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21 Feb 20. Japan’s Ministry of Defense Reveals Concept for Next-Gen F-X ‘Godzilla’ Fighter. Japan’s Ministry of Defense has been quietly laying plans for a new stealth fighter to replace the F-2, one capable of outclassing the numerically superior Chinese air force. Nicknamed the “Godzilla” fighter by observers due to its size, the Mitsubishi F-X is expected to enter service in 2035.
Tokyo has moved to advance the Future Fighter concept aircraft toward a more concrete program that can yield a usable fighter, changing the name to the “F-X” program, releasing new concept art of the aircraft envisioned and setting aside some $256.5m in fiscal year 2020 for “F-X related research projects” and “conceptual design in Japan-led development.”
The Ministry of Defense told military website Jane’s it expects to formalize a “framework” for the program by the end of 2020, noting the new jet could join the Japan Air Self-Defense Force (JASDF) as early as 2035, when the F-2 fighter is expected to retire.
“We will develop the F-X so that we can deliver the first production type [of the new aircraft] before the F-2 retirement starts,” a Japanese Ministry of Defense spokesperson told Jane’s on January 30. “We will continue to discuss with potential partners, then we would like to determine a preliminary framework regarding development partners by December this year when we will finalise the draft cabinet budget for fiscal year (FY) 2021.”
Further, according to Japanese requests for information (RFI) on the program cited by Defense Connect, it could eventually top $40 bn in total, with Tokyo buying up to 100 of the new jets.
Bradley Perrett at Aviation Week has nicknamed the large aircraft “Godzilla,” both a nod to the popular Japanese sci-fi films as well as to the aircraft’s size, which is bigger than the large, 62-foot-long F-22 Raptor. Perrett noted the Ministry of Defense wants an aircraft with both a very long range as well as a large payload capacity, and that the F-X program is likely to partner with Britain’s Tempest fighter program as well as the Future Combat Air System (FCAS) being jointly designed by Dassault and Airbus.
Perrett noted the design mirrors some characteristics of concept drawings of the FCAS released by Dassault, though the plane has four tail surfaces similar to the YF-23 Black Widow that Northrop and McDonnell Douglas produced to compete with Lockheed’s YF-22, which the Air Force eventually adopted over the Black Widow.
Mitsubishi has also courted US defense contractors Northrop Grumman, which built the B-2 Spirit and upcoming B-21 Raider stealth bombers, and Lockheed Martin, maker of the F-22 and F-35 stealth fighters, as well as Boeing and BAE Systems.
Learning From ‘A Giant Beetle’
However, Mitsubishi will be the lead contractor in the program, as it’s spent years developing indigenous advanced stealth technology via the X-2 Shinshin program, which it began when the US Congress banned sale of the new F-22 Raptor to other countries in 1998.
The X-2 testbed, which flew for the first time in 2016 and was once called the Advanced Technology Demonstrator, has helped Tokyo pioneer its own thrust vectoring system and powerful new engines, radars and composite materials. The X-2’s stealth design is so effective, Hideaki Miwa of the Defense Ministry’s procurement agency told the Nikkei Asian Review “it looks no bigger than a giant beetle viewed from tens of kilometers away.”
Tokyo has also developed its own equivalent of the Pratt & Whitney F119 turbofan engine used in Lockheed’s F-22 to give it super-cruise capability, testing the XF-9-1 engines developed by Ishikawa Heavy Industries in 2018 on the X-2 Shinshin. However, the engines are slightly shorter than Pratt & Whitney’s, leaving more room in the fuselage for weapons storage – a problem that has plagued the F-35’s tiny internal weapons bays. Other technologies tested in the X-2 that may make their way into the F-X include EMP-resistant, fiber-optic fly-by-wire avionics as well as “self-repairing” flight systems capable of compensating for damage in mid-flight, the blog The National Interest noted.
Another major driving force behind the F-X program is more frequent contact with increasingly advanced fighters owned by Russia and especially China. In 2018, JASDF fighters met Chinese or Russian aircraft in the skies on an average of three times per day, according to the National Interest, and the People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) outnumbers the JASDF six-to-one. With the introduction of a slew of advanced jets like the J-11, J-20, and FC-31, the PLAAF is quickly eroding the advantage afforded to Japan by the F-35, F-15 and F-2. (Source: defense-aerospace.com/Sputnik News)
21 Feb 20. US confirms Turkey has requested Patriot deployment. A US official has confirmed that Turkey has requested that the US deploys the Patriot air defence system in the country in the face of Syrian regime airstrikes. Turkish Armed Forces have come under direct fire from Syrian regime airstrikes as combat between the two escalated, with Syrian Government Forces advancing on areas where Turkish forces have been deployed since the US wound down its operations in the region.
On Thursday, Turkish officials said that two Turkish soldiers were killed in airstrikes in Idlib, Northern Syria. In total, 15 Turkish personnel have been killed in February in combat with Syrian government-backed forces.
A US official confirmed to Air Force Technology that a request for the deployment of Patriot had been made, but that the US had yet to decide whether to deploy the system.
The official said: “We are aware of a request for Patriot missiles in Turkey near the Syrian border, but no decision has been made. We continue to have discussions with the government of Turkey about the troubling situation in Idlib. We refer you to the Turkish government for further details.”
The US and Turkey, while allies within NATO, have been at odds since Ankara decided to acquire the Russian-made S-400 air defence system, resulting in the US ejecting Turkey from Lockheed Martin’s F-35 programme. The US said that Turkey’s decision to acquire the missile system jeopardised Turkey’s use of the fighter, saying the two systems were incompatible.
The US made repeated interventions on Turkey’s road to acquiring the S-400, threatening removal from the F-35 programme and the possibility of economic sanctions. (Source: airforce-technology.com)
20 Feb 20. US Marine Commandant calls for more Lightning Carriers to better counter China. US Marine Corps Commandant General David Berger has called on the US Marines to become more “unpredictable” when countering China, seeing the Lightning Carrier concept as a key way of achieving this. As the capabilities of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter variants continue to evolve, new CONOPs will evolve around the fifth-generation platform – the US Navy and Marine Corps team has developed the “Lightning Carrier” concept to provide the branches with a lower-tier naval aviation capability to support amphibious power projection operations.
Serving as the latest iteration of the Sea Control Ship (SCS) concept developed and conceptualised by the former US Navy Chief of Naval Operations and famed Second World War Admiral Elmo Zumwalt, the Lightning Carrier and the corresponding sea control doctrines emerging around the platform combination are emerging as immense power projection potential.
While the aircraft carrier emerged as the apex of naval prestige and power projection at the end of the Second World War, the platform has evolved as technology has.
Today’s carriers are defined by large fleet and supercarriers like the US Nimitz and Ford Class, the UK Queen Elizabeth and Chinese Type 001 and follow-on Type 002 and Type 003 Class vessels.
However, in recent years, nations throughout the Indo-Pacific have begun a series of naval expansion and modernisation programs, with traditional aircraft carriers and large-deck amphibious warfare ships serving as the core of their respective shift towards greater maritime power projection.
These developments have prompted the rapid development of the Lightning Carrier concept, combining the mobility and comparatively low cost of large-deck amphibious warfare ships and the increasing affordability of platforms like the F-35B short take-off, vertical landing (STOVL) serving as powerful alternatives for regional powers seeking to expand their long-range strike and maritime power projection capabilities.
While a traditional carrier power, the United States and the Marines in particular have recognised the limitations of the larger super carriers to develop and perfect the Lightning Carrier concept as part of developing and executing a strategy of “distributed lethality” in the face of mounting Chinese hostility.
Additionally, China’s growing network of advanced anti-ship cruise and ballistic missiles (ASCM/ASBM) systems like the DF-16 and DF-21 series, combined with their own growing fleet of aircraft carriers and under construction large-deck amphibious warfare ships, the Commandant of the US Marine Corps has emerged as a major advocate for the Lightning Carrier.
GEN Berger explained at a conference discussing the Amphibious Warship Industrial Base Coalition, where he stated, “China has moved out to sea, and they have long-range weapons and a lot of them.
“Those two things have changed the game. Take those away, in other words, we could keep operating with dominance everywhere we wanted to, as we have. We cannot do that. We can’t get stuck in old things. We are being challenged everywhere.”
Not comparable to a supercarrier, but a key component of the joint force
Combining the capability of the F-35 with large-deck amphibious warfare ships and ever-advancing tanker and airborne early warning capabilities is emerging as increasingly powerful force structures following the successful deployment of US Navy formations for combat operations to the Persian Gulf and the South China Sea in recent months.
The US variant of the Lightning Carrier combines a large-deck amphibious warfare ship like the Wasp or America Class vessels and the F-35B – enabling the platforms to carry approximately 40 per cent of the firepower of a larger Nimitz or Ford Class carrier.
Enhancing the combat effectiveness and power projection capabilities of the Lightning Carrier concept is the ability of the F-35B to take off from the carrier and land on primitive airstrips ashore while also dispersing the platform throughout an area of operations limiting broader force vulnerability.
It is planned that the US Navy’s large amphibious warfare ships will accommodate up to 20 F-35B Joint Strike Fighters, which would provide both the US Navy and US Marines with a potent force package.
However, it is important to recognise that the Lightning Carrier concept is not without its limitations, as the development of early warning and control and tanker aircraft small enough to be stationed on the amphibious warfare ships is still somewhat limited, although progress is being made.
However, the US Marine Corps is optimistic about the capability brought by the Lightning Carrier, with the 2017 Marine Corps Aviation Plan stating, “While the amphibious assault ship will never replace the aircraft carrier, it can be complementary if employed in imaginative ways.”
“A Lightning Carrier, taking full advantage of the amphibious assault ship as a sea base, can provide the naval and joint force with significant access, collection and strike capabilities,” the Corps added.
Adding to this, GEN Berger said, “I’m in favour of things like the Lightning Carrier concept because I believe we need to tactically and operationally be … unpredictable. We’ve been sending out every [amphibious ready group] and [Marine expeditionary unit] looking mirror-image for 20 years. We need to change that.”
However, maximising the efficacy of the Lightning Carrier concept was a key focus for GEN Berger who seeks to combine and leverage the introduction of new technologies and platform packages to ensure the US Marines remain unpredictable in agile in response to the mounting challenges arrayed against traditional US dominance.
To this end, GEN Berger said, “You would like to see one of those big decks one time go out with two squadrons of F-35s and next time fully loaded with MV-22s and another MEU with a 50-50 combo. Now that’s how you become unpredictable. How do you defend against that?”
Food for thought and supporting the Australia-US alliance
For Australia, a nation defined by its relationship with traditionally larger yet economically weaker regional neighbours, the growing economic prosperity of the region and corresponding arms build-up, combined with ancient and more recent enmities and competing geopolitical, economic and strategic interests, place the nation at the centre of the 21st century’s “great game”.
Further compounding Australia’s precarious position is an acceptance that “Pax Americana”, or the post-Second World War “American Peace”, is over and Australia will require a uniquely Australian approach and recognition that the nation is now solely responsible for the security of its national interests, with key alliances serving a secondary, complementary role to the broader debate.
Today, strategic sea lines of communication support over 90 per cent of global trade, a result of the cost-effective and reliable nature of sea transport.
Indo-Pacific Asia is at the epicentre of the global maritime trade, with about US$5trn worth of trade flowing through the South China Sea and the strategic waterways and choke points of south-east Asia annually.
Meanwhile, the Indian Ocean and its critical global sea lines of communication are responsible for more than 80 per cent of the world’s seaborne trade in critical energy supplies, namely oil and natural gas, which serve as the lifeblood of any advanced economy, including Australia, which has become vulnerable, as events in both the Middle East and south-east Asia show.
Enhancing Australia’s capacity to act as an independent power, incorporating great power-style strategic, economic, diplomatic and military capabilities, serves not only as a powerful symbol of Australia’s sovereignty and evolving responsibilities in supporting and enhancing the security and prosperity of Indo-Pacific Asia.
Shifting the public discussion away from the default Australian position of “it is all a little too difficult, so let’s not bother” will provide unprecedented economic, diplomatic, political and strategic opportunities for the nation. (Source: Defence Connect)
20 Feb 20. Australia to deploy aircraft supporting UNSC Operation ARGOS for 2020. Australia has announced that it is deploying a Royal Australian Air Force P-8A Poseidon Maritime Patrol aircraft to support the global effort to enforce United Nations Security Council sanctions on North Korea. The aircraft will be deployed on Operation ARGOS next week. This represents the first Australian Defence Force (ADF) contribution to the operation for this year.
The Poseidon aircraft will operate out of Kadena Airbase in Japan to carry out the airborne surveillance and monitor and deter illegal ship-to-ship transfers. Australian Minister for Defence and Senator Linda Reynolds CSC said the country’s commitment to the enforcement of United Nations Security Council sanctions on North Korea is important to stability in the region.
Reynolds added: “This deployment demonstrates our commitment to regional security and the rules-based order.
“We rely on a stable North East Asia as part of a free, open and economically prosperous wider Indo-Pacific region.
“Along with our international partners, Australia continues to maintain pressure on North Korea to adhere to United Nations Security Council sanctions through our dedicated air and maritime patrols.”
The Poseidon aircraft and its crew will be deployed from No 11 Squadron at RAAF Base Edinburgh. This deployment comes after HMAS Parramatta was deployed to the region in late 2019.
Following the commencement of Operation ARGOS two years ago, the ADF has deployed maritime patrol aircraft on five cases and naval frigates on three. In December 2019, the RAAF received its 12th and final P-8A Poseidon multi-mission maritime aircraft. The maritime aircraft has been manufactured by Boeing, designed to excel at anti-submarine and anti-surface warfare. P-8 Poseidon has two variants, namely the P-8I, flown by the Indian Navy, and the P-8A Poseidon, flown by the US Navy and the RAAF. (Source: airforce-technology.com)
18 Feb 20. Chinese Arms Companies Race to Keep Up with Production Schedule Delayed by Virus Outbreak. Chinese arms enterprises have been racing to keep up with their production schedule after resuming work following an extended Spring Festival holiday due to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak with a key amphibious assault ship maker scrambling to outfit an “important” ship and aviation companies running test flights for newly built warplanes.
Shaanxi Aircraft Industry (Group) Corporation Ltd under the state-owned Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC) was the first to send a new aircraft into the sky after resuming work on February 10, a little more than a week later than the original plan, cannews.com, an aviation news website run by AVIC, reported on Monday.
With the support of the Chinese Air Force, the company successfully conducted a test flight for a newly built KJ-500 early warning aircraft, according to the report.
Hongdu Aviation Industry Group, another subsidiary of AVIC, conducted a test flight for a new L-15 advanced training and light combat jet on Monday, according to a statement the company released on its WeChat public account on Monday.
Other AVIC subsidiaries, including fighter jet makers Chengdu Aircraft Industrial (Group) Co Ltd and Shenyang Aircraft Company Limited, have also resumed operation, cannews.com said.
Shipyards, including the Dalian Shipyard and Jiangnan Shipyard, which are known for their construction of aircraft carriers and destroyers, also resumed work on February 10 with extra attention being paid to epidemic control measures, according to statements the companies released recently.
Hudong Zhonghua Shipbuilding (Group) Co Ltd, which is making the Type 075 amphibious assault ship, has also resumed operation, as it used reserve manpower to replace workers who could not make it back to work in time due to the epidemic, in a bid to keep to the original schedule for an important ship that is undergoing outfitting work, the company said in a Friday statement.
An industry insider, who only spoke on the condition of anonymity, told the Global Times on Monday that some state-owned enterprises have devised a six-day working scheme to make up for delays in the progress of key projects. Military experts told the Global Times previously that while the virus may have an impact on China’s weapons and equipment programs, it will be short-term, as the outbreak is expected to only last for a few months at worst. Prioritizing the health and safety of people is absolutely the right course to avoid fatalities and to mitigate any long-term impact, experts said. (Source: defense-aerospace.com/Global Times)
18 Feb 20. Israel rolls out new wartime plan to reform armed forces. Israel has announced a new multiyear plan to restructure its armed forces to face existing and potential future adversaries for decades.
The plan, called “Tnufa” in Hebrew and “Momentum” in English, has been a priority for Lt.-Gen. Aviv Kochavi, the Israel Defense Forces’ chief of the General Staff, over the last year. The plan envisions fighting a multi-front war and harnessing the latest technologies to bring the most effective firepower from the largest number of different units to the forefront of the battlefield.
Momentum also seeks to shorten the time of a conflict while achieving more success on the battlefield and lessening the impact of war on civilians. Forces will be streamlined with the goal of a “swift and massive use of force against enemy systems,” the IDF said during a briefing about the plan.
The Institute for National Security Studies at Tel Aviv University had noted in the summer of 2019 that political upheaval in Israel may “delay and limit the plan’s launch.” The country currently lacks a government after two elections failed to bring a majority for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s coalition.
But concerns about the need to confront a complex Iranian adversary drove the plan through bureaucratic hurdles toward a January announcement that Defense Minister Naftali Bennett had approved it. It was officially rolled out in a briefing on Feb. 13.
IDF spokesman Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus said the military built Momentum based on the last plan, called Gideon, which was announced in 2015. Having shrunk some land forces units and made them more efficient, the idea now is to address new challenges in the strategic and tactical environment. Israel wants to “extend drastically the gap in capabilities between us and our adversaries in the framework of available resources,” the IDF said. The emphasis is on being “multidimensional” and “multi-force,” combining all arms of the naval, land, air, cyber and intelligence forces.
“We face various terror armies,” Conricus said, including organizations that combine both militant and insurgent qualities, behaving like armies. This includes both Palestinian-based Hamas and Islamic Jihad as well as Lebanon-based Hezbollah. The challenge in battling such organizations is that it’s difficult to determine who is a combatant because members assimilate into urban environments and civilian areas.
Meanwhile, Israel also faces a “high trajectory threat” that involves short-, medium- and long-range ballistic missiles, putting the country in jeopardy of facing an unprecedented barrage, the ground forces warned. This could involve thousands of missiles fired a day at Israel, and so the country plans to further enhance its multilayered defense capabilities, but it would also need to prevent its enemy from continuing to fire.
Israel previously found it had been training for a future war that was dramatically different than what it ended up facing. For instance, the primacy of the armored corps was challenged in the 1973 war.
“We may face a two- or three-front war — active areas or theaters simultaneously against different enemies and capabilities. We must address that,” Conricus said. “We want to shorten the time of combat for higher achievement on [the] battlefield at smaller cost for IDF and civilians. Think of a triangle, with sides of time and achievement and cost. Imagine we want that to be small with achievement being high.”
A major aspect of this involves going beyond Israel’s qualitative military edge to create a bigger gap between Israel and its enemies. That means denying enemies the ability to communicate or resupply.
Conricus said future war for Israel will mean bringing numerous capabilities to back up whichever force is at the tip of the offensive spear. “So General Staff capabilities from Tel Aviv will be brought to that unit, such as live and semi-processed intel from [signals intelligence], pushing it instantly to a brigade that is maneuvering so it stands on shoulders of [the] mighty IDF machine.”
“The IDF here is going into uncharted territory,” Conricus said, adding that Israel will establish a dedicated headquarters to address the “third circle” threat, a term Israel uses for Iran.
The future conflict, according to Israel, will involve more unmanned aircraft systems and precision-guided munitions, or PGM, which will improve accuracy but could prove expensive. However, the spokesman added, victory can’t be achieved with standoff capability alone. “We need agile and strong maneuver capabilities and will spend a lot of resources. We will enhance fire and PGMs and create abilities to deliver overwhelming blows in fire,” he noted. Part of this is enabled by Israel’s close cooperation with the United States and programs in air defense and the F-35 fighter jet. Israel established a second F-35 squadron in January.
As Israel invests in more high-tech munitions, it will also continue reducing redundant forces, as it did under Gideon from 2015 to 2020. That means decommissioning aging tanks, such as the Merkava Mark III, as well as closing a tank battalion and one squadron. Israel also plans to create an infantry division for rapid maneuver.
Some of the changes under Momentum are to take place by 2024, but it’s expected others will take more than a decade. For instance, Israel is to receive the next 30 F-35s by 2024, but testing future fighting vehicles and artillery along will take years before they’re made operational.
Israel also foresees using technology such as artificial intelligence and networked digitization to bind units together and create force multipliers. It is a “condensed battlefield,” the IDF said, that will help “leverage fire and maneuver, using new and upcoming technology.”
“The environment is changing. We have a necessity to understand changes and address it in training, equipment, doctrine, manpower and material,” Conricus said. (Source: Defense News)
18 Feb 20. New joint ventures hint at ‘burgeoning relationship’ between Israel and India. Israel and India are deepening defense industry ties as Israeli companies seek long-term partnerships through India’s efforts to encourage products to be locally produced under joint ventures.
Earlier this month, Israel Aerospace Industries and India’s Bharat Electronics Limited signed a memorandum of understanding to establish a new center for technical and maintenance support for India’s air defense systems. In addition, IAI on Feb. 5 signed a strategic collaboration memorandum with Indian firms Hindustan Aeronautics Limited and Dynamatic Technologies Limited to work on UAVs that will be made in India.
Sales have historically surpassed more than $1bn annually, making India not only a core country for Israel’s defense sales, but also strengthening the bilateral strategic partnership. IAI deals in 2017 included a $2.5bn deal for Barak 8 missiles and $1.3bn for surface-to-air missiles, with further deals in 2018, according to the company.
In the wake of the early February defense expo in Lucknow, India, IAI stressed that the Asian nation is one its main partners. “The important partnership is characterized by long-term collaboration, joint development and production, energy transfer, and technical support over many years,” according to Nimrod Sheffer, IAI’s president and CEO.
The sentiment was echoed in interviews across Israel’s major defense companies. Elbit Systems sees India is a strategic market, noting that it is “involved in a range of programs across the Indian defense sector.” Rafael Advanced Defense Systems said it has been doing business in India for more than two decades “supporting the Indian Armed forces with state-of-the-art systems.”
As part of bilateral relations, trade may be boosted to $20bn in the coming decades from the $5bn level at which it currently stands, according to the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies. India has been a consumer of Israeli arms exports for several decades, accounting for 49 percent of Israeli arms exports from 2013 to 2017, according to one count at Israeli media outlet Calcalist. And India was Israel’s largest purchaser of arms in 2017 alone, though purchases here decreased in 2018.
India is one of the core countries involved in the International Defense Cooperation Directorate under Israel’s Ministry of Defense. Known by its acronym SIBAT, the directorate in the government’s outreach arm to the defense industry. Of $7.5bn in defense exports in 2018, 46 percent went to Asia, Globes reported. Israeli companies have not divulged what percent of that went to India, but it is considered to be substantial. Last year’s trade numbers are still being calculated, according to Israel’s MoD.
“My sense is that both India and Israel see this as a burgeoning relationship, not just arms trade,” Jonathan Spyer, a research fellow at the Jerusalem Institute for Strategy and Security, told Defense News. “After Russia, Israel is India’s second-largest source for defense [acquisition] — there is a strong sense of shared challenges in the area of terrorism.”
Spyer, who has taken part in recent policy discussions and roundtables about India-Israel relations in Tel Aviv and New Delhi, says India admires Israeli defense companies’ speed and lack of bureaucracy that has helped their growth in the the markets of air defense and UAVs. However, as the Center for a New American Security think tank notes, “India’s weapons procurement is complex and slow in no small part because of India’s desire to indigenize production.”
‘The sky is the limit’
Still, the relationship between India and Israel is evolving. India’s economic policy “Make in India” means that foreign companies wanting business in India must work alongside domestic companies and develop products locally. And Israeli companies have indeed partnered with Indian firms via joint ventures.
For instance Elbit established a joint venture with Adani Defence in Hyderbad for the production of Hermes drones in 2018. Adani Defence noted that the 50,000-square-foot facility is the first outside of Israel for manufacturing the Hermes 900 medium-altitude, long-endurance UAV. Another joint venture with Alpha Design Technologies was also launched with Elbit in recent years, and the Israeli firm also works with Bharat Electronics in the field of electronic warfare and electro-optics.
And IAI inked MOUs with three Indian companies this month. Bharat Electronics’ marketing director said Feb. 5 that the collaboration would enhance its offerings and provide an immediate and optimized maintenance solution for air defense systems.
“The sky is the limit,” said Ze’ev Mivtzari, IAI’s corporate vice president of marketing for India. “It’s a big change from five years ago.” Mivtzari, a former Israeli defense attache to India, pointed to the strengthening of bilateral ties seen in recent years.
It’s Israel’s advanced technology that attracts India as it seeks to upgrade its armed forces. High-altitude and medium-altitude UAVs such as the Heron and multimission tactical Searcher could help India protect its border and sensitive sites.
The same is true for air defense systems. India has acquired the Israel-developed Barak missile line for its medium-range surface-to-air missile requirement. Working with India’s Defence Research and Development Organisation, IAI hopes to increase sales of the missile by setting up production lines in India.
“If you want to work in India, you don’t just sell products, you need to create your own ecosystem,” the Israeli firm said. It’s that ecosystem that Israeli companies are targeting. The ecosystem for IAI now includes more than 100 local Indian companies with which it works.
Like IAI, Rafael’s interaction with India goes back decades and involves the Asian nation’s Army, Navy and Air Force. Rafael’s ecosystem is in Hyderbad, where it’s focusing on missiles, air defense systems, communications technology and electronic warfare capabilities.
“The common ground for all our programs, with the Army, Navy and Air Force, is modernization. Some of them are upgrades to existing equipment, some are procurement. The Indian market is big and will remain big,” Rafael has said. The company currently works with India on the SPYDER air defense system and Spike missiles, and it showcased its sea-based air defense system C-Dome, based on the Iron Dome, at a recent defense expo in Lucknow.
Rafael is also discussing its Drone Dome system, which protects against smaller drones. A recent test showed the system can use lasers to simultaneously stop multiple drones.
In the market of communications systems, Rafael seeks to increase sales of its BNET system is India, and it’s also pushing its Typhoon remote controlled weapons system for naval platforms.
UVision, an Israeli company that makes loitering munitions, also signed a deal this month with India’s Aditya Precitech to set up a joint venture to manufacture the PALM (precision attack loitering munition) Hero system. UVision’s company in India is called AVision.
Israel’s MoD characterizes the bilateral relationship as meaningful and involving “vast cooperation” between the two defense industries. The deepening defense and strategic relationship is part of India’s multi-decade political and strategic shift, as it moves away from its former link to the Soviet Union in the 1980s, and improves ties with Israel and the United States. This complement’s Israel’s pivot eastward.
But there are differing security priorities between New Delhi and Jerusalem. India is more concerned about China, while Israel is wary of Iran. Though the bilateral relationship has still grown under Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and their meetings in 2017 and 2018 that resulted in government-to-government agreements.
The ecosystem built by joint ventures between Israeli and Indian defense companies is complex and involves sensitive defense technology, know-how from which India hopes to acquire to lessen its dependence on foreign defense imports.
Spyer, the analyst out of Israel, said there is bipartisan consensus in both countries to advance the existing relationship. “It is a really important element of Israel’s strategic stance and the broader pivot to Asia. No other burgeoning relationship, whether Vietnam, South Korea, Singapore or Japan, has the dimensions, depth and shared interests as India does for Israel.” (Source: Defense News)
18 Feb 20. EU Set for New Libya Naval Mission. The EU is rolling out a new naval operation in the Mediterranean to crack down on arms-smuggling into Libya, as it peels further away from migrant-rescues at sea. Details are still being hammered out but foreign affairs ministers in Brussels on Monday (17 February) reached a political agreement to deploy aerial, satellite, and maritime assets, along with warships, in an effort to curb the weapons smuggling. EU’s foreign policy chief Josep Borrell told reporters, when asked if the warships would be mandated to stop suspected smugglers, “For sure, they are not just having a promenade.”
The proposal follows a declaration made last month in Berlin when world leaders pledged to push for a ceasefire in Libya and guarantee an arms embargo. But issues of how many warships there will be, and rules of engagement, remain as yet unanswered. The mission is set for launch at the end of March, and is relegated to an operational area off the eastern coast of Libya. (Source: defense-aerospace.com/EU Observer)
17 Feb 20. Philippine Move to Scrap US Military Deal Boosts China’s Clout in Asia. The Philippine president’s proposed cancellation of a 32-year-old military pact with the United States gives regional power China chances to strengthen its influence in Asia as U.S. military units would visit less often.
Chinese naval ships, military aircraft and coast guard-escorted fishing vessels would find it easier to move around the disputed South China Sea, which lies west of the Philippines, analysts in Asia say. Naval ships also could more freely enter the Pacific Ocean east of the Philippines, Taiwan and Japan – the first-island chain. Those waters are usually considered an American sphere of influence. China, a political rival of the United States since the Cold War, already gives billions in aid and investment to the fast-growing but impoverished Philippines. More may be on the way, consecrating Chinese influence there, scholars believe.
“The Chinese are going to be happy about this, seeing a big hole poked in the first-island chain,” said Fabrizio Bozzato, Taiwan Strategy Research Association fellow who specializes in Asia and the Pacific. “They may also seize the opportunity in the extra-military dimension in the sense that they will increase their financial commitment to the Philippines, start building some infrastructure.”
The Philippine foreign secretary sent notice to the United States February 11 that it would terminate the Visiting Forces Agreement with effect in 180 days. The U.S. defense secretary called the cancellation request “unfortunate.”
Philippines presidential office spokesman Salvador Panelo in Manila told a press briefing Thursday that “What is important to the president is, this is the time to terminate the Visiting Forces Agreement to stress a point that…it is not advantageous to us because the more we rely on them, the more our position weakens and stagnate our defenses.”
The current agreement allows U.S. military aircraft and naval vessels free entry into the Philippines and eases immigration rules for American military personnel. The two sides will still uphold a Mutual Defense Treaty that was signed in 1951, after the United States ended colonization of the Asian archipelago.
Duterte’s cancellation falls in line with statements since he took office in 2016 about easing reliance on the United States and building ties with China. Most recently, the U.S. government revoked the visa of Philippine senator who as former police chief helped lead Duterte’s deadly anti-drug campaign.
“We can probably take into consideration how serious President Duterte was when he was talking about separating from the United States at the beginning of his administration, so there must be some degree of seriousness to that,” said Herman Kraft, political science professor at the University of the Philippines.
The cancellation raises questions about whether Duterte wants a military pact with China, Kraft said. Beijing maintains Asia’s biggest armed forces, some of which monitor Philippine activity in tracts of the resource-rich South China Sea that both sides call their own.
Absent the Visiting Forces Agreement, U.S. ships and aircraft could still help the Philippines – by special invitation – and four other governments that dispute China’s claim to 90% of the sea. But U.S. personnel would be scouting less often, analysts say, meaning fewer chances to check China’s activities.
U.S. visits to the Philippines will become less “regular,” said Aaron Rabena, research fellow at Asia-Pacific Pathways to Progress Foundation, a Manila research organization. He expects joint U.S.-Philippine military exercises to be suspended as well. The two sides do joint drills every year, often with a South China Sea focus that Beijing resents. Philippine military personnel and common Filipinos wonder what China will bring, Rabena said. Based on widespread reactions in Manila, he said, “You would see how many Filipinos really desire American help and assistance.
“And they’re saying ‘Is (Duterte) doing this because he loves China so much? So, he’s really turning us into a province now of China?’” the research fellow said.
The Chinese navy worldwide had 512 ships as of 2012, according to the British think tank International Institute of Strategic Studies. It had 714 ships last year, the database Globalfirepower.com says.
Cancellation of the Visiting Forces Agreement gives Beijing a “freer hand” in the South China Sea’s Spratly Islands and will let it accelerate construction of artificial islets there, Bozzato said. Its three biggest Spratly holdings have more infrastructure, such as hangars and radar systems, compared to the 10 islets controlled by the Philippines. The U.S. still sees the Philippines as a key Asian ally that can help hem in China’s growing maritime influence.
Duterte might use the next 180 days to seek concessions from the United States and keep the visiting forces deal if he gets them, Bozzato said. (Source: defense-aerospace.com/Voice of America News)
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