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04 June 21. Russian media reports are claiming Iraq is interested in purchasing S-400 and S-300 air defense systems as well as Sukhoi Su-57 fighter jets, but experts say Moscow is facing competition due to increased cooperation between Iraq and two regional powers: the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia.
“While there was some discussion in [Iraq’s] parliament a year ago, I am not aware of any genuine interest in these systems then or currently in the [Ministry of Defence]. There’s also been no recent discussion of purchasing such items in parliament since early last year,” said Norman Ricklefs, head of the geopolitical consultancy NAMEA Group as well as a former adviser to Iraq’s interior minister and to the secretary general of the MoD.
He told Defense News that there doesn’t appear to be negotiations for the purchase of the S-300 or Sukhoi aircraft, though the MoD did previously consider the two platforms.
“Clearly the S-400 is a red line for the U.S.,” he said, referring to America sanctioning fellow NATO ally Turkey for purchasing the system. “But any other Russian weapons system purchases will probably be examined on a case-by-case basis, noting that the main U.S. intent is for Iraq to build the capacity to defend itself.”
Virtual talks were held between U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Iraqi Foreign Minister Fuad Hussein in April, during which the two countries agreed to embark on technical talks aimed at establishing a timeline for U.S. combat troops to leave the country.
U.S. forces entered Iraq in March 2003 to destroy alleged weapons of mass destruction reportedly owned by Baghdad, and American forces ousted the country’s leader, Saddam Hussein. After 17 years of conflict, “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,” according to an April 7 statement issued after the bilateral talks, pointing to the “increasing capacity” of Iraqi security forces.
Marine Gen. Frank McKenzie, commander of U.S. Central Command, said that as the U.S. reduces its military footprint in the Middle East, competing world powers Russia and China will seek to expand their regional influence.
“The Middle East writ broadly is an area of intense competition between the great powers. And I think that as we adjust our posture in the region, Russia and China will be looking very closely to see if a vacuum opens that they can exploit,” McKenzie said, per a report by The Associated Press.
Iraq’s attempts to find new sources of defense materiel are not new, and it already operates Russian military systems.
“Indeed, there has even been talk in the past of the MoD buying Mirage jets from France. The Iraqi MoD currently has the Russian Pantsir-S1 mobile anti-air defense system and is happy with it,” Ricklefs said. “There has also been talk of purchasing more Russian ‘Hind’ Mi-24 helicopter gunships for Army aviation. … I don’t think this has reached the stage of serious negotiation.”
Aram Nerguizian, senior adviser with the Program on Civil-Military Relations in Arab States at the Carnegie Middle East Center, told Defense News that Russia could certainly play a role in upgrading or replacing some of Iraq’s aging systems.
“Iraq continues to operate Russian-sourced attack helicopters. Russia has already sold a variant of its T-90S main battle tank, but the larger question of how Iraq can effectively maintain a mixed fleet of U.S. and Russian armor is unclear. Russia also could try to sell Iraq systems that can augment armored mobility, fixed-wing multirole aircraft — 4.5-generation aircraft like the Su-35 and its derivatives — and continue to explore ways to offer Iraq options for layered air defense systems,” Nerguizian said.
One issue Iraq is currently grappling with is maintenance of its F-16 fighter fleet following Lockheed Martin’s announcement that it is withdrawing its maintenance teams for security reasons amid rocket attacks by militias.
“I don’t know what Lockheed Martin will do,” Ricklefs said.
Ricklefs noted that Iraq wants to expand its relationship with Saudi Arabia and the UAE, and that efforts appear to be developing well.
In January, an Iraqi delegation led by the country’s defense minister, Juma Inad Saadoun, visited the UAE to strengthen bilateral collaboration, with a focus on military cooperation.
On March 31, Saudi Arabia and Iraq agreed to boost security cooperation after Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi met and agreed to continue coordinating counterterrorism efforts. A joint statement issued after the meeting also revealed an agreement to boost economic cooperation, starting with the creation of a joint fund worth $3bn.
In addition, Ricklefs said on May 31, “Iraq’s defense minister has just traveled to [the kingdom of Saudi Arabia] in the last few days. No contracts were signed, but discussions on expanding the defense relationship will continue.”
“The Iraqi MoD has a professional system for evaluating military requirements, and they will normally examine a number of options for any requirement. Often there are Russian options on the table,” he added.
But Theodore Karasik, senior adviser at the U.S. think tank Gulf State Analytics, disagreed with the first point: “Above all, two things must be settled. First a restructure of the defense procurement process should take place to end the corruption in this process and to increase transparency and supervision. Second, Iraq should evaluate the needs of its security environment to envision the future of the battlefield.”
Karasik also doesn’t expect Iraq to buy the Russian S-300, but he believes the two countries might cooperate in the field of counter-drone technology.
Can Iraq afford the systems?
Iraq’s economy has suffered from a devaluation in its currency since the beginning of the year. Asked about the country’s ability to pay for new defense systems, Ricklefs said it would be a stretch.
“It is possible that it might make a deal to exchange energy resources like crude oil or gas for defense equipment as part of an advance purchase agreement. However, Iraq has struggled to finalize a similar deal with China, and Russia has little requirement for either Iraqi oil or gas,” he said, adding that Iraq needs to expand its naval forces to protect oil facilities in the Arabian Gulf.
“But there is every chance that the U.S. will continue to provide a security umbrella for the maritime oil terminals until Iraq has the capability to do so. Most of the rest of Iraq’s oil infrastructure is in the southern provinces where the security is reasonably good,” he said.
“Due to the budget crisis in Iraq, which really began with the collapse in the oil price in 2014 and was then exacerbated drastically by [COVID-19], Iraq does not have the capital funds available for major purchases at this time. If the oil price rises in the next year or two, then I think Iraq will seriously consider upgrading its fleet of armored personal carriers and infantry fighting vehicles, which remains a critical gap in capabilities currently being filled mostly by aging BMPs and modified M113s. It also probably needs to upgrade its helicopter fleet to support counterinsurgency operations.”
Russian or American?
Alexander Jalil, an analyst at Gulf State Analytics, noted that Russian arms are usually cheaper than American ones, which helps the case for a pivot toward Russian weapons.
“The Iraqi government will be under a lot of pressure to use existing funds to improve the living standard for their citizens. Another arms deal is therefore not advisable. In my opinion, Iraq’s defense allocations are too large for their faltering economy, and more arms procurement is not necessary with regards to the threat image. Sukhoi fighter jets and S-300s are not necessary given the internal financial problems Iraq is facing,” Jalil told Defense News.
In January 2020, Russian media reported Iraqi lawmakers were pushing to buy the S-400. And in August that year, the military inspector for the Iraqi MoD, Imad Al-Zuhairi, said the government was interested in procuring Su-57 jets.
“Russia uses their arms exports as a game of optics with all of the U.S. allies. Moscow is quick to go to media whenever there are initial talks of any type of arms export to a U.S. ally,” Jalil said.
(Source: Defense News)
03 June 21. Trilateral convergence: SAGE International’s case for a security compact between the UK, Australia and Japan.
By: Dr. John Bruni, Prof. Emeritus Purnendra Jain, CDRE Patrick J. Tyrrell OBE RN (Ret’d), David James Olney & Simon Chelton
Creating a ‘minilateral’ security agreement between Australia, the UK and Japan will support a safer and more stable Indo-Pacific, write Dr John Bruni, Emeritus Professor Purnendra Jain, Commodore (Ret’d) Patrick Tyrrell OBE, David James Olney and Simon Chelton.
This article is the latest iteration of a series of open-source articles written by SAGE International in 2020. The concept of a minilateral security compact between the UK, Australia and Japan was also incorporated within SAGE International’s report, funded by the Australian Department of Defence (2019-20), on the Indo-Pacific. The idea originated from an impromptu meeting in Tokyo in 2019 between Dr John Bruni and some British Defence and defence industry officials over coffee where they were discussing ways to better develop bilateral defence industry ties between Britain and Japan. Dr Bruni, being Australian, recognised that Australia should be brought into the mix considering that all three countries are among the strongest security allies of the United States, all three countries are islands (and highly dependent on the sea for trade and commerce), all three countries operate American military technology and finally all three countries have natural complementarities. For instance, the UK is one of the world’s most important financial centres, Australia is one of the world’s most important commodity powers and Japan is one of the world’s leading centres for technology and industry.
Furthermore, they support a rules-based international order and believe in democratic values. Independently they are each in their own way important to the global economy, however they are limited in what they can do for themselves from a security perspective. All three countries being ‘middle powers’ in a world where major tensions exist between the world’s two largest powers, the United States and China; all three are outward looking, have constitutions based on the Rule of Law and eschew bullying and authoritarian behaviours. Their relatively smaller size means that they do not have the necessary resources to be front rank world powers and all three have caps on their respective defence spending. While they may be able to conduct stout defence of their respective territories, and some of their overseas interests, none are strong enough, large enough or capable enough of exercising decisive force as independent states without the involvement of the United States, the most militarily and economically dominant country in the world. In the case of Japan, Article 9 of its constitution prevents it from taking anything but a low-key and highly defensive approach to its national defence.
There was a crisis of confidence all American allies encountered under the former Trump administration (2016-20) and a long-term, major bone of contention continues to be a strong case that US allies should do more to share the burden of preserving a free and open Indo-Pacific. In order to address these issues, the team at SAGE International set about trying to formulate a trilateral concept between the UK, Australia and Japan which would enable these countries to pool their resources and co-ordinate their efforts in a way that would benefit them collectively as well as benefit the preservation of the contemporary US-led international order. The following article outlines how practical trilateral cooperation may come about.
Tying the threads together
In February 2021, after a meeting with their Japanese counterparts, British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab and Defence Secretary Ben Wallace confirmed that the Royal Navy’s aircraft carrier, HMS Queen Elizabeth, was to deploy ‘East of Suez’. At the time of writing in late May 2021 the Royal Navy’s UK-led multinational Carrier Strike Group 21 (CSG21), consisting of the HMS Queen Elizabeth, six supporting surface ships including one American and one Dutch destroyer, and a submarine, have departed British waters on its way into the Indo-Pacific region. In a show of close and enduring bilateral relations between the UK and the United States, the British carrier will embark 5 UK and 10 US Marine Corps F-35Bs. Its mission – to conduct exercises with the Indian, Singaporean, South Korean and Japanese navies. Flying the Royal Navy flag in this way is hugely symbolic for post-Brexit London, demonstrating a global British power projection capability independent from its ongoing commitments to NATO and the defence of Continental Europe while also recognising the increasing global importance of the Indo-Pacific region. Defence Secretary Wallace said CSG21 represents:
“[t]he most significant Royal Navy deployment in a generation [which] demonstrates the UK’s commitment to working with our partners in the region to uphold the rules-based international system and promote our shared security and prosperity.”
Other defence agreements between the United Kingdom and Japan have been developed over the last few years, including a 2013 agreement in equipment co-operation. Newer developments propose systems level cooperation in future fighter programmes and joint development of an air-to-air missile.
For Japan, this form of military co-operation with the UK compliments its treaty relationship with the United States and demonstrates broader engagement. Rather than being seen as a move to replace the US as a primary security partner, the addition of Britain to Japan’s security equation complements the existing US presence in Japan by adding another US-aligned state to Japan’s existing security framework, limited as it is by Article 9 of its post-World War II constitution, which under current interpretation “renounces war and prohibits Japan from maintaining the war potential”.
Furthermore, British-Japanese military exercises at a time of heightened tension with the People’s Republic of China provide Japan with a partner that is equally committed to upholding the rule of international law in disputed areas such as the South China Sea. Japan also desires to be a member of the Five Eyes (FVEY) group. In a recent article in The Times, Japan’s newly installed Ambassador to Australia, Shingo Yamagami, the former head of the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs intelligence branch was cited that “Japan is preparing to join the Anglophone world’s Five Eyes intelligence-sharing network” and “[w]e would like to see this idea become reality in the near future”. Should the FVEY group add Japan in a ‘FVEY-plus’ arrangement this would make Japan one of the world’s foremost and trusted intelligence gathering countries alongside the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, adding an extra layer of internal strategic coherence to the UKAJ construct.
For the UK, Brexit has fundamentally altered its place in Europe. While still a key member of NATO forces dedicated to the security of the European continent, Britain, as an island trading nation foreswore full integration within the EU in favour of a return to its pre-EU status as a ‘Britain of the Seas’, harking back to when Britain’s global empire was founded and maintained by the most powerful navy in the world – the Royal Navy. And while London might never possess a fleet as powerful and as far reaching as the one which forged itself as the centre of a globe-spanning empire, putting significant distance between itself and Brussels has meant that, moving forward, London will have to develop its own indigenous capacities in four key domains – maritime, air, cyber and outer space. It will only be by accomplishing this hard and expensive task that London will be able to exercise its newfound sovereign interests globally in tandem with both the United States as well as with other potential partner countries such as Japan and Australia. The UK’s application to join the CPTPP (Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership) should be seen as part of a strategic shift in this direction.
Since the signing of the 1951 ANZUS Treaty, Australia has made this the bedrock of its security against external threats although the treaty itself does not have a clause in it that automatically pledges US support to Australia should the country ever be threatened. But, as we discovered during Australia’s leadership of the International Force East Timor (INTERFET) (1999-2000) mission, US assistance can come in many forms. American diplomacy as well as the deployment of seven US Navy warships and several transport aircraft signalled the Clinton administration’s support for INTERFET and that Washington would not broach deliberate Indonesian Armed Forces (TNI) escalation of the crisis such as a direct attack on international forces in East Timor or on supporting Australian Defence Force assets.
Many critics of ANZUS and of the Australia-US relationship pointed to the Clinton administration’s ‘weak’ response to the Howard government’s request for US assistance. However, as Professor Emeritus Hugh White argued, the US did not want to contribute ‘boots on the ground’. During the mid-late 1990s, America’s commitment to the air war over the Balkans as well as maintaining Iraq’s post 1991 Gulf War no-fly zones led to worries in the Pentagon about the US military’s high tempo of operations. Furthermore, Australia only required assistance in terms of airlift. What is never acknowledged is that had the US done nothing at all and just let the crisis play out, INTERFET may have escalated into an all-out Australian-Indonesian war with long-term consequences for both countries’ bilateral relations as well as for bilateral relations between the US and Australia. However, as the 2000s progressed, Australian security began to diversify in subtle but significant ways.
Recognising the importance of a stable Northeast Asia and Japan’s central role in acting as a key plank in regional great power stability, the Australian government reached out to Tokyo to forge bilateral security ties. Initially through the 2001 Trilateral Security Dialogue (later, the Trilateral Strategic Dialogue) which involved the United States. After all, both countries are key American allies in the Pacific, effectively operating very similar types of military technology – many derived from American capabilities. Japan and Australia are significant trading partners and saw the world from similar perspectives. As a consequence of the quiet diplomacy through the aforementioned Trilateral Strategic Dialogue, a bilateral Japanese-Australian security dialogue was founded in 2007, the Japan-Australia Joint Declaration on Security Cooperation.
In 2015, in what would have been a radical shift towards a closer Japan-Australia security alignment, Tokyo offered a submarine design to Australia for the country’s Collins class replacement program, the Competitive Evaluation Process (CEP). Then Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbotts’ public insistence that all or some of the Japanese boats would be completed in Japanese shipyards, which would have effectively destroyed the Australian Submarine Corporation’s (ASC’s) indigenous capability for building submarines in Australia, led to a competition for which Japan was not prepared, never previously having sold defence equipment overseas. The bid was won by French firm DCNS, now Naval Group. It is perfectly possible that Japan would have agreed to build all the boats in Australia, as was acknowledged by former Maritime Self-Defense Fleet commander Admiral Yoji Koda at the Sub Summit 2015 (24-26 March), hosted by the Royal United Services Institute of Australia (RUSI-A) and SAGE International. But despite the loss of this AUD 50bn contract that would have been Japan’s first sale of a complex weapon system to another country, the desire for closer relations between Australia and Japan was not dampened.
Since then, the two countries have become strategically far closer. JSDF and ADF units have conducted joint exercises, for example, in July 2020; five RAN ships joined Japanese and American warships in the Philippine Sea for training exercises; while later that year, in November, the Suga and Morrison governments signed an agreement facilitating joint military exercises. As stated in Nikkei Asia:
“A pact to facilitate joint military exercises will ease restrictions on the Japan Self-Defense Forces as well as on Australian military personnel while they are staying in each other’s country for such drills.”
On the other side of the ledger is of course Australia’s relationship with the United Kingdom. As Australia is a former British Dominion, there are deep historical and cultural ties to the UK. The fact that Australia is still a constitutional monarchy, recognising Queen Elizabeth II as the country’s sovereign through the office of Australia’s Governor General is an inescapable fact of contemporary Australian politics wherever one’s sympathies lie regarding this situation.
From a defence perspective, much of Australia’s military forces were modelled on Britain’s and had experience in fighting alongside British forces during World Wars I & II and some of the post-war conflicts that beset north-east and south-east Asia during the early part of the Cold War. The ADF Services maintain their ‘Royal’ prefixes and presumably will maintain this until such a time as the country adopts an entirely republican political nomenclature. BAE Systems, although headquartered in the UK and with a substantial presence in the US, is one of Australia’s leading prime defence corporates in the nation’s defence industry working on several non-British and non-American defence designs that were brought into the Australian order of battle. And recently, the Australian government ordered nine British-designed Hunter Class frigates (estimated $35bn), to be built by BAE Systems replacing the country’s eight German designed Anzac Class frigates that have been in service with the Royal Australian Navy since 1996. That these frigates will be like those operated by units of the Royal Navy, potentially deployed into the Indo-Pacific either on exercise with Australian or Japanese forces increases the RAN’s interoperability with the RN. Australia and Britain are both part of the Five Eyes global intelligence sharing network and finally, the recent signing (February 2021) of the UK-Australia Space Bridge Framework Agreement between the UK Space Agency and the Australian Space Agency is yet another sign of closer British-Australian strategic collaboration.
The UK is looking to have a new global role but will be constrained by economic and political realities. The new Britain, independent from the EU, cannot and will not reinvent the former British Empire in any form. But London can extend cooperative and collaborative agreements to select countries which possess similar historical, cultural, and strategic objectives. The problem here is to align its objectives with a small set of such states with which it has pre-existing relationships. This way, the difficulty of managing inter-state and inter-governmental expectations can be reduced to the benefit of all.
Japan is slowly expanding the scope of JSDF deployments and activities, but there is little appetite in Tokyo for Japan to act unilaterally. A reawakened Japanese military would cause great concern to other Asian states, no doubt led by the People’s Republic of China, unless embedded within a security framework that can allow Japan to extend its reach with others.
Australia, while content with the strategic status quo, was shaken by the Trump years and the disruption of the American security umbrella (something of concern to both the UK and Japan as well). Canberra has also been unnerved by the recent break-down in Australia-China relations which has left it vulnerable to Chinese information warfare, influence operations and cyber attack. Political disruption within the United States therefore has and continues to pose very real national security concerns among key American allies. Furthermore, of the UKAJ partner states, Australia is the smallest economy and is financially incapable of building a larger military footprint in the Southwest Pacific beyond what it already has. It would therefore be in Australia’s national interest to join a new strategic, if informal, grouping that is effectively US aligned and committed to upholding the international rules-based order whereby it can leverage its niche strengths with its larger partner-states.
All three countries are aligned with the United States, have US forces in their respective countries, and operate US military technology. They all have similar motivations in being US allies but realise that there might be limitations to the alliance network depending on unexpected and fast-changing political currents in Washington DC. A strong tripartite grouping, providing robust defence capability within the Indo-Pacific, will be viewed by the US as an effective contribution to “burden sharing” in defence of an increasingly important region for the US and her allies.
UKAJ Five Point Cooperation Plan
We at SAGE International believe that developing a trilateral framework between the UK, Australia and Japan in the following order of priority should provide the greatest benefits for participating countries:
- Satellite coverage cooperation between the members of UKAJ.
- This would provide the most obvious and greatest practical utility for a maritime global grouping spread out over vast distances. As RN, RAN and JMSDF units are all highly dependent on space-based assets, especially navigation assets to carry out their respective missions, allowing each country to leverage off each other’s satellites would create a network that is global as opposed to national or at best regional in scope.
- Undertake studies into the Australian RAMSI model as a model for military deployment by UKAJ in situations other than conventional war.
- In a multipolar and unstable world where defence budgets are often under stress (having to compete with civilian programs), attempting to find the most effective, innovative and affordable way to deploy military force is critical, especially in situations of crisis intervention. This could include staving off ‘grey zone’ threats, (often under the threshold of war) as well as for humanitarian and rescue missions. The Australian RAMSI mission showed how a light military force supporting and standing in overwatch over foreign and local police forces could have a significant affect. In this case it was defending the government of the Solomon Islands from the Malaita Eagle Force (MEF).
- Developing a trilateral strategy based on Australia’s experience in the Solomon Islands would provide UKAJ with an already tested means for crisis intervention among the island-states of the Indo-Pacific, which are likely areas of strategic contestation between the People’s Republic of China and the West.
- Provide a common framework for Defence and Security collaboration between the three nations to enable national forces to co-operate flexibly and responsively in event of security threats.
- Enhancing common Command, Control and Communication standards to provide a coherent common situation picture.
- To develop high-level political interaction and decision making with supporting intelligence and training.
- Pool the official development assistance (ODA) budgets of UKAJ members into one globally significant fund.
- This would give UKAJ a competitive edge against Chinese untied aid, particularly in areas deemed important by Beijing, such as in east Africa, the Indian Ocean region, south-east Asia, the south Pacific and Latin America.
- UKAJ Aid would be complementary to US Aid and could be coordinated with it when appropriate.
- Provide a means by which British, Australian and Japanese defence ministries can explore common solutions for capability, maintaining interoperability with the US, and enable their defence industries (DI) to co-ordinate and collaborate with each other as well as provide a collective mechanism to defend UKAJ IP.
- Establish guidelines for enhanced UKAJ DI coordination and collaboration
- Ensuring the rights of Primes and the rights of SMEs are clearly laid out to enhance co-operation and lessen conflict between them.
- Ensure that mechanisms exist across the whole UKAJ DI enterprise allowing it to work seamlessly together.
- Create trusted methods for sharing IP and technology among UKAJ partners.
- Promote harmonisation of information sharing and export control procedures.
- Encourage mutual cross-investment in defence industry.
- Help encourage innovation in new technologies for their mutual benefit.
To recap, bilaterally, the UK and Japan, Australia and Japan and Australia and the UK are each signing significant bilateral defence co-operation, space cooperation and defence industry agreements. Taken together, these agreements mutually benefit each country, allowing them to find complementarity with each other. SAGE International believes that more can be done were all three countries to develop a strategic compact that aligns these developments into a unified overarching strategic framework. Operating in the belief that three medium-sized countries can accomplish more together than apart, a UKAJ strategic compact can have the effect of allowing all three countries to find scales of economy for their respective efforts in a way they cannot as independent sovereign actors.
SAGE International Australia is a not-for-profit think-tank which conducts research a policy analysis on national security and global politics. This piece was originally posted to the SAGE International website and submitted to Defence Connect by authors Dr John Bruni, Professor Emeritus Purnendra Jain, Commodore (Ret’d) Patrick Tyrrell OBE, David James Olney and Simon Chelton. (Source: Defence Connect)
02 June 21. India issues another ban on 108 imported arms. India has issued its second arms embargo list of 108 weapons, systems and platforms, which the Ministry of Defence describes as its “Second Positive Indigenisation List.” The move is part of India’s effort to achieve self-reliance and promote defense exports.
“The second list lays special focus on weapons/systems which are currently under development/trials and are likely to translate into firm orders in the future,” the MoD said in a statement Monday. “Not only does the list recognise the potential of the local defence industry, but it will also invigorate impetus to domestic Research and Development by attracting fresh investment into technology and manufacturing capabilities.”
This second list is to be progressively implemented from December 2021 to December 2025. It calls for a number of weapons and platforms to be manufactured in India, including next-generation corvettes; single-engine light helicopters; airborne early warning and control systems; medium-power radars for mountainous terrain; land-based, medium-range surface-to-air missile systems; fixed-wing mini-UAVs; helicopter-launched, anti-tank guided missiles; battlefield surveillance radars; anti-materiel rifles; and mine-protected combat vehicles for infantry units.
The majority of items in the second list are subsystems or accessories for weapons and platforms already manufactured in India, and are not big-ticket defense products. They include instant fire detection and suppression systems; individual underwater breathing apparatuses; main switchboard and power distribution systems for ships; steering gear for destroyers and frigates; high-altitude water purification systems; and drop tanks for Jaguar and Mirage 2000 fighters.
The first list of 101 defense items was released by the MoD in August 2020. It included several types of armaments such as artillery guns, assault rifles, corvettes, sonar systems, transport aircraft, ammunition, sonars, radars, conventional diesel-electric submarines, communication satellites and shipborne cruise missiles.
“The second positive indigenisation list is another testament of the confidence placed by the government and the Armed Forces on the Industry to deliver cutting-edge defence technology for India’s security requirements,” said Jayant Damadar Patil, who leads India’s largest defense industry association, the Society of Indian Defence Manufacturers.
Patil, who is also a director and senior executive vice president for Larsen & Toubro, added that the list creates long-term business opportunities that will enable industry to invest and build capacity and capability.
The MoD plans to appropriate a minimum of $10bn annually for the purchase of armaments from local defense companies, though it’s unclear for how long.
However, a CEO of a medium-size enterprise, who spoke to Defense News on condition of anonymity, said that “the private players in India are looking for a potential defense contracts list in the future and not a ‘positive list’ because most of these items have been manufactured in India for many years.” (Source: Defense News)
02 June 21. Military Leaders Plan for Post-Withdrawal Financial Support for Afghans. Following the withdrawal from Afghanistan, the U.S. plans to continue providing financial support to the Afghans and to build on existing “over-the-horizon” anti-terrorism capacity in the region.
“I want to stress … that, right now, the focus of the post-withdrawal support to the Afghan … National Defense and Security Forces is going to be largely through financial means, with some over-the-horizon logistical support,” Pentagon Press Secretary John F. Kirby said during a media briefing today. “For example, aircraft maintenance, that’s really where the focus of the efforts are.”
Marine Corps Gen. Kenneth F. McKenzie Jr., the commander of U.S. Central Command, and his staff are working now to develop that plan in Afghanistan before the U.S. leaves, Kirby said. The Defense Department is also working with the State Department regarding the diplomatic efforts required for over-the-horizon basing opportunities in the region.
Financial support for the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces — meant to provide resources for such things as salaries for soldiers and police — is expected to continue much as it has for most of the last 15 years, Kirby said.
Over-the-horizon capacity includes the ability to continue to protect the United States from the terrorist threats that exist in any nation in the region, even if the U.S. is not specifically in that country. The U.S. already has such capabilities in the Middle East, and more will come.
“We already have at our disposal over-the-horizon counterterrorism capabilities to support our desires that no additional threats to our homeland can emanate from Afghanistan,” Kirby said. “That said … we want to have additional capabilities, and we’re working through that.”
Kirby also explained why it’s important, once the U.S. leaves Afghanistan, that the airport in Kabul remains secure and open to operations.
“The airport would provide, obviously, aside from the transportation support for people and for equipment … it would also provide a needed logistical hub, not just for our embassy, but for the embassies of other nations that want to maintain diplomatic presence there in Afghanistan,” he said. “Obviously, in a country like Afghanistan, security of that logistical hub is important, and you want to make sure that, that it can … be properly ensured and protected.”
Centcom is now working to get U.S. forces out of Afghanistan. Yesterday, the command reported that nearly 13,000 pieces of gear have been turned into the Defense Logistics Agency there, and around 300 C-17 loads of materiel have been moved out of the country. The command has also turned six facilities over to the Afghan Ministry of Defense. The command estimates that the retrograde from Afghanistan is between 30% and 44% complete. (Source: US DoD)
01 Jun 21. PLANAF J-15 fighters seen operating from Lingshui Airbase in South China Sea. Chinese state-owned media has released video footage showing People’s Liberation Army Navy Air Force (PLANAF) J-15 naval fighter aircraft being operated from an airbase that Janes identified as Lingshui Airbase on Hainan Island in the South China Sea (SCS).
Released by state broadcaster China Central Television (CCTV) on 27 May, the footage shows at least two aircraft of the type taking off from the base and conducting training exercises, including in-flight refuelling, before landing at the same base, which is part of the PLA’s Southern Theatre Command.
This marks the first time the multirole, carrier-borne J-15, which is manufactured by the Shenyang Aircraft Corporation (SAC), has been seen operating from this base, which has been home to the PLAN’s 3rd Air Division since 2018–19.
The latest developments come after commercial satellite imagery captured on 27 January showed that China had placed a mock carrier landing strip at the base. The landing strip, placed on the southeastern end of the runway, provides a place for pilots to practise carrier approaches and landings while operating from shore. The carrier landing strip, which was painted between November 2020 and January this year, measures approximately 206 × 26 m. The location of helicopter landing and tie-down markings, as well as the marking of arrestor wire positions, are identical to those found on Shandong (CV 17) – the PLAN’s second aircraft carrier – as are the relevant dimensions involved. (Source: Jane’s)
02 June 21. Lebanese Armed Forces Remain Top-Notch Security Partner. The exercise Resolute Union 21 closed out May 28 in Lebanon. Over the 11-day multinational and joint exercise, the Lebanese Armed Forces, or LAF — security partners of the U.S. — exhibited top-notch performance, said the deputy director of strategy, plans and policy with U.S. Central Command.
“The word is that the LAF was an outstanding professional participant [that was] most engaged in the largest and most complex exercise in … history to take place in Lebanon there,” Air Force Brig. Gen. Duke Pirak said today during an online discussion with the Middle East Institute. “The fact that this type of exercise is going on and we’re able to exercise this partnership, despite the conditions, is proof positive of the LAF being a responsible actor in a relationship that we’d like to continue to mature.”
From a security cooperation perspective, the U.S. is looking for partners with shared security goals, said Dana Stroul, the deputy assistant secretary of defense for the Middle East.
“We are looking for capable, committed partners who share our security goals,” Stroul said. “With the LAF … we are interested in developing a long-term partnership with an institution that responds to the Lebanese people, is committed to what’s in their interest, and is a national representative institution to provide an alternative to Lebanese Hezbollah.”
In Lebanon, inflation is high now, and the value of the pay received by members of the LAF has diminished greatly, which makes it difficult to provide for their families. Yet, the LAF continues as a valuable and competent partner in the security relationship it has with the United States.
We believe the LAF is a security partner of choice and [we] continue to invest in the strategic partnership.” Air Force Brig. Gen. Duke Pirak
“Right now, what we’re seeing that is remarkable — but that I think is very much a strain on the LAF — is their willingness to step in and provide some humanitarian response, humanitarian distribution at the very local level,” she said.
In regard to the exercise Resolute Union 21, she said, even with the economic strain being experienced by LAF personnel, it still performed beyond what might have been expected.
“Despite the multiple ways in which the LAF is being asked to respond far beyond its written terms of what a traditional military or conventional military should do, it still participated in this incredibly impressive exercise with us,” she said. “And we’ve seen them continue to maintain commitment to counterterrorism, to border security despite the fact that the real value of a salary of a[n] LAF soldier and what that salary means for the family that let that LAF soldier supports is diminishing every single day.”
From the perspective of U.S. Central Command, Pirak said, the U.S. relationship can only continue to grow and should be maintained and strengthened.
“Security cooperation activities focus on supporting the continued development of the LAF and the capable, competent, reliable security force — mostly based on the principles of supporting territorial integrity and sovereignty — that which is basic to supporting the nation state,” Pirak said. “We believe the LAF is a security partner of choice and [we] continue to invest in the strategic partnership.” (Source: US DoD)
02 June 21. Australia is looking at alternatives to $90bn French submarines. Defence has confirmed for the first time it is looking at alternatives for submarines if the troubled $90bn deal with French company Naval Group does not go ahead.
Department secretary Greg Moriarty told a Senate estimates hearing on Wednesday he had been thinking about the issue over the past 12 months although he stressed the government wanted to go ahead with the existing contract.
The government selected DCNS, now Naval Group, in 2016 to build Australia’s new attack-class submarines to replace its ageing Collins class fleet.
Since then, there have been tensions in the relationship over cost and timeline blowouts and disagreements over the commitments to meet local contract requirements.
The first of the 12 submarines is not scheduled to be built until the early 2030s.
Mr Moriarty told the committee “it became clear to me that we were having challenges with the Attack Class program over the last 15-12 months”.
“So of course, you do reasonably prudent thinking about what one of those options might be or what you might be able to do if you are unable to proceed,” he said.
Mr Moriarty said he had held several discussions with senior officers about what that might involve.
“I wouldn’t refer to it as Plan B, I’d say prudent contingency planning,” he said.
However, Mr Moriarty said the government was “absolutely committed to trying to work through with Naval Group and build a regionally superior submarine in Adelaide”.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison is expected to discuss the submarine project with French President Emmanuel Macron when they meet in Paris later this month.
Opposition defence spokesman Brendan O’Connor called on Mr Morrison to explain what changes could be made to the largest Defence contract in Australia’s history.
“There has been no certainty about the future submarine for some time, yet it is only today we are hearing confirmation that the government is looking at other options for our submarine capability,” he said.
It has been reported Australian officials are now considering German options including submarines from TKMS and Saab.
Mr Moriarty would not comment on specific options but said, “it’s fair to say we’re looking at capability pathways,” when Labor senator Penny Wong asked whether Defence was engaging with other suppliers.
“I’m not going to go into those pathways but the Chief of Navy said that yesterday we’re not looking at the TKMS,” he said.
Commodore Tim Brown, who was previously the director-general of submarine capability and is now in a role looking at overall force structure requirements, repeatedly told the senators he could not discuss whether he was involved in considering alternatives because everything he did in that previous job was classified.
Independent senator Rex Patrick eventually lost his temper at this evasion, telling Commodore Brown everything he did was paid for by taxpayers.
“We have an oversight role and we are entitled to ask questions and we expect answers,” the senator said. (Source: News Now/https://www.watoday.com.au/)
01 Jun 21. Indonesia reveals USD125bn military modernisation plan. A draft regulation from Indonesia’s presidential office has outlined the requirement for investment of USD125bn in military modernisation through to the mid-2040s. The funding proposal is indicative of Indonesia’s military ambitions and its growing concerns about regional security.
The draft regulation – entitled ‘Fulfilling the Defence and Security Equipment Needs of the Ministry of Defence and Indonesian Armed Forces (TNI) 2020-24’ – was issued recently but requires various approvals from ministries and the House of Representatives before enactment. The investment plan also highlights Indonesia’s continuing dependency on foreign loans.
The proposed regulation details the requirement for USD124.9bn for TNI modernisation funding over a period of five ‘strategic plans’ each lasting five years. The first strategic plan runs 2020–24 and coincides with the final phase of the TNI’s Minimum Essential Force (MEF) programme, while the last will be 2040–44.
The document proposes funding of USD79bn for defence equipment during this 25-year period, USD32.5bn for sustainment, and the remaining USD13.4bn for interest payments on foreign loans.
The regulation prioritises sourcing TNI modernisation requirements from local industry. However, it states, “In the event that domestic products cannot be [procured], then foreign products can be used.”
When defence equipment is imported, the regulation identifies the requirement to enforce “technology transfers and offsets” to support local industry’s involvement in the procurement. This industrial strategy also includes the provision of countertrade through which Indonesia seeks to export local commodities in part exchange for materiel. (Source: Jane’s)
01 Jun 21. Japan boosts industrial participation efforts. The Japanese Ministry of Defense (MoD) and the Japan Self-Defense Forces (JSDF) are ramping up efforts to support defence industrial co-operation on major programmes with the aim of boosting local capability. The effort reflects growing economic constraints – amplified by the Covid-19 pandemic – and a linked requirement to bolster self-reliance.
The MoD has told Janes that its industrial participation strategy will be channelled through projects to enable local firms to play a more expansive role in two channels of engagement involving imported defence equipment: manufacturing components and systems, and the provision of comprehensive maintenance, repair, and overhaul (MRO) capability.
The MoD said other industrial priorities include the ongoing programme to locally assemble the Japan Air Self Defense Force’s (JASDF’s) Lockheed Martin F-35 fighter aircraft and to strengthen the country’s network of defence-sector small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).
A spokesperson from the MoD said that these efforts are a direct response to weaknesses in the Japanese defence industrial base and requirements outlined in the country’s 2019 defence policies – the long-term National Defense Program Guidelines (NDPG) and the associated five-year Medium Term Defense Program (MTDP) – to strengthen the national defence industrial base.
“Based on the NDPG and the MTDP, the MoD and JSDF [are making] efforts to overcome challenges – such as high costs due to low-volume, high-mix production, and a lack of international competitiveness – by securing the production of high-performance equipment and enabling high operational availability,” said the spokesperson. (Source: Jane’s)
31 May 21. N. Korea slams end to U.S. guidelines limiting S. Korea missile range. North Korea’s state media on Monday criticised the recent termination of a pact between the United States and South Korea that capped the development of South Korea’s ballistic missiles, calling it a sign of Washington’s “shameful double-dealing.”
South Korean President Moon Jae-in announced the abolishment of the joint missile guidelines that had limited the country’s development of ballistic missiles to a range of 800 km (500 miles) after his first summit with U.S. President Joe Biden earlier this month.
North Korea’s official KCNA news agency carried an article by Kim Myong Chol, who it described as an “international affairs critic,” to accuse the United States of applying a double standard as it sought to ban Pyongyang from developing ballistic missiles.
The United States is “engrossed in confrontation despite its lip-service to dialogue,” Kim said. “The termination step is a stark reminder of the U.S. hostile policy toward the DPRK and its shameful double-dealing.”
The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) is North Korea’s official name. North Korea’s target is the United States, not South Korea’s military, and it will counter the States on “the principle of strength for strength,” Kim said.
Kim also criticised Moon for welcoming the termination of the guidelines, calling it “disgusting, indecent.”
“Now that the U.S. and the South Korean authorities made clear their ambition of aggression, they are left with no reasons whatsoever to fault the DPRK bolstering its capabilities for self-defence,” Kim added. (Source: Reuters)
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