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26 Jul 18. Ukraine plane maker turns West with Boeing tie-up. Ukrainian plane maker Antonov, known for producing the world’s biggest aircraft, plans to restart serial production by the end of next year thanks to a deal with Boeing (BA.N) that will end Antonov’s dependence on Russia. Relations between Ukraine and Russia collapsed following the annexation of Crimea in 2014 and Antonov, which imported more than 60 percent of its plane parts from Russia, halted serial production two years later. It now plans to build eight planes a year thanks to a deal with Aviall, Boeing’s (BA.N) parts, equipment and services unit, with the first two or three planes ready by the end of 2019, Antonov chief Oleksandr Donets told Reuters in an interview. He gave no details on future customers. Antonov’s main sales markets have been Russia, the former Soviet republics and Africa. The companies will jointly set up storage facilities in Ukraine by November, he said. “(The agreement with) Aviall has given us two gains. We are setting up a joint warehouse, located on Ukrainian territory in (the city of) Gostomel,” Donets said.
“This warehouse will deal with products, materials, metals, non-metals – with all the components which we are not able to get from our former partner, the Russian Federation.” The warehouse could cost tens of millions of dollars, Donets added, to be funded by Aviall.
Antonov was founded in 1946 and has manufactured some 30 different types of airplane including the two biggest air cargo planes – the An-124 Ruslan and An-225 Mriya. Mriya, built in 1988 for the Soviet space shuttle programme is still the world’s largest and heaviest plane which is able to carry a cargo of up to 250 tonnes. Ukraine’s leaders are pushing the country on a pro-Western course, aspiring to join the European Union and NATO while cutting trade and diplomatic ties with Russia and weaning itself off dependence on Moscow in sectors like defence and energy. Ukraine no longer imports any gas directly from Russia and in July completed another milestone as, for the first time, a unit at one of its nuclear power plants was fully loaded with fuel from U.S. firm Westinghouse rather than from Russia. Aviall will support Antonov’s new manufacturing programme to build the AN-1X8 planes and will have exclusive rights to help service the planes, Donets said, envisaging that Aviall will source parts from the United States, Canada, Israel and Europe. Antonov also wants Aviall to procure equipment for Antonov to produce more parts domestically, he said. Boeing rival Airbus (AIR.PA) also made a recent foray into Ukraine, announcing an agreement in July to sell 55 helicopters to the interior ministry for search and rescue, public services and emergency medical service missions. (Source: Reuters)
26 Jul 18. Israel Poised to Ink $11bn Aircraft Deal with Boeing. Israel is considering the purchase of new F-15 fighter jets for its air force as part of the largest defense deal in Israel’s history. The deal with aircraft manufacturer Boeing, worth a combined $11bn, is likely to include three main components: A fleet of fighter jets, a fleet of transport helicopters and aerial refueling tankers. The two latter components are especially critical because the Israeli Air Force’s existing transport helicopters and refueling planes are extremely outdated and require immediate replacement. Similar to previous aircraft procurement deals in recent decades, Israel will use American defense aid to pay for the fleets. The deal is expected to be spread out over the course of approximately 10 years, starting from the moment the deal is signed and until the last of the aircraft is delivered to Israel. The Defense Ministry and the IDF have been working to complete this deal for quite some time. The main point of debate surrounded the question of whether to purchase each component from a different manufacturer or all three from the same company – which ultimately came with better payment, supply and maintenance conditions. Until recently, IDF officials believed the F-35 would be the last manned fighter plane Israel would buy, both to preserve the air force’s qualitative edge over other countries in the region and to minimize the types of planes it would have to operate – thereby cutting down on operational expenditures. However, there has been a policy shift and now the plan is to buy another squadron of advanced F-15s, as part of the overall deal with Boeing. The jet, developed from the original F-15, will be completely new and be known as the IA F-15 (an acronym for Israel Advanced). (Source: defense-aerospace.com/Israel Hayom; posted July 26, 2018)
26 Jul 18. U.S. opens way for India to escape sanctions over Russia arms imports. The United States has opened a path for India to avoid sanctions for buying arms from Russia, business leaders and experts said, almost a year after U.S. President Donald Trump signed a law penalising such trade. India uses a large amount of Russian military equipment, from combat planes to ships and submarines, and is in the final stages of negotiating a $6bn (£4.55bn) deal to buy S-400 long range surface to air missile systems from Russia. Under the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) that Trump signed in August, any country trading with Russia’s defence and intelligence sectors faces secondary sanctions. The law is designed to punish Russian President Vladimir Putin for the 2014 annexation of Crimea from Ukraine, involvement in the Syrian civil war and meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. But the U.S. Congress reached an agreement this week laying out conditions under which Trump can seek a waiver for allies. The administration has to certify that a country is reducing arms imports from Russia and is expanding defence cooperation with the United States. India meets both those conditions, analysts and business leaders in New Delhi and Washington said. India’s government declined immediate comment, and a defence official said the U.S. Congress had still to vote on the modifications to the legislation which would then be signed by Trump into law. Nisha Biswal, president of the U.S.-India Business Council (USIBC), said the U.S. move would help protect its strategic relationship with India.
“At a time when India is focusing on growing defence ties with the U.S., we applaud Congress for also focusing on protecting this strategic partnership,” Biswal said.
Jeff Smith, a south Asia expert at The Heritage Foundation, said the changes were a “meaningful and positive step forward”.
“It reduces the possibility an Indian arms purchase from Russia will trigger CAATSA sanctions, a situation both the administration and most of Capitol Hill are keen to avoid,” he said. India has in recent years diversified its arms purchases, turning to the United States and Israel for modern equipment. It has ordered $15bn of weapons from the U.S. over the past ten years and U.S. companies are bidding for contracts for fighter planes and helicopters worth billions of dollars. (Source: Reuters)
26 Jul 18. Syria’s Assad says Russian military needed in Syria long term – agencies. Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said on Thursday Russian forces were needed in the country long-term and for more than just fighting terrorism, Russian news agencies reported, citing an interview with the leader.
“Russian armed forces are needed for balance in our region, at least in the Middle East, until the global political balance changes. And this might not even happen, we do not know. So it is important and necessary,” Interfax news agency cited Assad as saying in an interview with Russian media.
He added that Syria’s agreement with Russia over the Hmeimim military base was signed to last over 40 years, indicating that the relationship between the two countries was of a long-term nature, Interfax reported. The rapid return of refugees to Syria is the main issue being discussed between Damascus and Moscow, Interfax news agency cited Assad as saying.
“We call on refugees, especially on Syrians who had businesses here, to return,” TASS news agency cited Assad as saying.
He also commented on the White Helmets volunteers, saying the Syrian rescue workers were a cover for militant groups. The group, known officially as Syria Civil Defence, has been widely hailed in the West and credited with saving thousands of people in rebel-held areas during years of bombing attacks by Damascus and its allies. Its members, known for their white helmets, say they are neutral. But Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and his backers, including Russia, have dismissed them as Western-sponsored propaganda tools and proxies of Islamist-led insurgents.
“The fate of “White Helmets” is the same as of any terrorist,” Interfax cited the Syrian leader as saying. “They have two options: lay down their arms and use the amnesty, as has been going on for the past four of five years, or be liquidated, like any other terrorist,” Interfax quoted Assad as saying. (Source: Reuters)
26 Jul 18. Iran warns US that it has forces ‘in places you cannot think’ ‘Come on! We are waiting for you’, says general as Tehran ramps up war of words. A top Iranian commander has warned Donald Trump that the Islamic republic’s forces “are close to you in places you cannot think of” as Tehran ramps up its war of words with the US. The comments by Major General Qassem Soleimani, who commands the Quds, the overseas wing of the elite Revolutionary Guards, imply that Iran is prepared to use its troops and proxies outside the Islamic republic to fight the US. “Mr Trump, the gambler! I tell you that we are close to you in places you cannot think of. We are a nation of martyrdom . . . We have gone through difficult times,” Gen Soleimani said in a speech on Thursday, according to Iranian news agencies. “Come on! We are waiting for you. We are the men of this field . . . You may start this war but it will be us who decide how to end it.” In some of the toughest language yet used by a top Iranian official towards the US, Gen Soleimani told Mr Trump that Iran would not need to deploy all its armed forces for any possible war with America. “I myself and the Quds forces can defeat you. There is no single night that we sleep without thinking of how to destroy you,” he said. “What the hell did you do with 110,000 forces between 2001 to 2018 [in the region]? Today, you are begging the Taliban [in Afghanistan] to talk to you.” Tensions between Tehran and Washington have escalated since Mr Trump withdrew the US from the 2015 nuclear accord Iran signed with world powers and reimpose sanctions on the republic. The US president on Sunday warned Iran that it faced severe “consequences” if it threatened America. That appeared to be in response to Hassan Rouhani, Iran’s president, saying that Americans should realise that establishing peace with Iran was the “mother of all peace” while conflict would be the “mother of all wars”. Iranians fear that the Trump administration is pushing for regime change as it attempts to isolate he republic and curb its oil exports, its economic lifeline. Analysts have warned that Iran could retaliate by using its proxies, particularly in the Middle East where it has troops and allied Shia militias in Iraq and Syria, against US interests. Gen Soleimani’s Quds force, which the US designates as a terrorist organisation, trains, arms and co-ordinates with regional proxies and has its own personnel deployed overseas. Recommended David Sheppard Trump face-off with Iran creates huge oil supply risks The US and Saudi Arabia also accuse Iran of providing Houthi rebels fighting in Yemen’s civil war with ballistic missiles that they have fired at Riyadh and the kingdom’s oil infrastructure. Saudi Arabia said on Wednesday that it was suspending oil shipments through the Red Sea after a Houthi attack caused minor damage to a Saudi tanker. Saudi Arabia is leading an Arab coalition fighting the Houthis in Yemen. Iran denies arming the rebels, but Gen Soleimani referred to the Houthis’ ability to fight against the Saudi-led coalition, which has spent billions of dollars on US and British weapons. “One group in Yemen [Houthis] has been victorious against the most advanced military equipment of yours,” he said. “What have you achieved in these four years [of war in Yemen]? The Red Sea which used to be secure has become insecure. Riyadh and Saudi Arabia . . . are under fire today.” (Source: FT.com)
25 Jul 18. US instability means time for Australian Plan B, says think tank. Two key policy leaders with the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) have identified the growing need for Australian defence policy planners and the supporting industry to embrace a strategic Plan B in the face of continuing US uncertainty towards the alliance and global rules-based order. Both Peter Jennings and Paul Dibb are quick to highlight the growing uncertainty stemming from the increasingly erratic nature of the US President Donald Trump. The bizzare Twitter wars, increasing trade disputes with China and the European Union, growing fondness of Russian strongman Vladimir Putin and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, combined with Trump’s chastising of NATO allies for not pulling their financial and strategic weight in the face of increasing Russian aggression and mounting assertiveness by China in south-east Asia are all serving to unnerve Australian strategic thinkers who have, for the better part of half a century, encouraged dependence on the US and its capability to ‘reach out and touch’ potential threats to Australia’s interests. For Jennings, this developing situation raises a particularly important question: “What’s the plan for Australia’s defence, if it turns out that Trump’s America First approach is here to stay and alliances fall into mistrustful neglect?”
This is particularly important for key US personnel rotations through the region, including the Marine Rotational Force – Darwin, which Jennings says could result in “Trump [asking] why US Marines are working out of Darwin, seeing the bill, but not the benefit of a military presence reassuring south-east Asia”.
Dibb paints the situation in a darker light, saying, “Australia’s international security outlook is starting to look very threatening. The White House is undermining the international order, has started a trade war with China and the EU, and is threatening the unity of NATO. At the same time, China and Russia are becoming increasingly assertive.”
In response, both policymakers suggest that it is time for a ‘Plan B’, as Jennings describes it, while Dibb identifies the need for a new defence policy in light of “America’s belief in the system and willingness to invest in it with an effective network of alliances are now in doubt”.
First and foremost, both men identify the need for any new Australian policy to focus on our region of primary strategic concern, which includes south-east Asia and the South China Sea, the eastern Indian Ocean and south Pacific, combined with increasing our role and position as a regional security leader in partnership with other regional democracies, particularly Japan and India. Supporting this, there is a growing need for Australia to leverage and strengthen relationships with other regional powers, namely Indonesia, Vietnam and South Korea, and further abroad with key NATO allies the UK and France. Most of these nations support robust defence industrial bases of their own, presenting avenues for improved research and development, knowledge transfer, industrial collaboration and trade for Australia’s burgeoning defence industry. This possibility serves to diversify the national economy away from over dependence on China, which Dibb defines as “far too dependent for our economic wellbeing”.
Furthermore, both Jennings and Dibb identify the need to increase the nation’s defence expenditure from the current planned 2 per cent of GDP to approximately 2.5-3 per cent of GDP to increase procurement quantities and improve access to key American-made defence equipment to beef up the striking capability of the ADF through the introduction of long-range strike weaponry, including land-attack cruise missiles and a thinly veiled attempt to replace the F-111 with a more potent, jointly-developed long-range aerial strike platform, i.e. potentially a modified, Australian variant of the in-development B-21 Raider. For the domestic industrial base, Jennings in particular advocates the development of an Australian version of the US Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) as a means of investing and further developing the nation’s capacity to meet its own defence material requirements and develop cutting-edge technologies, working separately to the Defence bureaucracy to promote innovation and commercialisation avenues. Recognising the changing nature of contemporary deterrence theory and modern warfare, this innovation approach should extend to expanding the nation’s cyber capabilities beyond the defensive posture they currently possess, to focus on a credible, offensive, deterrent-focused cyber capability.
Finally, Jennings clearly articulates the need to expand the existing ADF beyond the 58,000 regulars currently serving to approximately 90,000 across the three branches, which he credits as “still tiny by regional standards, but would vastly strengthen our ability to operate the high-technology equipment that is central to a strong deterrent posture”. It is critical that Australia continue to support the robust alliance and relationship between the two nations, and each of the solutions identified by both Jennings and Dibb aim to prove to the US President that Australia remains an ally that pulls it’s own weight, financially and strategically, in an effort to court continued US presence and commitment to broader regional alliances in light of continuing instability. However, the question needs to be asked, with so many potential economic and industrial benefits for Australian business, should we be implementing some of the major recommendations identified and indeed others for our own piece of mind and benefit, regardless of America’s continuing role and presence in the region? (Source: Defence Connect)
24 Jul 18. Progress Continues in Defeating ISIS, Coalition Official Says. The coalition and its partnered forces in Iraq and Syria continue to make progress in the effort to defeat the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, the coalition’s senior French representative said today. Brig. Gen. Frederic Parisot of the French air force, the director of civil-military operations for Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve, provided an operational update briefing to Pentagon reporters today via videoconference from Baghdad. Coalition strikes in April and June killed six high-value terrorist leaders responsible for planning terror operations overseas, Parisot announced. He credited the Syrian Democratic Forces, the Iraqi security forces and the coalition for the progress in defeating the terrorists.
“Thanks to the operations conducted by the SDF, ISF and the coalition, we are stopping [ISIS] from being able to conduct terror across the world and degrading the ability to plan and finance such operations,” he said.
In a news release, the coalition said the removal of the six terrorists has prevented ISIS’ external attack planning, facilitation and operations targeting Saudi Arabia, Sweden and the United States. The release says those killed were a Syrian-based ISIS member planning attacks in Saudi Arabia; a Belgian foreign fighter who came to Syria to plan attacks against the United States and its interests; and four people linked to a Swedish attack plot.
Focus on ISIS Defeat
Parisot detailed other progress in the fight, including the Iraqi security forces working with Kurdish peshmerga fighters in joint operations to clear an area in the mountains near Kirkuk, Iraq. Additionally, along Iraq’s western border, the Iraqi forces continue to prevent terrorists from pouring into Iraq while the coalition continues to provide intelligence, overwatch and fire support to partner force on the ground, he said. Parisot pointed out that Operation Roundup is in its 84th day of activating the offensive to defeat ISIS remnants in the Middle Euphrates River Valley. He noted the recent liberation of Dashishah in Syria, which was among the last terrorist strongholds in the area.
“Thanks to the combined SDF ground offensive, strikes by coalition and Iraqi forces and border security operation by the ISF, Dashishah has been freed after four years of tyrannical [ISIS] rule,” he said.
Fight to ‘Finally Rid the World’ of ISIS
France is steadfast in its support to the coalition, Parisot said, highlighting the strikes French forces have conducted operations as well as providing the training and other support French forces provide toward the defeat-ISIS effort.
“My country knows firsthand the horrific acts that [ISIS] is willing and capable of committing, and that’s why we will remain committed to this fight,” he said.
He said the 1,100 French forces in Iraq, Kuwait, Jordan, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates are working side by side with coalition nations at the forefront of efforts to defeat ISIS.
“France is honored to stand among the 72 nations and five international organizations that comprise the most successful international coalition ever formed,” he said. “We remain committed to the fight to finally rid the world of [ISIS] once and for all.” (Follow Lisa Ferdinando on Twitter: @FerdinandoDoD)
24 Jul 18. U.S., Australia Hold Consultations on Indo-Pacific Defense, Economic Development. Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo and Defense Secretary James N. Mattis hosted Australian Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop and Defense Minister Marise Payne July 23-24 for the annual Australia-U.S. Ministerial Consultations at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution in Palo Alto, California. Holding the meeting near the birthplace of the Australia, New Zealand and United States Security Treaty was a fitting affirmation of the vitality of the alliance and the significance of the Indo-Pacific region to the two nations’ shared future, state department officials announced today in a joint U.S.-Australian statement following the meeting.
As President Donald J. Trump and Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull declared when they met at the White House in February, officials said, “the U.S.-Australia alliance is steadfast and enduring, and underpinned by a deep alignment of mutual interests and shared values.”
This year marks a century since U.S. and Australian forces first fought side by side at the Battle of Hamel in northern France in 1918, officials noted. “From the battlefields of Europe to this contested century, there are no greater friends than Australia and the United States,” the officials said.
The secretaries and ministers emphasized both nations’ strong and deepening engagement in the Indo-Pacific region and made clear their commitment to work together — and with partners — to shape an Indo-Pacific that is open, inclusive, prosperous, and rules based, officials said. “A key outcome of discussions in Palo Alto is a joint work plan that advances our shared strategic interests in the Indo-Pacific, which has diplomatic, security and economic dimensions,” the officials said. U.S. and Australian officials highlighted the priority each places on supporting an international rules-based order, alongside allies and partners. “In the Indo-Pacific, that order has underpinned decades of stability, democracy and prosperity,” officials said.
Officials from the two nations reaffirmed their strong support for Association of Southeast Asian Nations centrality and the ASEAN-led regional architecture, officials said, and discussed ways to expand cooperation in connectivity, infrastructure and energy security. “They welcomed the recent U.S.-Australia-India-Japan consultations on the Indo-Pacific in Singapore and reaffirmed their commitment to strengthen trilateral dialogue with Japan,” officials said. “Both nations continue to place a high priority on constructive and beneficial engagement with China.”
The secretaries and ministers highlighted the importance of U.S.-Australia defense cooperation in the Indo-Pacific region, particularly through full implementation of force posture initiatives between U.S. and Australian forces in Australia, officials said. They also emphasized the value of Marine Rotational Force-Darwin and enhanced air cooperation for improving the interoperability of U.S. and Australian defense forces.
The two nations highlighted their commitment to raising the number of U.S. Marines rotating to Darwin to the full complement of 2,500 as soon as practicable, officials said. They committed to strengthening bilateral security partnerships with like-minded nations in the Indo-Pacific region through joint training and exercise opportunities. The principals also decided to integrate U.S. force elements into Australia’s annual Indo-Pacific Endeavour exercise, officials said. The three-month exercise is aimed at deepening Australia’s engagement and partnerships with regional security forces, according to the Australian Ministry of Defense. During this year’s iteration, Australian Defense Force personnel will carry out a series of engagement activities and military training exercises during port visits in Vanuatu, Fiji, Tonga, Samoa, the Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea. Mattis and Payne committed to strengthening defense collaboration in science and technology, and signed a memorandum of understanding to perform critical research and development of advanced cyber capabilities, officials said. Under this memorandum, Australia and the U.S. will be able to jointly leverage each other’s strengths and technical expertise to collaboratively develop tools and software to address cyber and other security threats, the officials noted.
The secretaries and ministers committed to increased bilateral and multilateral cooperation on economic development in the Indo-Pacific region, recognizing that security and prosperity are mutually reinforcing, officials said. “Our two governments will work together, and with partners, to support principles based and sustainable infrastructure development in the region, which will promote growth and stability,” the officials said.
The U.S. and Australia also decided to collaborate to reduce the threat of emerging infectious diseases in the Indo-Pacific region, officials added, and to advance the Global Health Security Agenda and reinforce objectives of Australia’s Health Security Initiative for the Indo-Pacific. The principals emphasized that militarization of disputed features in the South China Sea is contrary to the region’s desire for peaceful development, and reiterated the obligation to respect freedom of navigation and overflight, and other lawful uses of the sea, in accordance with international law, the officials said. Both sides called for the code of conduct for the South China Sea to be consistent with existing international law, as reflected in the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, to support existing regional architecture, to reinforce the parties’ commitment to cease actions that complicate disputes and not to prejudice the interests of third parties or the rights of all states under international law, officials said.
North Korea, Regional Security
The allies welcomed the face-to-face talks between the leaders of the United States and North Korea and pledged to maintain pressure and strengthen cooperation to achieve the final, fully verified denuclearization of North Korea. The secretaries and ministers support closer cooperation to promote the security, stability, resilience, and development of Pacific Island countries, officials said. “They highlighted the importance of strengthening regional information sharing, maritime security and domain awareness,” the officials noted. Australia welcomed U.S. commitment to support the Australian Pacific Security College to deliver security and law enforcement training at the leadership level for Australian and Pacific region partners. The two nations also committed to coordinate sustainable capacity-building activities for Pacific Island countries with partners, officials said. The two countries reaffirmed their determination to oppose actions that seek to undermine the international rules-based order. Noting the fourth anniversary of the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 was July 17, the principals condemned the downing and expressed full confidence in the findings of the Joint Investigation Team concerning Russia’s role, the officials said. The principals further called on Russia to cooperate fully with efforts to establish accountability, including the process initiated by Australia and the Netherlands to establish the truth and achieve justice for the victims and their next of kin. The secretaries and ministers underscored their shared commitment to the lasting defeat in Iraq and Syria of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, and to support Afghanistan, including through their nations’ development assistance and NATO’s train, advise, and assist mission to the Afghan security forces, the officials said. The U.S. and Australia reaffirmed the importance of continued cooperation on counterterrorism and countering violent extremism efforts in Southeast Asia. Australia will host next year’s Australia-U.S. Ministerial Consultations, the officials said. (Source: US DoD)
25 Jul 18. AUKMIN signals road forward for economic and industrial collaboration. In a sign of the growing importance of global supply chains, Defence Minister Marise Payne has used the recent AUKMIN forum to discuss improved economic and industrial links between the UK and Australia, beginning with BAE Systems’ win of the SEA 5000 competition. As part of the meetings hosted in the UK, Defence Minister Marise Payne and Foreign Minister Julie Bishop have sought to expand the relationship between the UK and Australia to include:
- Protecting the rules-based international system;
- Promoting human rights, including tackling modern slavery;
- Co-operating to advance global prosperity and sustainability; and
- Working together on shared security challenges.
Additionally, Minister Payne and her British counterpart, Secretary of State for Defence Gavin Williamson, took the opportunity to promote the burgeoning industrial relationship developing between the defence industries of the two nations, particularly as both countries begin the process of construction of the Type 26/Hunter Class Guided Missile Frigates.
“As demonstrated by the selection of a British design for Australia’s Hunter Class frigates, the interoperability of our military forces continues to expand. We will continue to deepen our Anti-Submarine Warfare Strategic Partnership. Our defence science and technology areas plan to work together with industry and academia on advanced materials,” the ministers said in a joint statement.
This was further expanded upon by both governments seeking to pursue a renewed bilateral Free Trade Agreement between Australia and the UK following the UK’s withdrawal from the EU in March 2019, opening up avenues for improved economic integration and collaboration for a variety of Australian industries, including the nation’s infant space industry.
“We have reaffirmed our commitment to pursuing an ambitious bilateral FTA once the UK leaves the EU in March 2019. We noted the UK’s aspiration to potentially seek accession to the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for the Trans-Pacific Partnership,” the statement said.
“We have also agreed on a number of initiatives to enhance our economic partnership, following discussion this week at the UK-Australia Leadership Forum. In particular, we will pursue more strategic collaboration between our universities via the Leadership Forum and Australia-UK Education Dialogue. The UK welcomes Australia’s new national space agency and looks forward to collaborating on projects to address global environmental challenges. Recognising that cultural understanding is the bedrock of strong relationships, we undertake to nurture the extensive partnerships between our people and institutions and to promote cultural collaboration and understanding with partners in our regions.”
Both Australia and the UK announced further commitments in the ‘Joint Action Plan’.
Enhancing the strategic defence partnership:
- Deepen the Anti-Submarine Warfare Strategic Partnership, following the decision by Australia to select a British design for its Hunter Class Future Frigates.
- Identify opportunities to work together in the Indo-Pacific region and to improve our capability and interoperability. Conduct exercises alongside the other members of the Five Powers Defence Arrangement (FPDA), and regional partners. Step up co-operation, together and with like-minded partners, on maritime security.
- Explore opportunities for our defence science and technology leads to work with industry and academia on advanced materials.
Enhance the strategic economic partnership:
- Pursue initiatives to enhance economic partnership, building on the success of the UK-Australia Leadership Forum. In particular, expand collaboration on health, space and education – especially between universities – nurture cultural partnerships and collaborate in the development of Australia’s new national space agency.
During the visit, Minister Payne also toured the BAE Systems shipyard at Glasgow with Secretary Williamson to inspect the first of the UK’s Type 26 Guided Missile Frigates and the rapidly growing supply chain needed to support the ships, with Secretary Williamson stating that the two countries working together provided opportunities to create jobs and prosperity in both the UK and Australia. (Source: Defence Connect)
23 Jul 18. Report says images indicate North Korea dismantling test site facilities. Satellite images indicate North Korea has begun dismantling key facilities at a site used to develop engines for ballistic missiles, a first step toward fulfilling a pledge made to U.S. President Donald Trump, a Washington-based think tank said on Monday. The July 20 images showed work at the Sohae Satellite Launching Station to dismantle a building used to assemble space-launch vehicles and a nearby rocket engine test stand used to develop liquid-fuel engines for ballistic missiles and space-launch vehicles, the 38 North think tank said.
“Since these facilities are believed to have played an important role in the development of technologies for the North’s intercontinental ballistic missile programme, these efforts represent a significant confidence-building measure on the part of North Korea,” it said in a report.
Trump said after his unprecedented June 12 summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Singapore Kim had promised that a major missile engine testing site would be destroyed very soon. Trump did not identify the site, but a U.S. official subsequently told Reuters that it was Sohae. An official said on Tuesday South Korea’s presidential Blue House was briefed about the site’s dismantlement based on government intelligence but did not elaborate. According to Yonhap, Nam Gwan-pyo, deputy director of the South’s national security office, said: “It’s better than doing nothing.”
“And it seems like they are going step by step toward denuclearisation,” Nam said.
The 38 North report comes amid growing questions about North Korea’s willingness to live up to the commitments Kim made at the June summit, particularly to work towards denuclearisation. U.S. officials have repeatedly said North Korea has committed to giving up a nuclear weapons programme that now threatens the United States, but Pyongyang has offered no details as to how it might go about this. Shares of South Korean companies with exposure to North Korea rose after the news that the satellite site was being dismantled.
Jenny Town, managing editor of 38 North, said the work at Sohae could be an important move to keep negotiations going.
“This could (and that’s a big could) mean that North Korea is also willing to forgo satellite launches for the time being as well as nuclear and missile tests. This distinction has derailed diplomacy in the past,” she said.
Separately on Tuesday, South Korea’s Defence Ministry said it was planning “a test reduction of some guard post troops and equipment” along the heavily fortified Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) that divides North and South Korea. North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and South Korean President Moon Jae-in agreed at a summit in April to reduce tensions along the border with an eye to turning the DMZ into a “peace zone.” Senior U.S. officials called on Kim on Friday to act on his promise to give up his nuclear weapons and said the world, including China and Russia, must continue to enforce sanctions on Pyongyang until he does so. The U.S. State Department issued an advisory on Monday together with the departments of Treasury and Homeland Security alerting businesses to North Korea’s sanctions-evasion tactics. It said they should “implement effective due diligence policies, procedures, and internal controls to ensure compliance with applicable legal requirements across their entire supply chains.”
Trump rejected “Fake News” that he was angry because progress was not happening fast enough with North Korea.
“Wrong, very happy!” he said on Twitter on Monday.
“A Rocket has not been launched by North Korea in 9 months. Likewise, no Nuclear Tests. Japan is happy, all of Asia is happy,” he said.
A report in The Washington Post at the weekend said that, despite positive assessments Trump has given on progress with North Korea, he has vented anger at aides over a lack of immediate progress. Trump said last week there was “no rush” and “no time limit” on denuclearisation negotiations. U.S. Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats said on Thursday it was technically possible for North Korea to eliminate its nuclear weapons programme within a year, but added that it was not likely to happen. (Source: Reuters)
23 Jul 18. Tata to set up aerospace, defence centre in Nagpur. Tata Technologies Ltd. has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Vidarbha Defence Industries Association (VDIA) to set up a aerospace and defence centre in Nagpur. The MoU was signed in the presence of Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis at the Made in Vidarbha – Aerospace and Defence summit held in Nagpur last week. In alignment with the Make in India initiative, the centre will help establish the State as the preferred investment destination for aerospace an defence manufacturing. A company statement said that the centre would promote indigenous and modernised technological capabilities and develop skilled resources to support Micro, Small & Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) to be globally competitive in the aerospace and defence sector. The company will first set up NIRMAN, a not-for-profit Common Facilitation Centre for aerospace and defence, and UDAN, an initiative to create high-end skilling centres and provide competency-based education for engineering institutes and universities, the firm said.
Anand Bhade, president – Asia-Pacific, Tata Technologies, said, “Made in Vidarbha – Aerospace and Defence is a great initiative and we are proud to be associated with it. Tata Technologies’ unique offerings for aerospace and defence are perfectly aligned to VDIA’s vision of creating a first-of-its-kind ecosystem to facilitate defence-integrated development by supporting the Indian Aerospace and Defence industry to be globally competitive.”
The partnership between Tata Technologies Ltd. & VDIA supported by the Maharashtra government will promote the State as an aerospace and defence manufacturing, and export hub.
Lt. Gen. (retired) Ravindra Thodge, chairman of VDIA, said, “Our objective is to create an aerospace and defence manufacturing hub in Nagpur and Vidarbha areas. Tata Technologies is well-positioned to provide the right impetus to this initiative by leveraging their domain expertise.” (Source: Google/https://www.thehindu.com)
23 Jul 18. China, UAE to expand defence industry ties. China and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) have outlined an intention to expand defence industrial collaboration. Under agreements announced on 21 July during Chinese President Xi Jinping’s state visit to Abu Dhabi, the two countries will co-operate on defence science, technology, and industrial activities through a proposed joint programme.
“The two sides are keen [to] co-operate in science, technology, and defence industry development [in areas] of mutual interest through a joint working plan,” said a statement.
In addition, the UAE and China said they would enhance co-operation between the armed forces of the two countries through reciprocal visits and training programmes, and look to boost collaboration in maritime security and in efforts to tackle terrorism, cyber crime, and illegal migration. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
20 Jul 18. DoD to Provide $200m in Security Cooperation Funds to Ukraine. The Defense Department announced today that it will provide $200m to Ukraine in security cooperation funds for additional training, equipment and advisory efforts to build the defensive capacity of Ukraine’s forces. This reaffirms the long-standing defense relationship between the United States and Ukraine, and brings the total U.S. security sector assistance to Ukraine to more than $1bn since 2014. The added funds will provide equipment to support ongoing training programs and operational needs, including capabilities to enhance Ukraine’s command-and-control, situational awareness systems, secure communications, military mobility, night vision and military medical treatment. The security cooperation builds on Ukraine’s recent adoption of the Law on National Security. This law, which provides a legislative framework for aligning Ukraine’s national security architecture with Euro-Atlantic principles, constitutes a major step toward Ukraine’s goal of achieving NATO interoperability. The implementation of these reforms will bolster Ukraine’s ability to defend its territorial integrity in support of a secure and democratic Ukraine. A timeline for delivery and fielding of equipment will be determined at a later date. (Source: US DoD)
20 Jul 18. Pressure Mounting on ISIS as Operation Roundup Continues. Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve officials congratulated the Syrian Democratic Forces today on their successful clearance of Dashishah, Syria, and the ongoing success of their operations to clear Islamic State of Iraq and Syria remnants from northeast Syria. The SDF ground offensive, supported by coordinated coalition ground and air strikes and Iraqi cross-border air and artillery strikes, continues south with the objective of liberating the remaining major population centers in the Middle Euphrates River Valley. ISIS remnants have been further isolated by a strong Iraqi border presence, preventing the terrorists’ escape from Syria into Iraq.
“Syrian Democratic Forces have cleared al-Dashishah, and are now progressing in the northern Dayr az Zawr countryside. We’ve also made progress in the Middle Euphrates River Valley, advancing on the Hajin frontline, clearing houses, eliminating [ISIS] terrorists and dismantling their [improvised explosive devices],” said SDF spokesman Kino Gabriel.
The men and women of the multiethnic SDF continue to demonstrate immense courage, commitment and sacrifice, as they have throughout the long defeat-ISIS campaign in northeastern Syria, coalition officials said.
Army Maj. Gen. James Jarrard, commander of CJTF-OIR’s Special Operations Joint Task Force, said “Our SDF partners are relentless in their pursuit of [ISIS] and are deftly executing that mission. The liberation of al-Dashishah brings us one step closer to ridding northeast Syria of the evils of [ISIS] and now thousands of people can return to a safe and secure environment with a brighter future for their children.”
Operation Roundup is the coalition operation to accelerate the defeat of ISIS in the Middle Euphrates River Valley and Syria-Iraq border regions. CJTF-OIR remains committed to the defeat of ISIS, the destruction of their false caliphate and to helping set the conditions for follow-on operations to increase regional stability. (Source: US DoD)
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