘human and material cost’. Chadian President Idriss Déby has also been fiercely critical of how uncooperative the Nigerian military has been, saying that without support the Chadian army is ‘wasting time.’

The increased tension comes days after reports surfaced that at least 400 women and children were kidnapped by Boko Haram as they made their retreat from the Nigerian town of Damasak. An article from Reuters quotes residents of the town who claim to have seen the kidnappings occur. A spokesperson from the Nigerian military however has refuted the claims, stating that ‘there was no kidnapping… the people have been rescued and moved.’

Think Tank: Flight Path (31-Mar-2015)

Palmo Tenzin

In this week’s flight path, we cover the Germanwings plane crash, Joint Strike Fighter close air support capability, Australia’s next Chief of Air Force, Russia’s bombers and safety deposit boxes in space.

Recent revelations that identified German co-pilot Andrew Lubitz as deliberately locking the cockpit and crashing the Germanwings Airbus into the French Alps has highlighted some of the complex issues in cockpit security. Despite acknowledging Lubitz’s history with depression, the debate has largely focused on the need to enforce a rule that stipulates two pilots must be in the cockpit at all times. In fact, just yesterday, the Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss announced Australia’s airlines would immediately implement the two-person rule for all services operated by aircraft with over 50 seats. In contrast to this approach, Australian pilot Mark Gilmour argues the debate is ignoring the elephant in the room: mental health. Gilmour suggests the solution lies in destigmatising mental health in the aviation industry and avoiding kneejerk reactions such as implementing impractical cockpit rules.

USA: Bonhomme Richard Brings the Fight to the Shore for KMEP 15

From USS Bonhomme Richard Public Affairs

<< EAST CHINA SEA (April 11, 2014) A CH-47F Chinook tandem rotor heavy-lift helicopter, assigned to the 3rd General Support Aviation Battalion, 2nd Infantry Division, conducts flight operations with the amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6). Bonhomme Richard is the lead ship of the Bonhomme Richard Amphibious Ready Group and is conducting joint force amphibious operations in the U.S. 7th Fleet area of responsibility with the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit (31st MEU) and Commander Amphibious Squadron 11. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Michael Achterling/Released) [Image: Flickr User - Naval Surface Warriors] 

WATERS TO THE EAST OF THE KOREAN PENINSULA (NNS) -- The amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6) transported Marines from the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) to the coast of the Republic of Korea (ROK) in support of the Korean Marine Exchange Program (KMEP) 2015.

One major characteristic that makes Bonhomme Richard and the other ships of the Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) unique is their ability to move hundreds of personnel and haul heavy equipment to and from the shore quickly, but none of this would be possible without the landing craft air cushion (LCAC) and landing craft utility (LCU) of Naval Beach Unit (NBU) 7.

Sri Lanka: Sri Lanka Navy conducts naval exercise with Indian Navy off Trincomalee

On completion of their three-day visit, the Indian Naval Ships “TIR”, “KESARI”, “SUDARSHANI” and Indian Coast Guard Ship “VARUNA” joined with four Sri Lankan Naval Ships and six Fast Attack Craft in the seas off Trincomalee for a combined three-hour naval exercise in the morning hours on 30th March 2015. 

At the end of the in-harbour training related to the theoretical professional training for the officer and under-trainees of both the navies, this exercise provided them with a practical-based training in real conditions. Apart from the training aspect, the exercise was a great advantage to evaluate system compatibility and interoperability between the two navies, which are important in joint-force operations.

Maneuvering, station keeping, replenishment-at-sea, maintaining of formations, man-over-board procedures were practised with the involvement of both the navies, not only to train personnel in a challenging environment, but also to enhance the co-operation, co-ordination and the friendship of two regional navies which play an effective role in maintaining peace in the Indian Ocean. 

India: Parrikar Calls on Japanese Prime Minister

The Defence Minister Shri Manohar Parrikar, who is on a bilateral visit to Japan, called on Prime Minister of Japan Shinzo Abe today. 

The Defence Minister said that Japan is the first country he is visiting after assumption of office, which clearly conveys the importance India attaches to strengthening bilateral defence and security cooperation. He said that he would like to see a strong partnership with Japan in defence equipment and technology. 

Prime Minister Abe said that he wants to build a strong relationship with India not only in economic field but also in defence and security field. He said that a strong India-Japan partnership is not only in the national interest of the two countries but is also important for peace and security in the region. 

PacificSentinel: 12000th Post

India: India and Japan Hold Defence Dialogue

Joint Press Release

1. The Defence Minister of India Manohar Parrikar is paying a bilateral visit to Japan from 29 March to 1 April, 2015 at the invitation of the Minister of Defence of Japan, Gen Nakatani. The two Ministers held a Defence Ministerial Meeting on March 30, 2015 in Tokyo.

2. The meeting was held in a constructive, friendly and forward looking atmosphere. The two Ministers briefed each other on the security environment surrounding each country and their respective defence policies. They reviewed strategic developments relating to international security situation with emphasis on the inter-connected Asia-Pacific and Indian Ocean regions.  They were of the view that in the inter-connected Indo-Pacific region, India-Japan Special Strategic and Global Partnership has a key role in maintaining peace and stability in the region. Minister Nakatani briefed on Japan’s recent efforts related to Japan’s security policy.  Minister Parrikar appreciated the detailed briefing. 

India: Clarification on Wrong Reporting (on AN-32) by a Certain Section of Media

Antonov An-32B of the Indian Air Force at Leh Airbase
(Wiki Info - Image: Wiki Commons)

1. Reports in a section of media on Indian War Planes go missing during upgrade is baseless and has been confirmed by Indian Air Force (IAF).

2. The last five AN-32s which were sent for upgrade to Ukraine are  available in a factory in Ukraine. 

3. There have been delays in upgrade due to non availability of components as a result of the ongoing Geo-Political stand off between Ukraine and Russia.

NOTE: The Did Ukraine Just Lose 5 Indian Air Force Planes?Link in the above was added by PacificSentinel for clarity & context. 

Industry: Raytheon wins $46 million contract to provide ground stations for South Korean purchase of Global Hawk

GlobalHawk UAV (File Photo)
Raytheon delivers stationary and mobile ground segments

DULLES, Va., March 30, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- Raytheon Company (NYSE: RTN) has been awarded a contract valued at up to$45.7 million by Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems for ground segments in support of four Global Hawk unmanned aircraft systems recently purchased by the Republic of Korea.

Under this contract, Raytheon will deliver one building-based and one mobile ground segment to locations in South Korea. Work under the contract will be performed at Raytheon's Dulles, Va., facility and is expected to be completed by mid-2019.

"As the original developer and producer of the Global Hawk ground station, Raytheon is providing a platform that is known globally for reliable mission success," said Todd Probert, vice president of Mission Support and Modernization for Raytheon Intelligence, Information and Services. "Additionally, our investment of technology for this capability will secure Raytheon's ground station solution as reliable, relevant and supportable for decades to come."

Global Hawk is used globally to support antiterrorism, antipiracy, humanitarian assistance, disaster relief, airborne communications and information-sharing missions.

Industry: Republic of Korea upgrades its Air and Missile Defense

Patriot missile launch
Awards $770 million contract to Raytheon to upgrade Patriot system

SEOUL, South Korea, March 30, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- Cities and key infrastructure in the Republic of Korea will soon be better protected against ballistic missiles, aircraft, and other airborne threats. The Republic of Korea awarded Raytheon Company (NYSE: RTN) a $769.4 million Direct Commercial Sale contract to upgrade an undisclosed quantity of Patriot Air and Missile Defense System batteries to the latest Patriot Missile Defense System Solution configuration currently fielded.

"The upgrade enhances the Republic of Korea's defenses and underscores the value of the 13-nation strong Patriot partnership which funded development of the modernization," said Dan Crowley, President of Raytheon Integrated Defense Systems. "The Republic of Korea's procurement is also an economic growth engine which will bring good jobs to Korea and preserve jobs in the U.S which would have gone overseas if a foreign system was selected."

The upgrades include:
  • Open architecture, which ensures Patriot can operate on a variety of networks
  • Modern Man Station, a new operator interface featuring touch screen technology and color graphical displays
  • Radar Digital Processor, which improves target detection and identification, enhances surveillance, and supports the PAC-3 MSE missile.
In late 2014, the Republic of Korea awarded Raytheon a Direct Commercial Sales contract for $160M to upgrade its missiles to the GEM-T configuration. This award was announced in Raytheon's 2014 fourth quarter earnings call.

Industry: Northrop Grumman Formally Launches Operations in New Zealand

WELLINGTON, New Zealand – March 30, 2015 – Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE:NOC) has formally launched operations in New Zealand this week in a ceremony in Wellington.

Ian Irving, chief executive for Northrop Grumman Australia, who also has responsibility for New Zealand, welcomed the company's further expansion into the Asia-Pacific region. "Northrop Grumman has made the decision to invest in this region for the long term," Irving said. "Our desire is to bring to New Zealand the new capabilities that it will need for the future and to see these capabilities delivered by New Zealanders, both within Northrop Grumman and our local industrial partners."

Northrop Grumman is partnering and developing local industry in New Zealand through strategic partnering with local regional companies including Electrotech in navigation systems, and DataCom in broader Information and Communication Technology areas.

News Report: US, South Korean Forces Conduct Joint Landing Exercise

A previous Amphibious Exercise between US & RoK Forces

U.S. and South Korean forces held a landing drill Monday near the port city of Pohang, as part of the annual Foal Eagle military exercise.

"In the event of a crisis, probably the Korean military as well as the United States military, will be involved in... obviously meeting whatever the threat is, as well as keeping the people of Korea safe, doing our best to provide protection and again, just to meet the crisis," said Justin Whitaker, 1st Lieutenant U.S. Marine Corps, based in Okinawa, Japan.

South Korean military officials said the drill mobilized about 7,600 navy and marine personnel and 30 naval vessels, as well as several landing craft.

Earlier this month, North Korea fired two short-range missiles off its east coast, hours before the joint military exercises began. 

North Korea regularly protests the joint drills, which it calls a rehearsal for invasion.

Foal Eagle runs through April 24.

This story first appeared on Voice of America & is reposted here with permission.

News Report: US Cites Growing N. Korea Long-Range Missile Threat

KN-08 Missile Mock-up during a Parade (File Photo)

Brian Padden

SEOUL—President Obama’s National Intelligence Director recently told the U.S. Congress that North Korea has made advancements toward developing a long-range ballistic missile that could reach the U.S. At the same time, a possible deployment of a U.S. missile defense system in South Korea is being debated, but for officials in Seoul, these two issues are not necessarily related.

In written testimony to Congress, James Clapper, the U.S. National Intelligence Director, last week said that North Korea has taken steps to deploy a long range, inter-continental ballistic missile (ICBM) called the KN-08 that will be capable of reaching the U.S.

Around the same time David Stilwell, the Pentagon’s deputy director for Politico-Military Affairs for Asia, said the North Korean missile threat has created a “demand” for the THAAD missile defense system on the Korean Peninsula.  

News Story: Pakistan To Aid Saudi Coalition in Yemen

By Usman Ansari

ISLAMABAD — Analysts are unsure how Pakistan will contribute to the Saudi-led intervention in Yemen now that it appears to have committed itself. They say the Army and Air Force are preoccupied at home fighting the Pakistani Taliban (TTP), but its relationship with Riyadh left it with little choice but to fall into line.

Though having been reported as being a member of the coalition, Pakistan had hitherto only pledged to defend Saudi Arabia's territorial integrity, not become involved in military action in Yemen.

There seems to be little domestic appetite for the Yemeni operation in Pakistan due to fears of blowback from a wider sectarian conflict.

Former Australian defense attache to Islamabad Brian Cloughley says there is also little support for the mission within Pakistan's military, but he notes that the military leadership can be overruled by the prime minister.

According to Maj Gen Asif Bajwa, the head of the military's inter services media relation's branch, the Army already has nearly 300 personnel in Saudi Arabia. They have been taking part in Samsun 5, the latest in a series of annual bilateral military exercises, but any link with the ongoing situation has been denied.

However, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Monday was reported to have agreed to fully support the operation, and that it has been the source of bilateral discussions for a number of months.

Read the full story at DefenseNews

News Story: South Korea opts for KAI-Lockheed in $7.8 bln fighter deal

C-103 Model on display, one possible design for the KFX

Seoul (AFP) - South Korea on Monday selected Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) and partner Lockheed Martin for a multi-billion-dollar contract to develop 120 "indigenous" fighter jets to replace Seoul's ageing fleet.

The bid from KAI and the US aerospace giant, which is subject to a screening process before being officially approved, was always seen as the favourite for the 8.6 trillion won ($7.8 billion) deal over a rival bid by civilian carrier Korean Air (KAL) teamed with Airbus.

The Defence Ministry also approved a separate $1.28 billion deal to buy Patriot PAC-3 missiles and upgrade its air defence system aimed at intercepting North Korean ballistic missiles.

The KF-X fighter project is designed to develop and produce 120 fighter jets of a new, indigenous type to replace South Korea's ageing fleet of F-4s and F-5s.

Read the full story at YahooNews

Editorial: China's Air Force Conducts Exercise Between Taiwan and the Philippines

By Ankit Panda

The People’s Liberation Army Air Force carried out a one-day exercise over the Bashi Channel.

On Monday, China’s air force held its first exercise in western Pacific Ocean airspace. As reported by the South China Morning Post, the People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) carried out drills in the air over the Bashi Channel, the body of water between Taiwan and the Philippines archipelago, considered the rim of the first island chain. The purpose of the exercise was to  boost the PLAAF’s capability to carry out far-sea operations.
Little is known about the specifics of the exercise. Colonel Shen Jinke, the PLAAF spokesperson who was quoted by a Chinese military news outlet, gave little information about the number of aircraft involved or specific types. The PLA Daily‘s English-language article on the exercise was accompanied by pictures of PLAAF “new-type” strategic bombers, suggesting the exercise could have had a strategic bombing focus.
“Training in the airspace far from China is an effective way for the PLA Air Force to temper its combat capability and also a common practice of world powers’ air forces,” said Col Shen, according to the PLA Daily. To assuage concerns from neighboring states, the report notes that “this training by the PLA Air Force complies with relevant international laws and practices, is not aimed at any country or target and poses no threat to any country or region.” 

Read the full story at The Diplomat

Editorial: Will Japanese Subs Be Built in Australia?

Japanese Soryu class Submarine (File Photo)

By Franz-Stefan Gady

Remarks by a retired Japanese Vice Admiral could be a “game changer” in the race for Australia’s biggest-ever arms deal.

Japan is perhaps softening its stance vis-à-vis the possible construction of Soryu-class submarines in Australia, according to Reuters. Last week, retired Japanese Vice Admiral Yoji Koda stated at Australia’s Future Submarine Summit that perhaps only the first out of a dozen such vessels could be built in Japan.
“At least some boats should be built in this country [Australia] (…) I used to be heavily involved in defense force planning … Maybe the best way is proportional to the number of ships to be built,” the Vice Admiral said.
Another retired Japanese naval officer, Vice Admiral Masao Kobayashi, who also attended the meeting, stated that it was “not very difficult” to imagine Japanese submarines constructed in Australia, according to Reuters.
The conference was held in Adelaide, home to the state-owned Australian Submarine Corporation. One of the event co-organizers, John Bruni, director of Sage International, an Australian geopolitical consultancy, called Koda’s comments a “game changer.” 

Read the full story at The Diplomat

Editorial: Okinawa Pushes Back Against US Base Relocation

US Marine Air-Station Futenma, the base to be moved

By Mina Pollmann

Trouble in Okinawa could have serious repercussions for the Japan-U.S. alliance.

In Okinawa, where the central government is trying to relocate the U.S. Marine Corps’ Futenma Air Station to the Henoko district in Nago, there is brewing discontent that could sour U.S.-Japan relations if not handled carefully. Okinawa Governor Takeshi Onaga won the gubernatorial election last December on a strongly anti-relocation platform. Many Okinawans do not want the relocation within Okinawa, because they believe that the burden of hosting U.S. forces should be spread more evenly within Japan – or that it should at least be reduced in Okinawa. There has been a lot of pressure on Onaga by his supporters to take concrete steps to stop the relocation project.
Last Monday, Onaga instructed the Defense Ministry to suspend underwater work after discovering coral reefs damaged by concrete blocks used to conduct boring surveys. He threatened to rescind the prefectural government’s approval if work did not stop within a week. Okinawa and the central government hold different views on whether the prefectural government’s permission was required or not to place the concrete blocks where they were, and whether the previous governor’s approval was legitimate or not. Last Tuesday, the Defense Ministry continued their work on underwater surveys despite Onaga’s instructions. The Defense Ministry has also asked for the fisheries minister, Yoshimasa Hayashi, to make a decision on the validity of Onaga’s directive. 

Read the full story at The Diplomat

Editorial: After the Izumo, What's Next for Japan's Navy?

JDS Izumo Helicopter Destroyer (File Photo)

By Robert Farley

Japan has its largest post-war helicopter carrier — how will it use it?

As several contributors have noted, JDS Izumo has entered service with the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force.  Izumo is the largest carrier (or “helicopter-carrying destroyer”) constructed by Japan since World War II. The 27,000 ton, 31 knot flat-decked warship gives the JMSDF critical advantages in anti-submarine and amphibious capabilities, and immediately becomes one of the most effective units in the Asia-Pacific.
Izumo and her sister represent an evolutionary step beyond the Hyuga-class light carriers, which displace about 19,000 tons. With the experience gained from construction and operation of the Izumos, Japan could easily take the next step to an even larger flat-decked amphib, or potentially to a full fleet carrier.
However, the JMSDF faces two significant obstacles in pushing to the next step in carrier evolution. 

Read the full story at The Diplomat

Editorial: Malaysia Debates New Anti-Terror Laws

By Prashanth Parameswaran

Tighter restrictions are already raising human rights concerns among some.

Malaysia began debating new anti-terror laws in Parliament Monday. The laws would empower the government to detain, impose harsher penalties on, and seize travel documents of suspects amid the rising threat of the Islamic State.
As The Diplomat reported earlier, the Malaysian government had said late last year that it would introduce new measures after arresting dozens of Malaysians suspected of supporting the Islamic State.
The Prevention of Terrorism Act (POTA) and the Special Measures Against Terrorism in Foreign Countries Act were bills that were tabled for their first readings, while several other bills were amendments to existing laws.
POTA would allow authorities to detain suspects indefinitely without trial. It will create a five-to-eight member Prevention of Terrorism Board to make decisions on detention or restriction orders as well as a Registrar containing fingerprints and photographs of persons detained.
Meanwhile, the Special Measures Against Terrorism in Foreign Countries would enable authorities to seize travel documents of citizens or foreigners believed to be engaging in or abetting terrorist acts. 

Read the full story at The Diplomat

Editorial: Philippines Fires Back at China’s South China Sea Charges

By Prashanth Parameswaran

Manila hits back at Beijing.

The Philippines dismissed concerns raised by China over Manila’s “hypocrisy” in conducting activities in the South China Sea while crying foul at Beijing’s efforts to do so.
The Philippines had halted activities in the South China Sea last year and suggested other nations follow suit due to concerns about an ongoing legal case against China. However, as The Diplomat previously reported, Foreign Minister Albert del Rosario said last week that Manila would now resume some activities amid massive Chinese land reclamation efforts that could alter the status quo before any legal verdict could be reached. Beijing said this announcement had “exposed the Philippines’ hypocrisy.”
But in a direct response to China, a Philippine foreign ministry spokesman on Saturday dismissed any attempt to compare Manila’s proposal to resume limited repair and reconstruction works with Beijing’s massive land reclamation efforts that involved changing the very nature of individual features. 

Read the full story at The Diplomat

Editorial: Taiwan - A Useful Ally Against China's Cyber Warriors?

By Franz-Stefan Gady

Taiwan could be a useful partner in countering Chinese hackers, says the country’s vice premier.

This Monday, Taiwanese Vice Premier Simon Chang stated in an interview that he wants his country to establish a closer partnership on cybersecurity with the United States, according to Reuters. The reason behind the Vice Premier’s remarks is the steady increase in the number of cyberattacks on Taiwan’s critical information infrastructure originating from mainland China.
“Taiwan has no enemy in the international community except you-know-who. Who in the world would try to hack Taiwan?,” Chang rhetorically asked. He furthermore emphasized that Taiwan is used as a testing ground for future sophisticated Chinese state-sponsored attacks on U.S. targets.
He also stressed that Taiwan’s critical information infrastructure could be used by Chinese hackers as backdoors to gain access to U.S. systems, although he noted that the principal motivation of mainland hackers is not to steal U.S. data. 

Read the full story at The Diplomat

Editorial: Chinese Nationals Evacuate Yemen on PLA Navy Frigate

By Shannon Tiezzi

Amid increasing violence, China pulls over 500 citizens out of Yemen.

As the violence in Yemen worsens, with Saudi Arabia leading air strikes against Houthi forces, China has joined a number of countries in evacuating personnel from the country. China sent a PLA Navy frigate, the Weifang, to Yemen to assist in evacuations. According to Xinhua, 449 Chinese citizens, plus six citizens of other countries, left Yemen Monday aboard the Weifang. An additional 122 Chinese citizens left on Sunday from the port of Aden, where Chinese warships were also used to help carry evacuees to safety.
According to Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying, the navy vessels were diverted from their primary mission, conducting anti-piracy patrols in the Gulf of Aden, to conduct the evacuation. The 122 citizens who left Yemen on Sunday were taken to Djibouti, where the Chinese Embassy is helping arrange their return to China. The Chinese government “places great importance on the safety of Chinese citizens and entities in Yemen,” Hua said, noting that the evacuation operation began in earnest as the security situation “abruptly deteriorated” on Thursday.
As of Monday, “Chinese Ambassador Tian Qi and a necessary number of embassy staff are now holding their posts in Yemen,” Hua said, and were doing the work necessary to complete the evacuation of Chinese nationals. Xinhua noted that the embassy will remain open and “will continue to assist a small number of Chinese nationals who choose to stay in Yemen.” The U.S. and a number of other countries closed their embassies and evacuated staff back in February. 

Read the full story at The Diplomat

Editorial: Where Is China's Silk Road Actually Going?

By Shannon Tiezzi

At the Boao Forum, China provided the clearest overview yet of its ambitious Silk Road plans.

The Boao Forum for Asia, an annual economic dialogue held in China’s Hainan Province, was an especially high-profile meeting this year; Chinese President Xi Jinping himself delivered the keynote address. The reason for the special emphasis was clear: Beijing selected the Boao Forum as the venue to deliver the first in-depth explanation of China’s vision for the Silk Road Economic Belt and Maritime Silk Road, collectively known as the “Belt and Road.”
During the Boao Forum, China’s National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), in conjunction with China’s Foreign Ministry and Commerce Ministry, issued an action plan for the Belt and Road. Xinhua provided an English-language translation of the document. Beijing is not shy about its ambitions for the project — “The plan is expected to change the world political and economic landscape through development of countries along the routes, most of which are eager for fresh growth,” Xinhua wrote. Beijing hopes that annual trade volume between China and “Belt and Road” countries will “surpass 2.5 trillion U.S. dollars in a decade or so,” Xi said.
The plan is geographically ambitious as well, envisioning the Belt and Road as encompassing Asia, Africa, and Europe and their near seas. The land route “focuses on bringing together China, Central Asia, Russia and Europe,” the document noted. The Silk Road is envisioned as “a new Eurasian Land Bridge” created by transportation routes, with “core cites” as links in the chain. There were less details on the maritime route, though the plan noted there would be two legs: one linking China to the Indian Ocean via the South China Sea and the other traveling through the South China Sea to the South Pacific. There was no list of concrete projects associated with the Belt and Road, but China held up the $23 billion worth of deals just signed with Kazakhstan as a model for other countries. 

Read the full story at The Diplomat

Editorial: China and Russia - Two Approaches to Integration

By Marcin Kaczmarski

The Eurasian Economic Union and the New Silk Road represent two very different approaches in Central Asia.

The Eurasian Economic Union and the New Silk Road are two major foreign policy projects which Russia and China, respectively, have been pursuing since the early 2010s. The initiatives are the pet projects of the two states’ leaders.
Vladimir Putin proposed the Eurasian integration in October 2011, while running for his third presidential term. In an article published in Izvestia, Putin sketched out his ambitious vision of a Russian-led political-economic bloc in the post-Soviet space. Russia convinced Belarus and Kazakhstan to sign up to the project the following month but it took another three years to sign the treaty establishing the Eurasian Economic Union. 2015 marked the official inauguration of the union, which was almost immediately enlarged to include Armenia.
Xi Jinping put forward the idea of renewing the Silk Road two years after Putin’s initial declaration of Eurasian integration. During a visit to Kazakhstan in September 2013, the Chinese leader vowed to create a “Silk Road Economic Belt” as the first step in the process of connecting China to Europe via Central Asia. Several weeks later, during his trip to Indonesia, Xi presented a parallel initiative, the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road. The idea of reviving the ancient Silk Road quickly became popular in the Chinese media and expert circles. “One Belt, One Road” became a popular slogan describing the project. 

Read the full story at The Diplomat

Editorial: Did Ukraine Just Lose 5 Indian Air Force Planes?

Antonov An-32B of the Indian Air Force at Leh Airbase
(Wiki Info - Image: Wiki Commons)

By Franz-Stefan Gady

India is looking to upgrade its military airlift capacity, yet Kiev has proven to be an unreliable partner.

Defense News reports that five Antonov AN-32 military transport aircraft have gone missing in Ukraine. According to an Indian Air Force official, the last five out of 40 AN-32s undergoing upgrades at the Kiev-based Antonov State Company have become “untraceable.”
“These five aircraft are almost lost as it is difficult to trace them and diplomatic efforts to find their whereabouts have failed,” the Air Force official stated.
Indian Defense Minister Manohar Parrikar also said in an interview that the planes were “stuck” in Ukraine due to the ongoing fighting in the country.
In 2009, the Indian Air Force signed a contract with Ukrspetsexport Corporation, Ukraine’s state-owned arms trading company, to upgrade its 104 AN-32 transport aircraft and extend their service life for another 25 to 40 years. 

Read the full story at The Diplomat

30 March 2015

Think Tank: Sea State - Australia’s Future Submarine Summit (30-Mar-2015)

Japanese Soryu class Submarine (File Photo)

Amelia Long

This week’s Sea State will examine some of the more prominent debates to arise from Australia’s Future Submarine Summit, the most recent forum to hold informed discussion on the trajectory of SEA 1000: the largest defence project in Australia’s history.

The Sub Summit took place on 25 and 26 March in Adelaide, South Australia. A lot of the debate revolved around the build location and the relative advantages of local construction versus offshore sourcing—effectively the contenders for the now-infamous ‘competitive evaluation process’.

That the process has become politicised as was evident from the competing views and priorities put forward by Defence Minister Kevin Andrews and Opposition Leader Bill Shorten. Shorten called for the Government to support their ‘bipartisan’ approach of an acquisition process that would include reinstating Sweden, as well as France, Japan and Germany, along with the firm commitment to build the submarine fleet in Australia. Andrews’ response was that Shorten was ‘promising a complete fantasy’, following with:

AUS: Defence upgrades to satellite terminals

The Australian Government has given second pass approval for the acquisition of satellite terminals for deployed land forces, upgrades to existing satellite terminals and terminal monitoring and control systems, as part of Joint Project 2008 Phase 5B1. Approximately $180 million has been approved for the acquisition.

Satellite communications are a critical enabler of Australian Defence Force (ADF) operations, connecting our troops on the ground with command and control, intelligence, geospatial and logistics information.

The project will provide a significant increase in Defence’s satellite communications capabilities, including the first large terminals capable of adequately supporting deployed headquarters. It will also upgrade existing terminals and establish networked terminal monitoring and control systems.

Sri Lanka: Three Russian naval ships arrive at the port of Colombo

Destroyer Admiral Panteleyev (Image: Wiki Commons)

Three Russian ships “Admiral Panteleev”, “Pechenga” and “SB-522”, arrived at the port of Colombo on 28th March 2015 for replenishment and relaxation of their crews. Admiral Panteleev is an anti-submarine ship commanded by Captain 1st Rank Aleksey V. Antsiferov. Pechenga is a replenishment vessel while SB–522 is a salvage tug. The ships, belonging to the Pacific Fleet of the Russian Navy were ceremonially welcomed by the Sri Lanka Navy in accordance with naval traditions on their arrival.

The Commander of the war ship squadron, Captain 1st Rank Alexander V. Potapov and commanders of the ships accompanied by the Ambassador and the Millitary Attache of the Embassy of the Russia Federation in Sri Lanka paid a courtesy call on the Deputy Area Commander of the Western Naval Area, Commodore Kassapa Paul, at the Western Naval Command Headquarters in Colombo. They held cordial discussions on the matters of mutual interest and exchanged mementos as a gesture of goodwill.

A photo exhibition titled "Soviet Navy and the Great Victory over Fascism in Second World War'' is scheduled to be held on 30th onboard Admiral Panteleev where the Commander of the Sri Lanka Navy , Vice Admiral Jayantha Perera, will be the main guest.

The visiting Russian ships will stay in Sri Lanka till 01st April and the crew members are scheduled to take part in special programs arranged by the Sri Lanka Navy during their stay to enhance the friendly relations between the two navies.

Industry: First Of Two Bay Class Patrol Boats Gifted To Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency

A Bay class patrol boat (Wiki Info - Image: Wiki Commons)

The Prime Minister of Malaysia, Najib Razak has inspected the first of two Austal-built Bay Class Patrol Boats gifted to the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) by the Australian Government, at an event held in Port Klang, Malaysia on Tuesday 17 March 2015.

The 38m Bay Class Patrol Boat, previously the ACV Arnhem Bay and now KM Perwira, was received by the MMEA following a flag-transfer ceremony held in Cairns, Queensland, Australia on 10th February 2015.  A second vessel is due for delivery in April/May 2015.

Austal’s Vice President International Sales and Marketing, Dave Shiner attended the event and noted the warm reception that the vessel received.

News Story: Beijing upset that Manila won't back down in S. China Sea dispute

The Philippines was told by China on Friday to withdraw from disputed islands in the South China Sea.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying expressed serious concern after the Philippines said it would resume repair and reconstruction works on what it considers to be illegally occupied islands.

Philippine foreign secretary Albert del Rosario said Thursday that the work on the islands, including repairs to an airstrip, did not violate the Declaration on Conduct of parties in the South China Sea.

He also accused China of rushing construction projects, including land reclamation, in the South China Sea.

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News Story: PLA holds live fire exercise near Myanmar border

The People's Liberation Army has been holding night training exercises in the western plateau of Yunnan province after the clashes between Myanmar government forces and ethnic rebels spilled into China's territory, reports Xinhua-published Reference News.

A brigade of the 14th Field Army has been carrying out a large-scale live fire exercise in Yunnan recently, aiming at increasing its combat capability at night, according to national broadcaster CCTV. Its reports said soldiers were trained with flamethrowers during the practice missions.

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