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28 Aug 20. Russia to supply armaments to Sudan and Laos. Russia has agreed to supply armaments to Sudan and Laos as it seeks to bolster friendly relations with foreign countries.
According to a TASS report, the related contracts were signed at the Army-2020 event to enable the delivery of weapons and military hardware to the two countries.
Russian Defence Ministry was quoted by the news agency as saying: “International contract documents for the supply of Russian products designed for military use were signed with the Sudanese and Laotian sides in the follow-up of the talks.
“The planned transfer of Russian armaments and military hardware is aimed at the further development of friendly and mutually advantageous relations with foreign partners and the strengthening of the armed forces of Laos and Sudan.”
International military-technical forum Army-2020 is currently underway in Moscow. Around 1,500 organisations and manufacturers are participating in the event to demonstrate their exhibits.
In the event, Shipunov Design Bureau unveiled the Hermes long-range guided weapon system. The system is equipped with several reconnaissance and guidance drones to detect the target and enable it to destroy with greater precision.
A company representative was quoted by TASS as saying: “Following the results of a full cycle of the Hermes trials at the proving ground with the destruction of various types of targets, a conclusion was made that just one missile of the system will be enough to reliably eliminate any existing Western tank.”
The Hermes missile system has a maximum range of 100km.
Recently, Russian defence contractor Sozvezdiye unveiled the R-176-1AE radio station at the Army-2020 forum. (Source: army-technology.com)
28 Aug 20. Pakistan army muscles in on Belt and Road project. Military pushing for law to sideline government in $62bn programme. A street food vendor serves customers at Gwadar port, overlooking the Strait of Hormuz. Pakistan’s powerful military and civilian parliament are wrestling for control of China’s $62bn Belt and Road Initiative in the country. Supporters of the army, which maintains close ties with Beijing, have exploited dysfunction in prime minister Imran Khan’s government to push legislation that would give it greater control over China’s infrastructure programme. The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor Authority bill proposes carving out a new position to be held by a military officer to “accelerate the pace” of construction. Under the proposed law, the government would cede further ground to the military, which took over control of CPEC last year through a presidential ordinance that bypassed parliament. The military is taking decisions without any accountability. It has become very dangerous Ayesha Siddiqa, Soas It would also give the CPEC Authority — whose strategic decision-making committee is co-chaired by China’s National Development and Reform Commission, Beijing’s top planning agency — greater financial autonomy from Islamabad. “It’s basically building a new institution that is parallel to the government.
We are in a phase of hybrid martial law,” said Ayesha Siddiqa, research associate at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London, who studies Pakistan’s military. “The military is taking decisions without any accountability,” she said. “It has become very dangerous. It’s a matter of long-term commitment of national resources.” The development highlights the growing influence of the Pakistan military after Mr Khan struggled to mount a swift response to the coronavirus pandemic and rescue the faltering economy. Ahsan Iqbal, Pakistan’s former planning minister and opposition MP, said that the proposed CPEC Authority was “superfluous” and weakened the civilian government while ceding even more responsibility to the military. “The incompetence of the [Khan] government is destroying our civil administration and putting an additional burden on the military,” said Mr Iqbal. “We will certainly put forward our reservations. We are not in favour of having the CPEC Authority,” he said. “CPEC is the domain of the civil government, if it can’t do that then what good is it for?” Proponents of the BRI programme argue that CPEC will give Pakistan the infrastructure boost needed to kickstart its economy at a time when Islamabad is struggling to attract international investors. The US, however, has criticised CPEC as a debt trap that will leave Islamabad in thrall to Beijing.
While the new CPEC Authority would still report directly to Mr Khan, it would have wide-ranging autonomy to implement its infrastructure programme without civilian government oversight, critics said. The CPEC Authority “shall be responsible for conceiving, implementing, expanding, enforcing, controlling, regulating, co-ordinating, monitoring, evaluating and carrying out all activities” related to the corridor, according to a draft document of the legislation seen by the Financial Times. A senior government official in the planning ministry, who did not wish to be named, told the FT that a new draft of the legislation would be circulated for cabinet approval before being presented to parliament. The official said criticism that the military was encroaching on the civilian government was “absolute bs” and because the scope of CPEC had “significantly widened” there was a need for “an institution focused on just this and nothing else.” Officials at the CPEC Authority did not respond to requests for comment.
Analysts said Beijing preferred to partner the Pakistan military to guarantee projects were completed, bypassing the democratically elected federal and state governments. “CPEC is at the intersection of the new [cold] war between China and the US,” said Kamal Munir, a Cambridge university professor who has advised Islamabad on industrial policy. “This is part of leaning closer to China.” Since Mr Khan took office in 2018, the military has stepped in to take over some of the administration’s most pressing issues, including the response to the coronavirus pandemic and locust swarms threatening food security. The Pakistan military controls vast swaths of the country’s economy through military-linked corporations, such as the Fauji Foundation, one of the country’s largest conglomerates with interests ranging from cement to cereals. Three army-run companies — the Frontier Works Organization, the National Logistics Cell and the Special Communications Organization — have won lucrative CPEC contracts. “CPEC is the military’s baby,” said Adnan Naseemullah, an international relations lecturer at King’s College London. “It’s a strategic project.” (Source: FT.com)
27 Aug 20. Taiwan warns of accidental conflict as regional tensions rise. The risk of accidental conflict is rising because of tension in the South China Sea and around Taiwan and communication must be maintained to reduce the risk of miscalculation, Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen said on Thursday.
Democratic Taiwan, claimed by Beijing as “sacred” Chinese territory, has complained of Chinese military activities near the island, in what it says in an attempt to force Taiwan to accept Chinese sovereignty.
The United States and China have also been conducting military exercises near Taiwan and in the disputed South China Sea.
“The risk of conflict requires careful management by all the parties concerned. We expect and hope that Beijing will continue to exercise restraint consistent with their obligations as a major regional power,” Tsai told a forum organised by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute.
Relations between China and the United States are widely seen to be at their worst point in decades, with deepening mistrust and friction over the novel coronavirus, U.S. accusations of unfair trade practices, and disputes over Hong Kong, the South China Sea and Taiwan.
Tsai said the international community had closely followed the situation in Hong Kong as well as China’s militarization of the South China Sea.
“As a result there is now greater scrutiny over the situation in the Taiwan Strait,” she said.
“There continue to be significant concerns over the potential for accidents, given increased military activity in the region. Therefore we believe it would be important for all parties to maintain open lines and communication to prevent misinterpretations or miscalculations.”
Tsai said Taiwan needed to strengthen its defence capabilities, which she has made a priority.
“We do this because we know that in terms of our current situation, strength can be co-related with deterrence. It also reduces the risk of military adventurism,” said Tsai, who was re-elected for a second term in a landslide in January.
Tsai reiterated her commitment to peace and desire to talk.
“We are open to discussions with China, as long as they contribute to a beneficial relationship.”
But Beijing must accept that as a democracy, only Taiwan’s people can decide its future, she said.
China has refused to talk to Tsai, believing she is a separatist bent on declaring a Republic of Taiwan.
Tsai says Taiwan is a country called the Republic of China, its formal name. (Source: Reuters)
27 Aug 20. Esper Discusses Moves Needed to Counter China’s Malign Strategy. The international, rules-based system that has brought security and stability to much of the globe is under duress, Defense Secretary Dr. Mark T. Esper said in Honolulu today.
Esper said China is threatening the basis for prosperity in the Indo-Pacific region, and like-minded nations must band together.
Allies and partners are crucial in this new era of great power competition, Esper said at a ceremony marking the 25th anniversary of the Daniel K. Inouye Asia Pacific Center for Security Studies. The United States recognizes the dangers and is reaching out to nations around the globe to counter China’s moves.
That U.S. network of allies and partners ”remains the enduring asymmetric advantage we have over near-peer rivals, namely China, that attempt to undermine and subvert the rules-based order to advance their own interests – often at the expense of others,” he said.
Great power competition is the foremost threat facing the globe, and the United States has made it the foundation of the National Defense Strategy promulgated in 2018.
”One of the goals that drives our implementation of the [strategy] is to focus the department on China,” he said.
The Defense Department has taken a number of steps including the creation of a new policy office to counter China. There is now a China strategy management office to integrate DOD efforts to deter China.
The National Defense University has shifted its curriculum with 50% of the coursework concerning China. He also decreed that the services make China ”the pacing threat” in all DOD schools, programs and training.
”These efforts are critical to preparing our military’s future leaders for tomorrow’s challenges,” he said.
The Chinese Communist Party – not the people – rule China, and the leaders in Beijing have repeatedly fallen short of their promises, and China does not abide by international laws, rules or norms, Esper said. This is despite continuing to reap the benefits of the international system and free markets.
The Communist Party also reneges on commitments it made, including promises to safeguard the autonomy of Hong Kong and not to militarize features in the South China Sea, the secretary said.
”Beijing’s self-serving behavior … is not isolated to just the Indo-Pacific region,” he said. ”Increasingly, our like-minded partners around the world are experiencing the CCP’s systematic rule-breaking behavior, debt-backed economic coercion and other malign activities meant to undermine the free and open order that has benefitted nations of all sizes – China included.”
Fishing fleets with no care for the ecological and economic damage they create around the world are an example of China flexing its muscles. Beijing has failed to uphold its obligations under the World Trade Organization. Chinese leaders also hampered global efforts to control the coronavirus pandemic due to its lack of transparency with the World Health Organization, Esper said.
There are direct military implications to the Chinese attitude.
”To advance the [Chinese Communist Party’s] agenda, the People’s Liberation Army continues to pursue an aggressive modernization plan to achieve a world-class military by the middle of the century,” the secretary said. ”This will undoubtedly embolden the PLA’s provocative behavior in the South and East China Seas, and anywhere else the Chinese government has deemed critical to its interests.”
The PLA does not serve the people or swear an oath to a constitution but is the military arm of the Communist Party. It is in league with attempts to undermine rules and norms across the globe, including Djibouti, Sri Lanka, Latin America and Africa.
”Clearly, China seeks to undermine the free and open order itself, which impacts every nation supporting and benefitting from this system,” he said.
DOD’s answer to this is preparedness, strengthening alliances and partnerships, and promoting and expanding a network of like-minded partners.
The United States is focusing on modernizing the force to deter, compete, and, if necessary, fight and win, across all domains: air, land, sea, space, and cyberspace, Esper said.
”Thanks to our largest research and development budget in the department’s history, we are prioritizing the development and deployment of game-changing technologies, such as hypersonic weapons, 5G and artificial intelligence,” he said. ”We are also investing in platforms critical to the future of a free and open Indo-Pacific, such as submarines, B-21 stealth bombers, P-8 maritime patrol aircraft, unmanned underwater and surface vehicles, long-range precision munitions, integrated air and missile defense, and a new class of frigates.”
But it is not just equipment. DOD is developing a new Joint Warfighting Concept for the 21st century. Part of that is making the U.S. military more strategically predictable to our partners, and operationally unpredictable to our competitors, Esper said.
”These efforts prepare our military for future conflicts that we hope we won’t need to fight, but must – and will – be prepared to win,” he said.
Allies and partners are key in this struggle. DOD must assist countries across the region to develop their national security policies, strategies, plans, and laws.
”This type of work — with nations such as Bangladesh, Mongolia, the Philippines and several Pacific Island nations — has helped put like-minded partners on a path toward greater preparedness, enabling them to become more confident in their sovereignty,” he said.
Allies and partners provide an asymmetric advantage adversaries do not have.
”Our shared security concerns and desire to maintain a free and open Indo-Pacific have yielded countless bilateral and multilateral initiatives throughout the region aimed at strengthening and expanding defense cooperation and alignment,” Esper said.
Part of this process is through an improved and expanded foreign military sales program.
”By streamlining the FMS process, we have lowered costs and accelerated our response time to partner nation requests, allowing us to deliver critical capabilities more quickly and effectively,” he said.
The United States is working with long-established allies, including Australia and Singapore, and with other nations in South Asia, Southeast Asia and Oceania.
Bilateral alliances are good, but multilateral efforts are better. Promoting a more networked region encourages the growth of inter-connected security partnerships, Esper said. This is a force multiplier for nations that share U.S. interests.
”As we continue to implement our Indo-Pacific strategy, the United States needs our allies and partners to contribute in ways that are fair and equitable,” the secretary said. ”We need them to pursue close alignment in policies that uphold a free and open order, and reject decisions that would benefit malign actors to our collective detriment. And, we need them to make the necessary investments to improve their capabilities so that, together, we can safeguard our interests, strengthen our readiness, and defend our sovereignty and values.” (Source: US DoD)
26 Aug 20. US Troops Injured in Incident with Russian Forces in Syria, US Officials Say. A small number of U.S. troops were injured during an incident with Russian forces in Syria, two U.S. officials told Reuters on Wednesday. While such interactions between American and Russian forces are not rare, the incident highlights the risks of troops from both countries operating in close proximity in northern Syria and the potential for an escalation in tensions. One of the officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said the injuries were a result of a collision and not any exchange of fire. The other official said the incident took place earlier this week in northeastern Syria and the injuries were mild. The Pentagon and the U.S. military’s Central Command, which oversees U.S. forces in the region, declined to comment. The U.S. military said the Chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley spoke with his Russian counterpart Wednesday, but provided no details on what was discussed. The U.S. military does not generally comment on injuries. However, last month a paratrooper was killed during a vehicle rollover accident in eastern Syria.
Videos on social media showed Russian military vehicles, backed by a pair of helicopters, driving dangerously close to U.S. armored vehicles. The origin of the videos was unclear. Earlier this year, another video showed a close interaction between troops on a Syrian road. About 500 U.S forces remain in northern Syria after a sharp reduction in troops that were initially there to drive out Islamic State militants from all of their strongholds in the country. Some of the areas also have oil resources, something President Donald Trump has cited as a justification for keeping U.S. troops partnered with Kurdish allies in the region. The injuries were first reported by Politico. (Source: defense-aerospace.com/Voice of America News)
27 Aug 20. Statement on Russian Forces’ Breach of Deconfliction Arrangement in Syria. Statement attributed to: Chief Pentagon Spokesperson Jonathan Hoffman on the Russian Forces’ Breach of Deconfliction Arrangement in Syria:
“On Tuesday, Russian forces breached our deconfliction arrangement in Syria and injured U.S. service members with their deliberately provocative and aggressive behavior. Our military deconflicts operations in time and space with Russian forces in Syria to protect the force and mitigate risk of unintended escalation.
We commend our personnel on the ground for deescalating this unfortunate encounter through professionalism and restraint, which are hallmarks of the U.S. military.
We have advised the Russians that their behavior was dangerous and unacceptable. We expect a return to routine and professional deconfliction in Syria and reserve the right to defend our forces vigorously whenever their safety is put at risk.” (Source: US DoD)
27 Aug 20. Chinese military drill ratchets up tension with Washington. PLA launches missiles in South China Sea capable of hitting US warships and military bases. Military tension between Washington and Beijing is surging after China launched missiles capable of hitting US warships and military bases into the disputed South China Sea. The People’s Liberation Army on Wednesday “fired four medium-range missiles into [an] area between Hainan and the Paracel Islands,” said a US military official on Thursday. Another US military official said the launch included a Dongfeng-21D, an anti-ship missile built to threaten US aircraft carriers, and several Dongfeng-26B medium-range missiles, known as the “Guam express” because they can reach air force and naval bases in the US Pacific territory. China’s defence ministry did not respond to a request for comment. The launches, first reported by the South China Morning Post and Bloomberg, followed a complaint by Beijing that a U2 plane, a cold war-era US reconnaissance aircraft, had on Tuesday disrupted a PLA exercise in northern China by entering an area earlier declared a no-fly zone, an alleged operation the Chinese defence ministry called an “act of naked provocation”.
Beijing on Thursday also announced it was conducting another live fire exercise in waters off the eastern city of Taizhou, bringing the number of drills off its coast this week to five. A Chinese military propaganda display on a building in Beijing on Wednesday. Experts said the missile tests were a signal to the US to exercise caution © Ng Han Guan/AP Defence experts said the sequence of military moves, occurring as Washington ratchets up its rhetoric and policy moves against China, raised the risk of unintended conflict to the highest level since a US surveillance aircraft collided with a PLA fighter off the coast of Hainan in 2001, claiming the life of a Chinese pilot. The missiles on Wednesday were launched into the same area where the 2001 accident occurred. Chinese experts said the missile tests were a signal to the US to exercise caution. “Firing the missiles was a strong warning. It’s a way of telling the Americans, ‘Don’t push me too hard’,” said Zhu Feng, an international relations scholar at Nanjing University. He warned that tensions had already surpassed the severity of the 1996 Taiwan Strait crisis, during which the PLA fired missiles into waters around Taiwan and the US sent aircraft carriers to the area in response. China claims Taiwan as part of its territory. Although the US does not recognise it as a sovereign country, it is committed to help Taiwan defend itself against Chinese aggression.
At the time, the stand-off was over the single issue of Taiwan, but the latest incidents reflected a broader geostrategic struggle, Mr Zhu said, warning: “The risk of a minor incident that sparks a war is far greater.” Referring to Wednesday’s PLA missile launches, Vice-Admiral Scott Conn, commander of the US Navy’s Third Fleet, which is leading the Rim of the Pacific joint drill, said: “As long as they are doing that in adherence to international law and rules and norms, they have all right to do [so].” Recommended Zhou Bo The risk of China-US military conflict is worryingly high Pointing to the large number of other militaries joining the US in the Rim of the Pacific operation, the world’s largest military exercise, as a sign of strength, he added: “The US Navy has 38 ships under way in the Indo-Pacific region right now, and we will continue to sail, fly and operate wherever international law allows. Our naval forces remain ready to respond to any threat to our allies and partners.” In a statement, the US Pacific Air Forces confirmed a U2 sortie in the Indo-Pacific area of operations but said it had been conducted within the accepted international rules and regulations governing aircraft flights. “Pacific Air Forces personnel will continue to fly and operate anywhere international law allows, at the time and tempo of our choosing,” the statement said. Ni Lexiong, a Chinese military commentator, said the missile launches were meant as proof of the PLA missile force’s capability to respond if necessary to what Beijing saw as US encroachment. The drill was meant as a warning not a provocation, he added. “Overall, both sides do not want to fight,” he said. “They are using the military to make their posture clear over other issues in the relationship.” (Source: FT.com)
27 Aug 20. DOD Statement on Recent Chinese Ballistic Missile Launches.
“The Department of Defense is concerned about the People’s Republic of China (PRC) recent decision to conduct military exercises, including the firing of ballistic missiles, around the Paracel Islands in the South China Sea on August 23-29.
Conducting military exercises over disputed territory in the South China Sea is counterproductive to easing tensions and maintaining stability. The PRC’s actions, including missile tests, further destabilize the situation in the South China Sea. Such exercises also violate PRC commitments under the 2002 Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea to avoid activities that would complicate or escalate disputes and affect peace and stability, , and call into question its motivations with ongoing negotiations for a Code of Conduct between China and ASEAN.
This military exercise is the latest in a long string of PRC actions to assert unlawful maritime claims and disadvantage its Southeast Asian neighbors in the South China Sea. The PRC’s actions stand in contrast to its pledge to not militarize the South China Sea and are in contrast to the United States’ vision of a free and open Indo-Pacific region, in which all nations, large and small, are secure in their sovereignty, free from coercion, and able to pursue economic growth consistent with accepted international rules and norms.
The Department of Defense alerted the PRC in July that would continue to monitor the situation with the expectation that the PRC will reduce its militarization and coercion of its neighbors in the South China Sea. The PRC chose to escalate its exercise activities by firing ballistic missiles. We urge all parties to exercise restraint and not undertake military activities that could threaten freedom of navigation and aggravate disputes in the South China Sea.” (Source: US DoD)
26 Aug 20. What kind of industrial cooperation will improved Israel-UAE relations produce? Analysts are looking forward to potential cooperation among the defense industries of Israel and the United Arab Emirates, following the Aug. 13 announcement that the two countries are establishing full diplomatic relations in a U.S.-brokered deal.
“It is monumental for both Israel and the UAE that they are now on an unprecedented path to normalization. How this might or might not affect the UAE defense sector in the short to medium term is far from certain,” said Aram Nerguizian, a senior associate with the Arleigh A. Burke Chair in Strategy at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
“There are certainly areas where industry in both countries will have a desire to collaborate, explore cost, and access sharing tied to research and development, let alone explore opportunities for equity and ownership in leading defense firms in both countries,” he added.
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Some of these opportunities to collaborate include cybersecurity and advanced defense systems.
“Cybersecurity is one of the areas which could witness industrial cooperation between the UAE and Israel, and the latter have a strong edge in this area, also in unmanned autonomous systems, unmanned aircraft, missile defense, electronic systems and system integration. These are all areas where there is potential cooperation,” said Riad Kahwaji, a Dubai-based Middle East security and defense analyst who and serves as director of the Institute for Near East and Gulf Military Analysis.
Opportunities are also stem from the fact that the two countries use similar platforms, like the F-16 fighter jet and Patriot missiles. And as both nations view Iran as a security threat, that common adversary could drive cooperation, Kahwaji noted.
What about the F-35?
Negotiations between the U.S. and the UAE for the latter’s purchase of the F-35 fighter jet haven’t significantly advanced since the Israel-UAE announcement, and Nerguizian doesn’t expect that to move forward.
“None of this, however, changes short- to medium-term Israeli and U.S. concerns tied to Israel’s QME [qualitative military edge] and regional proliferation. Sharing access and ownership to a fifth-generation platform like the F-35 falls into that uncertainty. For now, it is clear that both Israel and the U.S. remain concerned and opposed to the UAE acquiring the F-35,” Nerguizian said.
“Certainly, that can change from a U.S. policy perspective if the Trump administration weighs in, if it is reelected for a second term. However, doing so would go against Israel’s larger concerns that have less to do with the UAE and more to do with concern that if the UAE gets the platform, it will only be a matter of time before Saudi Arabia and eventually Egypt seek to acquire it as well,” the analyst added. “That is not something Israeli policymakers are all too comfortable with in the here and now. I should caveat that how that dynamic evolves in the medium to long term is far more uncertain. Both Israel and the UAE have reasons to deepen mutual trust and cooperation beyond narrowly balancing or containing Iran. Whether that level of cooperation extends to the F-35 or similar so-called ‘game-changer’ systems is not something we can clearly predict.”
A domino effect
Kahwaji told Defense News that the Israel-UAE deal — which required the Jewish state halt its contentious plan to annex occupied West Bank land sought by the Palestinians — could be a sign of improved relations to come among Mideast neighbors, particularly invovling Bahrain, Oman and Qatar.
“However, any negative moves by Netanyahu, like reviving his plan to annex the West Bank, will be a setback that will definitely sway many countries from following the UAE’s path and could definitely impact UAE-Israel relation in a negative way,” the military expert said.
Whether there will be growth across the entire region’s defense industries remains to be seen.
“Irrespective of administration, regional defense industries in the Arab world will continue to struggle against U.S. congressional limits and rules tied to [the International Traffic in Arms Regulations],” Nerguizian said. “There is an assumption that a Trump reelection might lead to more executive if not more legislative action, but that assumption still has to be tested, as concerns about [intellectual property] transfers, [qualitative military edge] and proliferation continue to cut across U.S. party lines.” (Source: Defense News Early Bird/Defense News)
27 Aug 20. Australian PM, Defence Minister announce $1bn worth of defence initiatives to boost COVID recovery. Prime Minister Scott Morrison, Defence Minister Linda Reynolds and Defence Industry Minister Melissa Price have released a $1bn post-COVID investment package to boost Australia’s defence industry and support thousands of jobs across the country.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the package is estimated to support around 4,000 jobs across Australia and help many small and medium-sized businesses in the defence-industry supply chain.
The package is directed towards nationwide projects and jobs across Australia, including:
- Increasing the employment of ADF Reservists who have lost their civilian income, with an allocation of up to an extra 210,000 days, and the targeted recruitment of an additional 500 ADF Reservists;
- Increasing employment opportunities for current and former ADF personnel and their families;
- A $300m national estate works program that will focus on regional areas (including bushfire-affected regions), such as Jervis Bay & Eden, RAAF Bases East Sale, Pearce, Wagga and Amberley, the Albury Wodonga Military Area and Blamey Barracks;
- Accelerating the sustainment of ADF platforms and capabilities, including the upgrade of Bushmaster protected mobility vehicles, modernisation of ADF uniforms, and additional C-27J maintenance, which will engage ex-Qantas and Virgin technicians;
- Bringing forward around $190m of investment in approved infrastructure projects in the Northern Territory;
- Increased funding for Defence innovation, industry grants, skilling and micro credentialing and cyber training for defence industry; and
- Accelerating important ADF capability development projects, targeting key manufacturing, construction and high-tech sectors.
The Prime Minister said, “Like much of the economy, our local defence industry is doing it tough because of COVID-19. This is especially so for small and medium-sized businesses that are critical to jobs.
“Supporting our defence industry is all part of our JobMaker plan – especially high-paying, high-skilled jobs that ensure we are supporting a robust, resilient and internationally competitive defence industry. We want to build our sovereign industrial capabilities and Australian workforce to keep our people safe,” Prime Minister Morrison added.
The announcement was made at Canberra-based company DATAPOD (Australia), which has been awarded a two-year, $20m contract.
The Australian-owned company will provide Defence with portable, containerised data systems, which can be rapidly deployed by sea, air or road. By bringing forward this acquisition, we will help to protect up to 27 direct and up to 80 supply chain jobs.
Defence Minister Linda Reynolds added that supporting the Australian defence industry would prove crucial to the economy’s recovery in the aftermath of COVID-19.
“Already we’ve fast-tracked a range of capability, infrastructure, skilling and workforce initiatives over the next two years. This includes rolling out a number of Defence estate works tenders as part of Defence’s economic stimulus initiative package that will run over the 2020-21 and 2021-22 financial years,” Minister Reynolds said.
Minister Reynolds added, “Over $11bn has already been provided in early payment for invoices and work to improve or sustain industry capacity for the delivery of critical supplies. We’re getting on with the job of delivering critical capability outcomes to Army, Air Force and Navy, as well as continuing to support our personnel, including ADF Reserve members.”
Defence Industry Minister Melissa Price added, “We want to ensure defence industry continues to provide vital supply chains to develop and maintain defence capabilities as we look at opportunities to accelerate projects across Australia. These projects will support and grow the 70,000-strong workforce in defence industry supply chains and those benefiting from our investment in Defence.” (Source: Defence Connect)
26 Aug 20. US imposes sanctions on Chinese defense firms over maritime dispute. The Trump administration said Wednesday it is imposing sanctions on Chinese officials responsible for Beijing’s military buildup in the South China Sea. The move is the latest salvo in the U.S. pressure campaign against China that has picked up steam ahead of November’s presidential election over a variety of contentious issues.
The State Department announced it had hit an unspecified number of Chinese officials and business executives responsible for the militarization of disputed South China Sea areas with travel bans. Immediate family members of those targeted may also be barred from travel to the United States, the department said.
At the same time, the Commerce Department said it had added 24 state-owned Chinese enterprises, some of which were on the Defense News Top 100 list this year, which ranks defense companies around the world based on their defense-related revenue.
China Electronics Technology Group Corporation — ranked 15th place with fiscal 2019 defense revenue totaling about $10.15bn — was included in the Commerce Department’s announcement.
The U.S. government also sanctioned China Shipbuilding Group. China’s two largest shipbuilding conglomerates, China Shipbuilding Industry Company (ranked 14th place) and China State Shipbuilding Corporation (ranked 24th place), merged in November 2019 to create the massive maritime business.
The China Communications Construction Company was also part of the sanctions due to its role in constructing artificial islands through dredging operations and other activities that impacted the environment and infringed on other nations’ claims.
In a statement, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the travel ban would apply to Chinese individuals “responsible for, or complicit in, either the large-scale reclamation, construction, or militarization of disputed outposts in the South China Sea, or [China’s] use of coercion against Southeast Asian claimants to inhibit their access to offshore resources.”
Last month, Pompeo accused China of “bullying” and announced that the U.S. would not recognize nearly all of China’s maritime claims to areas in the South China Sea that are contested by its smaller neighbors, including Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan. Beijing’s claims to these areas have been accompanied by increased military and commercial activities.
The Chinese government cannot be allowed to use the China Communications Construction Company or other state-owned businesses “as weapons to impose an expansionist agenda,” Pompeo said. “The United States will act until we see Beijing discontinue its coercive behavior in the South China Sea, and we will continue to stand with allies and partners in resisting this destabilizing activity.” (Source: Defense News)
27 Aug 20. China fires ‘aircraft-carrier killer’ missile in warning to US. Ballistic missiles launched in response to US aerial activities in a ‘no-fly zone’ area during a Chinese naval drill.
China has fired two missiles, including one dubbed an “aircraft-carrier killer”, into the South China Sea, according to a news report, in a pointed warning to the United States as tensions in the disputed sea lane rise to new levels.
The South China Morning Post (SCMP) reported on Thursday that Beijing fired one intermediate-range ballistic missile, DF-26B, from Qinghai Province and another medium-range ballistic missile, DF-21D, from Zhejiang Province on Wednesday in response to US aerial activities in a “no-fly zone” area.
In response, Mark Esper, the US defence chief, said China has repeatedly fallen short of promises to abide by international laws, noting that China seems to be flexing its muscles the most in Southeast Asia.
The two missiles were reportedly fired in the direction of the area between Hainan province and the disputed Paracel Islands, the Hong Kong-based publication added, quoting an unnamed source.
According to the paper, a US U-2 spy plane had reportedly entered a Chinese-designated “no-fly zone” on Tuesday without permission during a live-fire naval drill conducted by China in the Bohai Sea off its north coast.
In a social media post, Liu Xiaoming, China’s ambassador to the United Kingdom, said that the US move “severely disrupted” China’s normal exercises and “training activities.”
Zhao Lijian, China’s foreign ministry spokesman, described the spy plane overflight as “provocative actions” and urged the US to stop.
The DF-26B missile, which was formally launched earlier this month, is capable of hitting moving targets at sea, making it an “aircraft-carrier killer”, according to the state-owned Global Times.
Chinese Defence Ministry spokesperson, Senior Colonel Wu Qian, was previously quoted as saying that the missile can carry conventional or nuclear warheads and is capable of launching precision strikes on land and sea targets.
With its range of 4,500km (2,796 miles), DF-26 can reach the West Pacific and the Indian Ocean, as well as American facilities in Guam, the British island of Diego Garcia and even the Australian city of Darwin.
‘Within accepted rules’
Meanwhile, the DF-21, has been described as an anti-ship ballistic missile system, also meant for attacking moving ships at sea.
In July, two US aircraft conducted freedom of navigation exercises and military drills with its allies in the South China Sea, prompting an angry response from Beijing.
Speaking on the condition of anonymity to Reuters, a US official confirmed the firing of the two missiles on Wednesday adding that an assessment was under way to determine the type of missile launched.
The Pentagon, meanwhile, confirmed the U-2 overflight, adding that the activity in the Indo-Pacific region was “within the accepted international rules and regulations governing aircraft flights”.
News of the missile launches come as the US announced that it was blacklisting 24 Chinese companies and targeting individuals it said are part of construction and military actions in the South China Sea, its first such sanctions move against Beijing over the disputed seas.
The US Commerce Department said the two dozen companies played a “role in helping the Chinese military construct and militarize the internationally condemned artificial islands in the South China Sea.”
Separately, the State Department said it would impose visa restrictions on Chinese individuals “responsible for, or complicit in”, such actions and those linked to China’s “use of coercion against Southeast Asian claimants to inhibit their access to offshore resources”.
In July, Washington said it could sanction Chinese officials and enterprises involved in coercion in the South China Sea after it announced a tougher stance rejecting Beijing’s claims to offshore resources there as “completely unlawful”.
China claims virtually all of the potentially energy-rich South China Sea, but Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam also lay claim to parts of an area, through which more than $3trn of trade passes each year.
The US accuses China of militarising the South China Sea and trying to intimidate Asian neighbours who might want to exploit its extensive oil and gas reserves.
US warships have gone through the area to assert the freedom of access to international waterways, raising fears of confrontation.
A spokesperson for China’s embassy in Washington condemned the US sanctions as “completely unreasonable,” and urged the US to reverse them.
“(South China Sea Islands) is an integral part of China’s territory, and it is fully justified for us to build facilities and deploy necessary defence equipment there,” the spokesperson said.
“The Chinese government has firm determination to safeguard its sovereignty and territorial integrity.” (Source: News Now/ AL JAZEERA AND NEWS AGENCIES)
26 Aug 20. Esper Shares U.S. Vision for a Free and Open Indo-Pacific Region. Defense Secretary Dr. Mark T. Esper arrived in Hawaii, beginning a trip to explain America’s vision for a free and open Indo-Pacific and to honor the World War II generation that made a peaceful region possible. The secretary will visit Hawaii, Palau and Guam.
The Indo-Pacific is the main focus of American national strategy. The region is crucial to the U.S. economy, and U.S. service members are crucial to maintaining peace and stability in the region.
The National Defense Strategy issued in 2018 said the return of great power competition with China and Russia is the main danger to the United States and the world.
“This is an opportunity for the secretary to really reinforce what we’re doing to advance this vision for a free Indo-Pacific,” said a senior defense official speaking on background. “The vision is based on some broadly held principles — peaceful resolution of disputes; freedom of navigation; free, fair and reciprocal trade arrangements — the things that have kind of made the international system work.”
In the Indo-Pacific, China is challenging these principles. China is building and militarizing islands in the South China Sea and East China Sea. China is using its economic power to coerce nations around the world to its point of view.
Esper will talk about what the United States is doing to reinforce and uphold the principles of the international rules-based order.
During the visit, the secretary will visit ships involved in the semi-annual Rim of the Pacific exercise. The exercise has been scaled back due to COVID-19, but more than 5,000 personnel from 10 different countries are participating. The exercise allows the nations to test interoperability and cooperation across the spectrum of conflict.
RIMPAC also highlights the alliance system in the Indo-Pacific. ”Even during the current pandemic, we’re still able to operate in pursuit of common tasks,” the official said.
Guam is a centerpiece of American strategy in the Indo-Pacific, and Esper will visit with troops and visit facilities that are being built.
The secretary will also participate in ceremonies marking the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II. He will visit Palau – the site of the bloody Battle of Peleliu in 1944 — and mark the end of the war during a ceremony aboard the USS Missouri. The Japanese signed the surrender documents aboard the Missouri in Tokyo Bay on Sept. 2, 1945.
World War II still resonates today. The experiences of the war – with millions killed, untold treasure destroyed and huge upheaval – was the impetus behind establishment of the rules-based international order as a means of preventing the type of great power competition that brought on the war. Those rules are still important 75 years later, officials said, and they need to be protected. (Source: US DoD)
26 Aug 20. Australia boosts defence spending in latest COVID-19 stimulus. Australia will boost defence spending by A$1bn ($716.80m) to upgrade military facilities and offer additional paid employment to army reservists, as Canberra seeks to soften the economic blow of COVID-19.
In a fresh round of stimulus, Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Wednesday promised greater spending on defence in a bid to grow the country’s military and support 4,000 jobs.
“Today is again about the JobMaker plan, doing everything we can as we grow out of the COVID-19 recession to ensure that we keep Australians in jobs, and we keep businesses in business,” Morrison told reporters in Canberra.
While Australia has reported far fewer cases of COVID-19 compared to other developed countries, restrictions imposed to slow the spread of the virus have had a devastating impact on the country’s economy, which will slip into a recession for the first time in three decades.
Australia has so far promised to spend about A$260bn in stimulus to support its ailing economy.
The additional defence spending will also assist Australia with its commitment to grow defence spending to more than 2% of its Gross Domestic Product, a key demand of U.S. President Donald Trump who has accused allies of not pulling their weight.
Morrison said many of the military facilities earmarked for upgrades will be in areas impacted by bushfires earlier this year.
Fires razed more than 11 million hectares (37 million acres) of bushland across Australia’s southeast early this year, killing at least 33 people and billions of native animals, a disaster that Morrison called Australia’s “black summer”.
The fresh stimulus will include A$200m for military vehicle modifications. (Source: Reuters)
26 Aug 20. China Opposes U.S. Military Aircraft Trespass in No-Fly Zone. A Chinese military spokesperson on Tuesday voiced firm opposition to the trespassing of U.S. reconnaissance aircraft into a no-fly zone, urging the U.S. side to immediately stop such provocations and take concrete steps to safeguard regional peace and stability.
Wu Qian, a spokesperson for the Ministry of National Defense, made the comment in response to the flight of the U-2 high-altitude reconnaissance aircraft into an airspace used for live-fire exercises by the Northern Theater Command of the People’s Liberation Army.
The trespass severely affected China’s normal exercises and training activities, and violated the rules of behavior for air and maritime safety between China and the United States, as well as relevant international practices, said Wu.
The U.S. action could easily have resulted in misjudgments and even accidents, said Wu, adding that the move was an obvious provocation.
China firmly opposes such provocative actions and has lodged solemn representations with the U.S. side, he said. (Source: defense-aerospace.com/Xinhua)
25 Aug 20. How will COVID-19 affect global defence spending? The Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic has caused world economies to stagnate and many countries’ gross domestic product (GDP) to crash. As nations come to terms with the repercussions of the outbreak, priorities will likely shift and defence budgets suffer. Army Technology spoke to International Institute of Strategic Studies (IISS) Senior Fellow for Defence Economics Fenella McGerty about the outlook for the top five countries with the highest defence spend in 2019.
Before the effect of the Covid-19 pandemic on the economy was predicted, The World Bank’s January 2020 report on Global Economic Prospects said: “Following its weakest performance since the global financial crisis, the world economy is poised for a modest rebound this year– if everything goes just right.
“Global growth is set to rise by 2.5% this year, a small uptick from 2.4% in 2019, as trade and investment gradually recover, the World Bank’s semi-annual Global Economic Prospects forecasts.”
By June The World Bank’s predictions had swung to the negative. The organisation said in a press release: “According to World Bank forecasts, the global economy will shrink by 5.2% this year. That would represent the deepest recession since the Second World War.”
Despite global economic growth slowing since 2017, defence spending has continued to soar globally. Will countries rush to adjust their budgets in light of the economic damage the Covid-19 pandemic has caused, or will it fuel the desire for better defence capabilities?
Top five defence spenders in 2019 – IISS data
United States: $684.6bn
The US spent the most globally on defence in 2019 maintaining its number one position.
However, heavy spending does not guarantee success. Former John McCain aide Chris Brose warned that US Armed Forces are often unsuccessful in combat simulations with China set in the western Pacific. The US military needs modernisation and technological advancement to maintain a competitive edge.
McGerty told Army Technology, “There is a huge amount of pressure on countries to bolster innovative efforts, R&D and research technology.”
However, under more constrained budgetary environments, innovation is often the first to suffer.
“You can’t cut personnel spending, you can’t come up with wages straight away, you can’t cut if you’re committed to operations, you have to maintain the existing kit you have, so it’s those added investments [R&D] that start to feel the pinch,” McGerty explained.
While the struggle is global, McGerty said that because the US has such a significant budget, changes to its spending tend to impact the entire world.
China has the second-biggest economy behind the US, and this follows for defence spending.
However, Oliver Scott for Finbold wrote: “China’s military expenditure has been marred with controversy with the government being accused of inconsistency in its reporting on defence spending.”
McGerty explained that not all governments include all defence spending within their quotes for National Expense. This phenomenon is not unique to China; Russia is proportionately less inclusive of all its budgets in the government total. IISS allows for this in its data.
Saudi Arabia $78.4bn
At 8%, Saudi Arabia had the highest Military expenditure as a percentage of gross domestic product (GDP) in the highest spending countries in 2019.
The worldwide figure is 2.2% and the NATO minimum target is 2%. Other top ten defence spenders Russia, US, South Korea and India also exceed the worldwide average.
As countries’ GDPs shrink, those abiding by the NATO 2% cap will therefore likely see their defence budgets shrink accordingly.
According to its state armament programme GPV 2020, Russia was due to have increased its share of modern weapons by 70% by the end of 2020. This prediction came shortly before the impact of the pandemic became apparent.
Military modernisation efforts may become less of a priority globally as budgets are stretched to fund basic procurement needs. Reuters reported that Russia may cut defence spending on the military as the pandemic combined with low oil prices have rocked the economy, a document published by the finance ministry shows.
India’s economy is among the world’s fastest-growing economies and its defence spending continues to grow accordingly, now surpassing that of the UK.
However, in March this year, the OECD downgraded its economic growth projections alongside China, Japan and South Korea. India has also paused acquisitions and announced a decrease in military expenditure.
Despite this, McGerty argued that India, as with the other emerging economies, would fare better than western nations. This is because the same pre-existing strategic and political drivers continue to propel the country’s economic growth forwards.
Echoes of the 2007 financial crisis
Governments set their 2020 budgets before the full extent of the pandemic was realised, so in the years to come, they will likely continue to be affected. McGerty compared the likely economic impacts of the pandemic with the effects of the 2007/8 financial crisis.
Unlike the financial crisis, in which the West was most severely impacted, the pandemic has affected almost every country in the world. Countries such as those in the Middle East, who were previously spared much of the economic damage, will now have to face greater economic challenges.
In terms of defence budgets, it was not until years after the financial crash that the full effects were felt, with the global defence spending even peaking at US$1.55tn in 2011.
McGerty compared this trend with her prediction for the pandemic, saying: “I would expect there to be a lag, but I would expect it to be a much shorter one because it’s so severe with countries having to respond a lot faster.
“The US is actually one of those countries where the potential negative impact of this pandemic on defence expenditure is likely to be less than it was after the financial crisis.”
At the time of the financial crisis, the US had Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) funding for operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, which grew to such a large amount that it began to affect the defence budget. As the US economy started to contract as a result of the financial crisis, the damage was extended as they withdrew from these operations.
McGerty explained “It had this distortionary impact on overseas contingency operation funding, so that’s at far, far lower levels now. It’s not shaping the US defence budget as much.”
It is widely accepted that the pandemic has brought new security threats and a re-emergence of competition between global powers, as was seen in the aftermath of the 2007/8 financial crisis. Yet a global health crisis has proven to be more significant than increased military threats.
With this new-found awareness in mind, NATO experts believe governments should try to secure their defence funding and that it may not take as much of a hit as other budgets. What may change, McGerty explained, is the nature of their spending.
McGerty said the one approach the US is taking is that as commercial aerospace companies have been hugely affected by the pandemic, the government is investing in their defence arms as a way of regenerating economic activity and encouraging stability.
Future defence budgets could be reserved for specifically military provisions. This is the case in Sweden, which has a separate defence budget and crisis response budget, meaning it has the funding and the people in place with the sort of capabilities needed to respond to non-military threats.
McGerty commented: “It was never in the top ten security things listed as a concern to shape defence budget before this. I think it will be now.” (Source: army-technology.com)
25 Aug 20. China protests U.S. spy plane watching drills. China has lodged “stern representations” with the United States, accusing it of sending a U.S. U-2 reconnaissance plane into a no-fly zone over Chinese live-fire military drills on Tuesday, further ratcheting up tensions between Beijing and Washington.
China has long denounced U.S. surveillance activities, while the United States has complained of “unsafe” intercepts by Chinese aircraft. While such missions happen regularly, for China to talk about them publicly is unusual.
China’s Defence Ministry said the U-2 flew without permission over a no-fly zone in the northern military region where live fire drills were taking place, “seriously interfering in normal exercise activities”.
This could easily have caused a misunderstanding or misjudgement or an “unexpected incident”, the ministry added.
“It was an act of naked provocation, and China is resolutely opposed to it, and have already lodged stern representations with the U.S. side.”
In a statement, the U.S. military said a U-2 flight was conducted in the Indo-Pacific region and it was “within the accepted international rules and regulations governing aircraft flights.”
“Pacific Air Forces personnel will continue to fly and operate anywhere international law allows, at the time and tempo of our choosing,” the U.S. military said in the statement.
The U-2 aircraft can fly at over 70,000 feet and carry out reconnaissance activity from afar and would not necessarily have had to enter a no-fly zone.
While China did not say exactly where the incident took place, it is currently carrying out drills in the Bohai Sea. Other exercises are also happening in the Yellow Sea and South China Sea.
“China demands the U.S. side immediately stop this kind of provocative behaviour and take actual steps to safeguard peace and stability in the region,” the ministry added.
Relations between Washington and Beijing have worsened over everything from trade and human rights to what the United States sees as aggressive moves by China’s armed forces, especially in the disputed South China Sea and around Chinese-claimed Taiwan.
In April 2001, an intercept of a U.S. spy plane by a Chinese fighter jet resulted in a collision that killed the Chinese pilot and forced the American plane to make an emergency landing at a base on the southern Chinese island of Hainan. (Source: Reuters)
25 Aug 20. The risk of China-US military conflict is worryingly high. The two sides are sleepwalking into confrontation in the South China Sea ZHOU BO Add to myFT The US and China have settled into a pattern of military manoeuvring in the South China Sea that allows both sides to ‘save face’ The relationship between China and the US is in freefall. That is dangerous. US defence secretary Mark Esper has said he wants to visit China this year, which shows the Pentagon is worried. That Wei Fenghe, China’s defence minister, spoke at length with Mr Esper in August shows that Beijing is worried too. Both men have agreed to keep communications open and to work to reduce risks as they arise. The crucial question is: how? In July, US secretary of state Mike Pompeo inverted a famous line of Ronald Reagan’s about the Soviet Union and applied it to China: “trust but verify” became “distrust but verify”. Washington suspects that an increasingly coercive China wants to drive the US out of the Indo-Pacific. Beijing meanwhile believes that the US, worried about its global primacy, has fully abandoned its supposed neutrality on the South China Sea. Haunted by economic recession and the pandemic, and desperate for re-election, President Donald Trump has also made confronting China his last-straw strategy to beat his opponent, Joe Biden. The risk of a mistake is therefore high. It is one thing for the two countries to point their fingers at each other. It is quite another if naval vessels collide in the South China Sea, triggering a direct conflict. In 2019, the US navy conducted a record number of freedom of navigation operations there. Mr Esper has vowed to keep up the pace this year. So far, whenever a US ship has come close to China-controlled islands, Chinese naval ships have monitored it and warned it to leave. This pattern might continue without accident, allowing both sides to “save face”. The US can claim its freedom of navigation operations have challenged China’s “militarisation” of the area. China can also say it has driven away intruders from its waters. But that ignores the chance of mishap. The air collision in 2001 between a Chinese jet fighter and a US reconnaissance plane caused the death of one Chinese pilot. In 2018, the USS Decatur and Chinese destroyer Lanzhou escaped collision by just 41 metres.
Both sides have pledged to keep at a safe distance during these encounters. Yet what is a safe distance exactly? For the US, the Chinese islands are artificial land reclamations, so a US warship can legally sail as close as 500 metres. But for Beijing, these are natural Chinese territories that China has chosen to enlarge, and the fact they had names before land reclamation are proof they are not artificial. Under Chinese law, a foreign military vessel’s entry into territorial seas needs government approval. China and the US could then even fight each other under the same international laws. Washington cites Article 58 of the UN convention on the law of the sea to justify its right of freedom of navigation and overflight. But Beijing can quote the same article, which says: “States shall have due regard to the rights and duties of the coastal State.” How to de-risk the chance of a conflict that neither side wants but which they could nevertheless sleepwalk into? During the cold war, the US and USSR competed via proxy wars, avoiding direct conflict. Should a similar competition arise today, America’s Asian allies most probably wouldn’t follow the US into war with a neighbour that has nuclear weapons and is their biggest trading partner. Meanwhile, if US ships and aircraft continue to maintain high-intensity surveillance of the South China Sea, there is always the potential for a confrontation. Beijing has no plan to take Washington. From Beijing’s point of view, it is the US that comes provocatively close to China. Eventually, it may be that the sheer size of China’s military prompts a US rethink.
The Chinese army enjoys the convenience of geography, to say the least. Its navy also outnumbers the US navy in terms of warships and submarines, although the US fleet is more heavily armed. Admiral Philip S Davidson, commander of the US’s Indo-Pacific Command, has acknowledged that there is “no guarantee” the US would win a future conflict against China. China’s foreign minister Wang Yi has said Beijing will remain “cool headed” whenever there are “impulsive moves” from the US. But in many ways, China hawks such as Mr Pompeo have made it hard for subsequent administrations to de-escalate US competition with China. It is therefore reasonable to ask: what difference will Mr Esper’s trip to China this year make? But the visit itself is a valuable step forward in communication and risk reduction. Talking past each other is better than not talking at all. (Source: FT.com)
24 Aug 20. Russia and Iran to restore military cooperation as Covid-19 impact subsides. Russia and Iran are working to gradually restore military cooperation after Covid-19 related restrictions temporarily halted activities. Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu stated this in a meeting with the Iranian counterpart Amir Khatami. The two countries held a meeting to discuss their military partnership.
Minister Shoigu said: “The epidemiological situation is gradually normalising. We are returning to holding significant multilateral events.”
He added that the ongoing Army 2020 event will enable Iranian delegation to inspect the latest Russian equipment.
Organised by the Russian Defence Ministry, Army 2020 is being held in Moscow. Around 70 nations are expected to participate in the event.
According to Russian news agency Sputnik, the forum will display more than 730 pieces of Russian weapons and equipment, in addition to industrial exhibits.
It will also facilitate discussions between military officials, researchers and defence industry experts.
Shoigu added: “This year we decided to combine the international military-technical forum ‘Army’ and the Army International Games.
“At the forum’s expositions, the Iranian delegation will be able to get acquainted with the latest examples of Russian weapons and military equipment.”
In another development, Russia signed a contract to deliver the second batch of S-400 anti-aircraft missile systems to Turkey.
Currently, the two countries are working to finalise the financial terms, another Russian news agency TASS reported quoting Rosoboronexport head Alexander Mikheyev.
In September 2017, the two countries signed a $2.5bn deal for the delivery of S-400 anti-aircraft missile systems to Turkey. As agreed, Turkey already received a regiment set of the missile systems. (Source: army-technology.com)
24 Aug 20. Annual Japanese defence white paper reveals continued focus on Indo-Pacific. The 2020 incarnation of the annual Japanese defence white paper has revealed little new about the island nation’s primary strategic focus, however it has shed light on the nation’s rapidly evolving defence modernisation and recapitalisation efforts.
Japan has closely followed the modernisation of the Chinese armed forces and raised concerns about the nation’s defence capabilities. The pre-war power has long sought to shake off the chains of the pacifist constitution enforced upon it by the US, UK, Australia and other allies following the end of the war in the Pacific.
However, Japan’s geo-strategic realities have rapidly evolved since the end of the Cold War, when the US could effectively guarantee the security of the island nation.
Growing Chinese assertiveness in the South China Sea and modernisation efforts resulting in the fielding of key power projection capabilities, including aircraft carriers and supporting strike groups, fifth-generation combat aircraft, modernised land forces, area-access denial and strategic nuclear forces, combined with growing political and financial influence throughout the region is serving to shake Japan’s confidence.
In response, Japanese Prime Minister Abe Shinzo has repeatedly earmarked increased funding for the nation’s defence budget, expanding the capabilities of the Japan Self-Defense Force (JSDF) to operate independently of direct US support – establishing the nation as an emerging great power with traditional great power style strategic economic, diplomatic and military capabilities.
ccordingly, the latest incarnation of the annual defence white paper (DWP) process, ‘Defense of Japan 2020’, has built on the success of the 2019 Defense White Paper to include a range of assessments of the geo-strategic environment of the Indo-Pacific, Japan’s place in the world and critically, the nation’s capability development and acquisition plans in response.
Alliances and the changing geo-strategic environment
Strategic partnerships and alliances form the basis of Japan’s post-war international engagement. Particularly the relationship with the US, but increasingly, regional powers like Australia and India are playing larger roles in the nation’s strategic calculus.
Recognising these factors, the DWP states the continued importance the US plays in Japans planning and the its response to the broader evolution of the Indo-Pacific region’s geo-strategic paradigm: “The United States recognises strategic competition with revisionist powers, namely China and Russia, as the central challenge to US security.
“Especially, the United States ranks China at the top of its list of priorities and places the greatest emphasis on the security of the Indo-Pacific region to strengthen deterrence against China.
“Under the recognition that nuclear capabilities of North Korea, classified as ‘rogue regimes’ in its strategic documents, constitute an extraordinary threat to the United States, it has maintained sanctions and continues to pursue de-nuclearisation of North Korea, while maintaining strong military readiness of the US forces including US Forces Korea.
“The United States prioritises the allocation of military forces to the Indo-Pacific region and Europe while reducing forces in the Middle East and Africa. The United States, however, still needs to deal with security issues in the latter regions, which makes it difficult to describe that such transition of the US force posture is smoothly progressing.”
Regional alliances are central to Japan’s strategic security and stability and provide additional support and capability aggregation among the allies as the US continues to rebalance its forces around the world.
Accordingly, the Japanese DWP identifies: “The Indo-Pacific region is the core of the world’s vitality, supporting more than half the world’s population. It is important to establish this region as a free and open global commons to secure peace and prosperity in the region as a whole.
“In order to promote a ‘Free and Open Indo-Pacific’, the MOD/SDF will strengthen defence co-operation and exchanges with countries in the region.”
Supporting this, the Japanese white paper expands its focus on enhancing relationships with regional and global security partners, including Australia, India, the ASEAN nations, South Korea, the European Union, Canada and New Zealand.
The Australia-Japan relationship is the nation’s closest and most mature in Asia and is underpinned by the strategic, economic, political and legal interests of both countries. The countries work closely in strategic alliance with the US, and lead in critical regional partnerships with countries such as India and the Republic of Korea.
The rate of technological evolution has reshaped the field of warfare and the weapons and platforms that will be used. Japan’s proximity to China and developments in the ballistic missile, force projection, cyber capability and anti-space domains has prompted a growing response from Japan across a number of domains.
In particular, the Japanese 2020 DWP focuses on developing the capacity of the nation to respond to “inter-state competition” with key focal points of capability developments, including:
- Continued development of the future Japanese F-X fighter aircraft, improving the technological reliability and reducing development costs, leveraging Japanese led development and international cooperation;
- Extensive investment in the Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) particularly in the surface fleet, including reinforced destroyer units with a new class of destroyers, minesweeper units and new patrol ships supporting “steady-state ISR” in Japan’s territorial waters;
- The Ground Self-Defense Force (JGSDF) will maintain rapidly deployable basic operational units furnished with advanced mobility and intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) capabilities, and mobile operating units equipped with specialised functions. The GSDF will strengthen its ability to deter and counter threats by taking measures including persistent steady-state manoeuvres;
- To be able to counter an invasion of remote islands, the GSDF will maintain surface-to-ship guided missile units and hyper-velocity gliding projectile units for remote island defence;
- The JSDF will also establish new units in the domains of space, cyberspace and electromagnetic spectrum, strengthen its posture, build comprehensive air and missile defence capability, and maintain a maritime transport unit as an integrated unit; and
The Air Self-Defense Force (JASDF) will maintain ground-based warning and control units capable of conducting sustained surveillance in the airspace around Japan, and air warning and control units capable of conducting airborne warning, surveillance and control also during situations with heightened tensions, such as “gray-zone” situations – including fighter aircraft units reinforced by high-performance fighter aircraft, and aerial refueling and transport units. (Source: Defence Connect)
24 Aug 20. Indo-Pacific needs to prepare for further instability: CSBA experts. Beijing’s increasing assertiveness throughout the Indo-Pacific region has drawn the attention and concern of many regional nations, prompting many to commence extensive rearmament programs. Off the back of this, the Washington-based Center for Strategic Budgetary Assessments (CSBA) has issued a warning: prepare for more.
Australia as both a continent and a nation is unique in its position, enjoying relative geographic isolation from the flash points of global and regional conflagration of the 20th century.
Blessed with unrivalled resource wealth and industrial potential, the nation has been able to embrace vastly different approaches to the nation’s strategic role and responsibilities.
However, the growing conventional and hybrid capabilities of peer and near-peer competitors – namely Russia and China – combined with the growing modernisation, capability enhancements and reorganisation of force structures in the armies of nations, including India, Indonesia, Vietnam and Thailand, all contribute to the changing nature of contemporary warfare.
This perfect storm of factors, swirling like a maelstrom across Australia’s northern borders, has largely gone unnoticed by the Australian public, beyond the odd port visit by American or, as recently happened, Chinese naval vessels that seem to cause momentary flurries of concern.
Australia’s strategic and political leaders appear to be caught in an increasingly dangerous paradigm of thinking, one of continuing US-led dominance and Australia maintaining its position as a supplementary power.
Prior to establishing a new paradigm and priorities, it is critical to understand the nation’s history of strategic policy making and the key priorities that have defined Australia’s position in the Indo-Pacific since federation – traditionally, Australia’s strategic and defence planning has been intrinsically defined and impacted by a number of different yet interconnected and increasingly complex factors, namely:
- Guaranteeing the enduring benevolence and continuing stability of its primary strategic partner – via continued support of their strategic ambitions;
- The geographic isolation of the continent, highlighted by the ‘tyranny of distance’;
- A relatively small population in comparison with its neighbours; and
- Increasingly, the geopolitical, economic and strategic ambition and capabilities of Australia’s Indo-Pacific Asian neighbours.
This state of ‘strategic dependence’ has placed Australia at a disadvantage and entrenched a belief that the nation is both incapable of greater independent tactical and strategic action and must consistently support the designs and ambitions of great powers, with little concern for the broader impact on Australia and its national interests as a form of insurance.
Australia is not alone in facing down the barrel of increased Chinese aggression and attempted economic, political and strategic coercion as the rising superpower leverages the opportunities provided by the impact of COVID-19 to flex its muscle and expand its interests throughout the Indo-Pacific.
These ambitions have brought Beijing into direct confrontation with a range of powers throughout the region, including India, Japan, Vietnam, the Philippines, Indonesia, directly threatening Taiwan and risking the intervention of the US.
However, while many nations, including Australia, continue to be concerned about Beijing’s increased adventurism and seeming willingness to coerce and intimidate, some strategic policy experts have raised important questions about whether China is as robust as it seems.
In light of these factors, the Washington-based Center for Strategic Budgetary Assessments (CSBA), drawing on expert research from the likes of Ross Babbage, Jack Bianchi, Julian Snelder, Toshi Yoshihara, Aaron Friedberg and Nadege Rolland, has released an in-depth report, titled Which Way the Dragon? Sharpening Allied Perceptions of China’s Strategic Trajectory.
In highlighting this, the CSBA report establishes a confronting reality for Australia, the US and key regional nations as they struggle to adapt to this new geo-strategic, economic and political reality, stating:
“This report argues that China’s future trajectory and that of the broader Indo-Pacific region are inherently unstable. There is a strong possibility, maybe a probability, of major changes in the strategic landscape by 2035. In the face of these great uncertainties, the strategic assessment and capability development systems the United States and its allies have inherited from the twentieth century are inadequate.”
A house of cards built on pillars of sand?
The climate of disruption across the spectrum of contemporary power relations in the Indo-Pacific, which have been further exacerbated by the impact of COVID-19, serves as the principle focus for CSBA, which recognises that China in particular is not invulnerable, despite the widely held belief that China’s rise to superpower status is all but guaranteed.
The CSBA expands on this position, highlighting the apparent fragility of Beijing, the potential for increased instability and disruption, which could in turn make the rising power increasingly unpredictable and dangerous.
“The rapid pace of change in the Indo-Pacific is bringing significant developments almost every month and sometimes more often. In the health area alone, 2019 saw China struggling to deal with a massive outbreak of swine flu fever. In 2020, the coronavirus brought most of the country to a halt. The prospects of further natural disasters, economic disruptions, military reverses and significant political shifts cannot be ruled out but the specifics are also impossible to predict.
“In this fast-moving environment, expert reviews published every few years as national defence strategies, defence white papers and national defence guidelines are rarely useful in providing more than short-term insights.”
However, for each of the aforementioned experts, the response of Indo-Pacific allies seeking to counter the increased belligerence of Beijing need to fully understand and account for the future trajectory of China as it grapples with domestic and international challenges, namely:
“A key conclusion of these expert contributions is that the geographic and demographic features of China 15-20 years hence are relatively easy to discern. However, many other factors are much more dynamic and could shift in multiple directions in the period ahead. These important but very uncertain variables include:
- The power, performance, and durability of the Chinese Communist Party regime;
- The economic, technological, and corporate progress of the country;
- The extent to which the regime employs the country’s modernised military aggressively beyond China’s borders;
- The level of international cooperation or resistance that confronts China;
- Whether the Chinese regime will seek to rally the country by adopting highly nationalistic rhetoric and international stances; and
- The extent to which the Chinese regime moves to expand its international political, economic and military footprint in key parts of the Indo-Pacific region and beyond.”
Each of these factors present significant challenge, and equal opportunity for the US-led alliance to respond to these challenges, as well as manoeuvring to de-escalate the potential for conflict through unified, considered and targeted managing of any potential instability and subsequent lashing out by Beijing in the region.
Adapt and overcome
In response to these potential realities, CSBA identifies a number of primary recommendations that identify and outline a number of responses for the US-led alliance to maintain regional stability and peace, namely:
- The Western allies should give greater consideration to the prospect that China will depart from its current trajectory in coming years. The potential implications of these anticipated shifts in one or more domains could have profound strategic consequences. The allies should strive to develop a deeper understanding of potential changes and consider those they wish to encourage and those they wish to thwart;
- In order to deal with the multi-disciplinary challenges that are likely to be posed by the Chinese regime in coming decades, the Western allies and their security partners should critically review their current systems for strategic assessment, developing strategy and for planning and managing rapidly-paced operations across multiple agencies and non-government entities;
- Allied defence and security organisations should avoid the use of single-scenario analyses when considering major defence investments for future operations in the Indo-Pacific theatre;
- Allied defence organisations should trial a process of scenario development and continuous lead indicator tracking. This should provide clear guidance on the region’s security trajectory, permit early consideration of alternative strategy, operational concept, and capability mixes and facilitate timely decision-making;
- The Western allies and their partners should consult more extensively on the challenges posed by the Chinese Communist regime and the most appropriate strategies and operational plans to deter and, if necessary, confront Beijing. Current mechanisms for consultation, co-ordinated planning, and combined action may sub-optimal for the current situation and warrant careful review;
- There would be value in using competitive analytical processes to identify one or more strategic or operational concepts that could ‘change the game’ in the Indo-Pacific in the same way that the assault breaker and follow-on forces attack concepts changed the deterrence and defensive balance in Europe in the 1980s; and
- The US and its allies should consider the potential impact of the reforms proposed in this report to strengthen Western resilience and endurance, particularly in the event of an extended period of tension or conflict.
In light of the constantly evolving reality changing the face of the Indo-Pacific, is the $270bn recently announced by the Prime Minister and Defence Minister enough as Australia seeks to navigate a period of growing geo-political, economic, political and strategic competition? (Source: Defence Connect)
20 Aug 20. Japan’s Reset Raises Questions Over Big Programs. Toyko has put the breaks on its Aegis Ashore program, and there are reports its support for the Global Hawk buy may be soft.
As Japan undergoes the deepest rethink of its defense posture since the end of the Second World War, some big-ticket acquisition programs appear to be on shaky ground as the country retools to counter a rapidly modernizing Chinese military.
Tokyo put the brakes on two planned Aegis Ashore missile defense systems set to be built on the mainland, a surprise June move that came after local communities protested about the powerful radars and possibility that rocket debris could fall on local communities.
That reversal on a major $2.1bn program led to questions over what other changes the government of Shinzo Abe might consider as it retools its defense strategy and considers funneling more money into offensive strike weapons, as opposed to purely defensive systems.
Earlier this week, fresh reports emerged from Tokyo that the government might also be reconsidering its purchase of three Global Hawk UAVs, which would provide long-endurance surveillance capabilities.
One source with knowledge of the program said, despite the reports, the Japanese government has indicated it supports the Global Hawk program, even in the face of possible divestiture by the US Air Force of its block 30 variants, the same version Northrop Grumman is making for Japan.
Despite the moves in Washington, South Korea is still in the process of buying four block 30 Global Hawks, the first of which was delivered in April. Further south, Australia purchased six MQ-4C Tritons — the maritime version of the Global Hawk — with the first three to be delivered between 2023 and 2025.
With those allies remaining in the program, and the US flying the drone from Guam on a seasonal basis, the allies have started to build a powerful, long-endurance sensor layer, along with its attendant supply chain.
That sort of capability would fit within plans the Indo-Pacific Command pitched to the Trump administration earlier this year to invest billions in joint infrastructure across the region. The proposal has found bipartisan support on Capitol Hill, with the Republican-controlled Senate’s version of the annual defense policy bill including $1.4bn for an Indo-Pacific Deterrence Initiative, while the Democratic-controlled House had $3.6bn for an Indo-Pacific Reassurance Initiative focused on shoring up allies and partners. A conference committee will have to thrash out the differences and fill in almost all the details this fall.
The Japanese Ministry of Defense did not respond to questions on the issue by publication.
“Unmanned systems are going to be vital — in particular underwater unmanned systems and also aerial unmanned systems — given that Japan is an archipelago,” Ryo Hinata-Yamaguchi, professor at Pusan National University, said during a virtual event sponsored by the Atlantic Council on Wednesday. “Those are the domains that are most vital to Japan’s security. It’s really about Japan thinking about what we can afford to do, what we need to do.” (Source: Breaking Defense.com)
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