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07 Mar 19. India Inks Over $3bn Deal with Russia for Nuclear Submarine Despite the Threat of US Sanctions. India on Thursday inked yet another mega defence deal worth over $3bn for the lease of a nuclear-powered attack submarine from Russia, despite the threat of US financial sanctions still looming over the earlier $5.4bn contract inked for Russian S-400 Triumf missile systems in October last year. Defence sources said the over $3bn (around Rs 21,000 crore) contract for the Akula-1 class submarine, which will be ready by around 2025, includes a comprehensive package for refurbishment of the nuclear boat lying mothballed at Severodvinsk, its sustenance and spares support for 10 years, as well as training and technical infrastructure for its operations. This submarine will replace INS Chakra, the Akula class submarine taken on a 10-year lease from Russia in April 2012, under a secret over $900m deal inked way back in January 2004.
“INS Chakra’s existing lease will be extended till at least 2025 through another contract till the new submarine, which will be bigger and more advanced than it, becomes operational,” said a source.
It was in November last year that India declared its first indigenous nuclear-powered submarine with nuclear-tipped ballistic missiles (called SSBN in naval parlance), INS Arihant, had successfully completed its “first deterrence patrol” .
It meant that the country’s long-awaited nuclear triad — the capability to fire nuclear weapons from land (Agni missiles), air (fighter-bombers) and sea (SSBNs like INS Arihant) – was finally operational to some extent.
A nuclear-powered attack submarine (SSN) like INS Chakra, which is not equipped with long-range nuclear missiles due to international treaties, is not meant for “deterrent patrols”. (Source: defense-aerospace.com/Times of India)
07 Mar 19. Taiwan seeks to procure fighter jets from US. Taiwan has reportedly made a formal request to the US Government for the procurement of new fighter jets to tackle increasing enemy threats.
Taiwan Deputy Defence Minister Shen Yi-ming was quoted by AFP as saying: “We made the request to purchase (fighter jets) because China has been increasing its military strength and we are starting to have an imbalance of power in our air defence capabilities.”
Taiwan defence ministry strategic planning director Huang Wen-chi said the government is not specific in its request for a particular type of fighter jet and is open to considering a range of options that suit its needs. The options include F-15, F-18, F-16 and the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter stealth aircraft.
“In September, the US State Department cleared the sale of spare parts for F-16 fighters and other military aircraft to Taiwan in a deal worth up to $330m.”
Huang was quoted by AP as saying: “We didn’t mention any of these models in our request. It will depend on what models the US proposes to us, and then we will choose.”
However, local media Apple Daily reported that Taiwan submitted a request for 66 F-16V jets for a consideration of $13bn. The package could include missiles, logistics and training.
The move is set to affect relations between Beijing in China and Taiwan, which is officially known as the Republic of China. Taiwan split from mainland China following the country’s civil war in 1949.
If the deal is finalised, it is also expected to cause tensions between Beijing and Washington.
In September, the US State Department cleared the sale of spare parts for F-16 fighters and other military aircraft to Taiwan in a deal worth up to $330m. (Source: airforce-technology.com)
07 Mar 19. U.S. urges U.N. to restore tough missile restrictions on Iran after tests. The United States accused Iran on Thursday of defying a U.N. Security Council resolution with one ballistic missile test and two satellite launches since December and urged the council to “bring back tougher international restrictions” on Tehran.
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 following an agreement with six world powers. Some states argue that the language does not make it obligatory.
In a letter to the 15-member council, acting U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Jonathan Cohen said Iran tested a medium-range ballistic missile on Dec. 1, 2018, and attempted to place satellites in orbit on Jan. 15 and Feb. 5.
“Iran has carried out these three launches in defiance of the expressed will of the U.N. Security Council, and such provocations continue to destabilise the entire Middle East region,” Cohen wrote.
Asked for a response to the letter, spokesman Alireza Miryousefi for the Iranian mission to the United Nations said Iran does not have any ballistic missiles designed to carry nuclear weapons “therefore none of the ballistic missile launches of Iran are covered by that resolution.”
At a Security Council meeting in December, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo urged the body to toughen that measure 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.”
Cohen’s letter called upon the council to “join us in imposing real consequences on Iran for its flagrant defiance of the council’s demands and bring back tougher international restrictions to deter Iran’s missile programme.”
The United States has not yet proposed any concrete action by the council to toughen missile restrictions on Iran. Any such move would likely be opposed by veto-powers Russia and China.
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 accord. European powers have been scrambling to salvage the deal following U.S. President Donald Trump’s withdrawal of the United States in May 2018. (Source: Reuters)
05 Mar 19. North Korea rebuilds part of missile site as Bolton warns of more sanctions. North Korea has restored part of a rocket test site it began to dismantle after pledging to do so in a first summit with U.S. President Donald Trump last year, while Trump’s national security advisor warned that new sanctions could be introduced if Pyongyang did not scrap its nuclear weapons programme. South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency and two U.S. think tanks reported on Tuesday that work was underway at the Sohae Satellite Launching Station at Tongchang-ri, even as Trump met with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un at a second summit in Hanoi last week.
That summit broke down over differences on how far North Korea was willing to limit its nuclear programme and the degree of U.S. willingness to ease sanctions. Trump’s national security adviser, John Bolton, told Fox Business Network on Tuesday that following the Hanoi summit, Washington would see whether Pyongyang was committed to giving up its “nuclear weapons programme and everything associated with it.”
“If they’re not willing to do it, then I think President Trump has been very clear … they’re not going to get relief from the crushing economic sanctions that have been imposed on them and we’ll look at ramping those sanctions up in fact,” said Bolton, a hardliner who has advocated a tough approach to North Korea in the past.
Separately, two U.S. senators sought to dial up pressure on North Korea by reintroducing a bill on Tuesday to impose sanctions on any bank that does business with its government. U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Monday he was hopeful the United States would send a delegation to North Korea in the coming weeks, but Bolton’s remarks and the apparent developments at the Sohae test site may cause new challenges for diplomats hoping to restart negotiations after the failed summit.
Satellite images seen by 38 North, a Washington-based North Korea project, showed that structures on the Sohae launch pad had been rebuilt sometime between Feb. 16 and March 2, Jenny Town, managing editor at the project and an analyst at the Stimson Center think tank, told Reuters.
The Center for Strategic and International Studies released a report, also citing satellite imagery, that concluded North Korea is “pursuing a rapid rebuilding” at the site.
“Activity is evident at the vertical engine test stand and the launch pad’s rail-mounted rocket transfer structure,” the CSIS report said. “Significantly, the environmental shelters on the umbilical tower, which are normally closed, have been opened to show the launch pad.”
Asked to comment, the White House referred to the U.S. State Department, which did not immediately respond.
A U.S. government source said the South Korean intelligence agency cited by Yonhap was considered reliable on such issues, but added that the work described did not seem particularly alarming, and certainly not on a scale of resuming missile tests that have been suspended since 2017.
Analysts cautioned that the site has never been used to launch an intercontinental ballistic missile and there is no evidence to suggest a test is imminent, but the site has been used to test missile engines and past satellite launches have helped scuttle talks with the United States. Kim Jong Un pledged at a summit with South Korean President Moon Jae-in in September to close Sohae and allow international experts to observe the dismantling of the missile engine-testing site and a launch pad.
Signs that North Korea had begun acting on its pledge to Trump were detected in July, when a Washington think tank said satellite images indicated work had begun at Sohae to dismantle a building used to assemble space-launch vehicles and a nearby rocket engine test stand used to develop liquid-fuel engines for ballistic missiles and space-launch vehicles.
However, subsequent images indicated North Korea had halted work to dismantle the missile engine test site in the first part of August.
The fact that the site had been dormant since August indicates the new activity is “deliberate and purposeful,” the CSIS report said.
Analysts at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies told Reuters that based on the imagery, the new construction began in the run up to the second summit, which was held on February 27 and 28.
“Bottom line – this is movement in the wrong direction,” said Joshua Pollack, a senior research associate at the centre.
The breakdown of the summit in Hanoi last week has raised questions about the future of U.S.-North Korea dialogue.
While North Korea’s official media said last week Kim and Trump had decided at the summit to continue talks, its Vice Foreign Minister Choe Son Hui told reporters Kim “might lose his willingness to pursue a deal” and questioned the need to continue.
U.S. State Department spokesman Robert Palladino told a news briefing that the United States remains “in regular contact” with North Korea, but he declined to say whether they had been in contact since the summit.
Palladino said U.S. Special Representative for North Korea Stephen Biegun, who led pre-summit negotiation efforts, planned to meet his South Korean and Japanese counterparts on Wednesday.
Yonhap also quoted lawmakers briefed by intelligence officials as saying that the five-megawatt reactor at North Korea’s main nuclear site at Yongbyon, which produces weapons-grade plutonium used to build bombs, had not been operational since late last year, concurring with a report from the U.N. atomic watchdog.
Yonhap quoted the sources as saying there had been no sign of reprocessing of plutonium from the reactor and that tunnels at North Korea’s main nuclear test site in Punggye-ri had remained shut down and unattended since their widely publicized destruction in May, which Pyongyang said was proof of its commitment to ending nuclear testing.
The fate of the Yongbyon nuclear complex and its possible dismantling was a central issue in the Hanoi summit. (Source: Reuters)
05 Mar 19. Ministerial retirements signal renewal potential for Defence portfolios. While the retirements of Christopher Pyne and Steven Ciobo see the Defence portfolios vacated, the policies and industry blueprint put in place leave the industry primed to thrive regardless of future changes. Amid the announcements from Defence Minister Christopher Pyne and now-former defence industry minister Steven Ciobo over the weekend, much of the public and media scrutiny has been focused on the mounting political challenges facing the Morrison government ahead of an expected May poll.
Both ministers have looked back at their time as stewards for Australia’s defence policy and industry development, while Ciobo’s successor, West Australian senator Linda Reynolds, has used the foundation established in the past three years to steady the ship and provide certainty moving forward.
Despite the churn of defence ministers dating back to the Howard era, Minister Pyne in particular made a major impact on the future direction, sustainability and competitiveness of Australia’s emerging defence industrial base, ensuring that his successors, whether appointed by Prime Minister Scott Morrison or Opposition Leader Bill Shorten, will have a viable, robust and sustainable blueprint for developing Australia’s future defence capabilities and defence industrial capability.
In the statement announcing his retirement, Minister Pyne remained proud of his achievements as both Defence and defence industry minister, saying, “As Minister for Defence and before that defence industry, I’ve been responsible for delivering the $200bn build-up of Australia’s military capability, the largest in Australia’s peacetime history, which at the same time we have used to fundamentally reshape our strategic industrial base.”
Minister Pyne’s focus on implementing the 2016 Defence White Paper (DWP) and the complementary $90bn Naval Shipbuilding Plan, 2016 Integrated Investment Plan and finally, the Defence Export Strategy and supporting organisations, has reshaped Australia’s defence capabilities and defence industrial base for the first time since the end of the Second World War.
This relentless focus by Minister Pyne has sought to avoid the period of peaks and troughs, cost and delivery over runs in defence capability development and acquisition throughout the mid-2000s and into the 2010s in high-profile, troubled projects, including the Navy’s Collins Class submarines, Hobart Class air warfare destroyers and the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter programs, which represent billions in investment in Australia’s defence capabilities.
“These roles have included implementing the largest Navy, Air and Army projects in 75 years and creating the Pacific Step Up to support Australia’s strategic position in the south Pacific,” Minister Pyne added.
While a relatively short tenure for Ciobo, he drew on his experience as minister for trade, tourism and investment to enhance and expand Australia’s Defence Export Strategy through key allies throughout Asia and the broader world.
Ciobo reiterated the comments made by Minister Pyne regarding the government’s unprecedented build up in the nation’s defence industry, saying, “As minister for defence industry it has been a joy to work alongside the Hon Christopher Pyne MP, whose passion for all things defence is well known. Australia’s defence industry is in remarkably good shape and energised by the Liberal and National Parties’ $200bn build up of sovereign capability.”
Building on these achievements, the appointment of senator Linda Reynolds to the role of Minister for Defence Industry to succeed Ciobo opens the door for generational change, drawing on the professional experience of Minister Reynolds to support the future development of Australia’s defence industry.
“As a government, we must ensure they [Australian service personnel] are as safe and as best equipped as we can possibly make them. Ensuring the equipment we provide them is state of the art and, wherever possible, made right here in Australia,” Minister Reynolds said following her swearing in over the weekend.
As a former senior-Army Reserves officer over several decades with a career in defence industry, Minister Reynolds identified her desire to continue the direction established by her predecessors and maintain a steady-ship for Australia’s emerging defence industry, particularly during the period of mounting geo-political competition in our region.
“Having worked in and with our defence industry for many years, it is clear how capable we are here in Australia, and how smart we are. Our contemporary geo-strategic environment is challenging, and it is vital we deliver all new single service and joint capabilities, on time and on budget. Having delivered three large organisational reforms in Army, I understand the challenges inherent in doing so,” Minister Reynolds added.
Despite these challenges, it is clear that the foundational work established as part of the 2016 Defence White Paper and supporting documents will provide a stabilising force for the incumbent defence portfolio ministers and their successors following the May election. (Source: Defence Connect)
04 Mar 19. India says French-made Rafale jets to be inducted in September 2019. India will induct French-made Rafale combat jet in September, the chief of the Indian air force B.S. Dhanoa said on Monday. India has ordered 36 planes from Dassault Aviation as part of a modernisation programme of the air force which is phasing out its Soviet-era planes. (Source: Reuters)
04 Mar 19. U.S. deploys THAAD missile defence system to Israel. The U.S. military has deployed its most advanced air and missile defence system to Israel for the first time, U.S. and Israeli military officials said on Monday. The deployment, which began in March, was intended to test the U.S. military’s ability to rapidly deploy such weapons around the world, said a spokeswoman for U.S. European Command.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu welcomed the arrival of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system as a sign of the U.S. commitment to Israeli security.
“The American THAAD system is considered among the most advanced systems in the world, and together with our defence systems, we are stronger in dealing with threats, close or distant, emanating from all areas of the Middle East,” he said.
The move comes amid increased tensions between Israel and Iran over Israel’s bombing campaign in Syria and comments in which Iran’s foreign minister said he could not rule out the possibility of military conflict between the two countries.
The U.S. military said the decision to rapidly move the THAAD system to Israel was intended “as a demonstration of the United States’ continued commitment to Israel’s regional security.”
“THAAD is the most advanced integrated air and missile defence system in the world, and this deployment readiness exercise demonstrates that U.S. forces are agile and can respond quickly and unpredictably to any threat, anywhere, at any time,” U.S. European Command said in a statement.
Lockheed Martin, the biggest U.S. arms maker, builds and integrates the THAAD system, which is designed to shoot down short-, medium- and intermediate-range ballistic missiles. Raytheon, another U.S. firm, builds its advanced radar.
As part of the deployment, U.S. forces will work at various locations in Europe, the United States and in Israel to operate the system in close cooperation with the Israel Defense Forces, it said. U.S. officials declined to say how quickly the system was moved to Israel from its home base at Fort Bliss, Texas.
Israeli military spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Jonathan Conricus said the deployment differed from previous simulated U.S.-Israel joint military exercises and involved tactical coordination on the ground.
He said all of the components of the THAAD system were at an air force base in the Negev desert, in southern Israel, and would soon be moved to an undisclosed site in southern Israel.
“The advantage from the Israeli point of view is that we have an opportunity to integrate it into our systems and simulate different scenarios,” he said.
The IDF said the deployment was defensive in nature and not related to any specific current event. Saudi Arabia agreed in November to buy 44 THAAD launchers, missiles and related equipment from the United States in a separate deal valued at $15bn. (Source: Reuters)
05 Mar 19. Rise in China’s defence budget to outpace economic growth target. China’s 2019 defence spending will rise 7.5 percent from 2018, according to a budget report issued at the opening of the country’s annual meeting of parliament on Tuesday, a slower rate than last year but still outpacing the economic growth target. The defence spending figure, set at 1.19trn yuan (£134.90bn), is closely watched worldwide for clues to China’s strategic intentions as it develops new military capabilities, including stealth fighters, aircraft carriers and anti-satellite missiles. The 2019 defence spending increase comes as China’s economic growth target for the year was set at 6.0 to 6.5 percent.
“We will implement the military strategy for the new era, strengthen military training under combat conditions, and firmly protect China’s sovereignty, security and development interests,” Premier Li Keqiang told parliament.
“We will further implement the military-civilian integration strategy, and speed up efforts to make innovations in defence-related science and technology,” he added.
China’s military build-up has unnerved its neighbours, particularly because of its increasing assertiveness in territorial disputes in the East and South China Seas and over Taiwan, a self-ruled territory Beijing claims as its own. A government spokesman on Monday said China would keep up a “reasonable and appropriate” increase in defence spending to satisfy its national security and military reforms.
On its website, the official People’s Liberation Army Daily said in a report on the defence budget that the armed forces would “focus on supporting national defence and military reform and comprehensively promoting national defence and military modernisation”.
Beijing does not provide a breakdown of its defence budget, leading neighbours and other military powers to complain that its lack of transparency has added to regional tensions.
“China has increased defence spending at a high rate for some time and Japan would like to see a high level of transparency in regard to its defence policy and militarisation,” the Japanese government’s spokesman Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said on Tuesday.
“We will continue to monitor the situation closely and at the same time will look to engage further with China in security dialogue in order to seek clarification.”
Last year, defence spending was set to increase 8.1 percent, compared to a 7 percent rise in 2017, and 7.6 percent in 2016. The five years before that had seen double-digit increases.
China’s defence spending ranks as the world’s second largest, lagging behind the United States. By comparison, U.S. President Donald Trump has backed plans to request $750bn from Congress for U.S. defence spending in 2019.
But diplomats and military experts say China’s defence numbers probably underestimate true military spending for the People’s Liberation Army, the world’s largest armed forces, which are in the midst of an impressive modernisation programme overseen by President Xi Jinping.
China says it is committed to peaceful development, and regularly denounces those it says seek to hype up the “China threat” theory.
“China does not export revolution, hunger or poverty and does not interfere in other countries internal affairs. So where does this threat thing come from?” official news portal China Military Online wrote in a commentary on Tuesday.
Sam Roggeveen, visiting fellow at the Strategic and Defence Studies Centre at Australian National University, said the budget figure marked a “substantial increase” in the size of China’s military.
“China has long maintained its military is for the defence of its borders but that definition has broadened over the years,” Roggeveen said. “The West will be very interested to see what the funds are used for, particularly if it used on assets that can project force over great distances.”
China’s military has been particularly focused on democratic Taiwan recently and is nervous President Tsai Ing-wen wants to move the island towards a formal declaration of independence, a red line for China, which views Taiwan as its territory.
Li said China will “resolutely oppose and deter any separatist schemes or activities seeking Taiwan independence, and resolutely protect China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity”.
Tsai, who has repeatedly warned of the threat from Beijing, says she wants to maintain the status quo with China but will defend the island’s security and democracy.
“China repeatedly claims that they won’t give up annexing Taiwan by force, so we are always being very cautious,” Taiwan Premier Su Tseng-chang told parliament on Tuesday when asked by a lawmaker about the Chinese military threat.
“We are not afraid of a fight and we will not challenge (China), but we are ready to fight at all times.” (Source: Reuters)
04 Mar 19. Russia follows US in pulling out of key cold war arms accord. Moscow move means Intermediate Nuclear Forces treaty could expire in August. Russian president Vladimir Putin followed the US by pulling out from a key bilateral cold war-era nuclear arms treaty on Monday, stoking fears of a new arms race. In a decree published on the Kremlin’s website, Mr Putin said Russia would suspend its obligations in the Intermediate Nuclear Forces treaty “until the United States of America ends its violation of the treaty or until it expires”. US president Donald Trump withdrew the treaty last month after complaining over Russia’s development and deployment of a missile known as the 9M729, which it claims violates the treaty. The moves mean the treaty will expire in August unless both sides return to compliance. Washington wants to replace it with a new or revised agreement including other countries, particularly China. Russia denies that its tests violated the treaty and has vowed to take “extensive measures” to defend its security. In response to accusations by Washington of Russian breaches, Moscow claims US missile defence batteries in Romania and under construction in Poland also violate the treaty. The US claims it has no plans to deploy non INF-compliant missiles in Europe, but has said it would resume research and development that was previously banned under the treaty. “If [the launch systems] are indeed produced and installed in Europe […] it will severely worsen the global security situation and create serious threats for Russia, because some classes of these missiles can fly to Moscow in 10-12 minutes,” president Putin said in his State of the Union address last month. Russia has repeatedly vowed to retaliate against any perceived threats from the US.
In his address, Mr Putin said Russia would “be forced to create and deploy types of weaponry that could be used not just against the territories from which the threats come, but from the territories where decisions are made.” Recommended The FT View The editorial board Nato should not give up on nuclear arms treaty The Russian leader listed an array of new high-tech new weaponry under development that he claimed would be “decisive and effective” against American missile defence. Signed by Mikhail Gorbachev and Ronald Reagan in 1987, the treaty bans ground-launched missiles with a range between 500km and 5,500km. It was hailed as a key turning point in ending the Cold War. Its collapse has revived fears of a new arms race in Europe. The Kremlin has said it wants to reach an agreement on extending the separate New Start treaty, which limits the number of nuclear warheads the US and Moscow can hold and expires in 2021, by the end of this year before Mr Trump’s re-election campaign begins in earnest. General Joseph Dunford, chairman of the US joint chiefs of staff, discussed the issue with his Russian counterpart Valery Gerasimov in Vienna on Monday. “During the meeting, the sides discussed strategic stability and regional security issues, including those affecting anti-missile defence and the New Start and INF treaties,” Russia’s defence ministry said. (Source: FT.com)
04 Mar 19. US Seeking Information About Pakistani Misuse of F-16 Aircraft. The US is seeking more information on the potential misuse of American-made F-16 fighter jets by Pakistan against India in violation of the end-user agreement, the State Department has said. The IAF Thursday displayed parts of an AMRAAM beyond visual range air-to-air missile as evidence to ‘conclusively’ prove that Pakistan deployed US-manufactured F-16 fighter jets during an aerial raid targeting Indian military installations in Kashmir after India’s anti-terror operation in Balakot. Earlier Pakistan had Wednesday categorically said that no F-16 fighter jets were used and denied that one of its planes had been downed by the IAF.
“We are aware of these reports and are seeking more information,” a State Department spokesperson told this agency when asked about the report that Pakistan has violated end-user agreement with the United States in this week’s border clash with India.
“Due to non-disclosure agreements in Foreign Military Sales contracts, we cannot discuss the specifics of end user-agreements contained within,” Lt Col Kone Faulkner, a Defence Department spokesperson said Friday.
The United States, which is the largest seller of high-tech defence equipment globally, and has a strong end-user monitoring agreement, as a matter of practice takes all allegations of misuse of defence articles very seriously.
According to Pentagon’s Defense Security and Cooperation Agency (DSCA) F-16 jets were meant to be used to ‘enhance Pakistan’s ability to conduct counter-insurgency and counterterrorism operations’. Publicly available documents reveal that US has imposed nearly a dozen restriction on Pakistan related to its use of F-16 aircraft. But before making any judgement or arriving at any conclusion, it needs to establish some facts on the ground, if there has been any violation by Pakistan to the F-16 end-user agreement it signed by the United States.
According to Pentagon’s Defense Security and Cooperation Agency (DSCA) F-16 jets were meant to be used to “enhance Pakistan’s ability to conduct counter-insurgency and counterterrorism operations”.
Publicly available documents reveal that US has imposed nearly a dozen restriction on Pakistan related to its use of F-16. During a Congressional hearing on July 20, 2006, John Miller the then Assistant Secretary of State for Political Military Affairs, had told lawmakers that the United States has “very carefully considered” the potential risks of the diversion of US technology and equipment.”
While the exact details of the restrictions were discussed in a closed-door session, and thus remains classified, Miller then broadly outlined some of the restrictions, which he said were over a “dozen new and unprecedented elements” of the security plan for Pakistan. Miller then told lawmakers that the security provisions also include semi-annual inventories of all F-16 aircraft equipment and munitions, including related technical data, and more frequent inventories for other systems.
“There is a two-man rule, so to speak, for access to this equipment and restricted areas, and F-16 flights outside of Pakistan or participation in exercises and operations with third nations must be approved in advance by the United States government,” the then top State Department official said, according to the transcripts of the hearing. (Source: defense-aerospace.com/Press Trust of India)
03 Mar 19. Finally, Two Chinese Aircraft Carriers At Sea. For the first time ever, two People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN or Chinese Navy) aircraft carriers got underway and were at sea, at the same time. This took place on February 27, 2019. After several months of refitting work, China’s first aircraft carrier got underway again at the end of January for an eight-day trial campaign. This was followed by a second on, last Sunday, which should last until March 5th. Liaoning was quickly followed by its Chinese quasi-twin, Type 002 (sometimes referred in China as H/JRZ-002). On February 26th, Hong Kong press reporters Ta Kung Wen Wei (大公 公匯) filmed the crew of the second and newest Chinese aircraft carriers inspecting the flight deck several times and testing the tractors with a full-size model of the J-15 electronic warfare fighter. It was under heavy sea haze the next afternoon that the vessel displacing 60,000-tons left Dalian port, where it had been under construction since March 2015. It is not yet known whether the Type 002 will join Liaoning in the test area (this seems unlikely and of little interest at the moment) or whether Type 002 will conduct its own tests in another zone as what is suggested by the LN-0033 (辽 航 警 0033) navigation notification of the Chinese authorities. Anyways, according to a source close to the PLAN, this fifth set of sea trials for the new aircraft carrier would be used to individually test systems on board, while all tests related to navigation would already be concluded. (Source: News Now/https://www.navalnews.com)
01 Mar 19. US and South Korea cancel large-scale joint military exercises. Decision seen as olive branch to Pyongyang as efforts continue to secure nuclear deal. The US and South Korea have ended their annual large-scale joint military exercises in a move to support diplomacy aimed at dismantling North Korea’s nuclear programme. The decision announced by both countries on Sunday comes after US president Donald Trump’s second summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un ended without an agreement. Both sides blamed each other for the failed high-stakes meeting but left the door open for further diplomacy. The cancellation of the major spring drills is an olive branch to North Korea, which has been irritated by the exercises it sees as a rehearsal for invasion. Defence chiefs from the US and South Korea said the Key Resolve and Foal Eagle exercises would be replaced by smaller-scale joint exercises called “Dongmaeng”, which means “alliance” in English.
Acting US defence secretary Patrick Shanahan and South Korean defence minister Jeong Kyeong-doo shared a phone call on Saturday and “made clear that the alliance decision to adapt our training programme reflected our desire to reduce tension and support our diplomatic efforts to achieve complete denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula in a final, fully verified manner”, according to a Pentagon statement. Mr Jeong regretted that the Hanoi summit was cut short without an agreement but expressed his hopes for further talks between Washington and Pyongyang. The new drills will start on Monday through to March 12. The two allies will carry out “adjusted outside manoeuvre training and united command exercises to continue firm military readiness”, Seoul’s defence ministry said. They have already suspended a series of joint military drills since Mr Trump’s first summit with Mr Kim in Singapore in June last year. Mr Trump often complained about the cost of annual military drills. “It is a very, very expensive thing and we do have to think about that too,” he told reporters after the Hanoi summit. Recommended The FT View The editorial board Failure in Hanoi should not end Korea diplomacy The two Koreas remain in a technical state of war as the 1950-53 Korean war ended in a ceasefire. Mr Trump has pressured Seoul to increase its financial contribution for the presence of 28,500 US troops in South Korea. The scaled-back exercises could raise concerns about the readiness of the joint military forces in case of North Korean provocation, especially after the Hanoi summit collapsed over sanctions relief. Mr Trump said on Saturday that North Korea did not have any economic future with nuclear weapons. “North Korea has an incredible, brilliant economic future if they make a deal, but they don’t have any economic future if they have nuclear weapons,” he said at a Conservative Political Action Conference, adding that the relationship with North Korea was “very, very strong”. (Source: FT.com)
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