Sponsored by Exensor
02 Apr 21. With Hong Kong subdued, Xi’s gaze turns to defiant Taiwan. China has made dozens of forays in recent months into the airspace of the island it has long claimed as its own. China is ratcheting up military pressure on Taiwan, probing the air defences of the self-governed island on a near-daily basis amid fears of impending conflict.
According to Taiwan’s ministry of national defence, Chinese planes, sometimes in large numbers, entered the zone at least 18 times last month, 17 times in February and 27 times in January.
In the latest incident on Tuesday, a Chinese transport aircraft entered its airspace, prompting the Taiwanese military to scramble a civil air patrol aircraft, issue radio warnings and deploy air defence missile systems.
China’s constant flexing of its military muscle around the island is part of an intensifying five-year campaign under President Xi, who has vowed to annex Taiwan, if necessary by force, by 2050.
It considers Taiwan — which broke from the mainland in 1949 when it became home to nationalist forces fleeing the victorious communists — as part of its rightful territory. Under Xi, the campaign to return it to the fold has moved beyond rhetoric and is a tenet of his leadership.
In 2019 China broke a tacit agreement not to cross over the median line in the Taiwan Strait. Now the Chinese air force routinely flies military planes into Taiwan’s air defence zone.
As well as trying to sap Taiwan’s appetite for a fight, the incursions are a message to the United States. Washington is obliged to equip Taiwan militarily under a defence pact but whether an American president would send US forces to defend the island has always been uncertain. It is an ambiguity that in the past has helped to serve as a deterrent to Chinese aggression. Xi appears willing to test this.
On January 23 and 24, just after President Biden was sworn in, the Chinese air force sent dozens of aircraft, including bombers and fighter jets, into the area, prompting the new US administration to pledge its “rock-solid” support to the island.
Last Friday the Chinese military conducted a large drill near the island, with 20 warplanes entering Taiwan’s air defence identification zone. Then, a group of bombers and an anti-submarine warfare aircraft flew to the island’s east side, demonstrating China’s abilities to surround the island and potentially block foreign intervention from the east.
The frequent air incursions have raised worries that Taiwan’s military, with its pilots and planes ready to scramble at any time, will eventually become exhausted. Valuable training and maintenance may be sacrificed.
For China, looking to wear down Taipei by endlessly dispatching combat-ready patrols into Taiwan’s airspace is a strategy that would be recognisable to the ancient Chinese military strategist Sun Tzu, said Lin Cheng-yi, an expert on national security policy at the Academia Sinica research institution in Taipei.
“A militarily capable China does not mean it will certainly attack Taiwan,” he said. Beijing is, for the time being, exploring how far it can subdue a foe without fighting.
Since 2016, when Tsai Ing-wen of the Democratic Progressive Party was elected Taiwan’s president and refused to acknowledge the “one China” principle — the basis for peaceful reunification with Beijing — the patrols have stepped up. What China refers to as routine drills Taipei calls act of pressure and provocation.
The Taiwanese public, however, are generally sanguine about the threat. Many have grown up with it. They may look uncomfortably at Hong Kong, which is losing its autonomy and civil freedoms under Beijing’s rule but did not have its own army.
“We are used to living with the threat from China but that doesn’t mean we are relaxed,” said Yu Bing-rong, a 21-year-old student in Taipei. “We can’t say that our army would win against China’s but it’s not bad when you compare it to the world in general. It’s not that we’re too weak, it’s that our enemy is too strong.”
On paper, it’s a David-and-Goliath mismatch. Taiwan’s military is 290,000-strong, dwarfed by China’s army of 2.3 million. Its annual defence budget is $10.5bn compared with China’s $228bn. The island has fewer than 800 warplanes, outnumbered by Beijing’s fleet of more than 4,000. It has 67 warships; China has at least 335. It does not have an aircraft carrier, while China’s rapidly expanding navy has two, with more on the way.
Yet Taiwan is no easy military target and Beijing would prefer to subdue the island — which is separated from the mainland by at least 100 miles of fast-running strait — without firing a bullet.
In the face of the growing threats, and the uncertainty of US military support, Taiwan is actively building up its defences. For its size, the Taiwan’s military is comparatively powerful, on a par with those of far bigger nations such as Canada and Poland. It has the world’s 22nd most powerful force, according to the Global Firepower index.
It may be no match for the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), the world’s third most powerful military force after the US and Russia, so the island has developed a strategy to give it a fighting chance.
Lee Hsi-min, a retired admiral and former chief of staff of Taiwan’s armed forces between 2017 and 2019, has laid out the approach, which he said must maximise the island’s advantages but exploit vulnerabilities of the Chinese forces.
While Taiwan will still build up conventional weapon systems, Lee said in a co-written piece in The Diplomat, it will look to develop “asymmetric weapon systems”, which are “small, mobile, lethal and numerous for strategic dispersion”.
That entails building up what a recent Pentagon report identified as expertise in electronic warfare as well as “high-speed stealth vessels, shore-based mobile missiles, rapid mining and minesweeping, unmanned aerial systems and critical infrastructure protection”.
Lu Li-shih, a former instructor at the Taiwanese Naval Academy, believes that the mainland will be wary of a conventional amphibious landing. Too many deaths and the Chinese government will face a backlash at home, he said.
“Therefore, the PLA is preparing for operations to bring about the fewest casualties, which is to say the use of drones, ballistic missiles and cruise missiles,” he said. “Although Taiwan is equipped with American Patriot II/III surface-to-air missiles and Stinger air defence missiles, in terms of quantity this is still a drop in the ocean when it faces the threat of the People’s Liberation Army.”
Taiwan was insufficiently prepared in terms of the training of soldiers and reserves and there was a lack of long-term investment in developing homegrown military technology to keep up with the enemy, Lu said. Yet he estimated that the Chinese military was still at least five years away from completing its preparations to seize Taiwan by force.
Then there is a powerful third party to the cross-strait rivalry: the US, which is committed to equipping Taiwan with military hardware and sees it as a democratic bulwark against a more assertive China, whose ideology clashes with its values and threatens to disrupt the world order. Experts generally agree that Beijing would not attack the island unless it was prepared to take on Washington.
Some believe that that moment may be approaching, as China’s military grows ever stronger and its economy looks better able to survive sanctions from the West.
Taiwan, though, is not relying on US troops turning up in the event of an attack. “If Chinese leaders should decide to attack Taiwan, Taiwan at most can foil the PLA actions,” said Lu, who believed that there would be only losers from a military clash.
“Even if the PLA cannot achieve its goal, Taiwan would only barely survive, for the war would take place in the strait and on Taiwan’s soil, and Taiwan will suffer casualties and see its economic growth wiped out.”
Many believe that the more immediate worry is that Beijing will exert more economic pressure on Taiwan. China is Taiwan’s largest trading partner, accounting for nearly 30 per cent of the island’s total trade, worth about $150bn a year.
When Beijing halted pineapple imports from the island in February, it triggered a furore on the island, which shipped the vast majority of its export crop to the mainland last year.
In an editorial, the Global Times, a party-run mainland newspaper, warned of what would follow. If Taiwan’s rulers refused to engage with China, Beijing would be forced to act on the island’s economy. Taiwan should be ready for “a series of nightmares” that would make the pineapple ban look trivial. (Source: The Times)
02 Apr 21. Gulf Countries Must Boost ISR, Sensors To Better Eye Iran. Gulf countries must build a centralized command center linked to sub-command centers spread across all countries and able to share and receive data in a synchronized real time way, says Mohamed Al-Kenany, military researcher and defense analyst at the Arab Forum for Policy Analysis in Cairo. Gulf counties needs to upgrade and enhance the connectivity and integration of their command-and-control air defense centers, especially in the face of the Iranian threat, experts tell Breaking Defense.
Recently, the GCC “Belt of Cooperation” working group, better known as “Hizam Al-Taawun” (HAT), held its 10th meeting to strengthen the joint tracking of aircraft and coordination of air defense systems, with the participation of specialized delegations from the GCC States Armed Forces, a representative from the General Secretariat Military Affairs and a representative of the GCC Unified Military Command.
“During their annual meetings, parties review the previous decisions and recommendations and discuss the executive regulations of the GCC Cooperation Belt Working Group, in addition to completing what was reached in previous meetings,” said one military source who asked not to be named.
“But today, they all realize that the Iranian threat is getting greater by the second, so plans to enhance data sharing and the integration of command-and-control air defense centers is now heavily being discussed,” he added. “We wait to see what strategies will be adopted to achieve that.”
In early 2001, the GCC begun operation of the Belt of Cooperation’s aircraft identification and tracking system that enables them to monitor aircraft jointly in airspace over and surrounding their territories and better coordinate defensive activities. The HAT system is a distributed command, control, communications, computers and intelligence network developed by Raytheon.
“Systems like the Air Defense Operations Center (ADOC) for example are uniquely able to provide expanded capability against sophisticated, regional threats.” a Raytheon spokesperson said.
Back in 2004, the U.S. Air Force awarded Raytheon an undefinitized contract action (UCA) for a Foreign Military Sales contract not to exceed $75.6m to design and implement an Air and Missile Defense Operation Center for Qatar, the first of its kind in the region.
“ADOC can complement existing systems to provide significantly extended situational awareness and deliver actionable information to commanders,” the spokesperson added.
This comes at a time when the Houthis are attacking Saudi oil facilities and military sites, including the petroleum products distribution terminal in Jizan, in southwest Saudi Arabia near the Yemeni border. This attack comes on the heels of another in 2019 on the Kingdom’s Abqaiq and Khurais oil facilities run by Aramco, Saudi Arabia’s state-owned oil giant.
“With the new types of unexpected threats, we are forced to think seriously about different approaches to improve our decision making, and most importantly, early warning capabilities,” said Khalid Al Bu-Ainain Al Mazrouei, advisor to the deputy supreme commander of UAE Armed Forces in a recent conference I attended.
“It is vital to sustain the region’s command and control centers to effectively counter all kinds of well-organized threats,” Al Mazrouei added, a complicated process that requires a “strong chain of command, a better shared awareness picture between GCC states, and an improved ISR and EW capability and effectiveness.”
Kuwaiti defense expert Ali Al Hashim said the complex regional situation requires radical moves.
“Given the vastness of the Saudi land, the country must deploy a fair amount of AWACS aircraft, ground radars and the Tethered Aerostat Radar System (TARS), a low-level airborne ground surveillance system that uses moored balloons as radar platforms,” he explained, which is “a challenging task.”
Hence, “Gulf countries could mimic the work of the US Central Command located in Al Udeid air base in Qatar where they can standardize the whole systems and eventually be able to operate them in one effective C4ISR environment,” he said.
He also added that common purchases and joint trainings will help Gulf countries achieve their goal and eventually protect themselves against the Iranian threats. “This could be a chance to work on common military standards and optimize mission effectiveness,” he told me.
To make it happen, they will need to build a centralized command center linked to sub-command centers spread across all countries and able to share and receive data in a synchronized real time, or at least semi-real time way, Mohamed Al-Kenany, military researcher and defense analyst at the Arab Forum for Policy Analysis in Cairo, says
“These centers could be built on C5I solutions and connected to early warning stations and air defense systems like the Patriot and THAAD and related radars for early warning and tracking missiles and air targets,” he explains. “In case any station gets attacked, the command center connected to it will automatically notify the main command center and other sub-centers, which will ultimately save time and effort and secure the speed in identifying the target and efficiency processing the info.”
However, this could only be achieved through a proper network-centric warfare technology that integrates ground stations and airborne command and control centers, like the AWACS and ISR aircraft, and connects with naval ships equipped with combat management systems and early warning radars, Al-Kinany told me.
“This would provide shared awareness that increases synergy for command and control, resulting in superior decision-making and the ability to coordinate complex military operations over long distances for an overwhelming war-fighting advantage,” he said.
Because the type of threat is now shifting from ballistic missiles to drones and cruise missiles, GCC countries must deploy point short to medium range air defense systems, electro-optic infrared sensors, and tactical airborne early warning balloons, among others.
“Electronic warfare systems are also keystone in modern and future warfare for jamming purposes and highly effective against swarm attacks,” he added. “Combining the work of electronic warfare and air defense systems has become essential to form a complete multi-layered defense system.”
However, Al Hashim sees beyond all that: “Let us assume they were able to set and effectively apply a joint integrated defense system,” he said. “The real challenge here is the growing Iranian cybersecurity threat. Iran has some of the best cyber warfare means and will be able to manipulate our IAD structure.” (Source: Breaking Defense.com)
01 Apr 21. UK announces further sanctions on Myanmar military-linked companies. Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab has announced further measures targeting the Myanmar regime today and a boost to funding for evidence gathering of violations.
Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab has announced further measures targeting the Myanmar regime today (Thursday 1 April) with sanctions against military-linked conglomerate Myanmar Economic Corporation (MEC).
The sanctions against MEC will be enforced immediately for its involvement in serious human rights violations by making funds available to the military, as well as its association with senior military figures. Designating MEC will prohibit funds and economic resources being made available to any subsidiaries ‘owned or controlled’ by MEC as defined by the Global Human Rights sanctions regime.
The sanctions come as the Foreign Secretary also announces extra funding today to bolster a mechanism to collect, investigate and preserve evidence of serious human rights violations in Myanmar. The UK is contributing half a million pounds to the ‘Independent Investigative Mechanism’ for Myanmar (IIMM) to increase evidence gathering capabilities, which may in future be used in criminal proceedings.
The ‘Independent Investigative Mechanism for Myanmar’ was established by the UN Human Rights Council to collect and preserve evidence of serious human rights violations in Myanmar. The Open Source Investigation work will ensure that reporting on social media and elsewhere is identified and verified for use in future criminal proceedings, to hold to account those who are responsible for the killing and oppression of the people of Myanmar.
Foreign Secretary, Dominic Raab, said, “Two months on from the start of the coup, the Myanmar military has sunk to a new low with the wanton killing of innocent people, including children.”
The UK’s latest actions target one of the military’s key funding streams and impose a further cost on them for their violations of human rights.
The designation of MEC is in response to credible evidence that it has contributed funds to support the Myanmar military, known as the Tatmadaw who have committed serious human rights violations across the country, and that MEC is associated with senior military officers. The MEC Board of Directors is mainly comprised of serving or retired military personnel, including Chiefs of Staff of the Army, Navy and Air Force and the former Quartermaster General.
The asset freeze imposed by the sanctions prevents anyone from dealing with funds or economic resources which are owned or controlled by the sanctioned individual or organisation. It also prevents others from providing funds or economic resources, directly or indirectly, to or for the benefit of the sanctioned individual or entity – in this case MEC.
- The UK has led a strong, coordinated international response to the coup in Myanmar. This includes securing G7 statements on 3 February and 23 February and urgently convened the UN Security Council following the coup with a statement on 4 February. In response to escalating violence, the UK convened the Council again on 5 March and secured a Presidential Statement on 10 March condemning violence against peaceful protestors.
- On 12 February, the UK co-led a Special Session of the UN Human Rights Council, securing a resolution, agreed by consensus, condemning the coup. On 24 March, we secured another HRC Resolution, again agreed by consensus, which condemned the military’s actions and enhanced evidence collection on human rights violations. This demonstrates the strength of feeling in the international community in opposition to the coup.
- On 25 March, the UK sanctioned a key military conglomerate, Myanmar Economic Holdings Ltd (MEHL), for their role in supporting serious human rights violations against the Rohingya in 2017. Working with the US and Canada the UK has sanctioned 9 military officers, including the Commander-in-Chief, for their involvement in serious human rights violations in Myanmar. We are exploring further sanctions.
- MEC is a military conglomerate with interests spanning a range of sectors including banking, mining, real estate, metals and transportation. (Source: https://www.gov.uk/)
01 Apr 21. Growing cooperation between the Turkmenistan and United Kingdom defence ministries. Officers from the Turkmenistan Ministry of Defence and its Civil Defence and Rescue Operations Department have completed UK government training in crisis management.
On 31 March officers from the Turkmenistan Ministry of Defence and its Civil Defence and Rescue Operations Department completed a 3-day online training in Crisis Management. The course was from the United Kingdom’s Cabinet Office Emergency Planning College.
The course participants explored the principles of crisis management and the integrated emergency management framework. Decisive and well-managed execution, continuous improvement, and adaptation were key in keeping crisis management systems current and up to date; learning from mistakes was part of this development. The training provided an overview of UK legislation and structures related to crisis response, the role of UK government during such situations.
British Embassy in Turkmenistan Charge d’ Affaires John Hamilton
On the last day of the training course the British Embassy’s Charge d’ Affaires John Hamilton, took the opportunity to thank the Government and Ministry of Defence of Turkmenistan for their active participation, and stressed that crisis can take any form, natural or man-made, and we must be ready to deal with them all.
Mr Hamilton reminded participants that:
A fast growing risk we need to prepare for are the consequences of climate change. We see changes in weather patterns all around the world causing droughts, floods, hurricanes, mudslides and a host of other disasters both immediate and slowly evolving. Overcoming all of the challenges of climate change is the greatest challenge our generation will face.
The British Embassy and United Kingdom Ministry of Defence were pleased to offer this online course for the officers of the Ministry of Defence of Turkmenistan, and for their active participation in making the course so successful. We look forward to working together again in future. (Source: https://www.gov.uk/)
31 Mar 21. Brazil military chiefs quit as Bolsonaro seeks their support. The leaders of all three branches of Brazil’s armed forces jointly resigned Tuesday following President Jair Bolsonaro’s replacement of the defense minister, causing widespread apprehension of a military shakeup to serve the president’s political interests.
The Defense Ministry reported the resignations — apparently unprecedented since at least the end of military rule 36 years ago — in a statement released without giving reasons. Replacements were not named. But analysts expressed fears the president, increasingly under pressure, was moving to assert greater control over the military.
“Since 1985, we haven’t had news of such clear intervention of the president with regard to the armed forces,” said Carlos Melo, a political science professor at Insper University in Sao Paulo.
Bolsonaro, a conservative former army captain who has often praised Brazil’s former period of military dictatorship, has relied heavily on current and former soldiers to staff key Cabinet positions since taking office in January 2019, but Melo said the military itself has so far refrained from politics.
“Will this resistance continue?,” he said. “That’s the question.”
The announcement came after the heads of the army, navy and air force met with the new defense minister, Gen. Walter Souza Braga Netto, Tuesday morning.
Bolsonaro on Monday carried out a shake-up of top Cabinet positions that was initially seen as a response to demands for a course correction by lawmakers, diplomats and economists, particularly over his handling of the pandemic that has caused more than 300,000 deaths in Brazil.
That included the replacement of Defense Minister Fernando Azevedo e Silva, who said in his resignation letter that he had “preserved the armed forces as state institutions,” a nod at his effort to keep generals out of politics.
Bolsonaro has often bristled at the checks and balances imposed by other branches of government and has attended protests targeting the Supreme Court and Congress.
He has also criticized the Supreme Court for upholding local governments’ rights to adopt pandemic restrictions that he adamantly opposes, arguing that the economic effects are worse than the disease itself.
His recent slide in popularity, and the sudden likelihood that he will face leftist former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva in the 2022 presidential election, has analysts saying he’s looking to the armed forces for support.
Retired Gen. Carlos Alberto Santos Cruz, who previously served as Bolsonaro’s government secretary, appeared to refer to such concerns when he responded to early rumors of military resignations with a tweet saying, “THE ARMED FORCES WON’T GO ON AN ADVENTURE.”
Since Brazil’s return to democracy in 1985, the armed forces have tried to keep a distance from partisan political quarrels.
“The government has to give explanations to the population about the change in the Defense Ministry,” Gen. Santos Cruz added.
Sen. Kátia Abreu, who heads the Senate’s foreign relations commission, said it would be “prudent” for the new defense to minister speak to “calm the nation down about the impossibility of a military intervention.”
“I have a conviction that we built a strong democracy. The armed forces are part of the Brazilian state and they have the confidence of all of us,” said Abreu, a right-leaning Bolsonaro critic.
Earlier this month, Bolsonaro began mentioning the armed forces in connection with his dispute with state governors and mayors over restrictive measures meant to slow the spread of the coronavirus in Latin America’s largest nation.
“My army doesn’t go to the street to force people to stay at home,” Bolsonaro told reporters on March 19. There are fresh concerns he could deploy soldiers to override such restrictions.
Thomas Traumann, an independent political analyst, told The Associated Press that it was the first time in living memory that all leaders of the armed forces had quit simultaneously.
“He wants people who will do whatever he wants, and so it is extremely risky,” Traumann said. “He can put the army out to allow people to go to work. So the army would be in his hands, and not in the hands of the generals.”
Bolsonaro saw his popularity rise last year, thanks to a generous pandemic welfare aid program. That popularity has dropped since the program ended in December, and there have been renewed protests against him as the nation’s daily death toll surged to the highest in the world.
Further clouding the outlook for Bolsonaro is the reemergence of former President da Silva after a Supreme Court justice annulled two corruption convictions and restored his political rights. Early polls show he would be a formidable challenger in next year’s election.
Critics of Bolsonaro say they fear he might echo former U.S. President Donald Trump by questioning an election loss — but taking stronger measures to resist it.
Bolsonaro also replaced Foreign Minister Ernesto Araújo, who was accused by some of impeding the supply of vaccines by making comments seen as insulting to the Chinese and by not aggressively seeking sources.
Bolsonaro also named a new justice and public security minister and a new government secretary.
Earlier this month, Bolsonaro also replaced his health minister, active-duty army Gen. Eduardo Pazuello, the third health minister to leave office since the beginning of the pandemic. Pazuello, whose tenure coincided with most of Brazil’s 314,000 COVID-19 deaths, was investigated by the Supreme Court for alleged neglect that contributed to the collapse of the health care system in Amazonas state this year.
Bolsonaro also tapped a retired army general to take over state-run oil behemoth Petrobras, seeking to appeal to supportive truck drivers who had threatened to strike over fuel price increases.
Meantime, the pace of vaccination has been slow and the political turmoil is driving people’s attention away from daily record highs in new COVID-19 cases, Melo said.
With an average of some 2,400 deaths each day, Brazil accounts for a quarter of daily COVID-19 fatalities worldwide, according to Johns Hopkins University data. (Source: Defense News)
31 Mar 21. Japan, Indonesia sign arms transfer pact amid China concerns. Japan and Indonesia signed a pact on Tuesday allowing the transfer of Japanese defense equipment and technology to Jakarta as the two countries strengthen their military ties in the face of China’s increasingly assertive activity in the region.
The agreement came during “two plus two” security talks among the foreign and defense ministers of the two countries, which share concerns about China’s growing influence and territorial claims in the East and South China seas.
“It has become difficult to take for granted the premises that have supported the peace and prosperity of the international community,” Japanese Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi said in opening remarks at the talks.
Motegi and Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi and their Indonesian counterparts, Retno Marsudi and Prabowo Subianto, also agreed to actively participate in multinational military exercises and jointly develop remote islands in the South China Sea.
The ministers “shared grave concern over the continuation and escalation of an attempt to change the status quo by force” and agreed on the importance of observing a rules-based maritime order and respect for international maritime laws, Japan’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
“Together we will maintain and strengthen a free and open maritime order,” Kishi said at a joint news conference after the talks. He said the two countries will speed up a decision on the details of Japanese exports of defense equipment to Indonesia.
The security talks come two weeks after Japan and its key ally, the United States, held security talks in which they condemned Chinese “coercion and aggression” toward its neighbors in Asia.
The Japanese and Indonesian ministers also shared “serious concern” over the killings of pro-democracy protestors by the Myanmar military, agreeing to closely cooperate in efforts to improve the situation in that country. (Source: Defense News)
30 Mar 21. Fortress Kaliningrad: Russia’s Baltic Fleet Now Has a Mechanized Division. The reorganization will see the region receive more tanks and artillery, as well as modernized weapons.
This March Russian media announced a dramatic expansion to the forces deployed into a Kaliningrad Oblast, a Russian exclave on the Baltic Sea surrounded by Polish and Lithuanian territory.
For years the coastal oblast—which measures roughly 110 miles from its western to easternmost ends, and between 40 and 65 miles from north to south—was primarily defended by the 79th Motor Rifle Brigade. But now the brigade is being reforged into the 18th Guards Motor Rifle Division, a more powerful formation doubling the number of tank and infantry battalions in the garrison.
The seaport of Baltiysk in Kaliningrad serves as Russia’s only warm-water port on the Baltic, meaning it doesn’t freeze over during the winter like the port at Saint Petersburg, and thus serves as the base for Russia’s Baltic Fleet. The territory also lies adjacent to the narrow and strategically critical land corridor called the Suwalki Gap connecting Poland to the Baltic states.
The region has a long history as a geopolitical flashpoint. The city today named Kaliningrad was for most of its history called Konigsberg, part of a predominantly ethnic-German territory associated with the Teutonic Knights.
At the onset of World War II, Nazi German forces in East Prussia participated in the invasion of Poland. Then in April 1945, the Soviet Red Army and Polish communist troops captured the fortress city after a three-month siege, leaving 80% of it in ruins while most of its population evacuated by sea.
The Soviets annexed the region, as agreed to amongst the Allies in the Potsdam declaration, and renamed the city Kaliningrad after Soviet chairman Mikhail Kalinin. They also expelled the territory’s 200,000 remaining German residents and transplanted Soviet citizens to reside in the Baltic port.
Kaliningrad hosted the Soviet Baltic fleet during the Cold War, but with the collapse of the Soviet Union the garrison shrunk drastically, with a consequent negative effect on the local economy. The Soviets reportedly even explored selling the territory back to Germany, but instead in 1991 Germany signed a treaty definitively relinquishing any claims to the territory.
Since Russia’s seizure of the Crimean Peninsula, the strategic challenges the oblast poses to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) in the event of a conflict over the Baltic states have come into focus. Russian missiles deployed to Kaliningrad could threaten to rapidly strike land bases, ships and even aircraft across much of the Baltic, Poland and even parts of Germany. In a conflict with Russia, the garrison could also interdict attempts by NATO to funnel land reinforcements through the Suwalki Gap to the Baltics.
However, Russian military expert Michael Kofman explains in a blogpost that until recently, Kaliningrad did not amount to the “dreadfort” feared by NATO military planners. Instead, the garrison was a backwater to which the lowest-quality conscripts and the most outdated equipment were consigned.
Indeed in 2016, fifty officers in the region going up to the brigade commander were sacked due to the decrepit and unsafe state of military housing under their command, and misuse of funding allocated to remedy that.
Return of the 18th Guards Division
Since 2016, however, the garrison’s quality has notably improved with deliveries of modern weapon systems and the formation of new units, including the 11th Tank Regiment in the region in 2019. This seemed likely to be a sub-unit for a new division, which was finally announced December 2020.
Then on March 2, 2021 the commander of Russia’s Western Military District held a ceremony reactivating the 18th Guards Motor Rifle Division for service under the 11th Army Corps defending Kaliningrad.
This 18th had participated in the Battle of Konigsberg during World War II. The “Guards” title was awarded to units deemed to have demonstrated superior battlefield performance, earmarking such formations to be allocated higher quality equipment and personnel.
The 11th Tank Regiment will now serve alongside two new motor rifle regiments formed from the 79th Brigade, one of which may be stationed at Sovetsk, on Kaliningrad’s northern border with Lithuania. This may result in the number of mechanized infantry rising from 6 to 10 motor rifle battalions (corresponding to 2,000 additional soldiers), while the number of tank battalions increases from 2 (prior to 2019) to 6, or a total of around 200 tanks.
Furthermore, the outdated T-72 tanks in Kaliningrad are being replaced with modernized T-72B3M variants fortified with the Relikt reactive armor and improved fire control systems. Ordinarily, each regiment will get its own organic artillery battalion, implying dozens of additional 2S3 or 2S19 152-millimeter artillery systems for the garrison.
There are also three notable combat support units for the 18th Division. First there is the 20th Separate Reconnaissance Battalion, which fields Orlan-10 surveillance drones and a parachute scout company for spotting targets for destruction using artillery. Second, there is the 244th Artillery Brigade, which fields lethal BM27 Uragan multiple rocket launchers and long-range 2S7M self-propelled howitzers alongside other weapons. And third, there is an anti-tank battalion with advanced Khrisanthema-S tank destroyers; and an air defense regiment equipped with relatively modern Tor-M2 short-range air defense missiles.
Besides the 18th MRD’s three regiments deployed around Gusev in eastern Kaliningrad, there remains the separate 7th Guards infantry regiment deployed in the western area around Kaliningrad city. The Russian Navy’s elite 336th Naval Infantry Brigade is also stationed in the city.
A Swedish study notes that though Russian ground forces in Kaliningrad may bristle with firepower, they lack the logistical support units to conduct offensive operations far beyond Kaliningrad.
“A swift deployment of a limited Baltic Fleet force is very probable in such a scenario [aggression against a neighboring country], but for a large-scale military operation, it is more likely that the Kaliningrad region would be used as a staging area for other forces. It is unlikely that the military leadership would put the defence of the Kaliningrad region at risk through the employment of Baltic Fleet army corps units.”
Kofman, however, points out that the exclave’s ground forces can still pose a substantial threat without venturing very far from Russian soil:
“Reorganizing around a division will give the enclave a much stronger ground force, but its more significant implication is the addition of more artillery and MLRS systems, which will allow the units based there to ‘interdict’ with fires and strike systems ground lines of communication without leaving Russian territory…. In the event of a military contingency it will be pretty hard to ignore or leave a formation this large along one’s flank, especially now that there is a tank regiment that can conduct maneuver without having to support motor rifle regiments (which have their own dedicated tank battalions).”
A companion articles examines the assets the new division is intended to defend in Kaliningrad: the ships, aircraft and amphibious forces of the Baltic Fleet and missile brigades that can threaten land, air and sea targets over two hundred miles away from the enclave.
Sébastien Roblin writes on the technical, historical and political aspects of international security and conflict for publications including the The National Interest, NBC News, Forbes.com and War is Boring. He holds a Master’s degree from Georgetown University and served with the Peace Corps in China. You can follow his articles on Twitter. (Source: Pen & Sword/https://nationalinterest.org/)
30 Mar 21. Japan’s 6th-Gen Stealth Fighter Jet: Americans Need Not Apply? If the media buzz is to be believed, it looks like Japan has been doing a lot of flip-flopping about its choice in potential partners. Here’s What You Need to Remember: Implicitly, Japan may doubt the ability of a British fighter to be truly multirole, given the slow pace at which British weapons have been integrated onto the Royal Air Force’s Eurofighter Typhoons. Regardless, a partnership with American companies is a significant step forward for Japan’s F-3 fighter program, which will be a crucial piece of maintaining Japan’s security in the near future.
Through April and March 2020, the choice of who Japan would partner with for their “F-3” next generation fighter jet has been reported on constantly, with seemingly contradictory headlines on who the partner would be. This may give the impression that Japan is waffling on their choice of partners in the project. However a deeper reading of the articles shows that Japan’s policy has been rather consistent, and recent developments are a simple narrowing down of options.
To get an idea of how much the project has changed, it’s worth looking at past reporting on the topic. In August 2018, The Diplomat reported that Japan was considering partnering with the UK. 2019 brought the news that the fighter would have a lot of local development per requirements. In early March 2020, Nikkei Asian Review confirmed that the UK was out in favor of working with the United States. But in early April 2020, The Diplomat reported that Japan had rejected the Lockheed Martin plan for Next-Generation Fighter Aircraft in late March 2020, which could suggest that the United States was out again.
This announcement led Military Watch Magazine to publish a piece titled “Japan Says No to American and British Designs: Will Develop Sixth Generation Fighter On its Own,” suggesting that Japan was striking it out totally alone, perhaps partially due to pressure from China. But then on 18 April 2020, Sankei News reported that the Japanese government wanted to establish a working group of American and Japanese companies to work on the next generation stealth fighter, confirming that the United States was in.
But Japan didn’t flip flop. The rejection of the Lockheed Martin plan was the rejection of a proposed fighter that was a hybrid of the F-35 and F-22, not a rejection of U.S. involvement. As Japan has stated their preference for the next-generation fighter to be largely locally developed, this should not come as a surprise. But at the same time, the 2018 document, the Mid-term Defense Program (MTDP), which laid out which planes the F-3 is set to replace said that foreign cooperation is desirable as long as the program is “Japan-led.” So what happened in April and March 2020 is that Japan confirmed that it would want to partner with American companies on a 6th generation fighter, but it didn’t want existing designs that were pitched to it.
This affirms the position of the United States as the aerospace technology leader in the Western-aligned world. According to Overt Defense, the UK was rejected from the fighter program out of fears that a UK-lead fighter project may not have many partners, slowing development and increasing cost. There were also fears about integration with American weapons, which Japan still has large stockpiles of.
Implicitly, Japan may also doubt the ability of a British fighter to be truly multirole, given the slow pace at which British weapons have been integrated onto the Royal Air Force’s Eurofighter Typhoons. Regardless, a partnership with American companies is a significant step forward for Japan’s F-3 fighter program, which will be a crucial piece of maintaining Japan’s security in the near future. (Source: News Now/https://nationalinterest.org)
30 Mar 21. Growing Daesh threat across Africa highlighted by Global Coalition Ministers. Foreign ministers today (30 March 2021) stressed that a collective effort is necessary to defeat Daesh.
Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken were among foreign ministers today stressing that a “comprehensive and collective effort remains necessary to achieve a full and enduring defeat of Daesh/ISIS worldwide”.
Following a virtual meeting, Global Coalition against Daesh ministers agreed a joint statement warning of the urgent Daesh threat, including its growing insurgency in parts of Africa.
The number of attacks Daesh claimed in Africa grew by more than a third between 2019 and 2020. Recent violence perpetrated by its affiliates has included attacks on aid workers in the Lake Chad Basin region, and the horrific beheading of civilians in Mozambique over recent months.
The Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office is also looking closely at the terrible events ongoing in Mozambique, and is in close contact with the authorities on this.
Through strengthened cooperation across the Global Coalition, foreign ministers committed to ensuring that Daesh remains “unable to reconstitute any territorial enclave or continue to threaten our homelands, people, and interests”.
Reaffirming that allied governments “remain firmly united in our outrage at Daesh/ISIS’s atrocities and in our determination to eliminate this global threat,” ministers expressed specific concern at:
- increased terrorist activity in Iraq, including a recent double suicide attack in Baghdad
- a rise in Daesh activity in regime-held areas of Syria, where Daesh has been able to “rebuild its networks and capabilities to target security forces and civilians”
- a “serious and growing threat” from Daesh affiliates in West Africa and the Sahel, and an emerging threat in East Africa
Noting that these challenges have intensified during a period where COVID-19 has impacted Coalition operations, ministers welcomed the continued work of partner forces to mitigate the fallout of the pandemic, while providing continued support to dismantle Daesh.
One of the first multilateral meetings led by Secretary Blinken, the meeting was co-hosted with Belgian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Sophie Wilmès. Others attending included NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg.
Addressing his international counterparts, the Foreign Secretary emphasised the importance of ensuring that Daesh fighters face appropriate justice, and affirmed the UK’s continuing commitment to stabilising liberated areas of Iraq and Syria.
Following the meeting, the Foreign Secretary, Dominic Raab, said, “Two years on from the territorial defeat of Daesh and liberation of nearly eight million people from its cruel grip, we remain committed to preventing its resurgence. The UK is supporting partner forces confronting Daesh in Iraq and Syria, stabilising liberated communities, building institutions so that terrorists face justice, and leading efforts against its twisted propaganda”.
The Global Coalition meeting comes shortly after the Foreign Secretary’s keynote speech to the Aspen Security Forum, at which he outlined the UK’s mission to be a “force for good in the world”. The importance of multilateralism in addressing shared security challenges was also described in the Government’s Integrated Review, which confirmed that Britain’s armed forces “will continue to contribute to the Global Coalition against Daesh in Iraq and Syria”.
The ministers acknowledged that while Daesh no longer controls territory and nearly 8 million people have been freed from its control in Iraq and Syria, the threat remains.
The full joint ministerial statement is available on the Global Coalition against Daesh website. (Source: https://www.gov.uk/)
30 Mar 21. RAAF prepares for ‘constant competition’ ahead of centenary. Tomorrow, the Royal Australian Air Force will mark its 100th anniversary. Ahead of the centenary, RAAF chief Mel Hupfeld said his intent was for the service to be ‘comfortable’ operating in a state of ‘constant competition’ as it moves towards a force combining crewed and uncrewed capabilities. Tomorrow, the Royal Australian Air Force will mark its 100th anniversary. Ahead of the centenary, RAAF chief Mel Hupfeld said his intent was for the service to be ‘comfortable’ operating in a state of ‘constant competition’ as it moves towards a force combining crewed and uncrewed capabilities.
The Strategist, run by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI), reported that Hupfeld said his intent for the RAAF highlighted the need “to be comfortable operating with constant competition,” adding that the service needed “recognise opportunities and seize them wherever possible.”
Hupfeld also said that over the past two decades, the RAAF had been focused on operations in the Middle East but that no longer matched with Australia’s strategic goals, adding that the RAAF needed to invest in airbases and project power in air and space.
The chief also said that future decision making should be less about specific platforms and more centred around what ‘effects’ the RAAF is trying to deliver.
Commenting on potential future sixth-generation platforms, Hupfeld said: “This is where I’d want to get my smart young think-tank people to come in and see what they imagine. Given my experience and the baggage I carry, I have to think really hard to not imagine something like an F-35 with a pilot in the cockpit.
“But it could be a space-based system operating with a ship armed with a directed-energy weapon or a railgun. There are many options we want to look at. Our younger generation aren’t constrained in their thinking like I can be.”
Hupfeld also had warm words for the F-35 saying: “‘It’s a crucial part of an integrated system tied together with the Super Hornet, Growler electronic-warfare aircraft, the tanker, surveillance aircraft, intelligence databases, space capability enhancements and cyber activities, and more broadly integrating with air warfare destroyers and the army’s air defence systems. The F-35 replaces nothing, but changes everything.”
To mark the centenary, the RAAF is holding a flypast over Canberra of over 60 aircraft including F-35As, F/A-18F Super Hornets, C-130J Hercules, Black Hawk helicopters, and E-7A Wedgetail, and C-17A Globemaster IIIs.
Historic aircraft including the Spitfire, Mustang, Dakota, and P-40 Kittyhawk will also take part in the mass flypast. (Source: airforce-technology.com)
29 Mar 21. India issues draft rules for ‘revenue procurements.’ The Indian Ministry of Defence (MoD) has published a draft version of new rules governing ‘revenue procurements’: the acquisition of equipment and services that sustain the Indian armed forces.
A draft version of the rules – known collectively as the Defence Procurement Manual (DPM) – was issued on 25 March, with the MoD requesting stakeholder feedback by mid-April.
The new rules will replace the existing DPM, which was introduced in 2009, and are designed to be implemented alongside guidelines for ‘capital acquisitions’, which were launched last year and are known as the Defence Acquisition Procedure (DAP).
In the new DPM, Indian defence minister Rajnath Singh said in its foreword that the revision of revenue procurement guidelines is required to address issues including “transparency, accountability, and clarity”.
He said the DPM is aligned with growing Indian requirements for self-reliance, accelerated modernisation, competition in contracting, and locally sourced defence equipment and services.
The new DPM comprises Volume I and II (and consists of more than 240 pages) and features clauses and methods, as well as appendices and forms respectively. The manual details 15 “broad stages” in processing revenue procurements, from “acceptance of necessity” requirements to contract signing.
It also introduces new methods of revenue procurements including ‘Capex’ and ‘Opex’ models for capital and operational purchases. These outline the possibilities for the “straightway purchase goods followed by procurement of consumables” and the seller “taking back the goods after useful/contracted life” respectively.
The draft DMP also puts heavy reliance on use of ‘e-procurement’ methods to engage with contractors and increases its emphasis on supporting procurements from domestic micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs). (Source: Jane’s)
27 Mar 21. China announces further military exercises in disputed South China Sea.
- Announcement follows the Philippines’ decision to step up ‘sovereignty patrols’ near Whitsun Reef
- On Friday mainland Chinese warplanes carried out the biggest incursion yet into Taiwan’s air defence identification zone
China will conduct a military drill in the South China Sea next Monday and Tuesday as tensions in the region continue to rise.
The China Maritime Safety Administration issued a notice on Friday afternoon, saying an area between China’s southernmost province Hainan and the Paracel Islands will be closed to marine traffic due to military training.
The previous day the Philippine military sent more warships to carry out “sovereignty patrols” in the South China Sea
, where Chinese vessels have surrounded the disputed Whitsun Reef and refused to leave.
The Chinese government insisted the ships were fishing vessels taking shelter, while the Phillipine side described them as militia.
“This exercise would invariably contribute to tensions. Though the current situation appears calm as all sides maintain restraint, there’s no guarantee this could remain the case,” said Collin Koh, a research fellow from the S Rajaratnam School of International Studies at Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University.
“I believe the Chinese might be signalling their intent to respond – or more precisely, to escalate their response – if Filipino or other foreign direct action is undertaken against the boats in the reef. So it’s a signal aimed at deterring the Filipinos and by extension, the Americans as well should the latter attempt to intervene.”
Friday’s announcement came on the same day that China sent 20 warplanes into Taiwan’s air defence identification zone, the largest incursion reported by the island’s defence ministry. The previous day China had dispatched three aircraft to patrol the same area.
The 20 military planes included three Y-8 anti-submarine and reconnaissance planes, one KJ-500 airborne early warning and control aircraft, four H-6K bombers, 10 J-16 fighter jets and two J-10 fighter jets.
The island’s defence ministry said the Taiwanese air force deployed missiles to “monitor” the incursion into the southwestern part of its air defence identification zone. It also said its planes had warned the Chinese aircraft, including by radio.
Song Zhongping, a Hong Kong-based military analyst, said the relatively large sortie was both an air force drill and an obvious warning to Taiwan and the US.
Mainland China’s ban on Taiwan’s pineapple exports hurts farmers despite surge in local consumption
“The deployment of such a large sortie can provide experience in coordinating a larger sortie during an emergency in the future,” said Song.
“It’s also an explicit warning to the US, as the nation has just signed a memorandum of understanding with Taiwan to boost cooperation between their coastguards.”
Washington and Taipei signed the coastguard agreement on Friday
in response to China’s increasingly assertive maritime activities, such as a new law that allows its coastguard ships to fire on foreign vessels.
Besides signing the memorandum, US warplanes have also been spotted near the Chinese coast in recent days.
On March 22, an US electronic intelligence aircraft came within 25 nautical miles (46km) of the Chinese mainland after crossing the southern part of the Taiwan Strait, the closest it has come to the Chinese coast based on publicly available data, according to the Beijing-based think tank the South China Sea Strategic Situation Probing Initiative.
Beijing has been routinely conducting air force operations in the Taiwan Strait for several months, which the island’s authorities regard as an attempt to intimidate it. China regards Taiwan as a breakaway province that must eventually be reunited with the mainland – by force if necessary.
In January, Beijing dispatched 13 warplanes to the southern end of the Taiwan Strait after the American aircraft carrier group entered the contested South China Sea. (Source: Defense News Early Bird/https://www.scmp.com/news/china)
28 Mar 21. Philippines sends fighter aircraft over Chinese vessels in South China Sea. The Philippine military is sending light fighter aircraft to fly over hundreds of Chinese vessels in disputed waters in the South China Sea, its defence minister said, as he repeated his demand the flotilla be withdrawn immediately.
International concern is growing over what the Philippines has described as a “swarming and threatening presence” of more than 200 Chinese vessels that Manila believes were manned by maritime militia.
The boats were moored at the Whitsun Reef within Manila’s 200-mile exclusive economic zone..
The Philippine military aircraft were sent daily to monitor the situation, Defence Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said in a statement late on Saturday.
Lorenzana said the military will also beef up its naval presence in the South China Sea to conduct “sovereignty patrols” and protect Filipino fishermen.
“Our air and sea assets are ready to protect our sovereignty and sovereign rights,” Lorenzana said.
The Chinese Embassy in Manila did not immediately respond to a request for comment. It has said the vessels at Whitsun Reef were fishing boats taking refuge from rough seas and that there were no militia aboard.
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte reaffirmed to China’s ambassador, Huang Xilian, the Philippines had won a landmark arbitration case in 2016, which made clear its sovereign entitlements amid rival claims by China, his spokesman said last week.
Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan, China and Vietnam have competing territorial claims in the South China Sea, through which at least $3.4trn of annual trade passes. (Source: Reuters)
26 Mar 21. Taiwan reports largest ever incursion by Chinese air force. Twenty Chinese military aircraft entered Taiwan’s air defence identification zone on Friday, in the largest incursion yet reported by the island’s defence ministry and marking a dramatic escalation of tension across the Taiwan Strait. The island’s defence ministry said the air force deployed missiles to “monitor” the incursion into the southwestern part of its air defence identification zone. It also said its planes warned the Chinese aircraft, including by radio.
It marked the largest incursion to date by the Chinese air force since Taiwan’s defence ministry began disclosing almost daily Chinese military flights over the waters between the southern part of Taiwan and the Taiwan-controlled Pratas Islands in the South China Sea last year.
Some of the Chinese aircraft flew in the airspace to the south of Taiwan and passed through the Bashi Channel which separates the island from the Philippines, Taiwan’s defence ministry said in a statement.
A person familiar with Taiwan’s security planning told Reuters the Chinese military was conducting exercises that would simulate an operation against U.S. warships that sail through the Bashi Channel.
China, which claims Taiwan as its own territory, has stepped up military activities near the democratic island in recent months, a move Taiwan says jeopardizes regional stability.
The presence of so many Chinese combat aircraft on Friday’s mission – Taiwan said it was made up of four nuclear-capable H-6K bombers and 10 J-16 fighter jets, among others – was unusual and came as the island’s air force suspended all training missions after two fighter jet crashes this week.
There was no immediate comment from China’s defence ministry. Beijing routinely says such exercises are nothing unusual and are designed to show the country’s determination to defend its sovereignty.
Earlier on Friday, Taiwan and the United States signed their first agreement under the administration of new president Joe Biden, establishing a Coast Guard Working Group to coordinate policy, after China’s passing of a law that allows its coast guard to fire on foreign vessels.
While the United States, like most countries, has no formal diplomatic ties with Taiwan, it is bound by law to help Taiwan defend itself and is the island’s main arms supplier. (Source: Reuters)
26 Mar 21. Missile test propels North Korea to top of Biden’s foreign agenda. North Korea’s claim on Friday that it had launched a new type of tactical short-range ballistic missile highlighted military advances by the nuclear-armed state and propelled it to the top of new U.S. President Joe Biden’s foreign policy agenda. The United States condemned Thursday’s launches, which came hours before Biden held his first White House press conference since taking office in January.
When asked if he agreed that North Korea was the top foreign policy issue he faced, Biden replied: “Yes.”
Biden had previously left North Korea entirely out of his maiden foreign policy speech in February, and in outlining eight diplomatic priorities earlier in March, his secretary of state didn’t focus on North Korea except to list it as one of several countries that pose a challenge.
The launches, which were North Korea’s first ballistic missile tests in nearly a year, underscored steady progress in its weapons programme since denuclearisation talks with the United States floundered under former President Donald Trump.
Biden said the United States remained open to diplomacy with North Korea despite its missile tests, but warned there would be responses if Pyongyang escalates matters.
South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in called the missile test “concerning,” saying Seoul, Pyongyang and Washington should not create hurdles for talks.
“Now is the time for the South, the North and the United States to make efforts to continue dialogue. It is never desirable to create difficulties for dialogue,” he told a ceremony commemorating soldiers who fought in clashes with the North in 2002 and 2010.
North Korea had been widely expected to conduct some kind of weapons test in the early months of Biden’s term as a way of signalling its resolve, gaining practical military capabilities, and boosting its leverage should talks resume.
While North Korea’s intentions were not yet entirely clear, Thursday’s tests were relatively restrained, said John Delury, a professor at South Korea’s Yonsei University.
“These tests come some time after Biden’s inauguration, and they are still at a low enough level that it gives the administration breathing room,” he said. “Regardless of North Korea’s intentions, however, the effect is to elevate the significance and move it up the administration’s agenda.”
A newly developed new-type tactical guided projectile, which KCNA reports is launched on March 25, 2021, is pictured in this photo released March 26, 2021 by North Korea’s Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in Pyongyang, North Korea. KCNA via REUTERS
The State Department said the launches violated multiple U.N. Security Council resolutions and threatened the region and the broader international community.
The new weapon is based on existing technology that was improved to carry a 2.5-ton warhead, KCNA reported.
“The development of this weapon system is of great significance in bolstering up the military power of the country and deterring all sorts of military threats,” said Ri Pyong Chol, the senior leader who oversaw the test, according to KCNA.
Photos released by state media showed a black-and-white painted missile blasting off from a military launch vehicle.
Missile specialists at the California-based James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies (CNS) said it appeared to be a missile that was unveiled at a major military parade in Pyongyang in October.
KCNA said Thursday’s test confirmed the missile’s capability to conduct “low-altitude gliding leap type flight mode,” a feature that makes such weapons harder to detect and shoot down.
The United Nations Security Council North Korea sanctions committee is due to meet on Friday to discuss the missile tests, at the request of the United States.
The move suggests a measured response by the Biden administration, as the sanctions committee is comprised of lower-level diplomats from the 15 council members, rather than the ambassador-level council that convened after North Korea fired ballistic missiles a year ago.
While rejecting American overtures, North Korea has also used measured language, insisting it will only return to talks if the United States drops hostile policies.
Analysts noted leader Kim Jong Un did not appear to attend the Thursday missile tests, with state media instead showing undated photos of him inspecting new passenger busses in Pyongyang.
Kim has vowed to try to improve living conditions for citizens as North Korea’s economy was ravaged by multiple crises, including international sanctions over its weapons programmes, natural disasters, and a border lockdown that slowed trade to a trickle in an effort to prevent a coronavirus outbreak. (Source: Reuters)
Founded in 1987, Exensor Technology is a world leading supplier of Networked Unattended Ground Sensor (UGS) Systems providing tailored sensor solutions to customers all over the world. From our Headquarters in Lund Sweden, our centre of expertise in Network Communications at Communications Research Lab in Kalmar Sweden and our Production site outside of Basingstoke UK, we design, develop and produce latest state of the art rugged UGS solutions at the highest quality to meet the most stringent demands of our customers. Our systems are in operation and used in a wide number of Military as well as Home land Security applications worldwide. The modular nature of the system ensures any external sensor can be integrated, providing the user with a fully meshed “silent” network capable of self-healing. Exensor Technology will continue to lead the field in UGS technology, provide our customers with excellent customer service and a bespoke package able to meet every need. A CNIM Group Company