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05 Nov 20. BAE Systems eyes role in Japan’s future fighter programme. BAE Systems has outlined its support proposal for Japan’s F-X future fighter jet programme, offering the country a package of integration support.
The company responded to a Request for Information (RFI) from the Japanese Ministry of Defence (JMOD) Acquisition, Technology and Logistics Agency (ATLA).
In its response, BAE outlined “technical capabilities across a range of key areas” that it could provide to support the development of the future jet.
BAE is also currently involved in the UK’s Team Tempest to develop a future combat air system that will eventually replace the Royal Air Force’s Eurofighter Typhoon aircraft.
BAE Systems’ Air business campaign delivery director for Japan Andy Latham said: “We firmly believe that we can add significant value to the F-X programme.
“We look forward to further progressing our discussions, and we are honoured to have the opportunity to collaborate with Japan on this programme.”
Japan’s F-X fighter will replace the in-service F-2, a Japanese derivative of the F-16 Fighting Falcon made by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries.
The manufacturer of the F-2, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, has been chosen by Japan to lead the development of the country’s future fighter jet. The finished jet will replace the F-2 by the mid-2030s.
Japan aims to begin production of a prototype jet in 2024 and plans to begin flight testing designs in 2028.
Latham added: “We have decades of experience of partnering with nations around the world to deliver sovereign capability.
“Our track record of collaborating on complex combat aircraft programmes has provided us with insight and understanding of the likely challenges and the range of capabilities, technologies and relationships required to successfully deliver the next generation of such programmes.” (Source: airforce-technology.com)
05 Nov 20. Second batch of Rafale jets arrive in India. The Indian Air Force (IAF) has announced that three more Rafale fighter jets arrived in the country on 4 November amid ongoing border tensions with China.
The aircraft flew in from Istres in France to Jamnagar in Gujarat, along with the mid-air refuelling aircraft of the French Air Force.
Media reports have stated that the journey from France took eight hours, demonstrating the long-range operational capability.
In a tweet, the Indian Air Force said: “The second batch of three Rafale aircraft got airborne from Istres airbase in France and flew for over eight hours before landing at an IAF base.
“They covered a distance of over 3,700 nautical miles with three in-flight refuellings.”
With this aircraft arrival, the IAF will have eight Rafale jets in its fleet.
The first batch of five jets arrived in India in July and was formally inducted into the IAF last month. Following the induction, the five aircraft became part of the ‘Golden Arrows’ 17 Squadron.
Earlier, India signed deals to acquire 36 Rafale jets from Dassault Aviation. All the jets are expected to arrive in India by the end of next year.
To support the western and eastern fronts, one Rafale combat aircraft squadron will be based in Ambala in Haryana and the other will be in Hashimara, West Bengal.
Presently, IAF is equipped with Rafale, Sukhois, LCA Tejas, Mirage 2000s and MIGs, in addition to Apaches and Chinooks helicopters and transport aircraft such as the C-130Js and C-17 Globemasters.
Last month, Greece also announced plans to purchase 18 Rafale jets.
06 Nov 20. US reportedly advances sale of MQ-9B aerial drones to UAE. The US State Department has reportedly notified Congress of its plans to sell 18 MQ-9B aerial drones to the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
Citing people who were briefed on the notification, Reuters reported that the deal is worth around $2.9bn.
The package includes 15 drones with an additional option for three more drones.
This will mark the first sale of armed drones after the US Government redefined the arms agreement of the Cold War era to permit the sale of more drones to allies from US defence contractors.
The US Senate Foreign Relations and House of Representatives Foreign Affairs committees, under an informal review process, can review and block weapons sale before the formal notification is sent by the State Department to the legislative wing.
Reuters quoted a US State Department spokesman as saying: “As a matter of policy, the United States does not confirm or comment on proposed defence sales or transfers until they are formally notified to Congress.”
The drones will feature maritime radar and are expected to be delivered in 2024.
Last week, US State Department informally notified Congress about its support for the proposed sale of F-35A Lighting II joint strike fighter aircraft to the UAE. (Source: airforce-technology.com)
05 Nov 20. Israel shifts naval doctrine with new Sa’ar 6 warships. Israel will receive the first of four Sa’ar 6 ships in December as part of a broad shift in naval doctrine that will see the country defend more areas at sea at a longer distance for a longer period of time, according to the Israel Defense Forces.
The coming shift in maritime activity comes in the wake of Israel signing a pipeline deal with Cyprus and Greece in the summer, and joining an Eastern Mediterranean gas forum with Cyprus, Greece, Egypt, Jordan and the Palestinian Authority. It also comes amid new investments in Israeli’s Haifa Port that could involve the United Arab Emirates; the two countries recently agreed to improve relations.
A Nov. 11 ceremony will see the Israeli flag replace the German flag on the ship, which was made in Kiel, Germany, by Thyssenkrupp Marine Systems. The IDF expects the Sa’ar 6 to defend offshore infrastructure — making up an area over twice the size of Israel’s land territory. The discovery of natural gas reserves and Israel’s desire to protect its exclusive economic zone were the main motivations behind the 2013 decision to order the ships.
The gas rigs and sea infrastructure, including Israel’s Karish-Tanin, Leviathan and Tamar fields, are essential and must be defended, the IDF has said.
“According to assessments, terror armies in our region possess the ability to fire high-trajectory rockets of a wide range that are able to reach the gas rigs,” the IDF explained. “We want to deter enemies from even aiming at the rigs. It [the Sa’ar 6] has an enormous radar so it can be a standalone unit. Abilities and probability of protection increases, as it is connected to Iron Dome, David’s Sling and other air defense. If it detects threats, it can transfer data to land networks to engage targets.”
Gas rigs are vulnerable strategic platforms; one missile strike could be catastrophic. In addition, the IDF said, the Navy reports Israel receives 98 percent of its imports by sea.
The commander of the Israeli Navy, Maj. Gen. Eli Sharvit, also noted that “the mission of defending Israel’s exclusive economic zone and strategic assets at sea is the primary security mission of the Israeli Navy. These assets are essential to the operational continuity of the State of Israel, and having the ability to protect them holds critical importance.”
Several of the ships will be deployed to protect the gas fields, leaving one or two to conduct other missions with the rest of Israel’s fleet, which consists of submarines, Sa’ar 5 corvettes and missile boats. The first of the Sa’ar 6 corvettes will be commissioned as INS Magen.
In a briefing with the IDF naval commander, who could only be identified by the initial N for security reasons, the chief said the INS Magen was custom made for Israel’s operational needs, underlining that the main task of the ships will be the defense of Israel’s exclusive economic zone. This also means the ship has a kind of plug-and-play setup so Israel can incorporate domestic combat system add-ons, most of which have an open architecture for interoperability with other Israeli systems.
ThyssenKrupp fit the ship’s hull and installed the mechanical and electric systems, and the company will conduct training near the shipyard before sailing to Israel.
The IDF has said more than 90 percent of the Sa’ar 6-class corvette’s battle systems will be of Israeli design. Expect the installation of systems from Israel’s top three defense companies, including:
- Multimission Adir radar by Israel Aerospace Industries.
- The naval version of the Iron Dome defense system by Rafael Advanced Defense Systems.
- Barak missile interceptors from IAI.
- An electronic warfare suite from Elbit Systems.
- Rafael’s C-Gem offboard decoy to counter missile threats.
- A 76mm cannon for the ship’s main gun.
The IDF naval commander said “many of the systems” on the ship are brand new, highlighting the vessel’s detection systems, such as a radar with a range exceeding 100 kilometers, and its weapons and defense systems that can react to high-trajectory rockets and missiles. In September, the Navy and the Defense Ministry’s Directorate of Defense Research and Development successfully conducted a trial of a sea-to-sea missile system from IAI meant for the Sa’ar 6.
Israel says the Sa’ar 6 is stealthy and has a low radar cross-section. The country intends for these ships to form the backbone of its naval fleet for three decades. (Source: Defense News)
05 Nov 20. Syria’s failure to comply with the Chemical Weapons Convention. Statement by Ambassador Jonathan Allen, UK Chargé d’Affaires to the UN, at the Security Council briefing on chemical weapons in Syria.
Thank you very much Madame President. Let me congratulate you on taking up your position. It is good to have a fellow Commonwealth member in the chair.
May I thank High Representative Nakamitsu for her briefing and thank through you the OPCW Director-General for his 85th monthly report and the OPCW Technical Secretariat for its ongoing work implementing professionally and dispassionately the tasks assigned to it by the OPCW Executive Council and Conference of States Parties.
On 8 April 2020, the OPCW Investigation and Identification Team issued its first report. In that report, it found the Syrian Arab Air Force responsible for three chemical attacks in Ltamenah in 2017 in which it used chlorine and sarin. These findings brought the number of chemical weapons attacks for which the UN and OPCW has found the Syrian regime responsible to seven. It was yet further evidence that Syria had retained a chemical weapons stockpile beyond the agreed date of destruction, as well as the intent and ability to produce and use them. It was yet further evidence that Syria’s initial declaration was incomplete and a reminder of the real threat that this posed to Syrians and to the international non-proliferation regime.
In response, in a decision on 9 July 2020, the OPCW Executive Council requested that the Syrian authorities declare the facilities used for the Ltamenah attacks, declare the chemical weapons it currently possessed and to resolve the outstanding issues with its initial declaration. On top of the 6 years Syria has already had to do this, the Executive Council granted an additional 90 days.
It is with great regret that, as confirmed by the OPCW Director-General on 14 October, Syria failed to take the required steps. It is with further regret that that the Syrian regime did not even see fit to respond to the Director-General’s letter notifying it of the action Syria been requested to take.
We strongly condemn the failure of Syria to comply with yet another Executive Council Decision. As recommended in that decision, the OPCW Conference of States Parties should now take appropriate action to address Syria’s failure to comply with decisions of the Executive Council and the Chemical Weapons Convention.
That failure to comply with the 9 July decision represents yet another failure to comply with the fundamental terms of resolution 2118, the issue before the Council today. In that resolution, we decided that in the event of non-compliance, including the use of chemical weapons, we would impose measures under Chapter VII of the Charter. For the Security Council not to take action would be a dereliction of its duty and undermines its authority. It is incumbent on all of us to uphold the Security Council’s authority under the UN Charter. Syria’s continued non-compliance is a proven threat to international peace and security.
Turning to the Director-General’s monthly report, I want to welcome the ongoing tireless work of the OPCW Technical Secretariat, particularly in light of the limitations imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Regarding the work of the Declaration Assessment Team (DAT), we welcome that the DAT was able to travel to Syria at the end of September for further consultations and to resolve issues with samples collected in a previous deployment. Regarding the additional information and amendments to Syria’s declaration referenced in last month’s report, we understand that these are still undergoing assessment by the OPCW. We will wait for further reporting from the OPCW before welcoming any progress.
As the monthly report states, Syria’s declaration cannot be considered accurate and complete in accordance with the Chemical Weapons Convention, Executive Council decisions, and with resolution 2118 (2003). Further amendments to the Declaration are yet more evidence that the initial declaration was incomplete. I would like to stress once again, Syria needs to cooperate fully with the OPCW and make progress on all of outstanding issues.
I would like if I might to touch on some points raised by the Russian Ambassador. We in the UK are gravely concerned by the poisoning of Russian opposition politician Alexey Navalny with a nerve agent from the Novichok group. I’ll just remind colleagues on the Council that a similar chemical weapon, was used in Salisbury, UK, resulting in death and severe injury. It is unacceptable that these weapons have been retained and even worse that they have been used. Under the Chemical Weapons Convention, any poisoning of an individual through the use of a nerve agent is considered a use of chemical weapons. And as the Council reaffirmed last November in a Presidential Statement, any use of chemical weapons anywhere, at any time, by anyone, under any circumstance is unacceptable and is a threat to international peace and security and those responsible must be held to account. Russia must urgently conduct a full and transparent investigation into the use of a banned chemical weapon on its territory. We must not allow this behaviour to become normalised. Russia must fully cooperate with relevant institutions, including the UNSC.
I am afraid, Madam President, that it is not difficult to understand Russia’s motives for constantly attacking and seeking to undermine the OPCW. (Source: https://www.gov.uk/)
04 Nov 20. New Era for Japan’s Defense Sector? Mitsubishi Heavy Leads Charge. Long relegated to producing U.S.-developed aircraft on contract, Japan’s defense industry is aiming to turn the page by building a homegrown fighter jet under the lead of Mitsubishi Heavy Industries.
Despite ever-growing geopolitical threats, Japan’s defense contractors for years have struggled to achieve financial success. The new project could prove a turning point for the industry, though obstacles like a cutthroat bidding process and rising imports remain.
Japan’s Defense Ministry on Friday signed a formal agreement with Mitsubishi Heavy for the jets, which will replace the Self-Defense Forces’ F-2s being decommissioned starting in 2035. About 90 of the new generation jets are expected to be produced.
“We hope to do this properly to defend the country,” a Mitsubishi Heavy executive said.
Also on Friday, Mitsubishi Heavy announced its medium-term plan for the three years through March 2024. News of the fighter jet contract was a much-welcomed bright spot for the company, which logged a 57bn yen ($545m) net loss for the April-September half and recently halted development of its SpaceJet commercial airplane.
In developing the fighter jet, Mitsubishi Heavy will be leading a team of Japanese and foreign companies to be chosen as early as this year. There is speculation the entire project could be worth over 5 trillion yen, which could help Mitsubishi Heavy offset the 1 trillion yen it poured into the failed SpaceJet.
A homegrown fighter jet would also allow Mitsubishi Heavy and other Japanese defense contractors to develop their expertise in aircraft development and manufacturing, a highly technical field. Until now, Japan’s Air Self-Defense Force relied on planes developed by the U.S., meaning technology from their core parts was not disclosed to Japanese companies.
The new jet “will strengthen the foundation of our defense industry,” an industry insider said. (Source: defense-aerospace.com/Nikkei Asian Review)
05 Nov 20. China to Allow Coast Guard to Use Weapons in Waters It Claims. China will allow its coast guard to use weapons when foreign ships involved in illegal activities in waters it controls fail to obey orders, such as to stop, a bill unveiled by a body of the country’s parliament showed Wednesday.
As Beijing claims that the Senkaku Islands, which are administered by Tokyo, are part of its territory, the envisioned law could target Japanese vessels navigating around the uninhabited islets. The tiny islands in the East China Sea are called Diaoyu by Beijing.
The Japanese government said earlier in the day that a Chinese ship was spotted in the so-called contiguous zone outside Japanese waters, adding that Chinese vessels had now been observed near the isles for 285 days this year and also for the 59th day in a row. (Source: defense-aerospace.com/Japan Times)
03 Nov 20. North Korea building two submarines, one capable of firing ballistic missiles – lawmaker. North Korea is building two new submarines, including one capable of firing ballistic missiles, a South Korean lawmaker said on Tuesday, following a closed-door briefing by the South’s National Intelligence Service.
North Korea has a large submarine fleet but only one known experimental submarine capable of carrying a ballistic missile.
“One of the submarines North Korea is building can carry a submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM),” Ha Tae-keung, an opposition party lawmaker on parliament’s intelligence committee, told Reuters. “One is a modified Romeo Class and the other is a new medium-large size one.”
North Korea has been subject to U.N. Security Council sanctions since 2006 over its nuclear and ballistic missile programmes.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and U.S. President Donald Trump have met three times since 2018, but failed to make progress on U.S. calls for Pyongyang to give up its nuclear weapons and North Korea’s demands for an end to sanctions.
In July 2019 state media showed Kim inspecting a large, newly built submarine. While North Korea did not describe the submarine’s weapons systems, analysts said the apparent size of the vessel indicated it was designed to carry missiles.
Later that year North Korea said it had successfully test-fired a new SLBM from the sea, and last month it showcased a new SLBM design during a military parade in Pyongyang.
Kim’s vow to unveil new strategic weapons this year also led to speculation that North Korea could soon deploy an operational ballistic missile submarine.
North Korea showcased a total of 76 missiles in nine different types at a military parade on Oct. 10, including the country’s long-range weapons for the first time in two years, Yonhap news agency reported, citing Ha.
After months of speculation over Kim’s health, South Korea’s spies said there were no signs that the young leader was suffering from health problems, Yonhap reported.
The lawmaker also said there was circumstantial evidence indicating that Kim had ordered an investigation into the North Korean troops who shot dead a South Korean fisheries official who went missing in late September, Yonhap reported.
North Korea last week said the shooting of the South Korean man in its waters last month was a self-defensive measure amid concerns about the coronavirus. (Source: Reuters)
03 Nov 20. British Armed Forces Minister arrives in Cairo. UK Minister for the Armed Forces James Heappey MP met with Chief of Staff of the Egyptian Armed Forces Lieutenant General Mohamed Farid.
UK Minister for the Armed Forces James Heappey MP met with Chief of Staff of the Egyptian Armed Forces Lieutenant General Mohamed Farid to discuss ways to boost British-Egyptian defence cooperation. The meeting came as a part of the Minister’s current official visit to Egypt.
The two sides discussed the latest military developments in Libya and in the Eastern Mediterranean region. The war on terrorism and opportunities for joint exercises were also discussed in the meeting. British Ambassador to Egypt Sir Geoffrey Adams and British Defence Attaché Captain (Royal Navy) Stephen Deacon accompanied the Minister.
The visit is considered the second significant visit for a senior Defence Minister following the successful visit to Egypt of the Former Minister of State for the UK Armed Forces in June 2019.
Minister Heappey said, “I was delighted to meet with Lieutenant General Mohamed Farid to discuss how we might further deepen our existing partnership and cooperation. There are shared challenges the UK and Egypt can work together to address: ensuring that a ceasefire holds in Libya, and provides a chance for peace, and combatting the scourge of terrorism. This is exactly what we need: an exchange of ideas, experience and capability between our two countries. I look forward to further developments in future.”
The British Ambassador to Egypt, Sir Geoffrey Adams, said, “This visit by our Minister for the Armed Forces is a clear sign of the importance the UK places on bilateral defence cooperation between our two countries. The UK is ready to enhance our partnership with our Egyptian friends and counterparts, working together to face shared challenges with agility, expertise and strategic focus on the issues that matter.” (Source: https://www.gov.uk/government)
03 Nov 20. China to Modernize Military, Arsenal In Next 5 Years. China will develop and produce modern, advanced weapons and equipment in the upcoming five years, as the world could witness the debut of China’s first long-range, stealth-capable strategic bomber, the country’s third and electromagnetic catapults-equipped aircraft carrier, among other new weapons that aim to safeguard the country’s sovereignty, territorial integrity and development interests, Chinese military experts and analysts predicted on Monday, after China’s recently released 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-25) and the Communiqué of the fifth plenary session of the 19th Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC) set the tone for the development of the country’s national defense and armed forces.
The roadmap is in line with China’s overall national strength and the urgent needs of national defense brought by the likes of hegemonies, power politics and regional instabilities in other parts of the world when China is having more development interests overseas, analysts said.
The plenary session made “making significant strides in the modernization of national defense and armed forces in the next five years” one of the main goals for the development of the economy and society in the 14th Five-Year Plan, and stressed that the development of the economy should go side by side with the strengthening of the military.
Among others, it is arranged in the 14th Five-Year Plan that the military should be enhanced by technologies, the integrated development of mechanization, informatization and intelligentization should be accelerated, key and innovative fields should develop in a coordinated way, and the layout for national defense and technology industry should be optimized.
By the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) in 2027, the centennial goal of military development should be achieved; by 2035, the country should achieve the modernization of the national defense and armed forces, it was announced at the plenary session.
Additions to arsenal
Looking back at the past five years, the Chinese military’s arsenal saw many breakthroughs across all services, with many new and top-level weapons and equipment commissioned or made debuts, including the J-20 stealth fighter jet, Y-20 large transport aircraft, Z-20 utility helicopter, H-6N strategic bomber, Type 055 large destroyer, Shandong aircraft carrier, Type 15 light tank, PCL-181 truck-based howitzer, DF-26 anti-ship ballistic missile, DF-17 hypersonic missile and DF-41 intercontinental ballistic missile.
To follow the 14th Five-Year Plan and reach the goals, China is expected to continue its momentum in the domestic development of modern weapons and equipment in addition to the military reform and scientific military exercises, analysts said.
The 14th Five Year Plan period will be a very hopeful and fruitful period for the PLA Air Force, as the long-range, stealth-capable strategic bomber will likely make its long-expected public debut, Fu Qianshao, a Chinese military aviation expert, told the Global Times on Monday.
China has been reportedly developing the new bomber, often dubbed the H-20, for many years, and its maker, the state-owned Aviation Industry Corporation of China, has been hinting its development since 2018.
“We have been studying on the bomber for a certain period. As we have conquered the difficulties in large aircraft production, stealth technologies and engine design and production. The time is ripe for us to roll out a new bomber,” Fu predicted.
The aircraft is expected to be a fourth-generation bomber, compared to China’s current H-6 bomber platform, which is only of the first generation, Fu said, noting that it will come out with world-leading design and technologies. Its stealth capability and range will at least as good as the US’ B-2 Spirit stealth bomber, Fu predicted.
In other warplane developments, Fu believes that China will start to mass-produce and improve the J-20 fighter jet, with its engines replaced with more powerful ones; drones and artificial intelligence will also see advanced developments.
In terms of the PLA Navy, Li Jie, a Beijing-based naval expert, predicted that China’s third aircraft carrier is very likely to be commissioned during the 14th Five Year Plan period.
The new carrier is expected to be much larger, and the country’s first one using a flat flight deck equipped with electromagnetic catapults to release aircraft, a more efficient way than the ski-jump approach used on the country’s previous carriers, analysts said.
In accordance with the PLA’s carrier groups construction, the construction of supporting warships for the carriers, including destroyers like Type 052D and Type 055, as well as amphibious assault and landing ships, anti-submarine warfare aircrafts, will likely continue in the next five years, Li told the Global Times on Monday.
“Overall, in the following 10 years, the PLA Navy will develop more systematically and integrated, centering on the construction of aircraft carrier groups,” Li said.
In specific, new amphibious vessels will be launched and existing destroyers and frigates, such as the Type 055 and Type 054A, will be upgraded. The network integration of the PLA Navy will also be improved, Li noted.
China is reportedly developing the electromagnetic railgun, which is widely expected by analysts to be installed on an upgraded version of the Type 055.
A type of aircraft carrier-based stealth fighter jet, rumored to be developed based on China’s second type of stealth fighter jet the FC-31, could also make its debut in the coming years, along with the aircraft carrier-based early warning aircraft the KJ-600, observers said.
China’s centennial goal of military development in 2027 aims to develop the military with the capability to defend national sovereignty, safeguard against security threats posed by the hegemony in western pacific region and protect overseas development interests as China’s overseas economic presence grows, Li said.
As the world has seen a rise in strategic competition, constant armed conflicts and regional warfare, and increasingly obvious instability and uncertainty in security, China as a rising power with huge development interests both at home and abroad requires its military to adapt to new missions, Song Zhongping, a Chinese military expert and TV commentator, told the Global Times.
“The centennial goal is in line with national strength,” Song stressed.
Zhang Yesui, spokesperson for the third session of the 13th National People’s Congress, had pointed out in May that from a global perspective, the proportion of China’s defense expenditure to GDP has remained at around 1.3 percent for many years, far below the world average of 2.6 percent. (Source: defense-aerospace.com/Global Times)
02 Nov 20. Russia’s Top Brass to Get First Su-57 Fifth-Generation Fighter in December. Russia’s Defense Ministry will get the first serial-produced Su-57 fifth-generation fighter in December, a source in the defense industry told TASS on Monday.
“The Defense Ministry will get the first serial-produced Su-57 with the operational first-stage engine on the single military output day in December this year and four more such planes in 2021,” the source said.
The new fighter’s delivery rate will eventually grow to 15 aircraft a year, the source said.
“As a result, the contract signed in 2019 on 76 Su-57s through 2028 will definitely be fulfilled on time,” the source stressed.
The deliveries of Su-57 fighters with the second-stage engine are set to begin in 2022, the source said.
The Su-57 is a fifth-generation multirole fighter designed to destroy all types of air, ground and naval targets. The Su-57 fighter jet features stealth technology with the broad use of composite materials, is capable of developing supersonic cruising speed and is furnished with the most advanced onboard radio-electronic equipment, including a powerful onboard computer (the so-called electronic second pilot), the radar system spread across its body and some other innovations, in particular, armament placed inside its fuselage.
The Su-57 took to the skies for the first time on January 29, 2010. Compared to its predecessors, the Su-57 combines the functions of an attack plane and a fighter jet while the use of composite materials and innovation technologies and the fighter’s aerodynamic configuration ensure the low level of radar and infrared signature.
The plane’s armament will include, in particular, hypersonic missiles. The fifth-generation fighter jet has been successfully tested in combat conditions in Syria. (Source: defense-aerospace.com/TASS)
03 Nov 20. US President allegedly approves sale of upgraded F-22 to Israel. In a surprise move, President Donald Trump has reportedly approved the sale of an upgraded F-22 Raptor variant to Israel, with a number of sources alleging Defense Secretary Mark Esper confirmed the sale to Israeli authorities during an official visit to Israel, which raises the question, can Australia and other allies like Japan get their hands on the platform?
Designed to establish and maintain air superiority or air dominance, fighter aircraft have evolved from relatively simple wood and canvas air frames during the First World War, to the highly manoeuvrable, long-range aircraft that dominated the skies of Europe and the Pacific during the Second World War.
The latest two generations of fighter aircraft combining advanced avionics, sensor systems and equally advanced weapons systems, in conjunction with survivable, agile and high-speed airframes and now low observability characteristics ranging from specialised shaping to radar absorbing and scattering materials, serve to establish these aircraft as the pinnacle of these earlier designs.
While platforms like the F-15 Eagle, F/A-18 Hornet, Eurofighter Typhoon, Russia’s Su-27 and Su-30 series and China’s own J-10 and locally ‘developed’ carrier-based Su-30-based J-15 will all serve as the bulk of most contemporary air forces, fifth-generation aircraft are growing in proliferation and capability as the dawn of a new era reshapes the modern aerial battlespace for many nations, including Australia.
Designed from the outset to be the world’s premier air superiority platform, building on the impressive legacy established by the F-15 Eagle series, the Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor combines all-aspect stealth even when armed, low-probability-of-intercept radar, high-performance air frames, advanced avionics and highly integrated computer systems, these aircraft provide unrivalled air dominance, situational awareness, networking, interdiction and strike capabilities for commanders to provide an uncompromising fifth-generation air combat capability for the US Air Force, albeit in an exceptionally limited number.
It is as a result of this perfect synthesis of capabilities and technologies incorporated into the Raptor, combined with congressional concerns about espionage undermining the platform, which precluded it from wide-spread export to key US allies, including the UK, Australia, Canada, Japan and Israel.
Despite this, US Air Force Colonel Brian Baldwin, Group Commander 13th Air Expeditionary Force, who is in Australia to participate in the 2019 Exercise Talisman Sabre, has set tongues wagging with statements made to the Australian media regarding allied access to the formidable air dominance platform.
“I wish we had more of them. I wish all of our closest friends could have some. We obviously have to take care of where we take the jet so we keep it as a special capability and it’s a pleasure to be able to bring it down to Australia,” Col Baldwin is reported saying at RAAF Base Amberley in south-east Queensland.
This export ban, combined with shrinking post-Cold War budgets and a lack of credible peer competitor platforms and capability saw the original US Air Force order of 750 units cut to 195 and ultimately 187, which also saw the unit price rise beyond what was sustainable, even for the US, in turn paving the way for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter family to fill the role.
However, it is appears as if that is all about to change, as Toi Staff and Judah Ari Goss of the Times of Israel, Nazir Magali of Saudi-backed Asharq Al-Awsat and Robert Gottliebsen of The Australian are reporting that US President Donald Trump has officially signed off on the sale of upgraded F-22 variants to Israel, that is, a platform combining the best technology of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, with the best technology of the F-22 to produce what would be the world’s undisputed air superiority aircraft.
A major turn of events
Many US allies have lobbied albeit unsuccessfully for export access to the F-22 Raptor, including Israel, which ironically was the original point of concern for Congress leading to the initial export ban, however it appears as though the request by the United Arab Emirates and a continued backing by the US to help maintain Israel’s technological edge over regional competitors is the driving force behind the major back flip in US defence export policy.
Staff and Goss state, “US Secretary of Defense Mark Esper told Israeli officials during a visit to Israel this week that the Trump administration has approved selling F-22 stealth fighters to the Jewish state, according to a Friday report in a Saudi-owned newspaper.
“US President Donald Trump okayed the sale of the F-22 Raptor and precision-guided bombs to Israel, the London-based Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper reported, citing senior sources in Tel Aviv.”
Building on this, Staff and Goss add, “Israeli defence officials asked to buy the F-22 — one of the world’s most advanced fighter jets — to maintain Israel’s qualitative military edge in the region after the US agreed to sell F-35 fighters to the United Arab Emirates, the Israeli daily Haaretz reported on Tuesday.
“Israel had previously expressed interest in buying the F-22, but the US declined. The US halted production of the fighter in 2011 and legally barred its sale to foreign countries. Trump would not be the first American president to recommend selling the F-22 to Israel. In 2001, at the end of his second term, then-president Bill Clinton similarly came out in favour of providing Israel with the aircraft, but left the decision ultimately in the hands of his successor, George W. Bush, and Congress.”
It is expected that the platform on offer to Israel will not be the same aircraft that rolled off Lockheed Martin’s production lines at Fort Worth between 1992 and 2011, rather the aircraft proposed is expected to be what Australian journalist Robert Gottliebsen refers to as a revamped “Australian proposal” first championed by AirPower Australia and later Japan as both lobbied the Australian and US governments, respectively.
This proposal would see the combination of both the F-22 and F-35 to deliver a “best of both worlds” option for Israel, which Gottliebsen explains: “Japan is believed to have put forward the ‘Australian proposal’ that the best of the JSF be incorporated in the revamped F-22 but it was not accepted by the US. But the US has been reviewing its total defence situation and discovered that too much effort and money has been spent in the wars in the Middle East and not enough in developing in matching the giant technology strides that are been made by both Russia and China.
“Australian defence officials have constantly stated that the US is not prepared to sell the F-22 to Australia or any other country and that it is too expensive. If the offer to Israel is confirmed by the US House of Representatives, it breaks down the first barrier. At the same time, the cost barrier has been substantially reduced.
“It is vital for the nation that we actually recognise the JSF’s problems and put our hand up for an F-22 that incorporates some of the brilliant technology in the JSF.”
Gottliebsen goes further detailing the challenges and opportunities in jumping on board with the proposal, stating, “It is vital for the nation that we actually recognise the JSF’s problems and put our hand up for an F-22 that incorporates some of the brilliant technology in the JSF.
“If we can achieve that goal it will transform the air defence of Australia are and make us a much safer nation. The first hurdle is the US election and then there are lots of hurdles in Congress. But the decision is so sensible that it may appeal to both parties. And the Democrats will be reminded that back in the Clinton presidency they approved the sale to Israel of the F-22. But under the Bush administration it lapsed.”
By our powers combined
In response to the rapidly changing global environment and air combat capabilities, allies in Japan, the UK and across Europe have initiated the development of their own fifth and ‘sixth’-generation fighter aircraft – Japan in particular has been one of the most vocal aspirants of a potential lax in America’s ban on the Raptor – beginning the collaborative development of a replacement for the Japanese Air Self Defense Force’s (JASDF) fleet of F-15J.
Recent changes within the US political establishment, notably the election of President Donald Trump, has triggered a major rethink in the policies that govern America’s arms exports, opening the door for Japan to engage with major US defence contractors like Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman to support Japan’s domestic development of a large, low-observable air superiority fighter to replace its fleet of locally built F-15J aircraft.
While Japan has publicly committed to acquiring a fleet of 147 F-35s, including a fleet of 42 short-take off, vertical landing (STOVL) F-35B variants, the Japanese government has remained focused on procuring a fifth-generation air dominance fighter, with or without US help, to counter the growing challenges it faces in its direct region.
This resulted in the development of the X-2 Shinshin, a technology demonstrator that proved Japan’s domestic aerospace industry could produce an indigenous stealth fighter design capable of competing with the world’s best.
Both Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman have actively supported Japan’s continued development of the Shinshin concept, raising renewed questions about a US commitment to reopening the F-22 Raptor line.
Recognising the increasing proliferation of fifth-generation technology and the emerging peer competitor capabilities and previous attempts at acquiring the F-22, both Japan and Australia are well positioned to support the reopening and modernisation of the US F-22 Raptor line, estimated to be worth approximately US$9.9bn for non-recurring start-up costs according to a US Congress report, and an additional US$40.4bn to acquire 194 Raptors for the US Air Force.
What this House armed services committee report fails to account for is an allied acquisition and integration within the advanced Raptor development supply chain – most notably by Japan and Australia.
Such collaboration with two widely respected US allies and industrial partners already established within the existing F-35 supply chain, provides an opportunity to spread the costs, however it should be noted that the acquisition is not without risk, as both Japan and Australia would need to at least match the US order of 194 air frames – even in a combined manner – bringing the second production run to 388 airframes.
This proposal would result in a unit cost for the US, Japan and Australia of approximately US$105m per aircraft, without accounting for any proposed Israeli acquisition or broader alliance partners.
Expanding the export opportunities of the Raptor to include other key ‘Five Eyes’ allies like Canada and the UK, both of which are currently undergoing an air force recapitalisation, modernisation or research and development programs of their own, would further reduce the costs associated with reopening the line and acquiring new Raptor air frames.
Australian procurement could mean enjoying a highly capable, interoperable and future-proofed air frame operated by Japan, a key regional ally, and potentially the US and UK, which agreed with the Japanese government in 2017 to collaborate in the joint development of a fifth-generation aircraft to replace the Royal Air Force’s Typhoons within the next two decades. (Source: Defence Connect)
03 Nov 20. UAE and Saudi Arabia abandon S-400 missile systems, want to buy Israeli Iron Dome. Russia’s anti-aircraft missile system S-400 continues to be of interest to many countries around the world, as it is believed to be the best defense system at the moment. BulgarianMilitary.com wrote earlier this year that the two Gulf states, Saudi Arabia and the UAE, are showing serious interest in buying these systems.
Most recently, the online news agency Eurasia wrote that the interest of the two Middle Eastern countries has changed dramatically with the S-400 air defense systems, and they no longer want to buy them. Information has appeared in international publications that the two countries are taking steps to withdraw from negotiations to acquire the Triumphs and are moving towards negotiations to acquire Israeli Iron Dome air defense systems. Such information also appeared in the annual reports of both countries. The reason for the new interest in the Israeli Iron Dome can be found in various forms, but one of them is the proven combat effectiveness of the Israeli air defense system in recent years in the Middle East and its fight against unmanned aerial vehicles, aircraft and missiles.
Another main reason is the normalization of diplomatic, political and military relations between the Gulf countries and Israel, which leads to increased interest in the Iron Dome not only on both sides but also on other countries of the world. Such information is spread widely among the Israeli media as well. A number of reports by the Israeli military, as well as by analysts in the region, share the general view that “full trust” between Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Israel is far from a concept in diplomatic relations, but it is gradually beginning to build. take considerable time to achieve.
One of the worst-hit countries in the field of air strikes in the last 24 months is Saudi Arabia. Yemeni Houthi drones and missiles have hit oil refineries, warehouses and some airports in the past two years. The Saudis have the greatest interest in buying such systems, as it turned out that the American air defense system Patriot can not meet expectations for quality air defense. We would look for a possible reason for the interest in the Iron Dome from the Saudis and the fact that the United States also recognizes the superiority of the Iron Dome over Patriot, after deciding to work with Israel to renew and modernize the Israeli air defense system.
The armament of Israeli air defense systems is also an important fact. The Barak-8 missile is a joint production between India and Israel, and in recent years this missile has shown that it accepts the challenge of “Israeli enemies” and can handle almost anything they [the enemies of Israel – ed.] Are armed with. . We are talking about all kinds of air attacks – helicopters, planes, drones, ballistic and cruise missiles and more.
However, military experts and experts see a completely different reason in the desire of the UAE and Saudi Arabia to acquire Israeli air defense systems and abandon their Russian S-400s. It is a question of the expressed desire of both parties to acquire a fifth generation F-35 fighter. For that to happen, there is no way Washington can sell the two countries the fighter jets they want if they have Russian defense systems. See Turkey as the most illustrative example.
As we reported in August this year, American company Raytheon Missiles & Defense and Israeli defense company Rafael have signed an agreement to establish a joint venture (JV) in the United States to produce the Iron Dome air and missile defense system. The new joint venture was named Raytheon RAFAEL Area Protection Systems (RRAPS). The site is expected to be selected by the end of the year.
“This will be the first Iron Dome all-up-round facility outside of Israel, and it will help the U.S. Department of Defense and allies across the globe obtain the system for defense of their service members and critical infrastructure,” Sam Denecke’s Raytheon air defense equipment and facilities.
It is assumed that the enterprise will produce both the base version of the Iron Dome with the Tamir interceptor missile and the Sky Hunter anti-aircraft guided missile, which is a variant of the Tamir developed in the USA. Raytheon said both missiles are capable of intercepting cruise missiles, unmanned aerial vehicles, artillery shells and mortar mines. As noted in the press service, the cooperation between Raytheon Missiles & Defense and Rafael in the development of the Iron Dome has been going on for more than ten years.
“We are excited about this new stage in our partnership with Raytheon and proud of our U.S. production,” said Brig. Gen. (res.) Pini Yungman, executive vice president for Air and Missile Defense of Rafael Advanced Defense Systems. “We have long partnered on U.S. production of Iron Dome and are pleased to increase manufacturing and bring SkyHunter to the U.S.”
In 2019, the US Ground Forces announced their intention to purchase two Iron Dome batteries, the signing of the corresponding contract became known in August. Both batteries are expected to be tested in the US next year and deployed in September and December 2021, respectively. (Source: News Now/https://bulgarianmilitary.com/)
30 Oct 20. Over 28 & 29 October, United States and Chinese defence officials held their first Crisis Communications Working Group via a videoconference. The aim is to create a communications channel that can be used during any future crisis, as well as to maintain regular communications to potentially break and halt any crisis from fully developing.
Tension has been steadily rising not least over the Chinese move to dominate the South China Sea through its island building programme, as well as concerns from Japan about China’s potential threat to the East China Sea. Taiwan remains as a major source of tension, particularly following recent defence contracts agreed by the Trump Administration.
The Working Group links US military representatives with those from the People’s Liberation Army (PLA). At this first meeting, the US delegation included representatives from the Office of the Secretary of Defense, the Joint Staff, and the United States Indo-Pacific Command. The Chinese delegation included representatives of the Central Military Commission’s (CMC) Office for International Military Cooperation, the CMC Joint Staff Department, and the PLA Southern Theatre Command.(Source: Armada)
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