30 June 2015

Think Tank: Sea, air and land update (30-6-2015)

HMAS Tobruk (Background) with an LCM8 (File Photo)
Amelia Long, Palmo Tenzin and Sarah Hately

Sea State

Despite recent diplomatic tensions, two Indonesian navy vessels have docked in Darwin for annual Australian–Indonesian joint maritime exercises. Also known as AUSINDO CORPAT, the drills are designed to improve coordinated maritime security between the two nations’ militaries, and aims to target illegal activities that may take place in the two countries’ maritime zones.

Vietnamese newspapers reported last week that Chinese oil rig HD-981—the cause of last year’s conflict between China and Vietnam—has been redeployed off the coast of Hainan Island, into the disputed EEZs of the two countries. For a deeper look at the issue and its potential impact on the South China Sea tensions, have a look at The Diplomat’s piece here.

Also in the region, India’s ‘Look East (PDF)’ policy saw the Indian navy’s Eastern Fleet enter Thai and Cambodian waters last week. While visiting Thailand, INS Satpura and INS Shakti will be ‘fostering interoperability’ between the two nations, while the seamen of INS Ranvir and INS Kamorta will conduct training and medical exercises with the Cambodian navy.

And finally, check out some images of the final voyage of Australia’s oldest serving navy vessel, HMAS Tobruk, here. HMAS Tobruk has been in service since 1981, and most recently operated in PACIFIC ASSIST 2015 following Cyclone Pam’s damage to Vanuatu earlier this year. She will be decommissioned on 31 July.

AUS: Australian Air Task Group achieves major milestones

A Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) KC-30A Multi-Role Tanker Transport leads the way as RAAF jets - two F/A-18F Super Hornets and an E-7A Wedgetail Airborne Early Warning and Control aircraft - fly above heavy cloud in the Middle East. >>

The Australian Air Task Group’s air combat operations against Daesh continue to deliver precise and effective attacks, with more than 400 weapons employed against targets to degrade Daesh capability and to support Iraqi Security Forces.

This milestone was achieved with a combination of F/A-18A Hornets and F/A-18F Super Hornets flying a total of some 5000 hours, the E-7A Wedgetail completing 100 operational sorties, and the KC‑30A air-to-air refuelling team delivering 25 million pounds of fuel to Australian and Coalition aircraft.

Chief of Air Force, Air Marshal Geoff Brown, said achieving these milestones represented both the hard work of deployed personnel and the quality of the equipment they operate.

AUS: Task Group Taji – Australian and New Zealand trained Iraqi Army Brigade ready to fight Daesh/ISIL

The combined Australian-New Zealand Task Group’s first regular Iraqi Army trainees have graduated.

More than 700 soldiers from the 16th Division’s 76th Iraqi Army Brigade have spent the past eight weeks in training at the Taji Military Complex, northwest of Baghdad.

Taji is one of four US-led Building Partner Capacity (BPC) mission sites across Iraq.

The 76th Brigade graduation marks a significant milestone for the BPC mission with 10,000 Iraqi Security Forces personnel trained by Coalition forces across the BPC sites.

76th Iraqi Army Brigade Commander Brigadier General Ali Khalid Abdullah Ali said he and his men felt ready to reclaim their country and take the fight to Daesh.

AUS: First RAAF C-27J Spartan arrives in Australia

Chief of Air Force, Air Marshal Geoff Brown, AO, welcomed the first RAAF C-27J Spartan battlefield airlift aircraft in Australia at a ceremony at RAAF Base Richmond today, coinciding with the 90th anniversary of the base’s establishment.

The acquisition of the C-27J Spartan will fill a gap in Australia’s military capability for tactical fixed wing airlift, which has been left open since the retirement of the Caribou fleet in 2009.

AIRMSHL Brown said the acquisition of 10 C-27J aircraft, which has been planned since 2012, signifies a $1.4 billion investment in Australia’s airlift capability.

AUS: In-service support contract awarded for HMAS Choules

HMAS Choules (File Photo)
The Australian Government has awarded an in-service support contract to maintain the Bay-Class Landing Ship Dock, HMAS Choules, over the next two years.

The maintenance contract awarded to Atlantic & Peninsula Australia Pty Ltd (A&P Australia) is a fixed price performance based commercial arrangement. The contact has an initial value of $60.6 million and will see the continuation of nearly 30 jobs in the Sydney region.

With a growing maritime industry in Australian, United Kingdom-based company A&P Group Limited expanded its operations by creating a local Australian subsidiary, A&P Australia.

Parent company A&P Group Limited has been maintaining HMAS Choules since the vessel was acquired from the UK Government in October 2011.

The entry of A&P Australia into the local maritime sustainment market strengthens Australian naval sustainment capability and will provide Navy with a valuable continuity of experience and knowledge, now and into the future.

USA: US Marines embark on USNS Sacagawea to begin Exercise Koa Moana 15.2

U.S. Marines with Company A, 1st Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment, Marine Rotational Force – Darwin, rehearse weapon presentation and four-man room clearing tactics and procedures aboard the USNS Sacagawea June 20, 2015 in Dili, East Timor in preparation for Exercise Koa Moana 15.2. The platoon of Marines will be conducting a bilateral exercise with the East Timor Defence Force, focusing on individual-level fundamentals to build proficiency in complex squad and platoon level tasks. The bilateral training will include room clearing of buildings, urban movement and patrolling. The MRF-D six-month deployment demonstrates how the Marine Air Ground Task Force is equipped and organized to carry out national objectives in cooperation with our national and international partners.

USNS SACAGAWEA, at sea -- A platoon of U.S. Marines with Company A, 1st Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment, Marine Rotational Force – Darwin, have been preparing for the bilateral training exercise Koa Moana 15.2 in Dili, East Timor, beginning June 22.

The Marines will highlight the exercise by focusing on the fundamentals of squad and platoon-level tasks with the East Timor Defence Force. 

“We are here to conduct a bilateral training evolution and will be training alongside one platoon of the land component of the East Timor Defense Force’s naval force and one platoon of their Marines, which they refer to as F-FDTL (Falintil-Forças de Defesa de Timor Leste),” said 1st Lt. Christopher Wisnowski, 1st platoon commander for Company A, 1st Battalion, 4th Marines, MRF – D. 

USA: USS Fort Worth Completes 2015 CARAT Philippines

USS Fort Worth (Image: Flickr User - U.S. Pacific Command)
By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Joe Bishop, USS Fort Worth Public Affairs

PUERTO PRINCESA, Republic of the Philippines (NNS) -- The littoral combat ship USS Fort Worth (LCS 3) wrapped up its first-ever participation in Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) Philippines following a June 26 closing ceremony held at Naval Station Apolinario Jalandoon, Puerto Princesa, Republic of the Philippines.

Now in its 21st year, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) have been an integral part of CARAT since the annual exercise series began in 1995. 

The ceremony took place the day after Fort Worth and Philippine navy ships, BRP Gregorio Del Pilar (PF 15) and BRP Ramon Alcaraz (PF 16), returned from two days of joint exercises in the Sulu Sea.

USA: Pacific Partnership 2015 - USNS Mercy’s Opening Ceremony in Bougainville

USNS Mercy (File Photo)
U.S. Embassy, Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea: The United States Naval Ship (USNS) Mercy hospital ship arrived in Bougainville late last week, and the Pacific Partnership 2015 opening ceremony was held today, Monday, June 29th in Arawa, Bougainville. The USNS Mercy will be in Arawa until July 3 when it hoists anchor en route to Rabaul, in East New Britain Province. Among the many dignitaries attending the mission’s opening ceremony were Bougainville’s leaders, Papua New Guinean government officials, non-governmental organization representatives, civil organizations, and representatives of the United States, including Ambassador Walter North, the U.S. Ambassador to Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, and Vanuatu. The U.S.-led Pacific Partnership mission includes personnel from Australia, New Zealand, Timor-Leste, Philippines, and Japan.

Industry: Kineco Kaman Composites–India dispatches first lot of Mission Consoles to BAE Systems for P-8 Program

GOA, India (June  26, 2015)  Kineco Kaman Composites India (KKCI) Private Limited, a Joint Venture Company between Kineco Group of Goa and Kaman Aerospace Group USA, has made its first commercial dispatch of Composite Mission Consoles to BAE Systems, Inc. for the P-8 maritime patrol aircraft.

KKCI had earlier completed First Article Inspection phase of the composite console paving the way for this serial production. This is a historic event for KKCI and marks the beginning of its long term engagement with global aerospace OEM’s like BAE Systems.

BAE Systems initiated this sourcing activity as part of its commitment to help develop aerospace and defense industrial capabilities in India. Over the last eighteen months, the company’s team has been developing KKCI’s capabilities to achieve readiness for this production. KKCI is the first supplier in India developed through P-8 industrial commitments by BAE Systems.

Industry: CAE awarded contract from Boeing to develop four P-8A operational flight trainers for US Navy and Royal Australian Air Force

P-8A Poseidon (File Photo)
Tampa, Fla., USA, June 29, 2015 - (NYSE: CAE; TSX: CAE) - CAE today announced that Boeing has ordered simulator hardware for four additional P-8A Poseidon operational flight trainers (OFTs). 

Two of the P-8A OFTs are for the United States Navy, which will bring the Navy's total to 18 P-8A OFTs. The other two P-8A OFTs are part of a United States Cooperative Program via the P-8 Production, Sustainment, and Follow-On Development Memorandum of Understanding (PSDF MOU) with the U.S. Navy to provide the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) with a comprehensive P-8A training system.

The contract for the two RAAF P-8A OFTs was signed in CAE's fourth quarter of fiscal year 2015 and included in the value of contracts announced on April 8, 2015. The contract for the two U.S. Navy P-8A OFTs was signed in CAE's first quarter of fiscal year 2016.

Industry: Republic of Singapore extends air grading contract with BAE Systems

Tamworth, NSW: BAE Systems has been awarded an extension to its contract to support the Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) Air Grading Centre (AGC) – Flying Training Institute (FTI) from its Flight Training Academy located in Tamworth, NSW.

BAE Systems will continue to provide the RSAF with aircraft, purpose built training facilities, instructor training, student accommodation and recreational facilities until the end of 2019.

Under the contract extension, the RSAF aims to increase the number of students that undertake air grading from 220 to 240 annually. The AGC will continue to be supported by a permanent detachment of 12 RSAF personnel who, along with their families, make a valued contribution to the local Tamworth community.

During the recent AGC Contract Performance Review, the RSAF Head of Air Training, Colonel Ho Yung Peng, stated that the excellent working relationship between the RSAF and BAE Systems has delivered solid contractual outcomes to date.

BAE Systems Australia Director Aerospace Steve Drury said: “We are honoured to continue providing the Singapore Air Force with aircraft and training equipment to meet their future aircrew training needs. We welcome the RSAF’s continued support for Flight Training Tamworth and BAE Systems as their on-going partner for air grading activities.”

Mr Drury continued: “This extension with the RSAF maintains our broad customer base beyond the Australian Defence Force, which is an important element of our long-term flight training business in Tamworth.”

News Story: Global Times says Abe admitted plans for war with China

Japanese prime minister, Shinzo Abe
The aggressively nationalistic Chinese tabloid Global Times claims that the Japanese prime minister, Shinzo Abe, allegedly admitted that he was preparing for a war with China, criticized the United States and South Korea, and brushed off the controversy over wartime "comfort women" at a media function earlier this month.

Citing weekly Japanese magazine Shukan Gendai, Global Times said Abe made the "shocking" comments at an informal function attended by domestic media heads at an upmarket hotel in Tokyo at the start of the month.

After downing a glass of red wine, Abe is alleged to have kicked off a candid rant by heavily criticizing opposition leader Katsuya Okada from the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ), slamming the former deputy prime minister for regularly spewing "pointless nonsense," before adding that the DJP is "finished."

Abe is then said to have admitted that his efforts to fully lift Japan's postwar ban on collective self-defense — the right to go to war to support an ally even if Japan is not under direct threat — was indeed aimed at China, with which Japan is engaged in a territorial dispute over the Diaoyutai islands (Senkaku to Japan, Diaoyu to China) in the East China Sea.

Read the full story at Want China Times

News Story: Myanmar may be in talks to buy Thunder fighters from Pakistan

Myanmar could become the first overseas buyer of the JF-17 Thunder or FC-1 Xiaolong multirole fighter jointly developed by Pakistan Aeronautical Complex and Chengdu Aircraft Industry Group of China, according to China's official newswire Xinhua on June 28.

Li Yuhai, the deputy general manager of Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC) said three Thunder fighters from the Pakistan Air Force were displayed at the Paris Air Show between June 15-21. A number of countries including Myanmar, Bangladesh, Argentina, Bulgaria, Nigeria, Venezuela, Zimbabwe and the Philippines reportedly expressed interest in purchasing the fighter from Pakistan.

Read the full story at Want China Times

News Story: Thailand denies canal deal with China, opts for oil pipeline

Map of possible Thai Canal
(Image: Wiki Commons)
A deputy prime minister of Thailand has denied reports that Bangkok and Beijing have reached an agreement to develop the Thai Canal across the Kra isthmus, calling the project "stupid" and revealing that the country is now contemplating an oil pipeline that will not require consultation with China, reports Hong Kong newspaper Ming Pao.

Pridiyathorn Devakula, deputy prime minister for the economy, made the comments during a visit to Hong Kong last week. He said the proposed Thai Canal through the Kra isthmus of southern Thailand, which would allow ships to bypass the busy Strait of Malacca and save 1,200 kilometers of travel — about a day and a half to several days — for ships heading east to west, is no longer being considered by Bangkok.

"We won't be that stupid," he said of the canal first proposed as early as the 17th century, adding they will instead build a "faster and cheaper" 300-km-long oil pipeline connecting Satun province on the Andaman Sea with Song Khla province on the Gulf of Thailand.

Read the full story at Want China Times

Editorial: Australia and Singapore - What’s in a New Strategic Partnership?

By Prashanth Parameswaran

The two countries have signed a new pact to boost their relationship in the coming years.

On June 29, the leaders of Australia and Singapore inked a new comprehensive strategic partnership (CSP) at a ceremony during Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s first visit to the city-state since taking office in 2013. The pact, signed during the 50th anniversary of the Australia-Singapore relationship, attests to the importance both sides attach to bilateral ties as well as the potential for them to strengthen further in various areas over the next few years.

Australia and Singapore already had a robust relationship even before the signing of the CSP. Australian soldiers gave their lives to defend Singapore during the Second World War, and Australia was the first country to establish relations with independent Singapore following its separation from Malaysia in 1965. But the CSP – which Singapore prime minister Lee Hsien Loong called a “transformational” agreement – elevates the bilateral relationship to a level that makes each a top partner of the other. For Singapore, the agreement is the first of this kind it has had with any other country. For Australia, the pact has been compared to a similar agreement Australia has with only neighboring New Zealand – the most open border arrangement it has with any other nation.

Read the full story at The Diplomat

Editorial: What’s Next for Japan-Philippines Defense Ties?

By Prashanth Parameswaran

A brief look at what’s next for the burgeoning strategic partnership.

As I reported previously, the Philippines and Japan carried out their second ever joint military exercises last week (See: “Philippines to Hold Military Exercises with US, Japan”). Apart from the exercises themselves, the past week has also saw several updates from Philippine officials about the next steps in the development of the defense relationship between Manila and Tokyo.

More details are beginning to surface about defense equipment transfers between the two sides. While Japan and the Philippines have already discussed particular items in Manila’s defense wish list, including patrol aircraft, submarines and destroyers, more specifics are being gradually disclosed in the public domain (See: “Japan, Philippines Boost Defense Ties”).

For one, the Philippines confirmed its earlier interest in acquiring the P-3C Orion surveillance aircraft from Japan. The plane, which was used for the first time in last week’s joint exercises between the two countries, is a widely-used multi-mission maritime long-endurance aircraft. Even though details – including the exact number of planes Manila is looking to acquire and the time frame – still remain unclear, Peter Paul Galvez, a spokesman for the Department of National Defense, revealed that the cash-strapped Philippines is exploring whether it can get the planes as an excess defense article – or second-hand – to lower the price significantly. He also said while no final decision had been made, the planes would probably be operated by the air force.

Read the full story at The Diplomat

Editorial: Abe and Putin May Meet in November

By Ankit Panda

Shinzo Abe and Vladimir Putin will plan to meet on the sidelines of international summits in November 2015.

According to Japanese government sources, a meeting between Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan and President Vladimir Putin of Russia may take shape this November. According to the Yomiuri Shimbun, Abe and Putin spoke on the phone and agreed to meet on the sidelines of upcoming international conferences, including the Group of 20 nations (G20) and the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meeting (APEC). Both conferences are scheduled for November. The sideline meetings will set the ground for a proper leaders summit between the Japanese and Russian leaders, possibly later this year.

Relations between Russia and Japan are tense, owing in part to the general slump in relations between Russia and the West. Russia was expelled from the G8 for its annexation of the Crimean peninsula from Ukraine last year. Russia remains under economic sanctions from the United States, the European Union, and Japan for its actions in Eastern Europe. Tokyo has been reluctant to pursue an independent foreign policy toward Russia, and Abe has largely toed the same line as his counterparts in the West. Specifically, the controversial shooting down of Malaysian Airlines flight MH-17 last summer forced Tokyo’s hand to impose sanctions on Russia. At the recent meeting of the G7 in Germany, Abe tried to play off European concerns about Russia’s actions in eastern Ukraine — where Moscow supports rebels against the Ukrainian government — to elicit similar attention on China’s actions in the South and East China Seas.

Read the full story at The Diplomat

Editorial: How Russia, China, and IS Have Made the US Popular Again

By Rob Spalding and Adam Lowther

Allies and partners are looking to the United States in ways not seen since the Cold War.

In July 2014, Salon, the online magazine, loudly proclaimed that “the American century is over.” They were not the first to do so – numerous books and articles had made similar claims over the preceding years. Their arguments boiled down to this: America will continue as a world power, but not the dominant world power. In short, American power is declining while the power of states like China, Brazil, and India are rising. This growing chorus of “America is in decline” has spawned a vigorous debate on both sides of the political aisle, with little agreement. While pundits may continue to debate the issue, Americans are left to wonder, is American power truly in decline?

As if sensing that the end is near, many Americans see a nation beset by economic, military, and political challenges and can’t help but think there might be some truth to the pessimism they hear. Abroad, an increasingly bellicose Russia has invaded Ukraine; China has planted its flag in the South China Sea and is building islands as a display of power; and the Islamic State is spreading across the Arab world and even recruiting Americans to fight on American soil. In spite of these clearly undesirable events, there is good reason to believe things are not as bad as they seem.

While this may seem a strange position to take, the reality of our strategic circumstance is far more positive than world events suggest. What many seem to forget is that the United States is not alone in facing these new challenges. Instead, allies and partners are looking to the United States in ways we have not seen since the Cold War. Let us explain.

Read the full story at The Diplomat

Editorial: US Navy to Deploy Robot Ships to Track Chinese and Russian Subs

By Franz-Stefan Gady

Work on the U.S. Navy’s new anti-submarine drone is progressing and that’s bad news for diesel-electric subs.

Diesel-electric submarines are cheaper and quieter than their nuclear counterparts and they are rapidly being procured by states opposed to the national interests of the United States.

While not capable of traveling long distances or at great speed, diesel-electric submarines have the potential to deny the U.S. Navy access to strategic coastal areas and could also interrupt seaborne commerce. Equipped with air-independent propulsion systems and advanced lithium-ion batteries, the next generation of diesel-electric boats will even be harder to track down and destroy in the event of a naval conflict.

“Picking up the quiet hum of a battery-powered, diesel-electric submarine in busy coastal waters is like trying to identify the sound of a single car engine in the din of a major city,” Rear Admiral Frank Drennan, commander of the Naval Mine and Anti-Submarine Warfare Command, emphasized in March 2015.

Consequently, the United States military has been exploring options for some time now how to best counter this emerging asymmetrical threat.

Read the full story at The Diplomat

Editorial: Meet China’s New Submarine Hunter Plane

By Franz-Stefan Gady

Beijing’s newest anti-submarine warfare weapon is closing a critical capability gap.

The four-engined Y-8GX6 (Y-8Q) turboprop anti-submarine warfare (ASW) aircraft has purportedly finally entered service with the Chinese Naval Air Force after several years of testing, according to IHS Jane’s Defence Weekly.

IHS Jane’s bases its report on an article published on a Chinese defense site, which notes that the ASW variant of the Shaanxi Aircraft Corporation (SAC) Y-8/Y-9 medium transport aircraft has been inducted into the North Sea Fleet.

The report neither elaborates on the number of aircraft that have entered service nor the precise induction date. However, it notes that the People’s Liberation Army Navy’s East and South Sea Fleet’s will receive the plane only at a later date.

Equipped with air-launched torpedoes (e.g., Yu-7), anti-ship missiles, sea mines, and sonobuoys the plane has an estimated maximum range of approximately 5,00 km and, according to Popular Science Magazine, can potentially carry over ten tons.

Read the full story at The Diplomat

Editorial: Why China Can't Change Course in the South China Sea

By Ankit Panda

According to China’s foreign minister, concessions in the South China Sea would embarrass China’s ancestors.

China’s foreign minister, Wang Yi, made a particularly interesting set of remarks recently on why China cannot recalibrate its approach to the disputed South China Sea. As Diplomat readers may recall, China has steadily raised the stakes in the South China Sea by constructing man-made islands and building a range of civilian and military structures on these islands. China’s approach to the South China Sea, according to Wang, cannot be rolled back — not due to any realist considerations on Beijing’s part, but because China “would not be able to face [its] forefathers and ancestors.”

Wang made the remarks speaking specifically about China’s claims to the disputed Spratly Islands (known as the Nansha Islands in China): ”One thousand years ago China was a large sea-faring nation. So of course China was the first country to discover, use and administer the Nansha Islands,” Wang noted. ”China’s demands of sovereignty over the Nansha Islands have not expanded and neither will they shrink. Otherwise we would not be able to face our forefathers and ancestors,” he continued, particularly if “the gradual and incremental invasion of China’s sovereignty and encroachment on China’s interests” was allowed to continue.

Read the full story at The Diplomat

29 June 2015

AUS: Talisman Sabre set to commence

LSIS Jayson Tufrey (author)

Exercise TALISMAN SABRE, the largest combined biennial military exercise undertaken by the Australian Defence Force, will put about 18,000 Army, Navy and Air Force personnel to the test in the coming weeks.

Starting on 5 July and finishing on 21 July, the exercise aims to improve combat training, readiness and interoperability by exposing participants to a wide spectrum of military capabilities and training experiences.

The series of amphibious exercises is the principal Australian and US military training activity and is focused on planning and conducting mid-intensity, high-end warfighting. 

This year is the exercise’s sixth iteration and will involve 30,000 Australian and US participants.

It will include military operations at sea, in the air and on land.

USA: 21st Annual CARAT Philippines Exercise Concludes

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Daniel James Lewis

A Philippine Navy helicopter lands aboard the littoral combat ship USS Fort Worth (LCS 3) in the Sulu Sea during the at-sea phase of CARAT Philippines. (U.S. Navy/MC2 Joe Bishop) >>

PUERTO PRINCESA, Republic of the Philippines - The U.S. and Republic of the Philippines enhanced partnerships during the 21st annual Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) Philippines 2015 which concluded in Puerto Princesa, June 26.

“The exercise this week with our Philippine navy counterparts reflects more than two decades of increasingly sophisticated training,” said Capt. Fred Kacher, commodore, Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 7. “The underway phase in particular was a huge success and it’s clear to me that we have taken lessons learned from past CARATs to increase the complexity of this year’s exercise.”

USA: 7th U.S.-India-Japan Trilateral Dialogue

On June 26, the United States hosted the seventh trilateral dialogue with India and Japan in Honolulu to exchange views on a broad range of regional and global issues of mutual interest. The discussion was co-chaired by Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs Nisha Biswal, and Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Daniel Russel. The Indian delegation was led by Ministry of External Affairs Joint Secretaries Vinay Kwatra, Pradeep Rawat, and Amandeep Gill. Ministry of Foreign Affairs Director-General of Southeast and Southwest Asian Affairs Takio Yamada headed the delegation from the Government of Japan. The dialogue addressed a variety of issues, including multilateral institutions in the Asia-Pacific, maritime security, and humanitarian assistance and disaster relief. The deepening of this regular dialogue since 2011 reflects a growing convergence of the regional and global interests as the three countries broaden cooperation to span the region from the Indian Ocean to the Pacific.

News Story: Taiwan's security cannot rely on China's goodwill - defense minister

Despite the easing of tensions across the Taiwan Strait in recent years, Taiwan's security cannot depend on the goodwill of China, Taiwan's defense minister, Kao Kuang-chi, said Friday, adding that the ROC military must remain on guard.

"Although cross-strait ties have improved, it doesn't mean that our security can depend on goodwill extended by others," Kao said at a military personnel promotion ceremony.

The Taiwanese military must continue its efforts to maintain combat readiness and defense capabilities to ensure the security of the country and peace across the strait, he said, calling on the military to "stay highly vigilant."

Strong national defense is the firm backing Taiwan beeds to engage with China and is key to maintaining peace and stability across the strait and in the region, Kao said, citing remarks repeated by President Ma Ying-jeou.

Tensions across the strait have been reduced since Ma took office in 2008.

Read the full story at Want China Times

News Story: Taiwan Goals Drive China's Spratly Grab

By Wendell Minnick

TAIPEI — Missing from discussions at last week's US-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue (S&ED) was Taiwan's significance in China's land reclamation efforts in the South China Sea, said defense analysts.

Held annually since 2009, the S&ED is a high-level government meeting set alternatively in each other's capital.

The Taiwan invasion scenario drives all Chinese military planning, force modernization, exercises and training, and this includes the recent land reclamation projects in the South China Sea, said Ian Easton, a China defense specialist at the Project 2049 Institute in Washington.

The People's Liberation Army (PLA) views the militarization of these islands as creating an outer defensive perimeter to extend its precision strike battle networks, Easton said. In the event of a Taiwan crisis, there is a "high probability that the US would steam at least two aircraft carrier groups to the Philippine Sea to bolster Taiwan's defense.

Read the full story at DefenseNews

News Story: India's Tank Plan Clouds Future of Arjun

Arjun tank (Image: Wiki Commons)
By Vivek Raghuvanshi

NEW DELHI — The Indian Army's plan to develop and build a medium-weight main battle tank to replace more than 2,500 Russian T-72s has raised questions about the future of the homemade Arjun tank and likely would kill a decade-old proposal by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) to build a tank, according to analysts and officials.

The Indian Army this month floated a global request for information to seek partners to design the new tank under a program called Future Ready Combat Vehicle (FRCV). As a medium-weight platform it would weigh 40-plus tons, compared with the Arjun, which weighs 60 tons.

"The proposed FRCV is in the medium category and is more likely to be around the T-90 platform than the Arjun Mark-II platform, which is getting close to the medium-heavy/heavy category," said Anil Chait, retired Indian Army lieutenant general. "Designing and developing the product around proposed qualitative requirements afresh would suggest that we may be looking toward the end of the Arjun saga," he said.

However, Rahul Bhonsle, a retired Army brigadier general and defense analyst, said the Arjun will progress from the current Mark-1 level to Mark-3.

"The lead time for the FRCV to be manufactured, if all goes well, is likely to be approximately 15 years or so. This provides adequate scope for the Arjun series to be progressed to at least Mark-3. Moreover, there is a need in the Indian Army for an Arjun class of tank."

While no Ministry of Defence official would comment on the fate of the decade-old Futuristic Main Battle Tank (FMBT) project to be developed by DRDO, an Army official said FRCV has "surely killed" the FMBT.

Read the full story at DefenseNews

Editorial: As Deadline Looms, Critics of Iran Nuclear Deal Press On

By Seema Sirohi

As the June 30 deadline for an Iran deal looms close, critics continue to press on.

The Iran nuclear deal is U.S. President Barack Obama’s biggest foreign policy gamble, one that his administration has spent considerable political capital crafting and defending.

But critics say the agreement is not tough enough and doesn’t hold Teheran’s feet to the fire. They argue that no deal is better than a bad deal. The Obama administration’s eagerness to declare success has given Iran the upper hand, they argue.

Stirring the American pot are Saudi Arabia and Israel, who have used their influence on the U.S. Congress to raise questions.

The deadline for reaching a final agreement is June 30, but reports suggest it may be extended. A framework agreement, which broadly says that Iran will restrict its nuclear programme in exchange for the lifting of sanctions, was crafted in April, leaving the details to be worked out over the next three months.

Several hurdles remain over how much access Iran would allow to international inspectors to ascertain the state of its nuclear programme. Iran has said military sites are off limits, something the critics have seized upon as a sign of Teheran’s games, although it appears the hard line may be a negotiating tactic.

Read the full story at The Diplomat

Editorial: Central Asia's Moment of Instability

By William B. Farrell

A key Tajik figure announces his allegiance to the Islamic State, with some significant potential ramifications.

The recent video appearance of Colonel Gulmurod Khalimov, commander of Tajikistan’s Interior Ministry Special Forces, announcing his allegiance to Islamic State, reminds us that grievances do not necessarily resolve themselves when the attention of the world shifts elsewhere – sometimes they expand and draw others in – building to an unstable moment.

Not surprisingly, the story that is captivating the international media about Khalimov is that he was trained in the United States and Russia in tactical operations related to fighting terrorists; leaving the impression that somehow the U.S. and Russia missed a hidden radical in the cloak of a moderate who now poses a threat to us. Yet the unpursued story of why a successful 40-year-old senior official chose to leave his post, country, and presumed privilege to fight with the Islamic State in Syria – and more urgently – the potential ramifications of this event on stability in Tajikistan and Central Asia, are perhaps of greater importance. Khalimov is not from the mountains and valleys of Rasht or Badakhshan where the Mujahideen of the 1990s Tajik civil war originated. He is from the capital city of Dushanbe. He served as part of the Presidential Guard during the height of the inter-Tajik conflict and was already receiving training in Russia as the Tajik peace agreement was being penned. He was not isolated from the center; rather, he was deeply connected to it. The assertion that religion is the sole cause of his alignment with Islamic State is too simplistic to hold up to scrutiny. Certainly it appears to be an important consideration for Khalimov; but doubtful that it is the proximate cause.

Read the full story at The Diplomat

Editorial: Islamic State Eying Afghanistan’s Natural Resources

By Brian M. Perkins

An expansion of the group’s operations in Afghanistan could threaten the fledgling mining industry.

According to a recent Pentagon report, the Islamic State’s (IS) activities in Afghanistan remain exploratory, with limited recruiting efforts. Although the capabilities of the Islamic State’s recently minted Khorasan Province may be limited, the group is clearly attempting to gain a toehold in Afghanistan. IS has dominated headlines in Afghan media for the past several weeks, with multiple reports of the group clashing with Taliban fighters in Nangarhar and a Taliban letter warning IS to stay out of Afghanistan. There is speculation that the Afghan government is exaggerating the IS threat to draw increased foreign aid, but the group’s presence is undeniable, and the worsening security situation could pave the way for IS to enhance its operations

The Islamic State’s motives in Afghanistan remain ambiguous, and it is unclear if the group is capable of holding swaths of territory while battling Afghan National Security Forces and the Taliban. However, it is entirely possible that IS will seek to tap the country’s poorly monitored mining industry to fund their primary operations in Iraq and Syria. Afghanistan sits atop an estimated $3 trillion worth of mineral resources, ranging from copper and emeralds to rare earth metals. The majority of the country’s deposits are undeveloped, abandoned awaiting new contracts, or mined by local community members.

Read the full story at The Diplomat

Editorial: India’s Armed Drone Fleet

Rustom-1 UAV prototype (Image: Wikipedia)
By Saurav Jha

Progress in weaponizing drones is in step with the country’s more robust defense doctrine.

With even Pakistan now sporting an armed unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) developed with Chinese assistance, India has decided to accelerate the development of its own weaponized drone fleet. The process of weaponizing an indigenously developed UAV has commenced and the elements required to operate an armed drone fleet, such as a high accuracy satellite-based augmentation system (SBAS) and dedicated military communication satellites, are being put in place. Work is also underway on a stealthy unmanned combat aerial vehicle (UCAV).

Despite this, India still has to make some progress on the collision avoidance technology needed to give its drones the flexibility to use civilian airspace. It will also need to increase satellite bandwidth considerably to increase the tempo of armed UAV flights. In the next few years limited use of drone strikes near India’s borders on terrorist targets may be on the table, in keeping with the emerging Modi-Doval doctrine that authorized the recent cross-border strike in Myanmar.

Read the full story at The Diplomat

Editorial: Should Pakistan Be Designated A State Sponsor of Terror?

By Rohan Joshi

It’s long been time to reconsider this question.

Ahead of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Beijing last month, China’s Premier Li Keqiang stated in an interview withIndia Today that “China and India … share common interests and face similar challenges in fighting terrorism. China is ready to deepen counterterrorism cooperation with India to better safeguard the development and security interests of our two countries.”

But China’s actions this week at the United Nations Sanctions Committee belie the Premier’s assertions. Reportedly, China blocked India’s attempt through the UN to seek action on Pakistan for releasing Zaki ur-Rehman Lakhvi, the leader of Lashkar-e-Taiba and mastermind of the November 2008 terrorist attacks in Mumbai. (see: “Why China Snubbed India on a Pakistan-based Terrorist at the UN“)

China’s interceding at the UN Sanctions Committee on behalf of Pakistan is neither new nor unexpected. In May 2015, China blocked India’s attempt to sanction Syed Salahuddin, the leader of a Pakistan-based terrorist proxy, the Hizb ul-Mujahideen. Suhasini Haider, Diplomatic Affairs Editor in The Hindu notes that since December 2014, India has filed “at least three proposals on Pakistan-based terrorists, each of which has been reportedly delayed or stopped by China.”

Read the full story at The Diplomat

Editorial: The EU and Asian Security

By Bernt Berger

What role does the EU have in East Asia security?

The debate about the EU’s role in East Asia security is as old as its common Security and Defense Policy, and has always been controversial. With new strategic and security scenarios evolving the question remains what Europeans can and should do. As usual, the answers cannot be any better than the questions being asked.

Debates about the EU’s role in Asian security tend to depart from principled ideas about the primacy of trade relations vs. normative foreign policy, soft power politics vs. strategic military power or alignment vs. neutral brokership. The EU has in part contributed to this. The principles of the Common Security and Defense Policy (CSDP) did not resemble any collective defense system such as NATO. Rather, CSDP sought to complement NATO by building up a military force (or battle-group) that could respond to international crises on short notice.

The focus on humanitarian issues and state-failure added to the normative reputation of European security priorities. Additionally, the EU was criticized for its strong focus on trade and investment relations both with China and East Asia as a whole, while ignoring strategic security interests. More recent criticism targets the lack of military capabilities of the EU and individual member states with which to back up their political and economic influence in the Mediterranean and East. Given resistance by national legislators, any integrated common defense policy is a long way down the road.

However, many expectations are unfounded, for various reasons. First, beyond trade the implementation of EU’s external relations has been more opportunistic than strategic and thus more adapting to possibilities than grand designs. Second, in so doing the EU has been very pragmatic and issues oriented, according to its own abilities. Thus any criticism should target the EU’s capabilities to act or the type of issues that it is addressing.

Read the full story at The Diplomat

27 June 2015

AUS: DSTO collaboration delivers enhancement to smart bomb technology

A Royal Australian Air Force F/A-18 Hornet in flight with two JDAM-ER 500lb bombs and two Time Space Position Information pods. >>

A significant milestone has been achieved with the delivery of the first production set of Australian designed and manufactured Joint Direct Attack Munition-Extended Range (JDAM-ER) wing kits.

Developed by DSTO scientists, the wing kit technology consists of a set of deployable wings which converts a standard JDAM into a long range glide bomb, capable of striking a target with pinpoint accuracy at up to three times the range of the original weapon.

DSTO conceived the idea many years ago for a low-cost, standoff weapon consisting of a strap-on wing kit, Inertial Navigation System (INS) and movable tail unit to increase the range and accuracy of a basic MK-82 weapon. Preliminary designs and subsequent developmental test and evaluation flight trials in the 1980s and 1990s were used to refine the initial concept.

AUS: Counter Rocket, Artillery and Mortar System for the ADF

Australian Army SAAB Giraffe Radar part of the CRAM System
The Australian Government has given a combined First and Second Pass approval for project LAND 19 Phase 7A – Counter Rocket, Artillery and Mortar System (C‑RAM) Sense and Warn capability.

Force protection of personnel is of the highest priority, particularly given the increasingly complex operating environments.

C‑RAM Sense and Warn provides early detection and warning of incoming indirect fire threats. It gives personnel additional time to evade danger, minimising potential casualties.

The capability was initially acquired as an accelerated acquisition in 2010 for ADF force protection in Afghanistan.

AUS: HMAS Melbourne fires Evolved Sea Sparrow Missiles

An Evolved Sea Sparrow Missile fires from HMAS Melbourne's MK-41 vertical launcher during training in the East Australian Exercise Area off the New South Wales coast >>

The Royal Australian Navy Adelaide class frigate, HMAS Melbourne, has successfully fired two Evolved Sea Sparrow Missiles, reinforcing her war-fighting and mariner skills.

The missile firings were conducted off the coast of New South Wales on 24 June against two unmanned aerial targets launched from the Beecroft Range at Jervis Bay.

Melbourne’s MK-41 Vertical Launch System deployed the missiles, controlled in flight, resulting in a successful engagement with the target as part of her operational training program.

Navy ships conduct mariner and war-fighting training all year round to prepare for operational duties and Commanding Officer Melbourne, Commander Bill Waters, said the firing proved the effectiveness of the frigate’s combat systems.

USA: Pacific Partnership Celebrates Arrival In Micronesia

By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Carla Burdt, Pacific Partnership Public Affairs

U.S. Ambassador to the Federated States of Micronesia (left), Doria Rosen, U.S. Defense Representative to the Federated States of Micronesia, Rear Adm. Bette Bolivar, Commodore, Task Force Forager, Capt. James Meyer, and New Zealand Air Force Chaplain Ken Diekema, stand for the playing of the U.S. national anthem during an opening ceremony June 22. >>

KOLONIA, Pohnpei - Task Force Forager, embarked aboard the Military Sealift Command joint high speed vessel USNS Millinocket (JHSV 3), kicked off its second visit of Pacific Partnership June 22 with an opening ceremony and reception onboard the ship.

Kolonia, Pohnpei, Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) acting governor Marcelo Peterson expressed his gratitude for the work that Pacific Partnership will be completing in Micronesia.