17 Aug 17. Lebanon receives first Bradleys. The United States handed over the first eight of 32 Bradley M2A2 infantry fighting vehicles to the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) on 14 August, in a ceremony held at Beirut’s port.
Speaking during the ceremony, US Ambassador Elizabeth Richard said the Bradleys represented an investment of more than USD100m that will “provide the Lebanese Armed Forces with new capabilities to protect Lebanon, to protect its border, and to fight terrorists”. Richard said the remaining Bradleys would arrive in the coming months, and the LAF would receive intensive training on how to operate and maintain the vehicles.
“Our support is based on the principle that we share the same goals for stability and security in the country, and we share the view that the Lebanese Armed Forces need to maintain their rightful place as the sole provider of security and stability to the Lebanese people,” she said.
The LAF currently relies on M113 armoured personnel carriers armed with .50 calibre heavy machine guns and, in some cases, 23 mm anti-aircraft guns that are used in the direct-fire role. With their fully enclosed turrets, 25 mm cannons, and launchers for two TOW anti-tank missiles, the Bradleys represent a significant improvement in both protection and firepower.
Ten M992 artillery ammunition vehicles additionally arrived in Beirut on 14 August and will be delivered to the LAF’s 1st Artillery Regiment, a US source told Jane’s .
17 Aug 17. Japan seeks new missile defense ‘assets,’ increased cyber cooperation. Japan is seeking new missile defense assets in light of the North Korean threat, while also looking at ways to expand a 2015 defense agreement with the United States.
Japanese Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera, speaking Thursday at the State Department following a meeting with Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and U.S. Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis, said that the threat from Pyongyang is driving Japan to look to accelerate certain defense decisions.
Among those changes is an increased focus on missile defense capabilities. In his opening comments, Onodera, speaking through a translator, said “we will continue to promote cooperation in ballistic missile defense, including acquisition of new assets,” a signal that the Japanese government would consider adding to its defensive capabilities.
While nothing official was announced during the 2+2, the Japan Times newspaperreported shortly before the event that officials expect to procure an Aegis Ashore missile defense system. The same report, citing government sources, said the Ministry of Defense is pushing to speed up planned procurement of another Aegis destroyed.
Japan currently has missile defense systems aboard its Aegis class ships, along with Patriot systems on the ground. If Japan sought the Aegis Ashore system, it would join Romania and, by 2018, Poland as partner nations using that design.
An increase in missile defense spending would be in line with calls made earlier this yearfrom members of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party for more military assets, including missile defense capabilities. That same proposal called for Japan to develop a first-strike capability that could hold China or North Korea at threat, something the island nation has eschewed since the end of World War II.
Both Onodera and Mattis said they were seeking to speed up the implementation of a 2015 defense agreementbetween the two nations. As part of that agreement, Japan changed its military posture to one that allows its missile defense systems to protect allies in the region, including adding the right to intercept any missile launched at the United States.
That agreement also led to the creation of a coordination cell, made up of U.S. and Japanese military officials, which officials then hoped would speed up the sharing of information and lead to shared use of intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) assets. On Thur