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14 Dec 18. South Korean helo maker moves to ‘sweeten the deal’ after Philippines hints at Black Hawk purchase. The Philippine Air Force has down-selected the Sikorsky S-70 Black Hawk helicopter to fulfill its need of combat utility helicopters, dashing hopes of other international competitors, including Korea Aerospace Industries with the Surion KUH-1 helicopter, according to Philippine media and South Korean defense industry sources.
Seoul’s arms procurement officials virtually recognized Surion’s defeat in the Philippines utility helicopter program but said they haven’t given up hope. “The Philippine government gave higher grades to the U.S. Black Hawk than the Surion in the evaluations of aircraft performances, but we’re trying hard to sweeten the deal by adding more incentives,” a high-ranking defense official was quoted as saying in the Chosun Ilbo newspaper.
Speaking to Defense News on the phone, a spokesman for the South Korean Defense Acquisition Program Administration said: “We’re still waiting on the final results, as the Philippine government is set to conduct a second round of examinations in the coming weeks.”
The downselect was heralded by Philippine Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana during a Dec. 7 media conference on the sidelines of a security forum in Makati City, Philippines.
“I think finally the Air Force technical working group has come up with a recommendation that the Black Hawk is the best option that they will buy,” the defense chief was quoted in a Philstar.com report.
The acquisition of utility helicopters for the Philippine Air Force was rebooted in February after the Southeast Asian government canceled a $233m deal to purchase 16 Bell 412 helicopters from Canada, which expressed concern the aircraft would be used for missions other than search and rescue, and amid allegations of human rights abuses on the island nation.
Since then, the Philippine defense authorities reviewed other candidates, including the KAI-built Surion, the Italian Agusta Westland AW139 and the Russian Mi-171.
“We have limited money for that. We have only $240 million worth and the original priding of this aircraft for the (Bell 412) we can get 16,” Lorenzana said, adding that a final contract would be signed early next year for the 16 Black Hawks.
According to the defense chief, either 10 Surion or Black Hawk helicopters were considered to be acquired within the budget limit, but the U.S. government later offered to finance the balance of the purchase price for the remaining six for a total of 16 through the Foreign Military Sales program.
Lorenzana said Russia offered the second-lowest price, but noted it is “very difficult to pay them because of the U.S. sanctions,” citing a law signed by U.S. President Donald Trump to punish Russia for its 2014 annexation of Crimea from Ukraine, Moscow’s support for the Syrian government and the Putin government’s alleged meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential elections.
Industry sources here believe the fatal crash of a Marineon, a Marine Corps variant of the Surion, in July could gash the bid to sell the Korean utility helicopter overseas for the first time. The Surion is jointly built with Airbus Helicopters.
On July 17, a MUH-1 Marineon crashed during a test flight at an airfield in the southeastern port city of Pohang, killing five of the six marines aboard. Closed-circuit video footage released by the South Korean Marine Corps shows the rotor blades fell apart shortly after takeoff. An investigation team led by the Marine Corps concluded that defects in the main rotor mast had caused the accident. (Source: Defense News)
14 Dec 18. Indian court rejects call for probe into jet deal with France’s Dassault. India’s Supreme Court rejected petitions on Friday seeking an investigation into a fighter jet deal worth an estimated $8.7bn with France’s Dassault Aviation (AVMD.PA), saying there was no evidence of wrongdoing. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s deal for the purchase of 36 Rafale planes has become a major political controversy because of the escalating price and a decision to pick billionaire Anil Ambani’s Reliance Defense as a domestic partner. However, the court headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi dismissed the petitions calling for the establishment of a special investigation team to probe the deal.
“We don’t find any material to show it is commercial favoritism,” Gogoi said. (Source: Reuters)
12 Dec 18. U.S. wants U.N. to ban nuclear ballistic missile work by Iran. The United States will push the U.N. Security Council to toughen its stance to prevent Iran from working on ballistic missiles capable of delivering nuclear weapons and carrying out test launches, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Wednesday. Pompeo also told the Security Council an arms embargo on Iran should not be lifted in 2020 and called on the council to establish “inspection and interdiction measures, in ports and on the high seas, to thwart Iran’s continuing efforts to circumvent arms restrictions.”
“Iran is harbouring al Qaeda, supporting Taliban militants in Afghanistan, arming terrorists in Lebanon, facilitating illicit trade in Somali charcoal benefiting al-Shabaab, and training and equipping Shia militias in Iraq,” Pompeo said during the meeting on the implementation of U.N. sanctions on Iran.
Russia and China – which are council veto powers along with the United States, France and Britain – are unlikely to support the measures proposed by Pompeo. In February Russia vetoed an attempt by the West to have the Security Council call out Tehran in a resolution on Yemen.
Without naming countries, Russian U.N. Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia accused some council members of using Wednesday’s meeting “to discuss the so-called regional behaviour of Iran, which they depict as though it were the only source of all the woes in the Middle East.”
“What they do not voice is any kind of a substantive proposal on this topic and sometimes we’re left with the impression that the only goal is to further escalate anti-Iran hysteria and to demonize Iran,” Nebenzia told the council.
A 2015 U.N. resolution “called upon” Iran to refrain for up to eight years from work on ballistic missiles designed to deliver nuclear weapons. Some states argue that the language does not make it obligatory.
The United States wants the council to toughen that measure, Pompeo said, to reflect language in a 2010 resolution that left no room for interpretation by banning Iran from “activity related to ballistic missiles capable of delivering nuclear weapons, including launches using ballistic missile technology.”
“This Security Council has a responsibility to protect citizens of the Middle East, Americans travelling through the Middle East, Europeans who are now at risk from Iranian missiles,” Pompeo told reporters after the meeting.
The United States, Britain and France have accused Tehran of flouting the current U.N. restrictions on Tehran’s missile program by carrying out ballistic missile launches. Iran says the missiles are not designed to carry nuclear weapons.
Tehran’s Deputy U.N. Ambassador Eshagh al-Habib accused Washington of an “addiction to sanctions and warmongering,” saying Iran was in compliance with its commitments under a 2015 international nuclear deal, which the Trump administration withdrew from in May.
“What we heard today was another series of lies, fabrications, disinformation and deceptive statements by the U.S. It is not unprecedented,” al-Habib told the council.
Most U.N. sanctions imposed on Iran were lifted in January 2016 when the U.N. nuclear watchdog confirmed that Tehran fulfilled commitments under the nuclear deal with Britain, France, Germany, China, Russia and the United States. But Iran is still subject to a U.N. arms embargo and other restrictions. The U.N. sanctions and restrictions on Iran are contained in the 2015 resolution, which also enshrines the 2015 Iran nuclear deal. European powers have been scrambling to salvage the deal. (Source: Reuters)
13 Dec 18. South China Sea’s challenges for Australia’s Defence Force. Mounting tensions between China and the US in the South China Sea has placed Australia at the centre of a great power showdown, which has raised questions about the suitability of the 2016 Defence White Paper and its capability and industry objectives. China has spent the better part of the last 20 years reassuring the Indo-Pacific region that its ascendancy would be peaceful. Buoyed by meteoric economic growth and an unrivalled cheque book, the ancient nation has decisively flexed its soft-power muscles through initiatives like the One-Belt, One-Road policy and the Asian Infrastructure Bank.
However, many regional nations have remained suspicious of China and its rising influence. Increased Chinese assertiveness throughout the region, particularly in the Taiwan Strait and the international waters of the South China Sea (SCS) has brought the rising power into contest with both the United Nations and the broader regional community. The reclamation of islands throughout the SCS, particularly for military use despite claims to the opposite, combined with increased acts of intimidation and harassment of naval vessels and aircraft from the Philippines, Vietnam, more recently Japan and, most concerning, the US, has prompted a number of red flags to be raised.
For Australia, the 2016 Defence White Paper (DWP) and its focus on supporting industry through the sovereign industry capability and naval shipbuilding plans sought to respond to increased regional tensions and forge a path forward, following nearly two decades of ‘valleys of death’, cost and delivery overruns and shrinking defence budgets.
Despite the largest peace-time investment and recapitalisation of Australia’s defence capability since the Second World War, the increased tension and recent direct confrontation between Chinese and US military assets has begun to raise eyebrows in Canberra and questions about the viability of the 2016 DWP as the foundation for the ADF moving into the 2020s.
2018: What an interesting year
Recently, a Chinese colonel issued a stern warning to the US and its regional allies operating in the South China Sea and more broadly the western Pacific ocean where they may challenge China’s increased territorial and economic ambitions throughout the regions.
Dr Malcolm Davis of the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) told Defence Connect, “2018 has been an interesting year in the South China Sea. It started fairly early on with the basing of anti-ship cruise missiles (ASCM) on reclaimed islands in the SCS, the basing of the upgraded, H-6K nuclear capable bomber on Woody Island and more recently the USS Decatur (DDG-73) incident really reinforces that China is not backing down from its territorial ambitions.”
This growing assertiveness and apparent disregard for international convention and United Nations agreements places increased pressure on regional nations and the security paradigm upon which the stability of Indo-Pacific Asia is built.
China’s bullying and intimidation tactics expand beyond direct military confrontation and thumbing their nose at international convention. The recent attempts by China to assert its influence and own wishes over ASEAN regarding the South China Sea Code of Conduct is particular evidence of this.
“What we saw recently with the ASEAN discussion about establishing a code of conduct for operating in the South China Sea was essentially a push by China to prevent all foreign navies from operating in the area. Given the amount of seaborne trade that flows through the South China Sea, that was obviously an unacceptable outcome for both the US and Australia,” Dr Davis explained.
The combination of these diplomatic and military confrontations are further enhanced by the growing capability of the Chinese military which has embarked on an unprecedented period of modernisation and expansion across a number of key domains as it seeks to assert itself throughout the region.
This modernisation, namely the development of key power projection capabilities, including aircraft carriers and supporting strike groups, fifth-generation combat aircraft, modernised land forces, area-access denial and strategic nuclear forces, combined with growing political and financial influence throughout the region is serving to shake-up Australia’s way of thinking.
Changing with the times
Australia’s strategic reality has changed immensely over the past two years. The increasing instability in traditional allies like the US, UK and European partners combined with increased assertiveness by both China and Russia are serving to undermine the international balance of power and paradigm that the nation has enjoyed for the past 65 years.
Speaking to Defence Connect, Peter Jennings, executive director of ASPI, was quick to point out that while the existing ADF was the most capable it has ever been, largely as a result of the material investment and operational engagements of the last two decades, there was room for improvement, should Australia need to operate alone, or with limited allied support.
“We need to be placing more effort into developing the ADF’s long-range strike capability. This includes things like cruise missiles which can launched by platforms across the ADF. We also need to place greater emphasis on upgrading the capability provided by Collins, not just as a stop-gap, but as an imperative, as these submarines will continue to form the point of our deterrence spear for some time yet,” he said.
Dr Davis reinforced these comments, making particular note of the mounting tension between the US and its ‘Western’ alliance network and the rising authoritarian powers of Russia and China.
“We are seeing an increasing level of tension between the Western alliance system, led by the US and the more authoritarian regimes like China and Russia, highlighting the potential for great power conflict. What this is doing is serving to shine a light on the inadequacies of the 2016 Defence White Paper,” Dr Davis told Defence Connect.
Time to ask the tough questions
Building on this, Dr Davis noted growing concerns about the similarities between the pre-World War II era and events currently evolving throughout the region, saying that many nations like Australia and Japan were starting to realise that the world is potentially entering a ‘pre-war period’.
In doing so, he highlighted the growing concern about the viability and suitability of the 2016 Defence White Paper, the ADF’s planned force structure and critically, government financial support into the future should the strategic realities continue to degrade.
“The government aspiration of spending 2 per cent of GDP on defence is simply not enough any more. We need to look at planning our force structure, our capability requirements and spending on a number of factors, including allied strengths and potential adversarial capabilities, not arbitrary figures,” Dr Davis explained.
For Dr Davis, this necessity for funding increase means it is time for Australia to ask itself some tough questions about the nation’s military capability and its strategic intent towards the region.
“It is time for us to throw open the debate about our force structure. It is time to ask what more do we need to do and what do we need to be capable of doing?” he said. (Source: Defence Connect)
11 Dec 18. Japan to ramp up defence spending to pay for new fighters, radar. Japan aims to boost defence spending over the next five years to help pay for new stealth fighters and other advanced U.S. military equipment, a source with knowledge of the plan said on Tuesday.
The Ministry of Defence will this month present a plan to spend 27trn yen (£188.19bn) on its military over five years starting from April 2019, said the government source who declined to identified.
The proposed spending plan, first reported by the Nikkei business daily on Saturday, would see spending rise an average 1.1 percent per year, exceeding the 0.8 percent average under the previous plan.
“We still need some more discussion for the final approval,” the source said, adding that it would be reviewed by cabinet later this month.
Defence ministry officials were not immediately available to comment.
Some of the new money would be used to buy U.S.-made equipment, including two Aegis Ashore ballistic missile defence radars and Lockheed Martin Co F-35 fighters. The purchases could help Tokyo ease trade friction with Washington as President Donald Trump pushes Japan to buy more American goods, including military gear, while threatening to impose tariffs on Japanese auto imports to cut a trade deficit with Tokyo.
Japan spends around 1 percent of its GDP on its Self Defence Forces, which given the size of its economy makes it one of the world’s biggest military spenders. The latest military procurement plan will be released with a separate paper outlining Japan’s defence priorities over the next ten years. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has been reinforcing Japan’s military to respond to any North Korea missile strike and counter China’s growing air and sea power in the waters around Japan. (Source: Reuters)
10 Dec 18. Two Russian Long-Range Bombers Arrive In Venezuela. Russia’s Defense Ministry has sent two nuclear-capable strategic bombers to Venezuela, in an unusual display of Russian military force in South America. The ministry said in a statement that the two Tu-160 bombers had arrived at an airport outside of Caracas on December 10. The statement did not say if they were carrying weapons. The bombers’ arrival came just days after Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro visited Moscow, seeking Kremlin support for his country, whose economy is in shambles and which is deeply in debt to Russia. Venezuela has purchased ms of dollars in military equipment from Russia in recent years. In a ceremony at the Caracas airport, the Venezuelan defense minister, General Vladimir Padrino, welcomed about 100 Russian pilots and other personnel. The deployment showed “we also are preparing to defend Venezuela to the last inch when necessary,” Padrino said. (Source: defense-aerospace.com/Radio Free Europe)
10 Dec 18. Iran can expand range of its missiles, says revolutionary guard commander. A senior commander in Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps said Monday that Tehran has can expand the range of its missiles beyond the current limit of 2,000 kilometers — the latest in a war of words with Washington.
“We have the capability to build missiles with higher ranges,” IRGC Aerospace Force commander Brig. Gen. Amir Ali Hajizadeh said, according to the Fars news agency. “The number 2,000 kilometers is not a divine decree … what has been decided until today is based on our needs.”
Hajizadeh noted that many “enemy bases” were located 300 to 800 kilometers from the country’s borders.
The remarks, to Iranian university students in Tehran, came days after the U.S. and Iran traded accusations over Tehran’s latest ballistic missile test — and amid accusations that Tehran tested a missile that can reach European countries.
U.S. President Donald Trump in August reactivated economic sanctions on Iran after leaving a multilateral Iran nuclear deal because the deal did not ban Iran’s testing of ballistic missiles.
On Dec. 1, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo accused Iran of test-firing a medium-range ballistic missile capable of carrying “multiple warheads,” in violation of U.N. Security Council Resolution 2231. The missile “allows it to strike parts of Europe and anywhere in the Middle East,” Pompeo said.
Iranian officials have since said that Iran has no plans to develop nuclear weapons, and in a recent news release, it called America’s withdrawal from the nuclear deal as “unlawful.” Iranian officials in recent days have stressed the precision-striking power of the country’s arsenal.
The U.N. Security Council subsequently discussed the matter behind closed doors without taking action. However, Britain’s U.N. ambassador, Karen Pierce, told reporters afterward that members expressed “a lot of concern” about the test launch and said the 2015 resolution doesn’t say nuclear weapons must be on the missiles.
She called Iran’s actions “inconsistent” with the resolution and “part and parcel of Iran’s destabilizing activity in the region.”
“If you wanted to demonstrate to the international community that you were a responsible member of it and you were genuinely interested in regional peace and security, these are not the sorts of missiles you would be test launching,” Pierce said.
U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis recently said that “right now the strategic level of threat from Iran is less worldwide than (North) Korea’s, but it is certainly significant regionally, and it could grow beyond that if it’s not dealt with.” (Source: Defense News)
05 Dec 18. With Arms Fair, Big-Buyer Egypt Aims to Diversify Sources. Egypt’s first international weapons fair wrapped up Wednesday, giving the major arms purchaser vast opportunities to diversify its weapons sources while hosting an event in the booming industry’s hottest region, where conflicts rage from Libya to Yemen. The three-day Egypt Defence Expo saw nearly 400 exhibition stands and some 10,000 military and defense visitors from over 40 countries. The fair was billed to the public as an event to boost the country’s prestige on the world stage and project an image of security. It also sought to draw big-ticket buyers from oil-and-gas rich Gulf countries and set up an additional platform for an increasing number of global weapons traders.
Details on new agreements or sales resulting from the show have yet to be announced, and officials were tight-lipped about figures considered state secrets in Egypt, where the military has been a dominant force in politics since independence.
Egypt is fighting an Islamic State-led insurgency in the Sinai Peninsula and expends considerable military resources there.
The country has been the world’s fourth largest arms importer in recent years, and officials say they seek to boost cooperation globally, obtain technologies to inject into local production, and even start to market some locally produced equipment.
“Egypt is no longer quite so reliant on the U.S. for military equipment and has been turning to other suppliers,” said Ben Moores, a defense and aviation analyst for Jane’s. “An event like this provides an opportunity for those newer suppliers to find contacts.”
Egypt has a very rapidly growing backlog of un-awarded contracts and will likely import some $9 bn in weapons over the coming decade, he added. That makes it the seventh largest market going forward with vast amounts of equipment scheduled to be replaced. Sellers therefore will be seeking to influence those decisions.
For decades, the U.S. has been Egypt’s largest weapons supplier, with an annual $1.3bn in military aid. But Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, the general-turned president who came to power at the head of a military overthrow of an elected but divisive Islamist predecessor, has vowed to diversify the country’s suppliers, and now even holds joint military exercises with U.S. rival Russia.
Arms purchases from Europe as well as Russia and China have surged, boosted by billions of dollars in aid from el-Sissi’s wealthy Gulf backers in recent years, and there are no signs the new trends will change anytime soon. Concerns over the country’s appalling human rights record have done little to dent the sales, despite occasional condemnations from Western capitals.
The event, which opened to a party-like atmosphere in massive new exposition halls finished just hours beforehand, will likely bring no direct benefit to the Egyptian economy immediately, analysts say. On display were several new Egyptian-developed armored vehicles aimed at both internal and export markets.
Many exhibitors said the international market has plenty of room for another arms trade venue, and that industry players would likely attend just to plant the flag in the face of competitors.
“No one will say no to another defense expo here in the Middle East, and even if nothing is signed here directly it’s about keeping up relations with potential clients and other industry people, in an informal setting,” said one, who like others at the event said they were prohibited from speaking with reporters and spoke on condition of anonymity.
Global arms sales are booming, with the trade worth over $100 bn annually and growing at a clip of about 10 percent every five years, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. The Middle East is a top-purchasing region, with a regional rivalry between Saudi Arabia and Iran driving several conflicts, including the latest in Yemen that has provoked international outcry over thousands of civilian deaths.
The boom is likely to continue as sales figures increasingly trump politics and embargoes are rare. Increased competition between suppliers has led to a buyers’ market, but companies increasingly become interlinked with co-operation on joint projects and upgrades.
Several Egyptian firms also displayed facial recognition and digital tracking equipment made with help from Western and other companies, a local sector that could prove competitive given Egypt’s broad police and state powers over personal information unfettered by data protection legislation. (Source: glstrade.com/New York Times.com)
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