Sponsored by Exensor
02 Oct 20. U.S., Morocco Chart Defense Cooperation Through 2030. Morocco and the United States renewed the alliance between the two nations as a foundation stone for peace in Africa.
Defense Secretary Dr. Mark T. Esper and Morocco’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Nasser Bourita signed the defense cooperation road map in Rabat, Morocco. The road map charts cooperation between the two nations through 2030.
Morocco is one of America’s oldest friends, recognizing the United States as it was still battling for independence in 1777.
The country remains a critical partner on a range of security issues. “Now more than ever, our two nations are working closely to tackle the challenges of an increasingly complex security environment ranging from counterterrorism and other transnational threats to regional instability and broader strategic challenges,” Esper said. “We do this together to promote the security, the stability and the prosperity of our shared goals and our peoples.”
The goal is to continually reinforce America’s long-standing, steadfast commitment to Morocco and, by extension, to Africa, the secretary said.
Morocco is a major non-NATO ally, and the country’s strategic location makes it a gateway to Africa. “Morocco is a country we have been friends with for many, many years, and I am confident that we will remain friends and strategic partners for generations to come,” Esper said.
The discussion with a range of Moroccan leaders touched on many issues, including regional problems, economic issues and more, Esper said. All of the progress made in other areas is enabled by security. “We cannot accomplish this unless we also continue to advance peace and stability and security across the continent,” he said. “We must do so by strengthening our defense partnerships with African governments.”
The road map will allow the United States and Morocco to improve defense cooperation, partnerships and interoperability. One specific was the importance of Exercise African Lion, which draws participants from across the continent. “It is a key training and exercise event for many, many years, not just between the United States and Morocco,” Esper said. (Source: US DoD)
01 Oct 20. Japan reveals record high budget request eyeing hypersonic tech, F-35s and more. Japan is set to continue its recent trend of setting new records for its annual defense budgets, with the country continuing to cast a wary eye on China’s military modernization and nuclear-armed North Korea’s missile program.
The latest budget request issued by Japan’s Ministry of Defense is seeking $55bn for the next fiscal year, which begins in April 2021. The amount is an 8 percent increase from the previous year, and makes it the eighth consecutive year the defense budget request to the Ministry of Finance has set a new record high.
This is the first defense budget for the government of Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, who looks set to continue his predecessor Shinzo Abe’s push for Japan to bolster its international involvement in security matters.
Unsurprisingly, the latest budget request includes potential funding for more Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighters. The ministry is seeking $308.5 m for four more F-35A conventional-takeoff-and-landing variants, and $249.8 m for two F-35B short-takeoff-and-vertical-landing versions.
Japan has an eventual requirement for 105 F-35As and 42 F-35Bs, which makes it potentially the biggest operator of the F-35 outside of the United States. The F-35Bs will be operated onboard Japan’s helicopter destroyer Izumo, which is being retrofitted domestically to operate the stealthy fifth-generation fighter jets.
The budget request is seeking $218.6m this fiscal year for the project, which will include thermally protecting the Izumo’s flight deck from the jets’ exhaust gases and reshaping of the ship’s forward flight deck for operating the jets.
As usual, the budget request also includes items related to Japan’s air and ballistic missile defense capability. The country is seeking $370m to acquire more Patriot Advanced Capability-3 Missile Segment Enhancement missiles. Japan recently backtracked on plans to acquire the ground-based Aegis Ashore system following technical difficulties with the development of the SM-3 Block IIA interceptors, and is currently looking at alternatives.
Japan’s local defense industry will also get funding for various defense acquisition and research projects under the budget request, with the MoD seeking $643.7m for three more Kawasaki P-1 anti-submarine aircraft and $487.5m for two more C-2 airlifters from the same manufacturer.
Japan’s land forces are seeking $180.7m for 25 more Type 8×8 maneuver combat vehicles, while the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force has asked for $937.2m and $654.1m respectively to acquire two more frigates and the first boat of a new class of attack submarine.
Research funding for Japan’s next-generation stealth fighter to replace the approximately 90 Mitsubishi F-2s currently in service is also being stepped up, with $555.8 m requested and an additional $113.6m sought for research and developmet of fighter subsystems such as radars and mission systems integration.
A further $218.6m will go toward the research and development of Japan’s hypersonic weapons program, while the development of a standoff long-range electronic warfare aircraft based on the C-2 airlifter will require $144.9m and a further $67.2m requested for the acquisition of onboard systems to equip it.
The budget request also includes funding for less traditional defense, such as the research and operation of space and cyber units, as well as for new electromagnetic warfare units.
The electromagnetic unit would be based at the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force’s Asaka base, north of Tokyo, and an unspecified number of staff would be deployed at several army bases across the country by March 2022, mostly in southern Japanese islands including Okinawa — areas of increased Chinese maritime and air activity.
The mission of such a unit would be to block electromagnetic attacks that could disrupt thing such as radio and GPS functions. The ministry is requesting $66 m to purchase RC-2 reconnaissance aircraft, and about $218 m for research into surveillance systems to counter electromagnetic attacks by drones and other weapons.
Japan in May launched the Space Operations Squadron as part of the Japan Air Self-Defense Force, with 20 initial members. It is expected to grow to about 100 members once the unit is fully operational in 2023.
The unit is tasked with monitoring and protecting Japanese satellites from enemy attacks or space debris. It will also conduct satellite-based navigation and communications for other troops in the field. The ministry will launch a commanding unit in western Tokyo and staff size will be increased to 70 next year. It is seeking more than $680 m to design and launch a surveillance satellite, and develop and purchase equipment compatible with its ally the United States.
The budget request will now be reviewed by Japan’s Finance Ministry, which will then decide on the funding allocation for the various ministries and announce Japan’s next budget, which is expected later this year. (Source: Defense News)
02 Oct 20. Australian industry welcomes government commitment to industrial transformation. Australia’s defence industry has welcomed Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s $1.3bn ‘Modern Manufacturing Initiative’ as part of the government’s long-term post-COVID economic modernisation and redevelopment plan, with defence industry playing a pivotal role.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison has lift the lid on a multibn-dollar initiative to support the nation’s post-COVID economic recovery and national resilience at an address in the National Press Club, Canberra – this ‘Modern Manufacturing Initiative’ will see a major shift in the nation’s economic capacity.
“We make things in Australia. We do it well. We need to keep making things in Australia. And with this strategy, we will. Our Modern Manufacturing Strategy is at the heart of our JobMaker plan. It starts with creating a stable and competitive business environment to grow our all parts of our manufacturing sector, but it does not end there,” the Prime Minister explained.
The centrepiece of the strategy is the $1.3bn Modern Manufacturing Initiative (MMI), which will see the government strategically invest in projects that help manufacturers to scale up and create jobs.
The MMI will support projects within six National Manufacturing Priorities, which reflect Australia’s established competitive advantages or emerging areas of priority:
- Resources technology and critical minerals (including rare earth elements) processing;
- Food and beverage;
- Medical products;
- Recycling and clean energy;
- Defence; and
Federal Minister for Industry, Science and Technology Karen Andrews added, “Our manufacturers have risen to the challenge to deliver during COVID-19 and now, we’re unlocking their potential to deliver for our future. By playing to our strengths, strategically investing and boosting the role of science and technology in industry, we can open up new markets and take more of our quality products to the world.
“This is about Australia playing to its strengths and the government strategically investing in areas of manufacturing where we know we have an edge and that can deliver the jobs we need,” Minister Andrews added.
Industry will be engaged to co-design tailored road maps for each of the priority sectors to set clear goals over the next two, five and 10 years, and identify the barriers and opportunities that will guide action and investment. The strategy will also address the competitiveness of individual manufacturers in priority sectors, with a $52.8m expansion of the Manufacturing Modernisation Fund.
The COVID-19 crisis has also highlighted the need to better understand and address our supply chain issues and opportunities. A $107.2m Supply Chain Resilience Initiative will support projects that address an identified supply chain vulnerability.
This strategy builds on the work across government to improve economic conditions for business, including streamlining regulation, cutting red tape and cutting input costs. A key part of that will be cutting energy costs as outlined in the Gas-fired recovery statement on 15 September 2020.
Australia’s defence industry has broadly welcomed the announcements made by the Prime Minister. BAE Systems Australia welcomed the government’s long-term commitment to support industrialisation reform and its inclusion of Defence as a key pillar in a new strategy to underpin the nation’s future manufacturing resilience.
BAE Systems Australia chief executive Gabby Costigan said, “The announcement by the Prime Minister today is a show of support for the growth of advanced manufacturing in Australia. A strong and capable manufacturing industry is essential to delivering our modern defence capabilities and rebuilding the nation post COVID-19.”
BAE Systems has for more than a decade provided a range of bespoke parts in to the global F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program through its advanced manufacturing facility in South Australia. It is also currently investing millions of dollars into advanced manufacturing in collaboration with industry and academia as it mobilises Australia’s largest ever surface shipbuilding program to build nine submarine hunting warships in South Australia.
The company’s advanced manufacturing and investment in world-leading technologies currently provides the Australian Defence Force with the edge it needs across air, land, sea and in the cyber domain now and in the future.
“The defence industry has enormous potential as a catalyst for economic growth, providing long-term opportunities for industry, highly skilled jobs and potential exports. Now more than ever, the investment in and development of Australian made technologies has the potential to both underpin much needed economic growth and meet the technological needs of our defence force,” Costigan added.
Joe North, chief executive of Lockheed Martin Australia and New Zealand, echoed these sentiments, telling Defence Connect, “Lockheed Martin Australia is an advanced technology business with a breadth of capabilities that span the defence and space sectors. Australia’s defence and space sectors are vital, vibrant and capable with an abundance of the advanced technologies necessary to support high-value, high-skilled jobs.
“Our approach to the development of Australian industry is based on establishing mutually beneficial partnerships with SMEs to help build both the capability and operational resilience needed for those companies to compete globally. Today’s announcement underscores the importance of a robust and resilient industry capability to Australia’s future economic prosperity and we are proud to support this national endeavour.”
Joining the feedback, Raytheon Australia managing director Michael Ward said, “Raytheon Australia welcomes the announcement of the Prime Minister’s modern manufacturing strategy and the inclusion of defence amongst its priority sectors.
“Through manufacturing defence industry has a vital role to play in building resilience and sovereign capability and we look forward to learning more about the government’s Modern Manufacturing Initiative. I am also pleased that the next week’s budget will focus on appropriate incentives to encourage greater investment in R&D.”
Innovation and Science Australia will be repurposed as Industry Innovation and Science Australia, to provide a long-term perspective on growing the manufacturing sector and strong industry advice to government throughout the implementation of the strategy.
The government is also comprehensively reviewing existing industry programs to better align them with the strategy. As part of this, it will provide an additional $50m to the Industry Growth Centres initiative to support projects in the priority areas out until the end of June 2022. (Source: Defence Connect)
01 Oct 20. Esper Discusses Expanding Military Cooperation With Algeria. Defense Secretary Dr. Mark T. Esper discussed expanding military cooperation between the U.S. and Algeria with President Abdelmadjid Tebboune today in Algiers. The secretary thanked Tebboune for the longstanding relationship between the two nations and praised the nation for its leadership in promoting regional stability. He also thanked the president — who also serves as defense minister — for his hospitality.
The two leaders discussed the security situation in North Africa and the Sahel, the way forward in Libya and the uncertainties in Mali. They also discussed the threats from violent extremist organizations in the region and beyond.
Esper particularly noted the discussions on how to improve U.S. military cooperation with the armed forces of Algeria.
“There are a number of areas where we plan to increase our cooperation, such as in counterterrorism. We look to improve our exercises and training together,” Esper said. “We also discussed other issues involving our militaries, which I am confident will increase our interoperability as well.”
Algerian officials said that Lt. Gen. Said Chengriha, the military’s chief of defense, also participated in the discussions with Esper.
Before arriving at the presidential office, Esper placed a wreath at the Martyrs Monument. The monument stands as a memorial for the more than 1 million Algerians who lost their lives fighting for independence from France, which they gained in 1962.
“I want to say to the Algerian people, how much we respect their sovereignty. We enjoy their cooperation and admire their history,” Esper said.
Esper is the first U.S. defense secretary to visit the nation since Donald Rumsfeld in 2006. With a population of more than 42 million, the country is one of the largest in North Africa, and the nation appears to be willing to play a more assertive role in the region, said a defense official speaking on background.
Esper arrived in Algeria after visiting Malta and Tunisia. It is part of a series of visits through the region in an effort to build new alliances and strengthen old ones. (Source: US DoD)
01 Oct 20. U.S., Tunisia Sign Road Map for Defense Cooperation. Defense Secretary Dr. Mark T. Esper and Tunisian Defense Minister Ibrahim Bartagi agreed on a road map for defense cooperation during meetings in the capital city of Tunis. The road map discussed yesterday charts a 10-year course for cooperation between the two countries.
Tunisia is a major non-NATO ally of the United States and already works with the Defense Department on many shared interests and concerns. The agreement will advance these shared security interests, said a U.S. defense official traveling with the secretary.
The road map recognizes the importance of the U.S.-Tunisian relationship in North Africa and the Mediterranean. Tunisia is a “security exporter” in the region, participating in many exercises and cooperating with other nations in security matters.
Terrorism and threats from violent extremist organizations are always a danger in the region, and Tunisia is intimately involved in looking for solutions to the migrant crisis. Esper said he is impressed by the Tunisians’ efforts to enhance their capabilities against terrorists, but also to promote stability and security on the African continent.
“The road map is a shared understanding of where our shared priorities are,” the defense official said speaking on background. “It talks about shared objectives, shared interests and shared threats. These are areas where we can work together.”
The road map took two years to negotiate, and it is a clear-eyed look at the relationship and suggests ways to close capability gaps. “We both want to improve [Tunisia’s] military capabilities and training to improve [U.S. and Tunisian] interoperability.”
Some of the shared interests include freedom of navigation, intelligence sharing, humanitarian operations and disaster relief, the official said.
The official would not speak specifically on what gaps the nations see in their military capabilities, but spoke of gaps that African nations, in general, experience — airlift, command and control, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance shortages and the like.
The 10-year road map is a relatively new program. It allows the nations to begin the planning and funding cycles in such a way as to build incrementally. The official said this may be a blueprint for negotiations with other nations in Africa and elsewhere. (Source: US DoD)
01 Oct 20. Armenia recalls ambassador to Israel over arms sales to Azerbaijan. Armenia said on Thursday it had recalled its ambassador to Israel for consultations over Israeli arms sales to Azerbaijan.
A car, which locals said was damaged during a recent shelling by Azeri forces, is pictured at the settlement of Ivanyan (Khojaly) in the breakaway region of Nagorno-Karabakh October 1, 2020. Vahram Baghdasaryan/Photolure via REUTERS
Azerbaijan has acknowledged using Israeli-made weapons in its fighting with ethnic Armenian forces around Nagorno-Karabakh, where heavy clashes this week have drawn international calls for an immediate ceasefire.
Protesting against the Israeli weapons exports, Armenian foreign ministry spokeswoman Anna Naghdalyan said “Israel’s workstyle is unacceptable. The ministry has to call back its ambassador in Israel.”
Israel’s foreign ministry said it regretted Armenia’s decision to withdraw its ambassador.
“Israel attaches importance to our relations with Armenia and sees the Armenian Embassy in Israel as an important tool for promoting those relations for the benefit of both peoples,” the foreign ministry said in a statement.
Asked for details on weapons sales to Azerbaijan, an Israeli defence ministry spokeswoman declined comment.
According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), a leading conflict and armaments think-tank, Israel provided Azerbaijan with some $825m in weapons between 2006 and 2019.
Those exports included drones, loitering munitions, anti-tank missiles, and a surface-to-air missile system, information from SIPRI’s Arms Transfers Database showed.
Separately, in a video interview with Israel’s Walla news website on Wednesday, Azeri presidential aide Hikmat Hajiyev said Azerbaijan was using “some” Israeli-made drones in fighting around Nagorno-Karabakh, without specifying how many.
“(We) have one of the strongest (drone) fleets in the region. And among them we have Israeli ones, we have other drones as well, but Israeli drones especially, including reconnaissance and attack drones, and kamikaze ‘Harop’ drones, (which) have proved itself very effective,” Hajiyev said. (Source: Reuters)
01 Oct 20. Ongoing military action along the line of contact in the Nagorno-Karabakh region: UK statement. Delivered by Ambassador Neil Bush at the special OSCE Permanent Council on 29 September 2020.
I’d like to thank the Albanian Chairmanship for calling today’s Special Permanent Council. I’d also like to thank Ambassador Kasprzyk for his report.
The UK is deeply concerned by the ongoing military action along the line of contact in the Nagorno-Karabakh region and the humanitarian impact it is having not only on the lives of the people who live there but also regional stability. We are particularly concerned about reports of civilian casualties.
I would like to offer my condolences to the families of all those who have been killed. We particularly regret that this conflict is escalating when the world should be uniting to defeat the Coronavirus pandemic and the UN Secretary General has called for a global ceasefire for the last 100 days of 2020.
We strongly support the efforts of the Minsk Group Co-chairs and the Personal Representative of the Chairperson-in-Office to stabilise the situation and we urge the sides to refrain from any acts or rhetoric that could further aggravate tensions on the ground. We express solidarity and support with the statements made by Chairperson-in-Office, Prime Minister Rama, and by the Minsk Group Co-chairs. We are reinforcing their calls for an immediate de-escalation and ceasefire to hostilities in our engagements with actors in the region.
There can be no military solution to this conflict. A sustainable peace can only be brought about by a negotiated settlement between Armenia and Azerbaijan and we urge them both to return to the negotiating table and engage with the Minsk Group co-chairs without any preconditions.
We urge all international partners to support an end to hostilities and to press for a return to negotiations towards a peaceful settlement.
Finally, I would like to reiterate full support for vital role of OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs and their work towards finding resolution to the crisis. (Source: https://www.gov.uk/)
30 Sep 20. Japan’s military asks new government to continue strengthening of armed forces. Japan’s military has asked Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga’s new government for its ninth straight annual budget increase, including funds to begin development of an advanced stealth fighter to counter new aircraft being deployed by China. The Ministry of Defence budget proposal released on Wednesday seeks a 3.3% climb in spending to a record 5.49trn yen ($52bn) for the year starting April 1. Finance ministry officials will review and possibly amend the request before passing it on to Suga’s cabinet.
If approved, the plan would continue a build-up pursued by Suga’s predecessor Shinzo Abe, that has seen Japan buy planes, missiles and aircraft carriers to give its Self Defence Forces greater range and potency as neighboring China expands its navy and air forces in East Asia.
The latest defence budget request also comes as Japanese policymakers debate whether to arm and train its military to strike distant land targets in China, North Korea and other parts of Asia.
Japan’s new proposed jet fighter, the first in three decades, is expected to cost around $40bn and be ready sometime in the 2030s. The latest budget request asks for $731m for development and research.
Japan’s leading defence company Mitsubishi Heavy Industries is expected to be named as lead contractor next month.
Several overseas companies are also vying to join the project as suppliers and partners, including Lockheed Martin Corp, Boeing Co and Northrop Grumman Corp from the United States and BAE Systems Plc and Rolls Royce Holdings Plc from Britain.
Other proposed purchases include 66.6bn yen for six Lockheed F-35 stealth fighters, two of which are short take-off and vertical landing (STOVL) B variants that will operate off a converted helicopter carrier.
The military also wants 99bn yen to build two new compact warships that can operate with fewer sailors than conventional destroyers and ease pressure on a navy struggling to find recruits in an ageing Japan.
It also wants to upgrade early warning radars and ballistic missile defences, and is asking for funds to be put aside for an as-yet undecided replacement for two planned Aegis Ashore radar stations that were cancelled in June due to costs and concerns about the impact on local residents. (Source: Reuters)
30 Sep 20. America Looks to Build, Strengthen Partnerships in Africa. America will maintain partnerships with like-minded nations in Africa, Defense Secretary Dr. Mark T. Esper said today at the North Africa American Cemetery in Carthage, Tunisia.
U.S. service members will stand by their allies to make the sacrifices of previous generations matter.
The cemetery is the final resting place of more than 2,800 American men and women who fought in North Africa during World War II. The names of more than 3,700 Americans missing in action are carved into a wall facing the graves.
“These soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines, Coast Guardsmen, and merchant mariners fought alongside our partners and friends, living up to their sworn oath to defend the Constitution and the United States, against the forces of evil, in the North African campaign,” Esper said in the remarks after he placed a wreath at the site. “Not only did they make the ultimate sacrifice for our freedoms today, but their experiences in combat also taught us vital lessons that hold true nearly eight decades later — lessons that we must keep close in the years ahead.”
The U.S. troops were part of Operation Torch, launched in November 1942 in Morocco and Algeria. The combat against German and Italian troops went back and forth and it wasn’t until May 1943 that the Axis forces were defeated here in Tunisia. “(The victory) secured North Africa and the Mediterranean’s strategic supply routes, and positioned the allies to liberate Europe,” the secretary said. “Importantly, our victory demonstrated the power of like-minded nations standing arm-in-arm in the campaign against tyranny, and taught us that the way to win is to fight together.”
The horrendous losses of World War II and the allies collective success led to the creation of a post-war international order that has secured peace, stability and prosperity around the world for the past 75 years, the secretary said.
But that global order — based on shared values of liberty, the rule of law, human rights and national sovereignty is under pressure in this new era of great power competition, Esper warned.
“Today, our strategic competitors China and Russia continue to intimidate and coerce their neighbors while expanding their authoritarian influence worldwide, including on this continent,” he said. “At the same time, violent extremists continue to pose a threat not only to regional stability, but also to our homeland. The United States’ enduring partnership with like-minded countries — including here in North Africa — is key to addressing these challenges.”
China is attempting to divide natural allies and put in place a new set of rules that answer to Beijing. Russia is trying to assert its power by acting as a spoiler in Europe but also in neighboring Libya and in Syria.
The effort to counter this requires a whole-of-government approach, but the Defense Department has a role to play. DOD is working to strengthen partners’ defense capabilities and blunt transnational threats, Esper said. “We help degrade violent extremist organizations, and deliver humanitarian aid and disaster relief to local communities,” he said. “And, together we continue to counter the malign, coercive and predatory behavior of Beijing and Moscow, meant to undermine African institutions, erode national sovereignty, create instability and exploit resources throughout the region.”
The United States is doing this work “in good faith and with a sincere aspiration for a more secure, stable and prosperous Africa,” the secretary said. This work includes political and economic development marked by free, fair, and reciprocal trade and investment — and respect for the sovereignty of all nations.
“As the global partner of choice, the United States will continue to deepen our alliances and partnerships across the continent, including with Tunisia, where your democratic government and sovereignty have made much of our work in the region possible,” he said. “We look forward to expanding this relationship to help Tunisia protect its maritime ports and land borders, deter terrorism, and keep the corrosive efforts of autocratic regimes out of your country — as we build closer ties in the spirit and service of those who first set us on this path.” (Source: US DoD)
29 Sep 20. Welcoming historic agreements and working towards a two-state solution. Statement by Ambassador Jonathan Allen at the Security Council briefing on the situation in the Middle East. Thank you, Mr President, and thanks as always to Special Coordinator Mladenov for his words.
Mr President, like others, I’d like to start today by expressing our sincere condolences following the death of His Highness the Amir of Kuwait. As Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said, the personal contribution His Highness made to regional stability, and humanitarian assistance, will long be remembered.
Mr President, the United Kingdom has warmly welcomed the historic steps taken over the last two months, with the normalisation of relations between three great friends of the United Kingdom: Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Israel.
These positive steps are already having an impact, such as direct flights from Israel to the UAE and early commercial agreements. More positive progress will come: trade, cultural and scientific links and much more. We urge others across the region to follow the example of the UAE and Bahrain.
Mr President, we must acknowledge that the agreements represent a profound shift in the region. It is critical that we as the international community build on the momentum of normalisation to take forward resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
In his recent visit to Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab encouraged both the Israeli and Palestinian leaderships to use the suspension of annexation plans – plans the UK strongly opposed – as an opportunity. We urge the Palestinian Authority to resume co-operation with Israel, in the interests of the Palestinian people. We also call on both parties to make constructive and open steps towards a return to dialogue.
Mr President, whilst the threat of annexation appears to have receded, the UK remains concerned by a number of negative trends on the ground. We reiterate our call on both sides to halt any activity that makes peace more difficult to achieve. In accordance with resolution 2334, this includes terrorism, incitement, violence against civilians, demolition of Palestinian property and settlement advancements.
In Gaza, we welcome the agreement reached on the 31st of August, which has restored a degree of calm and led Israel to lift its ban on fuel and good imports through the Kerem Shalom crossing. On the 15th of September, Hamas once more launched rockets into Israel. We condemn these actions: they are unacceptable, unjustifiable and must stop. As ever, dialogue is the only way to address the situation.
We remain concerned at ongoing plans to take forward settlements including in Givat Hamatos, Har Homa, and in E1. All settlements are illegal under International Law. Settlement construction in these highly sensitive areas would damage prospects for a two-state solution and threaten to further undermine the viability of a future Palestinian state with its capital in East Jerusalem.
Despite the spread of COVID-19, 2020 is on course to be the worst year for Israeli demolition of Palestinian property since 2016. This includes donor-funded structures, paid for by Council Members and international partners. In all but the most exceptional of circumstances, demolitions are contrary to International Humanitarian Law. Mr President, we call on Israel to desist from such actions, and to provide a clear, transparent route to construction for Palestinians in Area C. We are also concerned about ongoing evictions of Palestinians from their homes in East Jerusalem.
Israel, like all countries, has a legitimate right to self-defence, and the right to defend its citizens from attack. But in doing this it is vital that all actions are proportionate, in line with International Law, and are calibrated to avoid civilian casualties. For example, the shooting and injuring by the Israeli Defence Forces of an unarmed, deaf and mute Palestinian at the Qalandia checkpoint on the 17th of August is deeply concerning. The Israeli security forces must provide appropriate protection to the Palestinian people and be seen to conduct prompt, transparent investigations into claims of IDF misconduct.
The Palestinian leadership must continue their efforts to tackle terror and incitement, to strengthen institutions and develop a sustainable economy. Hamas and other terrorist groups must permanently end their incitement and rocket fire against Israel. The United Kingdom Government strongly condemns all forms of violence and incitement to violence. We welcome Fatah and Hamas efforts towards reconciliation, and hope that this can lead to the holding of democratic elections across the Occupied Palestinian Territories.
Mr President, let me end by reaffirming that the United Kingdom remains active on the Middle East Peace Process. We continue to work closely with international partners to advocate a two-state solution and encourage a return to meaningful negotiations. Thank you, Mr President. (Source: https://www.gov.uk/)
29 Sep 20. Taiwan defence chief says no signs China is preparing for war. There are no signs that China is preparing for all-out war with Taiwan, such as massing troops along its eastern coast, Taiwan’s defence chief said on Tuesday, after repeated Chinese drills near the island that China claims as its own. Democratic Taiwan has denounced China’s manoeuvres, including flying fighter jets over the sensitive mid-line of the Taiwan Strait, as an attempt at intimidation.
“The Chinese communists have continued their acts of provocation against Taiwan, but there are currently no signs showing it is ready to launch a full-scale war,” Defence Minister Yen De-fa told parliament.
One sign of an imminent attack would be if troops from inland parts of China began massing along its east, but there are no indications that is happening, he added.
Taiwan’s own forces are maintaining peacetime combat preparedness and have not stepped up their alert status, Yen said. Nevertheless he vowed a fight to the last man to defend the island’s sovereignty and democracy.
Last week, in an apparent warning to China, the defence ministry said Taiwan’s armed forces have the right to self-defence and counterattack amid “harassment and threats”.
Taiwan’s military is well armed and well trained, but dwarfed by that of China’s, which is busy adding advanced new equipment, such as stealth fighters.
Premier Su Tseng-chang, also speaking in parliament, said attackers would have to pay a heavy price as Taiwan’s people would tenaciously defend themselves and their land.
“Taiwan would not fall,” added Su, who has previously said he would wield a broom if necessary to fight off a China attack, if that was all that was left.
China has been angered by greater U.S. support for Taiwan, including two visits by top officials, Health Secretary Alex Azar in August and Keith Krach, the undersecretary of state for economic affairs this month.
The United States, which has no diplomatic ties with the island but is its strongest backer, also plans new arms sales to Taiwan. (Source: Reuters)
28 Sep 20. Armenia-Azerbaijan Conflict: Death Toll Rises in Nagorno-Karabakh. Armenia and Azerbaijan have reported increasing civilian and military casualties amid violent clashes over the breakaway enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh. Meanwhile, UN chief Antonio Guterres has called for a ceasefire. Fighting between Azerbaijani and Armenian forces in the Caucasus escalated on Monday, with fresh casualties reported in the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region. Azerbaijani forces launched a “massive offensive at the Karabakh frontline’s southern and north-eastern sectors,” Armenia’s Defense Ministry spokesman Artsrun Hovhannisyan said on Monday evening. Some 200 troops have been wounded, Armenian Defense Ministry said, but many were only slightly injured and have returned to action. Officials in the separatist region of Nagorno-Karabakh said that 26 more of their troops were killed on Monday evening, bringing the rebels’ total military casualties to 84. The overall death toll has now reached 95, with 11 civilians killed since violence broke out on Sunday; nine in Azerbaijan and two on the Armenian side. The worst violence in the region since 2016 has raised the prospect of a new war in an area that has been simmering for decades.
UN Security Council to meet over clashes
The United Nations Security Council is expected to hold emergency talks on the Karabakh conflict on Tuesday, according to diplomats quoted by news agency AFP. The meeting, taken up at the request of France and Germany, will be held behind closed doors.
Earlier on Monday, UN chief Antonio Guterres called for a ceasefire while in talks with the leaders of the two countries.
Guterres stressed “the need for an immediate stop to the fighting and resumption without precondition of meaningful negotiations without delay under the umbrella of the Minsk Group co-chairs,” said Guterres’ spokesperson, Stephane Dujarric.
Mobilizing for war
Both countries have declared martial law. The president of Azerbaijan declared a partial military mobilization in the country as part of a presidential decree on Monday morning. Armenia began a general mobilization on Sunday.
The EU’s foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell, announced on Twitter that he had spoken to ministers of both countries and stressed the need to return to negotiations under the auspices of the Minsk Group — intermediaries consisting of Russia, the US and France, adding that there is “no military solution to the conflict.”
The Russian Foreign Ministry called on both sides to show restraint, according to the Russian news agency Interfax. Russia is an ally of Armenia.
A spokesperson for China’s Foreign Ministry similarly urged restraint and said that they hoped the two countries could resolve their differences through dialogue, Reuters news agency reported.
Claims of Turkish involvement
While many in the international community urged for de-escalation, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan demanded Armenia end its “occupation” of Karabakh.
“The time has come for the crisis in the region that started with the occupation of Nagorny Karabakh to be put to an end,” Erdogan said. “Now Azerbaijan must take matters into its own hands.” (Source: defense-aerospace.com/Deutsche Welle German radio)
25 Sep 20. UAE Submits Request to Buy F-35s from U.S. After Israel Deal. The United Arab Emirates has submitted a formal request to purchase next-generation F-35 jets from the U.S. after the signing of a diplomatic agreement with Israel this month, according to a U.S. official familiar with the issue. The request to the State Department is the first step in a potentially long process to secure the stealthy Lockheed Martin Corp. fighters, the most advanced U.S.-built aircraft. The official didn’t say how many planes the Middle East nation is seeking.
The potential purchase of the F-35s generated some criticism in Israel as the U.S.-brokered agreement between Israel and the UAE neared last week. Under American law, Israel is guaranteed weapons needed to maintain its “qualitative military edge” over Arab nations. U.S. officials have said they can provide that assurance regardless of F-35 sales without specifying publicly what they would offer Israel. (Source: defense-aerospace.com/ Bloomberg News)
28 Sep 20. Win-win – Why Indigenous capability will drive a better defence industry. A global pandemic, fractured supply chains and frosty trade relations – a turbulent 2020 has forced sovereign capability back into focus, with the Indigenous business sector primed and ready to support the nation’s record Defence investment and modernisation programs, explains Adam Goodes, CEO of the Indigenous Defence & Infrastructure Consortium (iDiC).
There has already been a spate of announcements to this effect, the latest being improvements to the Australian Industry Capability (AIC) program and a review into the Australian Standard for Defence Contracting. It demonstrates the Australian government is keenly aware of the need for “a defence force underpinned by Australian sovereign capability”.
But as we look to better cultivate the skills in our own backyard, I ask – what could be a more sovereign capability than Australia’s network of Indigenous businesses?
Disruption reveals opportunity. And as our industry casts its eyes towards the future of defence, we see the importance of Indigenous businesses playing a bigger role. But it will take partnership across the defence industry ecosystem. Without these relationships, without support, the Indigenous business sector will hover at the service provider level, without making valuable inroads to more meaningful contributions.
We already know the benefit of AIC. From a security perspective, Australian capability is critical to building a self-reliant defence industry that isn’t dependant on overseas supply chains. As the current recession starts to bite, investing in defence capability is not only a way to boost small business growth, but keep Australian government funding onshore.
But Indigenous businesses are a win-win for the broader defence industry, too. Most large companies have a corporate social responsibility (CSR) policy, diversity and inclusion teams or even Reconciliation Action Plans. These are all steps in the right direction, but the biggest way companies can make a difference to the Indigenous community isn’t talk – it’s action.
A defence contract is a long-running proposition. Acquisition and sustainment programs can run for 20 or 30 years. For small businesses, this is life changing. For Indigenous businesses, it can reshape generational wealth. Of the Indigenous-owned businesses we work with at iDiC, we estimate 66 per cent of their staff are Indigenous, too.
Further, a cost benefit analysis by Supply Nation found that for every dollar that was invested in an Indigenous business, an average of $4.41 was returned in economic and social value. You won’t find a better return on investment anywhere.
This isn’t about charity. In defence, you’re only as good as your last project. The Indigenous industry spans professional services, engineering, logistics, construction and creative services – businesses which hold their own in very competitive fields. Investing in these businesses not only provides better Australian capability, but it opens defence contractors up to the vast talent in these networks.
Better partnership is required to achieve this and help Indigenous businesses get a foot in the door. If you’ve never worked on a defence project or aren’t on a particular procurement panel, you’re automatically ruled out whether your capabilities match or not. Without a pre-existing relationship with a prime contractor, an Indigenous business won’t get a look in.
But the primary challenge for Indigenous businesses is fear of the unknown. Many large defence contractors haven’t worked with Indigenous businesses before. In a world where the environment is volatile and trust is in short supply, additional uncertainty can be a step too far.
This is why relationships are important. Because the benefits of working with an Indigenous business aren’t something that can be quantified by procurement departments. It isn’t CSR. It’s about doing good business; smart business. It’s about building networks that endure and further Australia’s capability.
And it will be more important in the future. With the uncertainty in the world today, I’m seeing trusted brands and relationships outweighing ‘value for money’ policy determinations. A reliable network of the right local skillsets will be key to moving forward.
Good policy is important; it means Australia is fair dinkum about sovereign capability. But giving Indigenous businesses the opportunity to add value requires more than regulation – we need the right partnership with industry and for this to be recognised by government.
COVID-19 has been an opportunity to pause and reflect on the Australia we want for the future. As defence continues to be a major part of government stimulus, our industry has the potential – and the responsibility – to take as many people on the journey as possible.
Sovereign capability means looking at the skills and talents we already have, and nurturing them for the future. Our vibrant, brilliant Indigenous business sector would be a fitting place to start.
Adam Goodes is the CEO of Indigenous Defence & Infrastructure Consortium (iDiC). (Source: Defence Connect)
Founded in 1987, Exensor Technology is a world leading supplier of Networked Unattended Ground Sensor (UGS) Systems providing tailored sensor solutions to customers all over the world. From our Headquarters in Lund Sweden, our centre of expertise in Network Communications at Communications Research Lab in Kalmar Sweden and our Production site outside of Basingstoke UK, we design, develop and produce latest state of the art rugged UGS solutions at the highest quality to meet the most stringent demands of our customers. Our systems are in operation and used in a wide number of Military as well as Homeland Security applications worldwide. The modular nature of the system ensures any external sensor can be integrated, providing the user with a fully meshed “silent” network capable of self-healing. Exensor Technology will continue to lead the field in UGS technology, provide our customers with excellent customer service and a bespoke package able to meet every need. A CNIM Group Company