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02 Sep 20. Abe to go, but Japan’s defence modernisation will stay on a steady trajectory. The resignation of Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe – a leader that has had profound impact on the country’s defence policy – is not expected to lead to major changes in the country’s security outlook and its related efforts to modernise the Japan Self-Defense Forces (JSDF).
The top replacement candidates are aligned with Abe in terms of defence and security and are regarded as unlikely to make any significant alterations to the related policy foundations laid by Abe during his tenure as Japan’s longest-serving prime minister.
Abe announced his resignation due to ill health on 31 August, triggering an election in his Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) to replace him as president. That election, expected in mid-September, will be followed by a vote in parliament to elect Japan’s new prime minister.
During his nearly nine years as prime minister Abe was attributed with several major defence policy decisions including efforts to strengthen Japan’s security to address perceived escalating regional threats, such as the military modernisation in China and North Korea, and Beijing’s increasingly assertive posture.
Abe’s security stance led to the adoption of highly controversial policies including legislation to support collective self-defence and joint operations allowing the JSDF to use force to defend its allies, and a move to permit, for the first time in four decades, Japan’s defence industry to export military equipment. (Source: Jane’s)
02 Sep 20. South Korea proposes 5.5% defence-budget increase. South Korea’s Ministry of National Defense (MND) has proposed a 2021 defence budget of KRW52.92trn (USD44.6bn) in line with government efforts to protect the country from non-traditional threats including Covid-19.
The allocation, which will be submitted for approval by the National Assembly on 3 September, represents a 5.5% increase over the KRW50.15trin allocation in 2020. The rationale behind the increase, said the MND, is to boost national security in the face of both traditional and non-traditional threats.
South Korea’s proposed defence budget for 2021 continues the country’s emphasis on military modernisation including the procurement of Lockheed Martin F-35 fighter aircraft. (DAPA)
The 2021 defence budget, it said, will support the government’s plan to expand South Korea’s “comprehensive security capabilities” and the Republic of Korea (RoK) Armed Forces’ efforts to take a “leading role in responding to security threats and actively respond to non-traditional threats such as infectious disease and terrorism”.
The MND added that the funding increase will ensure that “military modernisation and military operations” are not disrupted despite the impact of Covid-19 on South Korea’s national economy.
To this end, the 2021 defence budget includes KRW17.73trn for force modernisation, including procurement and research and development (R&D), which represents a year-on-year increase of 2.4%. Proposed funding for military operations and related expenses increases by 7.1% to KRW35.84trn.
Major procurement projects – aimed at boosting capabilities to respond to perceived threats such as North Korea – include funding for Lockheed Martin F-35 fighter aircraft, Hyundai Rotem K-2 main battle tanks, KDX-III-class guided-missile destroyers, and Hyunmoo-type ballistic missiles. (Source: Jane’s)
01 Sep 20. Philippines outlines defence budget increase for 2021. The Philippine government has announced a defence budget increase for 2021, with the aim to boost military modernisation despite economic constraints stemming from Covid-19.
President Rodrigo Duterte said in a budget speech on 29 August that the Department of National Defense (DND) will receive PHP209.1bn (USD4.3bn) in 2021, which represents a rise of 11% over the original allocation for 2020.
The funding includes PHP33 bn for military procurement under the Revised Armed Forces of the Philippines Modernization Program (RAFPMP), indicating an additional increase. In recent years this funding programme has received PHP25bn a year. The Philippines has allocated PHP33 bn for defence procurements in 2021. The funding is expected to support the acquisition of equipment including ATMOS 155mm artillery systems (pictured) produced by Elbit Systems. (Elbit Systems)
According to documents published by the government’s Department of Budget and Management (DBM), the Philippine Army (PA) will receive the bulk of defence funding in 2021 with an allocation of PHP96.8bn.
The Philippine Navy (PN) and Philippine Air Force (PAF) will receive PHP31.1bn and PHP29.8bn respectively. The majority of the remainder – PHP45.4bn – is allocated to the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) headquarters. This allocation also includes funding for the RAFPMP.
Duterte said in his speech that the 2021 defence allocation is intended to “address threats and combat terrorism”, a reference to the country’s two-pronged security challenge to protect territory in the South China Sea and tackle internal insurgency.
These challenges also frame the RAFPMP, which was signed into law in December 2012 and outlines a three-horizon development plan through to the late 2020s. Under Horizon Two (2018–22), the government aims to allocate a total of PHP289bn, with the PAF slated to receive 48%, the PN 27%, and the PA 25%.
These proportions indicate a higher national priority to secure offshore territory through investment in air and sea assets.
Accordingly, high-profile procurement targets for the AFP over the next few years include fighter aircraft; transport aircraft; heavy-lift, attack, maritime, and utility helicopters; an air defence system; radars; unmanned systems; long-range patrol aircraft; submarines; sea-lift vessels; corvettes; and frigates.
However, some of these procurements have been delayed due to financial difficulties. Earlier this year, for instance, the Philippine government announced that it would cut its 2020 defence budget by PHP19.3bn, with the funding reappropriated to a stimulus package aimed at alleviating the impact of Covid-19.
About half of this cut expenditure was originally intended for “military modernisation” purposes, the government said. (Source: Jane’s)
01 Sep 20. China Pursues Own Nuclear Triad, Doubling of Nuclear Capability. Over the next 10 years, it’s expected China will double the number of nuclear warheads it possesses, while embarking on an effort to expand the ways it can deploy its nuclear capability, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for China Chad L. Sbragia said at the American Enterprise Institute.
He discussed findings of a just-released Defense Department report, “Military and Security Developments Involving the People’s Republic of China — 2020.”
“The report does contend that there are currently an estimated low-200s in terms of warhead stockpiles, and it’s projected to at least double in size over the next decade as China expands and modernizes its nuclear forces,” Sbragia said.
But equally as important is how China would be able to deliver those warheads. It intends to develop a “nuclear triad” similar to the one the U.S. has and is currently working to modernize.
“The report [also] notes that China is expanding, modernizing and diversifying its nuclear forces across the board,” Sbragia said. “Just looking at the number of warheads by itself is not the entire picture, or doesn’t paint a holistic understanding of where the Chinese are or where they want to go.
A nuclear triad, as it exists in the U.S., allows for land-based missile delivery, sea-based delivery from submarines and air-based delivery with bombers.
Within the next decade, Sbragia said, China plans to expand its ballistic submarine fleet and field more capable, longer-range, sea-launched ballistic missiles. It also plans to complete the development of its nuclear-capable, air-launched ballistic missiles along with bombers to deliver them. On the ground, he said, China plans to field additional mobile ICBMs and also possibly expand its silo-based ICBM capability.
“As has been noted by others, and then as the report contends … they’re obviously in pursuit of the full suite of capacities … to include the building out of infrastructure for a more modernized, capable and larger capacity in this area,” Sbragia said.
Sbragia said that the report also concludes that, besides its investments in nuclear capability, China aims to transform the People’s Liberation Army into a “world-class military” by around 2050.
“While China has not defined exactly what ‘world-class military’ means, it is likely that China will seek to build a military that is equal to or in some cases superior to the U.S. military or the military of any other great power that China perceives as a potential threat,” Sbargia said.
One aspect of that advancement towards a world-class military, he said, is power projection. The Chinese want their military to be able to operate anywhere on the globe. One step towards that is the establishment of a more robust overseas logistics network.
According to the report, China is “very likely already considering and planning for” the establishment of military logistics facilities outside China that can support naval, air and ground forces.
Some locations that they may now be considering include Myanmar, Thailand, Singapore, Indonesia, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, the United Arab Emirates, Kenya, the Seychelles, Tanzania, Angola and Tajikistan. China already has a military installation in Djibouti.
“The Chinese do have … an aspiration for great power status by virtually every measure of comprehensive or composite national power that you can measure,” Sbragia said. “To achieve that, it means that they have to have … global convergence at the broadest scale possible. For the PLA, that means that they do have the intent to go out. I think that’s certainly one of the aspects of what ‘world-class military’ means … the capacity to have influence at distance, at a time and place of their choosing. They certainly aspire to do that. (Source: US DoD)
01 Sep. 20. DOD Releases 2020 Report on Military and Security Developments Involving the People’s Republic of China. The Department of Defense announces the release of its annual report on “Military and Security Developments Involving the People’s Republic of China.” The congressionally mandated report serves as an authoritative assessment on military and security developments involving the PRC.
This year’s report highlights the links between China’s national strategy and developments within China’s armed forces.
Under the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party, the strategy calls for “the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation” by 2049, including the transformation of the People’s Liberation Army into a “world-class” military.
The report comes at a time when the world is witnessing the aggressive assertion of that strategy in the Indo-Pacific and beyond, where China continues to undermine the international rules-based order to advance their own interests.
This report accounts for the PRC’s national strategy and the drivers of China’s security behavior and military strategy, covers key developments in China’s military modernization and reform, and provides new insights into China’s strategic ambitions in the Indo-Pacific and beyond.
The report also discusses China’s views of strategic competition, the broader purposes of its Military-Civil Fusion Development Strategy, and its ambitions for the PLA as a political entity of the party.
The National Defense Strategy identifies the Indo-Pacific region as the department’s priority theater. As Secretary Mark Esper noted during his recent remarks at the Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies, the department continues to take steps to address the strategic challenges posed by the PRC as we implement the NDS, including the modernization of our forces, strengthening our alliances and partnerships, and promoting interconnected security partnerships to advance our shared interests.
The report comes as the Secretary of Defense is wrapping up his trip to Hawaii, Palau and Guam, where he has met with senior leaders from across the region to address these very issues, and reaffirm the U.S. commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific.
The report can be found here https://media.defense.gov/2020/Sep/01/2002488689/-1/-1/1/2020-DOD-CHINA-MILITARY-POWER-REPORT-FINAL.PDF (Source: US DoD)
01 Sep. 20. Kazakhstan builds local industrial capabilities at Army 2020. Kazakhstan’s state-controlled defence industry conglomerate, Kazakhstan Engineering (KE), announced a raft of agreements had been signed with Russia during the Army 2020 exhibition held in Russia, while interest from export customers was also expressed.
In a press release on 27 August, the company revealed that agreements with Russian industry and its subsidiaries would bolster localisation and joint development of helicopters, combat aircraft, and armoured vehicles.
These included agreements between RSK MiG and KE subsidiary Tynys that would enable Tynys to manufacture components for use in overhauling aircraft domestically, with Kazakhstan operating the MiG-27 ‘Flogger’, MiG-29 ‘Fulcrum’, and MiG-31 ‘Foxhound’ aircraft. The country is also understood to be one of the few remaining operators of the MiG-27 after the Indian Air Force retired its fleet in late 2019.
Tynys also received a contract to increase its supply of components to Russia’s Aviahelp and Novosibirsk Aircraft Repair Plant (NARP) for use on the Kamov Ka-226, as well as signing an agreement with the Kazan Helicopter Plant to develop a heating system for the Russian Helicopters Ansat.
The statement also noted that Tynys had received interest from India and Iran in acquiring equipment from the firm. Tynys manufacturers a range of components such as life support equipment for aircraft, as well as components for civilian and military aircraft made by Russian and Ukrainian manufacturers: pipes, fastenings, riot shields and batons, and medical equipment.
Agreements relating to the ongoing repair, maintenance, and overhaul of Kazakhstan’s fleet of Sukhoi Su-25 ‘Frogfoot’ aircraft were also made between Russian and Kazakh industry. (Source: Jane’s)
31 Aug 20. DOD Working Toward Networked Indo-Pacific. When Defense Secretary Dr. Mark T. Esper talks about the Indo-Pacific he talks about it becoming a “networked region” — not in the information technology sense, but as like-minded countries working together. His travels to the region this week and previously are to encourage this concept, said David Helvey, performing the duties of assistant secretary of defense for Indo-Pacific affairs.
“This is about countries that have common interests and shared interests that are willing to commit resources to work to support the folks to left and right in pursuit of a common task,” Helvey said during an interview with reporters traveling with Esper.
The North Atlantic Treaty Organization binds together 30 nations in collective defense, but there is no comparable treaty organization in the Indo-Pacific. In the region, the United States has a series of bilateral, treaty-based alliance relationships and a set of partnerships. “When we talk about promoting a networked region, we’re talking about building the relationships we have not only with our allies and partners, we’re promoting the contacts, coordination, integration [among] our allies and partners themselves,” Helvey said. “Sometimes that involves us, sometimes them, working together in support of shared interests.”
The bottom line is a set of like-minded allies and partners who share values to support the principles of a free and open Indo-Pacific. “We are committing resources to work together to support it, uphold it and promote its resilience,” he said.
There are examples of this process. The nations of the region cooperate in enforcement of United Nations Security Council resolutions on North Korea. The United States, Japan, South Korea, the United Kingdom, France, Canada and Australia work together to pool resources and share information. This supports implementation of sanctions against North Korea.
Another example is Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines working together in the Sulu Sea to combat piracy, human trafficking and terrorism in that area. Singapore is another nation working with allies through its maritime fusion center or its new counterterrorism information facility.
Exercises also help build the network, such as the Rim of the Pacific exercise that’s going on now. There are other exercises that just include the United States, Japan and Australia and one with only the U.S., Japan and India. “We also have continued defense cooperation [with] the United States, Japan and South Korea,” he said. “So, to the extent that we’re able to not only have bilateral, also multilateral security cooperation is part and parcel of networked security measures.”
Helvy also spoke about realignment in the region. Esper is looking at the force lay-down worldwide and the Indo-Pacific is, obviously, a large part of that effort. The secretary wants to make sure the United States has the right forces in the right places.
“We are heavily concentrated in Northeast Asia,” Helvey said. Some of these troops’ placements are legacies of World WarII. “We’d like to be able to make our presence more geographically distributed, more operationally resilient,” he said. “Maybe the future is going to be less about bases and more about places — being able to operate across a multiplicity of locations, which give us the flexibility and the agility to respond to a variety of different threats and challenges.”
The build-up on Guam is one example of this. “[The Guam base] is going to allow us to be able to project power across and throughout the region and be able to distribute it rapidly,” he said.
The idea is to ensure the United States is resilient in the face of many different types of threats, including China, he said.
China is the concern of many nations in the Indo-Pacific and beyond.
“One of the key things in our strategy is talking about putting the relationship with China on a trajectory of transparency and non-aggression,” Helvey said. “That’s going to require a sustained, open channels of communication with the Chinese — the secretary has talked to his Chinese counterpart a number of times already.”
These communications are tools for risk reduction or crisis management.
The United States and China may have common interests where the two countries could work together. “I think we would have hoped that COVID would have been one of those areas where we can work together, but the Chinese have been unwilling,” he said.
A denuclearized North Korea is an area with a shared interest. “There’s other areas where we may have opportunities to cooperate based on shared interest, but that’s something we have to work in with Chinese to identify,” he said. (Source: US DoD)
31 Aug 20. US intends to force China to ‘fire first shot’ over Taiwan, A US military aircraft appeared in the skies over Taiwan on Sunday, which was suspected of taking off from a Taiwan-based airfield and flew to Japan, although the Taiwan “air force” said it was against the facts. The incident took place as the island’s military claims that the Chinese mainland does not possess “enough capabilities” to launch an all-out attack on Taiwan. Mainland experts warn that Washington is provoking Beijing to fire the first shot, and that current tensions could further escalate.
An EP-3E reconnaissance aircraft has been spotted in the northern “airspace” of Taiwan and flew to Japan over the East China Sea on Sunday and this unusual flight-path showed that the aircraft potentially took off from an airport on the island, according to information released by the website of the South China Sea Strategic Situation Probing Initiative (SCSPI), a Beijing based think tank.
According to the SCSPI, the aircraft was spotted in the south of the island conducting a reconnaissance mission in the South China Sea a day earlier, but with no landing signals showing it returned to the US’ Kadena air force base in Okinawa, which means that the US aircraft may have not returned to Okinawa but landed on Taiwan island instead. The Chinese mainland warned this incident could be a serious provocation toward China and may escalate tensions.
However, Taiwan “air force command” responded on Monday that the information released by the SCSPI is “totally against the facts,” Taiwan media cna.com reported.
The SCSPI uses an Automatic identification system and Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) to track vessels and aircraft. Information in these two systems is open source commercial data, and accessible via multiple routes in China and abroad.
Hu Bo, director of the SCSPI, told the Global Times on Monday the ADS-B signal that the US military aircraft broadcast is incomplete, so the flight-path of the aircraft showed on the system is also incomplete, as the pilots of that EP-3E could choose to turn off broadcasting with no signal being released from it.
“Or, signal interference could also make the ADS-B of that aircraft show deviation, and it is also possible that the US military aircraft has fabricated the ADS-B signal, which means that EP-3E wasn’t in fact there,” Hu noted.
But if that EP-3E really landed and took off from a Taiwan-based military airport, no matter for what reason, it could be a serious provocation toward the Chinese mainland, Hu stressed, adding that even if it didn’t land or take off from an airport on the island, it’s appearance in the sky over Taiwan is also a serious provocation toward China’s sovereignty.
That’s why Taiwan military officials have to deny the incident as they know how serious this could get if US military aircraft really landed on the island, said Chinese mainland experts.
On the other hand, if the US fabricated the signal to increase the chances for miscalculation, then it means the US doesn’t want to avoid conflict with China at all, and it intends to create tensions and even provoke China into firing the first shot, potentially making it more terrifying and dangerous, Chinese experts warned.
On August 18, Taiwan media also reported that an EP-3E from the US Air Force was suspected of landing at the Taipei Songshan Airport, but later, Taiwan military officers “privately” denied the speculation.
Song Zhongping, a Chinese mainland military expert, told the Global Times on Monday that using Taiwan-based airports as bases for intelligence-gathering aircraft makes US reconnaissance missions against the Chinese mainland much easier and more efficient as Taiwan is closer to the mainland than Okinawa, so “regardless if the incident is real or not, the US does have motivation to engage in risky military cooperation with the separatist authorities on the island.”
Chinese mainland military analysts said if military cooperation between the US and the island was discovered and poses real threats to the mainland and challenges the sovereignty of China, the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) will be forced to take effective action to eliminate that threat and may even realize reunification by force once and for all, although the mainland does not wish to escalate tensions.
Focusing on the US
Taiwan island’s military is attempting to downplay the combat capabilities of the PLA to encourage the separatist authorities and forces on the island to keep up the risky provocations.
According to Taiwan media on Monday, the island’s military released a report of the mainland’s military power, and said that although the mainland is strengthening its military drills, “military tactics against Taiwan are still restricted by the geographic environment of the Taiwan Straits, and it doesn’t have enough capability for landing and logistics,” so the mainland “doesn’t have the conventional combat capability to launch an all-out attack against Taiwan.”
Song said the Taiwan military is boosting its morale facing overwhelming military advantage of the mainland, just like “whistling when walking alone in the darkness.”
“The Taiwan military is not even a concern for the PLA at all. The PLA is focusing on fighting a tough enemy, or the most powerful military force on the planet, in a potential war in the region, so the PLA could even realize a military advantage against the US in the region, and the conclusion made by the Taiwan military is just nonsense,” Song further said.
For the mainland, the best response to provocative moves made by the US military and the nonsense remarks made by the island’s military is to be comprehensively prepared for military operations against Taiwan, especially preparing for a military conflict with the US, Song noted.
Jin Canrong, associate dean of Renmin University of China’s School of International Studies, told the Global Times previously that the mainland should make its military deterrence more visible and build up enough deterrence to intimidate the US and the separatists of Taiwan, effectively eliminating their motivation of challenging China’s bottom line.
This kind of thinking has also been reflected in the reality of the PLA’s drills in the region amid tensions with the US. China launched a series of ballistic missiles into the South China Sea this week, according to US defense officials, CNN reported on Saturday, and some of these missiles are “aircraft carrier killers” like the DF-21D and DF-26, but the Chinese military and other relevant departments didn’t confirm the launches.
The Maritime Safety Administration of Liaoning Province released a notice on Monday that from Tuesday to September 22, there will be “military missions” in the waters of the Bohai Sea. Some military analysts said this area is normally used for testing submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBM), and this could be a test for a new generation SLBM and possibly mean that China wants to employ a strategic-level of deterrence toward the US, as the latter is becoming increasingly provocative. (Source: News Now/https://www.globaltimes.cn/)
29 Aug 20. Esper, Japanese Defense Minister Discuss Cooperative Efforts. Defense Secretary Dr. Mark T. Esper and Japanese Defense Minister Taro Kono discussed ways to strengthen the already strong U.S.-Japanese partnership during a meeting at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam.
Japan is a treaty ally of the United States and the Japanese have been stalwart allies in the Indo-Pacific. Both nations are concerned with Chinese actions in the region and globally and both nations work together for a nuclear-free Korean peninsula.
In opening statements, both men stressed the need for the United States and Japan to work more closely together in a post-pandemic world.
Esper asked Kono to pass along his best wishes to Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who is stepping down due to poor health.
The meeting comes as the world commemorates the end of World War II.
“Seventy-five years ago this week, the United States and Japan laid down their arms against each other and entered into a durable friendship that has led to tremendous prosperity for our people, and all the peoples of the Indo-Pacific,” Esper said.
Both men noted that Japan and the United States share values and interests in the Indo-Pacific region. Esper said that despite efforts by some to take advantage of the pandemic to “undermine long-standing rules and norms, we remain dedicated to preserving a free and open Indo-Pacific region, working with our partners and our allies, such as Japan.”
Kono noted that in the six months since the men last met face-to-face the world has drastically changed not only because of COVID-19, “But because there are some attempts to change the status quo by force and coercion, and some countries are trying to apply cutting-edge technology to military use. We need to be very carefully monitoring the situation and we need to build the posture to prevent any attempt to change the status quo.”
Japan is funding a large portion of the move of 5,000 Marines to Guam. Just before the meeting, Esper toured Camp Blaz on the island where the Marines will be based. He thanked the Japanese defense minister for Japan’s contribution and for Japan hosting American service members.
China and specifically the behavior of the Chinese Communist Party, was a discussion point between the two leaders. “Today, I look forward to discussing with you China’s malign behavior in the region under the direction of the Chinese Communist Party, including the intimidation and coercion of its neighbors, and its continued aggression in the East and South China Seas,” Esper said. “We remain steadfast in our opposition to Beijing’s destabilizing activities in the region, which include attempts to undermine Japan’s administration of the Senkaku Islands.”
The United States is obligated under the U.S.-Japan Treaty to defend the islands.
Esper and Kono pledged to improve intelligence-sharing arrangements, and to increase interoperability. Esper thanked Kono for the participation of two Japanese maritime self-defense force ships in the Rim of the Pacific exercise currently off the coast of Hawaii.
The two nations also discussed shared development programs including the co-development of the SM-23A ground-based interceptor missile. Esper also commented on Japan’s procurement of F-35 aircraft.
North Korea remains a concern to both nations and both are committed to the “final, fully verified denuclearization of North Korea, to include all [weapons of mass destruction] and ballistic missile programs,” Esper said. (Source: US DoD)
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