30 April 2016

AUS: Five Powers exercise concludes in Malaysia and Singapore

Australian Defence Force personnel have completed the annual Exercise Bersama Shield in Malaysia, Singapore and the South China Sea.

The multilateral training activity is part of a long-running series of exercises aimed at enhancing the interoperability of the Five Power Defence Arrangements (FPDA) members – Australia, Malaysia, Singapore, New Zealand and the United Kingdom.

Commander of the Australian Contingent, Wing Commander Paul Webb said the exercise was very rewarding.

“Exercise Bersama Shield 16 tested the ability of FPDA nations to work together to complete missions and objectives, and they’ve done that very well,” he said.

“Through this cooperation, we’ve built on existing friendships and strengthened our habits of collaboration. We look forward to continuing the relationship with our FPDA partners during Exercise Bersama Lima later this year.”

USA: U.S., Australian Defence Forces Conduct Fleet Synthetic Training

By MC3 Sara B. Sexton, Task Force 70 Public Affairs

Operations Specialist 3rd Class Dontre Posey serves as the assistant battle watch captain in the Task Force 70 Tactical Flag Command Center during a joint Fleet Synthetic Training exercise. (U.S. Navy/MC3 Sara B. Sexton) >>

YOKOSUKA, Japan - Commander, Task Force 70 units, along with Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 15 units, Army and Air Force assets and units from the Australian Defence Forces (ADF) participated in Fleet Synthetic Training-Joint (FST-J) exercise 16-72 at Fleet Activities Yokosuka, Japan, and other command centers throughout Japan, Australia and the U.S. April 25-29.

FST-J is a computer-based synthetic training which allows geographically separated units to integrate in a tactically and operationally demanding virtual environment.

“This FST-J exercise is conducted according to 7th Fleet requirements to ensure the units are current on their training and certification,” said Capt. Richard Haidvogel, the commanding officer of Tactical Training Group, Pacific (TTGP). “Ultimately the goal of these exercises is to improve interoperability with our joint partners and allies.”

News Story: Carter - ‘Yes’ To Arms Sales To Vietnam; DoD Won’t Elaborate


WASHINGTON: One word from Defense Secretary Ash Carter yesterday opened the door to US arms sales to Vietnam, a former enemy turned potential ally against a rising China. The administration has tiptoed towards easing the ban on lethal weapons sales ever since Vietnamese president Truong Tan Sang met with Obama in 2013, but Carter’s statement goes farther at a critical time, on the eve of Obama’s first visit to Vietnam.

It was an exchange so brief and muted I had to listen to the audio half-a-dozen times and check with sources before I could believe Carter had really said something so momentous, yet apparently so casually. At yesterday’s Senate Armed Services Committee hearing, Sen. Dan Sullivan showed a map revealing how Chinese fighters could potentially strike throughout the South China Sea, the northern Philippines, and Vietnam. SASC chairman John McCain — a former prisoner of war in Hanoi turned advocate of reconciliation — followed up with this question to Carter: “You would support lifting restrictions on provision of weapons to the Vietnamese?”

Carter’s response? “We’ve discussed this in the past, and I appreciate your leadership in that regard, Chairman, and yes.”

That final “yes” is the figurative bombshell that might let the US sell literal bombshells to Vietnam, which has fought multiple wars and skirmishes with its ancient enemy, China, since the US withdrawal in 1973.

Read the full story at Breaking Defense

News Story: UN Council considers response to N.Korea missile test

Image: Flickr User - FabienA380
The UN Security Council is weighing a response to North Korea's failed test-firing of ballistic missiles, diplomats said Thursday following emergency closed-door talks in New York.

The consultations were urgently requested by the United States following North Korea's unsuccessful launch of two missiles and as fears grow that the regime is preparing to conduct a fifth nuclear test.

"We are looking at a response," said China's Ambassador Liu Jieyi, who holds the council presidency this month.

Japanese Ambassador Motohide Yoshikawa said his government "condemns the series of grave and very clear violations of Security Council resolutions."

Read the full story at SpaceDaily

News Story: N. Korea registers multiple test failures with new missile - South

By Jung Ha-Won

North Korea on Thursday made two failed bids to test fire a powerful, new medium-range ballistic missile, in a thwarted display of military strength ahead of a landmark ruling party congress.

South Korea's defence ministry said an initial morning launch of what was understood to be a Musudan missile saw the rocket plunge back to earth seconds after take-off.

A second attempt in the evening -- again of a Musudan -- also appeared to have failed, a ministry official said.

North Korea has now made three unsuccessful bids in two weeks to test-fly a Musudan, which is capable of striking US bases on the Pacific island of Guam.

The first effort on April 15 -- the birthday of founding leader Kim Il-Sung -- ended in what the Pentagon described as "fiery, catastrophic" failure, with the missile apparently exploding just after take-off.

South Korean military officials say the North is desperate to register a successful launch ahead of next week's party congress, at which leader Kim Jong-Un is expected to take credit for pushing the country's nuclear weapons programme to new heights.

Read the full story at SpaceDaily

News Story: India asks UK to extradite British 'middleman' in chopper scam

EH101/AW-101 Merlin
India's government said Thursday it has asked Britain to extradite British consultant Christian Michel James over a scandal-hit deal the previous government agreed with Anglo-Italian firm AgustaWestland to supply helicopters to Delhi.

India suspended the deal in 2013 after Italian investigators began looking into accusations AgustaWestland paid bribes to win the 556-million-euro ($753 million) contract for 12 helicopters intended for use by the prime minister and other VIPs.

The Central Bureau of Investigation has been seeking the custody of James -- one of 13 main accused in the case -- as a key intermediary who managed political parties and players in Italy and India.

"Yes, government of India has approached the government of the United Kingdom for extradition of Christian Michel to India in connection with the AgustaWestland helicopter scam," VK Singh, junior foreign minister, told parliament.

Read the full story at SpaceDaily

News Story: Pakistan, China building JF-17B prototype

JF-17A Thunder
by Richard Tomkins

Pakistan and China have jointly started production of the first prototype JF-17B combat jet at the Chendu Aerospace Corporation facility in Chendu, China.

The induction for production of the two-seat aircraft took place Wednesday at a ceremony attended by senior Pakistani Air Force and Chinese officials, the Pakistan Air Force reported.

The JF-17B will have a maximum speed of about 1,217 miles per hour, a combat radius of 840 miles and will carry both bombs and missiles. In addition to combat tasks, the plane can also be used for pilot training.

Read the full story at SpaceDaily

News Story: Chinese officials under investigation for selling data - govt

Hundreds of employees at China's top statistics bureau are being investigated after selling data, the government said Wednesday, despite longstanding doubts over the reliability of official figures.

More than 300 NBS staff have also been asked to return 3.23 million yuan ($500,000) they made by selling annual reports and providing data to affiliates, the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI) -- the Communist party's internal corruption watchdog -- said on its website.

Read the full story at SpaceDaily

News Story: China warns Southeast Asia over maritime dispute

China urged Southeast Asian nations on Thursday to resolve territorial disputes through dialogue and repeated a warning of "negative consequences" if the Philippines wins an arbitration case in The Hague.

Four ASEAN member states -- the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia and Brunei -- have rival claims with China to parts of the South China Sea and tensions have mounted in recent years since China transformed contested reefs into artificial islands that can support military facilities.

The Philippines has taken a case against China to the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague, where a ruling is due in the coming weeks, which many expect to go against China.

Read the full story at SpaceDaily

News Story: China rebukes U.S. official's criticism on South China Sea arbitration

BEIJING, April 29 (Xinhua) -- A Chinese spokesperson on Friday rebuked U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Antony Blinken's remarks on the impending "arbitration" of the South China Sea issue, saying the United States is in no position to criticize China.

On Thursday, Blinken told a House of Representatives hearing in Washington that China "can't have it both ways," by being a party to the convention but rejecting its provisions, including "the binding nature of any arbitration decision."

He was referring to a case brought by the Philippines to initiate compulsory arbitration proceedings with respect to "maritime jurisdiction" in the South China Sea.

"Regretfully, I have to say that Mr. Blinken may be misinformed about the essence of the South China Sea disputes and the content of the the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, or he was wrongly labeling China deliberately," Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said at a daily news briefing.

China has repeatedly reiterated that it will neither accept nor participate in the arbitration initiated by the Philippines.

Hua said on Friday that the South China Sea issue is about territorial sovereignty and maritime delimitation, adding that the Philippines was denying China's territorial sovereignty over some islands and reefs and maritime rights in the South China Sea.

Read the full story at Xinhua

News Story: Chinese president's address on Asian security cooperation answers real needs - experts

Chinese President: Xi Jinping
BEIJING, April 29 (Xinhua) -- China's approach to and vision of regional security cooperation, outlined by Chinese President Xi Jinping at a key regional security conference on Thursday, are a pragmatic and timely answer to real needs of the region, international experts said.

The address shows once again that China attaches great importance to Asia's security, and will help maintain regional peace and stability, they said.

In an address at the opening ceremony of the fifth Foreign Ministers' Meeting of the Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia (CICA) held in Beijing, Xi said it is important to adhere to and implement the vision of common, comprehensive, cooperative and sustainable security in Asia.

Andrei Ivanov, a senior fellow at the Moscow State Institute of International Relations, said that China's foreign policy is one of the key factors for maintaining Asian and world peace and stability.

Observers noted that Xi reaffirmed China's position of adhering to dialogue and consultation on hot-button international issues, including the Korean Peninsula situation, Afghanistan's reconstruction, Syria's situation, Palestinian-Israeli conflicts, and the South China Sea issue.

Ivanov agreed with China's position on the Korean Peninsula situation, saying that the Chinese leader's timely statement calling for all sides to keep restraint will help bring the nuclear issue on the Korean Peninsula back to the track of negotiations.

Tokon Mamytov, former vice prime minister of Kyrgyzstan, told Xinhua that China's vision of Asia's security is "an effective prescription" to solve the Korean Peninsula nuclear issue as well as other challenging security issues.

Read the full story at Xinhua

News Story: China dismisses Japanese media reports on sea disputes

BEIJING, April 29 (Xinhua) -- Japan has made clear to China that Japanese media's reports about Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida's remarks on East China Sea and South China Sea did not represent official position, a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson said Friday.

According to a report from Japan's Sankei Shimbun newspaper, Kishida would express apparent objection to China's activities in the East China Sea and South China Sea during his visit to China from Friday to Sunday.

Read the full story at Xinhua

News Story: China opposes Japan's illegal "island" claims

Okinotori Atoll (Image: Wiki Commons)
BEIJING, April 29 (Xinhua) -- China on Friday said it does not recognize Japan's self-declared exclusive economic zone (EEZ) on Okinotori Atoll.

An EEZ is an area of sea over which a state has exclusive rights of exploration.

Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying was responding to reports regarding Japan's Thursday reiteration that it classed Okinotori as an island, not a collection of rocks.

It is illegal for Japan to claim areas around the Okinotori Atoll as its continental shelf or EEZ, Hua said.

Read the full story at Xinhua

News Story: China, Russia voice concern over deployment of missile defense system in ROK

BEIJING, April 29 (Xinhua) -- China and Russia on Friday voiced "serious concern" over reports that the United States planned to deploy a missile defense system in the Republic of Korea (ROK).

"Relevant countries should respect the stance and legitimate concerns of China and Russia," said Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, in a joint press briefing with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov after their talks in Beijing.

The ROK and the United States have been discussing the deployment of the U.S. Terminal High Altitude Area Defence System (THAAD) in the ROK.

Wang said both China and Russia thought the plan far exceeded the ROK's actual defense needs, and would directly threaten the strategic security of the two countries.

The deployment will not help the current Korean nuclear issue, in fact, Wang said, it will only intensify the already tense situation.

Read the full story at Xinhua

News Story: Russian FM says external forces should not interfere in South China Sea issue

BEIJING, April 29 (Xinhua) -- External forces should not interfere in the South China Sea issue, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Friday.

Lavrov, who is in Beijing to attend the fifth Foreign Ministers' Meeting of the Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia (CICA), and for an official visit to China, made the remarks during talks with his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi.

Lavrov said Russia holds that the South China Sea issue should be resolved peacefully through political means, such as negotiations between the parties directly concerned, while external forces should refrain from interfering.

The UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and international laws, including the agreements reached between China and ASEAN, are the legal frameworks that should be followed, said Lavrov.

The two foreign ministers agreed that the South China Sea disputes should be resolved through negotiations between parties directly concerned on the basis of respecting historical facts and international laws.

Read the full story at Xinhua

News Story: DPRK's repeated missile launches add to uncertainty of situation on Korean Peninsula

BEIJING, April 29 (Xinhua) -- The Democratic People's Republic of Korea's test-launches of two Musudan missiles on Thursday, although appeared both failed, have added to uncertainty of the situation on the Korean Peninsula.

The DPRK test-fired another Musudan missile from a mobile launcher at about 7:26 p.m. local time (1026 GMT) from the Wonsan area on the country's east coast, Yonhap news agency reported on Thursday, citing South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff.

It appeared to have failed as the missile exploded in mid-air several seconds after liftoff.

Earlier in the day, the DPRK test-launched a mobile Musudan missile from the same region, which was also believed to have failed as it crashed in waters off the east coast several seconds after take-off.

Read the full story at Xinhua

News Story: South Korea sees possibility for DPRK's another launch of Musudan missile

SEOUL, April 29 (Xinhua) -- South Korea's military on Friday saw a possibility for the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) to test-launch another Musudan ballistic missile after repeated failures in recent weeks.

Defense Ministry spokesman Moon Sang-Kyun told a press briefing that possibility for an additional launch of Musudan missile cannot be ruled out in consideration of the DPRK's push for the launches even after repeated failures.

The DPRK launched two Musudan missiles on Thursday after conducting its first test-firing of the missile from a mobile launcher on April 15.

The three launches were believed to have failed as the missiles exploded in mid-air or crashed in waters several seconds after liftoff.

Read the full story at Xinhua

News Story: Lawsuits filed with Japan's Supreme Court could scupper controversial security laws (China's View)

TOKYO, April 29 (Xinhua) -- With thousands more plaintiffs gearing up to file lawsuits over constitutionality of the newly-enforced security laws, Japanese people are launching a fresh offensive to scrap the controversial "war legislation."

More than 500 people in Tokyo and about 200 in Fukushima Prefecture filed class-action lawsuits Tuesday against the Japanese government, arguing that the security laws violate Japan's pacifist constitution and damage the Japanese people's right to peaceful survival.

The plaintiffs, including constitutional scholars, legal professionals and war victims, are seeking an injunction to block the deployment of the Self-Defense Forces personnel under the new legislation, as well as state compensation for emotional damages caused by a "culture of fear."

These are the first of a series of lawsuits to be filed across the nation by a group of experts. Similar suits will be filed in Osaka, Hiroshima, Nagasaki and other major cities across the nation, by a group of legal specialists, lawyers, constitutional experts, including professors and former judges.

"We have a chance to win, as we have over 600 lawyers representing the plaintiffs, including former judges and prosecutors." said Makoto Ito, a lawyer and representative of the group "Legal Actions against the Security Bills."

"Not to mention the fact that the former chief of the Supreme Court of Japan also believes that the security laws violate the constitution," he added.

However, not all observers here are optimistic about the prospect of the lawsuits.

Read the full story at Xinhua

29 April 2016

Think Tank: Building the future Navy - the OPV’s

Hobart class (AWD) Destroyer under-construction
at Adelaide's ASC Shipyard
Mark Thomson

The government’s recent decision to split the production of Offshore Patrol Vessels (OPVs) has been met with a mix of delight and dismay. Delight by those with an interest in the shipyards in Adelaide SA and Henderson WA, dismay by those who missed out. There was also more than the usual grumbling by those weary of multi-billion dollar defence projects being used to buy votes. But while the timing of the announcement was politically significant, in terms of the advice the government has been getting, it makes perfects sense to split production. Here’s the story.

In late 2014, the government commissioned the RAND Corporation to report on Australian naval shipbuilding at a cost of $2.5 million. Released last year, the report examined the challenge of building frigates to replace the Anzac class when they leave service from the mid-2020s onwards. Using a black box model designed to capture the process of hiring and training shipyard personnel, RAND estimated the cost and schedule impact on the frigate program due to the looming gap between the conclusion of the Air Warfare Destroyer (AWD) program and the commencement of the frigate program. Put simply, they estimated the cost and schedule impact of the infamous ‘valley of death’.

AUS: ANZAC Class Frigate sustainment

ANZAC class Frigates underway
The Turnbull Government has signed a long-term contract for the sustainment of ANZAC Class Frigates centred in Western Australia.

The strategic partnership between BAE Systems Australia Defence Pty Limited, Saab Australia Pty Ltd, Naval Ship Management Australia Pty Ltd (a joint venture between UGL and Babcock), and the Commonwealth will streamline a number of existing contracts for the whole-of-life sustainment for the ANZAC Class Frigates. The majority of the sustainment work will be done in Henderson, with additional work at Fleet Base East, cementing Henderson as one of Australia’s naval shipbuilding and sustainment centres.

The open ended sustainment contract has a value of over $2 billion for the first eight years and will provide certainty to the principal partners to invest in growing skills and capabilities. It will also provide increased opportunities for the engagement of small-to-medium sized businesses in the Australian maritime industry.

USA: Pacific Surface Action Group Departs Pearl Harbor for Western Pacific

By MC3 Katarzyna Kobiljak, NPASE Hawaii

USS Momsen (DDG 92) arrives at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam April 25 as part of a port visit by a Pacific Surface Action Group deploying to U.S. 7th Fleet. (U.S. Navy/MC3 Katarzyna Kobiljak) >>

PEARL HARBOR, Hawaii - A Pacific Surface Action Group (PAC SAG) departed Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam April 27 following a port visit en route to the Western Pacific.

The PAC SAG is comprised of the embarked staff of Destroyer Squadron 31, guided-missile destroyers USS Spruance (DDG 111), USS Decatur (DDG 73) and USS Momsen (DDG 92) and embarked “Devil Fish” and “Warbirds” detachments of Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) 49.

Adm. Scott Swift, commander of U.S. Pacific Fleet, addressed Sailors from the crews aboard Momsen April 26 to highlight the significance of their mission and explain how their capability will be tested throughout their deployment.

USA: U.S. Navy Transfers Research Vessel to Philippine Navy

By MC2 Travis Litke, U.S. 3rd Fleet Public Affairs

Vice Adm. Nora Tyson, left, commander of U.S. 3rd Fleet, and Leo Herrera-Lim, Philippine Consul General in Los Angeles, sign documents transferring ownership of R/V Melville to the Philippine Navy. (U.S. Navy/MC2 Travis Litke) >>

SAN DIEGO - The U. S. Navy transferred ownership of Research Vessel (R/V) Melville to the Philippine Navy, during a ceremony April 27 at Naval Base San Diego.

The ship was transferred under the U.S. Department of Defense's excess defense articles program to help augment the Republic of the Philippines oceanographic research and study capabilities.

Melville, named for George Melville, an explorer and rear admiral in the United States Navy, was launched from La Jolla in 1968. Since then, it has served the Office of Naval Research, been operated by Scripps Institute of Oceanography, and also played a role in the 1976 film King Kong. Melville will be received as the Philippine Navy's first dedicated research vessel.

News Report: US, Allies Tighten Cooperation to Counter China in South China Sea

Nike Ching

STATE DEPARTMENT—The U.S. is ratcheting up cooperation with Asian allies to counter China’s “assertive and provocative behavior in the South China Sea” that is challenging the freedom of navigation in the crucial waterway, Deputy Secretary of State Antony Blinken told lawmakers Thursday during a House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing.

Blinken’s remarks came after a bipartisan group of U.S. senators introduced the Asia-Pacific Maritime Security Initiative Act — legislation they say will strengthen security assistance to partners in Southeast Asia and increase U.S. naval patrols near the contested islands in the South China Sea.

Defense officials have yet to publicly confirm the frequency of U.S. Navy patrols in the disputed waters, though some U.S. lawmakers asked the administration to expand the pace of freedom-of-navigation operations in that area to a weekly or monthly basis.  

“Sending one a quarter is simply insufficient to send a strong message to China,” Republican Senator Cory Gardner of Colorado said Wednesday. He chairs the Senate Foreign Relations East Asia subcommittee and is one of the sponsors of the new maritime security legislation.

This proposal brought a sharp response from Beijing.

News Story: China shocked at Singapores remarks in West Philippine Sea (South China Sea)

The comments of two senior Singaporean diplomats shocked a senior Chinese official in Jakarta on Monday that China was splitting Asean in reaching a consensus with three Asean states on the South China Sea.

The Singapore diplomats made the remarks at a conference in Jakarta after Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi last Saturday announced a four-point consensus with Brunei, Laos and Cambodia on the South China Sea, including that territorial disputes in the sea were “not an issue between China and Asean as a whole”.

According to Vice-Foreign Minister Liu Zhenmin, each Asean state has its own sovereign rights and China will “never want to split up” the regional grouping.

Read the full story at Tankler

News Story: Chinese Scarborough Shoal Base Would Threaten Manila

Click Image to Enlarge

WASHINGTON: If China builds an artificial island on the disputed Scarborough Shoal, Sen. Dan Sullivan warned today, it will complete a “strategic triangle” of bases that can dominate the South China Sea. At this morning’s Senate Armed Services Committee hearing, Sullivan displayed a map (above) of the region overlaid with the ranges of Chinese fighters striking from a triangle of bases on (1) the Chinese island of Hainan, (2) the disputed Spratly Islands, and (3) Scarborough Shoal (as yet unbuilt). The overlapping rings would cover not only almost all the South China Sea, but much of the Philippines and Vietnam.

“Your map’s absolutely accurate,” responded Defense Secretary Ashton Carter. China’s actions are “deeply disturbing to countries in region, which has them all coming to us….We are being increasingly invited to work with countries,” from old allies like Australia, Japan, and the Philippines to new partners like India and Vietnam.

Vietnam has agreed to allow the US Army to preposition equipment for humanitarian responses, in itself a major shift by Hanoi, which has fought multiple wars and skirmishes with its giant neighbor, China. As Sullivan’s diagram shows, almost all of Vietnam is in range of existing Chinese bases.

The US has also expanded its long-standing but often-strained relationship with the Philippines. Under a new Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA), the two countries announced in March that US forces would have access to five military bases across the country. But as Sullivan’s map makes clear, two of those five bases would be in range of Scarborough-based Chinese fighter-bombers, as would the capital city of Manila.

Read the full story at Breaking Defense

News Story: India's Effort to Boost Homemade Weaponry Hits Roadblock

Vivek Raghuvanshi

NEW DELHI — India's efforts to cut imports and boost homemade weaponry and equipment has hit a major roadblock, as the domestic, private defense industry is sharply divided over a not-yet-implemented policy that seeks to identify a select few private sector defense companies to be named Strategic Partners (SP), who could then be nominated to big ticket defense projects.

The nomination process is run by the Ministry of Defense (MoD). If the policy is adopted, it will change the way weaponry is acquired in the country.

The controversial policy had been recommended by a select panel nominated by the MoD, under the chairmanship of former Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO) chief Vasudev Aatre.

Now, the private defense industry is divided over the selection criteria and the need for such a policy. An MoD source said the policy's consideration could be postponed, given the fierce opposition from various sections of the domestic industry.

"The very fact that the Aatre report, which seeks to detail criteria for selection of SPs, has been made public (April 19) — after the formulation of the Defence Procurement Policy DPP-2016, end March 2016 — suggests that the selection of SPs has been delayed," said Nitin Mehta, a defense analyst in India.

Read the full story at DefenseNews

News Story: Chinese Combat UAVs in Demand

Wendell Minnick

TAIPEI — The state-controlled China Daily news outlet published what it says was an exclusive interview with Shi Wen, chief drone designer at the China Academy of Aerospace Aerodynamics, Beijing, detailing foreign sales of the Cai Hong-series (Rainbow-series) of unmanned aerial vehicles to the Middle East and Africa, including the armed CH-3 and CH-4 medium-altitude, long-endurance UAVs.

Egypt, Iraq, Myanmar, Nigeria, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are known users of the CH-series. In the April 21 interview, Shi was quoted as saying that foreign militaries are interested in the CH-series because of their affordability and capabilities. Shi said the “total value of contracts we signed in 2015 could definitely be one of the highest in terms of armed drone deals made last year on the international market … hundreds of millions of US dollars."

Robert Michelson, principal research engineer emeritus at the Georgia Tech Research Institute, said that Chinese manufacturing no doubt makes the aircraft affordable and therefore attractive to developing nations' militaries and those seeking affordable, yet expendable, reconnaissance assets.

Read the full story at DefenseNews

News Story: India Seeks New Radar-Carrying Aerostats

Singapore's future Aerostat
by Neelam Mathews and Chris Pocock

The Indian Air Force is considering a new purchase of radar-carrying aerostats for air and sea surveillance, especially of low-flying targets. The Indian Ministry of Defense issued a request for information (RFI) late last year for a batch of four, six or eight static, mobile or portable aerostat systems, and may soon make a request for proposal, which will include a 30 percent offset clause. The aerostats are likely to be employed in the western and or northern sectors of the Indian sub-continent, an Indian defense official told AIN. Apart from the U.S., only a handful of countries operate such systems, mostly in the Middle East, although Singapore is joining their number.

The two major suppliers in the class, Lockheed Martin (LM) and Rafael, are both expected to bid. LM was the integrator and radar supplier for the Tethered Aerostat Radar System (TARS) that is deployed at eight sites along the U.S. southern border, and subsequently provided 65 smaller Persistent Threat Detection Systems (PTDS) for deployment by U.S. forces over Afghanistan and Iraq. Rafael supplied two large aerostats carrying IAI radars to India in 2002. In 2011, one of these “was damaged due to a sudden strong gust of wind and became non-operational,” the Indian defense minster reported.AIN understands that it broke loose and drifted toward another country. The troubled Raytheon JLENS program suffered a similar accident in the U.S. last October and is likely to be denied further funding.

Read the full story at AINonline

News Story: Vietnam To Receive the Last ‘Classic’ Flankers

Vietnam Su-30MK2
by Vladimir Karnozov

The imminent delivery of from Russia of two Sukhoi Su-30MK2 twin-seat versions to Vietnam will make the end of production for the “classic” version of the Flanker multirole fighter. But production of advanced “generation 4++” versions—the Su-30SM, Su-34 and Su-35—featuring markedly different airframes and more powerful engines will continue through at least 2020.

Vietnam previously took delivery of 30 out of the 32 Su-30MK2s that it ordered in three batches during 2009, 2012 and 2013. Delivery of the final pair will bring its total fleet to 48, including Su-27SKs, Su-27UBKs as well as Su-30MK2s. Indonesia and Uganda were also recent customers for the Su-30MK2, receiving six each in 2012-13.

Read the full story at AINonline

News Story: Russia, China could drive anti-terrorist struggle: CSTO chief

Collective Security Treaty Organization
(CSTO) Logo
MOSCOW, April 28 (Xinhua) -- Russia, China and relevant regional bodies could become locomotives of an international coalition to combat terrorism, the chief of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) said here Thursday.

Nikolai Bordyuzha, secretary general of the organization, said "there is a need for consolidation among Russia and the CSTO member states, (as well as) China and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), which could become locomotives of the entire anti-terrorist struggle."

He made the remarks at the fifth Moscow International Security Conference, reported the RIA Novosti news agency.

Russian President Vladimir Putin urged Wednesday in his address to the conference that a broad international front under United Nations (UN) auspices be established, an idea he first proposed at the 70th Session of the UN General Assembly last year.

Read the full story at Xinhua

News Story: China, ASEAN have will, ability to safeguard peace,stability in South China Sea - (China's) Vice FM

SINGAPORE, April 28 (Xinhua) -- China and ASEAN countries have the will, ability and means to safeguard peace and stability in the South China Sea, Vice Foreign Minister Liu Zhenmin said here on Thursday.

Liu made the remarks at a press conference of the 22nd China-ASEAN Senior Officials' Consultation, an important annual meeting for diplomats from China and 10 ASEAN nations.

Liu and senior diplomats from ASEAN countries exchanged in-depth views on implementation of the Declaration on the Conduct of the Parties in the South China Sea (DOC), promote cooperation and enhance consultations on the Code of Conduct in the South China Sea (COC) under the framework of the DOC.

China and ASEAN countries' common interests have far outweighed the differences no matter on regional cooperation or on South China Sea, the vice foreign minister said.

He noted as the current situation of the South China Sea has drawn lots of attention, he and his ASEAN counterparts have exchange views on how to control differences, strengthen maritime pragmatic cooperation as well as enhance consultation on COC.

Read the full story at Xinhua

News Story: Chinese president meets Russian foreign minister

BEIJING, April 28 (Xinhua) -- Chinese President Xi Jinping on Thursday met with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, who is here to attend the fifth foreign ministers' meeting of the Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia (CICA) and for an official visit.

Xi said China attaches great importance to Russian President Vladimir Putin's visit to China later this year.

"I am looking forward to having an in-depth exchange of views with President Putin on enhancing the China-Russia comprehensive strategic partnership of coordination," Xi told Lavrov at the Great Hall of the People.

Xi called on both sides to take the occasion of the 15th anniversary of the signing of the Sino-Russian Good-Neighborly Treaty of Friendship and Cooperation, and the 20th anniversary of the establishment of strategic partnership of coordination, which both fall this year to carry forward the friendship from generation to generation, and cement the political and social foundation of bilateral ties.

Read the full story at Xinhua

News Story: Xi addresses CICA foreign ministers' meeting

BEIJING, April 28 (Xinhua) -- Chinese President Xi Jinping addressed the opening ceremony of the fifth foreign ministers' meeting of the Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia (CICA) in Beijing on Thursday.

Xi's speech covered the Korean Peninsula nuclear issue and the South China Sea.

On the nuclear issue, Xi reiterated China's full adherence to the UN Security Council resolution, and its commitment to denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, securing peace and stability on the peninsula and resolving issues through dialogue and negotiation.

He urged all the parties involved to exercise restraint, avoid provocation, and pull the nuclear issue back to a track of dialogue and negotiations at an early date.

The president said China is always committed to peace and stability in the South China Sea. While China will firmly safeguard its sovereignty, rights and interests, it is willing to peacefully solve the disputes through friendly consultation and dialogue with the countries directly involved, he said.

Read the full story at Xinhua

News Story: U.S. "freedom of navigation" operations in South China Sea "very dangerous" - China

BEIJING, April 28 (Xinhua) -- The so-called "freedom of navigation" operations in the South China Sea conducted by the U.S. military are "very dangerous," a spokesperson for China's Ministry of National Defense said Thursday.

The U.S. operations are political and military provocations against China and could easily lead to unexpected incidents, spokesman Wu Qian said at a monthly press conference.

The Chinese military will continue to closely monitor the situations in the South China Sea and will take all necessary measures as needed, he said.

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News Story: Afghan forces kill 21 militants including 2 commanders

KUNDUZ, Afghanistan, April 28 (Xinhua) -- A total of 21 Taliban militants including two local commanders were killed as joint operations of army and police are continuing in parts of Chardara district in the northern Kunduz province over the past two days, district governor Zalmai Farooqi said Thursday.

"The cleanup operations launched in Sarak-e-Bala area on Tuesday and so far 21 rebels including two local commanders Mullah Mashfaq and Shah Wali have been killed," Farooqi told Xinhua.

However, the official avoided commenting on security forces possible casualties.

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News Story: Indonesia calls for armed escort for ship sailing to Philippines amid escalating piracy

JAKARTA, April 28 (Xinhua) -- Indonesian Transport Minister Ignasius Jonan said on Thursday ships travelling from Indonesia's Borneo to the Philippines to have an armed escort as piracy in the waters is escalating.

The minister stressed that if the vessels fail to have such security guard they should abort the sailing.

"It is a call for boosting security. So if there is an escort by an armed ship, the vessels may sail. But If not, it is better not to have the journey," Jonan said at the State Palace.

"It is to address the threat of kidnapping," he added.

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