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09 Apr 21. Russia Needs to Answer Questions Regarding Ukraine. After numerous questions about a Russian buildup in Crimea and along the eastern border of Russia with Ukraine, Pentagon Press Secretary John F. Kirby finally got a bit exasperated and told Pentagon reporters that “these are great questions to put to [Defense Minister Sergey] Shoygu in Moscow.”
White House officials have classified the Russian buildup in the region as the largest since 2014, and many nations want to know why the Russians are doing this. NATO officials along with individual nations have asked Russia for an explanation and received weak responses about training or exercises.
Kirby said he has consistently spoken about the Russian actions as a buildup, “precisely because we don’t think that the Russians have been totally transparent about what they’re doing,” he said.
Kirby would not detail the scope of the Russian buildup or the equipment the Russian troops brought with them. He did say they are in Crimea — which is still part of Ukraine — and along the eastern border with Ukraine.
“I’m not going to talk about intelligence assessments or what we’re seeing,” Kirby said. “What we call on, is for the Russians to do exactly that, to tell the world what they’re doing, and with what forces, and what capabilities, and what their intentions are.”
The build-up “is only causing more instability and more insecurity in a part of the world where there’s already been too much strife and too much violence,” Kirby said. (Source: US DoD)
09 Apr 21. French Plane-Maker Dassault Aviation Denies Fresh Allegations of Corruption in Rafale Deal.
The spokesperson said Dassault Aviation, since the early 2000s, has “implemented strict internal procedures to prevent corruption, guaranteeing the integrity, ethics and reputation of the company in its industrial and commercial relations”.
French aerospace major Dassault Aviation on Thursday rejected fresh allegations of corruption in the Rafale fighter jet deal with India, saying no violations were reported in the frame of the contract, days after French online journal Mediapart alleged that the jet manufacturer had paid nearly one million Euros to an Indian middleman.
According to the French media, the report was based on an investigation by the country’s anti-corruption agency Agence Francaise Anticorruption (AFA).
Rejecting the allegations, a Dassault Aviation spokesperson said, “numerous controls are carried out by official organisations, including the French Anti-Corruption Agency. No violations were reported, notably in the frame of the contract with India for the acquisition of 36 Rafales.”
The spokesperson said Dassault Aviation, since the early 2000s, has “implemented strict internal procedures to prevent corruption, guaranteeing the integrity, ethics and reputation of the company in its industrial and commercial relations”.
The French media report said that Dassault claimed the money was paid for 50 replicas of Rafale jets and the order was given to an Indian defence company.
It also mentioned that the inspectors of the AFA were given no proof that these models were made. Following the allegations, the Indian company on Tuesday released a statement and tax invoices stating that the allegations were totally unfounded.
The Dassault official said the company reiterated that it acts in strict compliance with the OECD’s (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) anti-bribery convention and national laws, in particular the Sapin 2 law.
Under the Sapin 2 law that came into force in 2017, French companies are required to implement a specific internal compliance programme to fight corruption.
“In the context of the Sapin 2 law, the company has completed and strengthened its system for the prevention and detection of corruption and influence peddling, both at the level of the parent company and its subsidiaries,” the official said.
The company also noted that the Rafale deal was based on a government-to-government framework.
“This contract, as well as the offsets corresponding contract, meet the criteria established by these regulations and are being executed in full transparency between the various government and industrial partners,” the spokesperson added.
The company has delivered 14 Rafale jets to the Indian Air Force so far.
The official said aircraft were delivered in respect of the schedule, despite the COVID-19 health crisis.
“Dassault Aviation and the Reliance Group established the Dassault Reliance Aerospace Ltd (DRAL) joint venture in 2017 and built a plant in Nagpur that has been producing numerous Falcon parts and pieces since 2018,” the official said.
“Dassault Aviation and its partners are working with 60 companies in India and negotiations are underway to establish potential new cooperations,” the official noted.
The NDA government had inked a Rs 59,000-crore deal on September 23, 2016, to procure 36 Rafale jets from French aerospace major Dassault Aviation after a nearly seven-year exercise to procure 126 Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) for the Indian Air Force did not fructify during the UPA regime.
Prior to the Lok Sabha elections in 2019, the Congress raised several questions about the deal, including on rates of the aircraft, and alleged corruption but the government rejected all the charges. (Source: Google/https://thewire.in/business/)
09 Apr 21. South Korea’s Moon hails prototype fighter jet as ‘new era’ of defence independence. South Korea unveiled a prototype of its first domestically developed fighter jet on Friday and President Moon Jae-in hailed the KF-X as the future backbone of the air force and a step toward the U.S. ally’s greater military independence.
The next-generation aircraft developed by Korea Aerospace Industries Ltd (KAI) is designed to be a cheaper, less-stealthy alternative to the U.S.-built F-35, on which South Korea relies.
The display at the KAI headquarters in the southern city of Sacheon was attended by Moon and representatives from Indonesia, which partnered with South Korea on the project.
“A new era of independent defence has begun,” Moon said, according to a transcript of his comments released by his office.
The advantages of having a domestically produced fighter could not be overstated, he added.
“Whenever we need it, we can make it.”
Moon has sought to boost the defence industry, both as a way to spur economic growth through exports, as well as to chart a more independent path in a country that has relied heavily on its major ally, the United States.
South Korea continues to buy large amounts of military hardware from the United States but under Moon the military announced its “acquisition policy will change to centre around domestic R&D rather than overseas purchases”.
KAI plans to carry out ground testing this year, with first flights expected in 2022. The plan is to eventually replace most of South Korea’s older, U.S.-made F-4 and F-5 fighter jets, and produce more for export.
Moon said South Korea would have at least 40 of the new jets combat-ready by 2028, and 120 by 2032.
When deployed by the South Korean military, the aircraft will be known as the KF-21 Boramae.
South Korea and Indonesia agreed in 2014 to jointly develop the fighter in a project worth 7.5trn won ($6.3bn), with Indonesia paying 20% of the cost. But in 2018, Jakarta sought to renegotiate to take pressure off its foreign reserves, later seeking to barter for its share of the cost.
Indonesian Defence Minister Prabowo Subianto discussed the issue with Foreign Minister Chung Eui-yong during a visit to Seoul, with both sides agreeing to hold high-level talks about security cooperation, South Korea’s foreign ministry said in a statement, without elaborating on the cost dispute.
Indonesia’s Defence Ministry did not mention the project or funding but noted in a statement that the two countries had agreed to deepen cooperation, including in the defence industry. (Source: Google/Reuters)
10 Mar 21. Will the Loyal Wingman usher in a new age of air power? The Loyal Wingman program could be the catalyst for a “fundamental shift” in Australia’s conception of air power, according to one analyst.
Back in February 2019, the Commonwealth government unveiled plans to develop a new unmanned aircraft in collaboration with Boeing Australia — the Boeing Airpower Teaming System, otherwise known as the ‘Loyal Wingman’.
The aircraft — measuring 11.7 metres long and with a range of 2,000 nautical miles — is expected to deliver fighter-like performance, while also offering intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) capabilities
The drones are designed to leverage artificial intelligence to fly independently or in support of manned aircraft while maintaining safe distance between other jets.
The government initially ordered three aircraft, but has since doubled the size of the fleet following the Loyal Wingman’s first successful flight late last month.
According to Dr Malcolm Davis, senior analyst at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI), the successful flight “opens up a new path” for the Royal Australian Air Force.
Dr Davis writes that the drone’s “rapid development” over a three-year period “illuminates the RAAF’s path into the future”.
The analyst references remarks made by head of air force capability, Air Vice Marshal Catherine Roberts, who said that future airpower must be developed at a “speed of relevance to technological change”.
“The paradigm of aircraft being fielded after a 20-year acquisition cycle and billions of dollars of investment is yesterday’s capability development model,” Dr Davis argues.
“It’s increasingly at odds with the pace of technological change and with the rapidly developing combat capabilities of potential adversaries.
“If the RAAF is to reduce the risk of technological and operational surprise, its thinking about the future can no longer be based on multi-decade timelines for new capabilities.”
Dr Davis questions timelines outlined in the 2020 Force Structure Plan, which suggest that studies of options to replace the F-35A would begin in the late 2030s.
“It would make much more sense to embrace the approach adopted for the Loyal Wingman project, by beginning analysis of alternatives for the F-35A replacement now, in a manner that could then align with US work on the Next-Generation Air Dominance (NGAD) system,” he continues.
“That will be a mix of crewed and autonomous platforms, with an emphasis on rapid development through a ‘digital century series’ model.
“Loyal Wingman essentially embraces this model. Boeing is clearly poised to use it to compete for the US Air Force’s ‘Skyborg’ program, and it may well be exported to other markets.”
According to Dr Davis, co-operative development by Washington and Canberra could see NGAD introduced earlier than the typical 20-year acquisition cycle.
“The first flight of Loyal Wingman highlights a real opportunity for Australia’s defence industry. There’s debate emerging in the US over the future of the F-35, and high operating and sustainment costs could see its numbers reduced to 1,050 jets from a planned purchase of 1,763,” Dr Davis writes.
“There’s talk of undertaking a clean-sheet design for a fourth-generation-plus or fifth-generation-minus aircraft to replace the F-16 and ease reliance on the F-35 as a complete airpower solution.
“Certainly, the USAF could embark on production of a new crewed aircraft, but there’s a risk that history could repeat itself with escalating operational requirements driving up cost and complexity.”
He adds: “Australia’s loyal wingman offers a better alternative, and Boeing Australia and Defence must be ready to promote such a capability that can meet both American and Australian needs.”
Davis echoes remarks made by ASPI colleague, Marcus Hellyer, who has previously claimed that the Loyal Wingman could evolve into a suite of multi-purpose vehicles, capable of carrying different payloads, including strike munitions, and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) capabilities.
“It may become a range of larger or smaller platforms with varied ranges and payloads. A larger ‘son of Loyal Wingman’ could, for example, have different engines that enable higher speed and greater performance,” Dr Davis writes.
“In addition to developing a cheaper alternative to crewed bombers such as the B-21 Raider, such a platform could also undertake long-range air-dominance missions.”
The analyst claims that an evolved Loyal Wingman “could ultimately undertake both electronic warfare and attack roles”, carrying both directed-energy and hypersonic weapons.
“That could drastically transform how the RAAF undertakes strike and air-combat operations. Greater range is a must, given that Australia’s location means battles would occur over vast distances,” he adds.
Dr Davis says the Loyal Wingman program could prompt the RAAF to rethink its force structure, from a dependence on “small, boutique forces” to an embrace of “mass”.
“In a major conflict, aircraft are very likely to be lost and our ability to undertake operations could be short-lived,” he writes.
“It’s better to build mass through uncrewed, autonomous systems like loyal wingman, rather than continue to rely on small, boutique forces or try to build larger forces with crewed platforms.
“Relying purely on a technological or qualitative edge for small forces is rapidly becoming a losing strategy in the face of China’s growing airpower capability — and quantity has a quality all of its own.”
Dr Davis concludes that the Loyal Wingman program may signal the start of a “fundamental shift” in Australia’s conception of air power.
“Its significance may well compare with the rapid modernisation and transformation of airpower during and after World War I,” he writes.
“In 2021, the beginning of the rise of autonomous systems and manned–unmanned teaming, and, most importantly, digital design and engineering for rapid acquisition are new and herald a future transformation of similar significance to that of 100 years ago.”
(Source: Defence Connect)
08 Apr 21. Russia moves warships to Black Sea for drills: Interfax. Russia’s Defence Ministry said on Thursday it was moving more than 10 navy vessels, including landing boats and artillery warships, from the Caspian Sea to the Black Sea to take part in exercises, Interfax news agency reported.
Western nations and Ukraine have voiced concern over a Russian military buildup near Ukraine. Moscow has said its forces will stay put as long as it sees fit and that they pose no threat.
On Tuesday, it said it was beginning a planned combat readiness inspection of its forces that would involve more than 4,000 drills this month.
“As part of the winter training check, more than 10 amphibious and artillery boats and vessels of the southern military district are conducting an inter-fleet move from the Caspian Sea to the Black Sea,” the ministry was quoted as saying on Thursday.
It said they would take part in drills.
Russia’s Black Sea fleet is based in Crimea, which Russia annexed from Ukraine in 2014. Kyiv wants the peninsula back. (Source: Reuters)
08 Apr 21. Ukraine fears attack as Putin masses tanks close to border. Russia has moved troops, tanks and heavy artillery to a new base about 150 miles from the Ukrainian border, stoking fears of a military offensive.
It is thought to be Russia’s biggest show of force in the area since 2015, when Ukraine and Kremlin-backed separatists signed a peace deal to end fighting in the eastern Donbass region. At least ten Ukrainian personnel have died during a recent rise in hostilities.
Ruslan Khomchak, the Ukrainian commander-in-chief, said last week that Russia had amassed 25,000 troops in the border regions of Bryansk, Rostov and Voronezh, as well as in Crimea, which Russia annexed in 2014.
Russia has expressed concerns about a potential Ukrainian assault on separatist-held territories within its borders. A senior Kremlin official warned yesterday that any attack could lead to the destruction of Ukraine as an independent state. “This would be the beginning of the end of Ukraine,” Dmitri Kozak, deputy head of Russia’s presidential administration, said.
Kozak said Russia could move to protect its citizens in Donbass if Ukraine tries to recapture the breakaway regions. Moscow has handed out at least 200,000 Russian passports to residents of the Donetsk People’s Republic and Luhansk People’s Republic since 2019. It claims that any Russian servicemen in east Ukraine are “on vacation”.
The newly deployed Russian forces are massing in a camp near the south-western city of Voronezh, according to images posted by the Conflict Intelligence Team (CIT), a Russian investigative group. Number plates indicate that the vehicles came from hundreds or even thousands of miles away.
The Voronezh region does not border either separatist-held territory, making it an implausible base for operations in Donbass. “It is obvious that the disposition of Russian forces, at least in the Voronezh region, is more offensive than defensive in nature,” the CIT said.
President Putin told Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, in a phone call yesterday that Ukraine was inflaming tensions in the region. Moscow alleged this week that a Ukrainian army drone had killed a five-year-old boy in Donbass. Kiev denies responsibility; an official said the boy may have died after picking up an explosive device discarded by Russian-backed forces.
President Zelensky of Ukraine has urged Nato to admit his country quickly. The Kremlin warned on Tuesday that this would “aggravate” tensions. (Source: The Times)
07 Apr 21. China sends more jets; Taiwan says it will fight to the end if there’s war. China sent more fighter jets into Taiwan’s air defence zone on Wednesday in a stepped-up show of force around the island Beijing claims as its own, and Taiwan’s foreign minister said it would fight to the end if China attacks.
more fighter jets into the island’s
The democratic self-governed island has complained of repeated military activities by Beijing in recent months, with China’s air force making almost daily forays in Taiwan’s air defence identification zone. On Monday, China said an aircraft carrier group was exercising close to the island.
Taiwan’s Defence Ministry said 15 Chinese aircraft, including 12 fighters, entered its air defence identification zone, with an anti-submarine aircraft flying to the south through the Bashi Channel between Taiwan and the Philippines.
Taiwan’s air force sent up aircraft to intercept and warn the Chinese away, the ministry added.
Adding to the stepped-up military activity, the U.S. Navy said its John S. McCain guided missile destroyer conducted a “routine” transit of the Taiwan Strait on Wednesday.
China’s Eastern Theatre Command said it tracked the ship and denounced the United States for “endangering the peace and stability of the Taiwan Strait”.
Speaking earlier in the day, Taiwan Foreign Minister Joseph Wu said the United States was concerned about the risk of conflict.
“From my limited understanding of American decision makers watching developments in this region, they clearly see the danger of the possibility of China launching an attack against Taiwan,” he told reporters at his ministry.
“We are willing to defend ourselves without any questions and we will fight the war if we need to fight the war. And if we need to defend ourselves to the very last day we will defend ourselves to the very last day.”
In Washington, U.S. State Department spokesman Ned Price was asked about the Chinese activity and Wu’s comments and said the United States noted with “great concern” a pattern of ongoing Chinese intimidation efforts in the region, including towards Taiwan.
Price reiterated past statements that the U.S. commitment to Taiwan is “rock solid” and added:
Taiwan Foreign Minister Joseph Wu attends a news conference for foreign journalists in Taipei, Taiwan April 7, 2021. REUTERS/Ann Wang
“As reflected in the Taiwan Relations Act, the United States maintains the capacity to resist any resort to force, or other forms of coercion, that would jeopardize the security or the social or economic system of the people on Taiwan.”
The commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet, Admiral John Aquilino, said at his nomination hearing last month for overall command of the U.S. Indo-Pacific region that estimates of when China might have the capability to invade Taiwan ranged between now and 2045 and added: “My opinion is this problem is much closer to us than most think.”
China’s Taiwan Affairs Office did not respond to requests for comment on Wu’s remarks. China has said its activities around Taiwan are aimed at protecting China’s sovereignty.
Neither Taiwan nor China has said precisely where the Chinese carrier group is, or whether it is heading towards the disputed South China Sea, where a U.S. carrier group is currently operating.
Taiwan’s Deputy Defence Minister Chang Che-ping told parliament the Chinese carrier’s movements were being closely followed, and described its drills as routine.
A person familiar with Taiwan’s security planning told Reuters the carrier group was still “near the Japanese islands”, declining to disclose the exact location. Japan said on Sunday that the carrier group entered the Pacific after sailing through the Miyako Strait, through Japan’s southern Ryukyu island chain northeast of Taiwan.
Washington, Taiwan’s most important international backer and arms supplier, has been pushing Taipei to modernise its military so it can become a “porcupine”, hard for China to attack.
Wu said Taiwan was determined to improve its military capabilities and spend more on defence.
“The defence of Taiwan is our responsibility. We will try every way we can to improve our defence capability.”
Taiwan’s Defence Ministry said it will run eight days of computer-aided war games this month, simulating a Chinese attack. A second phase, including live-fire drills and anti-landing drills, will take place in July, when hospitals would also practice handling mass casualties.
“The drills are designed based on the toughest enemy threats, simulating all possible scenarios on an enemy invasion on Taiwan,” Major General Liu Yu-Ping told reporters.
Asked if Washington’s de facto embassy, the American Institute in Taiwan, would send representatives to the drills, Liu said such a plan was “discussed” but “will not be implemented”, citing military sensitivity. (Source: Reuters)
08 Apr 21. No timetable for withdrawal of troops after US, Iraq talks. The mission of U.S. forces in Iraq has shifted to training and advisory roles, allowing for redeployment of combat forces remaining in the country, U.S. and Iraq delegates said Wednesday, after a third round of strategic U.S.-Iraq talks.
Statements issued by both sides, however, said the timing of such a redeployment would be determined in upcoming technical talks, without specifying when they would take place. They also stressed the need for continued security cooperation.
The DoD has recorded about 4,600 U.S. service members killed and more than 32,570 service members wounded since the invasion of Iraq in March, 2003.
The talks — held virtually because of the pandemic — began in June under the Trump administration. Wednesday’s round, the first under President Joe Biden, centered on an array of issues, including the presence of U.S. troops in Iraq.
Iraq had requested the latest round, partly in response to pressure from Shiite political factions and militias loyal to Iran that have lobbied for the remaining U.S. troops to leave Iraq. Participants included U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken and Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs David Hale, and Iraqi Foreign Minister Fuad Hassan.
A State Department statement following the talks said that with increasing capacity of Iraqi security forces, the mission of U.S. and coalition forces “has now transitioned to one focused on training and advisory tasks, thereby allowing for the redeployment of any remaining combat forces from Iraq.”
The Pentagon press secretary, John Kirby, said Wednesday’s statement does not represent an agreement to begin a further withdrawal of U.S. forces.
Iraqi military spokesman Brig. Gen. Yahya Rasool said later that Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi has ordered the formation of a committee that would hold technical talks with the American side to approve “mechanisms and timings” related to the redeployment.
Al-Kadhimi has walked a tightrope as he negotiates with the Americans while coming under growing pressure from local militias loyal to Tehran.
Last week, a convoy of heavily armed Shiite militiamen drove openly through Baghdad, denouncing the U.S. presence and threatening to cut off al-Kadhimi’s ear, a display that clearly sought to undermine the premier.
Angered, al-Kadhimi asked Iran’s leaders to rein in Iran-backed militias in Iraq and suggested he would confront the factions, two Iraqi officials said Wednesday. In the note, al-Kadhimi threatened to “announce clearly who backs these groups,” the officials said.
It was not immediately clear who the message was given to. The timing suggested al-Kadhimi, who has appeared powerless in confronting the militias, was looking to appease the Americans ahead of Wednesday’s talks.
The message led to a two-day visit this week by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard’s Quds Force chief Ismail Qaani to Baghdad, where he met with militia and Shiite political leaders and called for calm, according to a senior Iraqi Shiite politician.
The two Iraqi officials and the Shiite politician all spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to reporters.
U.S.-Iraq ties plummeted after a Washington-directed airstrike that killed Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani in Baghdad last year. At the time, outraged Shiite lawmakers passed a non-binding resolution to end U.S. troop presence in Iraq.
Iraqi and U.S. officials have said they support a scheduled withdrawal from Iraq but questions remain over timings and the scope of the threat posed by the Islamic State group. According to the Pentagon, the number of U.S. troops in Iraq has dropped to about 2,500 over the past months.
Iraq’s Foreign Minister Fuad Hassan said in a statement during Wednesday’s talks that Iraq still needs U.S. support related to training, arming and advising its military.
Iraqis, particularly under former President Donald Trump, have often felt squeezed and pressured by both their allies, the U.S. and Iran. Tehran, for instance, seeks billions of dollars in payment for crucial gas and electricity supplies to Iraq. Iraqi officials say the money is sitting idle in an account at the Trade Bank of Iraq because of U.S. restrictions and fears of sanctions.
In a positive sign, the Biden administration last month permitted a 120-day sanctions waiver for Iraq to continue importing energy from Iran, the maximum time frame allowed. Waiver renewals under Trump were often for shorter periods and laden with conditions.
However, Iraqi officials say they require U.S. leniency to repay Tehran directly for the crucial energy imports, forgoing a complex payment system designed to evade U.S. sanctions over trading with Iran.
Iraq relies on Iranian supplies for a third of power needs, especially during peak summer months. Electricity cuts over payment issues resulted in violent protests in the southern province of Basra in the summer of 2018. As Iraq plans for nationwide parliamentary elections in October, the need to avoid unrest is high.
Currently, Iraq can pay Iran indirectly for the supplies in several ways. It can pay in humanitarian goods or medicines, cancel Iran’s foreign debt, and foot bills such as Iranian Embassy expenses, the costs of Iranian companies operating in Iraq and those of Iranian pilgrimages to Shiite holy sites in Iraq. But doling out these payments has been difficult, partly because U.S. conditions are so strict. (Source: Military Times)
07 Apr 21. Wings over Mandalay: Myanmar’s junta deploy Chinese-made CH-3A tactical UAVs to observe protest movements. Kelvin Wong, unmanned systems editor has confirmed the use of the Chinese-made CH-3A tactical UAV in Myanmar. The latest open-source intelligence from Janes follows.
- Myanmar’s military junta has begun to use its unmanned aerial vehicles to support its operations against protest movements.
- A rare sighting of the Chinese-made CH-3A tactical UAV over Mandalay has enabled Janes to confirm that it is in operational use in Myanmar following years of speculation.
Popular unrest in central Myanmar has been steadily increasing in the two months since the military, known as the Tatmadaw, seized power from the National League for Democracy (NLD)-led government in a 1 February coup. The unconstitutional removal of the government has prompted daily street protests and other forms of civil disobedience that have led to armed clashes with security forces, resulting in over 550 reported civilian deaths to date.
Images circulated on social media in March suggest that the Tatmadaw has begun to employ its unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) assets to monitor protest activities in central Myanmar, with at least two types of UAVs documented flying at altitudes low enough to be “seen and heard” by residents in the city of Mandalay.
Among these images is a CH-3A (Cai Hong-3A, or Rainbow-3A) tactical UAV seen orbiting over urban centres in late March. The sighting of the air vehicle, which is developed by Chinese state-owned defence prime China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC), is especially noteworthy given the secrecy in how the Tatmadaw has operated it.
For instance, the first and only documented sighting of the CH-3A UAV in Myanmar was provided by uncredited image widely circulated on the internet from mid-2016, which showed the distinctive air vehicle – which adopts a uniquecanard and swept-wing configuration with a pusher propeller, a belly mounted gimballed electro-optical/infrared (EO/IR) sensor payload, and a tricycle undercarriage – with serial number “04” stencilled on its starboard vertical fin apparently being readied for take-off on a paved runway at an undisclosed location.
The dense vegetation seen close to the edge of the runway indicates it could be part of a small provincial airfield in the northern or south-eastern areas of operation as opposed to a well-equipped military airbase in a major city.
It is believed that between 10 and 12 CH-3A UAVs – about a squadron’s worth of aircraft – were delivered to Myanmar around the 2013-2015 timeframe and operated by the Myanmar Air Force (Tatmadaw Lay), with the air vehicles reportedly based at Meiktila Air Base in north-central Myanmar. These were understood to be used primarily as intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) assets to support longstanding counterinsurgency (COIN) operations against ethnic rebel groups across the country, although there have been reports that some of these air vehicles had also been used to strike rebel infrastructure on several occasions.
Finding the Rainbow
Using Mandalay city as a reference in the search for the elusive UAVs, Janes investigated major military aerospace facilities within a 200 km radius – the maximum claimed line-of-sight control range of the CH-3A – using commercially available satellite imagery and observed the presence of at least two operational UAVs outside a large hangar in the south-western section of Shante Air Base in Meiktila city, a flight distance of about 122 km away from Mandalay and well within the ability of the CH-3A to be deployed there to perform aerial surveillance.
This sighting also represents the first documented instance of the UAV type operating from a key Tatmadaw Lay airbase. It is also worth noting that the air vehicles were seen when the satellite passed overhead on 31 January, a day before the Tatmadaw launched its coup.
It is not known if the two air vehicles observed in the image are permanently based at Shante Air Base, or if these had been moved there – from where they had been previously documented in the northern states – in anticipation of the coup. A typical CH-3A package can comprise between two and three UAVs, a truck-based mobile ground control station (GCS), and a truck-based support module, meaning it can be readily redeployed as required to suit operational requirements or to conceal their whereabouts.
According to company specifications, the CH-3A UAV has a maximum take-off weight (MTOW) of 650 kg with a wingspan of 8 m and a payload capacity of 180 kg. The type is powered by a rear-mounted piston engine driving a three-bladed pusher propeller that enables it to achieve cruise and maximum speeds of 180-220 km/h and 260 km/h respectively, with an operating endurance of up to 12 hours depending on its configuration. It can operate up to a service ceiling of 19,685 ft, although its optimal operating altitudes are in the 9,842–16,404 ft range.
The primary mission payload is its ventral EO/IR sensor turret which offers all-weather day/night observation capabilities with high-definition daylight colour and thermal imaging channels, as well as potentially a laser rangefinder and target designator depending on the mission requirements. (Source: Jane’s)
08 Apr 21. Update: air strikes against Daesh. The RAF are continuing to take the fight to Daesh in Iraq and Syria. On Sunday 4 April, an RAF Reaper, armed with Hellfire missiles, identified a small group of Daesh terrorists in northern Syria, some fifty miles west of Al Hasakah. Having checked that there were no civilians nearby, the Reaper’s crew attacked the terrorists, striking the target successfully.
Royal Air Force aircraft have continued to support security operations by the Iraqi Counter Terrorism Service in northern Iraq to eliminate small pockets of Daesh terrorism. Daesh extremists were confirmed to be based in a network of caves in the Makhmur mountains, south-west of Erbil, where the RAF has been actively assisting the Iraqi ground operations since 10 March. Since the caves were assessed to be a particularly challenging target, three Typhoon FGR4s were tasked to conduct an attack using Storm Shadow missiles on Monday 22 March, the remote area having first been checked to ensure that no civilians would be placed at risk. The strike on the Daesh targets there was assessed by subsequent surveillance to have been a success. (Source: https://www.gov.uk/)
08 Apr 21. Russian Ground Troop Units and Iskander ballistic missiles identified at Ukrainian border by Janes. Open-source intelligence specialist at Janes Thomas Bullock identifies fourteen ground troop units and several Iskander short-range ballistic missile systems at the Ukrainian border.
Janes has identified at least fourteen Russian Ground Troop units that have moved or are moving to the Ukrainian area of operations since late March through open-source intelligence.
Janes has identified an influx of Central Military District troops from the 74th and 35th Motorised Brigades, 120th Artillery Brigade and the 6th Tank Regiment, equipped with tanks, infantry fighting vehicles (IFVs), and long-range artillery including 2S19 MSTA-S 152 mm self-propelled guns, TOS-1A thermobaric multiple rocket launchers (MRLs), and BM-27 Uragan 220 mm MRLs entering Voronezh by train.
Janes has also identified the deployment of Iskander short-range ballistic missile systems, likely belonging to the 119 Missile Brigade, to Voronezh from the Sverdlovsk region.
A staging area has been established at a training ground south of Voronezh city equipped with P-260T Redut-2US long-range telecommunications complexes and a field hospital. The P-260T Redut-2US is a long-range army-level communications system that is not used at the battalion or brigade level, it is indicative of the scale of the deployment.
Crimea and the neighbouring Krasnodar regions have seen a similar build-up of troops and equipment including BMP-3 IFVs and 2S4 Tyulpan 240 mm self-propelled mortars. This time coming from Southern Military District units stationed hundreds of kilometres away in the southern and western Caucasus.
Since late March, Russia has been identified moving large quantities of military equipment to its Ukrainian border, specifically the Crimea, Voronezh, and Rostov regions. The Russian Ministry of Defence has belatedly labelled these as control-check exercises for the Southern Military District and Black Sea Fleet and later still, declared national control-checks covering the entire military. It appears locally stationed units in Voronezh, the Southern Military District and eastern Crimea have indeed begun training exercises.
While Russia’s intentions are still unclear, this movement stands out as possibly the largest unannounced movement of troops since Russia’s invasion of Crimea and eastern Ukraine in 2015. Video footage shows trains carrying Russian troops are still heading to the area of operations, with some according to the freight tracking service GdeVagon not scheduled to arrive in Crimea until mid-April.
Current indicators suggest it is unlikely the forces deployed to the border are in an offensive posture. But this could change if Russia continues to move forces to the Ukrainian border. Janes has identified the movement of army air defence systems into the Voronezh region, which have not been observed with prior movements. While there is a strategic air defence unit based in Crimea, there had been no clear indications that tactical air defence assets were being transported to match the armoured forces that had been deployed prior to this.
Furthermore, the Russian Ministry of Defence announced the Black Sea Fleet would be reinforced with 10 landing and artillery vessels from the Caspian Flotilla, as part of the ongoing control check exercises. This is not a common occurrence and was not even seen during the Southern Military District’s district level exercise Kavkaz-2020 last summer. Additionally, two Black Sea Fleet landing ships are believed to be operating in the Mediterranean Sea and could easily join the Black Sea Fleet.
The true extent of the cross-military district deployments also remains to be seen. The latest footage of regional exercises from the Russian Ministry of Defence indicates at least elements of some units, such as the 74th Motorised Brigade, are still in Siberia. It is however not clear when this footage was filmed. (Source: Jane’s)
08 Apr 21. RAF clears Daesh stronghold in Iraq in support of an Iraqi Security Force operation. A Daesh stronghold in northern Iraq has been cleared as part of Operation Shader, the Ministry of Defence has announced today. The RAF has carried out a series of air strikes working in support of the Iraqi Security Forces ground operations. Operation Shader remains essential to dismantling Daesh’s networks and reducing the terrorist group’s global ambitions.
In an operation lasting 10 days in March this year, the Iraqi Security Forces ground troops cleared Daesh terrorists from the Makhmur Mountain region, south-west from Erbil, while RAF and other coalition aircraft carried out a major air offensive.
The operation concluded on 22 March when Daesh extremists were confirmed to be based in a network of caves in the Makhmur mountains. Three Typhoon FGR4s were tasked to conduct an attack using Storm Shadow missiles, the remote area having first been checked to ensure that no civilians would be placed at risk.
The strike on the Daesh targets was assessed by subsequent surveillance to have been a success.
The Secretary of State for Defence said, “The British Armed Forces, alongside our Iraqi and Coalition partners, continue to root out Daesh terrorists from where they hide. The UK is committed to defeating Daesh. This operation will prevent the terrorist group and its toxic ideology from regaining a foothold in Iraq and reduce its capability to coordinate attacks around the world.”
Throughout the 10 day operation, the RAF used Paveway IV bombs and Storm Shadow cruise missiles. This was the first operational use of the Storm Shadow cruise missile from a Typhoon FGR4 aircraft.
In a separate operation carried on Sunday 4 April, an RAF Reaper, armed with Hellfire missiles, identified a small group of Daesh terrorists in northern Syria, some fifty miles west of Al Hasakah. Having checked that there were no civilians nearby, the Reaper’s crew attacked the terrorists, striking the target successfully.
From 2019 – 2020, the Ministry of Defence estimates 67 Enemies Killed in Action and four Enemies Wounded in Action in Iraq and Syria under Operation Shader – the UK’s contribution to the Global Coalition against Daesh.
The operation carried out in March 2021 builds on the success of targeted air strikes to defeat Daesh in recent years and represents a significant increase in activity from previous months.
Air Commodore Simon Strasdin, Air Officer Commander of 83 Expeditionary Air Group and the UK Air Component Commander in the Middle East, said:
“The Royal Air Force and wider Coalition have supported an operation led by a highly capable unit from the Iraqi Security Forces. Together, we are working towards defeating the remnants of Daesh and ensuring its will is depleted.
“The commitment and dedication from the personnel deployed on operations across the Middle East is simply outstanding. It is even more impressive that the Royal Air Force can adapt and continue to deliver air power against the enemy during a global pandemic.”
Though Daesh has been territorially defeated, it is estimated there are approximately 10,000 Daesh terrorists still at large across Syria and Iraq. The UK, together with 81 partner nations of the Global
Coalition, therefore remains committed to working with Iraq to not only defeat Daesh but to also enhance security in the region.
In addition to air strikes the RAF is also delivering across a wide spectrum of air power including; Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance; Air to Air Refuelling and Air Transport; and the use of air assets such as Reaper, Voyager, C130 and A400Ms aircraft. (Source: https://www.gov.uk/)
08 Apr 21. Britain says it struck Islamic State militants in Iraq last month. Britain carried out several air strikes against Islamic State (IS) militants in northern Iraq last month as part of a coordinated 10-day operation with local ground forces, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) said on Thursday.
Iraqi Security Forces troops cleared IS forces from the Makhmur mountains region, south-west from Erbil, while Royal Air Force (RAF) and other coalition aircraft carried out an air offensive during the operation, the MoD said.
It concluded on March 22 when IS forces were confirmed to be based in a network of caves in the Makhmur mountains. Three RAF Typhoon FGR4 fighter jets attacked using Storm Shadow missiles.
The MoD said the strike was assessed by subsequent surveillance to have been a success.
“The British Armed Forces, alongside our Iraqi and Coalition partners, continue to root out Daesh terrorists from where they hide,” British Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said.
Daesh is an Arabic acronym for IS.
“The UK is committed to defeating Daesh. This operation will prevent the terrorist group and its toxic ideology from regaining a foothold in Iraq and reduce its capability to coordinate attacks around the world,” Wallace added.
The MoD said that in a separate operation on April 4, an RAF Reaper drone, armed with Hellfire missiles, successfully struck a small group of IS forces in northern Syria, some 50 miles (80 km) west of Al Hasakah. (Source: Reuters)
08 Apr 21. Russia says in talks to make more military equipment in India. Russia and India are discussing “additional” production of Russian military equipment in India, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Tuesday, in a move that could irk the United States which frowns upon countries engaged in defence trade with Moscow.
Speaking at a joint news conference with India’s Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, Lavrov did not specify what kind of equipment could be made in India.
Officials from both countries have said their governments have been discussing for some years the possibility of making Russian military helicopters in India.
“We have confirmed our determination towards the development of military-technical cooperation,” Lavrov told the briefing, adding there was an inter-governmental commission dealing with the subject.
“It has its own plans, and the prospects for additional production of Russian military equipment on India’s territory are under discussion,” he said.
India has made Russian MiG fighter planes and Su-30 jets under license and the two countries have collaborated to develop and produce supersonic BrahMos cruise missiles in India.
While joint defence production would fit with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s flagship make-in-India programme, it could rile the United States, which has been targeting Russia’s defence and intelligence sectors with trade sanctions for Moscow’s annexation of Crimea from Ukraine and U.S. intelligence findings it has meddled in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
Lavrov said the United States has been trying to discourage countries from buying Russian weapons, but U.S. objections did not feature during his talks with Jaishankar, which had focused on deepening military ties.
Washington has already warned New Delhi that it could face sanctions if it goes through with the purchase of Russian S-400 surface-to-air missile systems under a deal struck in 2018, though it has not made the same threat over other Indian arms purchases from Russia.
Last year, the United States sanctioned Turkey for buying S-400 systems. India made an initial payment of $800m in 2019, and the first set of missile batteries is expected to be delivered towards the end of this year.
Jaishankar said ties with Russia were time-tested and that the two sides also discussed a summit meeting between Modi and President Vladimir Putin later this year.
“India-Russia ties are characterised by consistent ability to identify and update shared interests,” he said.
Russia has traditionally been India’s main arms supplier but Delhi has turned to the United States and Israel in recent years for supplies of attack helicopters, transport planes and high-tech drones and other surveillance equipment. (Source: Reuters)
07 Apr 21. Condemning the use of chemical weapons. Statement by Ambassador Barbara Woodward at the Security Council briefing on Syria chemical weapons.
Thank you, Mr President. I’d like to start by thanking High Representative Nakamitsu for her briefing today. I would also like to thank the Director-General of the OPCW as always for his latest monthly report.
The recent anniversaries of the Ltamenah and Khan Shekyun chemical weapons attacks, and tomorrow’s anniversary of the Douma attack, remind us of why we are here.
We are here because of the repeated use of chemical weapons during the Syrian conflict. We are here because, by Syria’s own admission, its initial chemical weapons declaration was not accurate, and because of Syria’s failure, over a seven-year period, to resolve the outstanding issues in that declaration.
As the Director General noted in his 9 March statement to the OPCW Executive Council, the Declaration Assessment Team process has led to the subsequent declaration by Syria of one additional chemical weapons production facility, four additional research and development facilities, five previously undeclared chemical warfare agents and several thousand large calibre chemical munitions. Syria has now amended its declaration 17 times.
Nineteen issues with that declaration remain outstanding. As the Director General told the Executive Council, these relate to the fate of several hundred tonnes of chemical warfare agents and/or thousands of chemical munitions; indicators of three undeclared chemical warfare agents; and unknown, but potentially significant, quantities of chemical warfare agents.
While the detail on some of these issues is undoubtedly of a technical nature, their significance is unambiguous and squarely within the Security Council’s mandate under resolution 2118 and its duty to maintain international peace and security.
Syria’s failure to meet its obligations led to the Executive Council recommending a suspension of Syria’s rights and privileges at the OPCW until it takes steps to redress the situation. We support the proportionate, measured action that will be considered by the Conference of States Parties this month, as do many other States Parties.
Finally, as we said last month, we support the investigation of any incidents of chemical weapons use by any party. This is fundamental to upholding the prohibition on their use. We are therefore reassured by a note from the OPCW Technical Secretariat dated 10 March indicating that the Technical Secretariat considered and analysed all 197 notes verbales submitted by Syria. While no links between the information provided and actual incidents under review could be found, we welcome that the OPCW will maintain a repository of the information for future comparison as necessary.
Thank you, Mr President. (Source: https://www.gov.uk/)
07 Apr 21. Russia sends ‘doomsday’ nuclear-powered torpedo for test in the Arctic. The United States has said that it is watching Russia’s military build-up in the Arctic “very closely” as the Kremlin presses ahead with the testing of a nuclear-powered torpedo.
Russia is believed to be planning to deploy the Poseidon 2M39 missile, nicknamed the “doomsday nuke”, to its Arctic region by the summer of next year. The underwater drone has a range of 10,000km and is designed to detonate off the coastline of enemy cities, flooding them with radioactive waves that would render them uninhabitable for decades. In February President Putin asked the defence ministry for an update on a “key stage”’ of the tests of the Poseidon torpedo. Additional testing is due this year.
The Russian military is also carrying out tests of Tsirkon anti-ship hypersonic cruise missiles in the Arctic, state media said. Putin hailed the development of both weapons during a sabre-rattling speech in 2018 that was accompanied by animated images of multiple nuclear warheads falling on the US.
Satellite images provided to CNN by Maxar, a space technology company, this week revealed that Russia is refitting Cold War-era military bases in the Arctic and building underground storage facilities that could be intended for the Poseidon and other high-tech weapons. The military build-up is taking place on the Kola Peninsula near the city of Murmansk, close to Russia’s border with Norway, a Nato member.
“We’re monitoring it very closely,” John Kirby, a Pentagon spokesman, said. “The Arctic is key terrain that’s vital to our own homeland defence.”
An unnamed US State Department official told CNN: “There’s clearly a military challenge from the Russians in the Arctic.”
Izvestia, a Russian newspaper, reported in January on defence ministry plans for Poseidon coastal facilities but did not reveal their exact location. It has previously been reported, however, that Russia intends to deploy 30 Poseidon missiles with its Northern Fleet.
Rapidly melting ice cover in the Arctic has opened up new shipping possibilities from Europe to Asia along Russia’s northern sea route, which Moscow is touting as an alternative to the Suez Canal, as well as easing access to the region’s vast oil and gas resources. The Kremlin’s military expansion in the Arctic is regarded as a move to tighten Russia’s grip over the region.
Military tensions in the Arctic are at their highest for decades: last year US warships, including a missile destroyer, sailed into the Barents Sea, off Russia’s northern coast, for the first time since the collapse of the Soviet Union. Washington said the exercises were aimed at promoting “regional security and stability”.
Last month three Russian nuclear-powered submarines simultaneously broke through Arctic ice in an exercise aimed at showing off the nation’s military capabilities in the region. (Source: The Times)
06 Apr 21. China says carrier group exercising near Taiwan, drills will become regular. A Chinese carrier group is exercising near Taiwan and such drills will become regular, China’s navy said late on Monday in a further escalation of tensions near the island that Beijing claims as its sovereign territory.
Taiwan has complained of an increase in Chinese military activity near it in recent months, as China steps up efforts to assert its sovereignty over the democratically run island.
China’s navy said the carrier group, lead by the Liaoning, the country’s first aircraft carrier put into active service, was carrying out “routine” drills in the waters near Taiwan.
The aim is to “enhance its capability to safeguard national sovereignty, safety and development interests”, it said.
“Similar exercises will be conducted on a regular basis in the future,” the navy added, without elaborating.
China’s statement follows Taiwan’s Defence Ministry reporting a new incursion by China’s air force into the island’s air defence identification zone on Monday.
Taiwan’s Defence Ministry said it had a “full grasp” of the situation in the air and at sea surrounding Taiwan and that it was “appropriately handling” the matter.
Japan’s Defence Ministry said on Sunday that the Liaoning, accompanied by five escort ships, had transited the Miyako Strait on their way to the Pacific.
China’s widely-read Global Times, published by the ruling Communist Party’s official People’s Daily, noted the Nanchang, the first of a powerful new fleet of Type 055 destroyers that entered service last year, was part of the carrier group.
“The combination of aircraft carriers and Type 055 large destroyers will become a standard configuration of Chinese aircraft carrier task groups in the future,” it added.
The Liaoning and its sister ship the Shandong have carried out drills or sailed near Taiwan before.
In December 2019, shortly before presidential and parliamentary elections in Taiwan the Shandong sailed through the sensitive Taiwan Strait, a move condemned by Taiwan as attempted intimidation.
Taiwan is China’s most sensitive territorial issue and a potential military flashpoint. China has never renounced the use of force to bring the island under its control.
Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen is overseeing a revamp of the island’s military, rolling out new equipment such as “carrier killer” stealth corvettes. (Source: Reuters)
06 Apr 21. U.S. Calling on Russia to Lower Tensions With Ukraine, DOD Official Says. The United States is calling on Russia to respect the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine and not provoke or increase tensions, said the Pentagon press secretary.
John F. Kirby spoke to reporters at the Pentagon today about Ukraine and a number of other places.
It’s difficult to speak about Russian intent, Kirby said, noting that they have a troop buildup in Crimea and in other areas on the border of the two nations to the southeast.
The U.S. is continuing to monitor the situation there, he said, adding that the U.S. has provided Ukraine with non-lethal and lethal items that allow them to better defend themselves.
“We continue to call for the ceasefires that were called for by the Minsk Agreement, and then … to bring the temperature down, to de-escalate,” Kirby said.
Syria and Iraq
The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria remains a threat in Iraq and Syria, albeit a much diminished threat from its peak in 2014, Kirby said.
Kirby noted that the Syrian Democratic Forces have successfully executed a series of operations to arrest or kill ISIS fighters, particularly in the al-Hawl area of northeastern Syria, where more than 125 were detained by the SDF. “We certainly congratulate them on a successful operation, and we’ll continue to support them in the mission to defeat ISIS.”
Kirby added that the U.S. also supports Iraq in its efforts to degrade and eradicate ISIS.
U.S. special operations forces have been training Mozambique Marines, Kirby said, noting that the purpose of the training is to improve that nation’s counterterrorism capability.
The training program, which is called joint combined exchange training, began March 15 and will last for two months, he said.
China and Taiwan
The U.S. is monitoring Chinese naval exercises in the vicinity of Taiwan, Kirby said.
Nothing has changed with regard to U.S. support for the so-called “One China Policy,” he said. The U.S. continues to provide Taiwan with self-defense capabilities. (Source: US DoD)
06 Apr 21. Integrating defence, development and diplomatic efforts to bring sustainable peace in Mali. Statement by Ambassador Barbara Woodward at the Security Council briefing on MINUSM.
Thank you, Mr President. I would like to thank the Under-Secretary General Lacroix for his briefing, and although he is absent today, I would like to extend my thanks also to SRSG Annadif. MINUSMA and the wider international community have benefited from his leadership and guidance. We wish him luck in his next role and welcome the appointment of Mr. El-Ghassim Wane.
Mr President, I’d like to focus my remarks on two priorities for action. First, the issue of impunity for human rights abuses and violations remains a concern. The attack against the MINUSMA camp in Aguelhok in Kidal region on Friday, which killed four Chadian peacekeepers and injured another twenty-four, underlines the complex and challenging circumstances in which MINUSMA operates. And on behalf of the United Kingdom, I pay tribute to those peacekeepers who have made the ultimate sacrifice and given their lives for peace and security in Mali. I offer my deep condolences to their families and friends and to the mission and I wish those who are injured a speedy recovery.
In the light of this attack and the other significant attacks against peacekeepers earlier this year, I want also to reiterate what I said in January: these crimes should not go unpunished and those who perpetrate them should be aware that they may constitute war crimes. While recent prosecution orders and investigations are positive steps, we urge the Malian authorities to ensure transparency and accountability for such acts. As the Secretary-General’s report points out, justice is necessary in order to achieve sustainable peace and help build trust between the state and its people.
Second, the need for an inclusive political process based on consultations and dialogue will foster a sense of ownership among all parties to the peace agreement.
The recent meetings of the Monitoring Committee of Kidal, as well as efforts by the transitional government to initiate dialogue with political parties, were encouraging developments. However, with less than a year to go until the end of the transitional period, progress on the implementation of the peace agreement has been limited. We hope to see accelerated progress and concrete achievements in line with the roadmap agreed in December.
Finally, I’d like to thank the Secretary-General for sharing the roadmap for MINUSMA’s transition. It contains some important guiding principles, including the need for government-led reform. As we prepare for MINUSMA’s mandate renewal in June, we will draw on this roadmap and from the experience of our own deployment to MINUSMA, to understand how the mission can best support the Malian government to assume increasing responsibility for the security tasks currently carried out by the mission.
Mr President, the UK remains committed to supporting MINUSMA’s core objectives. We’re contributing to stabilisation efforts that will help reduce violent conflict. We’re supporting projects aimed at increasing the meaningful participation of women both in the peace process and in wider conflict resolution mechanisms. We’re providing international humanitarian law training to Malian forces and supporting the G5 Sahel Joint Forces engagement with communities. We’re helping protect civilians through our humanitarian aid and by working through OCHA to strengthen civilian military coordination. We will continue working closely with our Malian and international partners to coordinate efforts.
By working together and integrating our defence, development and diplomatic efforts, we stand the best chance to deliver our shared vision of long-term peace and stability in Mali and the region.
Thank you, Mr President. (Source: https://www.gov.uk/)
30 Mar 21. Canada has renewed its Operation IMPACT military contribution to support stability in the Middle East for a further twelve months. Today, the Honourable Harjit S. Sajjan, Minister of National Defence, announced that the Government of Canada is extending Operation IMPACT until March 31, 2022. The purpose of Operation IMPACT is to build the military capabilities of Iraq, Jordan, and Lebanon, and help set the conditions for security and stability.
This one-year renewal of Operation IMPACT will allow the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) to continue to play an important role in Iraq, Jordan, and Lebanon. As part of the Global Coalition and NATO Mission Iraq, the CAF will continue to work with its partners and Allies to ensure the enduring defeat of Da’esh and promote regional stability. The renewal of Operation IMPACT will also allow the CAF to continue to provide training and capacity-building assistance to the Iraqi Security Forces, the Jordanian Armed Forces and the Lebanese Armed Forces.
Since Operation IMPACT began in 2014, Canada has been consistent in supporting our partners in the Middle East, helping to support peace and security. The CAF’s presence in the Middle East supports regional partners’ security forces, improving security in the region. The international response against Da’esh has reduced the suffering of many vulnerable populations. We will continue to stand with our partners and Allies to help bring security and stability to the region.
“Canada will remain a reliable partner in multinational operations around the world. By renewing Operation IMPACT, we are reinforcing Canada’s support to our NATO Allies and our partners in the Global Coalition, and continuing our important work in the Middle East. The Canadian Armed Forces continues to help build the conditions for stability and security in the region.” The Honourable Harjit S. Sajjan, Minister of National Defence.
- Canada’s military efforts are diverse and include: Contributions to the Global Coalition; Contributions to NATO Mission Iraq (NMI); and Contributions to building the military capabilities of Iraq, Jordan and Lebanon.
- The one-year extension of Operation IMPACT includes the authority to deploy up to 850 Canadian Armed Forces personnel in support of the Global Coalition, NMI and capacity-building activities with the Jordanian Armed Forces and Lebanese Armed Forces.
- Canada has contributed to the Global Coalition to Defeat Da’esh since it was established in 2014. In support of the Global Coalition, Canada conducts train, advise and assist operations with the Iraqi Security Forces and deploys three Griffon helicopters and associated personnel to enhance in-theatre tactical transport, including casualty evacuations, if required.
- Canada commanded NMI for two consecutive years, from the start of the mission in 2018 until November 2020, when Denmark assumed command. NMI is a non-combat advisory, training, and capacity-building mission. This role complements Canada’s efforts as part of the Global Coalition and Canada’s ongoing commitments towards creating a safe and stable Iraq.
- Canada’s current contribution to NMI includes 17 Canadian Armed Forces personnel.
- Joint Task Force IMPACT headquarters continues to operate in Kuwait and includes an Air Detachment comprising two CC-130J Hercules Tactical Airlift aircraft. Its movement of personnel and cargo in the joint area of operations is contributing significantly to Coalition, NATO, and bilateral efforts to build the military capacity of partner nations in the region through its safe and efficient movement of people and goods. (Source: http://www.joint-forces.com)
01 Apr 21. The UK Defence Secretary and Qatar Minister for Defence have announced an expansion of the relationship between each nation’s air force. Defence Secretary Ben Wallace and his Qatari counterpart, HE Dr Khalid bin Mohamed Al Attiyah, have announced an expansion of the relationship between each nation’s air force.
As part of the agreement, RAF Leeming in North Yorkshire will become the British base for the new UK-Qatar joint Hawk training squadron, utilising Qatar’s recently acquired fleet of nine Hawk T2 variant aircraft. The decision to base the new Squadron at RAF Leeming represents a long-term commitment to the base, which provides a strategic and operational Main Operating Base for the RAF.
Providing valuable training opportunities for both nations, the updated defence agreement will also see the RAF Voyager deploy to Qatar to periodically provide air-to-air refuelling training for the Qatari Emiri Air Force’s (QEAF) fleet of fast jet aircraft. The RAF Voyager fleet already supports Defence activity around the world and the Qatar AAR service over the next two years will be part of this. The deployments will be planned to co-ordinate with the UK’s operational and training needs and will benefit the RAF by enhancing its interoperability with international personnel and equipment.
Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said: “In the face of new and emerging threats, it is vital we collaborate with our international allies to tackle our shared security challenges and our long-standing relationship with Qatar exemplifies this.
“By working together we continue to share skills and expertise whilst promoting global security and driving prosperity at home.
“I’m delighted RAF Leeming has been chosen to base the historic second UK-Qatari joint squadron, which recognises the globally-held high regard of RAF flying training.”
His Excellency Dr Khalid bin Mohamed Al Attiyah, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of State for Defence Affairs in Qatar, said: “An important step in the ever growing military partnership that joins QEAF and RAF, the joint Hawk training squadron is an integral component in increasing interoperability and coordination between both air forces, leading to closer cooperation and alignment in future military and peacekeeping efforts.”
The formation of a second UK-Qatar joint squadron, which was initially announced last year, will provide additional flying hours for RAF pilots and see long-term international investment in new infrastructure and training facilities at RAF Leeming. This will include a Hawk training simulator, and the refurbishment of existing facilities.
Our collaboration with Qatar can be showcased by the on-going achievements of 12 Squadron – the first joint squadron in the RAF since the Second World War and the Battle of Britain. Together, the strengthened defence partnership will boost Qatar’s ability to tackle our shared security challenges in the Middle East, contributing to regional stability and protecting the prosperity and security of the UK at home.
05 Apr 21. Rafale Deal: French Anti-Corruption Body Suspected Dassault Made Payment to Indian Middleman, Claims Report. While the Rafale jet maker allegedly was not able to provide documentation to explain a suspicious transaction, the French anti-corruption agency ultimately chose not to refer the matter for prosecution.
A French anti-corruption agency allegedly raised red flags over a suspicious payment made by Dassault Aviation to an Indian defence company in 2017-18, according to a new report published by Paris-based investigative news website Mediapart, in a development that places a fresh spotlight over the controversial 2016 Rafale deal.
The report claims that the Rafale jet maker was unable to adequately provide documentation for this 2017 contract for aircraft models, leading the anti-corruption agency’s inspectors to suspect that it was a “bogus purchase” or one that was designed to conceal a middleman payment.
What is likely to raise further eyebrows is that the Indian defence company’s owners are closely connected to alleged defence agent Sushen Gupta, who is under investigation by the CBI in the AgustaWestland case.
The Wire has not been able to independently verify these claims, but the media report notes that the anti-corruption body ultimately decided not to refer the matter to French prosecution authorities for further investigation and legal action.
The suspicious transaction was unearthed by the Agence Française Anticorruption (AFA) – a body that is answerable to the French government and was set up in 2017 with the aim of checking whether large companies have implemented the anti-corruption procedures set out in the French law – as part of a scheduled audit of the Dassault Group.
“As they combed through the 2017 accounts the AFA inspectors raised an eyebrow when they came across an item of expenditure costing 508,925 euros and entered under the heading “gifts to clients”. This amount ‘seemed disproportionate in relation to all the other entries’ under the same heading, said the subsequent confidential report of the AFA audit…,” the media report noted.
“To justify this larger than usual ‘gift’ Dassault supplied the AFA with a ‘proforma invoice’ dated March 30th 2017 which was supplied by an Indian company called Defsys Solutions. This invoice, which related to 50% of the total order (€1,017,850), was for the manufacture of 50 models of the Rafale C, with a price per unit of €20,357,” the report added, quoting the AFA audit findings.
The AFA inspectors who found this purported transaction then asked Dassault for explanations: Why had the Rafale jet maker asked an Indian company to make models of its own aircraft, each the size of a small car, at 20,000 euros a pop? And why was this expenditure recorded as a ‘gift to client’?
According to the Mediapart report, the Dassault Group was not able to provide the AFA with a “single document showing that these models existed and were delivered”.
No recommendation for prosecution
The Indian company at the heart of this aircraft model contract – Defsys Solutions – is apparently one of Dassault’s sub-contractors in India on the Rafale contract.
“Defsys belongs to the Gupta family, whose members have acted as middlemen in the aeronautical and defence industries for three generations. In January 2019 the Indian media – first Cobrapost and then the Economic Times – revealed that one family member, Sushen Gupta, operated as an agent for Dassault, had worked on the Rafale contract and had allegedly obtained confidential documents from India’s Ministry of Defence,” the Mediapart report noted.
“By coincidence, it was this middleman who sent the one-million-euro invoice for the jet fighter models to Dassault six months after the September 2016 signing of the Rafale deal by the French defence minister Jean-Yves Le Drian and his Indian counterpart Manohar Parrikar. In March 2019 Sushen Gupta was arrested by agents from the Enforcement Directorate… He was later freed on bail facing charges of “money laundering” over the so-called ‘Choppergate’ corruption scandal involving the sale of helicopters to India by the Italian-British group AgustaWestland,” the report added.
Ultimately however, by 2020, when the AFA finalised its audit of the Dassault Group, the anti-corruption body’s director Charles Duchaine chose not to refer the matter for prosecution.
Instead, the report notes, the “aircraft models issue was relegated to two short paragraphs” in the AFA’s final report.
Duchaine refused to comment on the matter when questioned by Mediapart. A Dassault spokesperson, meanwhile, told the website that the company will not be commenting on the development. (Source: News Now/https://thewire.in/busine)
03 Apr 21. Taiwan says European countries helping with submarine project. European countries are providing help for Taiwan’s indigenous submarine project, the island’s defence ministry said, in a rare admission that the sensitive programme is not getting assistance solely from the United States.
Taiwan, which China claims as its own territory, has worked for years to revamp its submarine force, some of which dates back to World War Two. It is no match for China’s fleet, which includes vessels capable of launching nuclear weapons.
The U.S. government in 2018 gave the green light for U.S. manufacturers to participate in the programme, a move widely seen as helping Taiwan secure major components, though it is unclear which U.S. companies are involved.
In a statement late Friday, Taiwan’s Defence Ministry denied a report in U.S.-based publication The National Interest, which cited Taiwanese news reports from 2019, that North Korea had discussed helping Taiwan with the submarines.
“In the development of our submarines there has never been, there is not now and will never be any contact with North Korea; assistance is all provided by important countries in Europe and the United States,” it said, without giving details.
European countries are generally wary of allowing arms sales to Taiwan due to fear of angering China, though in 2018 Taiwan said it was talking to a company based in the British territory of Gibraltar about the new submarine fleet’s design.
Two of Taiwan’s four active submarines were built in the Netherlands in the 1980s, though the country subsequently refused to sell further ones to the island.
France has also sold Taiwan frigates and fighter jets. Taiwan said last year it was seeking to buy equipment from France to upgrade the ships’ missile interference system.
State-backed CSBC Corporation Taiwan began building the new submarines last year, aiming to deliver the first of the eight planned vessels in 2025.
Taiwan’s defence minister said last month it that the United States had approved the export of sensitive technology to equip the fleet. (Source: Reuters)
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