Sponsored by Lincad
18 Oct 19. Taiwan says F-16 upgrade back on track, as it seeks recon pods that can watch China’s coastline.
Taiwan’s defense minister said the country’s program to upgrade its F-16 fleet is expected to finish on schedule in 2022, despite ongoing delays.
In addition, the East Asian island’s government is also seeking new long-range reconnaissance pods for its F-16 fleet, which is set to be bolstered with more aircraft following the U.S. State Department’s approval of Taiwan’s request for 70 more new F-16 jets in August.
Speaking to Taiwan’s parliament, Defense Minister Yen Teh-fa admitted that the Phoenix Rising upgrade program had been “seriously” delayed, citing a shortage of manpower at Taiwan’s Aerospace Industrial Development Corporation, or AIDC, as the main cause. However, he added, the shortage has been alleviated by hiring 200 additional employees at AIDC’s purpose-built F-16 upgrade facility at Taichung.
Meanwhile, the chief of staff of Taiwan’s Air Force, Lt. Gen. Liu Renyuan, said the delays mean the number of upgraded F-16s expected this year has been reduced from 24 to 20, although he still expects the upgrade program to be completed as planned by 2022.
The $5.3 billion Phoenix Rising program will see Taiwan’s F-16A/B Block 20 aircraft upgraded to the F-16V standard. The upgrade sees the installation of the Northrop Grumman AN/APG-83 scalable agile beam radar, an active electronically scanned radar, to replace the older mechanically scanned set; new mission computers; improvements to the aircraft’s electronic warfare suite and avionics; and the integration of new precision-guided weapons.
Singapore and South Korea are also upgrading their F-16s to roughly similar standards with new radars and mission computers. Singapore is upgrading its fleet of 60 F-16C/D Block 52 aircraft, while South Korea is upgrading 134 F-16s.
Looking across the Taiwan Strait
Lu Yu-ling, a legislator who sits on Taiwan’s Foreign and National Defense Committee, told parliament that the government will request the UTC Aerospace Systems MS-110 long-range oblique photography, or LOROP, pods from the United States. The MS-110 is a derivative of the DB-110 LOROP pod, and it adds multispectral capability to the DB-110’s electro-optical/infrared capabilities.
According to UTC Aerospace Systems, the DB-110 is a 110-inch focal length reconnaissance system capable of producing high-resolution imagery from nadir to a standoff range of more than 80 nautical miles, day or night. The company also says the DB-110 can collect more than 10,000 square miles of high-resolution imagery per hour and “serves as the cornerstone of many air forces’ tactical and strategic [intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance] capabilities.”
The new pods are slated to replace four Phoenix Eye LOROP pods used by the Taiwanese Air Force’s F-16s and eight Northrop RF-5E Tigereye reconnaissance aircraft. Critics of the Phoenix Eye pods have pointed to the technology’s inefficiency in night and all-weather environments, something that the MS-110 system is expected to resolve. (Source: Defense News)
17 Oct 19. Satellite images reveal China’s aircraft carrier ‘factory,’ analysts say. High-resolution satellite images show that the construction of China’s first full-sized aircraft carrier is progressing steadily alongside expansive infrastructure work that analysts say suggests the ship will be the first of several large vessels produced at the site.
The images of the Jiangnan shipyard outside Shanghai were taken last month and provided to Reuters by the non-partisan Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), building on satellite photos it obtained in April and September last year.
Noting a series of pre-fabricated sections, bulkheads and other components stacked nearby, CSIS analysts say the hull should be finished within 12 months, after which it is likely to be moved to a newly created harbour and wharf before being fitted out.
The vast harbour on the Yangtze River estuary, including a wharf nearly 1 kilometre long and large buildings for manufacturing ship components, is nearly complete. Much of the harbour area appeared to be abandoned farmland just a year ago, according to earlier images CSIS analysed.
It dwarfs an existing harbour nearby, where destroyers and other warships are docked.
“We can see slow but steady progress on the hull, but I think the really surprising thing these images show is the extensive infrastructure buildup that has gone on simultaneously,” said CSIS analyst Matthew Funaiole.
“It is hard to imagine all this is being done for just one ship,” he added. “This looks more like a specialised space for carriers and or other larger vessels.”
Singapore-based military analyst Collin Koh said the modern, purpose-built facility on a sparsely populated island in the Yangtze may provide better security than the congested shipyards of Dalian in northern China. It could also help deepen co-operation between commercial and military shipbuilders.
The London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies noted this year that China’s military shipyards were focusing increasingly on larger surface warships, “adding to the sense that Chinese naval-capability development may be entering a new phase.”
China’s navy has recently launched four large Type 055 cruisers and its first large helicopter carrier, known as the Type 075.
China’s military has not formally announced the plans for the third carrier, designated Type 002, but official state media have said it is being built.
The Pentagon said it in its annual survey of China’s military modernisation, published in May, that work on the third carrier had begun.
China’s Ministry of Defence did not respond to questions from Reuters.
Funaiole said the latest images appeared to confirm the earlier photos, which suggested the latest carrier would be somewhat smaller the 100,000-tonne “supercarriers” operated by the U.S. but larger than France’s 42,500-tonne Charles de Gaulle.
The images are due to be released by the CSIS China Power Project later Thursday.
Asian and Western militaries are tracking developments closely. They say this carrier would represent a vital step in China’s ambitions to create a far-ranging navy that can project power around the world to serve Beijing’s expanding global interests.
A series of recent Reuters Special Reports showed how that effort is challenging decades of U.S. strategic superiority in
It is expected to be China’s first carrier with a flat deck and catapult launch system, allowing the use of a wider range of aircraft and more heavily armed fighter jets.
China’s first two carriers, which it has dubbed Type 001-class, are relatively small, accommodating only up to 25 aircraft that are launched from ramps built onto their decks. U.S. carriers routinely deploy with nearly four times the number of aircraft.
Foreign military attaches and security analysts say the Type 001 ships are expected to essentially serve as training platforms for what they believe will be fleet of up to six operational carriers by 2030.
They say the construction and deployment of aircraft carriers is considered exceptionally difficult to master. Protecting such a large and vital surface target with escort ships, submarines and aircraft is a core part of the problem.
“The PLA navy is not saying much in detail about its plans now, but we can see from their building works that their ambitions are vast,” said one Asian military attache, who declined to be named because of the sensitivity of the matter. “And they will get there.”
Koh, a research fellow at Singapore’s S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, said the new Jiangnan facilities looked permanent and reflected China’s long-held ambitions to bulk up its fleet with more carriers and other large vessels.
“We are talking about infrastructure being built quickly and on a large scale. It could well be the start of a ‘factory,’ if you like, for carriers and other very large vessels,” he said. (Source: Reuters)
15 Oct 19. Turkish Invasion of Syria Upends Possibility of Peace in Region. The Turkish invasion of neighboring Syria has resulted in widespread casualties, large numbers of refugees, widespread destruction and growing insecurity, Defense Secretary Dr. Mark T. Esper said.
The growing chaos in the region threatens to draw in American forces in the region, and as a result, President Donald J. Trump has ordered U.S. forces in northeast Syria to withdraw.
Esper also said Turkish President Recep Erdogan is to blame for undermining the successful multinational effort to defeat ISIS in Syria. The Turkish incursion has resulted in the release of many dangerous ISIS detainees, he said.
“Turkey’s unilateral action was unnecessary and impulsive,” the secretary said in a written statement. “President Erdogan bears full responsibility for its consequences, to include a potential ISIS resurgence, possible war crimes and a growing humanitarian crisis. The bilateral relationship between our two countries has also been damaged.”
Turkey is a valued NATO ally, but Esper, who will be visiting NATO headquarters in Brussels next week, said he plans to press other NATO allies to take collective and individual diplomatic and economic measures in response to Turkey’s “egregious” actions.
The United States is using a whole-of-government approach to the Turkish invasion, said administration officials speaking on background from the White House. The president is fully apprised on all actions and proposals, they said.
Trump signed an executive order yesterday, authorizing the imposition of sanctions against current and former officials of the government of Turkey and any person contributing to Turkey’s destabilizing actions in northeastern Syria. He also imposed steel tariffs up to 50% and halted negotiations on a $100bn trade deal with Turkey.
“Given Turkey’s current economic weakness, the action today is deeply serious and designed to focus Turkey’s attention on the gravity of the situation in northeast Syria,” an official said. “But we do remain committed to pursuing a negotiated resolution to the situation, which is why the president directed a senior-level delegation to depart for Ankara as quickly as possible to see what we can — if we can achieve a deal.”
Turkey’s invasion has upended one of the only success stories in the Middle East: the defeat of the ISIS physical caliphate. It also makes any resolution to the long-running Syrian civil war more problematic.
“What we’re trying to do now is … restore the situation as best we can via ceasefire, by a reconciliation of the various interests that are in play at this time in the Northeast,” one administration official said.
The players in northeastern Syria include the mostly Kurdish Syrian Democratic Forces, who have been allied with the United States; Turkish regular forces; Syrian President Bashar Assad’s forces; Russian forces; Iranian-backed militias; and American forces, who are being withdrawn.
American forces in northeastern Syria are being withdrawn in a deliberate manner, and officials will not discuss timelines or operational details. American forces at the Al Tanf military base are not affected by the order, officials said. (Source: US DoD)
15 Oct 19. South Korea’s future fighter program at risk, even as development moves along. South Korea’s indigenous fighter jet development program has entered the phase of prototype development following critical design review, or CDR, according to developers. The KF-X program for a 4.5-generation fighter, worth $7.4bn, seeks to develop an advanced twin-engine fighter jet on par with the latest F-16 variant of Lockheed Martin by 2026, with the rollout of the first prototype happening in 2021. Korea Aerospace Industries, or KAI, is responsible for the systems development and integration.
During the CDR session at the end of September, members of the Defense Acquisition Program Administration, or DAPA, examined nearly 400 kinds of technical data to see if the technologies meet the capability requirements before giving the green light to prototype development.
“The KF-X program now enters the prototype development phase as its CDR was approved,” said Jung Kwang-seon, chief of DAPA’s KF-X development team. “We will strive to develop and deploy the KF-X aircraft with advanced capabilities meeting the combat requirements.”
The jet’s full-sized mock-up was unveiled for the first time at the Seoul Aerospace and Defense Exhibition, or ADEX, which is taking place from Oct. 15 to 20.
The model has six under-wing hard points: two for external fuel tanks, two laser-guided bombs, and two other IRIS-T short-range air-to-air missiles. Four MBDA Meteor beyond-visual-range air-to-air missiles are nestled under the fuselage, while a mock-up of the Lockheed Martin Sniper targeting pod is mounted on the right cheek station.
KAI spokesman Kim Ji-hyung told Defense News that the KF-X is still open to U.S. missile systems. Originally, the DAPA hoped the KF-X would be equipped with U.S. armament, such as Raytheon-built AIM-120C advanced medium-range air-to-air missile, and AIM-9 Sidewinder missiles, but the U.S. government has yet to approve the export license of the missiles.
“It’s easy to integrate U.S. missiles into the aircraft, and we’re open to the possibility,” Kim said. “It’s just a matter of U.S. export controls of weapons systems.”
Fitted with a homegrown active electronically scanned array, or AESA, radar, the jet has a max take-off weight of 25,600 kg and a max payload of 7,700 kg, according to KAI. The jet can fly as fast as Mach 1.8 and has a cruising distance of 2,900 km.
The KF-X Block I will not have an internal weapons carriage, which is planned for subsequent production blocks. The initial version will also lack air-to-ground striking capability since the homegrown long-range air-to-ground missile is to be developed by the mid-2020s. The Korean version of the Taurus air-to-ground missile is being developed by LIG Nex1, the country’s precision guided weapons maker. (Source: Defense News)
15 Oct 19. Defence offsets underpin Korean industrial development drive. South Korea’s Defense Agency for Technology and Quality (DTaQ) – a body under the Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) – has told Jane’s it is ramping up support for local defence companies as part of efforts to stimulate exports and reduce reliance on imports.
Officials from DTaQ said at the 2019 Seoul International Aerospace and Defense Exhibition (ADEX) that the agency’s expanding efforts are in line with revisions of South Korea’s defence offset policy, which places increasing emphasis on encouraging foreign contractor engagement with domestic small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).
Under DTaQ’s industry engagement project, key responsibilities for the agency include providing financial support and advice for local companies – particularly SMEs – to pinpoint products or technologies that will strengthen its viability as a partner for foreign contractors in and out of offset arrangements. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
14 Oct 19. Russia to hold major test of its strategic missile forces. Russia announced on Monday it would hold a large test of its Strategic Missile Forces that will see it fire ballistic and cruise missiles from the land, sea and air this week. The exercise, from Oct. 15-17, will involve around 12,000 military personnel, as well as aircraft, including strategic nuclear bombers, surface ships and submarines, Russia’s Ministry of Defense said in a statement.
The drills come at a time when President Vladimir Putin is warning of a burgeoning arms race spurred by the unraveling of a key arms control treaty, something he blames on the United States. Washington rejects that and says Russia is the one who has flouted its arms control commitments. The aim of this week’s exercise is to test the readiness of Russia’s command structure and how efficiently its orders are carried out, the defense ministry said.
Missiles will be fired on military testing ranges in Russia’s Far East and at remote locations in its Far North.
Russia’s Northern Fleet will be involved, the ministry said, saying the naval part of the exercise would cover the Barents, Baltic, Black, Caspian and Okhotsk seas. (Source: Reuters)
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.