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18 Aug 18. Iran to unveil new fighter jet, develop missiles – minister. Iran will unveil a new fighter jet next week and continue developing missile capabilities as a top priority, the defence minister said on Saturday, defying new U.S. sanctions aimed at curbing Tehran’s missile programme and regional influence. Iran’s navy also announced on Saturday that it has mounted a locally built advanced defensive weapons system on one of its warships for the first time, as tensions mount with the U.S. military in the Gulf. U.S. President Donald Trump withdrew the United States in May from a 2015 accord between Iran and world powers that curbed Tehran’s nuclear activity in exchange for sanctions relief. Trump said the deal was deeply flawed as it had not curbed Iran’s ballistic missile programme or reined in its support for proxies in conflicts in Syria, Iraq and Yemen. Iran has dismissed any direct talks with Washington to resolve the issues raised by Trump.
“Our top priority has been development of our missile programme. We are in a good position in this field, but we need to develop it,” Brigadier General Amir Hatami was quoted as saying by Fars news agency on Saturday.
“We will present a plane on National Defence Industry Day, and people will see it fly, and the equipment designed for it,” Hatami added. Iran celebrates National Defence Industry Day on Aug. 22.
Iran unveiled in 2013 what it said was a new, domestically built fighter jet, called Qaher 313, but some experts expressed doubts about the viability of the aircraft at the time.
Iran’s functional air force has been limited to perhaps as few as a few dozen strike aircraft, either Russian or ageing U.S. models acquired before the 1979 Iranian revolution. Iranian Navy Commander Rear Admiral Hossein Khanzadi said on Saturday that “coastal and sea testing of the short range defence Kamand system were concluded successfully, and said this system was mounted … on a warship and will be mounted on a second ship soon,” the semi-official Tasnim news agency reported. Iran’s Revolutionary Guards said earlier this month it held war games in the Gulf aimed at “confronting possible threats” by enemies. The U.S. military’s Central Command said it had seen increased Iranian naval activity, extending to the Strait of Hormuz, a strategic waterway for oil shipments the Revolutionary Guards have threatened to block. Iran has developed a large domestic arms industry in the face of international sanctions and embargoes that have barred it from importing many weapons. (Source: Reuters)
18 Aug 18. Iran Navy’s Destroyer Equipped with Homegrown Version of Phalanx CIWS. Commander of the Iranian Navy Rear Admiral Hossein Khanzadi announced that for the first time, a destroyer of the Navy has been equipped with an indigenized version of Phalanx, a close-in weapon system (CIWS) on military vessels used for defense against anti-ship missiles. Speaking to the Tasnim News Agency, Khanzadi pointed to the manufacturing process of the Iranian version of the weapon system dubbed “Kamand” and said each warship needs to have several layers of defense, adding that usually the vessels require a range of equipment to intercept projectiles targeting it. The close-in weapon system can destroy any target from a distance of two kilometers by firing between 4,000 and 7,000 rounds per minute, he said, adding that the Kamand is among such weapons. The commander further emphasized that only a few countries in the world have the know-how to make such defense systems and, thank God, the Iranian Ministry of Defense has managed to gain such a capability. He went on to say that for now, the system is going to be installed on vessels that carry out missions in deep and distant waters. Back in 2015, the then Navy commander Rear Admiral Habibollah Sayyari had unveiled plans for manufacturing the homegrown version of the Phalanx. Consisting of a radar-guided Gatling gun mounted on a swiveling base, the weapon system has been used by multiple navies around the world, notably by the US Navy on every class of surface combat ship. (Source: ELN/www.tasnimnews.com)
17 Aug 18. China, close to establishing its own ‘nuclear triad,’ has practiced targeting US. The Pentagon, for the first time, has publicly reported what commanders in the Pacific have known about, and kept a wary eye on, for some time: China is practicing long-range bombing runs against U.S. targets. While the Defense Department annually reports on the rapid growth in capabilities of China’s air, land and sea forces, the 2018 report is the first to acknowledge the direct threat to U.S. territory. Recent developments on China’s H-6K variant of its Badger bomber give the bomber “the capability to carry six land-attack cruise missiles, giving the PLA a long-range standoff precision strike capability that can range Guam,” the report said. It also acknowledged frequent bombing practice runs that U.S. commanders at the newly renamed U.S. INDOPACOM in Hawaii have watched expand in numbers and distance. During a trip to the command last October, defense officials described to Military Times the frequent incursions to test Guam’s air-defense zone as one of the many changes in China’s behavior in the Pacific that create worry. Compared to North Korea, which officials said they still view as “a fight we can win,” with China they “worry about the way things are going.”
The $716bn defense budget for FY2019 is largely focused on getting U.S. forces ready again for a great power fight, with investments in new fighters, bombers and ships to keep the U.S. at pace with — and ahead of — the Chinese investments.
“The PLA has been developing strike capabilities to engage targets as far away from China as possible. Over the last three years, the PLA has rapidly expanded its overwater bomber operating areas, gaining experience in critical maritime regions and likely training for strikes against U.S. and allied targets,” the 2018 report found.
More worrisome, the report found, “the PLA Air Force has been re-assigned a nuclear mission. The deployment and integration of nuclear-capable bombers would, for the first time, provide China with a nuclear “triad” of delivery systems dispersed across land, sea and air.”
The unclassified version of the annual report to Congress on China’s military and security developments was released Thursday; a separate classified version was also prepared for the Hill. The Pentagon emphasized that even as it is monitoring and re-calibrating its own defense strategies and investment priorities to be prepared for a potential great power fight in the future with China, “the Department of Defense’s objective is to set the military relationship between our two countries on a path of transparency and non-aggression,” the report said. For years the U.S. has reported on the closing gap between U.S. and Chinese capabilities. The Chinese air force totaled more than 2,700 aircraft in 2018 and, of those, 2,000 were combat aircraft. More than 600 of those combat aircraft were 4th-generation fighters and the country is rapidly fielding its fifth generation J-20 and FC-31 jets, the report said. (Source: Defense News)
15 Aug 18. Japan’s defense industry continues to grow. But is it in for rough seas? Japan’s homegrown defense industry continues to secure significant amounts of contracts from the U.S. government, but concerns linger over the high level of spending on big-ticket items acquired via the U.S. Foreign Military Sales program, and the outlook for Japan’s push into the global arms market remains cloudy. Figures released by the Japanese Ministry of Defense show that over Japan’s previous fiscal year, which ran from April 1, 2017 to March 31, 2018, the top 10 Japanese defense contractors were awarded contracts worth $7.5bn, with nine of these making it into Defense News Top 100 list of defense contractors. Two — Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and Kawasaki Heavy Industries — were in the top half of the list. Among ongoing programs in which Japanese companies are participating are new wheeled, self-propelled artillery; armored fighting vehicles; and infantry fighting vehicles for the country’s Ground Self-Defense Force, while its Maritime Self-Defense Force is due to receive more ballistic missile defense-capable destroyers, multipurpose destroyers and submarines. However, with concerns over China’s burgeoning military might and the continued threat of North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs, there is unease that Japan’s increasing reliance on the FMS program for big-ticket defense articles, such as the Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighter and ballistic missile defense-related systems, will reduce the share of the defense budget available for homegrown companies. According to Defense Ministry figures, Japan’s spending on FMS purchases has climbed more than tenfold from $390m in fiscal 2011 to a record high of $4.4bn in fiscal 2016, although that figure is expected to drop slightly to $3.6bn in the current fiscal year, according to the ministry.
The increasing spending on FMS has put pressure on Japan’s policy of building up its domestic defense industry to attain a level of autonomy in meeting its defense needs. The policy has been in place since the 1970s, and yet FMS acquisitions typically have minimal local industry participation. This policy of autonomy has seen Japanese industry build all of the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force’s ships in service today, and until recently the country was able to build its own fighter aircraft, although that run ended when production of the Mitsubishi F-2, which is a heavily modified and enlarged Lockheed Martin F-16 Fighting Falcon, ended in 2011. In the long term, however, Japan will need to look at how much autonomy it wants to maintain over its own defense-industrial base, given geopolitical and industrial realities, according to Corey Wallace, an Einstein postdoctoral fellow in the Graduate School of East Asian Studies at Freie Universitat in Berlin, Germany. He said the best approach for Japan is for domestic industry to “be better integrated into any foreign purchase programs” and to accept cross-national cooperation in the development of certain systems, in effect being selective in the amount of industrial autonomy Japanese companies retain.
One of the hurdles affecting Japan’s drive toward industrial autonomy is the cost of acquisition and sustainment of indigenous products, which is higher due to Japan’s small, niche defense market and its unique requirements. For example, Bloomberg reported that the country’s Finance Ministry had recommended abandoning production of the Mitsubishi C-2 airlifter in favor of buying the Lockheed C-130J Hercules, which costs half of its Japanese counterpart and is better able to operate from semi-developed airfields, although it carries less cargo and operates at slower speeds. Still, the Japanese government is keen to support its industrial base. For example, Mitsui and Japan Marine United Corporation managing to secure contracts to build part of eight multipurpose destroyers, despite both companies losing the overall contract to Mitsubishi Heavy Industries. The government of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has also relaxed laws regarding Japanese defense exports, making it easier for Japanese companies to sell defense articles overseas. However, some restrictions remain over which countries Japanese companies can sell to, and Japan has yet to conclude a successful defense export sale since the laws were relaxed in 2014. This is partly due to Japanese defense companies’ lack of experience with the global arms market, which, combine with associated costs, has meant Japanese companies struggle to market their products against more savvy Western firms and are unable to compete on price for more budget-conscious potential customers.
16 Aug 18. Mattis sees future US space opportunities with Brazil. Key Points:
- Mattis said he sees future opportunities with Brazil for advanced research, particularly in space
- Brazil has a healthy appetite for enhanced space partnerships, but regulatory problems loom
US Secretary of Defense James Mattis sees future opportunities for advanced research with Brazil, particularly in space, he told an audience at Brazil’s war college on 14 August. Pentagon spokesperson Commander Sarah Higgins said on 15 August that the Department of Defense (DoD) has a strong science and technology (S&T) relationship with Brazil. She said the two nations signed a space situational awareness (SSA) agreement that will allow them to share information about more than 23,000 objects in orbit, including Brazil’s satellites. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
14 Aug 18. Moscow ready to discuss its newest strategic weapons with U.S.- RIA. Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said on Tuesday Moscow was ready to discuss its newest strategic weapons with the United States even though they were not part of the INF arms control treaty, Russian state news agency RIA reported. The arms control agreement, known as the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, was signed in the late 1980s between the Soviet Union and the United States. Days after a meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and U.S. President Donald Trump in Helsinki last month Russia showed off ‘super weapons’ — a new generation of nuclear and conventional missiles. Ryabkov also said that the United States had violated another bilateral arms agreement — the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty — by modernising its weapons, TASS reported. (Source: Reuters)
14 Aug 18. U.S. warns on Russia’s new space weapons. The United States voiced deep suspicion on Tuesday over Russia’s pursuit of new space weapons, including a mobile laser system to destroy satellites in space, and the launch of a new inspector satellite which was acting in an “abnormal” way. Russia’s pursuit of counterspace capabilities was “disturbing”, Yleem D.S. Poblete, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Arms Control, Verification and Compliance, told the U.N.’s Conference on Disarmament which is discussing a new treaty to prevent an arms race in outer space. A Russian delegate at the conference dismissed Poblete’s remarks as unfounded and slanderous. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, at the Geneva forum in February, said a priority was to prevent an arms race in outer space, in line with Russia’s joint draft treaty with China presented a decade ago.
But Russian President Vladimir Putin unveiled in March “six new major offensive weapons systems”, including the Peresvet military mobile laser system, Poblete said.
“To the United States this is yet further proof that the Russian actions do not match their words,” she said.
Referring to a “space apparatus inspector”, whose deployment was announced by the Russian defense ministry last October, Poblete said: “The only certainty we have is that this system has been ‘placed in orbit’.”
She said its behavior on-orbit was inconsistent with anything seen before, including other Russian inspection satellite activities, adding: “We are concerned with what appears to be very abnormal behavior by a declared ‘space apparatus inspector’.”
Russia’s pursuit of counterspace capabilities “is disturbing given the recent pattern of Russian malign behavior,” she said, and its proposed treaty would not prohibit such activity, nor the testing or stockpiling of anti-satellite weapons capabilities.
Alexander Deyneko, a senior Russian diplomat in Geneva, dismissed what he called “the same unfounded, slanderous accusations based on suspicions, on suppositions and so on”.
The United States had not proposed amendments to the Sino-Russian draft treaty, he said.
“We are seeing that the American side are raising their serious concerns about Russia, so you would think they ought to be the first to support the Russian initiative. They should be active in working to develop a treaty that would 100 percent satisfy the security interests of the American people,” he said.
“But they have not made this constructive contribution,” he said.
China’s disarmament ambassador Fu Cong called for substantive discussions on outer space, leading to negotiations.
“China has always stood for peaceful use of outer space and we are against weaponization of outer space, an arms race in outer space, or even more turning outer space into a battle field,” he said. (Source: Reuters)
14 Aug 18. China’s military capabilities are booming, but does its defense industry mirror that trend? China’s massive military modernization program over the past two decades has been matched to a large degree by a parallel development in its state-owned military-industrial base, and that trend is set to continue as China continues it efforts to build up its forces to challenge U.S. military primacy in the western Pacific. Despite accusations that a lot of the technology has been acquired through espionage or outright intellectual property theft, there is no question that China’s military might has taken a big leap in capabilities since the turn of the century as it has transformed itself into an economic powerhouse. This buildup is most evident at sea, where the ships of the People’s Liberation Army Navy, or PLAN, are frequently encountered by the navies of China’s neighbors at sea in greater numbers at longer and longer distances from China’s coastline. They have also been appearing frequently at or near the disputed reefs and features in the South China Sea, which China has reclaimed and turned into military outposts. The country has regularly challenged U.S. military ships in the area and harassed those from the rival claimants of the region. Most of the PLAN’s ships are built by two state-owned shipbuilding behemoths, the China State Shipbuilding Corporation and the China Shipbuilding Industry Company. Together both companies have primarily been responsible for the Chinese naval buildup, with the London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies noting earlier this year that China “has launched more submarines, warships, principal amphibious vessels and auxiliaries than the total number of ships currently serving in the navies of Germany, India, Spain, Taiwan and the United Kingdom” since 2014. The think tank further noted that following a period in the 1990s and early 2000s when China experimented with small classes of incrementally improved designs, it has in recent years settled on designs and shifted its priorities toward putting ships in the water at a rapid clip, in what has been likened to “dropping dumplings into soup.”
The results have been impressive to see, with almost 50 Type 056 corvettes and more than 20 Type 054 frigates commissioned within the last decade. The shipbuilding program is more impressive when larger ships are factored in, with eight Type 052D destroyers in service and another 11 in various stages of construction or sea trials, with a further six of the new Type 055 cruisers fitting out or being built. Both classes are modern ships fitted with advanced phased-array radars and vertical launch systems capable of launching a variety of anti-ship, anti-aircraft or land-attack missiles. An aircraft carrier program is also ongoing, with a locally built ship based on the former Soviet Admiral Kuznetsov-class vessel being fitted out, while the first a new class of more capable aircraft carrier is believed to be undergoing module construction in Shanghai.
China’s aviation industry is also making strides in building up its capabilities. It has moved away from its beginnings manufacturing licensed and unlicensed copies of Soviet aircraft during the Cold War. The backbone of the People’s Liberation Army Air Force is the Chengdu J-10 and the Shenyang J-11/15/16 derivatives of the Russian Sukhoi Flanker family, although the latter are extensively fitted with local avionics, weapon systems and engines. The industry has also ramped up production of support aircraft, with the Y-9 turboprop and Y-20 jet airlifters in serial production. The former is also built for special missions such as airborne early warning, anti-submarine and intelligence gathering fitted with locally developed mission systems.
However, the local industry continues to struggle with critical technologies despite a sustained effort at bridging this gap. This is most notable in the field of aircraft engines, as China is still seemingly unable to produce jet engines to a standard it deems satisfactory; the country still relies, to some extent, on imported Russian engines. This is exemplified by the single-engine J-10 interceptor, J-15 carrier-borne fighter and Y-20 — all still operating with imported power plants despite Chinese equivalents already in service or in development.
This is also true of the Chengdu J-20 stealth fighter, which is slowly entering service, although recent evidence suggests some J-20 prototypes are undergoing flight tests powered by indigenous engines with low-observable features.
That Chinese defense companies — like universities and research institutes that conduct defense-related research and development — are entirely state-owned entities has not stopped them from pursuing private ventures for the export market. In recent years, Chinese companies have pushed hard for arms exports, with the country’s share of the global arms market increasing in recent years.
However, the export successes have mostly been connected to developing nations, who were attracted by the lower price point and the few political strings attached to sales of Chinese weapon systems, compared to Western counterparts. Attempts to move into more prestigious markets has so far proved unsuccessful, except in cases where buyers are unable to access Western systems such as Saudi Arabia turning to Chinese armed drones due to since-relaxed American restrictions on the export of such systems. One of the main stumbling blocks has been a negative perception on the quality of Chinese-made arms, a reputation partly fueled by China refusing to release its top-of-the line systems for export, with a notable example being the Shenyang J-31 stealth fighter, which has been marketed overseas despite the Chinese military showing little interest.
14 Aug 18. Defeat-ISIS Forces Make Progress, Require Continued Coalition Support. Forces battling the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria continue to make progress. However, the environment in Iraq and Syria is complex and the defeat-ISIS forces require continued support, coalition officials said today. Army Col. Sean Ryan, the spokesman for Operation Inherent Resolve, spoke to Pentagon reporters about progress being made against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. He spoke via satellite from Baghdad.
“In Iraq, operations continue to secure areas across the country, as Iraq security forces locate, identify and destroying ISIS remnants,” Ryan said. “Last week alone, … operations across Iraq have resulted in the arrest of more than 50 suspected terrorists and the removal of 500 pounds of improvised explosive devices.”
Progress in Iraq’s Anbar Province
Iraqi forces are moving in Anbar province, in the Hamrin Mountains and Samarra. Reconstruction efforts are ongoing with roads reopening in the north. Iraqi engineers “cleaned the main road between Salahuddin and Samarra of IEDs, making travel safer between the two cities,” he said.
In the Baghdad area, the ISF established central service coordination cells, a program designed to use military resources to enable local communities to restore basic infrastructure and services. “Initial efforts by the coordination cells include trash collection, road openings, maintenance of water facilities,” Ryan said.
Syrian Democratic Forces are preparing for the final assault on ISIS in the Middle Euphrates River Valley. The SDF is reinforcing checkpoints and refining blocking positions ahead of clearance operations in Hajin, Ryan said.
Military Operations, Reconstruction in Syria
In Syria, too, reconstruction efforts go hand in hand with military operations. “In Raqqa, the internal security forces have destroyed more than 30 caches containing 500 pounds of explosives discovered during the clearance operations in the past weeks,” the colonel said.
ISIS remains a concern in both countries, the colonel said. “Make no mistake: The coalition is not talking victory or taking our foot off the gas in working with our partners,” he said.
Defeating ISIS, he said, will require a long-term effort.
“We cannot emphasize enough that the threat of losing the gains we have made is real, especially if we are not able to give the people a viable alternative to the ISIS problem,” Ryan said. “We continue to call on the international community to step up and ensure that conditions that gave rise to ISIS no longer exist in both Syria and Iraq.” (Follow Jim Garamone on Twitter: @GaramoneDoDNews)
14 Aug 18. Mattis Seeks to Deepen Relations with South American Partners. Defense Secretary James N. Mattis said the United States is seeking to deepen relations with hemispheric partners.
The secretary told students at the Brazilian War College in Rio de Janeiro that the United States “will earn your trust daily. We want to be your partner; especially if trouble looms.”
This is Mattis’s first visit to the region as secretary. He told the students that he has deployed many times in his career and he has never been on a battlefield in a solely U.S. formation. The United States seeks allies and looks to increase cooperation among partners.
“Our native languages may be different, but four decades of military service have persuaded me that the profession of arms has a language of its own and a way of turning strangers into family,” Mattis said.
Mattis described his job to the Brazilian officers, saying that he is an advisor to the elected commander in chief. He provides military options to the president, and he provides civilian oversight of the U.S. military.
“Know what my real job is?” he asked the officers. “My real job is to try to keep the peace for one more year, one more month, one more week, one more day while the diplomats try to work out a solution to very difficult problems.”
He also described the lines of effort in the Defense Department. The first is to increase lethality of the U.S. military.
“I want any adversary to know that they are better off to deal with our secretary of state and our diplomats,” he said. “They do not want to deal with me and my soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines.”
Another line of effort is to strengthen and broaden U.S. relationships with allies. “It’s simple: Nations with allies thrive; nations without allies do not survive,” Mattis said.
The reason for his trip to the region is to encourage partnership. The secretary will go to the Indo-Pacific next month and Europe after that, he said. “This is not something you turn on one day, walk in, make a speech, walk out and then forget about it,” he said. “It must be sustained.”
Trust is the currency for these relationships. “When speaking with senior U.S. officers, I tell them they must learn to build harmony,” Mattis said. “If they cannot build trust across national lines, across military lines, joint service lines, civilian-military lines, if they cannot build trust and harmony of operations, then their leadership … is obsolete and they must go home, for I have no use for them.”
Listening to Allies
Mattis said senior leaders must listen to allied leaders and be prepared to take their advice. “The nation with the most aircraft carriers is not always right,” he said.
Senior U.S. military leaders seek a collaborative and secure hemisphere, “one where we individually and collectively maintain situational awareness in all domains,” he said.
Partners must share information with neighbors because hemispheric priorities must be addressed together, the secretary said.
The United States and Brazil are long-time partners. Brazil fought alongside U.S. service members in World War II and continues to serve alongside them today. Mattis is personally committed to making the U.S.-Brazil military-to-military relationship stronger.
“Together we seek to strengthen our cooperative strategic partnership that is transparent, that is trustworthy and that is steady,” he said. “I see a bright future ahead for Brazil and our hemisphere.” (Follow Jim Garamone on Twitter: @GaramoneDoDNews)
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