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24 Jan 20. UIA flight 752: governments can prevent another tragedy. FINN editor-in-chief Alan Peaford takes a look at the issues facing airlines, regulators and governments in the wake of the downing of Ukraine International Airlines flight 752 earlier this month.
In a perfect world the day-to-day activities of commercial air transport would be beyond geopolitical issues and would enable ordinary citizens to go about their business for work or leisure purposes unhindered and without risk.
On January 8, an early morning Ukraine International Airlines (UIA) flight crashed shortly after taking off from the Iranian capital Tehran, killing all 176 passengers and crew members on board. After three days of denial – and mounting evidence – Iran admitted it had shot the Boeing plane down “unintentionally”. Indeed two air to ground missiles had been fired at the civilian aircraft.
In the intervening three days, the Tehran government removed the flight and voice data recorders (the so-called black boxes) and refused to share any data, particularly with the US or American organisations such as Boeing. The crash site itself was contaminated as potentially vital evidence was removed before trained investigators could secure and then analyse the cause of the tragedy. The crash site also had bulldozers levelling the earth and removing and destroying debris from the aircraft.
But there was video evidence (yes, the amateur cameraman has been arrested by the Iranian authorities) and UIA ground staff had visited the crash scene and identified shrapnel damage on the wrecked fuselage.
Two disaster locations covered by dark clouds of war
The delay before the admission has opened up wide discussions about the issues of international access to such catastrophic event. Of course this is nothing new. The incident of Malaysian Airlines MH17 flight which was shot down, ironically enough, in Ukraine, by Russian separatists, also saw difficulties for investigators to gain access of information to determine the cause.
The two incidents had one thing in common – the disaster locations were covered by the dark clouds of war. The first incident was between Ukraine and Russia, while the most recent occurred during rising tensions between Iran and the United States. There were strong emotions in the general press. My colleague Martin Rivers went further in a piece he wrote for the UK’s Guardian newspaper. “Blame for flight 752 does not lie solely with those who downed the plane; it also lies with those who put it in harm’s way,” he wrote.
No ICAO guidance
Many other stood up to criticise ICAO – the UN body that oversees aviation on behalf of member states and promotes safety and compliance by global carriers, and regulators.
“Airlines operating in the region were fully aware that their flight paths crossed a potential conflict zone. Yet they received no guidance from ICAO,” Rivers said. “Risk assessments were, instead, made by individual companies and countries – just as they had been before the MH17 disaster. Some Middle Eastern carriers had suspended flights to Baghdad prior to the missile barrage. Some Asian and European ones diverted flights around Iranian airspace. Shortly after the assault, the US banned its airlines from the region. But many others kept to schedule.”
But ICAO could do nothing. Again politics had intervened with individual states not wanting to delegate responsibility for their own airspace to any overseas body – including the UN. The Montreal-based authority has defended itself rigorously.
“Under the Convention on International Civil Aviation it is ICAO Member States which are responsible for the proper coordination and publication of activities hazardous to civilian aviation arising in their territories,” ICAO said while icily pointing out that “publication by national authorities should be sufficiently far in advance of any hazard to allow all international civil aircraft to plan their routes clear of such areas.”
Aircraft in ‘wrong place at wrong time’
The rising tension between Iran and the USA was hardly state secrets. The US had assassinated Iran’s most senior military commander, Qassem Suleimani and the country vowed retribution despite warnings from US president Donald Trump that any Iranian response might provoke a “disproportionate” US strike. Iran’s ballistic missile attack on a US base followed – and Iran waited for the US strike. It didn’t come but the UIA aircraft did, happening to be at the wrong place at the wrong time and jumpy Iranian guards made the tragically wrong decision.
There are organisations that monitor tensions 24/7. Osprey is one such provider that every day produces analysis and background to events all over the world. The Middle East is frequently featured. High risks to aircraft in the sky or crews on the ground are covered.
Protests around an airport or heightened risk of missile attacks – such as in airspace around southern Saudi Arabia and Yemen, or Iraq – are there to assist airlines make their decision. And because they happen nearly every day it is a tough decision that airlines have to make to decide whether a nation’s capital – such as Tehran – is a risk or not.
Iran reluctant to hand over data recorders
For example, Osprey’s analysis indicates Saudi Arabia has shot down over 145 Houthi-launched surface-to-surface missiles (SSM) and drones over its territory since the start of 2018, including seven over Riyadh as well as two over Mecca Province and one over Yanbu, located deep within the interior of the country. Each day hundreds of airlines cross or serve airports in Saudi Arabia.
The morning of the UIA tragedy, dozens of carriers flew in the Tehran area without problem. But there are more issues. The reluctance to hand over the data recorders goes against all the rules. Iran does not have the equipment or the expertise to recover or assess the data and so far, refuses to hand over the recorders to neutral investigators such as France.
State interference in the operations of civil air transport is a problem for the whole industry. Whether it be airspace protectionism that adds to carbon emissions; taxation on operations or fuel or agreements on markets an industry that should be high above all other transportation systems – in all senses – instead is hampered. The tragedy in Tehran should not be allowed to happen again. Governments cause the problems – and they could fix them. (Source: FINN)
23 Jan 20. DOD Releases Report on Enhancing Security and Stability in Afghanistan. Today the Department of Defense provided to the Congress the semiannual report, “Enhancing Security and Stability in Afghanistan,” covering events during the period of June 1 to November 30, 2019.
The report was submitted in accordance with requirements from the Fiscal Year 2015 National Defense Authorization Act, as well as subsequent amendments.
The principal goal of the U.S. strategy in Afghanistan remains a durable and inclusive political settlement to the war that protects the United States homeland from terrorist attacks. The Special Representative for Afghan Reconciliation, Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad, leads the effort for a political settlement with the Taliban. The military mission in Afghanistan remains in support of diplomatic efforts to achieve such a political settlement and conduct counterterrorism operations.
During this reporting period, the Special Representative for Afghan Reconciliation, Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad, pursued an agreement with the Taliban until President Donald J. Trump suspended formal negotiations in September 2019, and announced a restart of talks with the Taliban in November.
During this reporting period, United States Forces-Afghanistan and Coalition allies and partners supported the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF) in a focused military campaign against the Taliban to pave the way for reconciliation and counterterrorism efforts against al-Qaida and the Islamic State-Khorasan (ISIS-K). These efforts have helped prevent these groups from exporting violence and the Taliban from seizing any provincial capitals in 2019.
Challenges within the ANDSF such as corruption, attrition and executing logistic planning remain a focus of advisory efforts at all levels. This reporting period, Resolute Support took steps to optimize its advising mission to better align advisors across Afghanistan.
Improved communication between the Ministry of Defense and Ministry of Interior helped minimize violence during Afghanistan’s presidential election and led to successful operations against ISIS-K in Nangahar province. The Afghan Special Security Forces remain the most capable force in the ANDSF and their capabilities continue to grow.
Terrorist and insurgent groups also continue to present a formidable challenge to Afghan, U.S., and coalition forces. ISIS-K, operationally limited to South and Central Asia, maintains the ability to conduct attacks and sought to retain territory in eastern Afghanistan despite pressure from U.S. forces, ANDSF and the Taliban.
The United States remains fully committed to the Resolute Support mission and our Afghan partners, as we work to ensure Afghanistan never again become a safe haven for terrorists.
See the full 1225 Report – Enhancing Security and Stability in Afghanistan https://media.defense.gov/2020/Jan/23/2002238296/-1/-1/1/1225-REPORT-DECEMBER-2019.PDF (Source: US DoD)
22 Jan 20. Focus Remains on Enduring Defeat of ISIS, Military Official Says. Even amid significant successes, the enduring defeat of ISIS remains the focus of U.S. forces and partners in Iraq and Syria, an effort that is vital to U.S. national security, the deputy commander of Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve said.
Speaking to reporters at the Pentagon today, Air Force Maj. Gen. Alexus G. Grynkewich said important progress has been made lately in the OIR realm.
“I would say [we’ve made] very good progress, to the point we’re able to shift the focus of CJTF-OIR more along the lines of training, advising and assisting the Iraqi security forces and the Syrian Democratic Forces on the Syrian side of the border, and they’ve shown themselves to be willing partners throughout the last nine months I’ve been deployed there,” the general said.
The big picture he added, is that ISIS still poses a threat.
“They have the potential to resurge if we take pressure off of them for too long a period of time,” Grynkewich said. “In the short term, as we’ve adjusted some of our activities downrange and in Iraq and Syria, I don’t think there’s an immediate threat of an immediate resurgence. But the more time we take pressure off them, the more that threat will continue to grow.”
The United States stays in constant contact and communication with its partners in Iraq and Syria, who have been helpful in assisting the United States with force-protection concerns over the last several weeks, Grynkewich said.
In Syria, he said, the United States continues to partner with the SDF in addition to its efforts to secure critical infrastructure to prevent any of it from falling back into the hands of ISIS. (Source: US DoD)
22 Jan 20. India approves procurement of military equipment for army. The Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) of India has approved procurement of military equipment worth more than Rs5.1bn ($716m) for the army.
Approval was given to procure military equipment, including electronic warfare systems for the Indian Army from indigenous sources.
Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) designed the systems, which are manufactured by local companies.
Set to be used in deserts and plains, the systems will provide comprehensive electronic support and counter measure capabilities to the field formations in communication, as well as other aspects of electronic warfare.
Additionally, the DAC approved prototype testing of DRDO-designed trawl assemblies for T-72 and T-90 tanks.
These will provide an important local de-mining capability to the Indian Army.
The DAC also approved the inclusion of Innovations for Defence Excellence (iDEX) in Defence Procurement Procedure.
This would help the army obtain capital procurement to startups and innovators working for iDEX and provide a boost to their budding efforts.
In a separate development, the DAC approved shortlisting of Indian Strategic Partners (SP) and the potential Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) for the construction of six conventional submarines in the country.
These decisions were announced at a DAC meeting chaired by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and attended by Chief of Defence Bipin Rawat and several top officials.
Earlier this month, the Indian Army reportedly announced plans to sign a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to procure more than 750,000 elite AK-203 assault rifles, which will be manufactured by the Indo-Russian Rifles (IRRPL), an India-Russia joint venture (JV) at Korwa. (Source: army-technology.com)
22 Jan 20. Potential flashpoints in the 2020s: Overlapping contestation, governance and environmental crises. As we hit the start of the 2020s with a burning thud, strategists, economists and national security pundits have been crystal balling what the decade ahead might hold – looking forward, Professor John Blaxland of the ANU Strategic and Defence Studies Centre explains the potential flashpoints facing Australia.
Plenty of potential flashpoints around the world are evident, arising from prospects of inter-state contestation. It has ever been thus, arguably, but there is a gnawing sense that this decade may see us get closer to the brink than in generations.
In terms of great power contestation and conflict, there’s China’s rise coupled with a shrinking population, a decelerating economy and an inclination to project blame on others using the ‘century of humiliation’ as a deflection from its woes.
In a surly way, still resentful at its post-Cold War loss of power and prestige and NATO’s expansion into its former fiefdom, Russia continues outworking its insecurities in the ‘Stans’, the Baltic and the Middle East. Across the Eurasian landmass, Russia pushes at the edges of the US and its allies in Europe, the Middle East and the Far East: there it warily aligns with China to marginalise the US while helping to heighten insecurities in Japan and South Korea.
Then there is America’s transactional retreat from ideational leadership that is eroding confidence in international institutions – ones that, frankly, don’t work properly without constructive US engagement.
In terms of the remaining countries that former president George W. Bush dubbed the ‘Axis of Evil’, great power pressures and rub points are matched with resentful Iranian striving for an expanded Shia realm as it seeks to match North Korea with its nuclear weapons program.
Across the Persian Gulf, illiberal Saudi Arabia remains a significant player as a counterpoint to Iran’s assertiveness. Meanwhile, having been dismissed as a possible member by the European Union, Turkey looks to claw back parts of its Ottoman caliphate and marginalise minorities like the Kurds, by violence if deemed necessary.
With an apparent loosening of the so-called rules-based global order and the US demonstrably losing some of its interest in remaining the world’s policeman, the so-called New World Order that was supposed to emerge following the end of the Cold War is starting to unravel.
Understandably jaded by its catastrophic failure in Iraq in the years since 2003, the US under President Donald Trump (who may well be elected for a second term), now appears to prefer instead to engage in a form of offshore balancing.
Under this rubric, lesser powers carry more of the load in maintaining security and stability and the US keeps its options open to engage or not.
As a result of this heady brew, a range of flashpoints are particularly close to the point of combustion. Crisis centres around the world remain on watch with red-lining colour-coded ‘indicators and warning’ charts.
Australia’s Headquarters Joint Operations Command, for instance, likely has sets of eyes monitoring closely these ones in particular (with a score out of 10 for likelihood this decade – with 10 being highest):
- The Korean peninsula, where a 70-year-old war remains in a deep freeze, but on a short fuse as we wait for a nuclear tipped ballistic missile to emerge (7);
- The East China Sea, where the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands remain disputed by China and Japan (7);
- Taiwan, which President Xi Jinping has declared he intends to incorporate into the PRC by force if needs be (7);
- The South China Sea, where China flouts the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea and the 2016 Arbitral Tribunal ruling to continue encroaching on the maritime claims of its south-east Asian neighbours, utilising hundreds of armed but non-naval vessels (6);
- The Malacca Strait, which is a potential choke point in any conflagration relating to a crisis that could arise with regard to the options 1-4 above (4);
- The delicate political process concerning Bougainville’s quest for independence from PNG (8);
- The prospect of a breakdown in law and order in another neighbouring state, as happened in Timor-Leste and Tonga in 2006, and repeatedly in Solomon Islands in the last two decades (8);
- Potential for a large-scale and catastrophic disaster in Indonesia, the Philippines or nearby, which could lead to demands for a significant Australian response (9);
- The Iran sanctions operations in and around the Strait of Hormuz, where Australian Navy and Air Force platforms are committed to help enforce the US-led sanctions (7); and
- Potential nuclear war flashpoints between Pakistan, India and China across their land borders (3).
Each of these on their own is cause for worry; but with more than one happening concurrently and possibly overlapping, Australia’s national security apparatus likely would become overloaded. Yet these issues touch principally on one of three domains of intersecting security challenges to be faced in the decade ahead. The others relate to a spectrum of domestic and international governance challenges and looming environmental catastrophe.
In terms of the environment, the fires across much of Australia have been a wake-up call to the Australian nation and, some say, for the world. Rising temperatures point to not only more fires, drought and severe weather, but, for our Pacific neighbours, the prospect of existential vulnerability (9).
Meanwhile, as waterways like the Mekong River are subject to a proliferation of dam construction on an industrial scale, fish stocks and water supplies affecting billions are reaching the point of no return (9).
At sea, fish stocks are being plundered across the world’s open oceans and encroaching into EEZs of many small states powerless to stop it; but the supplies are not endless and they are dwindling rapidly (9).
At the same time, the world’s population continues to accelerate towards the 9 billion mark – a point expected to be reached by mid-century.
Shortages, in turn, are generating large-scale societal problems that could erupt into open violence, massive relocation of people across open waters (on a greater scale than before the government was able to ‘stop the boats’) and a breakdown in law and order on an unimagined scale (8).
Many of these environmental factors are having a spill-over effect in terms of domestic and international governance. International criminal gangs involved in drug and people smuggling are subverting the system domestically and internationally, by coercing influential political figures in several smaller Pacific and several south-east Asian states (8).
These governance challenges are complicated further by the overlap with issues related to great power contestation.
Resentful at its inability to control agendas in UN bodies, the key benefactor, the US, looks set to continue walking away from the key UN-related institutions we have come to assume will always be there (8).
Meanwhile, waiting in the wings is a totalitarian one-party state not invested in human rights declarations or other such mechanisms.
In the end, it appears the future will not look much like the past. It looks set to be more contested (9), fragile (9), drier (9), hotter (9), and potentially wetter (particularly for littoral and low-lying states – 9).
To mitigate the risks and to prepare for an uncertain future, Australia and its international partners cannot afford to take a cavalier approach to the scope, scale and immediacy of the overlapping environmental, governance and great power contestational challenges.
Australia, for starters, needs to have a long hard think about planning holistically and generously to mitigate the risk of these potential crises, not just for the next election, but for the next generation; and not just for Australia, but for the sake of its neighbours.
A national institute for net assessment, to help map out a plan to bolster institutional, societal and environmental resilience would help. Relying on volunteers to manage this seems unfair.
For starters, mechanisms to share the load and fortify societal resilience could include a universal scheme for national and community service, wherein young Australians could elect to participate in the defence force, one of the police forces, or state emergency or rural fire services, or with Australian Aid in a move akin to the US ‘Peace Corps’.
John Blaxland is Professor of International Security and Intelligence Studies at the Strategic and Defence Studies Centre, Coral Bell School of Asia Pacific Affairs, College of Asia and the Pacific at the Australian National University. (Source: Defence Connect)
20 Jan 20. Theodore Roosevelt Carrier Strike Group deployed to Indo-Pacific. The US Navy has announced that more than 6,000 sailors assigned to the Theodore Roosevelt Carrier Strike Group (TRCSG) ships departed from San Diego for a scheduled Indo-Pacific deployment. Providing maritime security and maintaining freedom of the seas in accordance with international law and customs, the ships and units will operate with international partners and allies to promote regional stability and prosperity.
Carrier Strike Group (CSG) 9 commander Stu Baker said: “The US Navy carrier strike group serves as the centrepiece of deterrence, providing our national command authority with flexible deterrent options and a visible forward presence.
“The Theodore Roosevelt Carrier Strike Group trained hard, performed well, and is now ready to execute whatever missions we are assigned.”
TRCSG comprises CSG 9, USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71), Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 11, the Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Bunker Hill (CG 52), and Destroyer Squadron 23.
It also consists of the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyers USS Russell (DDG 59), USS Paul Hamilton (DDG 60), USS Pinckney (DDG 91), USS Kidd (DDG 100) and USS Rafael Peralta (DDG 115).
The embarked air wing of Theodore Roosevelt comprises the ‘Tomcatters’ of Strike Fighter Squadrons (VFA) 31, ‘Golden Warriors’ of VFA-87, ‘Blue Diamonds’ of VFA-146, and the ‘Black Knights’ of VFA-154.
It also consists of the ‘Liberty Bells’ of Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron (VAW) 115, ‘The Gray Wolves’ of Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) 142, and the ‘Wolf Pack’ of Helicopter.
Theodore Roosevelt commanding officer Brett Crozier said: “Carrier Strike Groups bring unparalleled naval combat power to the fight. No other weapon system has the responsiveness, endurance, battlespace awareness, and command and control capabilities of a carrier and its embarked air wing.”
The TRCSG last deployed for a seven-month deployment supporting Operations Inherent Resolve and Freedom’s Sentinel from October 2017 to May 2018.
It was also deployed for maritime security cooperation efforts in US 5th and 7th Fleet areas of operations.
Last December, the US Navy completed acceptance trials of its tenth Freedom-class littoral combat ship (LCS) in Lake Michigan. (Source: naval-technology.com)
17 Jan 20. U.S., French Military Leaders Discuss Terror Threat in West Africa. Army Gen. Mark A. Milley discussed the terror threat in West Africa with French Army Gen. Francois Lecointre during meetings this week and will present the French view of operations in that area as the Defense Department reviews the resources and personnel assigned to U.S. Africa Command.
Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, met Lecointre, his French counterpart, as part of NATO’s Military Committee meeting in Brussels.
The French are leading efforts in West Africa and have more than 4,500 service members in the region, according to the French military.
U.S. personnel in West Africa work closely with French, British and local forces to contain the terror threat.
There is a danger from the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria in the region, and ISIS claims the terror groups in the area of Mali, Niger and Burkino Faso constitute a “province” of the caliphate. “There’s a variety of terrorist organizations that are operating in the area that have declared allegiance to ISIS and al-Qaida,” Milley told reporters.
The U.S. military provides crucial logistic, aviation and sensing capabilities to local and partner forces, and French officials have said they need those capabilities to meet the challenges of the mission.
DOD is working to ensure the National Defense Strategy is resourced correctly, so Defense Secretary Dr. Mark T. Esper has directed reviews of manning at the various combatant commands.
According to the National Defense Strategy, the main effort is directed at the Indo-Pacific region to deter China, followed by Europe and Russia. North Korea, Iran; violent extremist organizations are the other threats.
For a strategy to have any meaning, resources must back up the words. The U.S. Indo-Pacific Command should have the lion’s share of DOD resources, followed by U.S. European Command.
Africom, U.S. Southern Command and U.S. Central Command have economy of force missions — meaning they have a lesser claim on U.S. military resources.
“We are doing a broad review … of U.S. military resources matching our broader national defense strategy,” Milley said. “In Africa, we’re doing that review. The question we’re working with the French on is the level of effort. Is it too much, too little, about right? And is it the right capabilities?”
An economy of force mission means to use the least amount of force and resources to achieve objectives. “But economy of force doesn’t mean zero, and that’s important,” Milley said. “A lot of people think that we are pulling out of Africa.”
What the review will do is recommend the capabilities needed to support the economy of force mission in Africom and then size it to the tasks and the threats, and level of effort that’s appropriate to achieve your objectives, Milley said.
The Africom review should be completed in six weeks to two months, he said. (Source: US DoD)
17 Jan 20. U.S.-Japan Defense Tech Cooperation Stymied by Cultural Hurdles. Five years after the Japanese government lifted restrictions on arms exports, the nation’s military contractors have yet to make major breakthroughs in overseas markets, experts and officials noted at a conference, billed as the first fully integrated defense trade show held in the country.
That is despite having a variety of high-technology expertise and goods that could greatly benefit its allies, and in turn, help partner nations compete with China’s rapid weapon systems advancements.
Hirokazu Hokazono, deputy commissioner and chief defense scientist at the Japanese Ministry of Defense’s Acquisition, Technology and Logistics Agency, said, “The security environment is changing at extremely high speed.” More powerful regional rivals such as China are introducing technology for cross-domain operations and Japan must keep pace, he said at the DSEI Japan conference held near Tokyo. Like the Pentagon, the MoD has identified cyber, the electromagnetic spectrum and space as potential areas of conflict along with sea, air and land.
The ATLA has identified six top R&D priorities in which the ministry must invest, he said. They are: cyber; underwater technologies; electronic warfare; hypersonics; persistent wide-area intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance; and network operations.
The goal is for the Japan Self-Defense Force to transform itself into a “multi-domain defense force,” and strengthen the ability for the Japan-U.S. alliance to deter and counter threats, he added. To do that, its military research and development must shift focus from platform-centric to a “capability oriented” approach, he said.
Most of the advanced technologies Japan is known for — such as material sciences and robotics — originate in the commercial sector. The military needs to harness these new products and integrate them into its defense systems, Hokazono said.
Meanwhile, China is advancing its military capabilities rapidly. If Japan can’t keep up, it may lose its edge over potential rivals, he said. “What is most important is that we sweep those technologies up and integrate them into our defense technology systems,” he said.
There is a need for better cooperation between the military, industry, academia and allied countries, he added.
As for partner nations and industry, the trade show demonstrated that there were many U.S., European, Middle Eastern and Australian companies willing to make the trip to the Far East to do business.
Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, Collins Aerospace, Leonardo DRS, General Atomics Aeronautical and Raytheon were among the U.S. contractors with a presence at the show.
However, cultural barriers are factors when Japanese companies attempt to market their wares in the United States, and conversely when U.S. companies want to do business with the self-defense forces outside of foreign military sales, which are currently robust.
“Japan has a great aerospace business with small quantity, high-tech items that are applicable to defense but they don’t seem to be used,” Robert Morrissey, president of Raytheon Japan, said during a panel discussion. Raytheon recently held an industry day and invited some 60 prime, second- and third-tier Japanese vendors to see if they had useful technologies.
“We don’t like sole-source suppliers. I think the more suppliers we have, the better. So we’re actively engaging the entire broad spectrum of the Japanese defense industry,” he said.
Japan has a plethora of dual-use items developed for commercial purposes that could make the transition to military systems, experts at the show noted. Along with its well-known prowess in robotics, it has expertise in technologies such as machine learning, machine vision, artificial intelligence, material sciences and batteries. It may have material useful for developing hypersonic vehicles, and know-how helping to build out 5G networks, they noted.
What it doesn’t have is a long history for exporting military goods. Its pacifist policies prevented arms exports until 2014 when the government of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe lifted many restrictions.
Gregg Rubinstein, director of GAR Associates, has worked on Japan military technology issues in the U.S. government, the defense industry and as a consultant since 1974.
He pointed to the recent cooperative development program between the United States and Japan developing the Standard-Missile 3 Interceptor — a partnership between the two governments, Raytheon and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries — as a positive sign.
“This wasn’t the first U.S.-Japan program,” Rubinstein said. “It was the first program that was actually based on mutual requirements that came about through careful study and proceeded through the entire steps of research leading into joint development. And now into production. In other words, the entire span of the acquisition cycle.”
The program created important precedents and it was a big step toward cooperative acquisition, he said.
Raytheon’s Morrissey said there were hiccups in the program. “It continuously encountered a problem in communications between government and industry, [and] ensuring the funding. But ultimately, yes it was successful. I think the next joint program is going to have to see a much closer relationship between the two sides,” he said.
One aspect that could be changed was that Raytheon had a contract with the U.S. government, and Mitsubishi with its government, but there was no contract between the two companies. It worked out because the two tech giants had worked together before and knew each other’s strengths. “I’m not sure that structure will work in all cases,” he said.
There needs to be company-to-company contracts in the future, he added.
One common complaint about Japanese technology is its price, he noted. Because the Japanese military is its main customer, low quantity and low volumes are a factor leading to higher costs, he said. But another is a lack of competition. “Sole-source, cost-plus contracts seem to be the norm here,” he said.
“I have personally witnessed inspectors measuring the weight, length and thickness of nuts, bolts and washers,” Morrissey said.
They inspect cosmetic issues, and perform tasks beyond the requirements. “These all cost money.”
There is little internal research-and-development investments. Most companies wait for the Ministry of Defense to fund them, he said. The ministry should issue more firm, fixed-price contracts. “But give the Japanese defense industry a chance to make money. Six or 7 percent margins on defense programs is just not enough, especially if you want them to invest in more technology.”
Jim Daniels, vice president for international business for Syracuse, New York-based SRC, has 35 years of experience in the Japanese market. The company — known for its radar and electronic warfare technology — has done most of its business in the United States, but about four years ago decided to expand its international reach. The Asia-Pacific region is one of its targets.
“Asia-Pacific is a huge area. You can’t come in and say, ‘I’m going to do Asia-Pacific.’ You have to be a little more focused, especially for a mid-sized company like we are,” he said in an interview.
SRC divided the region into north and south and identified two entry points. Singapore in the south because it is known in Southeast Asia as a technology hub and for buying the best products, and Japan, which is looked at the same way by its neighbors.
“At this point Japan really doesn’t know who SRC is. That’s our goal [at the trade show] — to introduce ourselves,” he said. The company is looking for partners on Japanese programs and for tech that could transfer to the United States, he said.
Because of cultural and language differences, companies need a Japanese partner to guide them through the market. They may need multiple partners. Japan’s defense vendors are stove-piped, meaning one company might do a lot of business with the Ground Self-Defense Force, but almost nothing with its air force or navy, Daniels said.
“I see new [Japanese] companies that I have never seen before talking about the defense industry. And it’s purely economic. The market is opening up. The Japanese government is allowing for a broader market and other companies are moving into it,” he said.
Japan is one of the United States’ longest and most stalwart allies, he noted. Its manufacturing prowess is “formidable” although they have some challenges building items affordably, he said. “The ability to take a design, produce it and get it out the door is very attractive,” he said.
The Japanese military, as is the case with United States, prefers to do business with its domestic industry, “but the market is now more open to foreign products,” Daniels said.
“We need allies to have a commonality in both mission focus and technology,” Daniels said, noting the dangerous neighborhood that surrounds Japan that includes rivals such as Russia, China and North Korea.
“The more we can cooperate in terms of design, development, manufacturing, support, operations — the whole con-ops chain — the better off we will be,” he said.
As for Japanese companies breaking into the U.S. market to help the Defense Department overcome its technological hurdles, Rubinstein said the first step is to be seen and have a presence. Many large Japanese companies have a Washington, D.C., office, which are normally staffed with a couple of executives who follow policy, and so on, but that’s not sufficient, he said.
“Japanese industry has to be seen as a player in the U.S.,” he said.
They need to boost these offices with American insiders, who know how to market and put their products in front of program executives officers and the research-and-development agencies.
One success story is the Japanese maker of a dual-use lithium-ion battery that was superior to what the U.S. military was using.
It opened a U.S. office, hired consultants and did a marketing campaign. It took years, but eventually it got the attention of the Army and then the Navy.
“It was not easy at first. It took several years of sustained effort to get the U.S. procurement program officers and the bureaucracies even interested in this product, but the superiority of this particular battery has now become understood and is becoming competitive in terms of a U.S. defense acquisition,” Rubinstein said.
He recommended companies wishing to penetrate the U.S. market start small with joint research projects with U.S. counterparts on weapon system components.
The Japanese government must also do its part and bolster its overseas presence by establishing defense procurement missions. They can be a mix of military personnel or civilians, but they need to hire local experts to do problem solving, Rubinstein said.
Such experts “know the rules, they know who to identify when there are problems and they’re very efficient in problem solving and in facilitating communications,” he added. (Source: glstrade.com/NDIA)
18 Jan 20. Five Men Indicted for Operating an International Procurement Network to Export Goods to Pakistan’s Nuclear Program. The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) has announced that five men, all associated with the front company “Business World” in Rawalpindi, Pakistan, and including Muhammad Kamran Wali (“Kamran”), 41, of Pakistan; Muhammad Ahsan Wali (“Ahsan”), 48, and Haji Wali Muhammad Sheikh (“Haji”), 82, both of Mississauga, Ontario, Canada; Ashraf Khan Muhammad (“Khan”) of Hong Kong; and Ahmed Waheed (“Waheed”), 52, of Ilford, Essex, United Kingdom, have been indicted by a federal grand jury for conspiracy to violate the International Emergency Economic Powers Act and the Export Control Reform Act of 2018 and conspiracy to smuggle goods from the United States, United States. According to the indictment, between September 2014 and October 2019, the defendants operated an international procurement network of front companies that existed to acquire goods for the Advanced Engineering Research Organization (AERO) and the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC), and to cause those goods to be exported from the United States to the entities without export licenses in violation of federal law.
Both AERO and PAEC were on the Commerce Department’s Entity List, which imposes export license requirements for organizations whose activities are found to be contrary to U.S. national security or foreign policy interests. PAEC was added to the Entity List in 1998. AERO was added to the Entity List in 2014, after the U.S. Government found that it had used intermediaries and front companies to procure items for use in Pakistan’s cruise missile and strategic UAV programs. According to the indictment, the defendants attempted to conceal the true destinations in Pakistan of the U.S.-origin goods by using the conspirators’ network of front companies as the supposed purchasers and end-users of the goods and as the apparent source of payments for the goods, even though the goods were ultimately received in Pakistan and paid for by AERO or PAEC. The defendants and their network of front companies were never the actual end-users of the goods exported from the U.S. The defendants caused the U.S. companies to file export documents that falsely identified the ultimate consignees of the shipments as entities other than AERO and PAEC. The defendants never applied for or obtained an export license from the Commerce Department authorizing the export of goods to AERO or PAEC in Pakistan. The indictment identified 38 separate exports from the U.S. that the defendants caused, involving 29 different companies from around the country. Three of those companies are in New Hampshire. None of the U.S. companies is alleged to have been complicit in the illegal exports. Each defendant is charged with two felony counts of conspiracy. Although arrest warrants are pending, none of the five defendants has thus far been apprehended. (Source: glstrade.com)
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