31 July 2015

AUS: Air Force receives first Growler

The Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) today received its first EA-18G Growler. Prime contractor Boeing and the U.S Navy formally presented the aircraft to the RAAF at a ceremony in St Louis in the United States.

Former Chief of Air Force, Air Marshal Geoff Brown (ret’d), who represented the RAAF at the ceremony, confirmed that Australia would be the first nation outside the United States to fly the airborne electronic attack platform.

“The Growlers will complement our existing and future air combat capability, and ours will be a much more lethal force with this advanced technology,” Air Marshal Brown said.

“In many respects, it’s the final piece of the air power jigsaw puzzle for the RAAF, and my prediction is it will have one of the biggest strategic effects for the Australian Defence Force since the introduction of the F-111 in the 1970s.”

Industry: Australian Company to Provide Parts for Initial Production of the Triton Unmanned Aircraft System

CANBERRA, Australia – July 30, 2015 – Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE:NOC) has awarded the first Australian supplier contract for the U.S. Navy's MQ-4C Triton unmanned aircraft system (UAS) initial production lot to Ferra Engineering.

Brisbane-based Ferra Engineering will manufacture mechanical sub-assemblies for the first four Triton air vehicles including structural components.

"At Northrop Grumman it's very important to not only develop our own capabilities, but to develop and foster capabilities in local supply chains," said Ian Irving, chief executive, Northrop Grumman Australia. "This is a great opportunity for quality-focused Australian companies to be involved in the production and sustainment of one of the U.S. Navy's and Royal Australian Air Force's key capabilities for many years to come."

Editorial: China and Russia to Hold Military Exercise in the Sea of Japan

Chinese Navy Warships on patrol (File Photo)
By Ankit Panda

China and Russia will hold a naval exercise in the Sea of Japan in late August.

Having conducted joint naval exercises recently in the Mediterranean, China and Russia will look to increase their naval cooperation in Asia. Next month, the two countries will conduct a joint naval exercise in the Peter the Great Gulf, the largest gulf of the Sea of Japan, along the coast of Russia’s Primorski Krai. The exercise will take place from August 20 to 28, and focus primarily on improving the interoperability of the two navies and bolstering strategic coordination. The exercise, which is code-named “Joint-Sea 2015-II,” will take place as tensions remain high between China and Japan, who dispute the extent of the exclusive economic zones in the East China Sea, and between Russia and Japan. Russian Prime Minister Dmitri Medvedev recently announced that Russia would accelerate the construction of civilian and military features on the Kuril Islands, which remain disputed between Russia and Japan.

Details about the exercise emerged during a monthly Chinese Ministry of Defense press conference. People’s Liberation Army Senior Colonel Yang Yujun, a spokesperson for the ministry, noted that “purpose of the exercise is to consolidate and develop the China-Russia all-round strategic coordination partnership, to deepen the pragmatic and friendly cooperation between the Chinese and Russian militaries, and to enhance the organization and command capabilities and the levels of the two militaries in jointly conducting the joint traffic defense activities and joint landing activities, so as to further enhance their capabilities of jointly coping with maritime security threats.”

Read the full story at The Diplomat

Editorial: Will China Have a Mini US Navy By 2020?

By Prashanth Parameswaran

A former admiral does the math – and the results are quite striking.

Much has been written about China’s ongoing efforts to become what President Xi Jinping called a “great maritime power” and how the United States should respond. In light of this, it is useful to think about the future trajectory of the of the increasingly modern and powerful People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN), which has been charged with both defending China’s sovereignty in ‘near seas’ (eg. Taiwan) and protecting Chinese interests in the ‘far seas’.

Rear Admiral Michael McDevitt, now a senior fellow at the Center for Naval Analyses (CNA), has attempted to do exactly that. In a recent paper delivered at a two-day CNA conference on Chinese maritime power, seen by The Diplomat, McDevitt projects what China’s ‘far seas’ navy will look like in 2020 and how it would rank alongside the United States and other players – Britain, France, Japan, India and Russia. Getting a sense of the PLAN’s ‘far seas’ capabilities is important since it tells us the extent to which it might be able to project power further from China’s shores.

McDevitt’s results, though not entirely surprising, are nonetheless quite striking. According to his projections, on paper by 2020 China’s navy will already increasingly look like a smaller version of the U.S. Navy and will be “the second most capable ‘far seas’ navy in the world.” In five years, the PLAN’s capabilities would dwarf most other navies – China would have as many aircraft carriers as Britain and India, more nuclear attack submarines than either Britain or France, and as many AEGIS-like destroyers as all the other non-US navies combined. China would have two aircraft carriers, 20-22 AEGIS like destroyers and 6-7 nuclear attack submarines, while United States would have eleven aircraft carriers; 88 AEGIS like destroyers; and 48 nuclear attack submarines.

Read the full story at The Diplomat

Editorial: Beijing Strikes Back - U.S. ‘Militarizing' South China Sea

By Franz-Stefan Gady

China’s Defense Ministry is retaliating against recent U.S. remarks in kind.

China’s Defense Ministry has openly criticized the United States over its South China Sea policy accusing the U.S. of “activities to militarize the South China Sea region,” defense ministry spokesperson Yang Yujun said during a press conference on July 30.

He also accused U.S. officials of “making irresponsible remarks on the South China Sea issue” and applying “double standards” when it comes to assessing their own activities in the region.

“The U.S. side disregards and distorts the fact, and plays up ‘China’s military threat’ to sow discords between China and China’s maritime neighbors in the South China Sea. We firmly oppose such actions,” Yang emphasized.

The spokesperson also accused the U.S. of not openly speaking out against construction activities of other claimants such as the Philippines or Vietnam, despite U.S. Defense Secretary’s remarks at this year’s Shangri-La Dialogue that “there should be an immediate and lasting halt to land reclamation by all claimants.”

Read the full story at The Diplomat

Editorial: Head of Japan's Navy Warns of Beijing's Militarization of South China Sea

By Franz-Stefan Gady

Meanwhile, Japan’s Ministry of Defense has published its own analysis on China’s South China Sea building activities.

Should China use the artificial islands it has built for military purposes, all of the South China Sea could be “covered by China’s sphere of military influence,” the commander of Japan’s Maritime Self-Defense Forces (JMSDF), Admiral Tomohisa Takei, warned in a speech delivered this Wednesday at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington.

While calling for increased maritime cooperation in the region, Takei emphasized that problems between countries must be solved by peaceful means, international law and norms. “If one country ignores this and imposes its own interpretation of international law on its neighboring countries, freedom of navigation which is indispensable for an ocean of prosperity is threatened and unexpected incident at sea can occur as a result,” he added.

Deliberating on the U.S. presence in the region, he evaded a reporter’s question about whether Japan and the United States would conduct joint South China Sea naval patrols in the foreseeable future. However, he was adamant in arguing that a “U.S. presence is required for now and in the foreseeable future for peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific region.” Additionally, he emphasized that the South China Sea should remain “free and open waters.”

Read the full story at The Diplomat

Editorial: Better Get Used to it, China - Taiwan and Japan Will Get Closer

By J. Michael Cole

Geopolitical context and domestic sentiments mean Tokyo and Taipei are likely to draw closer together.

Despite applying considerable pressure on Tokyo in recent weeks, Beijing was unable to prevent the Japanese government from rolling out the red carpet for former Taiwanese President Lee Teng-hui last week. During a visit to Japan, Lee addressed a packed Diet and had a meeting with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. Besides showcasing the longstanding warm relationship between Japan and Taiwan, the Abe government’s decision to stand up to Chinese pressure presages a likely deepening of ties between Tokyo and Taipei, the result of both growing fears of China’s assertiveness as well as political change in Taiwan.

In a strong protest on July 24 after Lee, 92, was allowed in Japan, a spokesman at China’s Foreign Ministry expressed Beijing’s “grave concern” over the visit by the former leader, whom he described as “a stubborn Taiwan splittist.”

On the same day, Ma Xiaoguang, a spokesman for the State Council’s Taiwan Affairs Office, said Beijing “strongly oppose[s] any country providing a stage for ‘Taiwan independence’ activities, and take strong umbrage at Japan allowing Lee to visit.”

Ma continued: “Lee’s contemptible acts have made compatriots from both sides see more clearly the extreme harms ‘Taiwan independence’ forces do to the peaceful development of cross-Strait relations and the integral benefit of the Chinese nation, and will surely be scorned by compatriots from both sides.”

Undeterred, Tokyo invited Lee, who presided over Taiwan’s democratization in the late 1980s and was the country’s first freely elected president in 1996, to give his first address ever at the Diet, Japan’s parliament, which was attended by about 400 members.

Read the full story at The Diplomat

Editorial: Cybersecurity - We Need a Chinese Snowden

By Alexander Bowe

Without Chinese revelations about Chinese hacking and espionage, a cyber-détente is unlikely.

Two issues have dominated the discussion of American-Chinese relations in recent months: the escalating war of words in the South China Sea and cybersecurity. Recently, clandestine hacking conflicts between the United States and China have increased in prominence. A bombshell report by internet security firm Mandiant in February 2013 claimed that a secretive Chinese military unit based out of Shanghai was responsible for a series of hacks on United States-based corporations. Another report a couple of months later showed that China was by far the largest source of international hacking attacks, with 41 percent of the world total (of course, the United States was number two on that list, but more on that in a bit); furthermore, the number of attacks originating in China was found to have drastically increased since the first quarter of that year.

In the last few decades, it has been thought that China intentionally restricted its covert intelligence-gathering operations out of a desire to prevent diplomatic scandals from harming its burgeoning economic relationships; more recently, however, this consensus within the leadership appears to have dissolved, either as a result of a change in the balance of power among internal factions in the CCP leadership or because the leadership simply believes now that China is powerful enough to weather the diplomatic fallout from any such scandals. In any case, as evidenced by the devastating and brazen hack into Washington’s Office of Personnel Management this past June, if Beijing really is the culprit as is suspected, it clearly no longer cares about diplomatic fallout from flexing its cyber-muscles. Either way, actors within China have ramped up their cyber-attacks, both with new tactics like the so-called Great Cannon, an offensive cyberweapon that repurposes the traffic coming into Chinese companies’ servers for the use of DDoS attacks against foreign servers, and with good, old-fashioned hacking for the purpose of stealing information, as in the OPM incident.

Read the full story at The Diplomat

Editorial: China Is Building a New South China Sea Fleet for its Maritime Militia

By Prashanth Parameswaran

The move could lead to a further escalation in regional disputes.

China is building a new South China Sea fishing fleet for its maritime militia in a move that could intensify regional disputes, an expert told a conference at the Center for Naval Analyses (CNA) Wednesday.

China’s maritime militia – one of the more understudied agencies in the exercise of Chinese maritime power – typically uses civilian fishing vessels for a range of missions from rescuing stranded vessels to conducting controversial island landings. While voices in China have long called for their inclusion in activities, this would be the first time that the militia would get its own fishing fleet, a boost for the world’s largest producer and exporter of fish and consumer of seafood.

“It appears that China is building a state-owned fishing fleet for its maritime militia force in the South China Sea,” Zhang Hongzhou, associate research fellow at Singapore’s Rajaratnam School of International Studies, told an audience at the two-day conference on Chinese maritime power.

The growing role of the Chinese maritime militia in fishing activities is not entirely new. Indeed, as early as 2013, during a visit to Tanmen fishing town in Hainan Province, President Xi Jinping told maritime militiamen that they should “not only lead fishing activities, but also collect oceanic information and support the construction of islands and reefs” in support of Chinese interests in the South China Sea. Xi’s speech added momentum to the development of the maritime militia, with many coastal cities setting up units and voices calling for more support and resources devoted to training fishermen and building new vessels.

Read the full story at The Diplomat

Editorial: With Latest Ouster, China Steps Up Fight Against Military Corruption

Guo Boxiong (Image: DFAT via Wiki Commons)
By Shannon Tiezzi

After months of speculation, General Guo Boxiong has been officially expelled from the CCP.

China’s anti-corruption campaign is kicking into high gear again. Ten days after Ling Jihua, who served as a close aide to former President Hu Jintao, was officially expelled from the Chinese Communist Party, another high-ranking official was stripped of Party membership. The target this time: General Guo Boxiong, who served as vice chairman of the Central Military Commission (CMC) from 2002 to 2012. Like Ling, Guo’s case will now be turned over to prosecutors for trial.

Also like Ling, Guo was rumored to be under investigation long before official Party sources confirmed it. Guo’s son, General Guo Zhenggang, was included on a March 2 list of 14 generals under investigation for corruption. That was seen as a strong hint that the elder Guo would be next.

According to the announcement from Xinhua, China’s Politburo made the decision to oust Guo based on a report from the CMC’s disciplinary inspection authority. That report concluded that Guo’s “acts seriously violated the CPC’s discipline and left a vile impact.” He was accused of accepting bribes and taking advantage of his position to secure promotions or other benefits for others.

Read the full story at The Diplomat

Editorial: A First - China Turns Back Commercial Flight For Violating East China Sea ADIZ Rules

A Lao Airlines Airbus A320 (Wiki Info - Image: Wiki Commons)
By Ankit Panda

China’s enforcement of its East China Sea air defense identification zone (ADIZ) is starting to work out.

In late-2013, Asia-Pacific security watchers wrangled with what China’s then newly declared unilateral air defense identification zone (ADIZ) over the East China Sea would mean in practice for civil aviation in the region. Two powerful status quo states – the United States and Japan – immediately refused to recognize the ADIZ and reacted accordingly: The United States flew unarmed bombers through the airspace and Japan instructed its civilian aviators not to comply with the new Chinese requirements. Of course, the ADIZ was never going to immediately hurt the material interests of Japanese and American aviation – for these states, the Chinese ADIZ was more a signal of Beijing’s growing intent to revise the status quo in its near seas than anything. The states that would suffer, as is almost always the case in international affairs, would be the smaller and weaker ones.

A little-noticed report published earlier this week in Air Transport World showcases one such case. According to that report, a Lao Airlines flight flying from South Korea’s Gimehae International Airport to Laos was asked to turn back by Chinese air traffic controllers and complied. The report notes that the Chinese air traffic controllers told the aircraft that it did not have adequate approval to pass through China’s East China Sea ADIZ. According to the report, the flight (No. QV916), an Airbus A320, was an hour into its scheduled flight path, “which would have put the aircraft over disputed areas of the China Sea,” before it turned back. Starting last year, Chinese air traffic authorities began to require that all civilian flights flying through the East China Sea ADIZ file pre-flight plans, transponder details, and other technical details ahead of their flights, according to the Air Transport World report. The incident involving QV916 is the first instance of a commercial flight being turned back due to a failure to comply with Chinese air traffic authority requirements, but at least 55 airlines worldwide are complying with the terms of China’s ADIZ.

Read the full story at The Diplomat

30 July 2015

AUS: Fastest C-17A delivery in Australian history

A Royal Australian Air Force C-17A Globemaster (File Photo)
The seventh C-17A Globemaster III aircraft arrived in Australia at RAAF Base Amberley today, marking the fastest C-17A delivery in our fleet.

Minister for Defence Kevin Andrews said the rapid acquisition of the aircraft is a testament to the close relationship that exists between Australia and the United States. 

“The active involvement of a number of United States and Australian agencies has been pivotal in meeting the successful delivery of this aircraft and I applaud everyone involved in the acquisition program,” Minister Andrews said.

USA: Green Bay arrives in Darwin after Talisman Sabre 2015

USS Green Bay (Image: Wiki Commons)
Story by Petty Officer 3rd Class Derek Harkins

DARWIN, AUSTRALIA (NNS) – The amphibious transport dock ship USS Green Bay (LPD 20) arrives in Darwin, Australia, July 27.

The ship will make preparations for continuing operations at sea while onloading members of the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) and their equipment as they return from Talisman Sabre 2015 operations.

The MEU has spent 16 days away from Green Bay while conducting bilateral field exercises in the region.

Green Bay’s crew will have the opportunity to explore the Darwin-area during evening liberty and engage in Morale, Welfare and Recreation tours.

Industry: Boeing Unveils First Royal Australian Air Force Growler

  • Australia first nation outside the United States to fly the airborne electronic attack platform
  • Supports RAAF’s 'Plan Jericho' vision for networked air force

ST. LOUIS, July 29, 2015 – Boeing [NYSE: BA] and the U.S. Navy today extended advanced airborne electronic attack (AEA) capability to a key U.S. ally, presenting the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) with its first EA-18G Growler. Australia is the first country other than the U.S. to obtain this aircraft.

“The Growlers will complement our existing and future air combat capability, and we will be much more lethal with this AEA protection,” said Air Marshal Geoff Brown, former chief of the RAAF. “In many respects, it’s the final piece of the jigsaw puzzle for the RAAF.”

News Report: Forbes - As China Increases Tensions, U.S. Must Ensure Asia Rebalance Has The Right Goals

Chinese Type 094 Jin class Ballistic Missile Submarine
By: John Grady

China uses “applied friction” – calling coral reefs “islands” to claim them, setting up aerial identification zones, building its navy’s blue water capacity – as part of its strategy to get its way in the Asia-Pacific region, the chairman of the House Armed Services seapower and projection forces subcommittee said Wednesday.

Rep. Randy Forbes (R-Va.), speaking at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington, said the Chinese use that friction “like a check valve on a pump.”

“We’ve become very adverse to any friction,” even to the point of renaming the “Pivot to the Asia Pacific” the “Rebalancing to the Asia Pacific,” he said.

But the Chinese “overplay their hand sometimes,” which causes its neighbors to look to the United States to resolve disputes and provide security.

News Story: Nearly complete Hainan naval base can dock two carriers

China's only carrier Liaoning during sea triles (File Photo)
The basic construction of China's second People's Liberation Army Navy aircraft carrier base on Hainan was completed in November 2014, according to an article in the August issue of Kanwa Defense Review, cited by the Chinese-language website of China's Global Times.

The base incorporates a pier which can dock large ships on both sides, suggesting that both carriers can dock at the PLA Navy's carrier bases at the same time, according to the magazine. The magazine stated that the new base is 700 meters long, giving it the longest carrier berths in the world. The US Navy carrier base in Yokosuka in Japan's Kanagawa prefecture is only 400 m long, however, Naval Station Norfolk, Virginia, which is just 430 m in length, can also take carriers in two directions.

China's two carrier bases are also the widest in the world, at 120 m, said the magazine. This width allows for the rapid supplying of ships on both sides, allowing supply ships to weave around the dock freely.

Read the full story at Want China Times

News Story: Taiwan defense ministry responds to intimidating Chinese report

The medium and long range ballistic missiles deployed by China may target other countries but still threaten Taiwan, Major General Luo Shou-he, spokesperson for Taiwan's Ministry of National Defense, said Tuesday.

"Although China's medium- and long-range ballistic missiles are aimed at other countries, they still pose a threat to Taiwan. We hope Taiwan's people understand this, even if China's short-range missiles are the biggest threat to Taiwan," Luo said after a ministry news briefing.

Luo was responding to an 8,000-word report published by the People's Liberation Army Daily on Monday detailing the strategic missile forces under China's Second Artillery Corps.

Read the full story at Want China Times

Editorial: US Navy Builds Largest-Ever Amphibious Assault Ship for F-35 Fighters

LHA-6 USS America (Image: Wiki Commons)
By Franz-Stefan Gady

The America-class will be the size of other countries’ aircraft carriers.

Over at military.com, Kris Osborne reports that the assembly of the second America-class amphibious assault ship, USS Tripoli, is going according to plan, with a third of initial construction already complete.

The ship “is approximately 30% complete. Fabrication has started on 211 units, 97% of all units, and 84 grand blocks are erected — 47% of the total,” according to a U.S. Navy spokesperson who provided Osborne with a written statement.

Scheduled for launch in in July 2017 and with a tentative induction date set for December 18, the ship is specifically designed to accommodate Marine Corps F-35B Joint Strike Fighters, along a host of other aircraft such as MV-22 Osprey tiltrotor aircraft, CH-53 Super Stallions, and UH-1Y Huey helicopters.

The USS Tripoli, called LHA 7 [Landing Helicopter Assault] 7, is being assembled at the Huntington Ingalls shipyard in Pascagoula, Mississippi. Once finished, the ship will displace more than 44,000 tons–similar to the size of fixed-wing aircraft carriers in France and India. Measuring 844 feet long and 106 feet wide the ship, in fact, is a small aircraft carrier.

Read the full story at The Diplomat

Editorial: Japan’s Strategy for Central Asia

By Samuel Ramani

With a surprisingly proactive policy, Japan is a significant player in the region.

Last week, Japanese government officials announced that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe would visit five Central Asian countries in October. Abe’s trip aims to strengthen economic links with the energy-rich region. This announcement is the latest step in a trend that is seeing Japan pay more attention to Central Asia. Indicators of deepening ties between Japan and Central Asia have ranged from the declaration of the need for economic cooperation with Uzbekistan to increased investment in Turkmenistan’s natural gas industry and Caspian Sea port construction project.

Japan’s expanded diplomatic overtures can be explained in two main ways. First, they could be seen as a means of balancing against China. If true, this would effectively be a form of unwitting indirect assistance to Russia, whose own traditional hegemony in Eurasia is being seriously challenged by China’s growing trade ties and economic presence in the region.

Alternatively, Japan might simply prefer to see a little more diversity of interest in Central Asia, with itself, India, and the United States competing for influence with the dominant Russia-China rivalry.

Read the full story at The Diplomat

Editorial: Taiwan's Former President Causes Controversy in Japan

By Shannon Tiezzi

Lee Teng-hui causes a stir by repeating his view that the Senkakus belong to Japan.

Former Taiwanese President Lee Teng-hui was in Japan last week, where he met with a number of Japanese officials, including Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. Since his return on Sunday, Lee’s comments on the disputed Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands (made while in Japan) have created a firestorm of controversy in Taiwan, with mainland Chinese media paying close attention.

Lee’s trip to Japan was controversial even before he left. Beijing had urged the Japanese government not to allow the visit, without success. In a statement, Lu Kang, a spokesperson for China’s Foreign Ministry, expressed China’s “deep concern and strong dissatisfaction.” The statement called Lee “an obstinate propagandist of the ‘Taiwan independence’” and accused Japan of providing a convenient platform “for his ‘Taiwan independence’ activities in Japan.”

Still, Lee’s trip was hardly unusual. The former president, now 92, has visited Japan seven times since he left office in 2000, with his previous trip in September 2014. On this trip, Lee gave a speech before roughly 400 Japanese legislators at a Diet office building, a first for Lee or any former Taiwanese leader. He then visited Fukushima Prefecture, the site of the devastating March 2011 earthquake and tsunami, and Miyagi Prefecture, which was hit hard by an April 2011 aftershock quake.

Lee also met with Abe, who reportedly visited Lee’s hotel in Tokyo. According to The Yomiuri Shimbun, the two discussed “Japan’s current political situation, including the issue of security-related bills now under deliberation in the Diet.” Lee supports Japan’s right to exercise collective self-defense.

Read the full story at The Diplomat

Editorial: Why the Philippines Won't Have a New China Policy After Aquino

By Richard Javad Heydarian

Expecting a radical shift under a new president is misguided.

For the past two years, several governments, corporations, and academics from across the Asia-Pacific region have repeatedly asked me about a single issue: Whether the departure of President Benigno Aquino could usher in a new type of bilateral relationship with China. In the coming months, the Philippines will enter the election season, and as candidates from varying political persuasions jostle for the top office, such speculative question will gain more currency.

Some people have even suggested that the Aquino administration should be primarily blamed for the sorry state of bilateral relations with Beijing, notwithstanding the strategic implications of China’s aggressive pursuit of its territorial claims in the South China Sea. Even in the Philippines, where majority (57% in one survey) of the population holds favorable views towards the incumbent leader, some sensationalist columnists have gone so far as outrageously claiming that Aquino is to be entirely blamed for China’s massive reclamation activities and growing assertiveness across the Western Pacific.

I won’t be surprised if the leadership in Beijing is simply waiting for a new government in Manila before exploring the possibility for more substantive dialogue. Indeed, one can sense that China is waiting for someone it thinks it can deal with, and they have simply concluded that Aquino is not that person.

However, a more careful look at the Philippines’ domestic politics shows how the succeeding administration will have limited room for maneuver vis-à-vis China unless the more powerful party makes some genuine compromises (a farfetched prospect). To be seen as tough on China is simply good domestic politics, especially for populist Filipino leaders. And to do the opposite would surely risk massive political backlash.

Read the full story at The Diplomat

Editorial: Can China-Turkey Relations Move On?

By Shannon Tiezzi

Erodgan sought to move the China-Turkey relationship beyond recent tensions over Uyghur issues.

Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, arrived in China today and held meetings with Chinese officials, including Premier Li Keqiang and President Xi Jinping. It’s his first visit to China since assuming the presidency in August 2014, although he traveled to Beijing in 2012 while serving as prime minister.

As I noted previously, the trip faced an unwelcome complication thanks to issues related to ethnic Uyghurs in China. Anti-China protests broke out in Turkey earlier this month over reports that Uyghur celebrations of Ramadan were being restricted by the Chinese authorities. For its part, Beijing is angry that Turkish diplomats in Southeast Asia have reportedly been providing travel documents to Chinese Uyghurs, allowing them to more easily travel to Turkey. China is wary of Uyghurs seeking to carve out an independent state from China, and increasingly concerned about Uyghurs becoming radicalized and joining international terrorist groups.

In an oblique nod to those concerns, Erdogan assured Xi that Turkey opposes all forms of terrorism and also opposes any attempts to harm China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, according to Xinhua. Erdogan also stressed that Turkey itself is a victim of terrorism. He promised that Turkey will not allow its cooperation with China to “be affected by ill-minded forces,” according to Xinhua’s paraphrasing. Before leaving for China, Erdogan accused unnamed forces of hyping the Uyghur issue to undermine his trip.

Read the full story at The Diplomat

Editorial: How China Is Expanding Its Coast Guard

A Chinese Coast Guard Ship (File Photo)
By Franz-Stefan Gady

Beijing is converting old frigates into coastguard patrol vessels.

The People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) has transferred an unknown number of old frigates to the China Coast Guard, IHS Jane’s Defense Weekly reports.

According to the article, work is currently underway to transform two Type 053H2GJiangwei I-class frigates into coast guard cutters at a Chinese naval yard:
Photographs show two ‘Jiangwei I’ frigates alongside at a naval shipyard in Pudong, Shanghai, one of which has had most of its armament removed and the hull painted white. Limited work has been undertaken on the second so far.
The pictures indicate that the ship has largely been disarmed with the YJ-83 anti-ship missile launchers, the HQ-61 surface-to-air missile (SAM) launcher, the twin 100 mm gun turret, and two twin 37 mm gun mountings removed. “The two forward twin 37 mm mountings are currently still in place,” however, according to IHS Jane’s Defense Weekly.

Read the full story at The Diplomat

Editorial: China's Navy Tests 'Maritime Combat Ability' in the South China Sea

Chinese Navy Warships on patrol (File Photo)
By Franz-Stefan Gady

The Philippines are apparently not impressed with China’s martial might.

The Chinese People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) conducted naval drills that included live firing drills in order to boost its “maritime combat ability” in the South China Sea on Tuesday, Xinhua reports.

According to PLAN spokesperson Liang Yang the naval drills are part of an annually held exercise and in line with international law. Consequently, he urged observers not to indulge in “excessive interpretations” of the military maneuvers:
Holding sea drills is a common practice for navies with various countries. The annual drill by the Chinese navy aims to test the troops’ real combat abilities, boost their maneuvrability, search and rescue power and the abilities to fulfill diversified military missions.
Citing PLAN sources, Xinhua stated that the exercise involved over 100 ships, dozens of aircraft and several battalions of the Second Artillery Corps – the unit responsible for most of China’s conventional and nuclear ballistic missiles and land-attack cruise missiles.

Read the full story at The Diplomat

Editorial: Beware China’s ‘Basing’ Strategy - Former US Navy Chief

By Prashanth Parameswaran

Admiral Gary Roughead issues a warning about Beijing’s growing network of ‘places.’

China is developing a widening network of strategic ‘bases’ that further heightens the challenge it poses to the United States, a former U.S. naval chief told a conference Tuesday.

Beijing has already sought to secure access and rights in strategic countries to boost its influence and support its naval forces as it deploys them further out for patrols in the Indian Ocean or anti-piracy operations in the Horn of Africa. These include ports in Oman, Pakistan and Djibouti.

But Admiral Gary Roughead, the former Chief of Naval Operations, told a two-day conference at the Center for Naval Analyses that Beijing may be looking to expand its network of distributed, critical outposts across regions for various functions including projecting power, establishing necessary supporting infrastructure and gathering intelligence. New nodes, Roughead said, may include Greece to establish a foothold in the energy-rich Eastern Meditteranean and even Iran which already has a burgeoning maritime partnership with Beijing.

“We are beginning to see the Chinese version of ‘places not bases’,” Roughead said in his keynote address, using the term U.S. officials use to distinguish between older, tighter agreements it had with allies like Japan to permanently station forces there and looser pacts offering temporary and limited access to facilities as with Singapore.

Read the full story at The Diplomat

29 July 2015

Think Tank: The ADF and amphibious warfare - strategic guidance and joint capability development

Peter Dean, Jan K. Gleiman and Sarah Hately

The ADF has developed a detailed, integrated and truly joint plan to develop and validate an impressive amphibious warfare capability by mid-2017 as part of Exercise Talisman Sabre. However this powerful joint force element will only be a proof of concept. It won’t yet be a sustainable on-call capability or ‘ready’ force.

Indeed, the ADF has yet to approve any conceptual plans for the sustainment of a joint amphibious warfare capability past 2017. It has yet to determine requirements for the joint readiness levels, the integrated joint force generation plan or even the mission expectations for the joint amphibious force. Significant capability gaps and shortfalls have been identified and require solutions.

There are only a few months left until the scheduled release of the Defence White Paper. This is an opportunity for the Australian government to clarify the expectations of Australia’s post 2017 amphibious force.

USA: Jacksonville Visits Singapore During Western Pacific Deployment

USS Jacksonville (Image: Flickr User - SubPac PAO)
By Ensign Nicholas Lucania, USS Jacksonville Public Affairs

SINGAPORE (NNS) -- The Los Angeles-class fast-attack submarine USS Jacksonville (SSN 699) arrived in Singapore for a port visit as a part of its Western Pacific deployment, July 27. 

After a successful completion of Talisman Sabre 2015, the joint exercise coordinated with both the Australian and New Zealand navies, the Sailors of Jacksonville were excited for its arrival in Singapore. 

"The crew flawlessly executed their third leg of deployment," said Master Chief Electronics Technician Kevin Rollert, the chief of the boat aboard Jacksonville. "Singapore is another excellent port of call for Jacksonville. It will be a great break for the crew before heading back out to sea."

Brunei: 14TH Brunei Darussalam – Australia joint defence working committee

BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN, Tuesday 28 July 2015 – Brunei Darussalam and Australia held their 14th Joint Defence Working Committee (JDWC) Meeting at the National Modelling and Simulation Centre located at the Knowledge Hub at Anggerek Desa.

The Meeting was co-chaired by Haji Adi Ihram bin Dato Paduka Haji Mahmud, Acting Director of Defence Policy at the Ministry of Defence of Brunei Darussalam and Daniel Smith, Director Singapore, Malaysia, Philippines, Brunei and FPDA, International Policy Division, Department of Defence, Australia.

The JDWC Meeting covered discussions centred on areas of mutual interests: joint discussion on the regional security challenges as well as reaffirmed the broad and long-standing bilateral defence relations between Brunei Darussalam and Australia.

Industry: Harris Corporation Awarded $29 Million Avionics Production Contract

Royal Australia Air Force F/A-18F Super Hornet (File Photo)
  • Awarded for U.S. Navy and Australian versions of F/A-18E/F and EA-18G aircraft
  • Distributed Targeting System significantly enhances flight crew situational awareness
  • Programs support 60,000 jobs with an annual economic impact of $3 billion

MELBOURNE, Fla., July 28, 2015 — The U.S. Navy has awarded Harris Corporation (NYSE:HRS) a two-year, $29 million full-rate production contract to provide key avionics components that will enhance flight crews' targeting capabilities on the U.S. Navy's and Australia's F/A-18 E/F Super Hornet fighter aircraft and EA-18G Growler electronic attack platform.

The avionics are a critical part of the Distributed Targeting System which will significantly improve the aircraft's networking capabilities, enhance targeting precision and shorten the time from target sensing to shooting.

"The F/A-18 brings critical Navy fighter and electronic warfare capabilities for the U.S. and key allies such as Australia," said Ed Zoiss, president, Electronic Systems, Harris Corporation. "Upgrading the mission- and image-processing prowess of the platform will help ensure that it continues to be the primary fighter aircraft for the U.S. Navy."

The combat-proven Super Hornet provides unequaled air dominance and precision strike capability. The EA-18G Growler, derived from the Super Hornet, is the U.S.' newest and most advanced airborne electronic attack platform. The Super Hornet and Growler programs support 60,000 jobs in the U.S. across 800 suppliers in 44 states, accounting for $3 billion in annual economic impact.

News Report: Experts Concerned China May Soon Establish Southern ADIZ

Li Bao, Si Yang

WASHINGTON—U.S. and international security experts have expressed concerns that it may just be a matter of time before China establishes an air defense identification zone over disputed waters in the South China Sea.

China has been rapidly reclaiming land and making artificial islands in the South China Sea during the past year, causing strong reaction in the U.S. and many other countries.

Senator John McCain, Chairman of the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee, said island building is just the beginning.

McCain said the next step for China will be to militarize those islands and declare an Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) over the South China Sea to further its sovereignty claims.

“They build runways; they are going to put weapons there, and the next thing you will see the Chinese do is when an American aircraft [flies by], whether being a commercial craft or what, they will say ‘identify yourself’- establishing an Air Defense Identification Zone, which then means territorial sovereignty,” Senator McCain said last week at Hudson Institute, a Washington-based think tank.

News Story: PLA breaks through laser technology bottleneck

A Chinese anti-drone laser weapon. (Internet photo)
The People's Liberation Army has taken a major step forward in its laser weapons program after achieving breakthroughs that could lead to safer and wider applications.

According to Duowei News, a US-based Chinese political news outlet, China's so-called "Eye" series of large-sized weapons systems have been plagued by criticisms of instability and corrosiveness, with claims that the technology could cause blindness under high-speed conditions. In Western countries, this form of technology is prohibited from being exported to China, meaning Chinese scientists are left to explore this field on their own.

A recent report from the state-owned China News Service, however, said that Chinese researchers have finally broken through a bottleneck. Initially, scientists suggested testing laser deposition of diamond-like carbon (DLC) films to expand the application of laser technology. Though some problems were resolved after four years of research, the technology still failed to pass specified sonic-speed tests, meaning that it is still not ready to be applied to weaponry.

The researchers did not give up and began trying other methods, and have now finally created the country's first dual-beam pulsed laser deposition system, which has already passed hypersonic wind tunnel tests, the report said.

Read the full story at Want China Times

News Story: Putin approves Russia's new maritime strategy

According to Moscow-based Sputnik news, Russia's president, Vladimir Putin, approved the country's new maritime strategy of establishing closer partnerships with China in the Asia-Pacific region and and India in the Indian Ocean.

Shen Shishun, director of Center for South Pacific Studies at the China Institute of International Studies, told Sputnik News that he believes Beijing and Moscow would do well to cooperate with each other as both have already devoted more attention and resources to safeguard maritime rights and interests. Like Russia, China is building up the People's Liberation Army Navy to face potential challenges in the Western Pacific.

Read the full story at Want China Times

News Story: US solidifying its defense position in S China Sea - report

P-8A Poseidon (File Photo)
The participation of Admiral Scott Swift, the commander of the US Pacific Fleet, in a seven-hour reconnaissance mission over the South China Sea aboard a P-8A Poseidon patrol aircraft should be viewed as a strategic move by Washington to solidify its defensive position in the region, according to the Moscow-based Sputnik News.

Instead of reducing tension with China over the disputed waters, the United States has pushed for cooperation with regional powers to constrict Chinese maritime expansion, said the report. The US is motivated by the necessity of maintaining freedom of navigation between the Indian Ocean and the South China Sea, where it regularly moves ships, aircraft and troops.

Read the full story at Want China Times

News Story: China Conducts Live Firing Drill In Disputed South China Sea

Chinese Navy Warships on patrol (File Photo)
BEIJING — China's navy carried out a "live firing drill" in the South China Sea Tuesday in a bid to improve its maritime combat ability, state media reported, as tensions flare over the disputed waters.

The exercise involved at least 100 naval vessels, dozens of aircraft, missile launch battalions of the Second Artillery Corps and information warfare troops, Xinhua news agency said, citing navy sources.

It added that dozens of missiles and torpedoes, as well as thousands of shells and jamming bombs, were fired during the drill, which tested the navy's air defense and early warning system.

It also "improved its ability to react quickly," Xinhua said.

Read the full story at DefenseNews

News Story: Two Navy vessels arriving next week from Australia - Three more to be procured

Balikpapan class Landing Craft Heavy (LCH)
Grace Gonzales

The Philippine government will purchase remaining three decommissioned Landing Craft Heavy (LCH) vessels from the Australian government. This was confirmed by President Benigno S. Aquino III in his sixth State of the Nation Address (SONA) July 27 at the Batasang Pambansa Complex in Quezon City.

“We plan on buying three more, once all the paperwork has been put in order, the processes to procure them will begin,” Aquino said in Filipino. The said vessels are part of five recently decommissioned Australian Balikpapan-class LCVs. Two were donated to Philippine Navy and are expected to arrive next week.

Read the full story at Ang Malay

Editorial: Is a Killer Robot Arms Race Inevitable?

Image: Flicke User - Insomnia Cured Here
By Franz-Stefan Gady

Leading robotics researches call for a ban of offensive autonomous weapons in an open letter.

Research into designing and producing autonomous weapon systems is soaring in the U.S. military. For example, the U.S. Navy is trying to figure out how to successfully launch a whole swarm of tiny autonomous drones in order to assault an adversary with a cloud of cheap and disposable UAVs and paralyze defenses by the sheer quantity of unmanned attackers in the air.

Last week (See: “Super Humans and Killer Robots: How the US Army Envisions Warfare in 2050”), I reported on the finding of U.S. Army-sponsored workshop on the future of land warfare that concluded that a new breed of super humans and autonomous combat robots will be two of the key features of the battlefield in 2050.

Now, over 1,000 artificial intelligence and robotics researchers, Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, Google DeepMind chief executive Demis Hassabis and professor Stephen Hawking among them, have signed an open letter that calls for ban of “offensive autonomous weapons beyond meaningful human control.”

Read the full story at The Diplomat