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17 Jun 21. Australia sets September deadline for Future Submarine design cost review. French shipbuilder Naval Group has been set a September 2021 deadline by Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison to submit acceptable revised costings for the next phase of the Royal Australian Navy’s (RAN’s) AUD90bn (USD68.2bn) Future Submarine programme.
Speaking in Paris on 16 June after separate meetings with Naval Group and French President Emmanuel Macron, Morrison said the deadline for Naval Group is “to convince the government it can progress with the project to build Australia’s new submarine fleet”.
“I leave [France] knowing we have properly raised the challenges that we need to address,” added the prime minister.
The latest issue with the troubled programme involves contractual wrangling between Naval Group and Australia’s Department of Defence (DoD) over the anticipated cost of work officially known as ‘Core Workstate 2′.
This involves basic design activities leading on from the initial submarine design contract signed in March 2019 through to the preliminary design review scheduled for May 2023. The scheduled work will provide detailed architecture for the hull structure and internal systems of the proposed 12 4,500-tonne Attack-class submarines.
According to informed sources, ‘Core Workstate 2′ costings first submitted by Naval Group were at least 50% higher than the DoD’s estimate of AUD2.5–3bn. Lower figures submitted in February 2021 are still under discussion.
The DoD’s General Manager Submarines, Greg Sammut, told a parliamentary committee on 1 June, “We want to make sure the offer is compliant and fully acceptable …. we have some more work to do with Naval Group to make sure it’s fully compliant,” adding that he hopes the new contract will be signed before the end of September. (Source: Jane’s)
16 June 21. Biden, Putin set consultations on updating nuclear pact. Russian President Vladimir Putin says he and U.S. President Joe Biden agreed in a “constructive” summit Wednesday to return their nations’ ambassadors to their posts and begin negotiations to replace the last remaining treaty between the two countries limiting nuclear weapons.
Putin said there was “no hostility” during the talks that wrapped up more quickly than expected.
The two sides had said they expected to meet for four to five hours but spent less than three hours together, including an opening meeting with just the two presidents and each one’s top foreign aide.
When it was over, Putin had first crack at describing the results at a solo news conference, with Biden to follow with his own session with reporters.
Putin acknowledged that Biden raised human rights issues with him, including the fate of opposition leader Alexei Navalny. Putin defended Navalny’s prison sentence and deflected repeated questions about mistreatment of Russian opposition leaders by highlighting U.S. domestic turmoil, including the Black Lives Matter protests and the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection.
Putin held forth for nearly an hour before international reporters. While showing defiance at queries about Biden pressing him on human rights, he also expressed a significant measure of respect for Biden as an experienced political leader.
The Russian leader noted that Biden repeated wise advice his mother had given him and also spoke about his family — messaging that Putin said might not have been entirely relevant to their summit but demonstrated Biden’s “moral values.” Though he raised doubt that the U.S.-Russia relationship could soon return to a measure of equilibrium of years past, Putin suggested that Biden was someone he could work with.
“The meeting was actually very efficient,” Putin said. “It was substantive, it was specific. It was aimed at achieving results, and one of them was pushing back the frontiers of trust.”
Putin said he and Biden agreed to begin negotiations on nuclear talks to potentially replace the New START treaty limiting nuclear weapons after it expires in 2026.
Washington broke off talks with Moscow in 2014 in response to Russia’s annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea and its military intervention in support of separatists in eastern Ukraine. Talks resumed in 2017 but gained little traction and failed to produce an agreement on extending the New START treaty during the Trump administration.
The Russian president said there was an agreement between the leaders to return their ambassadors to their respective postings. Both countries had pulled back their top envoys to Washington and Moscow as relations chilled in recent months.
Russia’s ambassador to the U.S., Anatoly Antonov, was recalled from Washington about three months ago after Biden called Putin a killer; U.S. Ambassador to Russia John Sullivan left Moscow almost two months ago, after Russia suggested he return to Washington for consultations. Putin said that the ambassadors were expected to return their posts in the coming days.
Putin also said the two sides agreed in principle to begin consultations on cybersecurity issues, though he continued to deny U.S. allegations that Russian government was responsible for a spate of recent high-profile hacks against business and government agencies in the United States and around the globe.
The meeting in a book-lined room had a somewhat awkward beginning — both men appeared to avoid looking directly at each other during a brief and chaotic photo opportunity before a scrum of jostling reporters.
Biden nodded when a reporter asked if Putin could be trusted, but the White House quickly sent out a tweet insisting that the president was “very clearly not responding to any one question, but nodding in acknowledgment to the press generally.”
Their body language, at least in their brief moments together in front of the press, was not exceptionally warm.
The two leaders did shake hands — Biden extended his hand first and smiled at the stoic Russian leader — after Swiss President Guy Parmelin welcomed them to Switzerland for the summit. When they were in front of the cameras a few minutes later—this time inside the grand lakeside mansion where the summit was held — they seemed to avoid eye contact.
For months, Biden and Putin have traded sharp rhetoric. Biden has repeatedly called out Putin for malicious cyberattacks by Russian-based hackers on U.S. interests, for the jailing of Russia’s foremost opposition leader and for interference in American elections.
Putin has reacted with whatabout-isms and denials — pointing to the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol to argue that the U.S. has no business lecturing on democratic norms and insisting that the Russian government hasn’t been involved in any election interference or cyberattacks despite U.S. intelligence showing otherwise.
In advance of Wednesday’s meeting, both sides set out to lower expectations.
Even so, Biden said it was an important step if the United States and Russia were able to ultimately find “stability and predictability” in their relationship, a seemingly modest goal from the president for dealing with the person he sees as one of America’s fiercest adversaries.
Arrangements for the meeting were carefully choreographed and vigorously negotiated.
Biden first floated the meeting in an April phone call in which he informed Putin that he would be expelling several Russian diplomats and imposing sanctions against dozens of people and companies, part of an effort to hold the Kremlin accountable for interference in last year’s presidential election and the hacking of federal agencies.
The White House announced ahead of the summit that Biden wouldn’t hold a joint news conference with Putin, deciding it did not want to appear to elevate Putin at a moment when the U.S. president is urging European allies to pressure Putin to cut out myriad provocations.
Biden sees himself with few peers on foreign policy. He traveled the globe as a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and was given difficult foreign policy assignments by President Barack Obama when Biden was vice president. His portfolio included messy spots like Iraq and Ukraine and weighing the mettle of China’s Xi Jinping during his rise to power.
He has repeatedly said that he believes executing effective foreign policy comes from forming strong personal relations, and he has managed to find rapport with both the likes of Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan, whom Biden has labeled an “autocrat,” and more conventional Western leaders including Canada’s Justin Trudeau.
But with Putin, who he has said has “no soul,” Biden has long been wary. At the same time, he acknowledges that Putin, who has remained the most powerful figure in Russian politics over the span of five U.S. presidents, is not without talent.
“He’s bright. He’s tough,” Biden said earlier this week. “And I have found that he is a — as they say … a worthy adversary.”
Biden had prepared for his one-on-one by reviewing materials and consulting with officials across government and with outside advisers. Aides said the level of preparation wasn’t unusual. Biden, in a brief exchange with reporters upon arriving in Geneva on Tuesday night, sought to offer the impression that he wasn’t sweating his big meeting.
“I am always ready,” Biden said. (Source: Defense News)
16 June 21. China denounces NATO statement, defends military spending policy. The Chinese mission to the European Union on Tuesday denounced a NATO statement that declared Beijing a “security challenge,” saying China is actually a force for peace but will defend itself if threatened.
The Chinese news release said the NATO statement was a “slander on China’s peaceful development, a misjudgment of the international situation and (NATO’s) own role, and a continuation of the Cold War mentality and organizational political psychology.”
NATO allies joined the United States on Monday in formally scolding Beijing as a “constant security challenge.”
Washington has singled out China as a particular threat, especially in the South China Sea, where it has built and militarized artificial islands, as well as over its attempts to intimidate self-governing Taiwan, which it claims as its own territory to be annexed by military force if necessary.
The Chinese mission said Beijing’s spending on its military is considerably less than that of NATO members and it accused the organization of conjuring up a military threat from China in order to justify its own agenda.
China will “never give up the right to maintain peace but unswervingly defend our sovereignty, security and development interests,” the mission said.
NATO leaders said China is working to undermine global order, a message in sync with U.S. President Joe Biden’s calls to confront Beijing on China’s trade, military and human rights practices.
In a summit statement, the leaders said that China’s goals and “assertive behavior present systemic challenges to the rules-based international order and to areas relevant to alliance security.”
The leaders expressed concern about what they said were China’s “coercive policies,” the opaque ways it is modernizing its armed forces and its use of disinformation.
In response, the Chines mission said Beijing’s military was purely for defensive purposes and its military modernization was “reasonable, rational, open and transparent.”
China’s defense budget is the second largest after the U.S., but the mission said the figure of approximately $209bn was still more than a fifth less than what NATO countries spent combined. Observers say China spends more than it says on its military by not declaring costs for new weapons and other programs.
NATO countries also maintain bases around the world and “send their aircraft carriers all over the place to display their military might,” the Chinese mission said.
It also referenced the bombing of the Chinese Embassy in Serbia in 1999, which killed three state media journalists. NATO has said that was the result of faulty targeting but most Chinese believe it was a deliberate attack.
The mission also said China’s nuclear arsenal is 20 times smaller than that possessed by NATO, and that it would never be the first to use such weapons or use them against non-nuclear nations.
“We will not pose a ‘systemic challenge’ to anyone, but if anyone wants to pose a ‘systemic challenge’ to us, we will not sit idly by,” the mission said.
NATO should “expend more energy on advancing dialogue and cooperation, and do more things that are truly conducive to maintaining international and regional security and stability,” it said. (Source: Defense News)
16 June 21. China sends largest group of military aircraft in single day near Taiwan. China has sent its largest-ever number of military aircraft in a single day into the international airspace surrounding Taiwan, with the island nation scrambling its fighter jets and deploying air defense missile systems in response. The Taiwanese Ministry of National Defense said 28 People’s Liberation Army aircraft entered Taiwan’s air defense identification zone from the southwest on Tuesday. The aircraft included fighter jets and nuclear-capable bombers, and they flew in six distinct groups, according to a ministry news release and an accompanying graphic.
The fighter jets were comprised of 14 Shenyang J-16 multirole strike aircraft and six J-11 interceptors, along with four Xi’an H-6 bombers. The remainder were electronic warfare, anti-submarine and airborne early warning aircraft. About three of these groups flew to the Western Pacific via the Bashi Channel, south of Taiwan, before turning back.
Taiwan has accused China of attempting to wear down its Air Force with regular flybys, with former Defense Minister Yen Teh-fa telling parliament in October 2020 that Taiwan flew 2,972 sorties against Chinese aircraft between January and October that year.
In Beijing, the spokesman of China’s Taiwan Affairs Office, Ma Xiaoguang, said the latest flybys were a response to “acts of collusion” between Taiwan and “foreign forces” in a bid to secure Taiwanese independence. China sees self-ruled Taiwan as a rogue province and has vowed to reincorporate the island with the mainland.
The flybys happened on the same day the U.S. Navy said a carrier group, led by the aircraft carrier Ronald Reagan, entered the South China Sea via the Bashi Channel. Citing a spokesman from the carrier group, Reuters reported the Navy did not have any interactions with the Chinese aircraft.
China has previously flown a large bomber force near Taiwan while a U.S. Navy carrier group was transiting the nearby waters. The Wall Street Journal reported in February that one such force of H-6s carried out a “mock attack” on the Theodore Roosevelt Carrier Strike Group as the lead ship and its escorts transited the Bashi Channel.
Prior to Tuesday’s flyby, an analyst with the Japanese Defense Ministry’s National Institute for Defense Studies pointed to a pattern of Chinese air activity near Taiwan.
In his commentary, published June 8, Masayoshi Monma, noted that H-6s, which can carry anti-ship supersonic and cruise missiles, were active around Taiwan when the Theodore Roosevelt Carrier Strike Group sailed through the Bashi Channel in late January 2021. He added that fighters and airborne early warning aircraft were also present, based on data released by Taiwan’s Defense Ministry. He speculated that the former were carrying out bomber escort drills under the command and control of the latter.
At the time, Monma wrote that Chinese air activity around Taiwan was growing in sophistication and complexity, and suggested the possibility of midair refueling tankers joining such training operations in the future. Those additional aircraft would enable China’s fighters and bombers to increase their time on station and bolster their range into the Western Pacific. (Source: Defense News)
15 June 21. ‘We need more’ before Ukraine can join NATO, says Stoltenberg. A day after Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy tweeted NATO leaders had “confirmed” it would become a member, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg made clear no such action was imminent.
Stoltenberg’s remarks came a day after President Joe Biden refused to give a “yes” or “no” to Ukraine joining NATO while at the alliance’s annual summit in Brussels on Monday. Biden did say during a press conference that the U.S. and other NATO allies affirmed support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.
“Ukraine is an aspirant country,” Stoltenberg told the Washington-based Defense Writers Group on Tuesday. “We provide support to them, especially to continue to modernize and refine their defense and security institutions, civilian-political control over their security services, and not least fighting corruption.”
He added: “We have different building-integrity programs, which are very much about how to fight corruption as part of the reforms … which Ukraine has already embarked on, but we need more. We need to do more with them to make sure they are fully implemented.”
“To agree on the membership action plan, you need consensus among 30 allies. This was not the focus of this summit,” Stoltenberg said.
On Monday, the summit ended with the release of a joint communique that reaffirmed NATO’s 2008 decision for Ukraine to become a member through a membership action plan, or MAP ― though there’s no timetable mentioned. Meanwhile, Kyiv is working to adopt NATO-mandated reforms both to strengthen it against Russian interference and move it towards membership.
Ahead of a summit between Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin meet in Geneva on Wednesday, Kyiv has appeared eager to interpret its interactions with Biden and NATO in its favor.
In its initial readout of a call between Zelenskyy and Biden, Zelenskyy’s office claimed Biden emphasized the importance of offering Ukraine a specific roadmap for joining NATO. But it then changed that version to clarify it was Zelenskyy who pushed for providing Ukraine with a membership action plan; it said Biden promised that Kyiv’s position will be taken into account when discussing strategic issues within NATO.
“Commend @NATO partners’ understanding of all the risks and challenges we face,” Zelenskyy said in a tweet. “NATO leaders confirmed that [Ukraine] will become a member of the Alliance & the #MAP is an integral part of the membership process. [Ukraine] deserves due appreciation of its role in ensuring Euro-Atlantic security.”
When Biden was asked Monday whether NATO had allowed Ukraine to join, he said it would depend on Ukraine’s anti-corruption activities and its implementation of NATO’s criteria to get to the membership action plan.
“And so it’s, you know, school’s out on that question. It remains to be seen,” Biden said, adding: “It will not just depend on me whether or not we conclude that Ukraine can become part of NATO. It will depend on the alliance and how they vote.”
Meanwhile, Biden said, the U.S. would “do all that we can to put Ukraine in the position to be able to continue to resist Russian physical aggression.”
Ukraine has been locked in a tense tug-of-war with Russia ever since the annexation of the Crimean Peninsula following the ouster of Ukraine’s Moscow-friendly president in 2014 and a Russia-backed separatist insurgency in the country’s east — a conflict that has killed more than 14,000.
In an interview on Russian state television, Putin issued a strong, new warning that the prospect of Ukraine joining NATO was unacceptable for Russia. He noted it would allow the alliance’s missiles to reach Moscow and other key targets in western Russia in only seven minutes, a destabilizing situation that he said was comparable to Russia putting its missiles in Mexico or Canada.
Last week, the Pentagon announced a previously teased $150m security aid package to Ukraine, which included counter-artillery radars, counter-unmanned aerial systems, secure communications gear, electronic warfare and military medical evacuation equipment.
The $125m package announced in March included armed Mark VI patrol boats, counter-artillery radars, tactical equipment, support for a satellite imagery and analysis capability, and equipment to support military medical treatment and combat evacuation procedures.
Pentagon officials also highlighted steps Kyiv has made on reforms ― including its passage of a defense procurement corruption law ― as well as five more things it must do to conform to Western standards.
“The United States is committed to assisting Ukraine with the implementation of these reforms, and we maintain a robust advisory effort to help modernize Ukraine’s military in line with NATO principles and standards,” said the deputy assistant secretary of defense for Russia, Ukraine and Eurasia, Laura Cooper. (Source: Defense News)
15 Jun 21. Seoul prepares new system to shift the emphasis of industrial collaboration. South Korea is moving closer to the implementation of a new quota system for industrial collaboration that will prioritise joint production and exports. Janes understands that it is possible that the system will replace South Korea’s defence offset guidelines, which have traditionally prioritised technology transfers.
South Korea is forecast by Janes to invest about USD78bn in defence procurement and research and development (R&D) between 2021 and 2025. (Janes Defence Budgets)
The new ‘industrial co-operation quota system’ was first proposed in 2018 but its implementation has been delayed due to the requirement for a legal framework through which the scheme will be executed.
This legal framework is now close to being finalised through a proposed amendment to South Korea’s Defense Acquisition Program Act.
Janes understands that this amendment is currently being assessed by the Defense Commission Board of the country’s National Assembly before approval and formal introduction.
Once approved, relevant regulations and guidelines to support the new industrial co-operation quota system will be devised and implemented by South Korea’s Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA). However, a timeline for its introduction has not yet been confirmed.
DAPA told Janes that the industrial co-operation quota system policy is intended to “change the priority” of the country’s defence-industrial collaboration policy from “the acquisition of defence technologies” to the “promotion of the defence industry and defence exports”.
This is a direct reference to South Korea’s drive to position the country’s defence-industrial base as an “engine of growth” for the national economy. The aim is to increase the defence-industrial base’s share in both domestic and international defence markets.
14 Jun 21. Pakistan increases defence budget by 6% to USD8.8bn. The Pakistan government has announced a defence budget of PKR1.37trn (USD8.78 bn) for fiscal year (FY) 2021–22. The allocation is a 6.2% increase over the original 2020–21 defence expenditure of PKR1.29trn. The new defence budget will represent about 16% of the government’s total expenditure for 2021–22 and has been announced against the backdrop of Pakistan’s improving economy. In 2020–21 the country’s GDP is forecast to climb by nearly 4%, despite the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. The bulk of Pakistan’s defence budget is allocated to Defence Services, with a small amount for Defence Administration. The largest expenditure in the former appropriation is employee-related expenses, which in 2021–22 receives PKR481.6bn, a 1% year-on-year increase. Defence Services also includes physical assets and operating expenses, which in 2021–22 receive PKR391.5 bn and PKR327.1bn, increases of 9% and 8% respectively. Expenses for civil works is PKR169.7bn, while Defence Administration receives PKR3.27bn. In terms of the armed services, the Pakistan Army will receive PKR651.5 bn in 2021–22 (or nearly 48% of the total), while the Pakistan Air Force and Pakistan Navy have been allocated PKR291.1 bn and PKR148.7 bn (or 21% and 11%) respectively. The majority of the remainder is allocated for defence-wide requirements. In a separate appropriation, Pakistan’s Defence Production Division, which supports the national defence industry, will receive PKR1.74bn in 2021–22, an increase of nearly 11%. (Source: Jane’s)
14 Jun 21. Japan boosts industrial participation efforts. The Japanese Ministry of Defense (MoD) is ramping up efforts to support defence industrial co-operation on major programmes with the aim to boost 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 associated five-year Medium Term Defense Program (MTDP) – to strengthen the national defence industrial base. Janes Company Intelligence (JCI) shows that the vast majority of Japanese defence firms’ work is for the Japan Self Defense Forces (JSDF). MHI’s biggest customers include the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) and JASDF, with more than half of the corporation’s work in the coming decade (52%) involved in military aircraft, with 28% and 16% of its work involved in military ships and missiles respectively. Its major programmes as of 2021 include the production of Sikorsky SH-60K helicopters, the assembly of F-35s, Japan’s future frigate programme, and the sustainment of F-2 fighters. According to JCI data, the majority of Kawasaki Heavy Industries’ (KHI’s) work in the coming decade (77%) is projected to be focused on military aircraft including the C-2 transport aircraft, P-1 maritime patrol aircraft, and Boeing CH-47F heavy transport helicopters. KHI’s work on military ships will constitute about 19% of its work, with much of this focused on Japan’s next-generation submarines, which will replace the JMSDF’s Harushio and Oyashio-class boats. Japan’s biggest foreign suppliers include Lockheed Martin and Boeing. Janes Company Intelligence shows that some of Lockheed Martin’s major programmes over the coming decade in Japan include the F-35 and related contracts as well as sales of various anti-ship missiles; search, track and targeting systems; air search systems; and missile launchers. Boeing’s biggest programmes in Japan include the KC-46A Pegasus, support and upgrades for Japan’s fleet of E-767 Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS) aircraft; and support for the KC-767J tanker. Data about the work being undertaken by global defence companies is tracked by Janes Company Intelligence (JCI). Janes Company Intelligence combines insights into the world’s defence companies with interconnected and assured intelligence from Janes across forecasts, equipment, programmes and more, to enable the intuitive understanding of the current and predicted competitive landscape. (Source: Jane’s)
15 June 21. USS Reagan enters South China Sea for routine mission. The Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike Group entered the contested waters to conduct maritime security operations. The US Navy has announced that an aircraft carrier group led by the USS Ronald Reagan has entered South China Sea as part of a routine mission.
This is the first time that the Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike Group started operating in the disputed waterway during its 2021 deployment.
The strike group is conducting maritime security operations in the South China Sea.
The scope of activities includes flight operations with fixed and rotary wing aircraft, maritime strike exercises, and coordinated tactical training between surface and air units.
In a statement, the US Navy said that carrier operations in the sea are part of its routine presence in the Indo-Pacific region.
Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike Group commander rear admiral Will Pennington said: “The South China Sea is pivotal to the free flow of commerce that fuels the economies of those nations committed to international law and rules based order.
“It is both a privilege and a pleasure to work alongside our allies, partners, and joint service teammates to provide full spectrum support to key maritime commons and ensure all nations continue to benefit from a free and open Indo-Pacific region.”
Apart from the aircraft carrier, the current strike group includes Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Shiloh (CG 67), and the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Halsey (DDG 97).
According to a Reuters report, the entry of US warships in the South China Sea has increased in the recent years to challenge China’s territorial claims in the contested waters.
In April, Theodore Roosevelt Carrier Strike Group (TRCSG) entered the South China Sea for the second time this year.
USS Russell (DDG 59), an Arleigh Burke-class destroyer in the US Navy, conducted a freedom of navigation operation (FONOP) in the waterway in February.
The South China Sea holds significant economic importance. Around one-third of global maritime trade, roughly $3.5trn, passes through the sea annually. (Source: naval-technology.com)
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