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11 Jul 19. Addressing the elephant in the room: The national security and economic overlap. Australia is consistently told that as a nation we are torn between our economic relationship with China and the long-standing strategic partnership with the US, placing the country at the epicentre of a great power rivalry – but what if it didn’t have to be that way?

Since the nation’s earliest days, both Australia’s economic and strategic planning has been intrinsically defined and impacted by a number of different, yet interconnected and increasingly complex factors, namely:

  • The benevolence and continuing stability of its primary strategic partner;
  • The geographic isolation of the continent, highlighted by the ‘tyranny of distance’;
  • A relatively small population in comparison with its neighbours; and
  • Increasingly, the geo-political, economic and strategic ambition and capabilities of Australia’s Indo-Pacific Asian neighbours.

Australia’s earliest economic and strategic relationship with the British Empire established a foundation of dependence that would characterise all of the nation’s future economic, defence and national security relationships both in the Indo-Pacific and the wider world. As British power slowly declined following the First World War and the US emerged as the pre-eminent economic, political and strategic power during the Second World War – Australia became dependent on ‘Pax Americana’ or the American Peace.

The end of the Second World War and the creation of the post-war economic and strategic order including the establishment of the Bretton Woods Conference, the International Monetary Fund and the United Nations paved the way towards economic liberalisation and laid the foundation for the late-20th and early 21st century phenomenon of globalisation.

While the collapse of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War cemented America’s position as the pre-eminent world power – this period was relatively short lived as costly engagements in Afghanistan and Iraq, peace-keeping interventions in southern Europe and enduring global security responsibilities have drained American ‘blood’ and ‘treasure’ – eroding the domestic political, economic and strategic resolve and capacity of the US to unilaterally counter the rise of totalitarian regimes and peer competitors in both China and Russia.

For Australia, the economic emergence of the Indo-Pacific has presented the opportunity to re-write the nation’s economic narrative, leveraging areas of natural competitive advantage, supporting the industrial reset with the birth of the fourth industrial revolution. Economic diversity and competitiveness is an essential component of enduring and sustainable national security.

However, Australia seems to have focused the dichotomy of its strategic security entirely on the US and its economic focus has been placed largely on supporting the industrialisation and economic development of China following its opening to the West in the mid-to-late 1980s – thus setting the scene for Australia’s current economic, political and strategic conundrum.

Australia in the Asian Century – Embracing the opportunity

Undeniably China is an immense economic, political and strategic power – with a voracious appetite driven by an immense population and the nation positioning itself as the manufacturing hub of the world – however, beyond the 1.4 billion people, Indo-Pacific Asia is home to approximately 2.5 billion individuals each part of the largest economic and industrial transformation in human history.

While successive Australian governments of both persuasion have sought to expand Australia’s integration and participation in the economic miracle that is the rise of the Indo-Pacific – China has continued to dominate the nation’s economic narrative from the housing sector to agriculture and resources and energy – often to the detriment of relationships with regional nations that approach Beijing with a degree of caution.

Importantly, as Australia’s traditional strategic benefactors continue to face decline and comparatively capable peer competitors – the nation’s economic, political and strategic capability are intrinsically linked to the enduring security, stability and prosperity in an increasingly unpredictable region. This approach fails to recognise the precarious position Australia now finds itself in, however it does identify key areas for the nation’s political and strategic leaders to focus on if Australia is to establish a truly independent strategic capacity – this focuses largely on:

  • Australia’s continuing economic prosperity and stability and the role the economy plays in supporting defence capability;
  • The economic, political and strategic intentions of Australia’s Indo-Pacific neighbours; and
  • The rapidly evolving technology-heavy nature of contemporary warfare.

As a nation, Australia is at a precipice and both the Australian public and the nation’s political and strategic leaders need to decide what they want the nation to be – do they want the nation to become an economic, political and strategic backwater caught between two competing great empires and a growing cluster of periphery great powers? Or does Australia “have a crack” and actively establish itself as a regional great power with all the benefits that entails? Because the window of opportunity is closing.

Let us know your thoughts

The nation is defined by its relationship with the region, with access to the growing economies and to strategic sea-lines-of-communication supporting over 90 per cent of global trade, a result of the cost effective and reliable nature of sea transport. Indo-Pacific Asia is at the epicentre of the global maritime trade, with about US$5 trillion worth of trade flowing through the South China Sea and the strategic waterways and choke points of south-east Asia annually.

For Australia, a nation defined by its relationship with traditionally larger, yet economically weaker regional neighbours, the growing economic prosperity of the region and corresponding arms build up, combined with ancient and more recent enmities, competing geo-political, economic and strategic interests, places the nation at the centre of the 21st century’s ‘great game’. (Source: Defence Connect)

09 Jul 19. Joint Statement from the President of the United States Donald J. Trump and His Highness Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al-Thani, Amir of the State of Qatar. Today, as leaders of the United States and Qatar, we committed to further advancing the high-level strategic cooperation between our two countries. The United States and Qatar share a history of friendship based on common efforts and mutual respect. For decades, the bonds between our great nations have strengthened, reinforcing an increasingly close strategic and defense relationship focused on countering threats to our security, peace, and prosperity.

Together, we applaud the significant advances made by our two countries across a range of commercial and defense opportunities, and we reiterate the importance of continued cooperation. We both seek to conclude other arrangements necessary to realizing this common vision for enhanced economic, political, and defense cooperation between our nations.

We discussed our extensive and increasing economic partnership, including these mutually beneficial transactions:

— The Qatar Airways purchase of five Boeing 777 Freighters.

— The Qatar Airways commitment to purchase large-cabin aircraft from Gulfstream.

— The Chevron-Phillips Chemical Company LLC and Qatar Petroleum agreement to pursue the development, construction, and operation of a petrochemicals complex in Qatar.

— The Qatar Ministry of Defense’s commitment to acquire Raytheon’s NASAM and Patriot Systems.

— The selection by Qatar Airways of GE jet engines and services to power its 787 and 777 Aircraft.

These are only the most recent examples of what continue to be strong commercial, political, and security ties between the United States and Qatar. We are committed to continuing the positive partnership between our two countries. (Source: defense-aerospace.com/The White House)

08 Jul 19. Airbus, Boeing indicate they may pull out of Canada fighter jet race – sources. Airbus SE (AIR.PA) and Boeing Co (BA.N) may pull out of a bidding process to supply Canada with new fighter jets because they say the contest is unfairly tilted towards Lockheed Martin Corp (LMT.N), two sources with direct knowledge of the situation said on Monday.

The three companies competing with Lockheed Martin’s F-35 jet have already complained about the way the contest is being run, and expressed concern some of the specifications clearly favour the U.S. firm, industry sources have said in recent weeks.

Next week the government is due to release the so-called request for proposals – the final list of requirements – for the 88 new planes it wants to buy. The contract is worth between C$15bn (£9bn) and C$19bn and the planes are due to be delivered between 2025 and the early 2030s.

Boeing and Airbus have now formally written to Ottawa expressing concerns about the current requirements, said two sources familiar with the matter who declined to be identified given the sensitivity of the situation. The fourth bidder is Sweden’s Saab AB (SAABb.ST).

Pat Finn, the defence ministry’s top official in charge of procurement, confirmed one of the four companies had sent a formal letter but gave no details. The final request for proposals is due out on July 17 and modifications are still being considered, he said.

“We continue to engage all four of them,” he said in a telephone interview. “We have had some comments (such as) ‘If changes are not made in such a place then we would frankly consider possibly not bidding.’”

“We are looking at those very seriously. I can’t say that we will make every change, but as far as we know we continue to have four bidders in the race.”

Airbus declined to comment. Boeing did not respond to a request for comment.

Canada has been trying unsuccessfully for almost a decade to buy replacements for its ageing F-18 fighters. In May, Ottawa changed the rules to allow Lockheed Martin to submit a bid, prompting Boeing to take the unusual step of announcing publicly it was surprised.

“Anyone who is not Lockheed Martin has expressed a very strong view,” said one of the sources. “We have been pretty clear with the government that this is not a request for proposals that lends to our participation.”

At least one firm has expressed unhappiness that the requirements emphasize the ability to carry out first strikes on targets abroad, a strength of the F-35, said the sources.

The government of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau insists the competition is not rigged. Finn said the defence ministry also had made changes to the requirements at the request of Boeing, Airbus and Saab.

Canada is part of the international consortium that developed the F-35. The former Conservative administration said in 2010 it would buy 65 of the jets but later scrapped the decision, triggering years of delays.

Trudeau came to power in 2015 vowing not to buy the F-35 on the grounds that it was too costly, but Ottawa has since softened its line. (Source: Reuters)

09 Jul 19. Japan’s ARDB: The marine unit piquing China’s interest. With China sending a spy vessel down towards Australia in order to gather intelligence from Exercise Talisman Sabre, it is understood the main focus will be on Japan’s Amphibious Rapid Deployment Brigade (ARDB), a marine unit that serves as the guardian of Japanese islands on the edge of the East China Sea.

Japan’s version of the US Marines, the ARDB was formally established in April last year with the capability to respond to potential attacks on remote islands around the East China Sea.

The catalyst for this of course is China’s ongoing maritime assertiveness in the area, with Tokyo recognising the need for such a unit in 2006 in its Defense Programs and Budget of Japan.

Specifically, tensions over the Senkaku Islands and the Chinese Coast Guard being put under military control led to the creation of the marine unit.

The 2014 RIMPAC Exercise would see the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force (JGSDF) take part in amphibious warfare training alongside the US Marines and further training taking place two years later, with 300 personnel from the Western Army Infantry Regiment (WAIR) sent to Camp Pendleton, the major west coast base of the US Marine Corps.

These personnel were trained to prepare for the establishment of the ARDB, which took place in April last year, the first activation of a Japanese marine unit since WWII.

“Given the increasingly difficult defence and security situation surrounding Japan, defence of our islands has become a critical mandate,” Japan’s Vice Defense Minister Tomohiro Yamamoto said at the launch of the ARDB.

The launch also saw the creation of a unified command for the marine unit, which eliminated the previous system of having the JGSDF being overseen by five regional armies with separate commanding generals, and headquarters for the unit was set up in the SDF’s Camp Ainoura in Sasebo, Nagasaki Prefecture, with the initial staffing level at 2,100 personnel.

The ARDB saw its first official overseas deployment in October last year, with 150 personnel sent to participate alongside the US and the Philippines in Exercise Kamandag, which saw Japan land armoured vehicles on foreign soil for the first time since the Second World War, in a clear message from all three countries to China.

With the low international visibility of the ARDB (so far), it’s hardly surprising that China is closely monitoring the force’s capabilities at Exercise Talisman Sabre.

With the reasonably quick formation of the unit, doubts have been expressed over the initial performance of the ARDB, which has only been compounded by delays to planned vehicle acquisitions and drama surrounding plans to base V-22 Osprey aircraft at Saga Airport.

“They’ve already demonstrated the ability to put together an ad hoc Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU). But to have a solid, standing MEU capability requires concerted effort,” Grant Newsham, a research fellow at the Japan Forum for Strategic Studies, said last year.

“If Japan put its mind to it, within a year or year and a half it could have a reasonable capability.”

Japan’s Ministry of Defense had to agree to pay $130m over 20 years to support local fishermen who expressed concerns about aircraft noise affecting their business, in order to ensure that the ARDB was able to strengthen their capability at protecting islands in the East China Sea, with the alternative being basing the Osprey’s over 1,000 kilometres away, in the Chiba Prefecture.

This option, of course, would significantly lower Japan’s ability to enhance deterrence against potential invasions on these islands.

Japan also faced delays over its planned AAV7 vehicle acquisitions for the ARDB, with only 15 out of 52 stationed at their base due to manufacturing delays.

The AAV7 was delayed due to a fire at a BAE Systems subcontractor, as well as a parts shortage, meaning 37 were still due to be delivered during the establishment of the ARDB.

The vehicle is also operated by the US Marine Corps, and both forces used the AAV7 at Operation Iron Fist 2019 in February, the first time the ARDB brought its own assault amphibious vehicles to the exercise between the US and Japan.

Exercise Talisman Sabre 2019, however, will be the most visible operation the ARDB will take part in, with over 34,000 personnel from the US and Australia to take part, as well as forces from Canada, New Zealand and the UK.

Delegations from India and the Republic of Korea will also observe the exercise, with a total of 18 nations from across the Indo-Pacific invited to an international visitors program. (Source: Defence Connect)

09 Jul 19. Australia’s Minister for Defence aims to strengthen defence ties within Europe. Minister for Defence Linda Reynolds has jetted off to Europe to “further enhance Australia’s international defence engagement with the United Kingdom, France and NATO”.

The Minister for Defence noted that “Australia’s defence relationships with our European partners are based on our shared history, common values and a commitment to uphold the international rules-based order”.

“In the UK, I will meet with senior defence officials, including the British Secretary of State for Defence Penny Mordaunt, to discuss the unique closeness of our bilateral relationship and how this enables us to meet the shared security challenges of the future,” Minister Reynolds said.

“I will also deliver a keynote speech at the International Institute for Strategic Studies to outline how our two nations are strengthening our defence relationship in a changing strategic environment.”

Minister Reynolds is also expected to call upon the UK to be more engaged in the Indo-Pacific region, as tensions grow more and more in the region, and confirmed she would be doing the same when visiting France and meeting French Minister of the Armed Forces Florence Parly.

The French-leg will also allow Minister Reynolds an opportunity to meet the workforce from Defence, Naval Group and Lockheed Martin Australia who are working together on Australia’s Attack Class submarine fleet.

The trip will also see Minister Reynolds “examine opportunities for increased defence industry collaboration” in Scotland’s Govan Shipyard, including supporting roles for Australia’s $35bn Hunter Class program.

Australia’s defence industry will also be promoted in Glasgow during Minister Reynold’s visit to Thales’ establishment, where Australian-designed Bushmaster protected mobility vehicles will be built if selected for the UK’s multi-role vehicle – protected (MRV-P) program.

Minister Reynolds will then travel to Belgium to meet with NATO Deputy Secretary General Rose Gottemoeller and “reassert Australia’s commitment as a reliable NATO partner”, as well as participate in strategic-level discussions with NATO Ambassadors and the Chairman of the NATO Military Committee. (Source: Defence Connect)

08 Jul 19. New Zealand and China sign agreement to enhance defence ties. The governments of New Zealand and China have signed an agreement for defence cooperation to strengthen the relationship between the two nations. The agreement was signed between New Zealand Defence Minister Ron Mark and his Chinese counterpart General Wei Fenghe during a visit to Beijing, China. Prior to signing the agreement, Mark and Fenghe held talks to review the state of the defence relationship. The arrangement will cover issues such as climate change, international peace cooperation, humanitarian and disaster relief activities.

Mark said: “China and New Zealand cooperate across a range of areas. This arrangement provides a strong framework under which we can continue this cooperation.

“It recognises our ongoing intention to maintain dialogue across a range of levels in the defence relationship, to build our understanding of each other and promote positive links between our people.”

Mark noted that New Zealand recognises the need to enhance defence cooperation with China.

He added: “We already share commitments to United Nations peacekeeping missions, most notably in South Sudan. Our militaries are also conducting joint planning activities to ensure we work together effectively on disaster relief.”

The country also intends to make use of its strong relationship with China to tackle growing climate change in the region and globally.

China’s Central Military Commission (CMC) vice-chairman General Xu Qiliang said that the two militaries will look to explore new areas of the partnership to enable deeper cooperation.

Fenghe said: “The two countries must work on the important consensus reached by the two heads of state, deepen strategic mutual trust, extend practical cooperation, and forge even closer defence relations, in an effort to make great contribution to the China-New Zealand comprehensive strategic partnership.” (Source: army-technology.com)

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About Lincad

Lincad is a leading expert in the design and manufacture of batteries, chargers and associated products for a range of applications across a number of different sectors. With a heritage spanning more than three decades in the defence and security sectors, Lincad has particular expertise in the development of reliable, ruggedised products with high environmental, thermal and electromagnetic performance.  With a dedicated team of engineers and production staff, all product is designed and manufactured in-house at Lincad’s facility in Ash Vale, Surrey. Lincad is ISO 9001 and TickITplus accredited and works closely with its customers to satisfy their power management requirements.

Lincad is also a member of the Joint Supply Chain Accreditation Register (JOSCAR), the accreditation system for the aerospace, defence and security sectors, and is certified with Cyber Essentials, the government-backed, industry supported scheme to help organisations protect themselves against common cyber attacks. The majority of Lincad’s products contain high energy density lithium-ion technology, but the most suitable technology for each customer requirement is employed, based on Lincad’s extensive knowledge of available electrochemistries. Lincad offers full life cycle product support services that include repairs and upgrades from point of introduction into service, through to disposal at the end of a product’s life.  From product inception, through to delivery and in-service product support, Lincad offers the high quality service that customers expect from a recognised British supplier.

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