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30 Oct 20. Israel’s underground Sensory Concrete Barrier exposes tunnel for first time. Israel located and exposed a tunnel being built from the Gaza Strip into Israeli territory on Oct. 20 in the first detection by the Israel Defense Forces’ Sensory Concrete Barrier that is based along the border.
“The discovery of the tunnel last week is a huge achievement for the state of Israel and the Army,” said Maj. Amir, whose last name was withheld for security reasons. “It was very impressive and professional, and we managed to stop the enemy from advancing.”
The tunnel was located in Israel, across from the Palestinian city of Khan Yunis. While the tunnel did penetrate Israel’s border, it did not cross the Sensory Concrete Barrier and there was no threat to nearby Israeli communities, the IDF said.
“The Sensory Concrete Barrier, which was built over the last years and will be completed soon, provided the necessary indication for IDF engineering forces to locate the offensive terror tunnel,” according to the IDF.
The Israeli government reported that it will gather information about the tunnel through a technical evaluation, but it has not released many details about how the tunnel was constructed. Decisions about how to neutralize or destroy it have not been released.
Gaza has been festooned with tunnels for years, some of which were used for smuggling from Egypt and others to carry out attacks inside Israel. The Israeli government holds the militant group Hamas responsible for activity in Gaza.
The tunnel threat peaked during the 2014 Israel-Hamas war when 32 tunnels, of which 14 penetrated Israeli territory, were discovered. Israel began work on an anti-tunnel barrier in the wake of the conflict, and the U.S. has supported Israel’s efforts with up to $120m since 2016.
Israel has used a combination of new technologies as well as intelligence and surveillance methods to identify and destroy up to 20 tunnels since 2014. Israel also constructed a multilayer barrier around its territory, with its third section launched in February 2019. The underground portion, estimated at $833 million in 2018, was reported to reach “dozens of meters” into the ground, although today Israel does not release specifics about the final version of the underground barrier. The underground barrier, estimated to be fully complete in March 2021, will stretch about 40 miles around the strip.
Amir, who commands an engineering unit in Israel’s southern region where the Gaza Strip is located, compared the struggle against the tunnel threat to a chess game. His unit is responsible for the developing solutions to the threat and “locating and adapting technological means” to manage operations in the field. He told Defense News that the protective barrier worked quickly and accurately. In this chess game comparison, Hamas is always trying to find ways around Israel’s multiple layers of security, which include electro-optical sensors, UAVs and a maritime barrier.
Amir has experience against the tunnel threat going back to the 2014 war and said he has witnessed Israeli’s technological advances. However, most of the specifics of these advances, such as which sensors are on the barrier or how they operate, are a closely guarded secret.
The IDF officer said his team is pleased about its achievement. “Our forces and engineering forces are very confident in their capabilities, and any operational success entails great excitement that we were able to thwart something very big and keep the residents safe,” he said.
However, he added, Hamas will likely adapt and try other methods. “History speaks for itself. The enemy will always try to change himself and invest greater efforts and think of other ways. Of course the technology and the obstacle [of the barrier] are a very big challenge, and of course the barrier lowers the risk considerably.”
Israel’s experience with the barrier can help address other threats and potentially on other frontiers, the officer said. Each area near Israel’s border is unique, and the country has put in place sensors and technology combined with intelligence-gathering methods to provide a complete picture around the Gaza Strip. Amir said after the barrier is completed in March, the IDF will concentrate on the next step: preparing for new threats yet to come.
Already Israel has faced a threat of incendiary balloons following the country’s success over the last decade in using the Iron Dome air defense system to shoot down thousands of Hamas-launched rockets. Israel has used lasers against the balloons in some instances. (Source: Defense News)
28 Oct 20. Defence grilled over 2054 delivery of Future Submarines. Senators from across the political aisle have criticised Defence’s timeline for the delivery of fully-operational Attack Class Future Submarines.
Appearing before the Senate foreign affairs, defence and trade legislation committee (Senate estimates) on Monday, Minister for Defence Linda Reynolds, and former Rear Admiral of the Royal Australian Navy, Gregory John Sammut, were questioned over Defence’s timeline for delivery of the 12 Attack Class Future Submarines.
Sammut — who currently serves as the Department of Defence’s general manager, submarines — revealed that, based on a “nominal drum beat” of one submarine delivered every two years from 2036, the full fleet would not be fully operational until at least 2054.
Minister Reynolds added that the funding profile for Naval Group’s construction of the $50bn fleet would extend to 2057.
Senate opposition leader Penny Wong, Liberal senator Concetta Fierravanti-Wells, and independent senator Rex Patrick criticised the timeline, questioning Defence’s decision to select a new design for the Future Submarines.
“If we bought off the shelf, when would we have had delivery of these submarines?” Senator Fierravanti-Wells asked. “It certainly wouldn’t have been 2054.”
In response, Sammut dismissed the question as “hypothetical”.
“It’s difficult for me to give you a definitive answer of how long it would take to build an off-the-shelf submarine,” he said.
“It would depend on which shipyard we went to, what their current capacity was, what capacity they had in the yard in terms of workforce.
“A number of those issues would have to be understood to give you a definitive answer on how long a particular shipyard would take to build an existing design.”
He continued: “Off the shelf is an existing design, it’s not necessarily a slot in a production line, such as it might be for other sorts of defence assets.”
Senator Patrick then interjected, pointing to the timeline for the delivery of off-the-shelf Type 218 submarines for Singapore’s Armed Forces.
He noted that Singapore expects to receive its first Type 218 submarines next year, just four years after the order.
However, Sammut went on to add that Defence had not proceeded to consider an off-the-shelf submarine design after determining that they did not meet capability requirements.
Hunter Class delivery
Senator Wong also cast doubt over the key milestones set by Defence for the delivery of the Hunter Class frigates under Project SEA 5000 Phase 1.
She questioned whether Defence would meet its commitment to commencing ASC Shipbuilding’s construction of the frigates in 2022, pointing to delays raised by the Capability Acquisition and Sustainment Group (CASG) and risks flagged by the Naval Shipbuilding Advisory Board.
“I don’t think the evidence to date, or what has been said publicly by Defence and CASG, suggests that you are on track to meet the 2022 timetable for commencement of construction,” Senator Wong said.
In a statement to Defence Connect, Shadow Minister for Defemce Industry Matt Keogh echoed Senator Wong’s sentiment, adding: “The frigates are already delayed by two years, and now the defence minister can’t guarantee the work will begin before the end of 2022.
“These are the same frigates which had a cost blow out of $10 billion that the government wouldn’t tell us about for two years.”
However, Minister Reynolds told Senate Estimates that the program was on track to hit the 2022 milestone, despite disruption caused by the COVID-19 crisis.
“We have always acknowledged and have always known that in a project as complex as this, there are risks to manage, but these risks are being managed, [and] we are on track to deliver and to start construction in 2022,” Minister Reynolds said.
Last month, ASC Shipbuilding was given the greenlight to commence prototyping in December 2020, following the Prototyping Readiness Review, which assessed the Hunter program’s preparedness across a range of areas, including safety, quality production inputs, processes, tools, workforce and facilities.
ASC Shipbuilding is now in the final stages of the formal handover of the Osborne South Naval Shipyard from Australian Naval Infrastructure. (Source: Defence Connect)
30 Oct 20. Joint statement on ceasefire in Libya. The Governments of the UK, France, Germany and Italy have issued a joint statement on the Libyan ceasefire.
The Governments of France, Germany, Italy and United Kingdom warmly welcome the results of the UN mediated Fourth Round of the intra-Libyan Joint Military Commission (5+5), the conclusion by the Libyan parties of a permanent cease-fire agreement and the announcement by the United Nations Support Mission in Libya of the launch of the Libyan Political Forum Dialogue which gathered remotely for the first time on October 26.
The Governments of France, Germany, Italy and United Kingdom call on the Libyan parties to abide by their commitments and implement the agreement in full.
The stage is now set for the next crucial step of the intra-Libyan dialogue through the upcoming meeting of the Libyan Political Dialogue Forum in Tunis, starting on November 9, in which the Libyan themselves will agree on the future institutional framework of the Country and on a path of stability, security and prosperity.
France, Germany, Italy and United Kingdom fully share and support the overall objective of the LPDF, to generate consensus on a new unified governance framework and arrangements that will lead to holding national elections in the shortest possible timeframe in order to restore Libya’s sovereignty and the democratic legitimacy of Libyan institutions.
In this crucial phase we support the call by UNSMIL to assure an orderly transition towards the future institutional framework and for all to work responsibly towards a positive outcome of the LPDF, which remains the only viable option to overcome the Libyan crisis.(Source: https://www.gov.uk/)
30 Oct 20. The situation in and around Nagorno-Karabakh: UK statement. Delivered by Ambassador Neil Bush at the OSCE Permanent Council on 29 October 2020.
Thank you Mr Chair.
The United Kingdom welcomed the most recent humanitarian ceasefire and we are once again deeply disappointed to see that it is not being respected.
We strongly condemn the continued shelling of civilian areas. Continued reports of civilian casualties are a stark reminder of the impact that this conflict is having on innocent civilians. Our position is clear; targeting of civilian settlements is deplorable. We offer our condolences to those who have lost loved ones. Our thoughts are with those who have been displaced and whose lives are being affected.
We call on both parties to respect the ceasefire and return swiftly to the negotiating table; recognising the fact that the continuing violence is having a significant impact on civilians.
We urge the parties to allow the ICRC immediate access as they seek to facilitate return of prisoners of war and repatriate the remains of the deceased.
The international community continues to make clear that there can be no military solution to the situation in and around Nagorno-Karabakh. We urge both parties to return to substantive negotiations under the auspices of the Minsk Group Co-Chairs. The Minsk Group is the primary format through which a settlement must be reached.
Once again I would like to reiterate the UKs support for the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs in their role in mediating negotiations between Armenia and Azerbaijan.
Thank you. (Source: https://www.gov.uk/government)
29 Oct 20. UAE could get up to 50 F-35s in $10bn sale. The U.S. State Department is backing the sale of as many as 50 F-35 joint strike fighters to the United Arab Emirates in an arms deal worth an estimated $10.4bn, according to multiple reports.
The news came as the Trump administration informally briefed Congress on its plan to sell the advanced F-35 fighter to the United Arab Emirates Thursday. It follows weeks of speculation and behind-the-scenes debates about how to structure an F-35 deal with the UAE without cutting into Israel’s qualitative military edge.
If the sale is permitted by Congress and the UAE opts to buy the full number of F-35A conventional takeoff and landing variants covered by the deal, it would have parity with Israel, which has 50 F-35 “Adir” jets under contract, although the country is considering buying 25 more. (The quantities and values of such deals often change from initial estimates.)
Amid reports the Trump administration is fast-tracking the F-35 sales, key Democratic lawmakers are continuing to urge a deliberate approach, citing concerns for Israel’s security and the security of the warplane’s sensitive technology.
“This technology would significantly change the military balance in the Gulf and affect Israel’s military edge,” House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Rep. Eliot Engel, D-N.Y., said in a statement. “The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter is a game-changing stealth platform boasting advanced strike capability and unique sensor technology. The export of this aircraft requires very careful consideration and Congress must analyze all the ramifications. Rushing these sales is not in anyone’s interest.”
The consultations came days after Israel said last week it will not oppose the U.S. sale of “certain weapon systems,” widely considered to mean the F-35. That followed an agreement between Israel and the United States to upgrade its capabilities to preserve its edge.
Engel said he plans to weigh the U.S. legal obligation to maintain Israel’s military superiority in the region, as well the question of whether the sale would drive demands from other Middle Eastern nations to buy the F-35 in exchange for normalized ties with Israel. (The Trump administration recently brokered such a pact between Israel and the UAE.)
“Israel currently has exclusive access in the region to the F-35, which has guaranteed its military edge over the last several years. As Congress reviews this sale, it must be clear that changes to the status quo will not put Israel’s military advantage at risk,” Engel said.
“This technology also must be safeguarded from our greatest global adversaries. With Russia and China active in the region, the American people will require unimpeachable assurances that our most advanced military capabilities will be protected.”
For decades, the State Department has informally consulted with the Senate Foreign Relations and House Foreign Affairs committees before formally notifying Congress of sales, which affords lawmakers a chance to block them. Though lawmakers typically consider such deliberations sensitive and rarely speak publicly about them, Engel broke the news Congress had been informally notified.
Assistant Secretary Bureau of Political-Military Affairs R. Clarke Cooper told reporters Wednesday the department plans to honor that process.
Though Reuters has reported there is a goal to have a letter of agreement between the U.S. and the UAE by Dec. 2, Cooper said “there are no dates associated with the work that’s being done.” He declined to provide specifics of a potential deal and the State Department declined to comment on Thursday.
F-35 prime contractor Lockheed Martin referred questions to the State Department.
Israeli opposition would be fatal to the deal in Congress, where Israel enjoys strong support. Two key Democrats introduced legislation earlier this month that would place restrictions on F-35 sales to Middle Eastern nations to address their concerns about both the Israel’s security and the security of F-35 technology.
On Thursday, Engel invited colleagues to join him in legislation, “to ensure that the sale of these types of weapons adhere to our most important national security goals.” (Source: Defense News)
28 Oct 20. U.S., India Meeting Looks to Deepen Cooperation. The U.S. and India Two-plus-Two Conference among the defense and foreign affairs leaders of both nations has charted just how far cooperation between the two democracies has come, said a senior defense official speaking on background.
The meeting — held in New Delhi — was among Defense Secretary Dr. Mark T. Esper, Secretary of States Mike Pompeo, Minister of Foreign Affairs Dr. S. Jaishankar and Indian Defense Minister Rajnath Singh.
“The two-plus-two this year was an opportunity to reflect on what we’ve done, assess the current situation where more work is needed and then identify key deliverables in 2021 to advance the relationship,” said the official after the meeting.
It was the third meeting at this level between the two nations.
Prior to the meeting — held at the Hyderabad House in New Delhi — Esper and Singh sat down to substantive discussions in the Indian Ministry of Defense. Esper and Pompeo also spoke with Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The centerpiece meeting covered a number of areas in the defense relationship. In military-to-military cooperation, the men discussed how to “operationalize” the logistics agreement. They also talked about assigning liaison officers to both countries, in areas that would deepen cooperation.
The U.S. Central Command and U.S. Indo-Pacific Command were two areas in the U.S. military discussed.
Another discussion point was information sharing and secure communications. “We spent a good bit of time talking about the Basic Exchange Cooperation Agreement, which was a key milestone today. It was signed today,” the official said. “They also identified areas in 2021, where we’d like to further information sharing at the service level and at the joint level.”
Secure communications was part of this discussion and both nations want to further the process and deepen the capability across services and at the leadership level.
Another part of the discussion centered on new areas of cooperation both in the region and in the new military domains of cyber and space, the official said.
The official was quick to say that although the relationship is deepening, it is not an alliance. “India has a policy of strategic autonomy, which we honor,” he said. “That means they want to preserve their independence and how they manage their foreign policy.”
Still, India is part of a group called the Quad countries — India, Japan, Australia and the United States. There have been a number of meetings among defense officials from these nations, the most recent being in Tokyo earlier this year. “These meetings reflect a growing acknowledgment of shared interests,” he said. They cover security, but they also cover economic and — in the time of COVID-19 – medical interests.
“There is no discussion of [the Quad] becoming an alliance anytime in the near future,” the official said. “It is really a … mechanism to organize lines of effort across … some of the largest players in the Indo-Pacific.”
The United States will host the next two-plus-two meeting. (Source: US DoD)
29 Oct 20. Increasing support for Australian business to access defence industry grants. Defence Industry Minister Melissa Price has announced changes to the co-contribution ratios in three existing defence industry grant programs, making it easier for small and medium-sized businesses in the defence sector to access defence industry grant programs.
From 12 November, changes to the co-contribution ratios in three existing defence industry grant programs will help small and medium businesses access support during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Minister for Defence Industry Melissa Price said it was now more important than ever to back Australian industry.
“Small and medium-sized business across Australia are doing it tough, which is why this government is committed to making it easier for these companies to access funding support,” Minister Price said.
The co-contributions have been reduced from the existing 50:50 ratio, as follows:
- New applicants for a Capability Improvement Grant or a Defence Global Competitiveness Grant will only be required to fund 20 per cent of the value of their eligible project; and
- New applicants for a Sovereign Industrial Capability Priority Grant will only be required to fund 30 per cent of the value of their eligible project.
In another move to support industry, maximum grant values will increase:
- Sovereign Industrial Capability Priority Grants will increase from $50,000-$1m to $70,000-$1.4m;
- Capability Improvement Grants will increase from $2,500-$150,000 to $4,000-$240,000; and
- Defence Global Competitiveness Grants will increase from $15,000-$150,000 to $24,000-$240,000.
“These changes are part of the Morrison government’s broader investment initiatives across the defence portfolio to support economic recovery. This builds on our announcement earlier this month that we are investing an extra $24m in defence industry grants programs as part of our commitment to build a robust, resilient and internationally competitive defence industry,” Minister Price explained.
“We’ve also fast-tracked a range of capability, infrastructure, skilling and workforce initiatives over the next two years as part of the Morrison government’s $1bn Defence economic stimulus initiative package.”
Minister Price said defence industry was critical not only to delivering capability outcomes for Defence, but also in assisting the nation’s economic recovery.
“In these uncertain times, the Morrison government remains focused on the long-term and sustained endeavour of building a robust, resilient and internationally competitive defence industrial base,” Minister Price said.
“We are reinvigorating the Centre for Defence Industry Capability and have made significant improvements to the Australian Industry Capability program.
“Together with these changes to the defence industry grant programs, these are all part of the government’s commitment to back small and medium-sized businesses in the defence sector.”
Grant applications can be made at any time and submitted through the CDIC. (Source: Defence Connect)
26 Oct 20. Putin offers NATO inspection of military sites after demise of nuclear arms pact. Russian President Vladimir Putin proposed Monday that NATO and Russia should conduct mutual inspections of each other’s military bases to secure a moratorium on the deployment of new missiles in Europe following last year’s demise of a U.S.-Russian nuclear arms pact.
The United States and Russia both pulled out of the 1987 Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces Treaty last year, blaming each other for violations. Nevertheless, Putin has pledged not to deploy the weapons that were outlawed by the treaty, for as long as the U.S. doesn’t deploy such arms to Europe.
Washington has scoffed at Putin’s statements, charging that Russia already has deployed missiles that violate the INF treaty’s provisions — a claim Moscow has rejected.
On Monday, Putin followed up on his earlier statements by offering to allow the U.S. and its NATO allies to conduct on-site inspections to make sure that the weapons previously banned by the INF aren’t deployed to Europe.
The U.S. pulling out of the INF Treaty “was a serious mistake that exacerbated the risks of a missile weapons race, growth of the confrontation potential and slide into uncontrolled escalation,” Putin said in a statement.
“In a situation like this, vigorous efforts are needed to ease the shortage of trust, to strengthen regional and global stability, and to reduce the risks stemming from misunderstandings and disagreements in the field of missile weapons,” the Russian president added.
He said that as part of mutual inspections, Russian experts could visit the U.S. missile defense facilities in Europe to make sure they can’t be adapted for launching surface-to-surface missiles instead of interceptor missiles, which Moscow has been concerned about.
In its turn, Russia would offer NATO access to inspect Russian units in the nation’s westernmost Kaliningrad exclave, to make sure they aren’t equipped with 9M729 ground-launched cruise missiles.
The U.S. has accused Russia of violating the INF treaty by deploying these missiles, a claim Russia has denied. Putin on Monday reiterated that Russia had not breached the pact by fielding the missiles, but said Russia could refrain from deploying them in the western part of the country “in the spirit of good will” for as long as NATO doesn’t station weapons previously banned by the INF in Europe.
Putin’s move comes amid uncertainty surrounding the New START arms control treaty that expires in February. Moscow and Washington have inched toward agreement to extend the pact, their last remaining arms control agreement, but differences have remained. New START dates from 2010, limits each country to no more than 1,550 deployed nuclear warheads and 700 deployed missiles and bombers, and envisages sweeping on-site inspections to verify compliance.
The INF Treaty, which was signed by U.S. President Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, banned the production, testing and deployment of land-based cruise and ballistic missiles with a range of 500 to 5,500 kilometers (310 to 3,410 miles).
Such weapons were seen as particularly destabilizing because of the shorter time they take to reach targets compared to intercontinental ballistic missiles, raising the likelihood of a nuclear conflict over a false launch alert. (Source: Defense News)
26 Oct 20. China to impose sanctions on U.S. firms over Taiwan arms sales. China will impose sanctions on Lockheed Martin, Boeing Defense, Raytheon and other U.S. companies it says are involved in Washington’s arms sales to Taiwan, a foreign ministry spokesman said on Monday.
Zhao Lijian told journalists that China was acting to protect its national interest, but did not spell out what form the sanctions would take.
The U.S. State Department has approved the potential sale of three weapons systems to Taiwan, including sensors, missiles and artillery that could have a total value of $1.8bn, the Pentagon said last week.
Beijing considers Taiwan a wayward province it has vowed to bring under control, by force if necessary.
“To safeguard our national interests, China decided to take necessary measures and levy sanctions on U.S. companies such as Lockheed Martin, Boeing Defence, and Raytheon, and those individuals and companies who behaved badly in the process of the arms sales,” Zhao said.
China has imposed sanctions on Lockheed Martin and other U.S. companies in the past for selling weapons to Taiwan, though it is unclear what form the penalties have taken.
The United States, like most countries, has no official diplomatic ties with Taiwan, but Washington is bound by law to provide the island with the means to defend itself.
The Trump administration has ramped up support for Taiwan through arms sales and visits by senior U.S officials, adding to tensions in relations between Beijing and Washington, already strained by disagreements over the South China Sea, Hong Kong, human rights and trade.
A spokesman for Boeing said in an emailed statement that the company’s partnership with China’s aviation community had long-term benefits and that Boeing remained committed to it.
Lockheed Martin said in an emailed statement that all of its international military sales are strictly regulated by the U.S. government, and that its presence in China is limited. (Source: Reuters)
26 Oct 20. Russia proposes new missile verification regime with U.S. after demise of treaty. The Kremlin on Monday proposed that Russia and the United States agree not to deploy certain land-based missiles in Europe and introduce mutual verification measures to build trust following the demise of the INF nuclear arms control treaty.
The United States withdrew from the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty last year, accusing Moscow of violating it, a charge denied by the Kremlin.
Global nuclear arms control architecture has come under further strain since then as the former Cold War foes have been unable to agree on a replacement to New START, another major arms control pact that is due to expire in February 2021.
On Monday, the Kremlin suggested “de-escalation” measures, such as allowing Russia to conduct checks on the U.S. Aegis Ashore system in Europe, and the United States to check Russia’s 9M729 missiles in facilities in the exclave of Kaliningrad.
“We propose all interested sides to consider concrete options for mutual verification measures to remove existing concerns,” the Kremlin said in a statement on its website.
The INF pact had prohibited land-based missiles with a range of 310-3,400 miles, reducing the ability of both countries to launch a nuclear strike at short notice. (Source: Reuters)
26 Oct 20. Russia makes missile offer in effort to restart talks on arms control. Nato rejected previous proposals by Moscow to freeze deployment in western regions. Russia said that it was prepared to end deployment of the 9M729 missile in its western regions. Russia has offered to stop deployment of a controversial missile system in an attempt to restart talks on arms control in Europe following the collapse of a cold war moratorium, in the latest outreach by the Kremlin that could de-escalate military tensions. Donald Trump’s administration withdrew from the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty last year citing Russian violations, ending the US-Russia pact that banned land-based missiles with ranges of between 500km and 5,500km that was drawn up to end an arms race in Europe. The Kremlin said in a statement on Monday that it was prepared to end deployment of the 9M729 missile in its western regions. Washington justified its withdrawal from the INF Treaty on claims that the missile was in breach.
The proposal comes just a few days after Russian president Vladimir Putin used an annual foreign policy speech to both warn against the threat of a new arms race and signal his hope that Washington and Moscow will restart talks on arms control and other issues after the US election next month. Nato has rejected previous proposals from Moscow to freeze deployment of the missiles, demanding that Russia instead destroy them. Some missiles are already deployed in Kaliningrad, the Russian exclave on the Baltic Sea that borders Poland and Lithuania. Claudia Major, a defence analyst at the German Institute for International and Security Affairs, said the plan seemed similar to the proposal floated by Russia last year — and rejected by Nato as “not a credible offer”, because Moscow had already deployed the missile system. “Russia has the missile, and has fielded it, in breach of the INF treaty,” said Ms Major. “Nato countries don’t have them in Europe.” Nato has been approached for comment. The US State department did not immediately make a public response to the Russian offer. The Kremlin said in a statement: “While remaining committed to our consistent position on the 9M729 missile’s full compliance with the former INF Treaty, the Russian Federation stands ready, as a gesture of goodwill, not to deploy 9M729 missiles in the European part of the country, but only provided that Nato countries take reciprocal steps.”
Alongside that, it suggested opening talks on potential bilateral inspections of the US Aegis Ashore missile system in Europe, and 9M729 missiles in Kaliningrad. “We propose all interested sides to consider concrete options for mutual verification measures to remove existing concerns,” it added. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov later told reporters it was a “new initiative” aimed at “multipronged de-escalation”. The proposal is the latest offer by Moscow to western capitals aimed at halting a steady erosion in arms control agreements. Mr Putin this month offered the US a one-year extension to New Start, another bilateral treaty governing the number of nuclear warheads held by both countries, which expires in February. That offer was rejected by the US, but a subsequent re-offer from Moscow last week to freeze all atomic warhead numbers prompted Washington to restart talks. New Start and INF were the two foundations of the post cold war arms control architecture between Russia and the US, and together were viewed as critically important for European security and to reduce the threat of a renewed arms race. “We consider the US withdrawal from the INF Treaty . . . a serious mistake, which increases the risks of unleashing a missile arms race, an increase in confrontational potential and a slide into uncontrolled escalation,” the Kremlin said in its statement. “Given the unrelenting tension along the Russia-Nato line, new threats to European security are evident.” The US first accused Russia of breaching the INF Treaty seven years ago and withdrew from the pact in August last year after Russia refused to destroy the 9M729 system. Moscow denies that the missile is in breach of the INF’s terms and that it could hit European capitals from western Russia. In addition to the alleged Russian violations, the Trump administration has also said that the pacts were outdated without the participation of China, whose missile potential has grown significantly in recent decades. Two weeks after formally withdrawing from the INF Treaty the US tested a ground-based cruise missile with a range over 500km. (Source: FT.com)
26 Oct 20. India, U.S. Begin Meetings in New Delhi. The relationship between the world’s two largest democracies is among the most consequential of the 21st century, administration officials said in a phone call before the “two-plus-two” meeting between U.S. and Indian officials in New Delhi.
“Two-plus-two” refers to the U.S. secretary of state and defense secretary meeting with their counterparts in India. This is the third meeting at this level, and it’s the second for Defense Secretary Dr. Mark T. Esper.
The U.S. and Indian relationship has warmed considerably and the increased frequency and candor of these meetings is a reflection of this. “The two-plus-two ministerial will serve as a capstone to review our many accomplishments, as well as lay down next steps for the U.S.-India comprehensive, global strategic partnership,” an administration official said.
India and the United States cooperate in economic, diplomatic and information areas, and the military cooperation between the two nations is also increasing.
Given China’s increasingly aggressive behavior from Africa to the Himalayas to the South China Sea to Oceania, it is crucial that like-minded states oppose Chinese Communist Party efforts to reshape the international order in its favor.
China has committed to changing the international order put in place in the wake of World War II that stopped major power confrontation. The international order is based on respect for the sovereignty of all nations, large and small. The existing order has benefited all nations of the Indo-Pacific region including China, which has grown to be the world’s second-largest economy under the protections of the existing system.
Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, Brunei, Malaysia, Singapore and more are affected by the Chinese push to change the norms in the region. U.S. treaty allies — including Australia, New Zealand, Japan, South Korea, Thailand and the Philippines — are also affected. The Chinese actions have raised alarms across the region, and they are pushing the democracies to work together to oppose the Chinese vision for the Indo-Pacific.
Cooperation between the United States and India goes beyond mere opposition to China. The U.S. and Indian militaries cooperate in humanitarian relief missions. They share intelligence and information on terror groups, and they work together to oppose transnational criminal groups.
India and the U.S. will discuss pandemic response, maritime security, cybersecurity, quality infrastructure, counterterrorism and other areas.
The defense cooperation between the two nations is foundational. “The defense relationship with India right now is currently at its best in recent memory,” said another administration official participating on the call. “The progress we’ve made since India became a major defense partner in 2016, is remarkable.”
Investments in the bilateral defense relationship from both sides in previous years have set the foundation for the accomplishments this year that may be announced in the coming weeks. “We solidified our strategic alignment and confirmed the need to work together and promote a free and open Indo-Pacific for the benefit of all countries in the region,” the official said.
Broadly the U.S. and Indian defense ministers will discuss regional security cooperation. “We’re working to enhance maritime security across the Indian Ocean region by coordinating security cooperation and building partner capacity with regional countries,” the administration official said. “India announced just this week that it was inviting Australia, along with the U.S .and Japan, to the Malabar naval exercise in November.
“This invitation signals not only a strategic convergence between quadrilateral partners, but a recognition that regional security requires strengthening allies and partnerships and working multilateral on issues of mutual concern.”
The U.S., India relationship requires information sharing. The two nations have an agreement that will allow for expanded geospatial information sharing between the respective armed forces. “We’re also seeking to expand secure communication capabilities between our respective militaries, as well as between our foreign defense ministries,” he said.
Military-to-military interactions are key. “We’re working to build greater interoperability by increasing the sophistication of our combined exercises,” the official said. The United States has placed liaison officers with Indian forces, and the Indians have placed officers at the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command and U.S. Central Command. “We also hope to confirm two additional Indian liaison officer placements in the near term to expand counterterrorism cooperation,” he said.
The United States is interested in defense trade. Earlier this year, India acquired Apache and Seahawk helicopters, and the U.S. is seeking to advance sales for several other defense platforms to include fighter aircraft and UAVs, the official said. (Source: US DoD)
23 Oct 20. Bombardier Suspends Delivery of Aircraft Engines Used on Military Drones. Bombardier Recreational Products (BRP) says it has suspended the delivery of aircraft engines to “countries with unclear usage” in the wake of reports that some of those engines are being used on Turkish combat drones deployed by Azerbaijan in fighting against Armenian forces in Nagorno-Karabakh.
The Quebec-based company — better known for its Ski-Doo and Lynx snowmobiles — said it became aware late last week that some of the recreational aircraft engines produced by its Austrian subsidiary, Rotax, are being used on Turkish Bayraktar TB2 unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).
“We have recently been made aware that some Rotax engines are currently used in military UAVs, and have started a thorough investigation immediately,” Martin Langelier, BPR’s senior vice president and the company’s spokesperson, told Radio Canada International in an email statement.
“In the meantime, we are suspending delivery of aircraft engines in countries with unclear usage.”
Export controls and ‘civilian’ tech
Langelier said that all Rotax aircraft engines are designed and produced in Austria exclusively for civilian purposes and are certified for civilian use only.
Canada suspended most exports of defence technology to Turkey in October of 2019 following the Turkish invasion of northwestern Syria.
Michel Cimpaye, a spokesperson for Global Affairs Canada, said exports of items on the country’s Export Control List require a permit only when exported from Canada.
Controlled goods and technology exported from another country, however, are subject to the export controls of that country, Cimpaye added.
Gabriele Juen, a spokesperson for the Austrian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said the Rotax engines are used in various motorsports and drones could be used “for a multitude of solely civilian purposes.”
“The European Union Control List of Dual Use Items does not list the drone engine in question as a dual use good item,” Juen said. “As a consequence, no approval permit is required under Austrian legislation that regulates the export of defence-related goods.” (Source: defense-aerospace.com/Radio Canada International)
24 Oct 20. Russia sends more military equipment to Central African Republic: RIA. Russia has opened a representative office in the Central African Republic and donated ten armoured vehicles to the country, the RIA news agency said on Saturday, citing the Russian ambassador.
Moscow has been solidifying its presence in the CAR in recent years, sending weapons and contractors and political advisors, and has been growing its role on the continent overall as part of a renewed push for global prestige.
Five members of the Russian military arrived in the capital Bangui on Saturday led by Oleg Polguev, the senior military officer who will head up the Russian defence ministry’s representative office, RIA reported.
Polguev will also serve as an advisor to the CAR’s defence ministry, the news agency cited Vladimir Titorenko, the Russian ambassador to CAR, as saying.
Titorenko, who said Moscow was considering sending more military instructors to Bangui, said CAR Prime Minister Firmin Ngrébada was travelling to Russia where he will meet officials and discuss economic cooperation between the two countries.
The African nation has asked for Moscow’s help in lifting an arms embargo imposed by the United Nations, Titorenko was cited as saying.
“So that, aside from [armoured vehicles] it would be possible to supply heavy weaponry, including artillery and helicopters,” he said.
25 Oct 20. Qatar might get F-35s despite Israel’s objections, Israeli minister says. An Israeli cabinet minister said on Sunday that a U.S. sale of advanced F-35 warplanes to Qatar could be possible despite Israel’s objections to such a deal given the Gulf state’s links to Iran and Palestinian Hamas.
“I have no doubt that if they (Qatar) want it and are willing to pay, sooner or later they will get it,” Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz, who sits in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s security cabinet, told Ynet TV.
“This is a supposition that we must take into account,” he said, arguing that the U.S. administration “ultimately looks out for American interests,” especially in the face of rival stealth jets on offer from Russia and China.
Reuters reported on Oct. 7 that gas-rich Qatar had submitted a formal request to buy the F-35, a Lockheed Martin plane that has so far been supplied only to Israel in the region. Israel, with which Washington consults on such sales, said it would be opposed.
Emphasizing that this position would not change, a spokesman for Steinitz said in a follow-up statement to Reuters that should such a sale go ahead, Israel would demand “appropriate compensation” – an apparent reference to U.S. defence assistance.
U.S. officials have been open to selling the F-35 to the United Arab Emirates after it and Bahrain normalised relations with Israel on Sept. 15. But they have been tight-lipped on Qatar’s bid to buy the jet.
Successive U.S. administrations have sought to preserve Israeli military superiority in the region. Steinitz noted, however, that there had been past U.S. sales of advanced aircraft to Arab countries over Israeli objections.
Israel initially voiced misgivings about the UAE getting F-35s. The Netanyahu government dropped these on Friday after Defence Minister Benny Gantz returned from Washington with new U.S. security guarantees for Israel.
There has been speculation in Israeli media that the Trump administration could hold out the F-35 as an inducement for Qatar to normalise ties with Israel. Qatar has ruled out such a diplomatic move without a resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. (Source: Reuters)
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