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15 Oct 20. Moving toward a ceasefire and preventing famine in Yemen. Statement by Ambassador Jonathan Allen, UK Chargé d’Affaires to the UN, at the Security Council briefing on Yemen.
Thank you, Mr President. Let me also thank Under-Secretary-General Lowcock for his briefing, as well as Special Envoy Martin Griffiths.
Mr President, it is not often that we start Yemen discussions with reasons to hope. So let me begin by welcoming the prisoner release news. The first flights happened today following the agreement on 27 September by the parties to release 1,081 prisoners. And I want particularly to applaud the efforts of the International Committee for the Red Cross in this regard.
It’s not just about this specific confidence-building measure; today’s news also demonstrates that dialogue can lead to positive outcomes. That momentum now needs to be carried into the political tracks. The parties must agree urgently to the United Nations Joint Declaration. On the Riyadh agreement, I welcome the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s leadership to achieve a resolution and urge the parties to form a government rapidly.
I want to echo what Martin Griffiths said about the importance in this anniversary month of Resolution 1325 of the inclusion of women in political processes, including in Yemen.
Now I want to also welcome Martin Griffith’s assessment that the violence in Marib has decreased recently whilst echoing his call for it to stop completely. It has passed into its sixth month and has caused untold cost in the lives of many Yemenis – young and old, men and women. And the fighting that has now opened up in Hodeidah is not only in clear breach of the Hodeidah Agreement, but it is needless and it will only lead to further instability in a country which is staring down the barrel of disease and famine. So I want to call today for renewed and urgent engagement with UNMHA and the UN Special Envoy in order to reach a ceasefire. And I stress that the Yemeni parties – which means the Government of Yemen just as much as it means the Houthis – should cooperate with the Special Envoy to agree to this Joint Declaration proposals as soon as possible. I want to reiterate the United Kingdom’s full confidence in the UN-led process and the UNSE Griffiths.
Mr President, on 22 September, the Spokesman of the Iranian Armed Forces, General Shekarchi, admitted that Iran had provided technical assistance and training to the Houthis. This represents an apparent breach of the arms embargo. This is deeply concerning and reaffirms our concerns about destabilising Iranian activity in Yemen and the wider region. We call on Iran to cease such activity, which risks escalating the conflict, and to support a political solution to the conflict in Yemen.
Mr President, we must prevent Yemen tipping into famine. We welcome the recent positive steps by some donors to provide humanitarian funding, including new commitments from the United States, Kuwait and some EU Member States, as well as seeing Saudi Arabia sign agreements with UN agencies. The United Kingdom itself recently announced over $65m dollars in additional funding, taking us to over $250m dollars for this year and building on nearly $300 m dollars last year. Globally though, funding levels for Yemen remain alarmingly low at 42 percent, with less than half the level of funding from this time last year.
Meanwhile, severe access constraints – some in the south, but mainly in Houthi areas – continue to prevent the delivery of lifesaving assistance. This is recklessly driving up the risk of famine. As of 27 September, 94 NGO projects with a cumulative budget of $218m dollars, remained unimplemented, largely due to Houthi restrictions. All barriers, wherever they are in the country, to humanitarian access must immediately be removed, and the Houthis must give the United Nations and NGOs the permissions they need to operate and save lives across the north.
Mark Lowcock welcomed the reopening of Sanaa Airport for humanitarian cases. And I want to agree with him and say that it is essential that Sanaa Airport and Hodeidah port are kept open and that both parties come to an immediate agreement on fuel imports, as Martin Griffiths laid out.
If we’re to avoid famine, it’s essential as well that the Central Bank of Yemen is swiftly provided with external financial assistance so it has sufficient hard currency to sustain food imports and stabilise prices. Food affordability, rather than availability, seems to be the main driver of hunger at present. The exchange rate in the south has reached its lowest level since the conflict began. And food security is rapidly deteriorating. The proportion of people unable to find sufficient amounts of food increased from 28 percent in May to 43 percent in August. The Government of Yemen has a critical role to play here, too. They urgently need to develop a credible and transparent economic plan that reassures donors of their ability to implement economic reform.
Finally, Mr President, I want to welcome the tentative news that UNOPS and the Houthis appear to have agreed in principle to a mission to conduct an assessment and subsequent light repairs on the Safer oil tanker. I understand that it could take well over a month for the experts’ work to be completed. And so any unnecessary delay must be avoided. I look forward to next month’s briefing and hope that we will have news then that the mission is underway. And I also want to thank Germany, the Netherlands and France for joining the United Kingdom and Saudi Arabia in providing funding for the initial mission.
Thank you, Mr President. (Source: https://www.gov.uk/)
15 Oct 20. Airbus forms Team Maier to increase Australia’s sovereign industrial capability. Call for suppliers to engage with Airbus bid for Australian next generation military SATCOMs.
Airbus has formed Team Maier and will partner with key Australian space and technology companies, and academia, as it launches its solution to Joint Project (JP) 9102 to provide a complete Defence Satellite Communications System.
Airbus is looking to substantially increase sovereign industrial space and defence capability in Australia through its bid to deliver sovereign military satellite communication capability for Australia and the Asia-Pacific Region.
Access to space is critical to Australia’s security and the Government is enhancing its investment in space capabilities across the spectrum. In response, Airbus has formed Team Maier to bring Australian expertise and capabilities to the forefront of their solution, developing workshare and export opportunities for SMEs, job creation, technology transfer and innovation.
Andrew Mathewson, Airbus Head of Country – Australia and New Zealand, said “We have always recognised the expertise and capabilities that Australian companies and academia can bring to our business, and how important synergies can be achieved. Reinforcing our long-standing commitment to the Commonwealth of Australia, our new Team Maier brings in partners to enable the Australian Defence Force to achieve its strategic objectives of Shape, Deter, and Respond across the Indo-Pacific region.”
“Airbus has injected more than A$950m of activities into the Australian aerospace industry over the last three years, for civil and military fixed-wing and rotary wing aircraft, generating economic benefits of over A$1.7bn for Australia. We are now looking to build on that with space.”
“Airbus thanks the Meriam people of the Eastern Islands of the Torres Strait for permission to use their language in the naming of our JP9102 Industry Team, and pays respect to their Elders, past and present.”
As part of Team Maier, Airbus has launched its call on the supplier database ICN Gateway at https://gateway.icn.org.au/project/4552/airbus-space which details the range of key technologies, specialist skills and manufacturing capabilities that it’s looking to source from Australia as part of its programme.
Team Maier will bring on board partners across space, technology and academia, enabling further innovative solutions and niche capabilities to the Commonwealth.
Airbus has owned and operated the UK Skynet military satellite communications system, providing 24/7 services across the world for more than 15 years on behalf of the UK Ministry of Defence, under a multi-billion contract. Through the Skynet programme Airbus provides a range of space-based services to export customers worldwide including Australia, the US and other NATO Allies.
In 2016 Airbus invested in a brand new purpose built satellite ground station in Adelaide, to land Skynet secure military satellite communications. This key ground station in Australia extended its existing chain of teleports in France, Germany, Norway, the UK and the USA, providing global coverage in both fixed and mobile satellite services. This worldwide teleport network provides global coverage for connectivity services by providing the link between the satellite constellation and terrestrial networks for reliable end-to-end connectivity at the highest service level.
Airbus has over five decades of presence in Australia, across the country’s defence, helicopters and commercial aircraft segments. The company has directly invested more than A$100m into ARH Tiger and MRH90 projects. With a strong local team of more than 1,500 employees working across 21 sites for civil and military fixed-wing and rotary wing aircraft, Airbus is committed to long term collaborative relationships that will deliver real results for Australia’s Defence industry capabilities, create local jobs and technology upskilling.
14 Oct 20. Joint Communique of the 52nd U.S.-Republic of Korea Security Consultative Meeting.
- The 52nd United States (U.S.)-Republic of Korea (ROK) Security Consultative Meeting (SCM) was held in Washington, D.C., on October 14, 2020. U.S. Secretary of Defense Mark Esper and ROK Minister of National Defense Suh Wook led their respective delegations, which included senior defense and foreign affairs officials. On October 13, 2020, U.S. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Mark Milley, and ROK Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Won In-choul, presided over the 45th U.S.-ROK Military Committee Meeting (MCM).
- The Secretary and the Minister noted that the SCM has played a pivotal role in the development of the U.S.-ROK Alliance. The two leaders recognized that the SCM would continue to be a cornerstone venue to discuss and affirm national commitments. Both sides pledged to continue to develop the Alliance—the linchpin of peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula and in Northeast Asia—in a mutually reinforcing and future-oriented manner. The Secretary and the Minister also noted that future defense cooperation, mutual trust, and shared values such as freedom, democracy, human rights, and the rule of law—on which the relationship is built—would be further enhanced through continued commitment to the objectives set forth in the Joint Study for the Future Defense Vision of the ROK-U.S. Alliance.
- The Secretary and the Minister reviewed the current security environment on the Korean Peninsula and in the region and discussed cooperative measures between the two nations. The two sides additionally had an in-depth discussion on North Korean military activities. In recognition of the significant threat that North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs pose to international security, both sides reaffirmed the need for close coordination and cooperation to establish a permanent peace on the Korean Peninsula through complete denuclearization of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), as well as dismantlement of its ballistic missile program, consistent with multiple United Nations Security Council Resolutions. The Secretary and the Minister urged North Korea to fulfill its commitments under the Panmunjom Declaration for Peace, Prosperity, and Reunification of the Korean Peninsula, the Singapore Summit Joint Statement between President Donald J. Trump and Chairman Kim Jong Un, and other relevant arrangements and agreements.
- The Minister noted that the various measures carried out by the ROK and North Korean military authorities for the implementation of the Panmunjom Declaration and the Comprehensive Military Agreement (CMA) set conditions for the easing of military tensions and reducing the threat of war on the Peninsula. The two leaders concurred that the cessation of hostilities on the ground, and in the sea and air, through the inter-Korean implementation of the CMA, and continued United Nations Command (UNC) enforcement and management of the Armistice Agreement, maintained stability and significantly reduced the possibility of accidental clashes. The Minister reaffirmed the ROK’s commitment to ensure that the implementation of the CMA contributes to the establishment of peace on the peninsula. The Minister also expressed his expectation that the buffer zone, agreed to through the CMA, would contribute to preventing accidental clashes and supporting military confidence-building measures on the Korean Peninsula. He expressed that the CMA implementation efforts should continue, including: the withdrawal of guard posts in the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ), and the establishment and functioning of the inter-Korean joint military committee. Both sides decided to continue to seek means of enhancing our security dialogues to better meet today’s security environment.
- The Secretary and the Minister reaffirmed the role of the United Nations Command (UNC) in maintaining and enforcing the Armistice Agreement. Both leaders affirmed that the UNC has contributed to the successful maintenance of peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula for 67 years and continues to carry out its mission and tasks with the utmost respect for ROK sovereignty. The Minister additionally noted that the Northern Limit Line (NLL) has been an effective means of separating ROK and DPRK military forces and preventing military tension to date. The Secretary acknowledged that military confidence-building measures are important for establishing peace on the Korean Peninsula, and he noted the important role performed by the UNC in implementing the Armistice Agreement and enabling confidence-building measures on the Korean Peninsula. The Minister affirmed his support for the roles and responsibilities assigned to the UNC in accordance with the Armistice Agreement and the relevant United Nations Security Council Resolutions.
- The Secretary and the Minister assessed that the U.S.-ROK Alliance is strong and reaffirmed the two nations’ mutual commitment to a combined defense as agreed in the U.S.-ROK Mutual Defense Treaty to defend the ROK. The Secretary and the Minister noted that U.S. forces in the ROK have played a critical role in maintaining peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula for more than 67 years, and reaffirmed that U.S. Forces Korea (USFK) are to continue to play an important role in preventing armed conflict on the Korean Peninsula, and in promoting peace and stability in Northeast Asia. The Secretary reaffirmed the unshakable commitment of the United States to the combined defense of the ROK, as enshrined in the Mutual Defense Treaty. The Secretary also reaffirmed the continued U.S. commitment to provide extended deterrence to the ROK using the full range of military capabilities, including U.S. nuclear, conventional, and missile defense capabilities. The Secretary and the Minister committed to ensure that the Alliance deterrence posture remains credible, capable, and enduring. To this end, the two leaders pledged to enhance deterrence through the implementation of many of the policy recommendations from the Extended Deterrence Joint Study. The two leaders committed to make a long-term plan to establish the conditions for the stable stationing of the Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) battery at Camp Carroll as part of this commitment. The two leaders also pledged to explore jointly measures to enhance the Alliance deterrence posture and implement the Tailored Deterrence Strategy while considering the effects of changes in the security environment on the Peninsula and in the region.
- The Secretary and the Minister received a report on the results of the U.S.-ROK MCM from the U.S.-ROK Combined Forces Command (CFC) Commander, General Robert Abrams, which highlighted that the combined defense posture is capable and ready to “Fight Tonight” and is prepared to respond effectively to any security challenge. The Secretary expressed commitment to the CFC Commander’s efforts to update operational plans and Alliance procedures to respond to situations on the Korean Peninsula or in the region, considering changes in the operational environment relevant to the current CFC.
- The Secretary and the Minister reaffirmed the need to continue to conduct combined exercises and training events on the Peninsula to strengthen Alliance readiness. The two sides also assessed that the 20-2 Combined Command Post Training, undertaken despite the COVID-19 pandemic and other combined training events performed throughout the year in a balanced manner, added strength to the U.S.-ROK combined defense posture and military readiness. Each side assessed that the U.S.-ROK Alliance must continue to focus on military readiness and on the combined defense posture to address the dynamic changes on the Peninsula.
- The two leaders also emphasized that continuous training opportunities for USFK are critical to maintaining a strong combined defense posture. The Secretary and the Minister concurred in the importance of communication and cooperation between the ROK Ministry of National Defense (MND) and USFK to coordinate for more effective and productive joint use of ROK facilities and airspace for the USFK training required to maintain readiness within our strong combined defense posture. The two leaders also committed to continue cooperation on and set tangible milestones for the development of a combined joint multi-purpose live-fire training complex.
- The Secretary and the Minister expressed appreciation for the CFC, which has played a central role in deterring war on the Korean Peninsula and defending the ROK since its establishment in 1978. The Secretary and the Minister reviewed preparations for the relocation of the CFC Headquarters (HQ) to Camp Humphreys. The two leaders also expressed their expectation that the CFC HQ relocation would contribute to an enhanced combined defense posture and shared the understanding that the relocation would be expeditiously completed as soon as the site was administratively and operationally suitable. Both sides also pledged to work together to carry out the CFC Headquarters relocation with purpose in a safe, seamless, and effective manner.
- The Secretary and the Minister reviewed the progress on directed tasks from the Conditions-based Operational Control (OPCON) Transition Plan (COTP). The two sides noted progress made in the COTP and discussed the way forward for wartime OPCON transition to the Future Combined Forces Command (F-CFC) including the FOC certification. The two leaders reaffirmed that the conditions stated in the mutually agreed COTP must be fully met before the wartime OPCON is transitioned to the F-CFC. The two sides also reaffirmed the intent to comply fully with the 2015 COTP Base Plan as well as the 2018 COTP Change One. The Secretary and the Minister positively noted the development this year of a single set of bilaterally formulated strategic documents for use in the assessments of Initial Operational Capability (IOC) and Full Operational Capability (FOC) for F-CFC. They further applauded the efforts of the Alliance to complete the F-CFC IOC certification assessment during the Crisis Management Staff Training (CMST) this Fall and the Secretary also noted the necessity of updating the 2016 Crisis Management Memorandum of Agreement (CM MOA) by the end of the year.
- The Secretary and the Minister acknowledged that great progress had been made toward meeting the conditions for wartime OPCON transition through U.S.-ROK joint efforts. The two sides noted multiple Permanent Military Committee Meetings (PMCs) on COTP topics were held in 2020 and concurred that the activities of the PMCs promoted the credibility of the evaluation and understanding of the conditions. The Minister reaffirmed that the ROK military will continue to acquire defense capabilities established in the conditions-based plan signed in 2015 and its change in 2018, and would pursue the plan’s objectives in a systematic manner. The Secretary and the Minister also affirmed the necessity to cooperate closely to strengthen the Alliance’s combined defense capabilities and committed to continue efforts to meet the conditions for transition through a joint study on bridging and enduring capabilities. The Secretary committed to the provision of bridging capabilities, but noted the need first to understand ROK acquisition plans in order to determine what specific capabilities are needed, and for how long. Owing to South Korea’s economic and military advances, the Minister noted that the ROK will acquire, develop, and provide these capabilities, and committed to more robust discussions on ROK acquisition planning. The Minister reaffirmed the ROK commitment to acquire appropriate defense capabilities of the ROK military necessary for the defense of the Korean Peninsula. The Secretary and the Minister pledged to continue the joint study to optimize the bridging and enduring capabilities in conjunction with the development of the ROK capabilities. The two sides pledged to engage in regular evaluation and review of progress in OPCON transition implementation at the annual SCM and MCMs in order to maintain a steadfast combined defense system.
- The Secretary and the Minister decided to continue strengthening cooperation in various areas, including space and cyber, in order to ensure an effective response against newly emerging threats and to bolster comprehensive Alliance response capabilities. The Secretary and the Minister acknowledged the efforts of the respective defense authorities working to promote critical infrastructure, including information and space systems, and to improve the security of such systems. The two sides expressed their shared goal of fostering closer space policy development for the Alliance. The two sides pledged to explore further cooperative measures to strengthen space capabilities as an Alliance, such as improving space situational awareness information-sharing systems, and expanding bilateral and multilateral combined exercises and training events to improve the Alliance space operation capabilities. The Secretary and the Minister also committed to exploring opportunities to develop space professionals. The two sides committed to maintain close communication and coordination regarding the cyber domain through sharing trends of cyber threats as well as discussing corresponding policy changes. They also concurred in the need for exchanges between the respective cyber commands with the aim of discussing and promoting mutual interests.
- The Secretary and the Minister reaffirmed their commitment to advancing Alliance priorities and plans in the areas of capability development, interoperability, acquisition, and sustainment by more effectively leveraging U.S.-ROK consultative bodies and activities that address defense research and development, as well as industrial cooperation, capability acquisition, lifecycle logistics, and technology security. The two sides also pledged to pursue expeditiously revisions of bilateral consultative bodies while continuing to coordinate objectives and activities across these areas to provide timely and integrated capability solutions to Alliance requirements.
- The Secretary and the Minister also noted that U.S.-ROK science and technology cooperation has expanded in several domains such as cyber defense, artificial intelligence, automation, and directed energy. The two sides assessed that such cooperation is continuing to develop in a way that furthers U.S.-ROK mutual interests.
- The Secretary and the Minister pledged to continue enhancing defense and security cooperation to address wide-ranging global security challenges of mutual interest given the complex security dynamics in the region and around the world. In that sense, they also emphasized the need to seek synergies in U.S. and ROK regional strategies. The two leaders reaffirmed the importance of the rules-based international order and adherence to international rules and norms, including those of freedom of navigation and overflight. They further expressed their intent to work together for that purpose. They also reiterated their commitment to peacekeeping operations (PKO), counter-piracy operations, stabilization and reconstruction efforts, regional security cooperation initiatives, and humanitarian assistance and disaster relief. The Secretary highlighted the effective leadership of the ROK in response to COVID-19 and expressed appreciation for the personal protective equipment (PPE) support that the ROK provided to the United States earlier this year. The two sides committed to continuing close coordination and cooperation to deal with this global pandemic. The Minister also noted the COVID-19 support that the United States and the ROK were providing to various nations in the region and the stringent measures USFK was taking to ensure COVID-19 protection. The Secretary also separately expressed appreciation for the ROK’s dedication and contribution to various global security efforts, including the Proliferation Security Initiative. The Secretary and the Minister applauded the U.S.-ROK Counter Weapons of Mass Destruction (CWMD) efforts to enhance the Alliance’s combined response capabilities to prevent the acquisition and use of WMD, and, if necessary, to respond to mitigate WMD threats. They resolved to continue discussions about strengthening cooperation through the ROK-U.S. Counter WMD Committee (CWMDC), which has enhanced the Alliance CWMD capabilities.
- The two leaders committed to continue U.S.-ROK-Japan trilateral defense cooperation such as information-sharing, high-level policy consultation, including the defense trilateral talks (DTT), combined exercises, and personnel exchanges to maintain the peace and security of Northeast Asia.
- The Secretary and the Minister reaffirmed that expedited USFK base relocations and land returns including those of the Yongsan Garrison are in the interest of both countries and pledged to work together closely on relevant matters, including environmental conditions, to ensure timely base returns in accordance with the U.S.-ROK Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA). The U.S. side noted that seventeen sites are ready for return to the ROK Government at this time. The Secretary and the Minister confirmed their intent to continue to discuss relevant issues through the established processes of the U.S.-ROK SOFA Joint Committee.
- The Secretary offered his appreciation for the ROK’s contributions toward ensuring a stable stationing environment for U.S. forces in Korea while emphasizing the importance of defense cost-sharing. The Secretary noted that the current lack of a Special Measures Agreement (SMA) could have lasting effects for Alliance readiness if an expeditious agreement is not reached. The two sides concurred in the necessity of expeditiously resolving the SMA negotiations, in a fair, equitable, and mutually agreeable manner, particularly in light of the impact of the lapse on the ROK-U.S. Alliance.
- Secretary Esper and Minister Suh expressed appreciation for the courtesy, hospitality, and work by both sides that contributed to the success of this year’s SCM. The Secretary and the Minister both assessed that the discussions during the 52th SCM and the 45th MCM contributed substantively to strengthening the ROK-U.S. Alliance and further enhanced the development of the bilateral defense relationship into a mutually reinforcing Alliance. Both sides expect to hold the 53rd SCM and 46th MCM in Seoul at a mutually convenient time in 2021. (Source: US DoD)
14 Oct 20. Outgoing Pakistan Navy chief reveals details of modernization programs. Pakistan’s Navy is racing to plug operational and technological gaps as part of an unprecedented modernization effort, according to the outgoing naval chief, but analysts are divided on whether the move will deter adversaries.
Adm. Zafar Mahmood Abbasi was speaking during the an Oct. 6 change-of-command ceremony when he detailed measures he enacted, prioritizing “combat readiness and offensive capability” for the historically undersized force amid tension with India.
In addition to reorganizing the Navy’s force structure, he outlined acquisition and development programs, some of which were mentioned for the first time or had new details confirmed. These included:
- Expanding the Navy to more than 50 warships (more than doubling major surface combatants to 20, with plans for six additional large offshore patrol vessels).
- The apparent free transfer of a Chinese Yuan-class submarine to train Pakistani crews for its eight Hangor subs.
- Developing the hypersonic P282 ship-launched anti-ship/land-attack ballistic missile.
- Establishing the Naval Research and Development Institute to nurture indigenous design talent (it is presently engaged in programs such as the Jinnah-class frigate, Hangor-class subs, UAV jammers, directed-energy weapons, underwater sonar surveillance coastal defense systems, unmanned underwater vehicles and unmanned combat aerial vehicles).
- Replacing of the P-3C Orion patrol aircraft with 10 converted commercial jets, the first of which has been ordered.
- Acquiring medium-altitude, long-endurance unmanned combat aerial vehicles as well as 20 indigenous gunboats, which are to be commissioned by 2025.
The Navy would not provide more details when asked, though the gunboats were previously confirmed as undergoing design.
However, analysts are divided on whether these programs will prove a sufficient deterrent against Pakistan’s archrival India.
Author, analyst and former Australian defense attache to Islamabad, Brian Cloughley, claimed it is “quite impossible for Pakistan to achieve a naval structure that even approaches that of the Indian Navy.”
“It cannot afford it. At best, its deterrence value would be entirely local,” he said.
Though he described India’s aircraft carriers as “decidedly inferior in effectiveness in international terms, and present no threat to China,” they are a “major threat” to Pakistan’s Navy when they are out of range of shore-based air power.
In the event of a conflict involving India’s Navy, Pakistan “would deploy all its assets to destroy it, and although the [Indian Navy] would suffer major losses, the attrition factor would be the decider,” he added.
In contrast, expansion of the Pakistan Navy would “effectively neutralize India’s growing naval capability,” according to Mansoor Ahmed, a senior research fellow at the Center for International Strategic Studies in Islamabad. He noted that India has “long enjoyed the most decisive numerical advantage; that is potentially destabilizing, as it could encourage belligerency and aggression, and fuel crisis instability.”
However, Pakistan’s modernization efforts would “help keep the nuclear threshold high,” “enhance Pakistan’s second-strike capability by increasing survivability of its surface and submarine fleet,” and provide considerably increased capacity for attrition, Ahmed added.
Similarly, Tom Waldwyn, a naval expert at the London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies, said there is merit in the expansion program.
“Certainly the ship- and submarine-building plans, once realized, will be a significant boost to Pakistan’s conventional maritime capability. By the end of this decade, the frigate fleet will grow by half and the submarine fleet will probably double in size. The planned gunboats could free up the new frigates to perform tasks the Pakistan Navy is currently not able to do as often,” he said.
The Hangor program is probably the most noteworthy because of China’s involvement, Waldwyn added. “Although local build of Hangor submarines is planned to be complete before the end of the decade, regenerating that industrial capability will be a big effort, and I expect that Chinese assistance in doing so will be crucial.”
But one factor depends on whether Germany provides export clearance of diesel engines for the submarine. Pakistan’s Ministry of Defence Production, the Navy’s public relations department, the German embassy in Islamabad, and Germany’s Federal Office for Economic Affairs and Export Control all declined to respond to Defense News’ inquiries about the engines.
It is unknown whether the program is now proceeding with Chinese substitutes.
Weapons and platforms
Announcement of a contract for unmanned combat aerial vehicles, however, appears to be official confirmation the Chinese Wing Loong II deal first reported in October 2018. Though photographed undergoing testing in Pakistan, there was never official confirmation of a contract.
Air power expert at the Royal United Services Institute think tank, Justin Bronk, said it “is probably one of the most effective options for armed UAV acquisition available to Pakistan.”
“It has proven fairly satisfactory in service with the [United Arab Emirates] and others, and can carry a wide variety of cheap and effective Chinese munitions. Its sensor capabilities are not up to U.S. standards, especially in terms of stabilization. But given that sales of MQ-9 and other comparable U.S. systems are restricted, and Israeli UAVs are seldom exported with acknowledged weapons capabilities, Wing Loong II is probably the best option available,” Bronk explained.
In regard to what aircraft Pakistan will choose to replace its P-3C Orion fleet, Defense News asked the Navy and the Ministry of Defence Production, but neither provided details by press time.
A small number of business or regional jets from Brazil, Russia or Ukraine with non-Western systems (to avoid sanctions) could readily be converted to suit Pakistan’s requirements. However, there is no official, publicly available notice or hint of sale to Pakistan from these countries’ manufacturers, and there was no response to related queries.
Such a conversion could be locally done, as wider naval modernization is underpinned by Pakistan’s in-house research and development program. Still, the IISS analyst added, it’s not essential the work be performed domestically.
On the modernization effort as a whole, Waldwyn noted that “developing the local capability to design and build this equipment is not a prerequisite to providing conventional deterrence in the short term, and importing equipment from abroad can sometimes be less expensive.”
“However, there is value to developing the defense industrial base and sovereign technological capabilities, as it can protect you against geopolitical changes going forward,” the IISS analyst added.
For Ahmed, domestic work would demonstrate Pakistan “is determined to maintain the required level of modernization” — particularly with directed-energy weapons.
Meanwhile, he said he’s uncertain what new purpose the P282 missile will serve. He is unconvinced the P282 is a hypersonic cruise missile intended to replace the current ship- and submarine-launched Harbah cruise missile. However, if the P282 is a ballistic missile as claimed, “it would make sense only if deployed on a submarine” where it could serve as part of Pakistan’s nuclear deterrent.
Nevertheless, he added, the modernization program will still “greatly enhance the overall credibility of Pakistan’s deterrent posture vis-a-vis India.” (Source: Defense News)
14 Oct 20. UK and Qatar commit to a stronger defence relationship. Defence Secretary Ben Wallace and his Qatari counterpart have committed to strengthening the UK-Qatar defence relationship during a joint visit to RAF Coningsby today. During a tour of the base, which is already home to the UK-Qatari joint Typhoon squadron, the two Defence Ministers signed a Statement of Intent setting out how the UK will offer a British base for the Qatari Emiri Air Force’s (QEAF) recently acquired nine Hawk aircraft.
The QEAF’s latest acquisition opens doors for a potential new UK-Qatari Hawk squadron, which would further deepen the UK’s defence relationship with Qatar and contribute to the security and stability of the Middle East.
Qatar and the UK work closely together to protect that stability. The details of the latest strike by RAF Reaper unmanned aircraft against Daesh have also been released today by the Ministry of Defence that were co-ordinated by the RAF’s No.83 Expeditionary Air Group in Al Udeid, Qatar.
Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said: “Today we mark the start of an exciting new chapter in the longstanding defence relationship between the UK and Qatar, reinforcing and strengthening the bonds our Armed Forces already share. Building upon the success of our joint Typhoon squadron, this new era of collaboration will deliver prosperity and security benefits for both our nations.”
The Defence Secretary and His Excellency Dr Khalid bin Mohamed Al Attiyah, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of State for Defence Affairs in Qatar, also officially opened the joint Typhoon squadron (12 Squadron) headquarters during their visit to RAF Coningsby today.
12 Squadron is the UK’s first joint squadron since World War Two, and its new headquarters will allow pilots and air crews from both air forces to train together in state-of-the-art facilities.
Built in under 60 weeks by a team of over 30 sub-contractors from both national and local supply chains, it is expected that the basing of a new Hawk squadron will bring similar benefits to the UK.
Since commencing flying as a joint squadron in June 2020, 12 Squadron have achieved several milestones including training with heavy weapons and taking part in an exercise at sea alongside the Royal Navy.
The Statement of Intent will build on this work by providing the RAF with access to increased flying hours, giving the QEAF access to world-class RAF accredited training, and delivering long-term investment in infrastructure and training facilities to the RAF.
This partnership will also enable the two nations to continue discussions to establish a suitable air-to-air refuelling support solution for Qatar, which would see the RAF and QEAF further aligned on Multi Role Tanker Transport capability.
Today’s event builds upon the Defence Secretary’s talks with HE Dr Khalid during his visit to Qatar in September, where he also toured the Combined Air Operations Centre in Al Udeid, where strikes are coordinated from as part of Operation Shader. (Source: https://www.gov.uk/)
14 Oct 20. North Korea’s nuclear, missile programs ‘serious threat’ to security: Pentagon chief. U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper on Wednesday said North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs pose a global threat, after Pyongyang’s unveiling of previously unseen intercontinental ballistic missiles at a predawn military parade.
The appearance of a new intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) during a weekend parade in North Korea captivated many Western analysts. But officials in South Korea were far more concerned by the display of new multiple launch rocket systems (MLRS) and fast, maneuverable short-range missiles that would be ideal for striking targets in the South.
Speaking before the start of a meeting with South Korean Defense Minister Suh Wook at the Pentagon, Esper said: “We agree that North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs remain a serious threat to the security and stability of the region and the world.”
“The United States remains committed to the security of the Republic of Korea,” Esper said.
He added, however, that South Korea and the United States must find a more equitable way of sharing defense costs so it “doesn’t fall unequally on the American taxpayers.”
U.S. President Donald Trump, who has touted his relationship with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, has repeatedly said Seoul should pay for a larger share of the cost of U.S. military forces deployed in the South.
Some 28,500 American troops are deployed in South Korea, in what is seen as a deterrent to Pyongyang that also sends a message to China about U.S. influence and capability in Asia.
Separately, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, citing a lack of ICBM tests by Pyongyang last year, told reporters on Wednesday there was a reduced risk to the United States from North Korea due to Trump’s policy of engagement.
South Korea’s national security advisor Suh Hoon is also in Washington this week for previously unannounced meetings with his U.S. counterpart as well as Pompeo, South Korea’s presidential Blue House said in Seoul on Thursday. (Source: Reuters)
14 Oct 20. Turkish arms sales to Azerbaijan surged before Nagorno-Karabakh fighting. Turkey’s military exports to its ally Azerbaijan have risen six-fold this year, with sales of drones and other military equipment rising to $77m last month alone before fighting broke out over the Nagorno-Karabakh region, according to exports data.
The figures compiled by the Turkish Exporters’ Assembly, which groups more than 95,000 exporting companies in 61 sectors, show Azerbaijan bought $123m in defence and aviation equipment from Turkey in the first nine months of 2020.
Most of the purchases of drones, rocket launchers, ammunition and other weapons arrived were after July, when border clashes between Armenian and Azeri forces prompted Turkey and Azerbaijan to conduct joint military exercises.
Sales jumped from $278,880 in the month of July to $36m in the month of August, and $77.1m in just September, the data showed. Military sales to Azerbaijan in the first nine months of 2019 totalled $20.7m.
Fighting between Azeri and ethnic Armenian forces broke out on Sept. 27 over Nagorno-Karabakh, a mountain enclave which is recognised internationally as part of Azerbaijan but is governed and populated by ethnic Armenians.
“Azerbaijan clearly turned to Turkey for help … and wasted no time realising that the threat would grow,” said Istanbul-based defence analyst Turan Oguz.
“Ankara is very determined in providing Baku with its needs,” he said. “The strong defence cooperation between Azerbaijan and Turkey is getting stronger by the day.”
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan has backed Azerbaijan and said Armenians must withdraw from Nagorno-Karabakh.
Ankara, which wants a role in ceasefire talks, says it is not directly involved in the fighting. But Azeri officials have touted their use of Turkish armed drones, which have spearheaded Ankara’s military operations in Syria, Iraq and Libya.
The surge in arms sales reflects Turkey’s growing cross-border influence in the region, and is one measure of how quickly Azerbaijan embraced Ankara before the flare-up of the decades-old conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh. (Source: Reuters)
15 Oct 20. Preparing for the potential flash point that is Taiwan’s 2020 presidential election.
Greg Sheridan is probably right. Any conflict between China and the US over Taiwan this November is likely to be small scale and not involve actual shooting. We should be grateful for that – but not complacent, explains Senator for NSW Jim Molan.
That’s because the prospects for war between the US and China are increasing nonetheless. How Australia and the world, but mainly the US, would react is critical to preserving Australia as a free and democratic nation.
For China and President Xi Jinping, Taiwan is an issue concerning the legitimacy of the Chinese Communist Party and his leadership, as much as it is about reunification. But the window of opportunity for Xi to act, to fulfil his public promise to reunite Taiwan, will not be open for ever. He may choose to achieve his aim by force.
Some Chinese forces could move very quickly across the strait if surprise was achieved, and established ashore in only a few days. It would have a reasonable chance of success if the US hesitates to intervene, especially if it experiences internal turmoil after the election.
Should Taiwan be defended? Of course it should. If our allies let democratic Taiwan, whose people are stridently anti-reunification, be the next victim of China’s aggression, what can Australia conclude about its own future in this region?
Can Taiwan be defended? Of course it can. Like the defence of Poland and France in 1939-40, it just requires will and time. How much will and how much time we have is the big question.
In strategic terms, deterrence must be the overall approach: if successful, the problem does not arise. For deterrence to succeed, an as-yet unformed coalition to oppose the occupation of Taiwan must dissuade the Chinese from invading or make it so potentially costly that it is not an option.
Deterrence only succeeds if China cannot ‘win’. We should remember that China ‘won’ in the South China Sea through a series of small steps, taken very quickly and cumulatively. Once their aim was achieved, their leaders declared the issue an internal matter and fortified the gains.
And once China has Taiwan, it dramatically magnifies its ability to enforce its claim over even more regional areas. So China’s occupation of Taiwan is definitely not in our interests.
Two strategies are possible for Australia, given that the US elections are approaching.
The first is an overall strategy based around a pro-Taiwan group of nations led by the US. Such a group may consist of the Five Eyes nations (Australia, Britain, Canada, America and also NZ), plus the ‘Quad’ members India and Japan in certain circumstances. Hopefully South Korea and others would help where they can. At least passive support from the Philippines would also be needed.
The second is an Australian strategy for defending Australian interests, predominantly our homeland, during and after a Taiwan crisis. This strategy would be needed if China’s invasion developed into a wider war.
These two distinct strategies are linked by the available military capabilities of a pro-Taiwan group and Australia, plus a willingness to act quickly.
Still, we must be realistic. Australia does not have the military to both contribute decisively to a coalition to defend Taiwan, as well as defend Australia if a wider war develops. This is reminiscent of choices Britain faced in 1939 and 1940, having guaranteed the sovereignty of Poland and the defence of France, neither of which they were ever able to do.
Australians must realise that a US-led, pro-Taiwan group may be soundly defeated by China. We are conditioned to think that we win the big wars, and that losing distant small wars is not important. But we may wander unthinkingly into disaster. A defeat may lead to a long and appallingly costly conventional war, even a nuclear exchange or a US withdrawal from our region. Australia’s future would be changed forever.
As the US approaches its elections, with a level of division and violence that the media may be overstating, the chances of powers inimical to the US such as China, Russia, Iran or North Korea taking advantage of this situation must increase.
Russia has also tested the US at election time before. China has taken successful risks, too, such as in the South China Sea, when the US had a weak president. The best chance to deter China is to create a large and powerful coalition.
But the US and others are at a strategic disadvantage. There is always the possibility that the US will overcome its military weaknesses and recalibrate itself, and that process has already started. But this is not possible under three-to-five years in the best circumstances.
There are no US forces on Taiwan to effectively defend the island or act as a tripwire to deter China. Locating US troops on the island would be so effective an action that when it was proposed recently in the US, China stated it would go to war if this occurred.
It is unlikely that the US will move large naval surface forces near Taiwan, at least initially, due to China’s missile capability, especially aircraft carrier-killer missiles. Still, the US has recently hinted that it has submarines in location as a deterrent.
It is also unlikely that the US can sustain a massive punitive air attack on a Chinese invasion force. US forces, especially support forces such as tankers and command aircraft, are very vulnerable to China’s long-range air launched missiles. Much of China’s nuclear and other missile capability is underground.
Conversely, US naval and air bases in the region are very vulnerable to Chinese missile attack, although that may not occur in the initial stages of a Taiwan invasion. That is stuff of all-out war.
The US has not yet put together a coalition of regional nations that could act quickly — as it put NATO together to defend Europe from 1945 to 1991. So a rapid, co-ordinated regional response is unlikely to occur.
China has every advantage in a Taiwan scenario because of geographical proximity to the island, and the overwhelming weight of its forces. It can shield its forces within China from a counter strike. Its undertaken years of preparation, and it has an aggressive nationalistic leadership. It will repress the Taiwanese people mercilessly. Further, the recent history of US and allies compromising might give them confidence. China may not succeed, but the odds are on China’s side.
A successful occupation of Taiwan would see China become the predominant regional power. US credibility would suffer what might be a fatal blow in the eyes of regional countries. What would a rampant China then do?
All this may not happen, and let’s hope it does not. Sadly, a strategy of hope is the strategy of last resort for those that don’t prepare.(Source: Defence Connect)
14 Oct 20. Update: air strikes against Daesh. The RAF are continuing to take the fight to Daesh in Iraq and Syria.
- Tuesday 6 October – an RAF Reaper killed terrorists who had attacked Iraqi security forces in the Anbar desert.
UK Armed Forces continue to provide a significant contribution to the global coalition ensuring the Daesh terrorist group does not become resurgent in Syria and Iraq, with Royal Air Force aircraft flying daily armed reconnaissance patrols. On Tuesday 6 October, a small group of Daesh extremists attacked Iraqi security forces in the desert of Anbar province, west of Baghdad. A coalition air strike provided immediate support to the Iraqi troops, and succeeded in destroying half the attacking Daesh group. An RAF Reaper was then tasked to deal with the remaining terrorists. The crew of the Reaper successfully located them, and at an appropriate moment, with no sign of a strike posing any risks to friendly forces or any civilians, conducted a carefully planned attack with a GBU-12 guided bomb. The Iraqi forces subsequently reported that the threat had been eliminated.
As part of the UK’s contribution to the Global Coalition in the fight against Daesh, the Royal Air Force continues to fly daily missions against the terrorist movement in Syria and Iraq. Our aircraft conduct strikes on terrorist targets when required.
Intelligence analysis confirmed that a Daesh leadership group had established a cave network 85 miles west of Kirkuk in northern Iraq. An RAF Reaper kept a close watch on the location during the early hours of Thursday 20 August. When terrorists were identified at the cave entrance, the Reaper’s crew conducted an attack with a single Hellfire missile, having first swept the area for any signs of civilians who might be placed at risk. The missile struck the target accurately, and the blast was observed to emerge from another part of the cave network, indicating that weapon’s effect had reached deep inside the caves.
In addition to this, an RAF Reaper maintained surveillance on another set of caves in the area on Wednesday 26 August, which confirmed the presence of a number of Daesh extremists at the site. When terrorists were observed at the mouth of one of the caves, the Reaper’s crew engaged successfully with a Hellfire missile, then provided surveillance support to a follow-up attack by two coalition fast jets which struck the rest of the Daesh position. (Source: https://www.gov.uk/)
14 Oct 20. Philippines proposes new defence procurement law. The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) is looking to introduce new legislation to support its military modernisation programme.
AFP Chief General Gilbert Gapay said in a press conference in Manila on 13 October that the proposed ‘defence procurement law’ has been submitted to the Philippine Senate and House of Representatives for approval.
AFP procurement programmes currently progress through open-tendering processes as per the legal requirements laid out in the Republic Act 9184, otherwise known as the Government Procurement Reform Act.
This requires all AFP tenders to be advertised on the government’s online procurement portal, known as PhilGEPS or the Philippine Government Electronic Procurement System.
Gen Gapay said the PhilGEPS process to invite bidders exposed most AFP modernisation requirements. Such requirements, he said, are “supposed to be confidential and top-secret capabilities … [but] we are not exempted from posting these requirements in our invitations to bid.”
Janes understands that the proposed new law stems from Executive Order No. 18 (EO 18), which became effective in April 2017 and empowers Philippine Defence Secretary Delfin Lorenzana to “identify and institutionalise” measures that will improve defence procurement.
The EO 18 has prompted a range of reviews and audits of procurement processes undertaken by the AFP and the Department of National Defense (DND). Collectively, these measures are an attempt to address the Philippines’ cumbersome defence procurement system, which is prone to significantly delay acquisition projects.
Problems with the system include a variety of requirements on bidders to qualify as a preferred tenderer. The requirements, which some industry officials have previously described to Janes. (Source: Jane’s)
14 Oct 20. Joint Statement at the 5th Round of Pakistan-UK Bilateral Consultation on Arms Control, Non-Proliferation and Disarmament.
The fifth round of Pakistan-United Kingdom Bilateral Consultations on Arms Control, Non-Proliferation and Disarmament was held virtually on 13 October 2020.
Mr. Mohammad Kamran Akhtar, Director General (Arms Control & Disarmament) Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Islamabad and Ms. Samantha Job (Director Defence and International Security) Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, United Kingdom, led their respective sides.
Both sides discussed issues on Arms Control, Non-Proliferation and Disarmament in a cordial and constructive environment. Issues related to global and regional security and stability also came under discussion. The two sides expressed commitment to further enhance coordination on multilateral fora.
Both sides appreciated the continuation of the Arms Control, Non-Proliferation and Disarmament Consultations between Pakistan and the United Kingdom.
The two sides agreed to hold the sixth round of Consultations next year on a mutually agreed date. (Source: https://www.gov.uk/)
13 Oct 20. White House advances drone and missile sales to Taiwan – sources. The White House is moving forward with more sales of sophisticated military equipment to Taiwan, telling Congress on Tuesday that it will seek to sell Taipei MQ-9 drones and a coastal defensive missile system, sources familiar with the situation said.
The possible sales follow three other notifications first reported by Reuters on Monday that drew China’s ire as the United States prepares for its Nov. 3 election.
One of the eight sources said that in total the sales were valued at around $5bn. Very often figures for U.S. foreign military sales include costs for training, spares and fees making the values difficult to pinpoint.
Reuters broke the news in September that as many as seven major weapons systems were making their way through the U.S. export process as the Trump administration ramps up pressure on China.
The pre-notification to Congress for the General Atomics-made MQ-9 drones is the first after President Donald Trump’s administration moved ahead with its plan to sell more drones to more countries by reinterpreting an international arms control agreement called the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR).
Tuesday’s other congressional pre-notification was for land-based Harpoon anti-ship missiles, made by Boeing Co BA.N, to serve as coastal defense cruise missiles. One of the sources said the approximately 100 cruise missiles that were notified to Capitol Hill would have a cost of about $2bn.
Representatives for the U.S. State Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
A Taiwan government source acknowledged that “Taiwan has five weapon systems that are moving through the process.”
The U.S. Senate Foreign Relations and House of Representatives Foreign Affairs committees have the right to review, and block, weapons sales under an informal review process before the State Department sends its formal notification to the legislative branch.
Leaders of the committees were notified that the planned weapons sales had been approved by the U.S. State Department which oversees foreign military sales, said the sources, who are familiar with the situation but declined to be identified.
Reuters reported on Monday that informal notifications had already been sent to Congress for a truck-based rocket launcher made by Lockheed Martin Corp LMT.N called a High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS), long-range air-to-ground missiles made by Boeing called SLAM-ER, and external sensor pods for F-16 jets that allow the real-time transmission of imagery and data from the aircraft back to ground stations.
A general view of the White House in Washington, U.S., October 7, 2020. REUTERS/Leah Millis TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
When asked about Tuesday’s tranche of congressional notifications the Chinese Embassy in Washington referred to an overnight statement from Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian.
Zhao said U.S. arms sales to Taiwan severely damaged China’s sovereignty and security interests. He urged Washington to clearly recognize the harm they caused and immediately cancel them, adding: “China will make a legitimate and necessary response according to how the situation develops.”
China considers Taiwan a wayward province that it has vowed to reunite with the mainland, by force if necessary, but Washington considers it an important democratic outpost and is required by law to provide it with the means to defend itself.
In August, a Taiwanese official said the island was discussing acquiring capabilities including “underwater sea mines and other capabilities to deter amphibious landing, or immediate attack.”
The Taiwanese source said Taiwan was not seeking to procure sea mines from the United States.
People familiar with the talks with Taiwan have said that transfer of technology to Taipei for domestic production for various weapons capabilities has been under discussion.
Washington has been eager to see Taiwan bolster its defensive capabilities in the face of increasingly aggressive Chinese moves toward the island.
Speaking last week, the U.S. national security adviser, Robert O’Brien, said Taiwan needed to turn itself into a porcupine to make to make clear to China the risks of attempting to invade.
He said Taiwan needed to invest in capabilities including more coastal defense cruise missiles, naval mines, fast-attack craft, mobile artillery and advanced surveillance assets. (Source: Reuters)
12 Oct 20. Iran Equips Speed Boats with Suicide Drones. Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) has deployed 70 Ababil-2 suicide drones to the navy of the country’s elite force, which controls its territorial waters in the Gulf and the Sea of Oman, the IRGC-affiliated Fars news agency has reported.
IRGC’s fast attack boats, previously equipped with cruise missiles, were adapted to carry the drones, which are rocket-assisted and do not require a runway to take off.
On Friday last week, Ali Fadavi, a naval officer and the deputy commander of the IRGC, told Mehr news agency that the IRGC navy has been developing new combat fast boats that can reach a speed of 100 knots (185 kmph). (Source: UAS VISION/Middle East Eye)
12 Oct 20. US F-15 fighter detachment to fly air policing missions in Iceland. The US Air Force (USAF) has deployed a F-15 fighter detachment to secure the skies over Iceland.
The US Air Force (USAF) has deployed a F-15 fighter detachment to secure the skies over Iceland.
F-15C/D Eagles assigned to the 493rd Expeditionary Fighter Squadron have flown to Keflavik Air Base in Iceland.
This measure is expected to aid Nato Air Policing operations.
The USAF has taken over the full control of the commitment of Nato to the region on 12 October.
Air policing operations are an important aspect of providing security to Nato member nations.
The missions aid in the collective defence of alliance nations such as Iceland, Albania, Luxembourg, Slovenia, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia and Montenegro.
Nato Allied Air Command deputy chief of staff Operations USAF brigadier general Andrew Hansen said: “The routine deployment demonstrates Alliance solidarity and the transatlantic linkage at work.
“Air Policing is how the Alliance provides collective defence to its 30 member states. This peacetime defensive mission ensures the same level of protection to all Allies.”
In December last year, the British Royal Air Force (RAF) Eurofighter Typhoon aircraft completed the contribution to the Nato Air Policing mission in Iceland to safeguard the country’s airspace. (Source: airforce-technology.com)
11 Oct 20. UAE official says Turkish base in Qatar destabilises region. Turkey’s army in Qatar is an element of instability in the Gulf region, a senior official of the United Arab Emirates has said, adding that it contributed to negative polarisation. The UAE and its Arab allies have imposed a boycott on Qatar since mid-2017 and had demanded that Doha close a Turkish military base, among their conditions for ending the rift. Abu Dhabi and Ankara also back opposing sides in Libya’s conflict.
“The Turkish military presence in the Arab Gulf is an emergency,” Anwar Gargash, the UAE’s state minister for foreign affairs, said on Twitter on Saturday.
“It reinforces polarisation, and it does not take into account the sovereignty of states and the interests of the Gulf countries and its people.”
The United States, seeking a united Gulf front against Iran, has tried to resolve the row in which Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and non-Gulf Egypt severed political, trade and travel links with Qatar over accusations that it backs militants and is cosying up to regional foe Iran.
Doha, which hosts the region’s largest U.S. military base, denies the accusations and says the boycott aims to impinge on its sovereignty.
On Sept. 9, the State Department’s top diplomat for the Middle East, David Schenker, said there may be some progress in resolving the rift within weeks, citing signs of “flexibility in negotiations”, ahead of U.S. elections.
Diplomats and Gulf sources have confirmed talks between Riyadh and Doha after negotiations that broke down early this year, but there have been no signs yet of a breakthrough.
In a recent documentary on Al Jazeera television, Qatar’s state minister for defence accused boycotting nations of having planned to invade Qatar, a charge they have denied in the past.Riyadh’s former intelligence chief, in televised remarks this month, described Qatar as a “tick on a camel”. (Source: Reuters)
11 Oct 20. Israel would oppose any U.S. F-35 sale to Qatar, Israeli minister says. Israel would oppose any U.S. sale of advanced F-35 warplanes to Qatar, Israel’s intelligence minister said on Sunday, citing a need to maintain Israeli military superiority in the region.
Intelligence Minister Eli Cohen made the comments in response to a Reuters report that Qatar – whose Iran links trouble Israel – had submitted a formal request to Washington to buy the Lockheed Martin Corp. LMT.N stealth jet.
The United States consults with Israel on proposed sales of advanced arms to other countries in the region, under a principle of preserving Israel’s “qualitative military edge”. Some such sales have gone ahead over Israeli objections.
Asked whether Israel would oppose an F-35 sale to Qatar, Cohen told Army Radio: “The answer is yes. Our security and military superiority in the region are the most significant things for us. Our region has still not turned into Switzerland.”
Qatar’s F-35 request follows an August deal in which Washington agreed to consider giving the United Arab Emirates approval to buy the jets in a side deal to a U.S.-brokered agreement normalising ties between Israel and that Gulf power.
Israel, which has bought and deployed the F-35, has voiced discomfort at the prospect of UAE also getting the warplane – though the two countries have played up shared concerns about threats from Iran.
Qatar, by contrast, maintains ties with Iran as well as with the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas, against which Israel has fought three wars in Gaza.
But Qatar has also funnelled hundreds of millions of dollars in aid to Gaza, payouts Israel has facilitated in hope of heading off another conflict in the impoverished enclave.
That intervention has prompted some Israeli officials to predict Qatar might also establish formal ties with Israel. Doha has ruled this out in the absence of an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal. (Source: Reuters)
12 Oct 20. Milestone opening delivers Australian sovereign industrial capability, export opportunity. Rheinmetall has officially announced the opening of its Military Vehicle Centre of Excellence (MILVEHCOE) in Redbank, Queensland, establishing a national sovereign military vehicle capability that enables the design, development and local manufacture of military vehicles, platforms and turrets for the ADF and export opportunities.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison officially opened the MILVEHCOE at a ceremony attended by a delegation of federal MPs and senators from across Queensland, representatives from Defence and Australian defence industry.
The MILVEHCOE is an 11-hectare precinct incorporating a regional headquarters for Rheinmetall and a major manufacturing hub that will deliver vehicles into the ADF, including Boxer 8×8 combat reconnaissance vehicles (CRV) under Australia’s Project LAND 400 Phase 2 and high mobility logistics trucks under the LAND 121 Phase 3B/5B program.
Rheinmetall AG chief executive Armin Papperger said the MILVEHCOE heralded a new era in Australian manufacturing as the company transferred technology and systems from Germany to establish a global hub for the continuous design, manufacture, export and support for military vehicles, platforms and turrets.
Papperger said the MILVEHCOE’s export focus would also drive the sustainable growth of a military vehicle industry in Australia that would draw on an expanding supply network across the nation to deliver products and services from local industry into Rheinmetall’s global supply chain.
“This state-of-the-art MILVEHCOE establishes a leading-edge military vehicle capability that will build on the strong partnership between Rheinmetall and the ADF,” Papperger said.
Prime Minister Morrison reinforced Papperger’s comments, saying, “This Queensland centre will be where some of the most advanced armoured vehicles in the world will be produced, by Australian workers. The MILVEHCOE will create more than 450 long-term jobs and become a national asset for military vehicles.”
Rheinmetall Defence Australia’s MILVEHCOE precinct includes:
- Engineering and manufacturing for vehicles, turrets, weapons, armour, electronics and electro-optics and simulators;
- A vehicle test track and electromagnetic test chamber – used to confirm that vehicles meet the agreed performance specifications prior to delivery to the Australian Army;
- An indoor firing range – a fully-enclosed, state-of-the-art firing range;
- A systems integration laboratory – used to integrate and optimise performance of Australian Army systems and equipment into the vehicles; and
- Facilities for engineering, training, procurement, project management, finance, legal, marketing and management.
Papperger added, “MILVEHCOE will enable Australian developed technology and systems to be exported to the world and opens the way for Australian companies to deliver into our programs for current and future nations including NATO members such as Germany and Hungary.”
Rheinmetall Defence Australia managing director Gary Stewart reinforced the comments of Papperger, explaining the MILVEHCOE would transform the company’s ability to deliver for the ADF and Rheinmetall customers globally.
“This facility has dramatically advanced our business in Australia and the way we engage with the Australian Defence Force and industry,” Stewart said.
“Once fully operational, it will enable the manufacture and sustainment of the Australian Army vehicle fleet of BOXER vehicles and provide a sovereign facility where Defence, industry and research organisations can innovate and collaborate on the Australian Boxer and other defence programs.”
Rheinmetall is establishing an advanced manufacturing workforce of more than 450 employees within the MILVEHCOE precinct including highly skilled and qualified workers across a range of specialist disciplines.
“We are hiring welders, vehicle mechanics, systems and integration engineers, electro-optics technicians, software coders and developers and other specialisations,” Stewart said.
“Rheinmetall continues to invest in people, technology, infrastructure, program management, supporting functions and industry networks so we can deliver some of the most complex and advanced programs in the world and meet the demands of customers for military vehicles, electronic systems, simulation, training and support.”
Defence Minister Linda Reynolds welcomed the future capability that will be delivered to the Australian Army, explaining, “As outlined in the 2020 Force Structure Plan, the Boxer will provide enhanced mobility, firepower, protection and situational awareness to our troops.
“I join the Prime Minister in congratulating Rheinmetall Defence Australia on securing new export opportunities. A resilient and internationally competitive defence industry is essential to Australia’s national security.”
These programs will see the design, development, manufacture and sustainment of world-class military vehicles and a focus on research and development of vehicle technologies, including autonomous systems and new civilian vehicle capabilities.
Building on this announcement, Rheinmetall announced an export order in excess of $150m dollars from Australia to the Hungarian Armed Forces to supply digital Lance turrets to be designed and manufactured at the MILVEHCOE in south-east Queensland.
The Prime Minister acknowledged this significant announcement at the official opening of the MILVEHCOE, before members of the Australian Defence Force, representatives of Queensland Defence industry community and Rheinmetall Defence Australia employees.
Last month, the Hungarian government announced it had entered into a joint venture for the delivery of 218 Lynx vehicles to the Hungarian Armed Forces under a greater than €2bn agreement that will see the NATO and EU member become the first customer for Rheinmetall’s next-generation IFV.
Defence Industry Minister Melissa Price welcomed the opportunity and investment in sovereign industrial capability that Rheinmetall’s MILVEHCOE facility would provide Australia, stating, “Australian industry will play a vital role delivering and sustaining key Australian defence capabilities at the facility.”
The program includes the digital Lance turret to enable the crew to access sensor systems, advanced automatic tracking and targeting capabilities and weapon-integrated battle management all in one connected and enabled platform.
“Rheinmetall will use suppliers across Australia to design, build, assemble, test and support the Boxer combat reconnaissance vehicles and training systems. The work at this facility is terrific news for Queensland workers and defence companies across the country,” Minister Price added.
Exports from Australia and Germany are a key part of the program as the Hungarian joint venture constructs local manufacturing operations during the first phase of production. This will see at least 30 of the first 46 digital Lance turrets supplied from Australia during Phase 1.
“We welcome this major export contract, and we look forward to the follow on turret and kit orders to be awarded by other European customers,” said Stewart.
The Hungarian export program will be expanded in the coming months to include a further 127 Lance turret kits from Rheinmetall Defence Australia, and Australian-designed and manufactured products supplied by local SMEs including automotive running gear from Adelaide’s Supashock, high capacity alternators from Albury’s Milspec Manufacturing and armour steel from Bisalloy in Wollongong.
“Design, development and manufacture of these systems will build on the advanced manufacturing jobs at our MILVEHCOE development, production and test facility in Queensland, as well as the strong industrial network of SMEs across Australia,” Stewart said
Prime Minister Morrison congratulated Rheinmetall Defence Australia on the export contract with Hungary, saying, “This is a significant export order, and a clear demonstration of the government’s commitment to supporting Australian defence industry to achieve export success. We make things in Australia. We do it well. And this is an example of how we are continuing to make things in Australia.”
Rheinmetall is currently delivering 211 Boxer vehicles to the Australian Army under LAND 400 Phase 2. The Boxer’s key purpose is to find the enemy; to identify them and choose how and when to engage.
The company is also delivering more than 2,500 protected high mobility trucks to the Australian Army under the LAND 121 Phase 3B program and building on this logistics backbone for the ADF by supplying a further 1,000 trucks to the Commonwealth through the LAND 121 Phase 3B/5B program.
Rheinmetall has also offered the Lynx KF41 – a tracked, highly protected infantry fighting vehicle – to meet the stringent military requirements of the $15bn LAND 400 Phase 3 program. The Australian Army needs a new IFV for close combat – to close in and defeat an enemy in the most dangerous and lethal environments for Australian soldiers.
Rheinmetall sets the global standard for excellence in a wide array of disciplines and offers an extensive array of military hardware that delivers mobility, lethality, survivability of troops, reconnaissance capability and networking of national and international systems.
Rheinmetall Defence Australia and New Zealand is a subsidiary of Rheinmetall AG, with offices in Adelaide, Canberra, Melbourne and Brisbane. (Source: Defence Connect)
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