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06 Aug 20. India looks to make $25bn from defense production by 2025. The Indian government on Monday introduced a new draft policy that sets a $25 bn defense production target, including making $5bn from exports, by 2025.
The Defence Production and Export Promotion Policy is meant to bolster local production of weapons and platforms by developing “a dynamic, robust and competitive” defense industry.
The draft policy also said the Ministry of Defence will set up a technology assessment cell to assess industry’s ability to design, develop, produce and re-engineer assembly lines to manufacture major systems such as armored vehicles, submarines, fighter aircraft, helicopters and radars.
“The DPEPP 2020 is envisaged as overarching guiding to provide a focused, structured and significant thrust to defense production capabilities of the country for self-reliance and exports,” the MoD said.
However, some defense experts and analysts are unimpressed with the draft policy. Amit Cowshish, a former financial adviser for acquisition with the MoD, said the DPEPP is high on rhetoric but low on specifics.
India’s current defense production turnover is about $11.42bn. Of this, $9bn comes from state-owned enterprises and ordnance factories, while the private sector accounts for $2.42bn. From the total amount, $1.53bn comes from export business.
“It disregards financial reality, which is grimmer now due to the rampant pandemic than was the case in the past,” Cowshish said, referring to the spread of the coronavirus that has hit economies worldwide.
A more productive defense industry in India will depend on how much money the government can spare for local procurement as well as the availability of materiel in the domestic market — two factors that should be a matter of concern, particularly with export targets, according to Cowshish.
Currently, India spends about $18.52bn annually on weapons and platform purchases, out of which 60 percent is sourced from domestic companies, with remaining supplies coming from foreign vendors.
About $11bn of those appropriated funds go toward India’s 50 state-owned laboratories focused on defense research and development, nine state-owned companies, and 41 ordnance factories.
Conversely, private defense companies, including 3,500 micro and small enterprises, get a little over $2bn from this.
A CEO of a private defense company in India, speaking to Defense News on condition of anonymity, said the draft policy fails to provide “a clear road map and direction for streamlining defense procurement and production.” He argued that defense production will only improve if there’s mutual trust, hand-holding, active participation and patience in the development process between the private and public sector.
Senior executives at the state-owned enterprises Hindustan Aeronautics Limited and Bharat Electronics Limited would not comment on the draft policy, saying they are not authorized by the government to comment on MoD policy issues.
However, Venkatesh Damal Kannan, a former research and development director with Hindustan Aeronautics, said achieving the $25bn target would be possible if the current capital allocation of $18.52bn for purchasing weapons and platforms is doubled.
There should also be a willingness from the Indian military to field a larger number of indigenous products, Kannan added, and improved bureaucratic processes in the MoD.
However, Cowshish said the military’s arms requirements should not be held hostage by efforts for indigenization.
“In the meantime, especially in situations like the one we are faced with vis-a-vis China, there is no alternative to buying equipment, platforms, ammunition from abroad if what is needed is not available in India,” he said. (Source: Defense News)
06 Aug 20. Libya is turning into a battle lab for air warfare.
During Libya’s proxy war this year, the skies over the North African country have filled with Turkish and Chinese drones, Russian MiG 29s and Sukhoi 24s and Emirati Mirage 2000s — reportedly — with Turkish F-16s and Egyptian Rafales waiting in the wings.
Russian air defense systems have taken down drones while fighters, civilians and air bases have been bombed by jets as C-130s and Turkish A400M aircraft keep up deliveries of new weaponry and fighters into the country.
In short, Libya has been transformed this year into something of an air warfare laboratory, begging the question, what exactly is going on, who is winning and what has this conflict taught generals about modern air combat?
“On one level, Libya yet again simply underscores the value of air power – you do not want to get in a fight without it,” said Douglas Barrie, Senior Fellow for Military Aerospace at the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London.
The conflict in lawless Libya began to escalate in April 2019 as local strongman General Khalifa Haftar launched his campaign to take the capital Tripoli. Backed by Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, Russia and France, he felt confident going up against the UN-recognized government in Tripoli backed by Turkey, Italy and Qatar.
In April last year, Chinese Wing Loon II drones operated by the UAE bombed civilian targets in the city, reflecting the recent, and rapid, procurement of Chinese drones around the Middle East.
“The Chinese have been adept at selling drones in the Middle East, including to Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt and Iraq. With the US previously constrained in selling systems, the Chinese saw a gap in the market,” said Barrie.
Turkey has proved the exception. Around May 2019, it introduced its own TB2 drone into the fray, attacking Haftar’s forces, knocking out Russian Pantsir air defense systems supporting him and helping end his ambitions to take Tripoli.
“Turkey has majored in UAV design and manufacture and likely used Libya in part as a test and adjust battle lab, and its systems are now ‘combat proven’. Its industry, like Roketsan, has also developed small, precision-guided munitions for UAVs,” Barrie said.
A second analyst said Turkey’s use of its TB2 in Libya had been a game changer. “Turkey decided it was okay to lose them from time to time, that they were semi-disposable, and that novel approach caught their enemy off guard,” said Jalel Harchaoui at the Clingendael Institute in Holland.
The reason? Cost. “They used to cost the Turks $1-1.5m apiece to build, but thanks to economies of scale as production volumes rose, the cost has dropped to below $500,000, excluding the control station,” said Harchaoui.
He added that software and other technical changes had boosted the TB2′s efficiency and reconnaissance capabilities, which allowed them to find the right altitude to avoid the Russian Pantsir systems.
“The performance of the Wing Loon II’s in the hands of the UAE has meanwhile been largely static. They didn’t evolve, so they have been much less impressive,” he said.
Barrie said Libya was another example of the normalization of drone use in modern warfare.
“UAVs are a capability now pursued by state and non-state actors alike. Obviously states can afford more capable, larger systems, while non-state actors may have to make do with home-built systems akin to being made with Radio Shack-like components, or acquiring systems from state sponsors.”
He added, “In Libya UAVs have suited this kind of ugly, attritional warfare against small, lightly armed units.”
The use of manned fighters in Libya has meanwhile been characterized by major powers sending them in on the quiet, with no announcement.
Last July, a missile strike on a migrant center near Tripoli which killed 53 was likely the work of the UAE, the BBC has reported, quoting a confidential UN investigation.
Analyst Harchaoui alleged that UAE Mirage 2000-9 aircraft flying out of an Egyptian base had been supporting Haftar periodically since June 2019.
“Misrata airbase, which has hosted Turkish TB2 drones, was bombed multiple times last year by Emirati drones and jets until the Turks brought in Korkut and MIM-23 Hawk air defense systems. The raids over Misrata stopped in 2020 – probably because the UAE did not want to see a captured pilot show up tortured on Facebook,” he said.
On July 4, fighter jets attacked Al-Watiya air base, just after Turkey had brought in its MIM-23 Hawk air defense missiles there.
“Sonic booms heard over Sebha, in southwest Libya, suggest the aircraft took off from Egypt then flew to Libya via the Sahara to avoid being spotted by Turkish frigates off the Libyan coast,” said Harchaoui.
“Could it have been Egyptian Rafales? They are good but don’t have enough experience for an ultra-precise mission like this. French pilots flying Egyptian Rafales is unlikely in case one was captured, leaving the UAE Mirages as most likely,” he said.
“Of all the Gulf states, the UAE is the most capable of this kind of mission – they have the combat experience and could do this,” added Barrie.
Meanwhile, the U.S. military command in Africa reported in late May that satellite imagery showed Russian aircraft arriving in Libya to support Haftar.
USAFRICOM said, “At least 14 MiG-29s and several Su-24s were flown from Russia to Syria, where their Russian markings were painted over to camouflage their Russian origin.”
The aircraft are reportedly being used to support the Wagner Group, a Russian-sponsored mercenary operation on the ground in Libya which Moscow denies links to.
The American command warned the aircraft might be flown by “inexperienced” mercenaries who “will not adhere to international law.”
According to Harchaoui, eye witnesses in Libya reported a number of misses notched up during bombing raids by the aircraft. “That suggests they were not Russian air force pilots,” he said.
This summer the conflict has slowed, as Haftar’s forces retreat from Tripoli and take up position to fight for the coastal city of Sirte, which is key to controlling Libya’s oil trade. With Al-Watiya airbase now repaired and back in business after the July air raid, Turkey may be considering basing its F-16s there, finally giving it a beach head for fighters in Libya. Bringing in American-built aircraft could however rely on the say-so of the U.S.
“Is the U.S. so concerned about Russia’s intervention in Libya it would support the deployment of Turkish F-16s to stop it?” said Harchaoui. “Or will it come down on the side of Egypt, which is a US ally? The ball is in its court.” (Source: Defense News)
06 Aug 20. Don’t stand so close: Singapore trials automated drones to check. Beware, Singaporeans standing too close, automated drones might be keeping an eye on you from above. Singapore’s police have been trialling two pilotless drones developed by Israel’s Airobotics to help enforce social distancing measures aimed at containing the spread of COVID-19.
The small machines weigh 10 kg (22 pounds) and are programmed to track anomalies such as gatherings and stream footage to the police.
The three-and-a-half-month trial, over an industrial estate in the west of the city, is the first time automated commercial drones have been approved to fly over a major metropolis, according to Airobotics.
“Specifically for COVID, what we are doing is helping them maintain normal operations,” CEO Ran Krauss told Reuters. “The pandemic created a situation where it might be difficult for police to maintain operations.”
Singapore government’s Home Team Science & Technology Agency (HTX) said it had trialled the drones with police.
They can pinpoint locations and zoom into areas that might not be visible to police officers on foot or in vehicles, Senior Engineer Low Hsien Meng from HTX’s Robotics, Automation & Unmanned Systems Centre, said.
Airobotics, which has raised $120m in funding, said it had invested some $100m to develop the drones. It was leasing them to HTX and also for business and industrial use in Israel and the United States, it said.
Airobotics and HTX have begun the next, year-long stage of the project to explore further capabilities, including using the drones to deliver defibrillators where needed, the company said.
Airobotics said the social distancing aspect of the trial was still ongoing. HTX did not immediately respond to a request for further comment.
The tiny island nation, known for its strict laws and widespread surveillance, initially won global praise for containing virus spread before mass outbreaks in cramped migrant worker dormitories saw its caseload climb sharply. Krauss said Airobotics is in talks with other cities to deploy the drones. (Source: Reuters)
06 Aug 20. Taiwan in talks to make first purchase of sophisticated U.S. drones – sources. The United States is negotiating the sale of at least four of its large sophisticated aerial drones to Taiwan for the first time, according to six U.S. sources familiar with the negotiations, in a deal that is likely to ratchet up tensions with China.
The SeaGuardian surveillance drones have a range of 6,000 nautical miles (11,100 km), far greater than the 160-mile range of Taiwan’s current fleet of drones.
While the sale of the unmanned aerial vehicles has been tacitly authorized by the State Department, two of the people said, it is not known whether the U.S. officials have approved exporting the drones with weapons attached, one of them said.
The deal has to be approved by members of Congress who may receive formal notification as soon as next month, two of the people said. Congress could choose to block a final agreement.
It would be the first drone sale after President Donald Trump’s administration moved ahead with its plan to sell more drones to more countries by reinterpreting an international arms control agreement called the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR).
While Taiwan’s military is well-trained and well-equipped with mostly U.S.-made hardware, China has a huge numerical superiority and is adding advanced equipment of its own.
Taiwan submitted its request to buy armed drones early this year, one of the people familiar with the talks said. The United States last week sent Taiwan the pricing and availability data for the deal, a key step that denotes official approval to advance the sale. It is, however, non-binding and could be reversed.
A deal for the four drones, ground stations, spares, training and support could be worth around $600m using previous sales as a guide. There could also be options for additional units in the future, one of the people said.
The island is bolstering its defenses in the face of what it sees as increasingly threatening moves by Beijing, such as regular Chinese air force and naval exercises near Taiwan
Relations between Beijing and Washington – already at their lowest point in decades over accusations of spying, a trade war, the coronavirus and Hong Kong – could fray more if the deal gets the final go-ahead from U.S. officials. The Pentagon has said arms sales to Taiwan will continue, and the Trump administration has kept a steady pace of Navy warships passing through the Taiwan Strait.
China claims Taiwan as its own territory, and Beijing has never renounced the use of force to bring the self-ruled island under its control. Beijing has denounced the Trump administration’s increased support for Taiwan.
China’s sophisticated air defenses could likely shoot down a handful of drones, according to Bonnie Glaser, the director of the China Power Project at CSIS, a Washington think tank. But she still expects “China to scream about even the smallest arms sale that the U.S. makes to Taiwan because any sale challenges the ‘One China’ principle.”
“They get particularly agitated if they think it’s an offensive capability,” she said, adding that she expected the Trump administration to be less cautious than its predecessors.
The Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office in the United States did not respond to a request for comment.
“As a matter of policy we do not comment on or confirm proposed defense sales or transfers until they have been formally notified to Congress,” a State Department spokesman said.
ONLY FOR FEW U.S. ALLIES
The U.S. has been eager to sell Taiwan tanks and fighter jets, but the deal to sell drones would be notable since only a few close allies – including Britain, Italy, Australia, Japan and South Korea – have been allowed to purchase the largest U.S.-made drones.
Currently, the Taiwanese government has a fleet of 26 Albatross drones made by Taiwan’s National Chung-Shan Institute of Science and Technology, a quasi-defence ministry research agency, that can fly 160 nautical miles (300 km), or 80 before returning to base, according to records kept by the Bard Center for the Study of the Drone.
General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc’s SeaGuardian has an airframe that can handle carrying weapons – but only if contractually allowed by the U.S. government.
The United States has sold France unarmed MQ-9 Reapers which are similar to SeaGuardians, and later here gave permission to arm them.
Last year, the United States approved a potential sale to Taiwan of 108 General Dynamics Corp M1A2 Abrams tanks worth around $2bn as well as anti-tank and anti-aircraft munitions. A separate sale of 66 Lockheed Martin-made fighter jets also made it through the State Department’s process. In recent weeks, China said it will sanction Lockheed Martin Co (LMT.N) for involvement in the latest U.S. arms sale to Taiwan. (Source: Reuters)
05 Aug 20. Covid-19 supply chain vulnerability raises prospects of Japanese accession to Five Eyes. Voices calling for Japan to join the Five Eyes intelligence-sharing group have grown louder over recent weeks, including the promotion of the idea by British MP Tom Tugendhat, the Japanese Defense Minister Tarō Kōno and the Henry Jackson Society. Currently, the Five Eyes intelligence community consists of the UK, US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. The coronavirus pandemic that has gripped the world has been instrumental in sparking debate over the future of the group. Key supply chains across the world have shown their vulnerability with regards to the growing influence and authority of China. Japanese accession is increasingly viewed in a positive light and would provide a useful ally and counterweight in the East Asian region.
The coronavirus pandemic has shown the full extent of control that China has over key supply chains globally. Discussions have specifically focused on the availability of rare minerals used in electronics, jet engines, satellites, lasers and missiles. Over the past decade, 90% of these materials have come from China. Japan itself also has significant concerns regarding the supply of rare minerals, being a major electronics producer with a dearth of natural mineral resources. Japan would also help to diversify the organisation and evolve it from its Anglosphere roots in the Cold War.
Along with this, the potential for extending the Five Eyes towards a form of the economic alliance has also been raised. This would provide an extra measure of economic stability, aiding movements away from reliance on China through projects such as pooling rare mineral reserves, medical supplies and other vital equipment. In recent years, the US and Australia have both made significant efforts to increase their domestic rare mineral output.
For the defence industry, the conversation around the future of the Five Eyes reflects the continued reappraisal of the definition of defence and security that is occurring in the 21st Century. The Critical Five group, which forms part of the Five Eyes network, focuses on the protection of critical infrastructure. Disagreement over the definition of critical infrastructure is one reason why this group has not met in many years. However, this now has renewed impetus. Much as the period after 9/11 saw a similar occurrence with regards to the impact of terrorism on civil society, Covid-19 adds to that narrative. The pandemic has emphasised the importance of supply chain protection through groups like the Five Eyes and has pushed aspects like biosecurity firmly into the remit of the defence and the security communities. (Source: army-technology.com)
04 Aug 20. India unveils defence production and export policy. The Indian Ministry of Defence (MoD) released on 3 August a new policy to support advances in indigenous defence manufacturing and military exports. The draft Defence Production and Export Promotion Policy 2020 (DPEPP 2020) – one of a series of recently unveiled defence industrial reforms – reflects India’s commitment to boost self-reliance.
This obligation has intensified in recent months through the weaknesses in Indian defence-production supply chains that have been exposed by Covid-19.
According to the MoD, the DPEPP 2020 is intended to position India “amongst the leading countries of the world in defence and aerospace sectors”.
It added, “The DPEPP 2020 is envisaged as [an] overarching guiding document of [the] MoD to provide a focused, structured, and significant thrust to defence production capabilities … for self-reliance and exports.”
The draft policy outlines several strategies to support defence industrial development through efforts, for example, to grow small businesses, encourage innovation, increase inward foreign investment, strengthen state-owned institutions, and “optimise resource allocation”.
In terms of sales, the DPEPP 2020 also outlines a target for domestic industry to more than double the value of aerospace and defence sales over the next five years.
According to the MoD, total aerospace and defence sales in 2019–20 were worth INR800bn (USD10.6bn), with 79% of this attributed to the state-owned enterprises and the remainder to the private sector, including 8,000 small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). The value of defence exports in 2019–20 was INR91.15bn. (Source: Google/Jane’s)
04 Aug 20. WA government announces $330m investment to drive defence industry opportunities. Western Australian Premier Mark McGowan and Minister for Defence Issues Paul Papalia CSC have announced a $330m investment into major infrastructure and planning for big industry projects across WA – with defence industry a core focus.
The Western Australian government is investing $330m into major infrastructure and planning for big industry projects across Western Australia to prepare for the state’s future, create jobs and boost the economy as part of the WA Recovery Plan.
Investments in defence, port and harbour infrastructure, and serviced land to help establish new business and research facilities will deliver a pipeline of jobs for Western Australia. This will further support WA’s strong commitment to defence industry development and leverage its world-class skills and training.
Premier Mark McGowan and Defence Issues Minister Paul Papalia announced that Henderson’s Australian Marine Complex (AMC), the state’s major industrial hub, is set for an $87.6m upgrade.
It is expected that the upgrade will create up to 600 local jobs, boost opportunities for local industry and grow WA’s capacity to undertake future defence work as part of the WA Recovery Plan.
The investment includes a major wharf extension and upgrade, the design of a new finger wharf, a new vessel transfer path, three road intersection upgrades and a new shipbuilding hall.
The extension to AMC Berth 1 will create a new berth and enable the facility to accommodate all Royal Australian Navy vessels, including Anzac Class frigates, Arafura Class offshore patrol vessels and the future Hunter Class frigates.
Mr McGowan said, “Our investment in improvement works and our state’s infrastructure will boost a range of industries over the short and longer terms, which is a key part of our recovery journey.
“Importantly, the infrastructure and planning upgrades will pave the way for further growth in commercial and industrial precincts, our defence, manufacturing, resources, exports and marine sectors,” he added.
Western Australian ports and harbours will benefit from $158.8 m worth of improvements, including:
- $20m for Port Hedland’s Inner Harbour for retaining and sea walls;
- $51.2m for Pilbara’s Nelson Point Tug Haven for retaining and sheet pile walls;
- $7.6m to support the development of an LNG bunkering hub in the Pilbara, already announced;
- $11.6m towards works at the Geraldton Port and Fishing Boat Harbour to improve amenities and access as well as support export capability in the Main Harbour, already announced;
- $31.3m to resurface and upgrade the stockyard area, for structural repairs, electrical upgrades and a new Clinker Storage Facility at the Kwinana Bulk Terminal;
- $3m towards a second road hopper to improve loading and logistics, and for fire and safety system upgrades and replacements at Bunbury Port;
- $3m towards refurbishments to the underdeck access and protective coating to extensions at the Broome Port Wharf;
- $15m for the Turkey Point access bridge at Bunbury Port, already announced;
- $10.2m towards priority works at Esperance Port to increase import and export capacity; and
- $5.9m to replace critical electrical infrastructure at the Fremantle Fishing Boat Harbour and Commercial precinct.
In addition to works being undertaken across WA ports, $3.8m is being committed to prepare a feasibility study for upgrades and new infrastructure at the Port of Bunbury and Kwinana Bulk Terminal to support the possible reopening of the Greenbushes rail line.
Mr Papalia added, “Defence industry projects offer incredible opportunities for the state, and these investments in the AMC will further strengthen our capacity to secure high-value, job-creating work.”
Additionally, about $100m of funding will go towards further industry development initiatives, including:
- $20m towards a Robotics and Automation physical test facility, as part of a 94-hectare precinct north of the current Neerabup industrial estate, to support research facilities;
- $7.5m to provide serviced land for businesses, supporting major projects in the Kemerton Strategic Industrial Area;
- $7.5m to prepare and refurbish communications infrastructure networks within Bentley Technology Park;
- $8.4m towards the implementation of the Murujuga Rock Arts strategy to progress more opportunities to unlock tourism potential and create jobs; and
- $1m to upgrade the Newman Wastewater Treatment Plant.
“Defence contracts will provide the kind of long-term stimulus the state will need to support our economy as we manage the impacts of COVID-19. The state government is fast-tracking these projects to ensure we have the infrastructure in place to meet the needs of Defence, and continue to enhance the AMC’s reputation as Australia’s key defence industry hub,” Minister Papalia said.
The investment further demonstrates WA’s commitment to securing more Federal Defence work, such as Collins Class submarine Full Cycle Docking and further opportunities.
Significant investment in WA ports will help drive ongoing trade through regional WA and will support growth through the state, creating jobs and stimulating the economy.
The McGowan government’s investment is expected to complement and encourage private investment across regional WA by increasing import and export capacity. (Source: Defence Connect)
03 Aug 20. Army Eyes Joint Force Solution, Closer Allies to Win in Indo-Pacific. The Army’s chief of staff discussed how to win in great power competition within the Indo-Pacific region after he traveled there to meet with military leaders.
Indo-Pacific is currently the U.S. military’s highest-priority theater, where near-peer adversaries, China and Russia, have significant influence.
“The last thing that anybody wants is some type of conflict,” Gen. James C. McConville said July 31 after his visit to the region. “Great power competition does not mean that there is a great power conflict.”
U.S. allies and partners, he said, want a free and open region where they have access to support their economies.
“What they’re interested in is really stability and security in the region, so all can prosper,” he said during a discussion hosted by the Center for Strategic and International Studies. To ensure this, the general said, the U.S. military is creating a joint force solution and continually bringing its allies closer together to deter near-peer threats.
Using lessons from its own multidomain experiments, the Army has partnered with other services in developing Joint All-Domain Command and Control, which would enable the joint force to better integrate efforts across all domains.
“We’re working very closely with our joint partners to make sure that we’re synchronized with our concepts,” the general said.
A key part in this effort will be new units, he said, including the Army’s multidomain task forces, which are being designed to provide long-range precision effects and fires. The units include elements from a fires brigade and an I2CEWS detachment, which would have intelligence, information operations, cyber, electronic warfare and space assets to counter enemy anti-access/area-denial, or A2/AD, capabilities.
As part of a U.S. Army Pacific-led pilot program, the first task force already has conducted exercises throughout the region. There are plans to establish a similar task force in Europe next year, and to stand up a third one in 2022 that would also operate in the Indo-Pacific region.
A task force could even one day be based at a forward location in the region, Army Lt. Gen. Randy George, commander of I Corps, said in May during the Indo-Pacific Landpower Conference. “Key terrain will always be a critical aspect and we must combine efforts to protect sovereignty, international law and the rules-based order,” George said.
Security Force Assistance Brigades — part of a refocused train, assist and advise strategy that envisions the specialized units working with allies and partners around the world — could also help strengthen the armies of foreign nations concerned about U.S. competitors.
“We can send them into the region and they can advise and assist our allies and partners [and] develop strong relationships,” McConville said. The Army also needs to take a “hard look” at how it will do information operations in the future, he added, since China and Russia continuously conduct disinformation operations.
The service’s modernization priorities also have been pursuing new systems, including hypersonic weapons, extended range cannons and precision missiles that can sink ships — all potential options against enemy A2/AD capabilities, he said.
India has become an important ally in the region as well, he noted, adding the nation was the reason U.S. Pacific Command changed its name to U.S. Indo-Pacific Command in 2018.
A stronger defense agreement between the United States and India would be very helpful to the stability and security in the region, the general said. “As we have discussions, we’re looking for common interests and how we can improve the relationship,” he said. (Source: US DoD)
31 Jul 20. US Army Examining Basing Options for New Weapons in Indo-Pacific. The Army continues to analyze options for basing new long-range precision weapons in the Indo-Pacific region, to be used by one of its new multi-domain task forces, the service’s top officer said July 31.
The Indo-Pacfic continues to grow in strategic importance for Pentagon planners as great power competitor China modernizes its military and takes a more aggressive posture toward its neighbors and deployed U.S. forces.
The Army’s multi-domain operating concept envisions the service employing advanced capabilities — such as hypersonics, anti-ship missiles, anti-aircraft systems and cyber weapons — to aid the other services in countering near-peer adversaries. The multi-domain task force pilot program was assigned under the Army’s Pacific Command in 2017. The Army is using information from the program to establish additional task forces.
“We’re standing up a new organization, it’s called multi-domain task forces that provide the ability to do long-range precision effects,” said Army Chief of Staff Gen. James McConville.
Long-range precision fires is the No. 1 modernization priority for the Army. The capabilities will boost deterrence in the region, McConville said.
The concept for how those multi-domain task forces would operate and position themselves within the Indo-Pacific is still being fleshed out, he said during an online event hosted by the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
“That’s something we’re still working on,” McConville noted. “As far as the exact positioning, we do have some capability in the extremely long-range precision fires to give us certain effects, but that capability as far as exact positioning is still being determined.”
The economic turmoil and ballooning budget deficits brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic have some observers predicting lower defense budgets in the coming years. McConville noted that there are a number of key capabilities the service would seek to protect if faced with fiscal cuts.
“We know we need long-range precision fires, that’s our No. 1 priority,” he said. That includes new extended-range cannon artillery.
The Army is also developing hypersonic weapons that have been tested successfully, he said. Hypersonic missiles are expected to fly at speeds greater than Mach 5, be highly maneuverable and capable of overwhelming enemy defensive systems.
Other priorities for the service include mid-range missiles with ship-sinking capabilities, McConville said.
“We think that’s very, very important for the anti-access, air denial capabilities that we may need,” he added.
Investments in these potentially gamechanging capabilities “have to happen,” he said. Funding incremental improvements in current systems won’t suffice, he added. (Source: glstrade.com/NDIA)
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