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25 Sep 20. Taiwan holds anti-landing drill on frontline island with China. Taiwan’s armed forces have held anti-landing drills on one of its offshore islands close to China amid rising tensions with Beijing, the island’s defence ministry said on Friday, showing images of a cannon firing and soldiers loading the guns.
China has stepped up its military activities near Taiwan which it claims as its own territory, including flying fighter jets across the unofficial mid-line of the sensitive Taiwan Strait, which combat aircraft normally don’t breach.
China says it has been reacting to what Beijing has called “collusion” between Taiwan and the United States, and to protect China’s sovereignty, responding to U.S. Undersecretary for Economic Affairs Keith Krach’s visit last week to Taipei.
Taiwan’s Defence Ministry said the drills to repel a landing took place on the Matsu archipelago, which lies just offshore the Chinese city of Fuzhou.
“Whether the engine of a fighter plane or the rumbling of artillery, it is a reassuring sound for the national army that is defending the homeland,” it said in a post on its Facebook page.
The drills took place across the archipelago involving the use of cannons and machine guns, the ministry added, accompanied by pictures of the exercises.
“Please give the greatest applause to these officers and soldiers! Be our strongest backers!” it said.
Taiwan has held Matsu, along with Kinmen further down the coast, since defeated Nationalist forces fled to Taiwan in 1949 at the end of the Chinese civil war.
When Taiwan and China last joined battle on a large scale in 1958 it was around Matsu and Kinmen, with Chinese forces carrying out more than a month of bombardments, including naval and air battles.
Today the islands are popular tourist destinations, though Taiwan maintains a sizeable military presence. Both are considered by experts as likely targets for Chinese invasion in any war with Taiwan due to their proximity to China. (Source: Reuters)
26 Sep 20. Taiwan’s armed forces strain in undeclared war of attrition with China.
Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen visited a low-key but critical maintenance base for fighter jet engines on Saturday, offering encouragement as the Chinese-claimed island’s armed forces strain in the face of repeated Chinese air force incursions.
This month alone, China’s drills have included its jets crossing the mid-line of the sensitive Taiwan Strait and exercising near the Taiwan-controlled Pratas Islands in the South China Sea.
Beijing regards Taiwan as a wayward province and has never renounced the use of force to bring the democratic island under its control.
Taiwan’s air force has repeatedly scrambled to intercept Chinese jets. Though they have not flown over mainland Taiwan itself, the flights have ramped up pressure, both financial and physical, on Taiwan’s air force to ensure its aircraft are ready to go at any moment.
Visiting the Gangshan air base in southern Taiwan’s Kaohsiung, Tsai received a detailed account of how the maintenance crew is making sure Taiwan’s F-16 and other fighters are operating at peak performance.
She appeared slightly taken aback when told the cost of one small component for the F-CK-1 Ching-kuo Indigenous Defence Fighter was T$380,000 ($13,000).
Speaking later to sailors at the nearby Zuoying naval base, Tsai promised to be the strongest backer of the island’s armed forces.
“If there was no backup or help from you all, the military’s steadfast combat strength would be greatly reduced,” she said.
Taiwan’s air force is dwarfed by China’s, and the strain of the multiple sorties on Taiwan’s armed forces have begun to show.
Taiwan’s Defence Ministry this month said the “dramatic increase” in the threat level, along with the aircraft being “middle-aged” had led to a huge increase in maintenance costs not originally budgeted for.
Saldik Fafana, 21，a trainee air force engineer at the Gangshan base, said he had noticed an impact recently. “There is more work,” he told reporters.
‘CONSTANTLY ON EDGE’
Taiwan is revamping its fighter line-up.
The United States last year approved an $8 billion sale of F-16 fighter jets to Taiwan, a deal that would bringing the island’s total to more than 200, the largest F-16 fleet in Asia.
Premier Su Tseng-chang expressed concern on Wednesday about the cost of the tensions with China.
“Each time the communist aircraft harass Taiwan, our air force takes to the skies, and it is extremely costly. This isn’t only a burden for Taiwan, but quite a big one for China too,” he said.
One Taiwan-based diplomat, citing conversations with security officials, said China appeared to be waging a campaign of attrition with its frequent fly-bys.
“China is trying to wear out Taiwan’s pilots by keeping them constantly on edge,” the diplomat said on condition of anonymity.
Taiwan’s Defence Ministry, in a report to parliament last month, a copy of which was reviewed by Reuters, said China’s flights over the narrow strait’s mid-line were aimed at reducing Taiwan’s response time.
This has put “enormous pressure” on Taiwan’s frontline responders, it said.
Chinese flights to Taiwan’s southwest, including at night, are “an attempt to exhaust our air defences”, the ministry added, warning that if these become regular fixtures, they will “increase our burden of response”. (Source: Reuters)
24 Sep 20. France’s Dassault Aviation and another French company, MBDA, had proposed to discharge 30 % their offset obligation in the ₹59,000 crore deal for 36 Rafale aircraft by offering cutting edge technology to India’s Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) but failed to do so, said a Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India report tabled in parliament on Wednesday.
DRDO was to “obtain Technical Assistance for the indigenous development of engine (Kaveri) for the Light Combat Aircraft (LCA). Till date the Vendor has not confirmed the transfer of this technology,” a press release on the report from the CAG said.
The CAG casts a shadow over the oversight mechanisms in place currently for enforcing such offset contracts. A press statement on the report said that audit was being undertaken after a decade of the offset policy’s implementation to assess the extent to which its objectives were met. France is regarded by India as a close strategic partner. Five of the 36 Dassault Aviation made Rafale aircraft ordered by India in 2016, arrived in India in July and some of them are deployed in Ladakh where India and China are engaged in a major military faceoff. The offset contract in the Rafale deal is valued at approximately ₹30,000 crore. Two people familiar with the matter separately said that the critical issue was the implementation of the offset contract and not how it was done.
According to the CAG report, Dassault Aviation and MBDA – which manufactures the MICA air-to-air missile system that the Indian ordered Rafale comes equipped with — are not the only foreign vendors who have failed to fulfill their offset obligations.
“In many cases, it was found that the foreign vendors made various offset commitments to qualify for the main supply contract but later, were not earnest about fulfilling these commitments,” the CAG report said.
“From 2005 till March 2018, 46 offset contracts had been signed with foreign vendors, valuing Rs. 66,427 crore. Under these contracts, by December 2018, Rs. 19,223 crore worth of offsets should have been discharged by the vendors. However, the offsets claimed to have been discharged by them was only Rs. 11,396 crore, which was only 59% of the commitment,” the CAG report said.
“Only 48 % (Rs. 5,457 crore) of these offset claims submitted by the vendors were accepted by the Ministry. The rest were largely rejected as they were not compliant to the contractual conditions and the Defence Procurement Procedure. The remaining offset commitments of about Rs. 55,000 crore would be due to be completed by 2024 i.e. within next six years. The rate at which the foreign vendors have been fulfilling their offset commitments was about Rs. 1300 crore per year. Given this situation, fulfilling the commitment of Rs. 55,000 crore by the vendors in the next six years remains a major challenge,” the report said.
India had put together an offset policy in 2005 to ensure that a foreign vendor from whom defence hardware worth over ₹300 crores was procured, invested at least 30 % of the value of the purchase, in India. This was against the backdrop of the fact that India is one of the top three buyers of military hardware. The investment by the foreign vendor was to be made into the defence and aerospace. The foreign vendor could do this either through foreign direct investment, offering of free transfer of technology to Indian firms or purchasing products and components manufactured by Indian firms. To complete their offset obligations, foreign vendors had to select an Indian firm as a partner.
The Rafale contract had attracted a great deal of attention after the opposition led by the Congress Party accused the government of corruption in the deal. In December 2018, the Supreme Court ruled that it found no evidence of wrongdoing in the government’s decision-making process and rejected petitions for an investigation into the Rafale deal. (Source: Google/ https://www.livemint.com/latest-news)
22 Sep 20. US official says Iran has restarted missile co-operation with North Korea. North Korea is again assisting Iran’s missile programme, a US official told Reuters on 20 September.
“Iran and North Korea have resumed co-operation on a long-range missile project, including the transfer of critical parts,” said the anonymous official, who declined to say when the co-operation ceased and started again.
The official added that the US government assessed that Iran could have sufficient fissile material for a nuclear weapon by the end of this year.
That suggested the United States believes the 2.1 tonnes of low-enriched uranium the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) reported Iran as having on 4 September is sufficient for a nuclear weapon and can be rapidly enriched into fissile material.
Elliott Abrams, the new US envoy for Iran, confirmed the concern about the missile co-operation on the following day, but did not elaborate.
The US Treasury Department announced new sanctions on Iran on 21 September, including the designation of the Shahid Haj Ali Movahed Research Centre, which it said “has played a key role in Iranian-North Korean missile co-operation”. (Source: Jane’s)
22 Sep 20. Great power competition heats up in the thawing Arctic, and the US must respond. Russia and China have been busy in a rapidly changing Arctic, and America seems to have barely noticed. Focused elsewhere, the U.S. now finds itself ill-prepared to compete in the thawing, resource-rich arena that also offers adversaries avenues of approach to the American homeland.
If America is going to compete effectively against Russia and China, Washington must recognize that the competition is playing out in the Arctic too — and act accordingly.
Rising interest and activity in the Arctic largely coincide with the ongoing retreat of sea ice. Correspondingly, vessel traffic in waters north of the Bering Strait has increased 128 percent over the last decade.
The pace of activity will only increase as the region begins experiencing ice-free summers over the next 15 to 30 years. This, in turn, will open access to significantly shorter ocean routes and vast deposits of oil, natural gas, critical minerals and rare earth elements. That is no small thing, since the Arctic is estimated to house 22 percent of the world’s untapped oil and natural gas resources.
Russia, eager to exploit these opportunities and lacking sufficient warm water ports, has been quick to take advantage of the evolving conditions in the north. Moscow has invested heavily in its Arctic military posture, establishing an Arctic-focused Joint Strategic Command, refurbishing 50 regional sites to include airfields, radars and rescue stations, and opening 16 deep-water ports.
Eager to secure its own access to the Arctic, Russia seems increasingly inclined to deprive that access to others by enacting unlawful Northern Sea Route passage restrictions. Even more alarmingly, last year Russia deployed a Bastion coastal defense cruise missile unit directly across the Bering Sea from Alaska. According to the previous commander of U.S. Northern Command, this system could enable Moscow to “control access to the Arctic through the Bering Strait, but also to strike land targets in parts of Alaska with little to no warning.”
China has been no less purposeful in its Arctic pursuits: garnering observer status to the Arctic Council, navigating warships through U.S. territorial waters, operating research stations in Norway and Iceland, fielding two icebreakers to further Arctic “research,” and initiating the Polar Silk Road.
Resource-starved China contends these activities are benign, but Beijing’s pursuit of dual-use Arctic infrastructure raises questions.
Compounding the competitive environment, the U.S. Department of Defense has expressed concerns regarding “signs of a nascent but growing strategic cooperation between China and Russia,” both globally and in the Arctic.
These developments are particularly troubling in light of the relative inactivity demonstrated by the United States in the region. Perhaps this poor state of U.S. Arctic efforts is best epitomized by the Coast Guard cutter Healy — America’s sole medium polar icebreaker — that returned early from operations this year due to a motor fire. With no forecast for a return to service, the U.S. is currently without a single icebreaker to support the Arctic.
In startling contrast, Russia has 54 icebreakers, many armed and some nuclear-powered.
This capability shortfall presents substantive challenges in a region where “presence equals influence,” as U.S. Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Karl Schultz put it. And America’s first new polar security cutter is not scheduled for delivery until 2024.
Unfortunately, the absence of Arctic icebreakers is but one of many instances where U.S. capability and capacity lags behind regional requirements. Other substantive gaps include lack of a strategic Arctic port, degradation or loss of communications at high latitudes, and scarce polar-capable Navy and Coast Guard surface ships.
Last year, the Pentagon submitted an Arctic strategy to Congress. But without urgent action to match desired ends and available means, Washington risks strategic insolvency in the north.
Retired Coast Guard Adm. Paul Zukunft told Defense News: “We are lagging a couple decades behind where we need to be” in the Arctic.
To begin closing these gaps and to enable the U.S. to better compete in the Arctic, Washington needs to act now.
First, Congress should support U.S. Northern Command’s top unfunded priority for Arctic communications. Doing so would facilitate progress toward better domain awareness, enabling both effective operations and the ability to “detect and track threats” in the northern latitudes.
Second, Congress should also support construction of a deep-water port at Nome, Alaska. Executing the United States Army Corps of Engineers’ recommendation would result in infrastructure that enhances logistics, access and force projection for destroyer and polar security cutter vessels operating in Arctic waters. The Department of Defense should expand on this effort by reviewing requirements for infrastructure along the Alaskan coast and Aleutian Islands that further its Arctic strategy.
Third, consistent with a White House memorandum, Washington should assess options to lease or accelerate acquisition of new icebreakers to ensure “a persistent U.S. presence in the Arctic.” Without the capability afforded by such assets, the U.S. cannot attain surface access to areas with significant sea ice formations.
Fourth, the department should direct the Navy to review requirements for polar-capable ships. Until such vessels are identified and acquired, the United States’ ability to visibly contest Moscow’s unlawful claims to the Northern Sea Route remains limited.
And finally, Congress should direct U.S. Northern Command to produce an unclassified report outlining requirements needed to implement the National Defense Strategy with respect to the Arctic. The deliverable, similar to that submitted by U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, would enable more effective congressional oversight.
The U.S. cannot compete effectively with Russia and China by continuing to neglect the Arctic. Moscow and Beijing appreciate the importance of the Arctic and are taking action. Washington should too. (Source: Defense News)
23 Sep 20. World’s rush to limit manufacturing dependence on China presents opportunity. Growing concern about overdependence on easily hindered supply chains has prompted many nations and companies to withdraw their manufacturing facilities from mainland China. Regional diversification provides a tantalising opportunity for Australia to grasp with both hands.
It is a common criticism often on display around the dinner table of any family over the festive period as we all break the cardinal rule, “don’t talk about religion, politics or money in polite company”, as family often conflict over differing opinions, with the direction of the country and its leaders a favoured punching bag.
One of the frequently cited issues is the lack of foresight that is seemingly prominent within Australia’s political leaders and the policies they introduce, with many Australians critical of the ‘electoral’ cycle focused politicking that has now seemingly left the nation vulnerable to the global and domestic impact of COVID-19.
This is particularly true as mere months ago it looked as if Australia had dodged the bullet of a second wave of COVID-19 and the ensuing impact such an outbreak would have upon the nation’s economy, standards of living and resilience.
However, like many comparable nations, Australia is now in the midst of a second wave, which, while isolated and confined to Victoria, maintains the potential to have a truly devastating impact on the national economy, the Australian public, its standards of living, long-term national resilience and, by extension, national security.
Adding further fuel to the fire is the global and more localised impacts of COVID-19, which range from recognising the impact of vulnerable, global supply chains upon national security as many leading nations, long advocates of “closer collaboration and economic integration”, grasp at the life boats of nation-state to secure their national interest.
Despite the protestations and reassurances made by various Australian political leaders, the nation’s position as a “trading nation” does little to guarantee its economic, political and strategic security during a period of global recession and mounting geopolitical and strategic tension and competition between great powers.
Each of these factors, combined with the disastrous impact of the bushfire season and a decade long drought, have left the nation in a precarious position and its first recession in generations, with many Australians struggling to keep their heads above water and looking to their political leaders for guidance and a plan.
Meanwhile, as nations and companies responding to the rising challenges of contested supply chains and competing national interests, the question of over dependence upon China’s position as the “world’s factory” has come into question.
Further compounding this is the growing antagonism and attempted economic, political and strategic coercion policies pursued by President Xi Jinping’s government has prompted an increasing amount of manufacturing to leave China.
Explaining this increasingly rapid global and regional transition, Prince Ghosh, writing for Forbes, has penned a piece titled, ‘The Exodus of Chinese Manufacturing: Shutting Down The World’s Factory’, states: “It’s not breaking news that manufacturing is leaving China.
“Over the last 20 years, Chinese manufacturing has dominated over the rest of the world. This was driven primarily from optimised shipping lanes and extremely cheap labour rates by way of government subsidies. These two benefits made enough sense financially for brands to withstand quality issues, shipping timelines, communication barriers, and annual production delays during the Lunar New Year timeline.”
Overturning decades of manufacturing dominance
COVID-19 has served as a major catalyst for many nations, including Australia, who have recognised the national security, economic and increasingly, political ramifications of diminishing value-add manufacturing capabilities, particularly as many nations continue to protect their interests, not those of the globalised economy and citizens.
This is the culmination of decades of policy shifts and deregulation that saw China leverage the shifting sands of Western policy making to leverage its natural advantages in population and low-cost labour, while also using elements of central planning and capitalist doctrines to maximise the economic shift.
Ghosh explained, “China grew to become the ‘world’s factory’ over the course of the last 40 years. This started with former president Deng Xiaoping ordering an economic reform in the late 1970s and introducing the concept of a free market to China for the first time.
“All of a sudden, a mixture of loosened state regulations and access to the world’s largest, youngest, workforce in the world made China the perfect place to outsource manufacturing.
“Cheap labour rates and proximal access to quickly growing consumer populations in south-east Asia made China one of the most lucrative business hubs in the world. It quickly overtook the United States in 2011 to become the world’s largest manufacturer driving growth in the nation’s GDP by 40 per cent.
“Over the course of these 40 years, the world around China also underwent an enormous digital transformation. Consumer electronics proliferated homes and workplaces with paper and pens replaced by phones, tablets, and computers for nearly every knowledge worker.
“Through quick planning, China was able to quickly adapt its manufacturing capabilities and develop specialised industries like electronics and PCB manufacturing. Entire cities like Shenzhen were constructed for the sole purpose of enabling more rapid manufacturing of consumer electronics.
“This maturation point in China’s exponential growth curve, however, led to a few unforeseen circumstances.
“The price and speed at which China was able to produce goods started to slow as the country’s population grew and its presence on a global stage drew attention around environmental and wage regulations. Specialisation drove labour rates up, resulting in the average manufacturing hourly labour rate settling at about $6.50 an hour, up almost 20 per cent from previous years.”
While the mounting trade war between the US and China continues to serve as a driving force behind the increasing withdrawal of manufacturing from China, Ghosh believes that the current shift in manufacturing facilities is the result of a ‘perfect storm’ of factors, including:
“A global trade war with the US spurred by the Trump administration also dealt a fatal blow towards Chinese manufacturing. This has resulted in not only decreased export volume to the US, but also to other countries facing American pressures to reduce global dependency on Chinese manufacturing.
“And amidst geopolitical uncertainty, COVID-19 has pushed Chinese manufacturing to the brink of shut downs. The lunar new year, followed by immediate COVID-19 shut downs, created bottlenecks throughout the supply chain. Raw materials weren’t sourced fast enough from upstream suppliers, creating delayed lead times and choked end customer deliveries.
“For modern US companies, both start-ups and giants alike, supply chain risk has been top of mind. Companies are diversifying their supply chains to mitigate risks earlier and earlier in their production cycles, leaving no risk of being caught empty handed for the next global pandemic.”
Now, you might be asking, where are these companies shifting their manufacturing operations to? The short answer is south-east Asia, with nations like Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia and India all net winners, while central and South American nations Mexico and Brazil are also winners. So, what opportunity is there for Australia?
What is manufacturing looking for?
Interestingly, these markets seem to markets of relative convenience for global supply chains, with nations like Australia, the US and many western European nations apparently suffering from labour force skills and wage costs.
However, contradicting these apparent weaknesses, Ghosh, citing a Deloitte-commissioned report titled Footprint 2020: Expansion and optimization approaches for US manufacturers, establishes the key catalysts global brand executives look for when deciding where to expand manufacturing bases, including:
- New market opportunities;
- Proximity to existing accounts;
- Talent availability, educational infrastructure;
- Business disruption risk; and
- State technology advances.
It would seem on that basis, Australia is a stand out opportunity, particularly when combined with the nation’s wealth of traditional and ‘next-generation’ raw resources, like rare earth elements essential to modern, value-add manufacturing capabilities.
In order to capitalise upon this shift in manufacturing hubs, it is clear that Australia must begin to plan for the next 15 to 20 years, not the next term of state, territory or federal government, providing policy consistency and, above all, long-term stability and vision for the public and surety in a period of global and regional turmoil.
This approach requires more than vanity programs, which can be best left to local government or private developers. Rather, it requires a strategic approach to a number of highly visible, big impact public policy areas, including:
- Infrastructure development: Addressing the critical links between hubs of economic prosperity, including regional hubs and metropolitan centres – including improved, faster and more reliable road, rail and air transport links.
- Water security: Australia is a continent of extremes, “droughts and flooding rains”, yet we do little to adequately channel and store the vast quantities of water that falls – now is the opportunity to promote economic stimulus through infrastructure investment while supporting Australia’s agricultural industry and drought-proofing the continent.
- Energy and resource security: Addressing the nation’s lack of strategic resource and energy supplies has come to the fore during COVID-19. Preparing the nation for such challenges, whether natural or man-made, should be of paramount priority – this requires less ideology and more pragmatism.
- Strategic industry development: COVID has stirred many within the Australian public to question why Australia isn’t manufacturing more of the critical – it is clear that Australia requires a concerted policy initiative in the form of a Strategic Industries Act to develop a robust, globally competitive industry 4.0-oriented manufacturing base.
Each of these contribute to the nation’s sovereignty and security at a time when many of the principles that Australia’s post-Second World War public and strategic policy is based upon are coming under threat – serving to make Australia a more reliable economic, political and strategic partner amid a period of great power competition. (Source: Defence Connect)
23 Sep 20. USMC establishes new littoral capability to counter South China Sea forts. The US Marines have introduced a new littoral regiment designed to directly counter Beijing’s South China Sea island fortresses, with a focus on rapid deployability, fire power and a measure of self-contained operating capability.
In the immediate aftermath of the disastrous Japanese strikes against the US Pacific Fleet at Pearl Harbor and the successful air attacks against the measly British naval task force deployed to support Singapore, the allies were on the backfoot across the vast Pacific archipelagos and island chains.
This realisation, combined with the rampaging efficacy of Japan’s Banzai Blitzkrieg through south-east Asia and the Pacific, saw the allies pivot, leveraging clandestine, hit-and-run, guerilla tactics to slow and at times directly hinder the advance of Japanese troops.
At the forefront of this capability for the US were Edson’s Raiders of the 1st Marine Raider Battalion and Carlson’s Raiders of the 2nd Marine Raider Battalion, which were a light amphibious infantry force designed to sow devastation and confusion against heavily fortified Japanese garrisons as the US prepared for full-scale warfare.
While the raider units were in many ways the precursors to the US Special Forces community, the shifting nature of the war, namely the shift towards large-scale amphibious assaults against the likes of Peleliu, Okinawa and Iwo Jima, prompted the Marines to retire the Raider Battalions in the final days of the war, however nothing is ever truly dead.
As the US and its allies have been forced to reorientate themselves away from decades of guerilla conflict in the Middle East and central Asia toward more traditional concepts of high-intensity, peer v peer combat operations, fresh life is being breathed into the Marine Raider concept.
This culminated in the creation of the Marine Special Operations Regiment as part of the US Marine Corps Special Forces Special Operations Command (MARSOC) in 2014 and, for the first time since the Second World War, the re-establishment of a Marine Raider force.
Prompting this doctrine and force structure shift is Beijing’s increased militarisation and expansion of man-made and heavily fortified and hardened airfields and naval infrastructure throughout the highly contested waterways of the South China Sea (SCS), as the rising superpower seeks to expand its influence and power projection over the region.
These fortified and often artificial islands are more than just physical manifestations of Beijing’s regional ambitions, they’re also powerful links in China’s anti-access/area-denial (A2/AD) weapons platforms, which pose major risks to key US and allied force multipliers.
In response, the Marines, ever the evolutionary fighting force, have responded with the introduction of a new, littoral focused, light infantry force, with one key target in mind: Beijing’s island fortresses.
Light, fast and self supporting
Driving this force structure development, US Marine Corps Major General Kevin Liams, assistant deputy commandant for Combat Development, is seeking to role out the new littoral regiments over the next few years.
Establishing his vision, MajGen Liams explained his proposed force structure for the littoral regiment, stating, “What assets would we be able to place in that battle space that are very low signature and that give us the firepower that we need to be a relevant force that provides consequences, should we get past the deterrence phase.”
As part of the structural shift and force structure reorientation, the Marines are planning for three new littoral regiments, all three of which are to be based in the Indo-Pacific region, with two regiments based in Japan and one in Guam to serve as rapid reaction forces to support larger Marine Corps force structure elements, namely the Marine Air-Ground Task Forces.
MajGen Liams explained that he envisages the forces to be capable of self sustaining operations, at least in a limited capacity, “Much like our [Marine air-ground task forces] that we have now, there are support elements to it. So, we’ll have a littoral combat team; we’ll have a littoral logistics battalion; and we’ll have an anti-air battalion.”
These units are designed to directly counter the rising capability and proliferation of advanced Chinese and Russian A2/AD weapons systems, effectively serving to get in, and under the armour and pressing the advantage offensively behind the enemy’s front line in a sharp, offensive and debilitating manner, providing broader support to the wider kill chain.
The introduction of these units comes in line with the growing shift within US Navy and Marine Corps planners as both seek a Light Amphibious Warship and a Next Generation Medium Logistics Ship (NGMLS), which would be capable of not only operating under fire but also resupplying Marines deep within the enemy’s kill-web.
One of the standout possibilities for the Australian concept Stern Landing Vessel (SLV), designed by Queensland-based Sea Transport Solutions (STS), which drew serious attention from the Marines, including Marine Corps Commandant General David Berger earlier in the year, with the corps devoting US$30m to design and develop the concept further.
This plan announced as part of the FY2021 budget request would seek a “medium amphibious ship that can support the kind of dispersed, agile, constantly relocating force described in the Littoral Operations in Contested Environment (LOCE) and Expeditionary Advanced Base Operations (EABO) concepts”, the Marine Corps has written, as well as the overarching Distributed Maritime Operations (DMO) from the Navy. (Source: Defence Connect)
22 Sep 20. Esper Promises to Maintain Israeli Qualitative Edge in Middle East. Defense Secretary Dr. Mark T. Esper promised Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz that the United States would maintain Israel’s qualitative edge in the Middle East.
Esper made the promise at the beginning of a Pentagon meeting with the Israeli leader.
Gantz is no stranger to the U.S. military, having trained at Fort Bragg, N.C., as a young officer and working alongside many American officers as he rose in rank in the Israeli Defense Force. Gantz was the Israeli chief of defense as his last job in the military. He has been defense minister since the Israeli unity government started in April. He is scheduled to become the Israeli prime minister in November 2021.
Esper stressed that Israel is America’s most important strategic partner in the Middle East. “Our partnership is built over generations based on shared values, shared interests and shared concerns,” Esper said.
He said the bonds of friendship among the peoples of Israel and the United States are unbreakable.
The United States was the first nation to recognize the nation of Israel when it established its independence in 1948. “Across that long history, the defense relationship between the United States and Israel has never been stronger: We intend to keep it that way,” the defense secretary said. “I do want to say upfront for everyone, that a cornerstone of our defense relationship is preserving Israel’s qualitative military edge in the region.
“The United States is committed to that, and the Department of Defense is committed to that imperative,” he said. “And we will continue to support the long-standing U.S. priority to maintain Israel’s security.”
Gantz thanked Esper for the warm welcome and promised on Israel’s part to deepen the partnership. “As I always say, we have no other United States, nor do you have any other Israel,” he said. “We will make sure together, to keep those bonds active and close to one another. It has to do with (qualitative military edge). But it also has to do with lots of cooperation that we have, we always say it is in our moral interest to share with you everything we possibly can. And we will continue those relations into the future.” (Source: US DoD)
22 Sep 20. China, India agree not to send more troops to Ladakh border. China and India have agreed to stop sending more troops to a Himalayan flashpoint along their contested border and to avoid any actions that might complicate the tense situation there, the two countries said on Tuesday.
Senior military officials from the both countries met on Monday and exchanged ideas on their contested border, Chinese defence ministry spokesman Wu Qian said.
A joint press release issued by the Indian government in New Delhi said that both sides had agreed to “avoid misunderstandings and misjudgments”, and “refrain from unilaterally changing the situation on the ground.”
“The two sides also agreed to hold the 7th round of Military Commander-Level Meeting as soon as possible,” the release said.
Thousands of Indian and Chinese troops are currently amassed along a disputed stretch of border in the Ladakh region, bordering Tibet.
After weeks of tensions, a stand-off in the remote western Himalayan region erupted into a bloody hand-to-hand clash in June in which 20 Indian soldiers were killed and China suffered an unspecified number of casualties.
Both countries have since said they are attempting to resolve the situation through diplomatic and military channels but talks appeared to have made little head-way so far.
Tensions remains high, with Indian and Chinese troops separated by only a few hundred meters in some areas and both sides bringing up reinforcements and supplies.
China and India said on Sept. 11 that they had agreed to de-escalate the situation and restore “peace and tranquillity” following a high-level diplomatic meeting in Moscow.
Both sides agreed at the time that troops from both sides should quickly disengage and ease tensions.
The nuclear-armed neighbours have not been able to agree on their 3,488-km-long border, despite several rounds of talks over the years. The two countries fought a brief but bloody border war in 1962 and distrust has occasionally led to flare-ups ever since. (Source: Reuters)
23 Sep 20. Possible missile carrier spotted at North Korea parade practice, U.S. think-tank says. A vehicle that may be carrying a ballistic missile has been spotted at a parade training ground in North Korea amid signs it is preparing a big military display for an Oct. 10 holiday, a U.S. think-tank said.
Commercial satellite imagery taken on Tuesday showed a “probable missile-related vehicle” at the Mirim Parade Training Ground outside the capital, Pyongyang, according to a report by the group 38 North, which monitors North Korea.
“While imagery resolution is insufficient to determine exactly what the vehicle is, relative size and shape suggests that it may be a transporter-erector-launcher (TEL) for a large missile,” the group said.
The vehicle appeared to be large enough to carry one of North Korea’s intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM), which are believed to be capable of delivering a nuclear warhead to targets as far as anywhere in the United States.
The authors acknowledged there was a chance the vehicle could be something else but said that seemed “unlikely in this particular location and circumstance”.
Satellite imagery had also shown large formations of troops and vehicles practicing at the parade training ground, 38 North reported.
“The recent training strongly suggests a large military parade is planned for the 75th anniversary of the Workers’ Party of Korea on October 10,” the think-tank said.
North Korea has not shown its largest ballistic missiles at military parades since early 2018, when leader Kim Jong Un began a flurry of diplomatic engagement that included three meetings with U.S. President Donald Trump. But talks aimed at getting North Korea to give up its nuclear programme have since stalled and earlier this year Kim vowed to unveil a new, unspecified “strategic weapon”.
Analysts have said the North Korea could use the holiday to showcase new weapons, either at a parade or in a test.
U.S. officials said this week that nuclear-armed North Korea had resumed long-range missile cooperation with Iran but did not provide detailed evidence. (Source: Reuters)
21 Sep 20. Japan proposes $51bn defense budget, citing increased threats. Japan’s defense budget for the next fiscal year seeks a record $51.6bn and includes plans to build an electronic warfare unit as a check against China. Tokyo’s military budget, which has risen every year for the past nine years during Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s term of office, is rising 1.63% for fiscal year 2021, the Nikkei reported Monday.
Japan’s defense ministry has said the budget increase is “inevitable,” citing increased threats in the region. Tokyo has previously said it is keeping a close watch on North Korean missile threats and Chinese activities in the South China Sea and near the Japan-claimed Senkaku Islands, known as the Diaoyutai Islands in China.
Japan’s wariness of China is growing as Beijing deploys more warplanes in the Taiwan Strait, a move that drew condemnation from President Tsai Ing-wen on Sunday.
Tokyo’s newly appointed Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi could soon strengthen ties with Taiwan. Kishi, the younger brother of Abe, has sought to promote exchange between Japan and Taiwan and served as a liaison to Taipei, according to the Japan Times. China has warned foreign governments against courting too-close ties with Taiwan.
On Monday, the defense ministry said the proposed budget would help Japan develop outer space and cyberspace capabilities. Electronic warfare units designed to impede enemy assaults through the use of the electromagnetic or EM spectrum, are included in the plan. EW units can conduct operations that include disabling the communication function of approaching opponents.
Japanese military spending in 2021 would also cover the development of next-generation fighter jets. Japan is developing a successor to the F-2 Support Fighter by 2035, according to reports.
The defense budget is being submitted at a time when Tokyo is also considering a substitute for the Aegis Ashore, after canceling a planned deployment of the U.S. missile defense system.
The Sankei Shimbun reported Sunday the government is considering an anti-missile radar system at sea connected to interceptor missiles fired from land. Tokyo is deciding between two options, building a new Aegis destroyer, or deploying a frigate equipped with Aegis radar, as an alternative to Aegis Ashore, according to the report. (Source: Defense News Early Bird/UPI)
22 Sep 20. U.S. and UAE eye December goal to agree on F-35 deal – sources. The United States and the United Arab Emirates hope to have an initial agreement on the sale of F-35 stealth fighter jets to the Gulf state in place by December, as the Trump administration studies how to structure a deal without running afoul of Israel. Sources close to the negotiations said the goal is to have a letter of agreement in place in time for UAE National Day celebrated on Dec. 2.
Any deal must satisfy decades of agreement with Israel that states any U.S. weapons sold to the region must not impair Israel’s “qualitative military edge,” guaranteeing U.S. weapons furnished to Israel are “superior in capability” to those sold to its neighbors.
With that in mind Washington is studying ways to make the Lockheed Martin Corp LMT.N F-35 more visible to Israeli radar systems, two sources said. Reuters could not determine if this would be done by changing the jet or providing Israel with better radar, among other possibilities.
Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz was due to meet his U.S. counterpart Mark Esper in Washington on Tuesday.
The UAE embassy in Washington did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The White House declined to comment.
A Pentagon spokeswoman told Reuters, “as a matter of policy, the United States does not confirm or comment on proposed defense sales or transfers until they are formally notified to Congress.”
Once a letter of agreement is signed, a fine may be levied against any party that terminates the deal. Several political and regulatory hurdles must be cleared before the sale may be completed and Capitol Hill aides cautioned a deal may not be possible this year.
Ellen Lord, the Pentagon’s chief weapons buyer, told reporters in August that in general, the United States aims to complete a letter of agreement for new F-35 sales in about six months.
Because of the qualitative military edge restriction, the Lockheed Martin-made F-35 has been denied to Arab states, while Israel has about 24 jets.
The United Arab Emirates, one of Washington’s closest Middle East allies, has long expressed interest in acquiring the stealthy jets and was promised a chance to buy them in a side deal made when they agreed to normalize relations with Israel.
Sources familiar with the negotiations said a working idea was for Israeli air defenses to be able to detect the UAE F-35s with technology that effectively defeats the stealth capabilities of the jets.
F-35 fighter jets sold to the United Arab Emirates could also be built in a way that ensures the same planes owned by Israel outperform any others sold in the region, defense experts say.
Washington already demands that any F-35 sold to foreign governments cannot match the performance of U.S. jets, said both a congressional staffer and a source familiar with past sales.
The F-35’s technical sophistication is tied to its mission systems and processing power and “it’s the computing power that allows you to sell a higher tech jet to Israel than to the UAE,” said Doug Birkey, executive director of the Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies in Washington.
“When foreign pilots are in training in the U.S. they type a code into a user interface as they board the jet, the code will pull a different jet for each pilot based on legal permissions,” Birkey said.
Either way, actual delivery of new jets is years away. Poland, the most recent F-35 customer, purchased 32 of the jets in January, but will not receive its first delivery until 2024. (Source: defense-aerospace.com/Reuters)
21 Sep 20. Esper Says New Sanctions on Iran Will Disrupt Malign Activities. President Donald J. Trump today signed an executive order imposing new sanctions on Iran as well as triggering a “snap back,” or resumption, of U.N. sanctions on Tehran.
Defense Secretary Dr. Mark T. Esper said that today’s executive order will further disrupt Iranian efforts to import and proliferate conventional weapons, helping protect U.S. forces, allies and partners and civilian populations until Iran complies with international norms.
Esper spoke to the media today from the State Department, along with State Department Secretary Mike Pompeo, Treasury Department Secretary Steven Mnuchin, Commerce Department Secretary Wilbur Ross, U.S. Representative to the United Nations Kelly Craft and National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien.
“We encourage Tehran to cease its malign activities throughout the region and to act like a normal country,” Esper said. “But we are also prepared to respond to Iranian aggression.”
“Our commanders have the authorities and resources they need to protect their troops and to prepare for any contingencies and we continue to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with our allies and partners to counter Iran’s destabilizing behavior,” he continued.
The secretary noted that over the past two years, Iran has carried out attacks on international shipping, regional infrastructure and U.S. and partner nation forces, including missile strikes by Iranian-backed proxy militias against U.S. bases and personnel in Iraq.
Iran has violated U.N. Security Council resolutions for years by proliferating advanced, conventional weapons to non-state actors such as Hezbollah and the Houthis, who use them to threaten civilian population centers, he said.
That is why the Defense Department has taken decisive action to safeguard service members, restore deterrence and safeguard international rules and norms when it comes to issues such as freedom of navigation and commerce, he explained.
“We stand ready to respond to future Iranian aggression and we remain committed to doing our part in the administration’s maximum pressure campaign,” Esper said, noting that the U.S. military maintains a high state of alert, makes continual adjustments to its operational forces in the region as needed and works closely with intelligence agencies, allies and partners. (Source: US DoD)
21 Sep 20. US steps up military presence in Syria. The US has strengthened its military presence in Syria to ensure the safety of its troops in the country amid increasing tensions with Russia. The US has strengthened its military presence in Syria to ensure the safety of its troops in the country amid increasing tensions with Russia.
The deployment includes Sentinel radar and Bradley Fighting Vehicles to enhance the US forces in the Eastern Syria Security Area (ESSA).
Additionally, the US Central Command decided to increase the frequency of fighter patrols over US forces.
In a statement, US Central Command Spokesman Captain Bill Urban said: “These actions are a clear demonstration of US resolve to defend coalition forces in the ESSA, and to ensure that they are able to continue their Defeat-ISIS mission without interference.
“Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve re-postures elements in northeast Syria to ensure the protection of our forces and the continuation of the Defeat-Daesh mission.
“The Defense Department has previously deployed Bradleys to north-east Syria pursuant to these goals. The US does not seek conflict with any other nation in Syria, but will defend coalition forces if necessary.”
According to media sources, the reinforcement will add around 100 personnel to the US deployment in Syria, which includes around 500 troops.
This step comes as incidents between the US and Russian patrolling forces in Syria have increased this year.
Last month, the US alleged that a Russian armoured vehicle hit a US military car in north-eastern Syria triggering tensions between the two troops. The incident injured seven US soldiers. Later, Pentagon criticised Russian forces’ ‘aggressive behaviour’, while the Russian side condemned the US for breaching existing agreements. (Source: army-technology.com)
17 Sep 20. US plans weaponry sale to Taiwan amid tensions with China. The US is planning to sell weaponry to Taiwan to help enhance its defences amid increasing tensions with China. The US is planning to sell weaponry to Taiwan to help enhance its defences amid increasing tensions with China. The sale is said to be worth up to $7bn, according to The Financial Times. If confirmed, the deal may trigger fresh tensions between the US and China.
According to a Reuters report, the latest arms sale may comprise major weapons systems such as sea mines, cruise missiles and drones.
However, Taiwan’s Defense Ministry did not confirm the sale and said the reported package was a ‘media assumption’.
It further added that no official comment from the ministry will be provided until formal notification from the US side.
Currently, the weapons packages are under the export process and a notification to the US Congress is expected within a few weeks, the news agency further added quoting unnamed sources.
Taiwan seeks to acquire Lockheed Martin’s High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS), anti-tank missiles and armed drones from the US.
The sale may also include Boeing Harpoon anti-ship missiles to strengthen coastal defences.
The relationship between the US and China has deteriorated lately over trade, accusations of espionage and, most recently, the handling of the Covid-19 pandemic.
China considers Taiwan as one of its provinces and vehemently condemns any military support for the island. Last year, it was reported that China will sanction US defence firms involved in a $2.2bn arms deal with Taiwan. Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen, who was re-elected in January, has stated enhancing the island’s defences is one of the top priorities. (Source: army-technology.com)
20 Sep 20. E3 Foreign Ministers’ Statement: 20 September 2020. Statement by the United Kingdom, France and Germany on the JCPoA. Today marks 30 days since the US sought to initiate the ‘snapback mechanism’, which allows a participant to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPoA) to seek the re-imposition of the multilateral sanctions against Iran lifted in 2015 in accordance with resolution 2231, adopted by the UN Security Council.
France, Germany and the United Kingdom (“the E3”) note that the US ceased to be a participant to the JCPoA following their withdrawal from the deal on 8 May, 2018.
Consequently, the purported notification under paragraph 11 of UNSCR 2231 (2015), received from the United States of America and circulated to the UN Security Council Members, is incapable of having legal effect.
It flows from this that any decisions and actions which would be taken based on this procedure or on its possible outcome would also be incapable of having any legal effect.
We remain guided by the objective of upholding the authority and integrity of the United Nations Security Council. The E3 remains committed to fully implementing UNSCR 2231 (2015) by which the JCPoA was endorsed in 2015.
We have worked tirelessly to preserve the nuclear agreement and remain committed to do so. (Source: https://www.gov.uk/)
18 Sep 20. Brazilian Navy releases new 20-year plan. The Brazilian Navy is looking to acquire medium-sized general-purpose helicopters and attack, anti-submarine (ASW) and reconnaissance helicopters according the recently released Brazilian Navy latest Strategic Plan, the Plano Estratégico da Marinha 2040 (PEM 2040).
The Strategic Plan which was publicly released on 10 September, calls for a host of other new measures to be implemented over the next 20 years.
For example, the navy wants to significantly increase research-and-development (R&D) to develop shipboard systems, such as communications, detection, navigation, and electronic warfare. The R&D increases are also meant to help boost the country’s Defence Technological and Industrial Base (DTIB).
The navy also wants to achieve a minimum of 65% of ships and aircraft operational availability, update the service’s leadership organisational structure, create a cyber-warfare squadron, and bolster its satellite ability to intercept maritime communications, according to the plan.
The navy is now going to focus more heavily on operations in the Southern Atlantic Ocean, paying particular attention to threats such as piracy, illegal fishing, organised crimes, urban conflicts, natural resources dispute, cyber warfare, terrorism, the illegal access to knowledge, pandemics, natural disasters, and environmental issues, according to PEM 2040. The idea is to control the maritime access to Brazil.
The document, which does not describe exact schedules, also covers a range of modernisation projects that were previously planned or initiated but not yet effectively implemented or concluded such as acquiring mine-hunting ships, escort ships, aircraft carriers, a logistics support ship, coastal, and offshore patrol ships, Antarctic support ship, training ships, survey ships, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), fighter jets, and lightweight training and utility helicopters; enlarge and modernise equipment of the Marines Corps; developing the Míssil Antinavio de Superfície (MANSUP) and Míssil Antinavio Aéreo (MANAER) anti-ship missiles; and the local construction of the country’s first nuclear-powered submarine SN Álvaro Alberto. (Source: Jane’s)
21 Sep 20. West Australian government commits funding to support SMEs. West Australian Defence Issues Minister Paul Papalia has announced the launch of the $200,000 Defence-Ready Initiative to empower more local businesses to join the defence industry supply chain.
Eligible West Australian small and medium enterprises (SMEs) will be able to apply for up to $10,000 to improve their business capabilities in areas of need and help WA industry meet Defence’s requirements.
Businesses can use the funds to meet a broad range of initiatives to improve their capability and capacity to provide for Defence.
Defence Issues Minister Paul Papalia said, “Western Australia’s defence industry continues to grow, and it’s important that the state government helps eligible and motivated businesses to pivot their offerings and become ‘Defence-Ready’.”
Examples include gaining industry certifications and meeting general security and cyber security requirements needed to prepare them for CDIC compliance.
Through the initiative, the state government aims to increase the number of WA businesses that are ‘Defence-Ready’, and advance their capabilities within the Defence supply chain.
“It’s the perfect time for local SMEs to capitalise on WA’s competitive advantage in the defence industry, and I encourage businesses to take advantage of this initiative to explore what they can offer within the supply chain,” Minister Papalia added.
The WA Defence-Ready Initiative supports the McGowan government’s vision for the Defence sector to become a key pillar of the West Australian economy, and support businesses to become more competitive in bids to win Defence work.
The WA Defence-Ready Initiative provides funding to West Australian small to medium enterprises (SMEs) to undertake improvements in specific areas of their business capabilities, to assist in meeting Defence’s requirements.
It is a mechanism to increase the number of WA businesses in becoming ‘Defence-Ready’ and subsequently entering or advancing their capabilities within the defence supply chain.
Funding will be awarded on a competitive basis. Defence West makes no provisions to approve or to fully fund every proposal submitted to the scheme. Defence West reserves the right to reject proposals without consideration.
The Defence-Ready Initiative supports defence related improvements in business capabilities. Requests for funding should be in the order of $1,000 to $10,000, but requests outside of this range will be considered where there is a compelling business case. Examples of ways in which the Defence-Ready funds can be applied include, but is not limited to:
- Cyber security upgrades;
- Certification activities;
- Defence Industry Security Program (DISP) improvements; and
- Defence conferences or workshop involvement.
The lead participant (applicant) is responsible for ensuring that any legal agreements and intellectual property arrangements that may be needed to support their activity are established before finalising the Defence-Ready Funding Agreement. (Source: Defence Connect)
21 Sep 20. Government commits to Australian industry capability program overhaul. Defence Minister Linda Reynolds and Defence Industry Minister Melissa Price have announced the government will consult with industry stakeholders to discuss a raft of new proposals aimed at enhancing Australian industry capability.
Minister Reynolds and Minister Price announced a proposal to implement “significant improvements” to the Australian industry capability (AIC) program and bolster the contribution of local industry in defence decision-making.
Defence has proposed an enhanced AIC contractual framework with “specific and measurable” commitments to “promote greater accountability” for the delivery of AIC’s core objectives.
The changes include replacing the ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach for acquisition and sustainment contracting templates with a “more flexible and scalable approach”, designed to better align the unique aspects of each procurement.
According to Defence, revisions to the contractual framework are directed at:
- better achieving government’s and Defence’s requirements for maximising opportunities for Australian industry to participate in each procurement, while also recognising the core role of industry in delivering ADF capability; and
- strengthening the contractual terms to ensure that these requirements are achieved through introducing revised tendering processes and specific and measurable contractual commitments to enhance accountability.
Under the new framework, prime contractors will be required to comply with new obligations, including a new remediation regime.
However, Defence stressed that the enhanced contracting framework would not be applied retrospectively, with a phased implemented approach to be adopted across the Australian Standard for Defence Contracting (ASDEFCON) template suite from 1 January 2021.
The ASDEFCON is also set to undergo a “major revamp”, in a bid to “cut process times and costs for Australian businesses”.
Over the coming months, Defence will consult with industry stakeholders on the first package of draft documents, which includes:
- updated conditions of tender, conditions of contract (and glossary), and statement of work;
- new Australian Contract Expenditure Measurement Rules; and
- extracts of relevant artefacts to describe the enhanced framework.
Defence added that a second release of the entire revised documents in the AIC Core Package and other artefacts are expected to be available four weeks after the initial release.
Following the announcement of the new proposals, Minister Reynolds said a “genuine partnership” with Defence and industry was critical to ensuring Australia’s industrial base “effectively supports national security”, as reinforced in the 2020 Defence Strategic Update.
Minister Reynolds added that the delivery of new AIC provisions in future contracts, combined with the creation of an Independent AIC Plan Audit Program, recent changes to Commonwealth Procurement Rules guidelines, and an overhaul of the Centre for Defence Industry Capability (CDIC) would “significantly improve opportunities, protections and support for Australian businesses.
“The Morrison government is committed to maximising opportunities for Australian business to be involved in Defence procurement and to building a competitive Australian industry to equip and sustain the Australian Defence Force,” Minister Reynolds said.
“Large companies will know that the government expects them to honour their AIC commitments, and small businesses know the Government has their backs.
“Additional AIC provisions in future contracts will require companies to make specific and measurable commitments.
The minister continued: “Independent audit firms will then ensure large Defence companies are meeting their contracted Australian industry commitments.
“This will provide an additional level of confidence for Australian businesses.”
According to Minister Price, proposed changes to the contractual framework represent the culmination of a major new ‘five-pillars’ approach to supporting defence industry in Australia.
“The pillars of the AIC contractual framework and ASDEFCON review build on the work of our CDIC reforms, the Independent AIC Plan Audit Program and more support for defence industry in the guidelines to the Commonwealth Procurement Rules,” Minister Price said.
“Small businesses are the backbone of the Australian economy and need to be treated accordingly during Defence’s decision-making process.
“Backing small business has been my number one priority and we have delivered on the promised changes to enhance the AIC Program in Defence.”
Minister Price added: “The delivery of an Independent AIC Plan Audit Program and improving how we contract for AIC in our major programs are the next big steps needed to create more opportunities for Australian businesses in Defence programs.”
Commenting on the review of the ASDEFCON, Minister Price said the revamp would be overseen by her office, and will be aimed at simplifying and streamlining contracting and subcontracting templates, and removing “unnecessary complexities that create additional burden on Australian businesses”.
The Terms of Reference to remove the barriers in ASDEFCON and the consultation process are expected to be finalised and released in November 2020.
“Ultimately, the renewed ASDEFCON template suite and processes are aimed at reducing avoidable cost, time and process complexity,” Minister Price concluded.
Federal opposition, industry respond to AIC revamp
Shadow minister for defence industry Matt Keogh has claimed that the newly announced changes to the AIC program are an “admission of failure” of the government’s approach to defence industry.
“Labor and industry have been calling for measurable and enforceable contractual requirements for Australian industry capability in defence contracts for years,” the shadow minister said.
“Australian defence industry has been crying out for support to ensure more defence industry work happens in Australia, now the Morrison government has finally acknowledged its model up until now simply doesn’t work.
“The long overdue independent audit plan announced today will only make a difference once these contractual requirements are properly in place for future projects.”
However, BAE Systems Australia has welcomed the government’s proposals to enhance the AIC program and strengthen the ASDEFCON.
The global defence technology company reaffirmed its commitment to building a strong and sustainable local supply chain, pointing to its investment of $300m annually with more than 1,500 local suppliers, across 200 defence programs in Australia.
“Major Defence programs are a catalyst for significant, long-term economic growth, providing opportunities for industry, highly skilled jobs and potential exports,” BAE Systems chief executive Gabby Costigan said.
“Locally made defence technologies play an important role in supporting Australia’s economic resilience, as well as underpinning our national security.
“Now more than ever, it is important that Australian industry plays a bigger role in our national security, and the announcement by Minister Reynolds and Minister Price today is a significant step forward to ensuring that happens.”
Thales Australia also welcomed the government’s announcement, noting its commitment to building a “national industrial ecosystem” to support the delivery of capability to Australian Defence Force.
In 2019, Thales Australia invested $522m with 1,362 Australian firms, 70 per cent of which were SMEs.
“Increasing Australia’s industrial capability will build Australia’s self-reliance and the capability of the broader Australian advanced manufacturing sector, which is vital to delivering a capability advantage to the Australian Defence Force,” Thales Australia CEO Chris Jenkins said.
“Thales has demonstrated that maximising technology transfer to Australia on major Defence projects is a significant driver of growth in Australia’s industrial capability, boosting investment in SMEs, R&D and delivering long term jobs.” (Source: Defence Connect)
21 Sep 20. China air force video appears to show simulated attack on U.S. air base on Guam. China’s air force has released a video showing nuclear-capable H-6 bombers carrying out a simulated attack on what appears to be Andersen Air Force Base on the U.S. Pacific island of Guam, as regional tensions continue to rise.
The video, released on Saturday on People’s Liberation Army Air Force Weibo account, came as China carried out a second day of drills near Chinese-claimed Taiwan, to express Beijing’s anger at the visit of a senior U.S. State Department official to Taipei.
Guam is home to major U.S. military facilities, including the air base, which would be key to responding to any conflict in the Asia Pacific region.
The Chinese air force’s two minute and 15 second video, set to solemn, dramatic music like a trailer for a Hollywood movie, shows H-6 bombers taking off from a desert base. The video is called “The god of war H-6K goes on the attack!”
Halfway through, a pilot presses a button and looses off a missile at an unnamed seaside runway.
The missile homes in on the runway, a satellite image of which is shown that looks exactly like the layout of Andersen, though it is not named.
The music suddenly stops as images of the ground shaking appear, following by aerial views of an explosion.
“We are the defenders of the motherland’s aerial security; we have the confidence and ability to always defend the security of the motherland’s skies,” the PLAAF wrote in a brief description for the video.
Neither China’s Defence Ministry nor U.S. Indo-Pacific Command immediately responded to a request for comment on the video.
The H-6 has been involved in multiple Chinese flights around and near Taiwan, according to Taiwan’s air force, including those last week.
The H-6K is the latest model of the bomber, which is based on the 1950s vintage Soviet Tu-16. (Source: Reuters)
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