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05 Sep 19. Fears Over U.S. Missile Shield in a Japan Suburb Hobble Abe’s Plan. The sleepy northwestern Japanese suburb of Araya seemed like the perfect place for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to put a U.S. anti-missile system. The area had reliably backed the ruling party and had first-hand experience of a North Korean rocket flying overhead. That is, until residents began to worry that Lockheed Martin Corp.’s Aegis Ashore system might make their pocket of homes nestled near rice fields and the sea a prime target for Pyongyang in any conflict. Opposition quickly rallied against the project, helping oust an upper house lawmaker from Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party in July and forcing the Defense Ministry to redo site surveys.
“I don’t think Aegis Ashore is needed, but at least I want them not to put it right next to this residential area,” said independent lawmaker Shizuka Terata, 44, who defeated the LDP incumbent in a district that had supported the party in 14 of the past 19 elections. “As the mother of a child, I hated the idea.”
The push back is the latest sign of the limits of Abe’s efforts to balance Japan’s deep-seated pacifism with renewed threats from North Korea and a demanding ally in U.S. President Donald Trump. The $5 billion anti-missile system faces a likely delay if not a bigger rethink: the Defense Ministry’s 2020 budget request includes money for purchasing the missile interceptors, but none for preparing the site.
Moving ahead with the plan would require Abe to either push past or win over local opposition, with 60% of Akita residents opposed to the deployment, according to a July poll by the local Sakigake Shinpo newspaper. Another alternative is to pick another site in northern Japan, at the risk of sparking a similar reaction. (Source: defense-aerospace.com/Bloomberg)
05 Sep 19. Pakistan close to buying 36 fighter jets from Egypt. Pakistan’s Air Force is close to closing a deal with Egypt to buy Dassault Mirage-V aircraft after long negotiations head towards a close.
The Egyptian Air Force has retired the aircraft from service which means they will have to be refurbished before going into service. Last year Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi met with Pakistan’s Joint Chief of Staff Committee Chairman Generl Zubair Mahmood Hayat to discuss military cooperation and the fight against terror. The two countries have had a long and steady relationship. Last year they celebrated 70 years of diplomatic relations after Egypt was the first country to open an embassy in Pakistan after it achieved independence.
In June Egypt’s ambassador to Pakistan said his country values relations with Pakistan. In May Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan visited Al-Sisi and the leaders agreed to upgrade cooperation. Egyptian Minister of Planning Hala Al-Saeed said she was keen to promote and develop bilateral relations in various fields and has said: “Long live Egypt. Long live Pakistan.”
Pakistan also has strategic relations with some of Egypt’s major allies, including Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
Yesterday Saudi Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Adel Al-Jubeir and UAE Foreign Minister Shaikh Abdullah Bin Zayed Al Nahyan met their counterpart Shah Mamood Qureshi and Prime Minister Imran Khan to discuss the issue of Kashmir in a symbolic show of unity, according to Pakistan.
The visit comes after the UAE honoured Indian Prime Minister Narenda Modi in a highly controversial decision.
After India revoked the special status of Kashmir neighbouring Pakistan said it would downgrade diplomatic ties with India and called on New Delhi to reverse its “illegal annexation of Kashmir”.
On Sunday, thousands of Pakistanis protested for the fourth week against India’s decision. (Source: News Now/https://www.middleeastmonitor.com)
05 Sep 19. Putin says Russia will make new missiles, warns of arms race. President Vladimir Putin said on Thursday that Russia would produce missiles that were banned under a landmark Cold-War era nuclear pact that ended last month, but that Moscow would not deploy them unless the United States did so first. Speaking at an economic forum in Russia’s Far East, Putin said Moscow had urged the United States to de-escalate a spiralling arms race between the former Cold War foes, but that Washington had not responded.
The Russian leader said he was concerned by U.S. talk of deploying missiles in Japan and South Korea, a deployment he said would cover parts of Russian territory.
Tensions over nuclear arms control have been rising after Washington formally pulled out of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) pact last month accusing Russia of violating it, allegations Moscow denied. Last month the United States tested a conventionally-configured cruise missile that hit a target more than 500 km away, a test that would have been prohibited under the INF.
The pact banned land-based missiles with a range of 310-3,400 miles, reducing the ability of both countries to launch a nuclear strike at short notice.
“…Of course we will produce such missiles,” Putin told an economic forum in the Russian city of Vladivostok. He repeated a pledge by Moscow not to deploy any new missiles unless the United States does so first.
“We are not happy about the fact that the head of the Pentagon said that the United States intends to deploy them in Japan and South Korea, this saddens us and is a cause for certain concern,” Putin said. (Source: Reuters)
06 Sep 19. US Navy pushes connectivity for innovation. The US Navy wants to increase innovation across the department by developing five ‘tech bridges’ to better connect it with the private sector.
The project, under the direction of the US Naval Expeditions (NavalX) Agility Office, will establish tech bridges in five locations around the US. The move will allow the Navy to draw on talent from across the country and from a range of sectors.
Unlike other naval initiatives designed to bring new technologies to field, this push will focus more on getting ideas to the US Navy in a more seamless manner.
The tech bridges are to be developed under a partnership between NavalX and Navy Systems Commands and the Office of Naval Research (ONR).
US Navy assistant secretary of the Navy for Research, Development and Acquisition, James Geurts, said: “We’re not in the business of inventing things or getting rid of them and replacing them with a new shiny object.
“NavalX wants to connect those people with good ideas about innovation, in and out of the DoN [Department of the Navy], and leverage what’s already being done well—to maintain our most competitive advantage: thinking faster than our enemy.”
Geurts also announced the ‘tech bridges’ will be in Newport, Rhode Island; Keyport, Washington; San Diego, California; Orlando, Florida; and Crane, Indiana.
The Navy said: “The tech bridges will connect and sustain ‘acceleration ecosystems’ in off-base locations across the DoN, enabling greater collaboration.
“This will be done by partnering with colleges and universities, research institutions, start-ups, corporations, small businesses and non-profits, among others.”
The tech bridges will enable people from differing fields to cooperate, facilitating an environment of discussion that is designed to push forward development for the navy.
Geurts added: “ONR can leverage that platform to get access to new ideas and technologies and companies they may not have seen before … when the [Small Business Innovation Research] folks can meet new companies and give them rapid training on how to compete for navy work… when scientists can walk in with an idea or hear about a problem and go back to their academic institutions and propose research projects that leverage all those different elements…
“When sailors and marines have a place they can walk into to either find an answer or find somebody that can get them the answer—or have an idea and then get that idea to somebody who can act [sic].”
NavalX was launched in February of this year to allow the Navy to more quickly bring technologies into service across the US Navy and Marine Corps. (Source: naval-technology.com)
06 Sep 19. Chief of Army identifies the growing role of Army within the joint force. Chief of Army, Lieutenant General Rick Burr, has released an updated guidance document outlining the ‘Army’s Contribution to Defence Strategy’ and the unique contributions Army will provide to the nation’s strategic defence objectives as part of furthering Accelerated Warfare and the Army’s pursuit of a truly networked, hardened and combined arms force.
Like both the Navy and Air Force, the Australian Army is undergoing the largest peace time modernisation and recapitalisation program with a focus on enhancing the long-term lethality, interoperability, survivability and capability of the force to meet the tactical and strategic objectives identified by government – major programs, including LAND 400 Phase 2 and 3, LAND 1182, LAND 4503 and LAND 19 Phase 7B, all serve as central components for developing a future fighting force.
Accelerated Warfare and Army in Motion serve as the guiding doctrines for Army’s major recapitalisation and modernisation program and the way the Army’s teams contribute to the development of the ‘joint force’ and ADF capable of dominating the multi-domain battlespace when required to secure Australia’s national interests.
Accelerated Warfare seeks to identify the key future touch points for Army, while identifying the role it will play in future conflicts as part of the ADF’s joint force. Chief of Army, Lieutenant General Rick Burr, has long identified four areas of disruption for the Army to respond to in the coming decades, namely:
- Geopolitics: The Indo-Pacific regional order is defined by a rapidly changing threat environment and operating spectrum of co-operation, competition and conflict. The days of unchallenged coalition operations are quickly fading as state and asymmetric actors all develop capabilities that threaten the natural advantages Australia and its allies have leveraged for supremacy over the past 50 years.
- Threat: Indo-Pacific Asia’s operating landscape is changing. Adversaries, including violent extremist organisations and state-based threats can now control and influence all operating domains. Future strike capabilities will not just be physical but also digital, executed often at the speed of a mouse-click. Sophisticated anti-access, area denial (A2/AD) capabilities offer the ability to deny manoeuvre while distributed systems that are ‘smarter’ and smaller are becoming increasingly essential to survivability. Networking will be critical in terms of generating a system capable of ‘co-operative engagement’.
- Technology: As in civilian life, technology is changing the way war is fought. The rapid development turn around of technologies like UAS, the proliferation of non-traditional intelligence gathering devices, the convergence of big data, artificial intelligence, machine learning, robotics and precision strike capabilities all present significant challenges, not only to operations, but to the decision-making process of soldiers and commanders.
- Domains: The reach of sensor and precision fire means Army must be across all domains and comprehensively integrate across them. Space and cyber have not been fully contested in previous wars and there is limited knowledge on how conflict in these domains will play out in the future. Army’s ability to operate in the traditional air, sea and land domains are at risk of being debilitated from space and cyber, yet there is also great opportunity in these domains for military advantage.
In responding to these unique challenges, Army has established Accelerated Warfare as not only the successor to Plan Bersheeba, but the next stage in the evolution of the Australian Army into a fully-fledged, combined arms fighting force for the 21st century battlespace and every domain that may encompass.
Expanding on this, LTGEN Burr has launched a key thought leadership document that outlines the role Army will play in the future national security of the nation, titled Army in Motion: Army’s Contribution to Defence Strategy.
“Army in Motion is our central idea to meet the demands of Accelerated Warfare. Army is designing for change and continuing our proud history of delivering mission success in demanding and dangerous environments. Army is focused on being ready now and future ready to support Defence and the nation,” LTGEN Burr’s executive summary identifies.
Defence Strategy – Army never operates alone
It is important to clearly articulate, LTGEN Burr is firm in stating that the Army never operates in isolation from the Royal Australian Navy and Royal Australian Air Force, and the Army will become an increasingly critical component of the broader ‘joint force’ and ‘multi-domain’ doctrines reshaping and enhancing the capabilities of the entire ADF.
“Army never operates alone. Army contributes to Defence, and the joint and integrated force. Army therefore does not have its own strategy but contributes
to the achievement of Defence strategy inclusive of the Defence White Paper, Integrated Investment Plan, Defence Industry Policy Statement, Defence Planning Guidance, Australia’s Military Strategy and Defence International Engagement Strategy.”
LTGEN Burr’s framework identifies the role Army plays and will continue to play within the national security equation for Australian policy makers, stating: “Army plays a vital role in the defence of our nation and its national interests. This includes contributing to a safe, secure and prosperous Australia, a stable Indo-Pacific region, and Australia’s efforts to protect international law, liberal institutions, universal values and human rights.”
A key component of the Army’s capacity to act in such a manner is the role the force plays in the ‘joint force’ ADF and the increasing importance the concept plays in the ADF’s concept of operations (CONOPS) in the Indo-Pacific.
“Defence executes its missions as a joint and integrated force. This approach extends beyond operations; Army structures, generates and postures with a joint and integrated mindset. Army’s success depends on strong partnerships within Defence and with whole-of-government, industry, academia, the Australian community, and our allied and military partners,” the document states.
“Army generates teams for the joint and integrated force. These must make the effects and capabilities of Navy, Air Force, Joint Capabilities Group and Headquarters Joint Operations Command stronger. This is because challenges and opportunities are crossing boundaries and evading single service responsibility.”
As Australia’s role in Indo-Pacific Asia and the strategic balance of power continues to evolve, the Australian Army will be called upon to fulfil a range of roles beyond those it has conducted over the past 50 years. Power projection and the application of ‘hard power’ in both a high and low intensity capacity will dramatically reshape the Australian Army despite an unprecedented level of investment.
In the second part of this series, Defence Connect will take a closer look at LTGEN Burr’s focus on Accelerated Warfare and Army in Motion and the role each of those concepts will play in shaping the Army’s force structure, modernisation, platform recapitalisation and broader integration into the ‘joint force’, ‘multi-domain’ orientated combat force. (Source: Defence Connect)
05 Sep 19. US defence chief urges Britain to take back its Isis fighters. Hundreds of European militants held by Kurdish forces in northern Syria. The UK government’s reluctance to repatriate Isis fighters being held in custody in the Middle East is creating an “untenable” situation for local Kurdish forces who may not be able to hold them indefinitely, US defence secretary Mark Esper has warned. Mr Esper was speaking on his first official visit to Britain since being confirmed in post two months ago. He is due to meet prime minister Boris Johnson today in a relationship-building mission in which the pair will discuss a “checklist” of issues, but said the question of how European countries including the UK should take responsibility for bringing their own Islamist militants home to face justice was “an important issue that we need to deal with, that we need to resolve”. The UK Home Office has caused controversy by stripping some Isis recruits — such as teenage Jihadi bride Shamima Begum — of British citizenship and refusing to allow them back into the country. Hundreds of European Isis supporters and their family members are currently being detained by the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces in northern Syria, “It’s an untenable situation, right, how long can this last?
Our view has been that they should be repatriated and dealt with appropriately,” Mr Esper told reporters yesterday. “So that’s the message. Otherwise it’s a risk to the region. How long can they be guarded in these camps by others? You’re talking about several thousand fighters in total but there’s a little bit over 2,000 foreign fighters, many of which come from Europe.” The UK Home Office has stripped teenage Jihadi bride Shamima Begum of her British citizenship © Healy, Helen M The defence secretary suggested that the US-backed SDF might not be able to provide custody for foreign fighters indefinitely, raising the risk of a new security threat if they are released.
“We don’t know [whether the Kurds would let them go], that wouldn’t be a good situation. We’re asking a lot of the folks there, the Kurds, to hold them. How tenable is that, and for how long?” Mr Esper was also dismissive about the removal of citizenship as a solution to the wider problems of how to neutralise the risks posed by former fighters. “[Taking away their passports] doesn’t resolve the fact that . . . there are foreign fighters, in Syria, being guarded, and how long will that last?,” he said. “The US’ government message is that they should be repatriated . . . back home and dealt with by their countries of origin. I think they should all go back to their home countries to face justice.” The US and UK are currently negotiating the fate of former Britons Alexanda Kotey and Shafee El-Sheikh, who are said to have been members of a four-man cell of militants in Iraq and Syria known as “The Beatles”, because of their English accents. The two men, who are being held in custody in northern Syria, could potentially be extradited to the US for trial but their families are trying to force the Home Office to repatriate them to Britain through court proceedings. Both have been stripped of their UK citizenship. European countries such as France, Sweden and the Netherlands are also battling with the problem of how to bring former Isis fighters to justice. The Swedish government is spearheading attempts to form a new international tribunal based in Iraq to prosecute Isis fighters and military personnel, although critics have said this is a transparent ploy to keep potentially dangerous European nationals in the Middle East. (Source: FT.com)
05 Sep 19. Russian Defenses Intercept Drone Attack on Khmeimim Air Base in Syria. Sounds of explosions rocked an area in Syria’s Latakia province, where Russia’s Khmeimim Air Base is located. The base’s air defenses fended off a new suicide drone attack on the base, launched by jihadists from nearby Idlib.
The loud blasts were reported by several regional media, including Syrian state TV SANA. The channel’s correspondent said they were made by Khmeimim’s air defenses shooting down terrorist drones.
Two unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) were detected on course for the base on Tuesday evening, the Russian Ministry of Defense said in a statement. They were “destroyed at a safe distance” by stationary air defense systems. There were no injuries or damage at the base, which “continues to operate as planned” the MOD said.
This is just the latest attack of this kind, as Islamist militants have increasingly been relying on new offensives using sophisticated technology. Though the drones are often crude-looking, the Russian Defense Ministry has previously said that the UAVs used by jihadists are GPS-guided and the bomblets attached to them carry potent explosives.
The Russian air base has been attacked in this manner before, most recently last month when six suicide drones launched from Idlib province attempted to breach its defenses. Another major attack was launched in May. The strikes have largely coincided with offensives by militants still controlling Idlib, mostly the Hayat Tahrir ash-Sham terrorist group (formerly known as the Al-Nusra Front, an Al-Qaeda affiliate).
Khmeimim is located near the city of Latakia, in the eponymous Syrian province. It was established in 2015 as a main base of the Russian expeditionary force, which has assisted the government in Damascus against terrorists and Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS) militants that at one point controlled much of Syria. (Source: UAS VISION/RT)
04 Sep 19. Japan seeks improved aerial refueling, military transport capabilities in KC-46 funding request. Japan’s Ministry of Defense has confirmed it is seeking to increase it fleet of Boeing KC-46A Pegasus tankers, adding to its current order of four aircraft.
In response to queries from Defense News, a spokeswoman from the ministry said a budget request for four more KC-46s over the next fiscal year will bring its fleet to six aircraft. Japan already has two KC-46s on contract as part of an original 2015 request for four tankers under the U.S. government’s Foreign Military Sales program.
The latest Japanese budget request, released Friday, contained a line item asking for a further $1.05bn to fund four more KC-46s, which will be for the remaining two aircraft from the 2015 order and another two.
Japan already awarded contracts to Boeing for two KC-46As previously on order, with contracts each for one aircraft worth $279m and $159m issued in December 2017 and 2018 respectively. The first contract included additional logistics support, which accounts for the higher cost.
The request for funding for four KC-46As is a departure from normal procedure. Japan tended to place such orders under a rolling acquisition system, with small numbers of aircraft or systems on a year-on year basis. According to the budget request document, the batch order is a more cost-effective means of acquisition, resulting in $100m worth of savings.
The addition of the KC-46s will significantly enhance the aerial refueling capabilities of the Japan Air Self-Defense Force, of JASDF, which operates four Boeing KC-767 tankers at Komaki Air Base near the city of Nagoya, west of Japan’s capital Tokyo.
The KC-46s will be incorporated into a new JASDF unit and will also be used in a transport role.
The tankers will be compatible with the JASDF’s existing F-15J/DJ Eagle fighter jets, most of which are set to undergo an upgrade to improve electronic warfare and multirole capabilities. The tankers will also complement the Lockheed Martin F-35A/B Lighting II Joint Strike Fighters. Japan has ordered 157 F-35 jets, including 42 “B” models, which have less of an endurance than the “A” model because of the former’s short-takeoff-and-vertical-landing capability.
The Japanese government is placing more emphasis on the defense of remote southwest islands such as the Senkaku group, situated in the East China Sea approximately 550 miles from the Japanese mainland and whose ownership is disputed by China.
Japan’s armed forces are stepping up their role in regional security and are increasing their involvement in training activities alongside partners such as Australia. They are also working to improve the ability to conduct aerial refueling as well as move cargo and personnel over long distances. (Source: Defense News)
05 Sep 19. Nearly a decade on and Australia’s ‘Asian Century’ dream appears to have run aground. When it was first released in 2012, the Gillard government’s Asian Century white paper promised Australians an easy ride on the back the Indo-Pacific’s startling economic and industrial transformation – fast forward seven years and both the nation and region appear to be caught in a series of rapids, directly impacting the flow of the region’s development and security.
“As the global centre of gravity shifts to our region, the tyranny of distance is being replaced by the prospects of proximity – Australia is located in the right place at the right time – in the Asian region in the Asian century,” then prime minister Julia Gillard’s celebrated Asian Century white paper promised the nation an easy, conflict-free ride on the back of the rapidly industrialising neighbours to the nation’s north and a broad promise that the economic growth of the region would serve as an insulating factor against potential conflict.
Fast forward to today, across the Indo-Pacific, competing economic, political and strategic interests, designs and ambitions are beginning to clash – driven by an unprecedented economic transformation, propelling once developing nations onto the world stage, the region, the globe and its established powers are having to adjust to a dramatically different global power paradigm.
For example, since the white paper was released, China’s share of global GDP has risen from 15 per cent to 20 per cent, based on purchasing power parity. India, the region’s other emerging economic and industrial powerhouse, has seen its share of the global economy double from around 4 per cent to 8 per cent since the beginning of the 21st century, however the economic rise has given way to growing geo-strategic designs and competition throughout the region and is serving to unpick the fabric of the post-Second World War order.
From the South China Sea (SCS) to the increasing hostilities between India, Pakistan and China in the Kashmir region of the Himalayas, the Indo-Pacific’s changing paradigm, and growing economic, political and strategic competition between the US and China, continued sabre rattling and challenges to regional and global energy supplies travelling via the Persian Gulf, and an increasingly resurgent Russia all serve to challenge the global and regional order.
For Australia, a nation that has long sought to balance the paradigms of strategic independence and strategic dependence – dependent on strategic relationships with global great powers, beginning with the British Empire and now the US – and a rising economic dependence on the developing nations of the Indo-Pacific who are now emerging as some of the world’s largest economic, political and strategic powers.
This delicate balancing act served the nation well while the US remained the world’s pre-eminent economic, political and strategic power – however the rise of China and India, combined with the increasing prosperity and assertiveness of other Indo-Pacific powers ranging from Indonesia and Pakistan to traditional regional powers like Japan, is serving to undermine both the economic and strategic foundations that the Australian strategic and economic policy communities and government have based advice and policy upon.
The growing period of economic, political and strategic competition that has come to characterise the relationship between the two great Eastern and Western linchpins of the Indo-Pacific – the US and China – has had marked impacts on the cohesiveness of the region and the enduring stability of the global economic, political and strategic order, as allies like Japan and South Korea turn on one another, rekindling ancient rivalries and enmities, driven by contemporary economic and strategic concerns.
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?
Economic slowdown v economic diversity
Repeated attempts to stimulate Australia’s economy through tax relief and interest rate cuts appears to have done little in the way of stimulating domestic consumer and economic confidence, despite a turn around in the nation’s trade surplus on the back of mineral exports resulting in a larger than expected surplus of$5.8bn, as was recently announced by Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Treasurer Josh Frydenberg.
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 1.4bn people, Indo-Pacific Asia is home to approximately 2.5bn individuals, each part of the largest economic and industrial transformation in human history.
While successive Australian governments of both persuasions 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.
Furthermore, Australia’s insistence on pursuing ‘free trade agreements’ with nations who have additional layers of legislative and bureaucratic industry protections, combined with successive governments presiding over the death of Australia’s manufacturing sector and a reluctance to invest in advanced manufacturing techniques, has prompted Australia to become little more than a mine and farm for the rising powers of Indo-Pacific Asia and the very embodiment of the lazy country moniker, which author Donald Horne originally intended the Lucky Country to be known as.
Like every nation, the advent of the fourth industrial revolution is effectively resetting the global manufacturing balance of power, where comparative advantages are diminished, combined with the continent’s unrivalled resource wealth and Australian’s willingness to “have a crack” positioning the nation well to benefit from the demands of the Indo-Pacific with additional strategic benefits in support of government industry policy.
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.
These competing interests were recently highlighted by former SASR officer, turned government MP and chair of the influential parliamentary intelligence and security committee, Andrew Hastie, who identified: “Australia must now, somehow, hold on to our sovereignty and prosperity. We must balance security and trade. But most importantly, we must remain true to our democratic convictions while also seeing the world as it is, not as we wish it to be.”
Australia’s need for strategic independence
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.
Hugh White’s focus on and underlying belief that Australia seriously committing to a sustained and focused effort to develop a true regional power is too difficult continues to perpetuate a black and white approach to developing strategic policy, thus limiting Australia’s capacity to assertively and proactively intervene to defend its own national interests should the nation’s larger allies become increasingly distracted and limited in their ability to do so.
White’s approach, like many others within the Australian strategic policy community fail to adequately and appropriately articulate the very real geopolitical, economic and strategic challenges facing the country – what they do focus on is ensuring that Australia’s strategic capability fits within the neat confines of agreed-upon force structure, capability development, manpower and acquisition models first developed during the mid-to-late 1980s.
This doctrine focuses largely on isolating Australia from any form of direct responsibility or role within the Indo-Pacific, entrenching further dependence on larger great powers for key capabilities and support despite their own unique tactical and strategic responsibilities – it is important to recognise that while Australia does comparatively “punch above its weight”, the nation has since the end of the 1990s continued to reduce its capability to actively and assertively project sustainable, tactical and strategic presence in the Indo-Pacific, thus limiting Australia’s capacity to act independently.
Despite these abject failures, this thinking does somehow manage to identify key areas for the nation’s political and strategic leaders to focus on if Australia is to establish a truly independent strategic capacity, which focuses largely on:
- Australia’s continuing economic prosperity, stability and industrial competitiveness 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.
Responding to these challenges requires an approach that recognises that each of these factors are all part of national security policy. This includes a dedicated focus on developing a robust economic and industrial capacity, devoid of dependence on any single source of economic prosperity, while focusing on developing a robust and independently capable tactical and strategic military capability, supported by Australia’s enduring diplomatic goodwill and relationships in the region.
These responses do not hinder Australia’s economic growth or strategic stability, rather, if developed, communicated and implemented correctly, they support the economic growth, diversity and development of the nation, building on a record period of economic growth and prosperity, providing flow-on benefits for Australia’s strategic capacity to act as an independent strategic benefactor.
Andrew Hastie has reinforced the nation’s need to focus on dictating its long-term future, developing and implementing a cohesive plan outlining direction and an end goal of reinventing itself, and its position within the rapidly evolving regional and global order, lest potential adversaries begin dictating those terms of engagement for us: “Right now our greatest vulnerability lies not in our infrastructure, but in our thinking. That intellectual failure makes us institutionally weak. If we don’t understand the challenge ahead for our civil society, in our parliaments, in our universities, in our private enterprises, in our charities – our little platoons – then choices will be made for us. Our sovereignty, our freedoms, will be diminished.”
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$5trn worth of trade flowing through the South China Sea and the strategic waterways and chokepoints of south-east Asia annually.
For Australia, a nation defined by this 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 geopolitical, economic and strategic interests, places the nation at the centre of the 21st century’s ‘great game’.
Enhancing Australia’s capacity to act as an independent power, incorporating great power-style strategic economic, diplomatic and military capability serves not only as a powerful symbol of Australia’s sovereignty and evolving responsibilities in supporting and enhancing the security and prosperity of Indo-Pacific Asia. Shifting the public discussion away from the default Australian position of “it is all a little too difficult, so let’s not bother” will yield unprecedented economic, diplomatic, political and strategic opportunities for the nation. (Source: Defence Connect)
03 Sep 19. US Sanctions Iran Space Agency Over Alleged Ballistic Missiles. The Trump administration has sanctioned three Iranian space organizations, alleging a cover up for missile work. The US has said the orders serve as an international warning about Tehran’s nuclear abilities. The US has for the first time imposed sanctions on Iran’s civilian space agency as well as two research organizations, which it accused of developing ballistic missiles. The US State and Treasury departments made the announcement on Tuesday, alleging that the Iran Space Agency, the Iran Space Research Center, and the Astronautics Research Institute were advancing Tehran’s missile program under the cover of a civilian mission to launch satellites into orbit. The Trump administration said that a recent explosion on a launch pad was a sign of missile work.
“The United States will not allow Iran to use its space launch program as cover to advance its ballistic missile programs,” said US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
The US under Trump has put increasing pressure on Tehran since Washington withdrew from the internationally-arranged Iran nuclear deal and reinstated economic sanctions.
What do the sanctions mean?
Under the new sanctions, all US citizens and residents would be held criminally responsible for engaging with Iran’s space program. Any foreign companies and governments, as well as international space cooperation organizations, can be subject to penalties if found to have any involvement with the Iranian space institutions.
The White House would also freeze any of the Iran space agency’s assets in US jurisdictions, though it is unlikely there would be any given the current state of the relationship between the two countries.
“These designations should serve as a warning to the international scientific community that collaborating with Iran’s space program could contribute to Tehran’s ability to develop a nuclear weapon delivery system,” Pompeo said.
Iran: Explosions a ‘technical error’
Tehran denied that its space activities were a cover-up for missile development. Pompeo, however, argued that Iran’s attempt to test a space launch vehicle on August 29 at the Imam Khomeini Space Center highlighted “the urgency of the threat.”
Following the explosion, US President Donald Trump had tweeted a surveillance image depicting its apparent aftermath, declaring that the US had nothing to do with the incident.
Iranian state spokesperson, Ali Rabiei, said on Monday that the explosion was “a technical matter and a technical error.”
Iran insists the space agency is developing rockets to launch satellites into space. The explosion had been Iran’s third failed attempt involving a rocket at the Iranian center, raising suspicions of sabotage. In January and February, satellites Payam and Doosti also failed to launch. Iran is preparing to launch the Nahid-1, a communication satellite. The US alleges that the satellite launch defies a UN Security Council resolution which states that Iran should not conduct any activity related to ballistic missiles capable of delivering nuclear weapons. (Source: defense-aerospace.com/Deutsche Welle German Radio)
04 Sep 19. India and Russia tie up energy and defence deals. Negotiations are part of Moscow’s efforts to deepen links with the Asian country. India and Russia signed a number of energy and defence deals on Wednesday as part of prime minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the country, as Moscow seeks to deepen its ties with the Asian power. Russian president Vladimir Putin told his guest at a signing ceremony in Vladivostok that the two countries were preparing a 10-year military-technical co-operation programme, as companies from both countries signed agreements on gas supplies and agricultural products. Mr Modi’s position as chief guest of an economic forum in the eastern Russian port focusing on Asian relations follows Chinese president Xi Jinping fulfilling that role last year. While Moscow is keen to deepen ties with China to offset souring relations with the west, it does not want to rely too much on Beijing and sees India as a critical Asian counterweight. “India’s energy companies are invited to participate in other promising projects, such as Far Eastern LNG and Arctic LNG 2,” Mr Putin said, referring to liquid natural gas projects in development. Novatek, a Russian gas company developing the Arctic LNG 2 project, said it had signed a memorandum of understanding with Indian LNG group Petronet on “future natural gas co-operation”. “The MoU envisages delivering LNG supplies from Novatek’s portfolio to the Indian market, including natural gas supplies for power generation, as well as investment by Petronet LNG in Novatek’s future LNG projects,” the company said in a statement. (Source: FT.com)
03 Sep 19. Japan won’t join U.S.-led maritime coalition in Gulf: newspaper. Japan will not join a U.S.-led security mission to protect merchant vessels passing through key Middle Eastern waterways, but will consider deploying its naval force independently, the Yomiuri newspaper reported on Tuesday. Though the United States is Japan’s most important ally, Tokyo has fostered economic ties with Iran, and Japanese firms had been major buyers of Iranian oil until U.S. sanctions forced them to find other suppliers. Citing unidentified government sources, the Yomiuri said Japan was considering a plan to send its Maritime Self-Defense Force (SDF) on information-gathering missions in the areas around the Strait of Hormuz and Bab al-Mandab shipping lane between Yemen, Djibouti and Eritrea. It would also consider including the Strait of Hormuz in the SDF’s sphere of activity if Iran agrees, the paper said.
Asked about the newspaper report, Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga declined to mention specific measures that the government was considering to ensure the safety of Japanese vessels.
“As for what kind of steps would be effective to secure the safety of navigation of Japanese ships in the Middle East, we would like to look into the matter from various angles including stable crude oil supply, and Japan’s ties with the United States and Iran,” Suga told a regular news conference.
“As we investigate the issue, we want to keep our principle of maintaining our diplomatic effort for easing tensions and stabilizing the situation in the Middle East.”
Iran has denounced U.S. efforts to set up the coalition and says countries in the region can protect waterways and work toward signing a non-aggression pact.
The Japanese government is set to make a final decision, including whether the plan is feasible, after the United Nations General Assembly later this month, the Yomiuri said.
Suga said arrangements are being made for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to meet with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly later this month.
Global commodity trading has been rocked in recent months by the seizure of a British tanker and a series of attacks on international merchant vessels that the U.S. and Britain have blamed on Iran. Tehran denies involvement. Britain last month became the first U.S. ally to announce its participation, although most European countries have been reluctant to sign up for fear of adding to tension in the region. (Source: Defense News Early Bird/Reuters)
30 Aug 19. UK MoD and Airbus Defence and Space Withdraw from Canada’s Future Fighter Capability Project. The United Kingdom’s Ministry of Defence (UK MoD) and Airbus Defence and Space today informed the Government of Canada of their decision to withdraw from Canada’s Future Fighter Capability Project (FFCP). The decision is the result of a detailed review of the Request for Proposal (RFP), following its release on 23 July 2019. Both the UK MoD and Airbus Defence and Space deeply appreciate the FFCP team’s commitment to transparency throughout the last two years as well as the thoroughly professional nature of the competition. This applies in particular to the efforts made to facilitate an enormously complex task of developing the RFP whilst responding to feedback from the suppliers.
After careful analysis of the input from the draft as well as the final RFP, two factors have led to the Typhoon Canada campaign team’s decision to withdraw from the project:
First, a detailed review has led the parties to conclude that NORAD security requirements continue to place too significant of a cost on platforms whose manufacture and repair chains sit outside the United States-Canada 2-EYES community.
Second, both parties concluded that the significant recent revision of industrial technological benefits (ITB) obligations does not sufficiently value the binding commitments the Typhoon Canada package was willing to make, and which were one of its major points of focus.
With the decision to withdraw from the FFCP, the UK MoD and Airbus Defence and Space will not proceed any further with the Typhoon Canada campaign. However, both parties strongly reiterate their commitment to the Canadian government, the Canadian Armed Forces, the country’s aerospace sector and ultimately the people of Canada.
Simon Jacques, President of Airbus Defence and Space Canada, said: “Airbus Defence and Space is proud of our longstanding partnership with the Government of Canada, and of serving our fifth home country’s aerospace priorities for over three decades. Together we continue in our focus of supporting the men and women of the Canadian Armed Forces, growing skilled aerospace jobs across the country and spurring innovation in the Canadian aerospace sector.”
(defense-aerospace.com EDITOR’S NOTE: Alan Williams, the former Canadian defense procurement minister who signed the country’s entry into the Joint Strike Fighter program but later rebelled against the way the Harper government attempted to trick Canadians into acquiring the aircraft, said in an August 30 e-mail that “To date, the government has certainly bent over backwards to facilitate the F-35 bid.”
Williams was alluding to the fact that, during his election campaign, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau had sworn he would never buy the F-35. He later delayed the fighter competition he had promised to bring forward. By then acceding to US demands to lower the requirement for offsets – something that Lockheed cannot deliver, as they are forbidden by the F-35 program bylaws – Trudeau has now convinced a second European competitor (after Dassault) to pull out of the competition. Next will no doubt be Gripen because, as Sweden is not even a member of NATO, it stands an even lower chance than the UK to be allowed access to NORAD security requirements. Canada’s choice will then be limited to the Super Hornet or the F-35, and since the former is the ultimate descendant of a 50-year old design that has already been in service for over 20 years, it will have little chance of winning.) (Source: www.unmannedairspace.info)
02 Sep 19. Growing concerns about Pentagon’s ability to fund America’s global responsibilities. Rising regional and global tensions are beginning to reveal both the limitations of US power and, indeed, its long-term willingness to maintain the post-World War II order. The US Studies Centre and US Congressional Budget Office have expressed growing concerns, with implications for Australia in the rapidly evolving and fluid environment.
The great myth of the “end of history” following the collapse of the Soviet Union promised an unencumbered and enduring period of American Peace. However, the rapidly evolving world order – driven by the rise of the Indo-Pacific, resurgence of potential peer competitors, and complacency of US allies – is challenging the once unassailable position of the US.
While Australia has long sought to balance the paradigms of strategic independence and strategic dependence – seemingly limited by a comparatively small population and industrial base – the pendulum has always swung more heavily towards a paradigm of dependence. However, the changing nature of domestic and global affairs requires renewed consideration.
The growing combination of both conventional and hybrid/grey-zone capabilities of peer and near-peer competitors – namely Russia and China – combined with the growing modernisation, capability enhancements and reorganisation of force structures in the armies of nations including India, Indonesia, Vietnam and Thailand, all contribute to the changing balance of economic, political and strategic power in the Indo-Pacific.
This perfect storm of factors, swirling like a maelstrom across Australia’s northern borders, has largely gone unnoticed by the Australian public, beyond the odd port visit by American or, as recently happened, Chinese naval vessels that seem to cause momentary flurries of concern. Meanwhile, Australia’s strategic and political leaders appear to be caught in an increasingly dangerous paradigm of thinking, one of continuing US-led dominance and Australia maintaining its position as a supplementary power.
Recognising the increasing confluence of challenges facing enduring US tactical and strategic primacy, the University of Sydney-based United States Studies Centre (USSC) study, titled Averting Crisis: American strategy, military spending and collective defence in the Indo-Pacific; combined with a recent ASPI piece, The Pentagon’s budget can’t fund America’s global commitments; and the US Congressional Budget Office (CBO) study, Long-Term Implications of the 2020 Future Years Defense Program, all combined to serve to paint a rather confronting picture for Australia and other allies in the region.
The very real limitations of US power
Costly engagements in Afghanistan and Iraq, combined with longstanding attempts to denuclearise Iran, have served to draw American and allied focus, while draining “blood and treasure”, eroding the domestic political, strategic and economic resolve and capacity to respond to the resurgence of totalitarian regimes and peer competitors in both China and Russia.
Further compounding these issues is the growing instability in the US, particularly given the increasing unpredictability and transactional attitude towards alliances by US President Donald Trump – combined with allegations of complacency by NATO allies and the ongoing trade and strategic disputes with China, renewed territorial aggression by Russia and the ever-present threat of conflict with Iran.
It is important to recognise that for the first time, America has a true competitor in China – a nation with immense industrial potential, growing wealth and prosperity, a driving national purpose and a growing series of alliances with re-emerging, resource-rich great powers in Russia, and supported by a growing network of economic hubs and indebted psuedo-colonies throughout the Indo-Pacific and Asia.
Unlike the Soviet Union, China is a highly industrialised nation – with an industrial capacity comparable with, if not exceeding that of, the US, supported by a rapidly narrowing technological gap, supporting growing military capability and territorial ambitions, bringing the rising power into direct competition with the US and its now fraying alliance network of tired global allies.
Recognising these challenges, Matilda Steward, Brendan Thomas-Noone and Ashley Townshend highlighted the growing conundrum faced by the US and policymakers in their recent article for ASPI: “The United States is facing a serious crisis of strategic insolvency in which the ends of its expansive strategy for building the liberal order outstrip the budgetary and military means at Washington’s disposal. Without hard choices by America’s political elite to spend more on defence or scale back the country’s global commitments, the Pentagon will continue to be left with insufficient resources to single-handedly maintain a favourable balance of power in the Indo-Pacific.”
Further to this, like all national budgets, America’s defence expenditure is not separated from broader national budgetary responsibilities, each of which have a dramatic impact on the US and its long-term capacity to support military modernisation, recapitalisation, research and development and ongoing operations, with the US Congressional Budget Office (CBO) raising questions about the capacity of the US to maintain its qualitative edge and key strategic and tactical advantages over emerging peer competitors in the Indo-Pacific region.
“In CBO’s estimation, those costs would reach $776bn (in 2020 dollars) by 2034, an increase of 13 percent in real terms over the 10 years following 2024. The key factors that would lead to increases in DoD’s costs are as follows:
- The costs of compensation for military personnel would continue to increase at historical rates, growing faster than inflation;
- The costs of operation and maintenance (O&M) would continue to increase at historical rates, growing faster than inflation; and
- The costs for the acquisition of weapon systems would meet the department’s modernization objectives and maintain the current size of the force.
“Of the increase in annual costs that CBO projects from 2024 through 2034 ($88bn), about 18 percent ($16bn) is for the cost of military personnel; 43 percent ($37bn) is for O&M costs; and 38 percent ($33bn) is for costs to develop and purchase weapon systems,” the CBO study identified.
Personifying this growing funding conundrum, the increasing cost blow outs and project delays of major US defence acquisition and development programs, including strategic programs like the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, the Gerald R Ford Class of aircraft carriers, B-21 Raider strategic bomber, combined with ballooning US government debt and domestic political and societal challenges, serve as unique and important challenges, limiting America’s enduring ability to project presence.
In response, Steward, Thomas-Noone and Townshend issued an important rallying cry for regional American partners, stating: “These pressures present a considerable challenge for defence officials who are working hard to train, equip and posture the joint force for conventional deterrence in the Indo-Pacific. Novel efforts are underway to address these shortfalls, some of which involve new technologies or changes to US military posture in the region.
“For now, though, the defence budget is unlikely to meet the needs of America’s global strategy. Australia and other allies need to start contemplating the requirements of collective defence.”
Declining US capability sees a need for greater allied and Australian capability
One of the core challenges facing the US in the Indo-Pacific and, more broadly, key allies like Australia, Japan and South Korea is the growing atrophy of America’s armed forces in the region, and the report cites a number of contributing factors directly impacting the capacity of the US to wage war, particularly as China, a peer competitor, presents an increasingly capable, equipped and well-funded array of platforms, doctrine and capabilities.
“America has an atrophying force that is not sufficiently ready, equipped or postured for great power competition in the Indo-Pacific – a challenge it is working hard to address. Twenty years of near-continuous combat and budget instability has eroded the readiness of key elements in the US Air Force, Navy, Army and Marine Corps. Military accidents have risen, ageing equipment is being used beyond its lifespan and training has been cut,” the USSC study identified.
“Military platforms built in the 1980s are becoming harder and more costly to maintain, while many systems designed for great power conflict were curtailed in the 2000s to make way for the force requirements of Middle Eastern wars – leading to stretched capacity and overuse.”
The USSC spells out the one thing few of Australia’s strategic policy thinkers and political leaders seem willing to come to terms with, beyond the radical fluctuations between doom and gloom scenarios: some of which range from a complete retreat by the US, leaving Australia and other regional allies alone, or a semi-retreat and focus on limiting risk to key American assets in the region.
In doing so, the USSC recognises that for the first time, America has a true competitor in China – a nation with immense industrial potential, growing wealth and prosperity, a driving national purpose and a growing series of alliances with re-emerging, resource rich great powers in Russia, and supported by a growing network of economic hubs and indebted psuedo-colonies throughout the Indo-Pacific and Asia.
Whether consciously recognising the potential of this challenge or not, the US President’s direct, often confrontational approach towards allies belies domestic concerns about America’s ability to maintain the post-Second World War global order. Andrew Davies of the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) highlighted the importance of recognising the limitation of US power in a recent piece for ASPI, saying, “The assumption of continued US primacy that permeated DWP 2016 looked heroic at the time. It seems almost foolishly misplaced now.”
Australia emerged from the Second World War as a middle power, essential to maintaining the post-war economic, political and strategic power paradigm established and led by the US – this relationship, established as a result of the direct threat to Australia, replaced Australia’s strategic relationship of dependence on the British Empire and continues to serve as the basis of the nation’s strategic policy direction and planning.
The nation is uniquely located, straddling both the Indian and Pacific Ocean at the very edge of south-east Asia, enhancing the nation’s status as the key regional ally for the US – with Australia increasingly dependent upon the economic stability and growth of major established and emerging economic, political and strategic Indo-Pacific powers, namely China, Japan, India, Korea and smaller nations.
Recognising this, Australia’s security and prosperity are directly influenced by the stability and prosperity of the Indo-Pacific, meaning Australia must be directly engaged as both a benefactor and leader in all matters related to strategic, economic and political security, serving as either a replacement or complementary force to the role played by the US – should the US commitment or capacity be limited.
Questions for Australia
Despite Australia’s enduring commitment to the Australia-US alliance, serious questions remain for Australia in the new world order of President Donald Trump’s America, as a number of allies have been targeted by the maverick President for relying on the US for their security against larger state-based actors, which has seen the President actively pressuring key allies, particularly NATO allies, to renegotiate the deals.
Enhancing Australia’s capacity to act as an independent power, incorporating great power-style strategic economic, diplomatic and military capability serves as a powerful symbol of Australia’s sovereignty and evolving responsibilities in supporting and enhancing the security and prosperity of Indo-Pacific Asia. Shifting the public discussion away from the default Australian position of “it is all a little too difficult, so let’s not bother” will provide unprecedented economic, diplomatic, political and strategic opportunities for the nation.
However, as events continue to unfold throughout the region and China continues to throw its economic, political and strategic weight around, can Australia afford to remain a secondary power or does it need to embrace a larger, more independent role in an era of increasing great power competition? (Source: Defence Connect)
30 Aug 19. Here’s what Japan’s Defense Ministry wants to do with $50.5bn. Japan’s Defense Ministry has requested a budget of $50.5bn for its next fiscal year, an increase of 1.2 percent over the previous year and the eighth straight year of an increase.
The funds will be used to acquire more Lockheed Martin F-35 fighter jets, including Japan’s first short-takeoff-and-vertical-landing F-35B, as well as increasing its Boeing KC-46A Pegasus tanker fleet to six aircraft.
The bulk of the budget request is for costs associated with U.S. military forces stationed in Japan, with $1.9bn requested to pay the salaries of Japanese citizens employed by the U.S military, supporting training exercises, and performing maintenance on and improvements to U.S. military facilities.
The ministry’s request includes $1.08bn for F-35s, which is made up of $291.3m for three conventional takeoff and landing F-35As and $795.3m for six F-35Bs.
These will be Japan’s first F-35Bs, and it’s expected the country will eventually order 42 “B” models, of which 18 will be acquired over the next five years, according to Japan’s Mid-Term Defense Plan released late last year. It also has plans to eventually operate 105 F-35As.
The F-35Bs are to be operated from two Izumo-class helicopter destroyers. Japan announced last year plans to convert both ships, which are currently designed to operate helicopters, to be able to handle F-35Bs. Notably, the budget request asks for $29.1 m for “partial refurbishment” to enable F-35B operations.
According to other reports, modifications for the ships include improvements to the heat resistance of their flight decks as well as the installation of additional lighting for aircraft operations. Japanese Defense Minister Takeshi Iwaya added that F-35B deck trials could be conducted with U.S. Marine Corps F-35Bs based in Japan following the modification work.
Beyond the jets
The budget request also asks for $1.05 bn for four more Boeing KC-46A Pegasus tanker aircraft, and $284.8 m for more Raytheon SM-3 Block IIA ballistic missile interceptors.
The request for funding for four KC-46As is a departure from normal procedure, Previously, Japan ordered one tanker each during the 2017 and 2018 fiscal years. According to the ministry, the batch order is a more cost-effective means of acquisition, resulting in $100m worth of savings.
Given that Japan already awarded contracts to Boeing for two of the three KC-46As previously on order, the budget request for four more tankers suggests the ministry wants funding for the last aircraft and and for an additional order of three KC-46s. Defense News has sought clarification from Japan’s Defense Ministry over whether this is the case.
The budget request also includes a number of acquisitions from Japan’s defense industry, with $654.3m for another Soryu-class diesel-electric attack submarine.
And should the budget pass, Kawasaki Heavy Industries will be able to keep its aircraft production lines open, with the ministry seeking funds to acquire three more P-1 anti-submarine aircraft and six C-2 airlifters at $213.4m and $599m respectively.
The ministry also wants money for more equipment destined for Japan’s land forces: 33 Type 16 wheeled maneuver combat vehicles and seven Type 19 wheeled self-propelled howitzers. The Type 19 is a newly developed eight-wheel drive howitzer sporting a 155mm weapon mounted on the German MAN HX military truck chassis, and it’s earmarked to replace the towed FH70 howitzer currently in service with the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force.
The Defense Ministry also wants to continue funding the development of indigenous electronic warfare capabilities.
Japan’s next fiscal year begins April 1, 2020. The budget request is not necessarily the actual amount that will be allocated by the Finance Ministry. (Source: Defense News)
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