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20 Dec 19. Embraer and the Brazilian Air Force (FAB) signed today a memorandum of understanding which enables the study of the potential development of a new light military transport aircraft.
The study seeks to identify alternatives and solutions to meet FAB’s operational needs, especially in the Amazon region and austere environments, including unpaved, short and damaged runways located in remote areas. Relying on Embraer’s high level of innovation and technological capabilities, the study will also seek to explore new technologies to provide solutions to FAB’s extreme demands, such as different system architectures, innovative platform solutions, and hybrid-electric propulsion, among others.
FAB, which in 2019 received its first units of the modern KC-390 Millennium, a multi-mission tactical military airlifter, seeks with this study to complement and modernize its transport capabilities in the smaller segments, in order to broadly and completely fulfill Brazil’s needs.
Based on a strong track record of cooperation, that unites Embraer’s excellent execution capabilities and FAB’s innovative and high-performance requirements, the study will also cover global market demand for the new aircraft.
According to the agreement, Embraer will carry out market studies for the development of the new aircraft, while FAB will provide its expertise in operating aircraft in this segment.
“We are confident that the expertise of the Brazilian Air Force will help us to establish the most appropriate requirements for this study, resulting in an extremely capable aircraft,” said Jackson Schneider, President and CEO of Embraer Defense & Security. “Embraer is more than up for the challenge. Our newest product, the C-390 Millennium multi-mission transport aircraft, is coming into operation, and this new project will be instrumental in maintaining and enhancing Embraer’s engineering and technology capabilities to meet the challenging demands of FAB and other customers worldwide.”
“The purpose of this memorandum is to formalize Embraer’s intention to develop a light transport aircraft to carry cargo and personnel. The Brazilian Air Force participation is mainly with regard to sharing expertise, based on projects that Embraer and the Brazilian Air Force have already developed in partnership, to meet the Air Force’s needs over time”, said Lieutenant-Brigadier Antonio Carlos Moretti Bermudez, Brazilian Air Force Commander.
20 Dec 19. Japan government approves 8th straight defence spending hike to record high. Japan’s government on Friday approved an eighth straight annual increase in defence spending to a record high as it buys U.S.-made stealth fighters, interceptor missiles and other equipment to counter military build-ups by North Korea and China.
Japan’s defence budget will rise 1.1% to a record 5.31trn yen ($48.56bn) in the year starting April 1. Japan’s parliament, which is dominated by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party, will vote on the spending plan next year.
Despite a constitution that forbids the possession of offensive weapons, Japan is one of the world’s biggest military spenders. Outlays on defence have increased by almost 15% in less than a decade, spurred on by neighbouring China modernising its military and North Korea developing nuclear weapons and missiles that could deliver them anywhere in Japan.
Much of Japan’s recent defence spending splurge has gone on equipment supplied by U.S. defence contractors such as Lockheed Martin Corp (LMT.N) and Raytheon Co (RTN.N). Local makers such as Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (7011.T) have seen their share of defence spending shrink.
President Donald Trump has thanked Abe for buying the U.S. equipment, helping ease trade tensions between the allies.
Big-ticket purchases next year will include nine Lockheed Martin F-35 stealth fighters, including six short take-off and vertical landing (STOVL) B variants it wants to fly off aircraft carriers, for 107bn yen. Japan plans to deploy them to extend the operational range of its Self Defence Forces.
Japan’s Ministry of Defence will also spend more than $1bn to strengthen its ballistic missile defences (BMD), including the purchase of a new generation of missiles designed by Raytheon to shoot down incoming warheads in space. It is also appropriating funds to begin building two ground-based Aegis Ashore missile tracking stations with powerful new radars. (Source: Reuters)
19 Dec 19. U.S. and India Deepen Bilateral Defense Trade, Sign Two Defense Technology and Trade Initiative Agreements. The 2019 U.S.-India 2+2 Ministerial Dialogue resulted in several significant achievements related to the U.S.-India Defense Technology and Trade Initiative.
This week during the 2+2, Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment Ellen M. Lord and Indian Secretary for Defence Production Subhash Chandra jointly signed the DTTI Industry Collaboration Forum agreement and DTTI Standard Operating Procedure (SOP). Under Secretary Lord and Secretary Chandra co-chair and oversee the DTTI efforts.
“I am very proud of our strategic partnership with India and Mr. Chandra, and these pivotal documents demonstrate that DTTI is making substantial progress at a critical time for our National Defense Strategy,” said Under Secretary Lord. “In addition, I’d like to thank Defence Secretary Dr. Ajay Kumar, who until recently led the DTTI effort for India, for the hard work that he and his staff did to identify how best to introduce DTTI projects into the Defence Procurement Procedures.”
The DTTI Industry Collaboration Forum will provide a standing mechanism for developing and sustaining an Indian-U.S. industry dialogue on defense technological and industrial cooperation and to allow appropriate industry recommendations to be provided to the India-U.S. DTTI Group.
The SOP will help identify and develop cooperative projects under DTTI, allowing both sides to reach and document a mutual understanding on how to define and achieve success.
These signings build on the ninth DTTI Group meeting held in New Delhi in October. There the U.S. and India agreed that the DTTI SOP will guide the coordination of projects under the two different national systems.
In addition, the two leaders signed the DTTI Statement of Intent (SOI), which declared the joint intent to ”strengthen our dialogue on defense technology cooperation by pursuing detailed planning and making measurable progress” on several specific DTTI projects, including Lightweight Small Arms Technologies and Air-Launched Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems, and Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition and Reconnaissance.
DTTI is an example of the United States’ commitment to strengthening its partnership with India while furthering military-to-military relationships and cooperation. DTTI has become increasingly important, as bilateral defense trade with India, essentially zero in 2008, will reach an estimated $18bn later this year.
DTTI Group meetings are held twice a year, alternating between India and the United States, with the aim to bring sustained leadership focus to the bilateral defense trade relationship and create opportunities for co-production and co-development of defense equipment.
A number of joint working groups focused on land, naval, air and aircraft carrier technologies have been established under DTTI to identify and promote mutually agreed projects within their domains. (Source: US DoD)
19 Dec 19. The ANAO Major Projects Report: New News On the F-35. So, what’s the new news? The key worrying piece is that the F-35 project is under funding pressure.
The [Major Projects Report, MPR] states that, ‘In September and November 2018, due to cost pressures, the Joint Strike Fighter project received government approval to transfer project scope of $1.5bn to other phases of the Joint Strike Fighter program (none of which have been approved by government). There was no corresponding transfer of funds out of the project budget’ (page 26).
Since the approved budget for the project is $16.5bn, this means that 9% of the project scope has been moved off into some undefined point in the future, but Defence is hanging onto 100% of the budget to acquire the remaining 91%.
It would seem fair to classify this as effectively a $1.5bn real cost increase since the capability Defence is getting is costing more.
This brings the total of real cost increases to $3.3bn.
What’s more, the report states that, ‘Some level of known cost risk remains with a possibility that further scope transfers may be required’ (page 135). So, more content may get pushed down the track.
The capability question is, what’s in the 9% that has been moved? And how important is it?
That’s a little harder to determine. One element is the ‘beyond line of sight’ communication system (page 148). Since one of the key selling points of the JSF was its networked capability, this would seem to be a problem.
Overall, there’s enough evidence in the MPR to indicate that, while the F-35 is still on track to achieve initial operational capability by the end of 2020, Defence doesn’t have a plan to get all of the elements required for final operational capability, scheduled for late 2023.
And then there’s the issue of the JSF sustainment system.
earlier this year on the immaturity of the system. The MPR confirms that. Moreover, it states outright, ‘The F-35 future sustainment affordability has been affected by an increase in through-life sustainment cost estimates.’
With an F-35 flying hour already costing twice as much (page 63) as the classic Hornet it’s replacing, that’s some more bad news. (Source: defense-aerospace.com/Australian Strategic Policy Institute)
19 Dec 19. The dangerous ’20s: Looking towards the next decade. It’s Christmas 2019, and the decade of the 2010s is drawing to a close. Looking ahead, we are facing a new decade that could best be called ‘the dangerous ’20s’.
This past decade’s most significant strategic development saw the end of the US-led ‘Unipolar Moment’ by 2014 and the return of a competitive multipolar world in which the US is being directly challenged by rising and returning authoritarian peer adversaries.
The Chinese state, under President Xi Jinping, has ended former paramount leader Deng Xiaoping’s dictum of ‘biding time and hiding strength’ to embrace a grand strategy leading to the rise of a 21st century ‘middle kingdom’.
In 2014, Vladimir Putin’s Russia invaded and annexed the Crimea from Ukraine, and then invaded and subsequently supported pro-Russian separatists in the Ukrainian Donbass.
Both China and Russia have waged political warfare against the US and its allies, including Australia.
The Mueller report highlights that Russia directly interfered with the 2016 presidential election, and looks set to do so again in 2020, whilst the Chinese state has militarised the South China Sea in 2015, and now wages political warfare against Australia to weaken our traditional alignment with the US, and influence our political system in its favour.
This is happening as an ‘America First’ mindset within the current Trump administration, and Trump’s transactional approach to engaging key allies, is weakening trust within critical alliances in Europe and the Indo-Pacific region.
The question being asked is whether Trump is an outlier, or whether he is indicative of a greater malaise within a US weary of sustaining a global leadership role. US allies are preparing for uncertain US commitment in coming years.
It’s important to look past the ‘foreign policy by tweet’ approach of Trump to note that the strategic policy debate in Washington has shifted markedly. Both the 2018 US National Defense Strategy and the 2019 ‘Free and Open Indo Pacific’ Strategy re-emphasize the importance of the Indo-Pacific region.
The US military has shifted strategic gears to re-prioritise the need to prepare for strategic competition between the US and China to evolve into direct military conflict in coming years.
This central strategic competition between the US and its allies against an assertive China, and a revanchist Russia, will dominate our thinking on defence and strategy in the coming decade.
It is the challenge of our time, and the prospect of prolonged strategic competition between the US and China, and the potential for that competition to slide into military conflict, should directly shape Australian defence capability development, force posture and force structure over the coming decade.
There are also two immediate potential crises on the horizon – Taiwan and the Korean Peninsula – which will affect Australian interests, and which could potentially see Australian military involvement in 2020.
Firstly, there is a growing risk of a major military crisis emerging over Taiwan with China likely to increase military coercion against Taipei to influence the outcome of the 2020 presidential election in its favour. That effort is likely to fail, and polls indicate that the Tsai Ing-wen government is likely to be returned.
In the same way that the people of Hong Kong are resisting creeping Chinese authoritarianism, the Taiwanese people won’t accept a negotiated reunification on Beijing’s terms that would in the end see their vibrant democracy snuffed out.
They see Hong Kong and Xinjiang as a future they do not want to embrace. Reinforcing this is an increasing sense of ‘national identity’ in Taiwan that is separate from mainland China.
Xi has made it clear he won’t accept a future that doesn’t involve reunification, and refuses to take the option of reunification by force off the table. A returned Tsai administration won’t agree to Beijing’s demands for signing the ‘1992 Consensus’ as the basis for a negotiated reunification on Beijing’s terms.
Instead, what is more likely is increasing Chinese military coercive pressure around the island in the lead-up to the 2020 presidential elections and the potential of a future military crisis across the Taiwan straits will continue to grow after those elections.
In addition, there is increasing risk that tension on the Korean Peninsula will rise in 2020 as a result of the collapse of diplomacy between the US and North Korea towards the goal of denuclearisation of North Korea.
North Korea now looks poised to conduct new long-range ballistic missile tests as early as Christmas 2019. Should these occur, the Trump administration will be under immense pressure to reassert a new maximum pressure campaign – what might be termed ‘fire and fury 2.0’ – but with the prospect of no real off-ramps back to diplomacy.
A renewed maximum pressure campaign by the US could be met by continued provocations from the North, including further ballistic missile testing, and potentially new nuclear tests. In late 2017, the North Korean regime suggested the possibility of a ‘juche bird’ atmospheric nuclear test over the north Pacific. Such a step would dramatically raise the possibility of a major military crisis on the Korean Peninsula.
In addition to these two major potential crises, tensions between the US and its partners in the Middle East arrayed against Iran continue to grow, and military conflict in 2020, perhaps stemming out of another military incident similar to the Iranian shooting down of a USAF Global Hawk UAV, or a direct Iranian attack on a US ally in the region, can’t be dismissed.
The issue of Kashmir between nuclear-armed India and Pakistan remains dangerous, and the threat of pervasive trans-national terrorism isn’t going away. History certainly hasn’t ended and 2020 looks to be more dangerous than 2019, and looking ahead to the dangerous ’20, the parallels with the 1930s are apt.
Implications for Australia
Australia is no longer in a strategic backwater. In a more contested and dangerous security environment suggested above, our defence policy needs to be responsive and forward focused in a geographic sense.
We certainly cannot simply coast forward on autopilot, with strategic assumptions and policy settings established in the lead-up to the 2016 Defence White Paper as the basis of our thinking. So, to borrow that timeless question, what is to be done?
It’s vital that the US remain in a global leadership role. A retreat by Washington to an offshore balancer role, implied by the Trump administration’s transactional approach to foreign policy, or worse, a turn towards an inward-looking neo-isolationist posture as would create power vacuums that US adversaries would quickly fill.
Given the challenges posed by major power threats, and the risks of major military crises emerging in Asia, US security commitments to allies in the Indo-Pacific, and its forward military presence needs to be preserved and strengthened.
With this overriding goal in mind, for Australia, raising our strategic currency in Washington is a critical step.
That means there should be greater emphasis on regular high and mid-level dialogue between Canberra and Washington towards the goal of closer integration of US and Australian strategic policy formulation to meet not only the challenge from Beijing, but plan for likely crises in coming years.
In practical terms, it could mean we explore ways to enable greater access to Australian facilities for forward US forces, including hosting US long-range air and naval forces on an extended basis.
The provision of base access to US forces means we also need to take seriously the requirement to defend northern base facilities from growing Chinese long-range strike capability – an ability we currently lack. We should also consider the option of basing non-nuclear intermediate-range ballistic missile capabilities in Australia’s north, possibly under some joint ‘dual-key’ operational control, if the US raises such a request.
Such a deployment would strengthen US forward capability to counter Chinese anti-access and area denial and reinforce Australia’s deterrence potential.
For Australia, the new strategic challenges we face mean we should undertake greater regional burden sharing by embracing a ‘forward defence in depth’ military strategy for the ADF.
That would be designed to allow us to operate more regularly alongside US and other partners in the South China Sea, and to strengthen US ability to contest Chinese anti-access and area denial capability.
That means we need to look well beyond the ‘sea-air gap’, and the thorny issue of ‘FONOPs’ shouldn’t be buried but actively debated.
Common capability development should become a priority for Australia. A key capability gap in the ADF for the 2020s is long-range strike and deterrence.
Our current force structure, particularly in the air, is based around short-range tactical platforms optimised for tasks over the sea-air gap, and not much further from the Australian mainland.
To this end, Australia needs to work with the US, and potentially other partners such as Japan, to develop new air and missile capability both for long-range air defence and strike.
This needs to be combined with acquiring resilient intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance systems in space and in the air, that can contribute towards the emergence of a credible Australian anti-access and area denial capability to deter the use of military coercion by the Chinese state beyond the South China Sea.
At the same time as we are shoring up the US-Australian strategic alliance, greater effort needs to be invested into building new defence relationships with other key partners, notably Japan, Indonesia, the UK and France.
Strengthening the ‘hub and spokes’ security order can work if both the hub – the US – is reinforced, but also greater links between the spokes – US allies – are developed.
This could include closer and more regular joint training, strategic and operational level co-ordination, greater access to base facilities, and sharing of intelligence.
It could also include common capability development in areas such as advanced autonomous platforms, space and cyber capability, AI, and hypersonic weapons. Defence needs to move quickly to ride the wave of military-technological innovation that are inherent in these new types of military systems.
A key risk of continued emphasis on major platforms, with very long acquisition cycles, is that they must continually chase technological relevance against faster innovation cycles inherent in new types of capability.
The threat we face isn’t just an aggressive China or a war on the Korean Peninsula – its also being left behind and missing the ‘maxim gun moment’ of rapid military-technological paradigm shifts that lay ahead. (Source: Defence Connect)
18 Dec 19. Defence Insight: Future market forecast (Air). The military fixed-wing sector was dominated by aircraft in 2019 with F-35, next-generation fighter aircraft and AWACs awards hitting the headlines.
Lockheed Martin’s F-35 is the world’s largest fighter aircraft programme and was the subject of the biggest story of the year as the US cancelled Turkish participation in the programme over its procurement of Russian weapon systems.
In July delivery of the first of two Russian S-400 Triumf air and missile defence systems to Ankara triggered a decision to remove Turkey, a NATO member state, from the F-35 production program, costing more than $500m in the process to establish a new supply chain. This not only left Turkish F-35A multirole fighters stranded in the US, but will also result in Turkish defence industrial participation transferred to other countries by March 2020.
Russia took this opportunity to intensify its marketing efforts of both the Su-35 and Su-57 to Turkey, while offering Su-57E export variant to the international market for the first time at MAKS in August.
Undeterred, Lockheed has made progress in a number of other opportunities. In March’s defence budget meeting, it was revealed that the Singapore military is looking to order an initial four F-35As for testing, with an additional option of eight. In April, Greece revealed its plan to acquire up to 30 F-35s to replace its aging fleet of F-16C/D Block 30s. Additionally, Poland’s formal request for up to 32 F-35s to replace 31 MiG-29s and 32 Su-22s was approved by the US State Department in September.
Legacy platforms also saw success with Taiwan finally receiving approval to move ahead with its procurement of F-16V. The USAF showed renewed in replace the retiring F-15 fleet with F-15EX fighters based on Qatar’s F-15AQ configuration, customized to US requirements. The Air Force is expected to procure 80 F-15EX aircraft over the period 2020-24 at a cost of around $8bn.
June’s Paris Air Show witnessed two next generation combat aircraft mock-ups, unveiled nearly at the same time at Le Bourget. A Dassault and Airbus collaboration, the sixth-generation Future Combat Air System (FCAS) programme was introduced at the ceremony in the French capital, similar to the UK’s Tempest opening a year earlier at Farnborough.
The second mock-up was Turkish Aerospace’s fifth-generation TF-X fighter, reported to enter into service with the Turkish Air Force by 2028.
In 2019 significant acquisitions were seen in the AEW&C aircraft segment, which constitutes a major capability and force multiplier for air operations. These assets provide early warning and classification of approaching air threats, relay communications between different assets and provide command and control role in a complex joint operation theatre.
In March, the UK MoD chose to procure five new E-7 Wedgetail for $1.98bn to replace six E-3D Sentrys which are retiring by 2025. The USAF and French Air Force exercised mid-life upgrade option to extend their 31 E-3B/C/Gs and four E-3Fs respectively into the 2030s.
With the delivery of last of three new Saab 2000 Erieye in April, Pakistan surpassed its original AEW capability that suffered losses during 2012 terrorist attacks at Minhas Airbase, when three Pakistani Air Force Erieye were put out of service, two temporarily and one permanently.
At 2019 Dubai Air Show, the UAE announced its plan to buy two GlobalEye AEW aircraft from Saab, in addition to the three aircraft ordered in 2015 (two) and 2017 (one) for a total of $1.55bn, including additional functionality work requested in 2018. The first aircraft will be delivered to United Arab Emirates Air Force in April 2020. Qatar also has plans for AEW&C aircraft, if they proceed it is expected to present a significant opportunity.
The Japan Self-Defense Air Force took delivery of the first of four E-2D in June. The remaining aircraft are scheduled to be delivered by 2024.
With North America’s established programs leaving not much room for new announcements, the 2019 global combat fighter and AEW&C aircraft markets were more focused on Europe and Asia-Pacific respectively. However, considering unawarded programmes and the significant number of platforms approaching their end of their service life, OEMs will see new fighter jet opportunities in Asia, especially in India, and in the Middle East for AEW&C. (Source: Shephard)
19 Dec 19. New plans to support Australian defence businesses. Defence Industry Minister Melissa Price has announced the release of the first two Sovereign Industrial Capability Priority Implementation Plans to support the development of Australia’s domestic defence industry.
Minister Price announced the plans for munitions and small arms research, design, development and manufacture; and for the combat clothing survivability and signature reduction technologies.
Minister Price said the plans provided information and set key priorities on how the Australian government would work with defence industry to build and grow sovereign industrial capabilities.
The Defence Industrial Capability Plan introduces the new Sovereign Industrial Capability Assessment Framework to provide a repeatable methodology to identify Sovereign Industrial Capability Priorities.
“They provide a useful roadmap to help current and aspiring defence industry businesses understand the capability priorities of the Australian Defence Force, now and into the future,” Minister Price said.
In approaching development of the priorities, we focused on a definition of sovereign industrial capability around access to, or control over, the essential skills, technology, intellectual property, financial resources and infrastructure within our defence industrial base as required.
The initial Sovereign Industrial Capability Priorities are the result of a rigorous assessment framework that looked at the strategic, capability, and resources dimensions of industrial sovereignty – and made judgements based on Defence needs.
The government’s priority is to provide the Australian Defence Force with cost-effective, cutting-edge capability while also maximising Australian industry involvement.
In this context, the initial priorities will focus on areas that are operationally critical to the Defence mission; priorities within the Integrated Investment Program over the next three to five years; or those in need of more dedicated monitoring, management and support due to their industrial complexity, government priority or requirements across multiple capability programs.
Priorities are described at the capability level with a focus on technologies rather than companies or products. This approach will encourage innovation and new developments across the Integrated Investment Program capability streams and individual projects.
Effective implementation of the priorities requires them to be embedded early into strategic planning and Defence capability planning processes and across the capability life cycle. This will be a core task of Defence Industry Policy Division.
The Sovereign Industrial Capability Priorities will be managed, supported and considered throughout the capability life cycle and will start at the very beginning of defence planning through to disposal.
More information about the Sovereign Industrial Capability Priorities is available here. https://www.defence.gov.au/SPI/Industry/CapabilityPlan/ImplementationPlans.asp (Source: Defence Connect)
18 Dec 19. World’s Two Largest Democracies Share Interest in Free Indo-Pacific Region. The United States and India, the world’s two largest democracies, share mutual interests in many areas, including defense, the U.S. defense secretary said.
“Our defense relationship is strong, and since the establishment of the 2+2 ministerial last year, it continues to improve,” Dr. Mark T. Esper said during a news conference today after the second U.S.-India 2+2 ministerial conference at the State Department in Washington. “Our discussions during this year’s ministerial reinforce the strategic interests shared by our two countries and helped us build upon the gains from last year. As democracies, the U.S. and India have an abiding interest in advancing a free, open and prosperous Indo-Pacific region.”
Esper spent much of the day meeting with officials from India, including Defense Minister Rajnath Singh and External Affairs Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar. The three met at the Pentagon in the morning and later moved to the State Department for meetings with Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo.
The defense secretary said the United States and India are taking steps to strengthen their maritime partnership and to expand military-to-military cooperation, including the two nations’ ground forces, air forces and special operators.
Esper noted that the two nations launched a new annual exercise called Tiger Triumph. Its first iteration was the first time the U.S. military participated in a military exercise with all three of India’s military services.
The exercise will enhance tri-service coordination and allow the exchange of knowledge and expertise, the secretary said. “Our forces successfully completed the first exercise under this initiative last month,” he added, “and we look forward to the next one in 2020.”
Also of importance, Esper said, is continued growth between the United States and India on defense trade and technology. He said the two nations finalized three agreements under the U.S.-India Defense Technology and Trade Initiative, or DTTI, which he said will enhance the ability of both nations to coproduce and codevelop critical military technologies.
Esper said defense trade between the two nations now stands at about $18bn annually. But the secretary said that trade is not just about the selling of equipment.
“It gets to the improved interoperability between our two countries, our two militaries,” he said, as well as a better understanding and a way to work and fight better together if called upon to do so. Deepening and broadening that effort was key to today’s discussions, the secretary said.
Esper acknowledged that much work remains to continue building the U.S.-India defense relationship, but he expressed confidence that the defense relationship will grow stronger “as we work together to defend the international rules-based order and advance our vision for a free and open Indo-Pacific.” (Source: US DoD)
18 Dec 19. Australia releases plans to enhance sovereign defence industrial base. The Australian Government has released its first two implementation plans for the country’s sovereign industrial capability priorities. Through the plans, the Australian Department of Defence (DoD) intends to increase the investment made by domestic small businesses in the defence sector. Australia aims to develop an internationally competitive defence industrial base in the country to support the needs of troops and boost exports. Ten initial sovereign industrial capability priorities were framed in support of the ambition. The DoD was tasked with creating implementation plans for each of these priorities.
The plans provide details about industrial capabilities and outlines how the government would work with the defence industry to achieve those priorities.
One of the two priorities focuses on research, design, development and manufacturing of munitions and small arms while the other involves combat clothing survivability and signature reduction technologies.
Australia Defence Industry Minister Melissa Price said: “They provide a useful roadmap to help current and aspiring defence industry businesses understand the capability priorities of the Australian Defence Force, now and into the future.
“They also include detailed information to guide companies already involved in, or looking to contribute to our record A$200bn ($137.63bn) build-up of defence capability.
“Giving small business the tools and support they need to be involved in our defence industry, and grow their businesses to the point they’re ready to enter global markets is my number one priority.”
The key critical industrial capabilities for munitions and small arms are precision specialist machining, weapon system integration, energetic materiel manufacturing, test, evaluation, technologies for combat training, and load, assemble and pack capability.
The capabilities listed for the other priority are advanced materials, ability to develop and integrate advanced materials into the combat equipment worn by the forces, as well as signature reduction technologies. (Source: army-technology.com)
18 Dec 19. South Korea declares F-35 operational. The Republic of Korea Air Force (RoKAF) has declared its Lockheed Martin F-35A Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) combat aircraft to be operational, national media reported on 17 December. The declaration was made during a low-key ceremony at the 17th Fighter Wing base in the central city of Cheongju, the national Yonhap News Agency reported, adding that the press was not allowed to the event and no official announcement was made so as not to provoke North Korea.
No other details of the ceremony, such as what the declaration of being operational means, were disclosed, although Yonhap did note that the RoKAF has to date received 13 of its planned 40 F-35As.
As noted by a senior RoKAF official at the event, the service used the occasion of the recent Seoul International Aerospace & Defense Exhibition (ADEX) to showcase the F-35 to the public for the first time. (Source: Jane’s)
17 Dec 19. China’s new aircraft carrier enters service at South China Sea base. China commissioned its first domestically built aircraft carrier into service on Tuesday at a key base on the shores of the disputed South China Sea, in another big step in the country’s ambitious military modernisation.
Little is known about China’s aircraft carrier programme, which is a state secret. But the government has said the new carrier’s design draws on experiences from the country’s first carrier, the Liaoning, which was bought second-hand from Ukraine in 1998 and refitted in China.
President Xi Jinping is overseeing a sweeping plan to refurbish the armed forces by developing everything from stealth jets to anti-satellite missiles, as China ramps up its presence in the South China Sea and around self-ruled Taiwan.
The carrier, the country’s second, began sea trials last year from its base in Shandong province in the northern port of Dalian, where it was built, and has now been given the official name the Shandong, state media reported, following its commissioning.
Xi oversaw the ceremony at a naval base in Sanya in the southern island province of Hainan, a major facility on the coast of the South China Sea, where China has constructed man-made islands, to alarm around the region and in Washington.
Xi boarded the ship, chatting with its crew and offering his “affirmation” for China’s success at building its own carrier, state media said.
Xi was accompanied by two close political allies, the report added – Vice Premier Liu He who has been leading trade talks with the United States, and Zhang Youxia, one of the two vice chairmen of the Central Military Commission which is in charge of the armed forces and which Xi heads.
Last month the ship, still unnamed at the time, sailed through the sensitive Taiwan Strait on its way to what China called routine exercises in the South China Sea.
Taiwan, claimed by China as its sacred territory and gearing up for elections in early January, denounced the move, saying Beijing was trying to intimidate it.
China has been using the Liaoning mainly for training, as the navy hones its ability to operate fighter jets at sea and with other warships.
Unlike the U.S. Navy’s longer-range nuclear carriers, both of China’s feature Soviet-design ski-jump bows, intended to provide sufficient take-off lift for fighter jets. They lack the powerful catapult launch technology U.S. carriers have.
State media have quoted experts as saying China needs at least six carriers. The United States operates 10 and plans to build two more.
Most experts agree that developing such a force will be a decades-long task for China, but progress on a home-built carrier boosts prestige for Beijing, seen by many experts as keen to eventually erode U.S. military prominence in the region.
Satellite images show the construction of a new, much bigger 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 in September and provided to Reuters by the non-partisan Centre for Strategic and International Studies, building on satellite photos it obtained in April and September last year.
China’s military has not formally announced plans for the third carrier, but official state media have said it is being built.
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 are relatively small, accommodating only up to 25 aircraft launched from ramps built on their decks. U.S. carriers routinely deploy with nearly four times that number. (Source: Reuters)
17 Dec 19. China’s naval expansion continues as shipyards build at blistering rate. As the US heads towards a fleet of 355 ships, its major power contender, the People’s Liberation Army Navy, is keeping up with the US and, in some cases, challenging America’s long held industrial supremacy with an unprecedented program of naval modernisation and expansion. The unique geographic realities of Indo-Pacific Asia ranges from vast swathes of deep, open ocean to Australia’s west, to relatively shallow, congested and narrow archipelagic bound choke points, including the Straits of Malacca, Lombok Strait and into the South China Sea (SCS).
These serve as unique tactical and strategic challenges for all regional nations, including Australia – China has recognised the unique geographic and strategic realities facing it and has responded with an unprecedented period of naval modernisation and expansion.
Further complicating the calculus is the advent of advanced and integrated anti-access/area denial (A2/AD) systems, introduced largely by the Chinese on reclaimed islands in international waters in the SCS.
While sea control has traditionally been the domain of ocean going, ‘blue water’ navies, the strategic realities combined with the modernisation programs expanding regional naval capabilities requires a hybrid approach, combining traditional ‘blue water’ and ‘green water’ capabilities and doctrines.
China’s pursuit of a credible blue water naval capability is taking a step closer to reality with recent civilian imagery revealing the results of the rising power’s unprecedented period of naval modernisation and expansion.
Forming key components of this future force is a range of major surface and subsurface combatants, with a growing force including various aircraft carrier, large deck amphibious warfare ships, guided missile cruisers, destroyers and frigates and auxiliary replenishment designs as the core of the ‘blue water force’ and ‘green water’ forces of advanced guided missile frigates and corvettes.
The startling imagery of what appears to be the Shanghai-based Jiangnan Shipyard, one of many similar shipyards around China reveals not only the industrial capability of the rising global power, but also its commitment to dominating the Indo-Pacific maritime domain, despite claims of a “peaceful rise”.
Unparalleled industrial capability revealed
Taking a closer look at the imagery sourced by Twitter blogger @Loongnaval reveals the scale and capacity of China’s naval shipbuilding capability with an array of advanced major surface combatants at the shipyard.
Lined up dockside, we can see a line of four newly constructed guided missile destroyers either undergoing minor fitting out and finalising prior to deployment – three of the vessels are Type 052D air defence destroyers similar to the US Navy’s Arleigh Burke Class and Australia’s Hobart Class Aegis-powered guided missile destroyers.
The 7,500-tonne vessels are capable of a top speed of 31 knots and are armed with a Chinese-developed combat system similar to the American Aegis combat system for potent area-air defence and anti-submarine warfare sonar systems enabling battle-group protection.
The Type 052D vessels are are armed with the same 130mm dual purpose naval gun as the Type 055 Class.
The vessels’ armament also includes a 64 cell VLS system for anti-submarine, anti-air, anti-ship and land attack cruise missiles, and also includes a 24 cell HQ-10 short-range surface-to-air missile launcher, a H/PJ-12 close-in weapon system, torpedoes and a single anti-submarine warfare helicopter.
An additional three Type 052D destroyers are visible pier side, in a basin toward the top of the image – bringing the total number of Type 052D destroyers to six at this shipyard
Additionally, the imagery reveals two completed Type 055 guided missile destroyers, with a third vessel under construction on a slip way.
The Type 055 Class represents the pinnacle of Chinese destroyer design. The six vessel destroyer class fills a role similar to the US Navy’s Ticonderoga Class guided missile cruisers.
Weighing in at 12-13,000 tonnes fully loaded, with a top speed of 30 knots, these potent vessels are also equipped with a Chinese-developed combat system similar to the American Aegis combat system, enabling potent area-air defence and battle-group protection.
The Type 055 are armed with a dual purpose 130mm main gun, a H/PJ-14 close in weapon system, a 24 cell HQ-10 short-range surface-to-air missile launcher and a 112 cell VLS system for surface-to-air, anti-ship and land attack cruise missiles, supplemented by missile launched anti-submarine torpedoes and two anti-submarine warfare helicopters.
This brings the total number of large destroyers in the image to nine. By comparison, the British Royal Navy’s entire destroyer fleet is six Type 45 Daring Class vessels and Australia has three Hobart Class destroyers, with eight Anzac Class frigates.
Type 002 and the shift towards true power projection carriers
Concerningly, to the top right of the image we can see further progress on China’s third aircraft carrier, expected to build on the capabilities delivered by the in-service Type 001 Liaoning (CV-16) and Type 001A, yet to be named aircraft carrier.
Liaoning (CV-16), the first Chinese carrier (Type 001), was commissioned in 2012 and provides a potent, 58,600-tonne, 304.5-metre platform capable of supporting an airwing of 40 fixed and rotary-wing aircraft, including the Shenyang J-15, a Chinese variant of the Russian designed Su-33 Flanker D and a limited fleet of domestic anti-submarine warfare, maritime patrol, airborne command and control support helicopters.
In contrast, CV-17, the second Chinese carrier commissioned earlier this year and an enlarged variant of the Liaoning, is a 70,000-tonne, 315-metre vessel with a similar airwing capacity of 40 fixed and rotary-wing aircraft.
Both vessels use short take-off, but arrested recovery (STOBAR) ski-ramp configurations, which limit the offensive and defensive capabilities of the platform.
Recognising the limitation of these platforms, China has plans to field an expanded carrier force incorporating a fleet of large, conventionally powered catapult assisted take-off but arrested recovery (CATOBAR) aircraft carriers – to be designated the Type 002.
The vessels are expected to be complemented by a large fleet of up to four nuclear-powered supercarriers expected to be similar in size and capability to the US Nimitiz and Ford Class carriers.
China’s Type 002 are expected to be capable of supporting an airwing of between 70 and 100 fixed and rotary-wing aircraft that would serve as the mainstay of the Chinese naval force, focused on Chinese power projection and resource security.
The Type 002 carrier, expected to be commissioned in 2023, will be a traditional, CATOBAR-based vessel, weighing in at 80-85,000 tonnes.
Incorporating the next-generation launch system will enable the carriers to launch and recover a range of advanced aircraft – including advanced, fixed-wing airborne early warning and control aircraft and an increased carrier air wing and an advanced ship-borne active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar system to integrate within the supporting carrier strike group.
The next evolution of China’s carrier force provides a launching point for the nuclear-powered Type 003 aircraft carrier, currently understood to be in the design phase.
The Type 003 will serve as the basis of China’s power projection focused aircraft carrier force and is expected to be constructed at the Jiangnan Shipyard, which is currently undergoing a series of modernisation and expansion programs to accommodate an increase in the Chinese carrier fleet.
America’s industrial might challenged
While discussion about the size of the US Navy has been a contentious issue for some time – recent efforts to get the force to 355 ships has seen growing support, particularly as China continues to exert its own influence and presence throughout the Indo-Pacific.
Despite concerns about a small number of increasingly expensive platforms – think the troubled Zumwalt and Ford classes, respectively – Admiral Michael Gilday remains optimistic about the US Navy’s capacity to adapt and win the fight.
“Our fleet is too small, and our capabilities are stacked on too few ships that are too big. And that needs to change over time. [But] we have made significant investments in aircraft carriers and we’re going to have those for a long time,” ADM Gilday stated.
“Look, people don’t give us enough credit for the gray matter between our ears, and there are some very smart people we have thinking about how we fight better. The fleet that we have today, 75 per cent of it, will be the fleet we have in 2030. So, we have to think about how we get more out of it.”
This push is something that the acting US Secretary of the Navy, Thomas Modly, has reinforced the President’s push for a 355 ship force, stating: “It was also the President’s goal during the election. We have a goal of 355, we don’t have a plan for 355. We need to have a plan, and if it’s not 355, what’s it going to be and what’s it going to look like?”
Building on this, acting Secretary Modly raised the important question around next-generation weapons systems including hypersonics, unmanned and autonomous systems and new operational concepts to support the objectives of the US Navy.
“How many more hypersonics are we going to need? Where are we going to put them? These are long-term investments that we will have to make, but we have to get our story straight first. So, I’m going to focus a lot on that this year,” he said. (Source: Defence Connect)
13 Dec 19. Seoul Proposes to Buy $1bn of US Weapons. In an apparent move to reduce South Korea’s financial contribution to maintaining the 28,500 United States Forces Korea troops here, the government has proposed purchasing up to $1bn worth of U.S. weapons, officials directly involved with the issue told The Korea Times, Thursday.
“The South Korean team in the defense cost-sharing negotiations suggested a revised proposal to the United States. This included Korea’s plan to purchase up to $1bn worth of U.S. weapons by the end of 2020,” one official said.
“The government is seeking more inventive ways and applicable plans to reduce U.S. pressure on Seoul to pay more for defense. On a possible shopping list of U.S.-made defense products for South Korea could be advanced surveillance aircraft, along with the possible co-development of an anti-missile system between South Korean and U.S. defense contractors,” another official said.
“The Trump administration is viewing the defense-cost sharing deal as a cost-benefit analysis. That means Trump’s demand for $5bn was arbitrary as he only wants the U.S. to pay less.”
The government’s position is that this isn’t a form of U.S. economic protectionism as it also has key security ramifications. Defense analysts say mixing U.S. weapons with other countries’ defense systems could possibly lead to the discovery of weaknesses in the American products.
The latest round of defense cost-sharing talks were broken off after the U.S. asked for roughly $5bn to cover USFK expenditure, over five times the roughly $800m South Korea paid for this year. Seoul had previously agreed to cover 90 percent of the $10.7bn cost of relocating U.S. military bases in the capital, and still provides land rent-free for current installations. (Source: defense-aerospace.com/Korea Times)
13 Dec 19. Climate Change Opens Door to Arctic for Competitors, DOD Official Says. The Arctic is a region where strategic trends are amplified by the effects of the changing climate and physical environment, a lead Defense Department official said on Capitol Hill, Dec. 10.
Most notably, “the Arctic continues to grow more accessible as the sea ice diminishes,” said Victorino Mercado, acting assistant defense secretary for strategy, plans and capabilities.
That means the Arctic is becoming more navigable over greater periods of time, resulting in increased interest and activity in the region, he said.
Countries are exploring the potential of Arctic shipping routes, and opportunities in natural resource development and tourism, he added.
Mercado made his remarks before the House Armed Services Committee, subcommittee on intelligence, emerging threats and capabilities, in a hearing on climate change in the era of strategic competition.
“The door is open to increase activity in the Arctic by the United States, our allies, partners, but also our strategic competitors,” he said.
The Arctic will continue to be characterized by extreme temperatures, vast distances, magnetic anomalies — which complicates communications — and market seasonal variations, Mercado said.
“Together, these conditions form a harsh and demanding operating environment for all, including the U.S. joint force,” he said.
The DOD 2019 Arctic Strategy takes into account these environmental conditions as part of the department’s strategic approach to the region, Mercado emphasized.
“The department’s desired end state for the Arctic is a secure and stable region, where U.S. national interests are safeguarded, the U.S. homeland is defended and nations work cooperatively to address challenges,” he pointed out.
The immediate prospect of conflict in the Arctic continues to be low, but DOD maintains a clear-eyed approach to its competitors’ activities and their implications for U.S. interests, Mercado added.
In making these assessments, we begin with a fundamental difference between Russia and China, he noted.
Russia is an Arctic nation, China is not, Mercado added.
“Russia’s military investments in the Arctic contribute to its territorial defense, but may have implications for access to the region,” he pointed out, adding that China is seeking a role in the Arctic to include governance, despite its having no territorial claims in the region.
“There is a risk that to further its ambitions, China may repeat predatory economic behavior in the Arctic that it has exhibited in other regions,” Mercado warned.
The DOD Arctic Strategy establishes three defense objectives derived from the National Defense Strategy that guide the department’s approach to addressing competition in the Arctic — and defending the homeland is No. 1 — in addition to competing when necessary to maintain favorable regional balances of power, and ensuring common domains remain free and open, he said.
The United States’ network of allies and partners is a key strategic advantage for the nation in the Arctic, Mercado said.
“They are the cornerstone of the department’s strategic approach. Six of seven other Arctic nations are either NATO allies or NATO-enhanced opportunity partners,” he noted.
“Our allies and partners are highly capable and proficient in the Arctic region’s operating conditions,” Mercado said. “They also share the U.S. interest in maintaining the international rules-based order, including in the Arctic region.” (Source: US DoD)
13 Dec 19. Russia raises concerns over new U.S. ballistic missile test: RIA. Russia said on Friday it was alarmed after the United States tested a ground-launched ballistic missile that would have been banned under the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces Treaty, the RIA news agency reported.
The United States carried out the test on Thursday. Washington formally withdrew from the 1987 INF pact with Russia in August after determining that Moscow was violating the treaty, an accusation the Kremlin has denied.
“It alarms us. Of course we will take this into account,” said Vladimir Ermakov, head of the foreign ministry’s arms control and non-proliferation department.
It was the second test by the United States that would have been prohibited under the INF treaty and too place as the future of another major nuclear arms control treaty between Russia and the United States is under question.
New START, the last remaining major nuclear arms control treaty between the two countries, is due to expire in February 2021 and Moscow has warned there is already not enough time left to negotiate a full-fledged replacement. (Source: Reuters)
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