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23 Sep 18. China cancels military talks with U.S. in protest at sanctions over Russia military equipment. China summoned the U.S. ambassador in Beijing and postponed joint military talks in protest against a U.S. decision to sanction a Chinese military agency and its director for buying Russian fighter jets and a surface-to-air missile system. Chinese Deputy Foreign Minister Zheng Zeguang summoned Ambassador Terry Branstad to lodge “stern representations”, the foreign ministry said.
China’s Defence Ministry said in a statement it would recall navy chief Shen Jinlong from a visit to the United States and postpone planned talks in Beijing between Chinese and U.S. military officials that had been set for next week. It added that China’s military reserved the right to take further countermeasures, without giving further details.
Ministry spokesman Wu Qian said China’s decision to buy fighter jets and missile systems from Russia was a normal act of cooperation between sovereign countries, and the United States had “no right to interfere”.
On Thursday, the U.S. State Department imposed sanctions on China’s Equipment Development Department (EED), the branch of the military responsible for weapons procurement, after it engaged in “significant transactions” with Rosoboronexport, Russia’s main arms exporter.
The sanctions are related to China’s purchase of 10 SU-35 combat aircraft in 2017 and S-400 surface-to-air missile system-related equipment in 2018, the State Department said.
A senior U.S. State Department official on Saturday said China was the only country that had taken possession of the advanced S-400 surface-to-air missile system, in a breach of a U.S. sanctions law imposed in response to Russia’s “malign behaviour”.
The official, speaking to Reuters on condition of anonymity, insisted that the sanctions were aimed at Moscow, not Beijing.
The so-called Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act, or CAATSA, was signed into law in 2017 to punish Russia for meddling in U.S. elections, aggression in Ukraine and involvement in Syria’s civil war.
“China is the first country in the world to use both of those systems,” the official said. “Both of those systems are extremely sophisticated and very high value.”
The mobile S-400 batteries, which include radars, a control system, and missiles with a range of up to 250 miles (402 km), was first deployed in Russia in 2007 and is considered Moscow’s most effective defence against aircraft, missiles and drones.
Russia has deployed S-400s in Syria, according to official Russian news media, and U.S. officials have been discussing the interest other nations, particularly NATO ally Turkey, have expressed in buying the system.
Washington has expressed concern that Turkey’s planned deployment of S-400s could threaten some U.S.-made weapons and other technology used by Turkey, including the F-35 fighter jet.
The official said the move against the Chinese agency was not discretionary, but was made because Beijing broke U.S. law. “We hope it will be paid attention to because … our goal is to prevent these types of transactions,” he added.
The U.S. sanctions will block the EED and its director, Li Shangfu, from applying for export licences and participating in the U.S. financial system.
“The U.S. approach is a blatant violation of the basic norms of international relations, a full manifestation of hegemony, and a serious breach of the relations between the two countries and their two militaries,” Wu said in a notice posted on the Chinese defence ministry’s official Wechat account.
He warned that the United States would face “consequences” if it did not immediately revoke the sanctions. (Source: Reuters)
22 Sep 18. India’s Modi faces calls for resignation over French jet deal. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi faced calls for his resignation over allegations of corruption in a military jet deal with France after former French president Francois Hollande was quoted as saying New Delhi had influenced the choice of a local partner. Indian political parties have been gunning for Modi over the 2016 purchase of 36 Rafale planes from Dassault Aviation estimated to be worth $8.7bn, saying he had overpaid for the planes and had not been transparent. In recent months, the opposition has questioned the government on the choice of billionaire Indian businessman Anil Ambani’s Reliance Defence as Dassault’s local partner instead of a state-run manufacturer with decades of experience. On Friday, Hollande, who cleared the intergovernmental deal when he was in office, was quoted as saying New Delhi had put pressure on Dassault to choose Reliance.
“We had no choice. We took the interlocutor that was given to us,” he was reported as telling the French news service Mediapart, fuelling a political storm in India.
Under Indian defence procurement rules, a foreign firm must invest at least 30 percent of the contract in India to help it build up its manufacturing base and wean off imports.
For that, the French firm picked Reliance and not Hindustan Aeronautics Limited, the state-run giant that has been producing planes for decades, most of them Russian under licence.
“The PM personally negotiated and changed the Rafale deal behind closed doors. Thanks to François Hollande, we now know he personally delivered a deal worth billions of dollars to …Anil Ambani,” Rahul Gandhi, the president of the main opposition Congress party, said in a tweet. “The PM has betrayed India.”
Modi, who stormed to power in 2014 promising to rid India of deep-seated corruption, had no “moral right” to remain in power after the revelations from Hollande, senior Congress leader Anand Sharma said.
Smaller parties also joined the attack on Modi who is already under pressure to shore up his political base ahead of a series of state elections this year followed by a national election in 2019. Modi’s office did not respond to a request for comment. The defence ministry said in a tweet that neither the French nor Indian government had had a say in the matter.
“The report referring to fmr French president Mr. Hollande’s statement that GoI (government of India) insisted upon a particular firm as offset partner for the Dassault Aviation in Rafale is being verified.
“It is reiterated that neither GoI nor French Govt had any say in the commercial decision.”
Reliance did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Dassault denied the report, saying it had picked Reliance as a partner for industrial reasons.
“This is Dassault Aviation’s choice, as (Dassault) CEO Eric Trappier explained in an interview published in MINT newspaper on April 17,” the company, which also makes Falcon business planes, said in a statement.
“Dassault Aviation and Reliance have built a plant in Nagpur for manufacturing parts for Falcon and Rafale aircraft. The Nagpur site was chosen because of the availability of land with direct access to an airport runway, an essential condition (for) aeronautic activities.”
The French foreign ministry published a statement saying French authorities were not involved in the choice of Indian industrial partners involved in the Rafale deal.
“The French government is in no way involved in the choice of the Indian industrial partners which have been, are or will be, chosen by French companies,” the statement said.
“In accordance with the Indian procedure, French companies have full freedom to choose the Indian industrial partners they consider to be most pertinent and then to propose to the Indian government for approval the offset projects they want to carry out in India with local partners to respect their obligations,” it added.
The deal with Dassault was expected to deepen strategic ties with France and the company itself has hoped it would lead to a larger order for combat jets that the Indian air force says it needs to face a perceived twin threat from China and Pakistan. India picked the Rafale plane to replace its ageing fleet of Russian aircraft from a field that included Lockheed Martin’s F-16, Saab’s Gripen, the Eurofighter Typhoon, Boeing’s F/A-18E/F Super Hornet and the Russian MiG-35. (Source: Reuters)
24 Sep 18. Rafale deal will not be cancelled; CAG to examine pricing: Jaitley. Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Sunday said the Rafale deal will not be cancelled and the Comptroller and Auditor General will look into the pricing of the aircraft to ascertain whether the deal by the NDA government was better than the one which was being negotiated by the UPA.
Jaitley said it was intriguing that previously Congress President Rahul Gandhi accused former French president Francois Hollande being hand in glove with Anil Ambani but now he is being projected as the main witness in the alleged wrongdoings in the deal.
“Reliance entered into a memorandum of understanding with Dassault in 2012 when UPA was negotiating the Rafale deal with France. Rahul’s misplaced criticism should equally apply to that MoU too,” Jaitley said.
Jaitley wrote in his blog: “It is no coincidence that on August 30, Rahul Gandhi had tweeted ‘Globalised corruption. This Rafale aircraft really does fly far and fast! It’s also going to drop some big bunker buster bombs in the next couple of weeks’. The former French president’s first statement rhymes with Rahul Gandhi’s prediction. Though I do not have any proof of this jugalbandi, but this creates suspicion in the mind. There is definitely something… a statement comes (from Hollande), then it is contradicted. But he (Rahul) predicted this to happen 20 days in advance”.
The finance minister said on August 31 the Congress Party’s official Twitter handle carried a tweet by a party leader saying that it was clear that Anil Ambani bribed Hollande through his actor-partner to get the partnership with Dassault.
“Hollande was countering statements made against him regarding conflict of interest in his dealing with Reliance Defence,” Jaitley said.
Rafale controversy can damage ties: France
Meanwhile, the French government said on Sunday that Hollande’s statement which caused a major uproar could damage relations between France and India. Hollande, in an interview to a French news publication, had said that Dassault Aviation, the manufacturers of the Rafale fighter aircraft, was forced to accept Reliance Defence as their Indian partner in the Rs 59,000 crore deal to supply the Indian Air Force with 36 Rafales. This development strengthened the opposition’s claim that the Indian government helped Anil Ambani to bag the deal instead of Hindustan Aeronautics Limited. In an interview with RJ Radio, France’s junior foreign minister Jean-Baptiste Lemoyne said Hollande’s remarks which concern the relations between France and India are damaging for everyone, particularly France.
“It is inappropriate for Hollande to make such remarks which can damage the strategic partnership between the two countries and cause controversy in India,” Lemoyne added.
(Source: News Now/www.ibtimes.co.in)
23 Sep 18. Russia’s Su-35 Fighter Has a Problem. Earlier this year, Russia’s potent Sukhoi Su-35 Flanker-E air superiority fighter entered service with the Chinese People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF). The PLAAF is the second major air arm after the Russian Aerospace Forces to deploy the new fighter. United Aircraft Corporation—Sukhoi’s parent company—has also secured a contract with Indonesia to deliver 11 Su-35 fighters for $1.4bn with deliveries expected to start this October. Other potential operators are slowly lining up to purchase to powerful Russian-made fighter, but the jet has not enjoyed the export success of the somewhat less advanced two-seat Su-30MK and Su-30SM Flanker-H variants. Part of the problem for the Russians is that while the Su-35S has performed well over Syria, the aircraft has not had an opportunity to face off against other enemy aircraft and show off its potential. The Russian air group in Hmeimim does not have to contend with a real air threat over Syria because neither the Syrian rebels nor what remains of ISIS has any airpower to speak of. And while there is some potential for an aerial confrontation with Western air forces in the region, that risk is mitigated by the U.S.-Russia deconfliction line and the fact that neither the side is willing to risk direct hostilities with each other.
As such, while other Russian jets such as the Su-30SM and the outstanding Sukhoi Su-34 Fullback bomber have had a chance to show off their capabilities in the air-to-ground realm, the Su-35 has not.
Thus, United Aircraft Corporation and its Sukhoi subsidiary have not gained quite as much from the Syria campaign in terms of operational experience and marketing benefits for the Su-35 as they have for the Su-30SM and Su-34, both of which are conducting strikes with precision-guided weapons day in and day out. The Kremlin is not shy about stating exactly how important the Syria campaign is for Russia’s defense industry.
“When we started to use these modern weapons, including missiles, whole teams from our defense industry companies went to Syria, and worked there on-site—it is extremely important for us—to finalize them and figure out what we can count on when using them in combat conditions,” Russian president Vladimir Putin said during a televised public question and answer session on June 7.
Left unsaid, however, is the campaign’s utility as a marketing tool for new Russian weapons that are proving themselves in Syria. Indeed, all manner of Russian weapons—including those that have not even entered production—have been tested in Syria. Testing that hardware in Syria not only helps the Russians to glean valuable test data on the performance of the weapons and to improve those systems, it also serves as a demonstration of those capabilities for potential customers. While Russia did gain valuable operational experience operating the Su-35 over Syria, those operations did not produce readily visible effects—which does not help with marketing. Nonetheless, the Sukhoi Su-35S Flanker-E is the most potent fighter currently in operation with the Russian Air Force and offers good capability at reasonable prices. The airframe is high flying, fast and carries an enormous payload. That, combined with its advanced suite of avionics, makes the Su-35 an extremely dangerous foe to any Western fighter, with the exception of the stealthy Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor . It is only a matter of time before the Russians manage to sell more of these jets around the world—especially to those nations that either do not want to or are unable to buy Western aircraft. (Source: News Now/nationalinterest.org)
21 Sep 18. Full statement by Dassault Aviation after Hollande’s shocker on Rafale deal. Hours after the interview of former French president Francois Hollande published in the French publication quoted him saying that the Indian government was the one which proposed Anil Ambani’s Reliance Defence as Dassault Aviation’s partner in the multi-billion dollar Rafale fighter jet deal, a new political storm brewed up in India on Friday. To clarify its stand, Dassault Aviation, the makers of the Rafale jet, put out a statement after Francois Hollande’s interview was published. Here’s the full text of Dassault Aviation’s statement on Rafale deal contract:
About the Rafale contract for India
Dassault Aviation provides the following clarifications regarding the contract signed in 2016 for 36 Rafale aircraft to India:
- This contract is a government-to-government agreement.
It provides for a separate contract in which Dassault Aviation commits to make compensation investments (offsets) in India worth 50 per cent of the value of the purchase.
- This offsets contract is delivered in compliance with the Defence Procurement Procedure (DPP) 2016 regulations. In this framework, and in accordance with the policy of Make in India, Dassault Aviation has decided to make a partnership with India’s Reliance Group. This is Dassault Aviation’s choice, as CEO Eric Trappier had explained in an interview published in MINT newspaper on April 17, 2018. This partnership has led to the creation of the Dassault Reliance Aerospace Ltd (DRAL) joint-venture in February 2017. Dassault Aviation and Reliance have built a plant in Nagpur for manufacturing parts for Falcon and Rafale aircraft. The Nagpur site was chosen because of the availability of land with direct access to an airport runway, an essential condition of aeronautic activities.
- Other partnerships have been signed with other companies such as BTSL, DEFSYS, Kinetic, Mahindra, Maini, SAMTEL,… Other negotiations are ongoing with a hundred-odd other potential partners.
- Dassault Aviation is very proud that the Indian authorities have selected the Rafale fighter.
The French government clarified their in picking Indian industrial partners in the Rafale jet deal. It said, “The French government is in no manner involved in the choice of Indian industrial partners who have been, are being, or will be selected by French companies.”
“In accordance with India’s acquisition procedure, French companies have the full freedom to choose the Indian partner companies that they consider to be the most relevant, then present for the Indian government’s approval the offsets projects that they wish to execute in India with these local partners so as to fulfil their obligations in this regard,” it added.
It said that the intergovernmental agreement was signed on September 23, 2016 between the Indian and French governments for supplying India with 36 Rafale aircrafts. (Source: Google/http://www.asianage.com)
22 Sep 18. Iran will defeat Trump just like it did Saddam, won’t abandon missiles – Rouhani. U.S. President Donald Trump will fail in his confrontation with Iran, just like Iraq’s Saddam Hussein, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said on Saturday, referring to the war between the two Middle Eastern powers and vowing that Tehran will not abandon its missiles. Tensions have ramped up between Iran and the United States after Trump withdrew from a landmark multilateral nuclear deal in May and reimposed sanctions on the Islamic Republic last month. As Rouhani spoke, Iran began displaying its naval power in the Gulf during annual parades in the capital Tehran and the port of Bandar Abbas on the Gulf marking the start of the country’s 1980-88 war with Iraq. Iran has suggested in recent weeks that it could take military action in the Gulf to block other countries’ oil exports in retaliation for U.S. sanctions intended to halt its sales of crude. Washington maintains a fleet in the Gulf that protects oil shipping routes.
“The same will happen to Trump. America will suffer the same fate as Saddam Hussein,” Rouhani said in a speech carried live by state television.
“Iran will not abandon its defensive weapons … including its missiles that make America so angry,” Rouhani said.
State media said about 600 vessels took part in the Gulf naval drill on Saturday, a day after Iran held aerial exercises in the waterway, vowing that a “pounding reply” awaited the country’s enemies. (Source: Reuters)
21 Sep 18. Crisis demands revamped South Africa defence sector – Paramount chairman. Effective collaboration between companies across South Africa’s defence industry and lucrative export markets from Central Asia to Saudi Arabia offer a way out of a crisis in the sector – once a pillar of Africa’s most advanced economy – a top industry figure said. Squeezed global military budgets, domestic economic headwinds and a contracting home market have hit the South African defence industry hard. But seated in front of a Marauder – a 15-tonne armoured truck that gained a cult following after a civilian version appeared on the British motoring programme Top Gear – Ivor Ichikowitz, chairman of its manufacturer, the Paramount Group, was upbeat.
“The industry is in a state of crisis at the moment. But there’s nothing like a good crisis to create opportunity for regrowth,” he told Reuters on the sidelines of an aerospace and defence expo outside Johannesburg.
“The entire industry now has to reinvent itself to be relevant to the rest of the world.”
A United Nations arms embargo imposed on South Africa’s apartheid government in 1977 forced it to produce all its own military hardware. And by 1994 when Nelson Mandela was elected president in the country’s first democratic elections, the industry employed over 100,000 people. But South Africa’s defence spending has steadily declined since, and just 15,000 work in the sector today, a trade association official said last month. If it is to survive, Ichikowitz said, the industry as a whole must take a lesson from Paramount, which uses portable production to establish manufacturing operations around the world. Paramount now operates in around 30 countries and, according to the company, has posted year-on-year sales growth of 20 to 30 percent over the past decade.
Now Ichikowitz wants South Africa’s optical, electronics, system integration and defence platform industries to work more closely together.
“We’re saying the time has come to create Team South Africa,” he said. “The fact that South Africa is non-aligned gives us a huge advantage … That puts us in a position where a lot of markets are open to us.”
“CRAZINESS IN THE WORLD”
Paramount manufactures military vehicles, aircraft, ships, and weapons systems.
It is expanding its production lines in Kazakhstan from armoured vehicles to new areas including unmanned aerial vehicles. It is partnering with Italy’s Leonardo Sp to weapons one of its aircraft for the African market.
This week it announced it would team up with Singapore’s ST Engineering to market a line of armoured vehicles internationally. And it is planning to produce a variant of one of its light attack aircraft for the U.S. market.
But a much bigger prize may be up for grabs in Saudi Arabia. One of the world’s largest arms purchasers, Saudi Arabia is seeking international partners to develop its manufacturing capabilities with the aim of producing half of its required military equipment domestically by 2030. Ichikowitz told Reuters in April that Paramount was in talks with the Saudi government to establish production facilities in the kingdom. And representatives from state-owned Saudi Arabian Military Industries were in South Africa this week to speak with other defence companies.
“South Africa has a huge role to play in helping to enable and facilitate the establishment of industry in Saudi Arabia,” Ichikowitz said.
Saudi Arabia has been fighting a costly war in Yemen since 2015 in support of the internationally recognised government against the armed Couth movement.
“I think the craziness in the world that has created an inward-looking America, an inward-looking Europe, an inward-looking Asia has created a massive opportunity for Africa,” he said. (Source: Reuters)
21 Sep 18. Hollande stirs controversy over India’s €8bn Rafale jets deal. Former French president suggests Delhi forced Dassault to deal with tycoon Anil Ambani A Rafale fighter jet on display at the Aero India air show in 2015, the year that Narendra Modi announced the deal during a state visit to France © Bloomberg Share on Twitter (opens new window) Share on Facebook (opens new window) Share on LinkedIn (opens new window) Share Save Save to myFT Amy Kazmin in New Delhi and David Keohane in Paris YESTERDAY Print this page10 The controversy over India’s €8bn Rafale fighter jet agreement took a dramatic turn on Friday when François Hollande, the former French president, suggested that New Delhi had forced Dassault Aviation to deal with tycoon Anil Ambani. The comments unleashed a furore in India, where Narendra Modi, the prime minister, has been accused by the opposition Congress party of arranging a sweetheart deal for Mr Ambani as part of India’s purchase of 36 Rafale fighter jets from Dassault. Mr Modi’s government, which has repeatedly railed against the “crony capitalism” of the previous Congress-led government, has denied any wrongdoing, and rejected suggestions of helping a businessman sympathetic to the administration. New Delhi claimed that Dassault was free to choose any Indian company to fulfil its obligation to generate new exports from India to offset the cost of the jets. But Mr Hollande’s interview with Mediapart, a French online news organisation, provided Mr Modi’s critics with powerful ammunition as India gears up for what is expected to be a hard-fought general election next year. In the interview, Mr Hollande said Dassault had no leeway over its choice of offset partner. “We did not have a say in this,” Mediapart quoted Mr Hollande saying. “It was the Indian government that proposed this service group, and Dassault negotiated with Ambani. We did not have a choice. We took the interlocutor that was given to us.” It was the Indian government that proposed this service group, and Dassault negotiated with Ambani. We did not have a choice François Hollande. quoted by Mediapart A spokesperson for Mr Hollande confirmed that the former president had made the comments and stood by them. But the spokesman said the “new service group” was a reference to the new deal from the Indian government for fewer planes, that Dassault negotiated that agreement and that the French state did not choose Reliance. Dassault Aviation stated on Friday evening that the contract with India’s Reliance Group “is Dassault Aviation’s choice . . . Dassault Aviation is very proud that the Indian authorities have selected the Rafale fighter”. Separately, the foreign ministry in Paris said: “The French government is in no way involved in the choice of Indian industrial partners, who have been, are or will be selected by French manufacturers. “In accordance with the Indian acquisition procedure, French industrialists have complete freedom to choose the Indian industrial partners that they consider the most relevant which then has to be presented for the endorsement of the Indian government.” India’s defence ministry took to Twitter to respond, saying that Mr Hollande’s statement “that (government of India) insisted on a particular firm as offset partner for the Dassault Aviation in Rafale is being verified”. However, the ministry added that “it is reiterated that neither GOI nor French Govt had any say in the commercial decision”. Recommended Analysis Indian politics & policy India’s €8bn deal for Dassault jets provides fuel for Modi critics Mr Ambani is a highly indebted tycoon whose business interests have spanned telecommunications, power and entertainment but who is now selling off much of his empire, including his most prized telecom and power assets, to stabilise his finances. His joint venture with Dassault, Dassault-Reliance Aerospace, is expected to help generate up to €1.9bn in new revenues. Mr Ambani and his elder brother Mukesh, India’s richest man and chairman of Reliance Industries, are both close to Mr Modi, whom they have known for at least two decades. They have publicly praised his leadership. India’s security establishment was stunned in 2015 when Mr Modi — in the midst of a state visit to France — announced that New Delhi would buy 36 Rafale fighter jets in a direct government-to-government deal, abandoning plans for a larger purchase of 126 warplanes from Dassault. Rahul Gandhi, the Congress party president, who claims the price of the Rafale planes trebled as the result of the change of tack, also took to Twitter to comment on Mr Hollande’s sensational comments. “The PM personally negotiated & changed the Rafale deal behind closed doors. Thanks to François Hollande, we now know that he personally delivered a deal worth billions of dollars to a bankrupt Anil Ambani,” Mr Gandhi tweeted. “The PM has betrayed India. He has dishonoured the blood of our soldiers.” Anil Ambani has denied the allegations of impropriety as “baseless”. On Friday night a spokesman for his Reliance company said he had no further comment to make. (Source: FT.com)
20 Sep 18. U.S. sanctions China for buying Russian fighter jets, missiles. The Trump administration imposed sanctions on the Chinese military on Thursday for buying fighter jets and missile systems from Russia, in breach of a sweeping U.S. sanctions law punishing Moscow for meddling in the 2016 U.S. election. The U.S. State Department said it would immediately impose sanctions on China’s Equipment Development Department (EDD), the branch of the Chinese military responsible for weapons and equipment, and its director, Li Shangfu, for engaging in “significant transactions” with Rosoboronexport, Russia’s main arms exporter. The sanctions are related to China’s purchase of 10 SU-35 combat aircraft in 2017 and S-400 surface-to-air missile system-related equipment in 2018, the State Department said. They block the Chinese agency, and Li, from applying for export licenses and participating in the U.S. financial system.
It also adds them to the Treasury Department’s list of specially designated individuals with whom Americans are barred from doing business. The administration also blacklisted an additional 33 people and entities associated with the Russian military and intelligence, adding them to a list under the 2017 law, known as the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act, or CAATSA.
CAATSA also seeks to punish Russia for its aggression in Ukraine and involvement in Syria’s civil war.
Doing significant business with anyone on that list can trigger sanctions like those imposed on China.
Some of those added to the list, which now contains 72 names, were indicted in connection with Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. election, the official said.
Earlier on Thursday, President Donald Trump issued an executive order intended to facilitate implementation of the sanctions.
A federal special counsel is leading a criminal investigation of Russian interference in the U.S. election, and any possible cooperation with Trump’s presidential campaign.
Trump has insisted there was no collusion with Russia. Moscow denies any effort to meddle in U.S. politics.
AIMED AT MOSCOW – OR BEIJING?
One U.S. administration official, who briefed reporters on condition of anonymity, said the sanctions imposed on the Chinese agency were aimed at Moscow, not Beijing or its military, despite an escalating trade war between the United States and China.
“The ultimate target of these sanctions is Russia. CAATSA sanctions in this context are not intended to undermine the defence capabilities of any particular country,” the official told reporters on a conference call.
“They are instead aimed at imposing costs upon Russia in response to its malign activities,” the official said.
In Moscow, Russian member of parliament Franz Klintsevich said the sanctions would not affect the S-400 and SU-35 contracts.
“I am sure that these contracts will be executed in line with the schedule,” Klintsevich was quoted as saying by Russia’s Interfax news agency. “The possession of this military equipment is very important for China.”
Security analysts in Asia said the move appeared to be largely symbolic and would serve only to push Moscow and Beijing closer together.
“The imposition of U.S. sanctions will have zero impact on Russian arms sales to China,” said Ian Storey, of Singapore’s ISEAS Yusof Ishak Institute.
“Both countries are opposed to what they see as U.S. bullying and these kind of actions will just push Beijing and Moscow even closer together,” he said, adding that Moscow needed Chinese money and Beijing wanted advanced military technology.
Collin Koh, a security analyst at Singapore’s S Rajaratnam School of International Studies, said the sanctions would do little to counter the evolving research and development relationship between China and Russia.
China relied less on large big-ticket purchases from Russia as in previous years, but Chinese defence industries were seeking expertise from Russia and former-Soviet states to plug knowledge gaps, he said.
The measures come as the Trump administration pursues a variety of strategies to clamp down on China and faces growing pressure to respond strongly to U.S. intelligence agency reports that Russia is continuing to meddle in U.S. politics.
Members of Congress, including many of Trump’s fellow Republicans, who passed the sanctions bill nearly unanimously, have repeatedly called on the administration to take a harder line against Moscow.
Administration officials said they hoped the action against EDD would send a message to others considering buying the S-400.
U.S. officials have been discussing the issue particularly with NATO ally Turkey, which wants to buy the Russian-made S-400 surface-to-air missile batteries.
Washington has expressed concern that Turkey’s planned deployment of the S-400s could pose a risk to the security of some U.S.-made weapons and other technology used by Turkey, including the F-35 fighter jet.
U.S. officials have warned that Turkey’s purchase of the system could contravene CAATSA.
“We hope that at least this step will send a signal of our seriousness and perhaps encourage others to think twice about their own engagement with the Russian defence and intelligence sectors,” another U.S. official said. (Source: Reuters)
20 Sep 18. How a defense expo reflects troubles for South African military. South Africa is one of the continent’s biggest defense spenders but its military is increasingly stretched as the country faces recession and a weakening currency. This week’s biennial Africa Aerospace and Defence exhibition is a showcase for the country’s military, which is one of the top 20 contributors to United Nations peacekeeping missions and helps with anti-piracy operations off Mozambique’s coast. Concerns also are growing about possible corruption linked to state-owned defense conglomerate Denel, part of a wider inquiry into the alleged plundering of state resources under former President Jacob Zuma.
South Africa’s military “has got a lot on its plate,” said Guy Martin, editor of defenceWeb, an industry news site.
The country has a defense budget of more than $3bn. However, the weakening South African currency and the economic recession are making it harder for the military to acquire new equipment and training.
President Cyril Ramaphosa opened the fair this week with a speech acknowledging the “economic reality” and pledging support for the defense industry, a key earner of foreign currency.
Despite the problems, soldiers at the five-day trade fair were enthusiastic.
Capt. T.G. Netshineulu encouraged a group of schoolchildren to consider joining the military after they finish their studies.
“I can die for this country,” he said. “And I’m willing to do so.”
(Source: Defense News)
19 Sep 18. Putin says Russia perfected weapons based on Syria campaign. Russian President Vladimir Putin says that the military’s combat experience gained in Syria has helped develop new weapons systems. Russia has waged a campaign in Syria since September 2015, helping turn the tide of war in favor of Syrian President Bashar Assad. The Russian military has used the conflict to test its new jets, cruise missiles and other weapons in combat for the first time. Speaking Wednesday at a meeting focusing on military industries, Putin said that new Russian weapons excel their foreign equivalents. Putin singled out the new Sarmat heavy intercontinental ballistic missiles, the Su-57 fighter jet, the S-500 air defense system and the Armata battle tank, which are set to enter service in the coming years. (Source: Defense News)
19 Sep 18. Germany approves arms sale to Saudi after Yemen war ban promise. Germany approved a delivery of weapons to Saudi Arabia, a government document showed on Wednesday, after saying it would halt arms sales to countries involved in the war in Yemen.
The government signed off on the consignment of four artillery positioning systems, Economy Minister Peter Altmaier wrote in a letter to lawmakers seen by Reuters. The vehicle-mounted systems can locate enemy fire, enabling accurate counter-strikes. The weapons delivery is the first documented one to Riyadh since March, when Chancellor Angela Merkel’s coalition agreed to the Yemen-related ban.
A Saudi-led coalition intervened in Yemen’s war in 2015 to restore the country’s internationally-recognised government, ousted by the rebel Houthi group. Germany is one of the world’s five biggest arms exporters, according to the SIPRI research group, but weapons sales are a sensitive issue there due to the country’s World War Two history. (Source: Reuters)
19 Sep 18. Trump hails ‘exciting’ agreements by North Korea’s Kim. U.S. President Donald Trump welcomed developments on Wednesday at an inter-Korean summit in the North Korean capital of Pyongyang as “very exciting”. U.S. President Donald Trump addresses a joint news conference with Poland’s President Andrzej Duda in the East Room of the White House in Washington, U.S., September 18, 2018. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
“Kim Jong Un has agreed to allow nuclear inspections, subject to final negotiations, and to permanently dismantle a test site and launch pad in the presence of international experts,” Trump said on Twitter, referring to agreements the North Korean leader made in talks with South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in.
“In the meantime there will be no Rocket or Nuclear testing,” Trump added.
Referring to the repatriation of remains of U.S. service people killed in the Korean War, which Kim and Moon also discussed, Trump said:
“Hero remains to continue being returned home to the United States. Also, North and South Korea will file a joint bid to host the 2032 Olympics. Very exciting!” (Source: Reuters)
18 Sep 18. Coalition Effort Aims at Stability in Iraq, Syria. The coalition continues to help forces in both Iraq and Syria establish security and stability in areas that have known nothing but oppression since the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria reared its head five years ago, the spokesman for Operation Inherent Resolve said today.
Speaking to Pentagon reporters from Baghdad, Army Col. Sean Ryan noted that Iraqi forces are working together across the country to rid the nation of the last remnants of the terrorist group.
“The various security elements — to include the [Iraqi forces], the peshmerga, counterterrorism services and the federal police — are all working together to continue securing their country,” he said.
In Ninevah province, Iraqi forces continue to find and disarm improvised explosive devices and continue to root out ISIS holdouts. In the mountains of Kirkuk, the Iraqi federal police and the Kurdish peshmerga work together to secure remote villages.
Out west, in Anbar province, border security forces continue to prevent ISIS fighters from streaming into the country, the colonel said.
“For its part, the coalition is … enabling the [Iraqi] efforts to secure Iraq by advising strategic leaders, training thousands of Iraqi service members and divesting equipment they need to effectively secure their country,” he said.
Coalition members also continue to train Iraqi forces. Since the effort started in 2015, coalition forces have trained more than 175,000 Iraqis in basic soldier skills and specialized fields such as intelligence, law enforcement, medical support and aviation.
In Syria, the picture is more complex and dangerous. Ground operations for Phase 3 of Operation Roundup have begun, and Syrian partner forces continue clearance of the Middle Euphrates River Valley, Ryan said. “Hajin and the surrounding villages are the last remaining territory acquired by ISIS in the coalition’s area of responsibility, and the victory by the Syrian Democratic Forces there will mean that ISIS no longer holds territory,” he added.
ISIS fighters are trying desperately to hang onto the territory, and hard fighting lies ahead, the colonel told reporters. “Despite this, we are confident that the SDF will prevail,” he said.
In Tanf earlier this month, Marines conducted training to reinforce partner forces, he said. “The coalition has supported the SDF through air support, as well as training and equipment,” Ryan said. “Additionally, in liberated areas, the coalition trained internal security forces to maintain the peace and security in liberated cities, provide basic law enforcement support, as well as specialized services such as counter-[improvised explosive devices] and engineering.”
Ryan noted changes in Iraq as Army Lt. Gen. Paul J. LaCamera assumed command of Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve from Army Lt. Gen. Paul E. Funk II.
Ryan said the military stabilization efforts are going well, but are not enough. “Security creates the space for rebuilding,” he explained. “Residents only gain hope for the future when their children can go to school free from harm, women go buy basic necessities in local shops, and when they can go to their jobs that allow them to support their families. Ultimately, the military cannot fight its way to stability.”
The cost of reconstruction is high, with estimates of rebuilding Mosul — Iraq’s second-largest city — pegged at $100bn. “We call on all nations to help those who have sacrificed tremendously fighting this global threat,” Ryan said. (Follow Jim Garamone on Twitter: @GaramoneDODNews)
18 Sep 18. Qatar’s deal to buy 24 Typhoon jets and nine Hawks is now officially effective after BAE Systems received its first payment today. The deal, worth around £5bn includes the aircraft and a bespoke support and training package. Qatar is now buying nine Hawk trainers, rather than six, which will also be welcome news for BAE Systems’ factories in Warton and Brough which make the jets. UKEF’s £5bn package of support was vital to securing the deal, including by providing financing and insurance. UKEF’s role is to support UK exports including by providing export finance to enable overseas buyers to purchase goods and services from the UK, and export insurance for companies selling overseas.
International Trade Secretary, Dr Liam Fox MP, said, “The UK Government is proud to be a part of this hugely significant export contract, supporting BAE Systems, its nearly 35,000 employees and the 9,000 companies in its supply chain. This support from UK Export Finance will sustain jobs in one of the UK’s key industrial sectors, support economic growth, and strengthen our own defence capabilities as well as those of a key strategic ally.”
Welcoming the news, Secretary of State for Defence Gavin Williamson said, “This monumental, multi-billion-pound deal is now officially in place, and those from across government and industry who have worked so hard on it together can be extremely proud to see it reach this stage. It’s a massive boost to the British defence industry, helping to support thousands of jobs, and it will help us further build the trust between the UK and Qatar to tackle the challenges we both share, support stability in the region and deliver security at home.”
BAE Systems Chief Executive, Charles Woodburn said, “This contract, effective today, represents a significant step in BAE Systems’ long-term relationship with the State of Qatar, as it becomes the ninth country to choose Typhoon. The proven combination of Typhoon and Hawk will provide the Qatari Armed Forces with the most advanced and flexible multi-role combat aircraft on the market today, along with best in class support and training.”
The Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson and his Qatari counterpart, Dr Khalid bin Mohammed al Attiyah, oversaw the signing of the deal in Doha in December. Deliveries of the first Typhoon aircraft are expected to commence in 2022. The deal also involves a package of training and co-operation between the British and Qatari Air Forces which will see them working closely together in the future. A new UK-based Typhoon joint squadron, reformed as No.12 squadron, will comprise both Qatari Emiri Air Force and RAF personnel, including pilots and ground-crew based at RAF Coningsby in Lincolnshire ahead of the delivery of the aircraft. It represents a unique initiative, with the RAF not having formed a squadron with another nation since the Second World War and the Battle of Britain.
The UK and Qatar share mutual interests in countering violent extremism, and ensuring stability in the region, and the deal further reinforces those ties by helping to prevent terrorism from spreading and protecting the prosperity and security of the UK at home.
Qatar is the ninth country to purchase the Typhoon, with the deal sustaining thousands of UK jobs. The MOD continues to bang the drum for the UK’s world-leading aerospace industry, with sales of defence equipment to foreign customers surging by 53% last year to £9bn. The UK is a world-leader in the combat air sector, with a mix of skills and technologies unique in Europe, supporting over 18,000 highly skilled jobs. The sector delivers a turnover of more than £6bn a year and has made up over 80% of defence exports from the UK over the last ten years. The support follows the launch of the Government’s Export Strategy, which sets out how the government will support businesses of all sizes to make the most of the opportunities presented by markets around the world.
18 Sep 18. SA commits to assist defence industry stay afloat. Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula on Tuesday renewed the SA government’s commitment to supporting the local defence industry, which faces a myriad of problems including the lack of transformation and tougher competition in international markets. The industry problems were exacerbated by a declining budget and consequently reduced spending on the acquisition of defence armaments. Mapisa-Nqakula said they were mindful of the challenges: “We are then compelled to acknowledge that it cannot be business as usual. The [defence] industry has to transform.”
She told players in the sector, ahead of the beginning of the Africa Aerospace and Defence (AAD) exhibition which kicks off on Wednesday, that “The industry has to perform against contracts both locally and abroad.
“There are no entitlements to any capability areas of contracts regardless of your standing as a systems house or degree of state ownership.
“We have to better manage our resources and process to optimally ensure localisation, industrialisation, and retention of capabilities within the SADI [SA defence industry] as well as to get full government support for SADI exports.”
Mapisa-Nqakula said, as the responsible minister, she has begun the process of repositioning the SADI by mandating the establishment of the national defence industry council (NDIC) whose structure is currently being costed so that funds can be sourced, and having it operationalised.
“Emanating from the work of NDIC, you will be aware that we have completed the compilation of the SA defence industry strategy and are now finalising its implementation plan which will be adopted before the end of this year with implementation to commence soon thereafter,” she said.
Mapisa-Nqakula highlighted the critical role played by the defence industry, particularly in bringing in the much-needed foreign currency into the struggling economy.
“As a start, I wish to reassure you that we are aware of the key contribution that is made by experts in ensuring the continued existence of the SADI. To this end, my department and I remain committed to providing you with the necessary political support in all your future export endeavours.
“In fact, I must highlight that it becomes my mission to market our defence industry, together with the chief of SANDF, service and division chiefs and generally SANDF personnel,” she said.
“The downside, however, happens when there is no follow-through from yourselves as the SADI on the bilateral engagements I would have undertaken and committed to, thus leaving us with egg on our face.”
More than 300 exhibitors are set to showcase their military products and high-tech capabilities at this year’s five-day AAD2018 exhibition.
The AAD is described by the South African national defence force as “the largest defence and aerospace exhibition in Africa and the only one of its kind, boasting the successful format of a combined exhibition of air, sea and land technologies, a static aircraft display and an air show”.
17 Sep 18. Russia, Turkey agree to create buffer zone in Syria’s Idlib. The leaders of Turkey and Russia said on Monday they had agreed to create a demilitarized buffer zone in Syria’s Idlib province to separate Syrian government troops from rebel forces, with Turkish and Russian soldiers patrolling the zone to ensure it is respected. Russian President Vladimir Putin, speaking after talks with Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan, said the agreement was that all heavy weapons be withdrawn from the zone, and that “radically-minded” rebels, including the Nusra front, would have to pull out of the zone. The demilitarized zone will come into force by Oct. 15, Putin told reporters. (Source: Reuters)
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