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24 Jun 20. Five Eyes nations discuss ways to strengthen defence partnership. A virtual conference was held by the Five Eyes nations to discuss ways to strengthen defence partnership.

Five Eyes is an alliance comprising Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the UK and the US. Defence ministers of the mentioned nations participated in the video conference.

The partner nations aim to support and defend a stable, rules-based global order. They also talked about commitment to advance defence and security cooperation on matters of mutual interest.

Additionally, the group discussed the role of Indo-Pacific area for a secure, economically resilient community respecting the sovereign rights of all states.

New opportunities to further strengthen the alliance relationship, hold regular meetings to address existing and emerging security challenges, as well as international rules and regulations were discussed.

Australian Minister for Defence Linda Reynolds said: “Strengthening Australia’s defence relationships is one of my top priorities, which is why I have maintained a high tempo of international engagement during Covid-19.

“To date, I have conducted over 25 virtual calls with key international counterparts.

“I convened today’s meeting to discuss ways that we can further strengthen our Five Eyes defence partnership in an increasingly complex and challenging geostrategic environment.

“I am pleased that we have agreed to meet regularly to continue these productive discussions.”

In July last year, UK Home Secretary, Priti Patel, hosted a two-day summit of the Five Eyes intelligence alliance in London.

The countries discussed key security concerns from emerging threats, cybersecurity, encryption and the ‘illegitimate’ use of the internet. (Source: army-technology.com)

25 Jun 20. Japan shifts focus from defensive Aegis to ‘pre-emptive’ strike capability. Following revelations that Japan has formally cancelled its introduction of the Aegis Ashore defence system, the country has shifted gears with a focus firming on developing and introducing a ‘pre-emptive’ strike capability to maintain strategic stability and national security, with interesting results for the Indo-Pacific.

Deterrence theory is as old as warfare and international relations. While the methods have changed throughout history, the concept and doctrine remains constant, albeit, significantly more lethal.

In the contemporary context, deterrence is best broken down into two distinct concepts as identified by US academic Paul Huth in his journal article ‘Deterrence and International Conflict: Empirical Findings and Theoretical Debates’, which states that a policy of deterrence can fit into two distinct categories, namely:

  1. Direct deterrence: Preventing an armed attack against a state’s own territory; and
  2. Extended deterrence: Preventing an armed attack against another state.

The advent of nuclear weapons and strategic force multiplier platforms like aircraft carriers, ballistic missile and attack submarines and long-range strategic bomber aircraft, supported by air-to-air refuelling capabilities, fundamentally rewrote the rules of deterrence capabilities.

Strategic nuclear forces have served as the primary pillar of this strategic deterrence policy of many great powers since the advent of the nuclear era in the dying days of the Second World War.

The doctrine of ‘Mutually Assured Destruction’ or MAD, served as a key tenant of preventing global calamity that would result from the truly global conflict between two diametrically opposed superpowers.

Vast nuclear triads made up of complimentary land, air and sea based systems, ranging from hardened silos of ballistic missiles, submarine launched ballistic and cruise missiles and fleets of conventional and stealth heavy bombers, each capable of raining down death and destruction on an apocalyptic scale kept the US and Soviet Union in a tense, often tenuous state of amicable hostility.

American strategic policy academic Michael Keane describes deterrence as “the prevention or inhibition of action brought about by fear of the consequences. Deterrence is a state of mind brought about by the existence of a credible threat of unacceptable counteraction. It assumes and requires rational decision makers”.

As the regional balance of power has evolved, Asia’s leading post-Second World War power, Japan has tentatively navigated the rise of China in particular within the context of its pacifist, post-war constitution – however, the limitations established now place Japan at a disadvantage when facing a nuclear armed political, economic and military superpower on their doorstep.

This challenge is further impacted by the increasingly unpredictable and destructive behaviour of the North Korean regime, which frequently threatens Japan, South Korea and the US with nuclear Armageddon.

In response, Japan initially pursued an extensive and overlapping layer of missile defence capabilities, combining a potent fleet of Aegis equipped guided missile destroyers, land-based air-and-missile defence systems including the Patriot missile systems and finally, the development of overlapping Aegis Ashore missile defence systems providing complete coverage of the Japanese mainland.

Shifting away from Aegis ashore

Despite progress made on the infrastructure and equipment associated with the Aegis ashore system, Japan’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) has recently moved to formally suspend the acquisition of the costly platform in order to shift the nation’s focus towards what is described as “pre-emptive strike capabilities against enemy rocket launchers as a less-costly alternative to the Aegis Ashore missile shield”.

As part of the plans under consideration, the Japanese government is investigating a number of potential options to provide strategic security and comprehensive missile defence to the otherwise exposed island nation – these include costly expansions of the existing Aegis-equipped destroyer fleet and developing offshore structures to accommodate Aegis systems offshore.

However, by far the most interesting development is the continuation and expansion of the decision by the Japanese government in 2017 to pursue and field long-range cruise missiles, which could be deployed on Japan’s fighter aircraft force.

This is particularly relevant as adversaries offensive missile systems become increasingly capable and hard to intercept, particularly as hypersonics continue to proliferate and become increasingly capable, something the Japanese Government has anticipated and uses as a justification for withdrawing from the Aegis ashore program.

A senior Japanese defence official is quoted as saying, “This is a de facto withdrawal [from Aegis ashore]. It will become harder to intercept missiles.”

This was reinforced by Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga, who said, “We want to thoroughly consider the matter as a strictly defensive policy.”

Japan does not, however, define what it considers a “pre-emptive strike capability” and what it will be pursuing, however, it does identify, “The Japanese government has rejected the idea of possessing arms designed exclusively for attacking other nations. The category includes intercontinental ballistic missiles, strategic bombers, and attack carriers.”

However, such reassurances haven’t stopped the Japanese pursuing the acquisition of power projection capabilities in the past, most recently the modifications of the Izumo Class “helicopter destroyers”, which are currently undergoing a suite of modifications and modernisations to enable them to field a number of fifth-generation, F-35B fighter aircraft.

So, what does this mean? Well it is an interesting predicament that will add further dynamics for the balance of power in the Indo-Pacific, particularly should Japan seek to develop and deploy a range of intermediate-range ballistic missiles (IRBM), however it is important to recognise that conventional variants pack a limited punch for “pre-emptively” targeting adversary missiles, leaving potentially only one option: nuclear weapons.

For Australia, this presents an increasingly challenging tactical and strategic environment, despite the relationship between Japan and Australia, and further complicates the nation’s future strategic and force structure planning and raises the ultimate question, if Japan goes nuclear, should Australia join the club?

Crossing the “nuclear Rubicon”

Enter widely respected Australian strategic and defence policy analyst Hugh White, who recently kicked the hornets nest of debate with his new book, How to Defend Australia, and a series of supporting opinion pieces.

White set the scene for the Australian public, presenting perhaps one of the most asinine questions of recent strategic debate:

“Should Australia defend itself? Our choice is not an easy one. Just because we probably can build the forces to defend ourselves does not mean we necessarily should. As we have seen, the costs would be very high, and it is not a foregone conclusion that the benefits outweigh those costs.”

While this represents a quick summary of White’s proposal, it broadly encapsulates his modus operandi – that is the path of least resistance and a belief that Australia is incapable of affecting its own future.

However, his most controversial option, the possibility of Australia developing or acquiring a domestic nuclear capability, remains an interesting conundrum for Australia’s political and strategic leaders and public to consider as the region we are increasingly dependent upon continues to evolve and challenge our preconceptions of how we think the world should work.

While floating the idea, White specifically states he “neither predicts nor advocates” for the development of a domestic nuclear arsenal, yet it has been met with increasing debate and dialogue, with many taking to the Australian Strategic Policy Institute to discuss the options and the very idea of Australia’s own nuclear arsenal, and the supporting doctrine required.

A key component of this discussion is reshaping the debate, ASPI senior fellow Rod Lyon clearly articulates this in what he describes as “crossing the nuclear Rubicon”:

* “Australians [need] to think differently about nuclear weapons — as direct contributors to our defence rather than as abstract contributors to global stability;

* a bipartisan political consensus to support proliferation, during both development and deployment of a nuclear arsenal;

* a shift in Australia’s diplomatic footprint, to build a case for our leaving the Non-Proliferation Treaty, and abrogating the Treaty of Rarotonga, while still being able to retail a coherent story of arms control and nuclear order;

* serious investment in the technologies and skill-sets required to construct and deploy, safely and securely, both nuclear warheads and appropriate delivery vehicles; and

* a strategy which gives meaning to our arsenal and an explanation of our thinking to our neighbours and our major ally.”

Lyon also goes on to expand on White’s central premise for considering an Australian nuclear option, what White calls “nuclear blackmail”, defined more simply as nuclear coercion by a nuclear armed and conventionally well-equipped great power, providing examples of Chinese, Indian, Pakistani and, most relevant for Australia, French concepts of ‘minimum deterrence’.

Lyon states the French Cold War nuclear doctrine, which “called for an arsenal that could ‘rip the arm off’ a superpower, leaving it an amputee among its more able-bodied peers”, fits in well with Australia’s existing conventional doctrine, which is focused on controlling the sea-air gap and limiting a hostile nation’s attempts to coerce the otherwise isolated nation.

Building on this, Lyon articulates: “So, should Australia build its own nuclear arsenal? I think the answer is, ‘Yes, if it needs to.’ That’s a big ‘if’ — indeed, a series of big ‘ifs’: if the regional strategic environment becomes appreciably darker; if US extended nuclear deterrence is no longer available, or patently incredible; and, perhaps just as importantly, if there’s bipartisan Australian acceptance of the need for an indigenous arsenal.” (Source: Defence Connect)

25 Jun 20. Japan to consider strike capability to replace missile defence system. Japan is to consider the acquisition of weapons able to strike enemy missile launchers to bolster defence against North Korea after a decision to cancel the Aegis Ashore missile defence system, the defence minister said on Thursday.

Any first-strike capability would represent a fundamental shift in Japan’s military posture that could raise the concern of neighbours. The United States, Japan’s main ally, has also had reservations about it gaining an independent strike capability.

The minister, Taro Kono, reignited debate this month over whether Japan should get the capability to strike enemy bases to stop North Korean ballistic missiles attacks and counter a perceived growing threat from China when he suspended deployment of two Aegis Ashore installations.

“I don’t think we are excluding any option before discussions,” Taro Kono told a news conference when asked whether a strike capability would be on the agenda of the National Security Council when it considers options.

Kono’s surprise decision to cancel the Aegis Ashore system came after concern about its cost and the possibility of spent booster rockets falling into populated areas.

But even before Japan picked the missile-defence system in 2018, ruling party lawmakers had agreed that attacking missile bases did not contravene Japan’s war-renouncing constitution because doing so would be an act of defence.

That conclusion prompted a decision to buy 1,000-km (621 mile) range air-launched cruise missiles that could hit North Korea from over the Sea of Japan.

But it would be difficult to use such missiles to hit mobile launchers without satellite targeting capability, which Japan does not have, experts say.

ALTERNATIVES

Kono said Japan would need to clearly define what it meant by a pre-emptive, or first, strike before considering whether it was a viable option.

Other alternatives to Aegis Ashore could include increasing the number of airborne early-warning aircraft or deploying drones that could monitor missiles sites and attack if a launch was seen as imminent.

Without an Aegis Ashore substitute, Japan would have to rely more on Aegis radar-equipped ships that patrol the Sea of Japan and Patriot missile batteries that are a last line of defence.

Keeping even two Aegis ships permanently on patrol, however, requires several vessels and hundreds of sailors.

Kono, a former foreign minister, also described recent Chinese activity in the disputed South China Sea and elsewhere in Asia as “alarming”.

He also said he was “suspicious” about the state of health of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un following recent speculation he was not well. He did not elaborate.

Until recently, Kono has been seen as something of a dark horse in the race to succeed Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, but in a Mainichi newspaper poll after his Aegis Ashore decision, he ranked third among voters as preferred next premier.

He has called for phasing out nuclear power, a stance at odds with government policy, and has advocated for a looser immigration policy. (Source: Reuters)

25 Jun 20. Georgia orders trucks as modernisation drive continues. The Georgian Minister of Defence, Irakli Gharibashvili, announced on 22 June that the country would be procuring new trucks from three different manufacturers as part of the modernisation of the Georgian military.

The trucks are to be sourced from Germany’s MAN, Italy’s IVECO, and US manufacturer Ford, and are expected to enter into service by the end of the year. Although Gharibashvili said that more than 500 vehicles would be acquired, he had previously told the Georgian parliament that the country would be acquiring 480 vehicles in 2020 to replace the existing fleet. Payments for the acquisition are to be spread over multiple years.

The Georgian Minister of Defence, Irakli Gharibashvili, has signed an agreement to buy new trucks for the country’s military as part of efforts to upgrade its equipment and improve NATO interoperability. (Ministry of Defence of Georgia)

Georgia currently operates a range of vehicles from manufacturers including Ukraine’s KrAZ (Kremenchug Automobile Plant), Turkey’s BMC, and the M900 series from the United States, for their tactical transport requirements.

As part of efforts to become more interoperable with NATO, Gharibashvili has also disclosed that the country will be adopting the M4 carbine as its main infantry weapon. Georgia is also in the process of receiving Javelin anti-tank guided missiles, following on from an order in late 2017 valued at USD75m. The first batch, received in January 2018, was part of an order for 410 missiles and 72 Javelin command launch units. A further modification was announced by the US Department of Defense on 28 February 2020 for life-cycle support on the Javelin system for Georgia, among other Javelin users. (Source: Jane’s)

24 Jun 20. Delayed Victory Day parade features new and upgraded Russian land systems. The Russian Ministry of Defence (MoD) presented new and modernised land weapon systems during the Victory Day parade held in Moscow on 24 June instead of 9 May because of the Covid-19 epidemic.

The parade featured the Armata family of heavy armoured vehicles: four T-14 main battle tanks (MBTs) and three updated T-15 Armata heavy infantry fighting vehicles (IFVs). The heavy IFV had a modernised Kinzhal remotely operated weapon station (ROWS) with a 57 mm main gun, a Kalashnikov PKTM 7.62 mm general-purpose machine gun, and two anti-tank guided missiles in a protected two-cell bank mounted on the right of the vehicle.

A trio of the latest MBTs composed of six T-90M Proryv (Breakthrough) tanks, seven T-80BVMs, and seven T-72B3M obr. 2016 systems rolled through Red Square for the first time. Unlike the basic T-90M, the Proryv had flexible nets with heavy protection of the lower part of the turret against high-explosive anti-tank munitions.

The artillery component of the parade included nine TOS-1A Solntsepyok 220 mm multiple rocket launchers (MRLs) with reinforced protection, four of the latest TOS-2 Tosochka wheeled MRLs, and six Tornado-S 300 MRLs. The modified TOS-1A’s frontal arc was protected by Kontakt-5 explosive reactive armour. The TOS-2 was mounted on the Ural Tornado-U 6×6 heavy utility truck chassis. Tosochka features fully automated firing processes and has an extended firing range. The Tornado-S 300 MRLs were fitted with the ASUNO automated fire-control subsystem, which provides much better accuracy compared with existing systems. (Source: Jane’s)

24 Jun 20. Houthis claim cruise missile attack on Saudi Arabia. The Yemeni rebel group Ansar Allah (Houthis) said it used Zulfiqar ballistic and Quds cruise missiles against Saudi Arabia on 23 June, as well as Samad-3 unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).

It said the Saudi Ministry of Defence and King Salman Air Base were hit, along with military targets in the border province of Jizan and Najran.

Two explosions were reported in the capital shortly before dawn.

Colonel Turki al-Maliki, the spokesman for the Saudi-led coalition confirmed an attack had taken place, saying in a statement that a ballistic missile was launched from Sanaa and intercepted before it hit civilian areas in Riyadh.

That statement added that three other ballistic projectiles and eight UAVs carrying explosives – a possible reference to the Samad-3s – were also intercepted earlier in the night before they could reach civilian targets.

The Saudi statement made no mention of a cruise missile attack, which would be the first against the kingdom since the Abqaiq and Kurais oil facilities on 14 September 2019.

Ansar Allah unveiled the Quds cruise missile in July 2019, saying one had been used to attack Abha International Airport in southwest Saudi Arabia the previous month.

The same type of cruise missile was used against Saudi oil facilities along with delta-wing UAVs in the 14 September attacks. While Ansar Allah claimed credit, the weapons were launched from a still unidentified location north of the kingdom, not Yemen. (Source: Jane’s)

24 Jun 20. Strategic Forum Looks to Future of U.S.-South Korea Alliance. On June 25, 1950, North Korean troops exploded over the 38th parallel and invaded South Korea. Over the next three years, more than 1.5 million U.S. service members deployed to South Korea to — as inscribed on the National Korean War Memorial in Washington — “defend a country they did not know and a people they never met.” A total of 33,686 U.S. service members made the ultimate sacrifice in three years of combat.

The quote on the Korean War Memorial may have been true in 1950, but it is no longer the case. The shift mirrors the breadth and depth of the U.S.-South Korea alliance, David Helvey, the acting assistant secretary of defense for Indo-Pacific security affairs, said. Helvey participated in a virtual Republic of Korea-United States Strategic Forum hosted today by the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

“Now, we know Korea. We know Korea deeply,” Helvey said. “We know the Korean people, we have deep and extensive people-to-people ties based on a long, rich history of our alliance relationship that extends far beyond the defense aspects of the relationship.”

From K-Pop to Hyundais in U.S. driveways to the tens of thousands of Korean immigrants in the United States, the relationship has grown over the past 70 years and, in many ways, become culturally seamless.

The security side is just as intertwined. More than 28,000 U.S. service members are based in South Korea. South Korean soldiers fought alongside American soldiers again during the Vietnam War, in Afghanistan and in Iraq.

“Our defense alliance with Korea today, militarily speaking, is truly unique,” Helvey said. “[It is] one of the most capable and one of the most effective alliances precisely because of those deep bonds and ties that we have. … The interoperability that that combined force creates and the capabilities that that combined force brings not only to ensuring deterrence, … but also [to] our ability to work together in service of our combined shared objectives globally.”

South Korea and the United States have common values, Helvey said: support for free markets, civic engagement, democracy and liberty.

An example of the two democracies working together that is particularly relevant today is the cooperation to secure global health and to counter biological threats. “I think the COVID environment that we’re in today kind of underscores the foresight that the leadership of both countries put into that new frontiers agenda in 2015,” Helvey said. “But there [are] other areas as well — science and technology, collaboration, space and cyber. These truly are at the cutting edge of where this alliance can be and should be. I think this is an area where we need to continue moving.”

In 1950, South Korea was an importer of security, Helvey noted. Today, it is an exporter, working with nations around the world to provide security for people they perhaps don’t know.

Helvey said he would like to see a greater South Korean-Japanese cooperation in the future. This could have a great impact on deterrence in the region, he added.

“I think we need to continue working with our [South Korean] allies to identify and address future security challenges to both of us, as well as to the region more broadly, including how we can work together to support rules-based international order, how we can support things like freedom of navigation,” he said. “I think there’s room for us, as an alliance, to be able to work on how we can cooperate in terms of our security cooperation and capacity building of third parties.” (Source: US DoD)

24 Jun 20. Five Eyes nations discuss ways to strengthen defence partnership. A virtual conference was held by the Five Eyes nations to discuss ways to strengthen defence partnership. Five Eyes is an alliance comprising Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the UK and the US. Defence ministers of the mentioned nations participated in the video conference.

The partner nations aim to support and defend a stable, rules-based global order. They also talked about commitment to advance defence and security cooperation on matters of mutual interest.

Additionally, the group discussed the role of Indo-Pacific area for a secure, economically resilient community respecting the sovereign rights of all states.

New opportunities to further strengthen the alliance relationship, hold regular meetings to address existing and emerging security challenges, as well as international rules and regulations were discussed.

Australian Minister for Defence Linda Reynolds said: “Strengthening Australia’s defence relationships is one of my top priorities, which is why I have maintained a high tempo of international engagement during Covid-19.

“To date, I have conducted over 25 virtual calls with key international counterparts.

“I convened today’s meeting to discuss ways that we can further strengthen our Five Eyes defence partnership in an increasingly complex and challenging geostrategic environment.

“I am pleased that we have agreed to meet regularly to continue these productive discussions.”

In July last year, UK Home Secretary, Priti Patel, hosted a two-day summit of the Five Eyes intelligence alliance in London.

The countries discussed key security concerns from emerging threats, cybersecurity, encryption and the ‘illegitimate’ use of the internet. (Source: army-technology.com)

23 Jun 20. Japan aims to stop drain of possible military-use research tech. Universities must reveal funding sources as government keeps close eye on China. The Japanese government is aiming to strengthen measures to prevent advanced technology research with potential military applications at universities from ending up in the hands of foreign countries — mainly China — Nikkei has learned.

Japan will require universities to disclose their acceptance of foreign money when receiving research and development funding from the government. No financial aid will be offered if there are any concerns or risks of technology outflow.

The government will use subsidy aid for fiscal 2022, at the earliest, to implement the new measures.

In a similar move, the U.S. has been trying to crack down on China, accusing it of perpetrating economic espionage.

Currently, Japanese universities are not required to disclose information on funding sources. In the U.S., universities and other research institutions are asked to prevent any technology leakage and financial aid will be limited or stopped if there is any violation.

Japan has a history of technology exchanges with the U.S. Officials in Washington have been warning their counterparts in Tokyo about technology drain to China. The Japanese government, however, as of now has been unable to grasp the entire picture.

According to the Ministry of Education, in the year ended March 2018, subsidies from government affiliated institutions to universities totaled 260bn yen ($2.4bn). That is only a portion of the 3.6trn yen in R&D expenses at Japanese universities. But considering subsidies often prompt the receipt of other external funds, the ripple effect of the beefed up measures is expected to be big.

The Japanese government will also seek better management of foreign researchers and exchange students. One proposal will require universities to report on such individuals’ research history as well as submit a notification on measures to prevent technology outflow as a condition to receive the subsidies.

In China, the government has strengthened its efforts to integrate its military and civilian sectors with the goal of developing a technologically advanced military. The country even has a law that stipulate citizens and companies must cooperate with the government.

In the West, accusations have been made that China’s security authorities and the People’s Liberation Army are fostering economic espionage at foreign universities.

Advanced technology such as artificial intelligence, the 5G network and quantum computers can be diverted for military use. U.S. President Donald Trump has expressed concerns over China’s Huawei Technologies, which led many universities to suspend joint research and even stop accepting funding from Chinese companies.

Japan’s new measures are raising concerns over a possible reduction in university research.

Foreign exchange students at Japanese universities number about 90,000, while there are about 53,000 in graduate schools. More than 4,000 were enrolled at the University of Tokyo and its graduate school as of November last year, with about 50% being Chinese, meaning many research facilities there depend on Chinese students as their main researchers.

Research activities at Japan’s universities could stagnate if funding and the number of exchange students from China drops significantly.

(Source: glstrade.com/https://asia.nikkei.com/)

22 Jun 20. India and China agree to disengage forces in eastern Ladakh. The armies of India and China have reached a ‘mutual consensus’ to disengage the forces in eastern Ladakh. The decision was reached at the 11-hour meeting held between senior Indian and Chinese commanders in Moldo yesterday.

The talks were held between Indian 14 Corps commander lieutenant general Harinder Singh and his Chinese counterpart.

An undisclosed source was quoted by PTI as saying: “There was a mutual consensus to disengage. Modalities for disengagement from all friction areas in eastern Ladakh were discussed and will be taken forward by both the sides.”

For the last six weeks, the two militaries have engaged in border tensions in several areas, including Pangong Tso, Galwan Valley and Gogra Hot Spring.

On 6 June, both sides agreed to gradual disengagement after the first round of talks.

However, the situation along the 3,500km border deteriorated after clashes at Galwan Valley on 15 June resulted in the deaths of 20 Indian soldiers.

Following this, the Government of India provided the armed forces ‘full freedom’ to respond to any Chinese military action to protect the country.

Last week, the Indian Army deployed more troops to forward locations near the border.

The Indian Air Force (IAF) also positioned its Sukhoi 30 MKI, Jaguar, Mirage 2000 aircraft and Apache attack helicopters to airbases, including Leh and Srinagar. (Source: army-technology.com)

22 Jun 20. Israel’s defense export contracts were worth $7.2bn in 2019. Israel’s defense export deals from 2019 totaled $7.2bn and involved 120 different defense companies, according to the head of the Defense Ministry’s International Defense Cooperation Directorate.

The country’s defense-related sales have been slightly declining over the last decade. Israel’s defense export contracts in 2010 also totaled $7.2bn, but was down to $5.7bn in 2015.

In his announcement, Yair Kulas said the large number of companies selling abroad “reflects the strength of the Israeli defense industry.” The former brigadier general added that he anticipated growth in government-to-government agreements in 2020, but noted that the coronavirus pandemic has “devastated the global economy and the defense sector.”

Israel’s three largest defense companies are Elbit Systems, Rafael Advanced Defense Systems and Israel Aerospace Industries. The local defense industry has experienced consolidation in the past few years, with IMI Systems now part of Elbit, and Aeronautics Limited acquired by Rafael.

Ten years ago Israel was a world leader in UAV sales, but as its focus has changed, unmanned aerial systems now make up only 8 percent of the country’s sales. Today’s major markets for Israel are in radars and electronic warfare.

The Elta ELM-2084 — the radar used in the Iron Dome air defense system — was sold to the Czech Republic in a government-to-government deal last year worth $125m. Elta is a subsidiary of Israel Aerospace Industries.

Israel has also inserted itself into the missiles market, among other products, in India, where there are several joint ventures. Israel is also a leader in multilayered air defense thanks largely to its Iron Dome and David’s Sling systems, which Rafael co-produces with the American firm Raytheon. Elbit and other Israeli companies are also major suppliers of electro-optical technology.

However, many Israeli defense deals are not made public, and the destination country for products is often not released.

Israel says radars and electronic warfare suites made up 17 percent of the sales last year; missiles at 15 percent; and optics at 12 percent. Naval systems and vehicles were among the smallest portion of contracts.

Slightly over 41 percent of sales were in Asia, while Europe and North America each accounted for a quarter of contracts. Africa and Latin America were both at 4 percent each.

Israel historically sold UAVs and other items to Latin America and Africa, but the size of the purchases and lack of demand for the highest-end technologies appear to have led to minor contracts in these regions.

Israel has been trying to turn the COVID-19 pandemic into an opportunity to work with foreign allies and partners, and not necessarily on defense but also medical needs.

Israel’s Defense Ministry says that Israel is among the top defense exporters in the world. Certainly per capita, the country is a global leader in defense exports. Up to 80 percent of its defense production is exported, according to the ministry. (Source: Defense News Early Bird/Defense News)

23 Jun 20. Concerns Australia’s defence mega projects could break the bank. ASPI’s defence economist Marcus Hellyer has expressed a growing concern that the nation’s well documented defence mega projects present a troubling cost proposition as they are introduced and need to be sustained, spelling trouble for the economy and defence budget.

We can all agree that home and contents insurance is a necessary evil; it is one of those things that is better to have and not need, than need and not have. A nation’s armed forces, its capabilities and supporting strategic policy and sovereign industries all serve the same purpose.

As the regional balance of power in the Indo-Pacific continues to evolve, Australia’s role, responsibilities and position within this new paradigm are all serving to undermine the nation’s security.

With Australia edging ever closer to the elusive 2 per cent of GDP on defence expenditure amid the largest peacetime rearmament program in the nation’s history, much concern has been placed on the nation’s capacity to finance the next-generation capabilities and mega projects over the long term.

The election of the Coalition in 2013 saw a major shake-up in the way defence was approached by government. Following what the Coalition describes as six years of neglect and delays under the tumultuous Rudd/Gillard/Rudd governments, the newly formed government sought to create an environment of stability and consistency for defence with a number of key policy objectives.

Central to this was the commitment to return Australia’s defence expenditure to 2 per cent of GDP following what both Prime Minister Scott Morrison and now former defence minister Christopher Pyne explained as a 10 per cent reduction in real terms in the last year (FY2012-13) of the previous government – resulting in defence investment falling to its lowest levels since 1938.

While Australia’s defence expenditure looks set to increase to $38.7 bn in 2019-20, it is a case of business as usual for Defence and industry, with the Coalition’s budget announcement signalling the government’s continued commitment to supporting the capability and development of Australia’s sovereign defence industry capabilities.

The Coalition remains committed to continuing the delivery of a number of key projects identified as part of the government’s 2016 Defence White Paper, which focused on delivering a series of major capability upgrades and modernisation programs across the Australian Defence Force, including:

  • The delivery of the first unit as part of the $5.2bn LAND 400 Phase 2 program for Boxer combat reconnaissance vehicles;
  • Industry partners presented their bids as part of the $10-15bn LAND 400 Phase 3 Armoured Fighting Vehicle program;
  • Construction progress for the $35bn SEA 5000 Hunter Class guided missile frigate program;
  • Construction commencement and milestones at the $535m SEA 5000 Shipyard facility at Osborne, South Australia;
  • The continued arrival of Australia’s Lockheed Martin F-35A Joint Strike Fighters;
  • Signing the Strategic Partnership Agreement for the $50bn SEA 1000 Attack Class future submarine program; and
  • Committing to the acquisition of 30 self-propelled howitzers and 15 support vehicles to be built and maintained at a specialised facility in Geelong.

Further supporting these milestones, the government has confirmed over the next decade to 2028-29 that it will invest more than $200bn in defence capabilities.

However, while this expenditure marks a major increase in the capability of the ADF, ASPI defence economist Marcus Hellyer has raised growing concerns regarding the capacity of the nation to maintain and modernise these platforms through life, particularly in the immediate aftermath of COVID-19 and the devastation it has wrought on the national and global economies.

Hellyer sets the scene: “Since the capital program traditionally is the area that gets hit when Defence has to take a budget cut, that area could be a tempting target should the government need to find funds.

“But there’s another potential threat to the capital program, and that’s an internal one. Since the 2016 defence white paper, the capital budget has underspent by around $4.8 bn.

“Meanwhile, the sustainment program has overspent by a very similar amount. There’s a lot going on behind those numbers (exchange rate adjustments, changes to accounting methods, and so on), but overall it looks like sustainment costs have increased more than expected and Defence has had to dip into capital funding to cover it.

“The pressure on the capital budget could get worse as sustainment costs increase.”

The ‘big four’ could break the bank

Defence acquisition is currently dominated by what can be best described as the ‘big four’ acquisition programs, the long-maligned, multibillion-dollar SEA 1000 Attack Class submarine program; the SEA 5000 Hunter Class frigate program; the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program; and LAND 400 recapitalisation of the Army’s ASLAV and M113 armoured personnel carrier program.

Each of these programs has a high profile presence both in defence and the broader Australian psyche, meaning the value propositions for both defence capability, the economy and perspective of the tax payer are paramount, however, it is the long-term costs associated with through-life support, modernisation and sustainment that may break the bank.

Hellyer explains, “There will be twice as many Attack Class boats, and they’ll be around 50 per cent bigger. They’ll be more complex, with more subsystems and more software, and will operate more unmanned and autonomous systems. So, it’s reasonable to assume the sustainment cost for the Attack Class will be at least three times more than Collins, or $2bn. Granted, that spending’s a long way off; the first boat won’t be handed over to the navy until 2032, and the twelfth 22 years later.”

Shifting to the Hunter Class program, Hellyer expands on the challenges facing the capital budget, stating, “The nine Hunter Class frigates will be more than twice as big (around 8,000 tonnes compared to 3,600 tonnes).

“They’ll have more capability, like 32 vertical launch missile cells compared to the Anzacs’ eight. Doubling the Anzacs’ sustainment cost would be $700–750m, and that’s probably understating it. Again, those costs are a fair way off, with the first Hunter expected to be operational around 2030 and the ninth somewhere in the mid-2040s.”

While F-35 has suffered its share of teething issues, the program appears to be resolving some of the long held concerns about the fifth generation super jet, nevertheless, the quantum leap in technological components and the quantum leap in capability is not cheap, with Australia’s fleet of 72 fighter jets having a dramatic impact on the defence budget bottom line.

“The third mega-project is the F-35, but we’ll look more broadly at the air combat fleet. In contrast to the previous two programs, these costs are increasing right now.

“The air force is in the middle of a long transition from an air combat force consisting of the F/A-18A/B ‘classic’ Hornet and the F-111 to one consisting of the F-35, the F/A-18F Super Hornet and the EA-18G Growler.

“The total for the air combat fleet in 2007–08 was $335m. Because the force is in transition, there isn’t a steady state to compare it to, but the cost last year was $691m and Defence predicts $832m this year.

“If we project out to the end of the transition when the classic Hornets have retired and all F-35s are in service, the number could reach $946m, if the F-35’s hourly flying costs don’t come down. So, overall, the cost of the air combat fleet is at least doubling and coming close to tripling.”

Not to be outdone, the Army’s big ticket modernisation and recapitalisation program, LAND 400 the multiphase program to recapitalise the Army’s ASLAV and Vietnam-era M113 APC vehicles also draws the attention of Hellyer.

“The fourth is the army’s armoured vehicle program, LAND 400. Here there’s some worrying new news. Phase 2 acquires 211 Boxer combat reconnaissance vehicles to replace the ASLAV fleet,” Hellyer states.

“An economic impact study commissioned by Defence was recently released in response to a freedom of information request. The study was completed in March 2018, the same month the government announced it had selected the Boxer, so we can assume it was based on tendered cost data.

“The study presents a $9.6bn out-turned whole-of-life sustainment cost for the Boxer. If we convert that to a constant, or real, number, it’s around $225m per year (or $1m per vehicle). According to data provided by Defence to ASPI, the average sustainment cost of the ASLAV fleet over the past seven years is $43m. So that’s a five-fold increase.

“The really worrying bit is when we project that onto phase 3, which will acquire up to 450 infantry fighting vehicles to replace the army’s obsolete M-113 fleet. These tracked vehicles are likely to be even bigger than the Boxer. That suggests they’ll cost at least as much as the Boxer to operate. So, the cost for the fleet will be at least $450m. The average annual operating cost for the M-113 over the past seven years is only $17m.”

Each of these programs are coming online at a time when the nation is seeking to not only rebound from the impact of COVID-19, but equally at a time when the Indo-Pacific balance of power is swinging further against the established post-Second World War order accordingly Australia will have to balance and prioritise its own defence and national security capability.

Nevertheless, Hellyer remains confident that things will work out for the best, “Defence is making big bets on the affordability of its future force, but is it bound to lose those wagers? Not necessarily.

“Overall, the economy grows in real terms. Over the past two decades, GDP has grown by around 80 per cent in real terms, with the defence budget growing by 95 per cent. So, even if Defence’s budget stays at around 2 per cent of GDP, its government funding too will grow in real terms,” Hellyer added. (Source: Defence Connect)

22 Jun 20. China implements revised law for Armed Police Force. The Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress of China has adopted a revised law that governs the Armed Police Force, enabling wartime operations with the army. The draft revision to the law was submitted for the second reading to the ongoing session of the Committee that runs from 18 to 20 June.

In April this year, the top legislature deliberated its first draft and then released online for public feedback.

Under the revised law, the Armed Police Force will be brought under the centralised and unified leadership of the Communist Party of China Central Committee and the Central Military Commission, led by President Xi Jinping, the Xinhua News Agency reported.

It is also applicable to the coast guard that forms part of the Armed Police Force.

Through the coast guard’s integration with the military, China looks to build a defence network with the capability to handle all operations.

With the revised law in place, the army and coast guard will be able to cooperate based on the situation determined by the President’s leadership. Sorry, there are no polls available at the moment.

The Armed Police Force, which has been tasked to perform patrol, handling of security emergencies, and prevention of terrorist activities, will also have to conduct maritime law enforcement and participate in rescue efforts under the revised law.

In July 2018, it was incorporated into the military police under the command of the Central Military Commission.

A legislative plan issued by the National People’s Congress in December last year does not include the legal changes. (Source: naval-technology.com)

22 Jun 20. Indian Army revises rules of engagement along LAC. Indian Army has revised rules of engagement along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) amid the ongoing stand-off with China. The LAC is a demarcation line that separates India-administered and China-administered territories. According to local news sources, the Indian administration empowered the armed forces deployed across the LAC to use firearms under extraordinary circumstances.

The decision was taken following a meeting between the Indian Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and top military commanders. Sources told Zee News that Singh told the army to maintain strict vigil along the border to counter any Chinese aggression.

This comes days after Indian and Chinese forces clashed in the Galwan Valley, resulted in 20 Indian casualties while China did not disclose the number of casualties.

India and China have been engaged in a more than six-week standoff along several areas of the border. Multiple rounds of talks between the two armies failed to resolve the dispute.

Recently, the Indian Government has also granted emergency funds to the armed forces to bolster their capabilities. Under the initiative, all the three services were empowered to utilise up to Rs5bn ($65.75m) per project for procuring ammunition and other weapon systems.

A senior government official was quoted by the news agency ANI as saying: “The Vice Chiefs of the three services have been given the financial powers up to Rs5bn per project to acquire the required weapon systems under fast track procedures needed to fill whatever shortcomings or requirement is felt.” (Source: army-technology.com)

18 Jun 20. The Show Must Go On: Russia Invites Foreigners to the Army 2020 Forum. Russian Minister of Defence General Sergei Shoigu has recently confirmed that the Army 2020 International Military-Technical Forum will be held on schedule, from 23rd to 29th August at the PATRIOT Convention and Exhibition Centre in the Greater Moscow Area.

“This year, the Army Forum will be the first major event for the global defence industry following the release of the Covid-19 restrictions,” Rostec Corporation CEO Sergey Chemezov said.

“The Forum will provide a signal to the global defence market to recover and, I am sure, will provide momentum for the further development of military-technical cooperation with foreign countries. This is a great opportunity for the Russian defence industry to show their readiness to increase deliveries of high-tech products and expand their geographical footprint,” he added.

Unique

The Army Forum constitutes a unique event among all the defence-related shows as apart from several exhibition halls and enormous open space, the PATRIOT has permanent structures from which to present the most advanced products of the national key enterprises, including United Aircraft and United Shipbuilding Corporations, Almaz-Antey Concern, Rostec among several others.

Facilities also include the ALABINO test and firing range in a nearby location, easily reachable by shuttle bus. There are also three demo clusters including a tankodrome, an artificial lake and a shooting range to provide live firing demonstration for not just small arms but also for armour, artillery, helicopters and boats. Live firing demonstartion can be observed on monitors in the halls and public areas.

“The range of technologies to be showcased by Rosoboronexport at the Army Forum-2020 covers all segments of today’s defence market, military and special equipment,” Rosoberon’s CEO Alexander Mikheev said.

Among others, he mentioned the T-14 Main Battle Tank, the T-15 Armoured Fighting Vehicle (based on the T-14), the KURGANETS-25 new-generation tracked Infantry Fighting Vehicle, the BOOMERANG-series wheeled armoured vehicles, the ISKANDER Tactical Missile System, the new 9K515 Multiple Launch Rocket System, the 152 mm 2S35 KOALITSIYA-SV self-propelled howitzer, the 82 mm 2S41 DROK mortar, a family of TIGR-M and TYPHOON armoured vehicles on Ural and KAMAZ chassis.

Key event

The Army Forum is an annual event and the 2020 edition is the sixth in a row with previous events being used for significant contract signatures with the Russian MoD, including those on Su-57 fifth generation aircraft. The shows have been quite important for the export efforts of the Russian industry as according to the Rosoboronexport press service, they had over 50 meetings with high-ranking delegations from 36 countries last year.

The restrictions caused by COVID 19 are a key issue of this year’s event as at present, there are no international flights to Russia, except for the charter aircraft returning Russian citizens.

Visitors from abroad (including foreign citizens that work in Russia) are to spend 14 days in self-isolation and there is no confirmed anticipation on how long these restrictions will be in force. According to a recent statement from the Minister of Health “all Covid-2019 restrictions are to be lifted by February 2021.”(Source: ESD Spotlight)

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