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22 Oct 21. Is a CCP-Taiwan conflict imminent? Is Beijing’s intimidation of Taipei a prelude to war or merely a signal to the West? Former US presidential candidate Patrick Buchanan weighs in. Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defence recently reported a spike in PLA activity over the country’s south-west air defence identification zone, with 14 incidents recorded since the start of October. This has included the detection of Shenyang J-16 and Sukhoi SU-30 fighter jets, Shaanxi Y-8 ASW maritime patrol aircraft, Shaanxi KJ-500 airborne early warning and control (AEW&C) aircraft, and Xian H-6 bombers. In response, the Taiwanese military has deployed combat air patrol platforms, issued radio warnings, and prepared air defence missile systems. The surge in military activity has sparked fears of an imminent conflict, with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken condemning the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) “provocative military activity”.
“As we’ve said, the activity is destabilising, it risks miscalculation, and it has the potential to undermine regional peace and stability,” Secretary Blinken said.
“So, we strongly urge Beijing to cease its military, diplomatic, and economic pressure and coercion directed at Taiwan.”
Blinken reaffirmed the United States’ “rock solid” commitment to Taiwan, which he said has contributed to the “maintenance of peace and stability”.
“[We] will continue to stand with friends, with allies to advance shared prosperity, shared security, shared values, as well as continue to deepen our ties with a democratic Taiwan,” he added.
The Secretary of State went on to urge Beijing to refrain from taking unilateral actions that “change the status quo by force”.
But what are Beijing’s next steps? Will it realise its takeover ambitions?
According to former US presidential candidate Patrick Buchanan — who also served as White House communications director in the Reagan administration — the CCP’s intimidation tactics are a firm signal to the United States and its regional allies.
“This is an unmistakable message to America that, about Taiwan, Beijing is serious,” he writes.
“China is warning the US and its allied and associated powers — Australia, Japan, India — that it will, in the last analysis, fight to prevent an independent Taiwan.”
Buchanan contends that a US military response would be all but assured, given the hit to its credibility following the Biden administration’s clumsy Afghanistan withdrawal.
“If after the fall of Afghanistan and the humiliation of the US defeat and departure, the US abandoned Taiwan, US credibility would be shot in Asia,” he writes.
“Asia and the world would conclude that China owned the future.”
Similarly, Beijing would be quick to exert force, given its “well-established record”.
“China started and finished the recent war in the Himalayas with India. It warned Hong Kong to stifle the democracy protests that went violent in 2019. When Hong Kong failed to do so, Beijing acted and is now completing the full absorption of the city into the mainland,” Buchanan writes.
He warns that the CCP has demonstrated its willingness to follow through with its threats.
“Of all the islets and reefs in the South China Sea it has taken from Vietnam, the Philippines and other neighbours, China has surrendered not a one,” he notes.
“Though charged with genocide against the Uyghurs, it has persisted in its persecution, as it has in its suppression of Tibetans and Christians.
“Chinese President Xi Jinping and his party are unapologetic about their Communist values and Marxist beliefs.”
But Buchanan argues Beijing’s attempts to undermine Taiwanese sovereignty are not necessarily a prelude to an imminent invasion or attack.
An all-out conflict, he adds, would be too costly for all parties involved.
“For such an attack would risk a US response in east Asia and a political and diplomatic confrontation if not a military one,” Buchanan continues.
“The impact on the world economy of a collision between the world’s largest militaries and the world’s largest economies would be devastating.
“The stakes involved here are huge, but who would benefit from such a war?”
Buchanan references a swathe of domestic issues threatening China.
“China has its problems, none of which would be solved and all of which would be exacerbated by any major clash with the United States,” he writes.
“China is facing energy shortages and blackouts from a lack of fuel for its coal-fired power plants, its primary source of energy.
“After decades of a ‘one couple, one child’ policy, China is facing a demographic crisis. In parts of the country, deaths now exceed births. China’s women have a fertility rate below replacement levels. China is ageing and shrinking, and declining populations correspond with declining powers.”
The US, he adds, would be equally devastated by a conflict with China, given it would likely bear the military burden for its allies.
“China will never relinquish its claim to Taiwan, whose independence is recognised today by only a handful of nations,” Buchanan explains.
“China is a nation many fear and respect, but whose regime few see as a friend. For Beijing has historic claims in every direction — on lands held by Russia and India, and to islands and reefs claimed by Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei, the Philippines and Japan.
“It has a claim on Taiwan and on all the islands Taiwan claims in the East and South China Seas.”
He concludes: “Yet, though facing the world’s most menacing power 100 miles away, Taiwan, as of 2019, was still spending less than 2 per cent of GDP on defence.
“Refusing to invest in your own defence, and relying on America to come and fight your wars, seems to be a tradition with America’s allies.” (Source: Defence Connect)
21 Oct 21. South Korea highlights indigenous advances at ADEX 2021. The KAI T-50 and its derived FA-50 fighter illustrate the level of development of the ROK defence industry in establishing a domestic design and manufacturing capability. The aircraft is not only in use by Korea but has been adopted by four other countries. (KAI) Despite a visibly reduced international visitor footprint due to prevalent travel restrictions, South Korea has forged ahead with staging the 2021 edition of the biennial Seoul International Aerospace & Defense Exhibition – also known as ADEX – at Seoul Air Base from 19 to 23 October. As befitting the country’s premier aerospace and defence showcase, a wide variety of indigenous developments are expected to take centre-stage across the exhibition halls. According to the organiser, 440 companies from 28 countries are exhibiting – representing the largest number of participating firms since the exhibition was launched in 1996. Among the highlights of the event are locally developed unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) such as LIG Nex1’s KD-200 heavy lift concept, which will adopt a hydrogen fuel cell propulsion system and will be designed to transport operationally relevant loads of up to 200 kg. The company also unveiled a new powered cruise-missile development, Chun Ryong (Sky Dragon), that is being undertaken with the government-owned Agency for Defense Development.
Although the much-anticipated KF-21 Boramae future multirole fighter is only being shown as a scale model, manufacturer Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) is highlighting a range of new unmanned aircraft concepts such as an unmanned Light Armed Helicopter (LAH), FA-50 light attack aircraft-based loyal wingman aircraft, as well as potential manned-unmanned teaming (MUM-T) capabilities for its Surion Marine Attack Helicopter (MAH).
The company is also pushing a new electrically powered basic training aircraft design, called Black Kite, for a potential Republic of Korea Air Force (RoKAF) requirement.
It was announced on 20 October that KAI and Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) had signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on a joint study of a new loitering munition capability that aims to maximize the South Korean military’s ability to suppress and destroy an adversary’s air defences.
Meanwhile, Hyundai Rotem unveiled a version of its K2 main battle tank (MBT) aimed at Norway’s Leopard 2A4 MBT replacement programme. Called the K2NO, the new variant features Rafael Advanced Defense Systems Trophy active protection system and Kongsberg RS4 remote weapon station. The K2NO will compete against the Leopard 2A7.
With local defence industry striving to deliver world-class products, the government’s Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) is seeking to position the country as a top exporter by mid-2020. (Source: AMR)
21 Oct 21. S. Korea’s launch of space rocket boosts its homegrown contractors. South Korea’s push for a domestically made space rocket promises wide-ranging benefits for its military and government, with a fillip to national prestige – but it is also good for business.
Despite Thursday’s mission being incomplete, the project will press ahead towards its goal of launching satellites into orbit and joining in space exploration with five more launches scheduled by 2027, President Moon Jae-in said.
Moon, who watched the launched from the space centre, said the rocket completed all its flight sequences but failed to put its test payload into orbit. read more
The test of the Nuri rocket is a milestone for firms such as Hanwha Aerospace (012450.KS), which makes rocket boosters and other launch components, and Korea Aerospace Industries (047810.KS), which oversaw assembly of the launch vehicle.
“Hanwha built the engine, but KAI was responsible for assembling about 300,000 components of the rocket,” said Choi Gwang-shik, an analyst with Korea Investment & Securities.
“And these components came from myriads of companies, including the shipbuilder Hyundai Heavy Industries. The launch would broadly benefit all firms involved.”
About 300 South Korean firms were involved in producing the 200-ton, three-stage Nuri, Yong Hong-taek, first vice minister of science and technology, told a briefing at the space centre.
The Korea Aerospace Research Institute (KARI) plans several more tests of Nuri before it carries a real payload, but looks to partner more closely with a single firm on assembly and launch processes, similar to the way in which NASA works with SpaceX in the United States, officials said.
“As we will attempt another five launches in the future we are planning to transfer all technology to the private sector eventually,” Yong said.
Although the space programme lags many other nations, including neighbours China and Japan, South Korea is eager to catch up, and its companies look set to ride a wave of new government funding.
Since March 2010, South Korea has invested about 2trn won ($1.70bn) in the Nuri development project, while annual investment in space projects has more than doubled, to 616bn won ($524m) in 2020 from 305 bn in 2013, the National Assembly Research Service said.
President Moon pointed to the rocket as an example of the efforts of the homegrown defence and aerospace industry, which he wants to supercharge.
The government will foster the private space sector to make South Korea “a space powerhouse,” he told the Seoul International Aerospace & Defense Exhibition this week.
The space efforts also stand to benefit makers of surveillance, navigation, and communications satellites, as well as other industries.
The government plans to spend 3.7 trillion won ($3.1 bn) to develop a Korea Positioning System with eight satellites to ensure the accuracy needed to develop technology such as self-driving cars, ministry spokesman Koo Hyuk-chae said.
“We believe that will trickle down to the whole industry,” he told Reuters.
South Korea plans a 4% increase in its space budget of 640bn won ($544m) for next year.
In August the defence acquisition agency said it would invest about 1.6trn won ($1.4bn) over the next 10 years in the domestic defence satellite sector.
Shares of Hanwha Aerospace, which makes everything from rocket engines and howitzers to surveillance technology, have soared 73% this year.
The firm will focus on providing quality engines for future Nuri launch vehicle tests, a spokesperson said, adding that it had a rough investment target of about a trillion won ($849m) or more in the space business by 2030. ($1=1,175.8800 won) (Source: Reuters)
21 Oct 21. India tightens up offset enforcement. The Indian government is tightening up its enforcement of defence offsets, seeking to ensure that foreign contractors discharge obligations in line with commitments. An offset official in the Ministry of Defence (MoD) in New Delhi has confirmed to Janes that the ministry is taking a harder line with non-compliance. Warnings and possible penalties will be delivered to contractors who fail to perform in line with offset contracts, he said.
“The priority is to ensure that foreign contractors are discharging offsets … In the case of non-performance they will be penalised. If they are violating the terms they should be penalised otherwise it will be a free-for-all,” said the official, who did not want to be identified.
His comments follow recent reports in India that the MoD’s Defence Offset Management Wing (DOMW) has threated to ban one US contractor and has put another 11 firms on a ‘watchlist’ for possible offset penalties. (Source: Janes)
21 Oct 21. British Troops Engage with Terrorist Fighters in Mali. British Forces deployed in Mali have killed two armed terrorist fighters after being engaged by small arms fire while on patrol. On 20 October, the UK Task Group in Mali were engaged by armed terrorist fighters while on patrol. They returned fire and killed two members of a Terrorist Armed Group. There were no UK or UN force causalities. This is the first time UK troops have come under fire in Mali.
Minister for the Armed Forces James Heappey said, “This is an important reminder that as we broaden the focus of Defence to State based threats in new domains like cyber and space, we still rely on our Armed Forces to apply lethal forces in close contact with our enemies. No matter how much technology we invest in, it all comes to naught without the bravery and determination of our Armed Forces.”
Following a search of the area, the British troops found a cache of weapons including an AK47, a machine gun, 100 rounds of ammunition and a radio.
This operation shows how the UK Armed Forces are stepping up and making a meaningful contribution to the UN’s peacekeeping effort, particularly toward protecting civilians by disrupting dangerous terrorist groups.
A UN Spokesperson said, “UN peacekeepers from the British contingent of MINUSMA (LRRG) travelling from Gao to Ménaka on a security patrol repelled an attack by two armed individuals. The UN peacekeepers vigorously retaliated, neutralizing the two individuals.”
Violent extremists in Mali, believed to include Islamic State of the Greater Sahel (ISGS), are causing severe instability and hindering development in Mali and across the Sahel. The Sahel is one of Africa’s poorest and most fragile regions, with high levels of violence and poverty.
The UN mission, with significant support from the UK Armed Forces, is working hard to deter and disrupt these threats.
UK troops are deployed on Operation MAKARA 3 – an operation to stabilise population areas around Menaka and deter or disrupt terrorist groups while protecting and reassuring the local population. (Source: https://www.gov.uk/)
21 Oct 21. “Modern Brigade” preparations underway ahead of Ex Ukuthula. To make it a more responsive service, the landward component of the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) is setting up a “modern brigade”. This, SA Soldier reports, will be a rapid reaction force as well as a preparation and training tool., The decision to establish the brigade strength force comes in the wake of SA Army leadership planning sessions as year ago. Under discussion were, among others, “defining and refining command and leadership as critical success factors to restore the dignity of the army,” the official SANDF publication writes.
Major General Sean Stratford, Director: Force Preparation, told a “modern brigade” stable parade at the Combat Training Centre (CTC) the concept emanated from a leadership retreat a year ago with the aim of maintaining a conventional capability and satisfying course support requirements.
The SA Army currently has two standing brigades – 43 SA Brigade at Wallmannsthal and 46 in Johannesburg’s Kensington. Neither have standing personnel and equipment with resources assigned according to mission requirements.
Among challenges posed by this arrangement is an inability to meet the joint forces employment requirement – the basic tasking from Chief: Joint Operations. This, the publication has it, requires the Army to maintain a brigade strength rapid reaction force. As matters presently stand the Army does not have sufficient ability to react speedily when called on to deploy a conventional force. The answer is the “modern brigade” that will see a combat ready operational capability in place.
This will be done by centralising prime mission equipment and vehicles at CTC in Northern Cape. Under the command of 43 SA Brigade headquarters, the “modern brigade” will have its own headquarters, combat and support units.
Planning for the new addition is advanced with soldier training on target with an opportunity to put learning into practice next month (November). That’s when the junior staff command course Exercise Ukuthula takes place at the Lohathla training area. According to SA Soldier, the landward force’s force preparation director reported challenges, the major one being serviceability of prime mission equipment because of limited funds due to budget constraints. (Source: https://www.defenceweb.co.za/)
20 Oct 21. China shows off drones recycled from Soviet-era fighter jets. China has for the first time showed off retired 1950s era fighter jets that have been converted to unmanned drones, with satellite photos of two of its east coast bases near Taiwan showing a large number of the jets on site.
The People’s Liberation Army’s Eastern Theater Command published the photos of two Shenyang J-6s on its Weibo social media account during a post about the ceremony marking the start of the training cycle for the second half of 2021 for a training brigade.
The photos were taken at an unknown airfield, with the ceremony also including a banner for the occasion that was digitally altered to remove the identity of the training brigade. The five-digit serial numbers on the J-6s that would identify the unit they belong to have also been digitally blurred.
This practice of blurring the serial numbers, which could be used to identify the unit the aircraft is assigned to, is common to officially released images of People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) aircraft, suggesting that the J-6s are still in active service.
Both aircraft were otherwise left unpainted, although both carried three hardpoints for external stores on each wing.
The J-6 is a Chinese copy of the Soviet Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-19 interceptor, whose manned version was officially retired from PLAAF service in 2010. By that time, the type was regarded as obsolete by all measures, with the basic J-6 not even equipped with a radar.
Since then, numerous J-6s have been seen on satellite imagery of two airbases in China’s coastal provinces opposite Taiwan. The airframes on these bases, Liancheng in Fujian province and Yangtang-li, which is also known as Xingning, in neighbouring Guangdong province, are parked in neat rows at the airbases.
Reports emerged from 2013 that China had converted the type into unmanned aircraft, for use either as a decoy to overwhelm adversary air defences by their sheer numbers or as a rudimentary unmanned combat aircraft.
A satellite photo of Liancheng, taken on Sept. 15 and provided to Defense News by Planet Labs, showed 50 J-6s on the group, with nine of these pictured next to the base’s 7,830-foot runway.
Updated imagery for Xingning is not available, however satellite imagery taken in April 2020 showed 29 J-6s at the base, with older satellite imagery of the base published on Google Earth showing aircraft taxiing on the ground in March 2013, October 2014, and as recently as December 2018.
They have also been seen at different parts of the bases in satellite photos taken over the years, further suggesting that these aircraft are active and have not been mothballed.
Liancheng and Xingning are some 275 miles away from Taiwan, putting the self-governing island that China sees as a rogue province well within range of the J-6. China has yet to officially acknowledge the existence of the conversion of the J-6 into unmanned aircraft. (Source: Defense News)
20 Oct 21. Chinese hypersonic missile test unlikely to trigger arms race, experts say. The August test of a Chinese space-based hypersonic missile is unlikely to trigger an arms race, but could influence the White House and Defense Department’s effort to shape new missile defense and nuclear posture strategies, experts say. Top military officials gave clues in the late summer and early fall that they knew this event, which was first reported by the Financial Times, was happening.
Gen. Glen VanHerck, the U.S. Northern Command chief, in a speech at the Space and Missile Defense Symposium in Huntsville, Alabama, in August, briefly mentioned China had “just demonstrated” a “very fast” hypersonic vehicle. At the time, he said he couldn’t provide more detail, but noted the demonstration would challenge current threat warning systems.
And new Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall told reporters last month at the U.S. Air Force Association’s annual conference that China has the ability to conduct global strikes from space.
Based on news reports, the Chinese appear to have combined a Fractional Orbital Bombardment System, or FOBS, with a hypersonic weapon.
“The combination of those two technologies creates two problems for our detection and tracking capabilities,” Patty-Jane Geller, a policy analyst for nuclear deterrence and missile defense at the Heritage Foundation, told Defense News.
The first is that the U.S. can detect most large rocket and missile launches, but might not be able to track a glide vehicle throughout its entire orbit or even see the Chinese orbital system is armed with something like a nuclear hypersonic weapon, she said.
The second problem is that once the weapon is “deorbited” or deployed from the system, then the U.S. has to deal with tracking a hypersonic weapon, “which is a problem that we’ve already been facing because hypersonic weapons fly at low altitudes at obviously very fast speeds and can maneuver to its target, making tracking very difficult,” Geller added.
Though she noted it was only a test, Geller said the implications could be significant. Even though China isn’t necessarily explicitly developing a doctrine on preemptive strike, the test suggests it’s thinking about the possibility given that it’s experimenting with a capability that can evade early warning radars.
Still, “this doesn’t fundamentally upend strategic stability or deterrence,” Ankit Panda, a senior fellow in the nuclear policy program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, told Defense News. “Americans don’t like it, but the way that the deterrence is most stable is if each side is vulnerable to the other.”
It’s natural to want to avoid vulnerability to attack, Panda said, and so the U.S., Russia and China all invest in offensive and defensive missile capability.
“Our existing missile defenses are, I think, poor enough that China should really have no concern about their ability to penetrate using ballistic missiles,” he said. “They don’t need this capability.”
But, if the U.S. successfully delivers a more robust homeland missile defense and early warning detection capability through programs like the Next-Generation Interceptor and other layered homeland defense technologies, “deterrence is a lot shakier if you are sitting in Moscow or Beijing,” Panda said.
“So I think they’re interested in these kinds of exotic systems,” he added.
China’s technological ability to insert a hypersonic glider into low-earth orbit shouldn’t come as a surprise, Panda said, but the strategic rationale for a hypersonic glider is less clear.
“I think it would be a mistake to treat this test as the introduction of a new basing mode for China’s nuclear weapons; we don’t know if this is actually going to go anywhere,” Panda said.
He noted the test wasn’t a perfect success; the missile reportedly missed its target by several dozen miles.
The test could also have been experimenting with subsystems that could be used across a different set of missiles, according to Panda.
While both China and the U.S. are developing enhanced deterrence, “the test does not mark the start of a new arms race,” Panda said. He denied the test represents a new “Sputnik moment,” referencing the Soviet satellite credited with spurring a space race.
Still, Roman Schweizer, an analyst at the Cowen Group, said the assessment has one thing in common with Sputnik, noting “great power competitions typically feature cycles of tech surprise and counters.”
The test could drive budgets, focus and prioritize resources and influence strategy changes, he said.
The U.S. has already invested bns in homeland ballistic missile defense, but China and Russia’s new systems “pose completely different challenges and would be extremely hard to defend in even limited salvos,” Schweizer said. “Space-based sensors and defenses will be critical.”
Heritage’s Geller agreed that a space-based tracking layer, already sought by the Pentagon, is key to seeing more threats in space. Programs like the Hypersonic and Ballistic Tracking Space Sensor, she said, will be important to defend against threats from China.
Panda predicted the latest test will continue to drive existing defense programs, including hypersonic tracking from space and even hypersonic offensive and defensive capabilities focused on a regional level as opposed to strategic.
Congress wants answers on how DoD is solving a hypersonic weapons detection gap
Could there be commercial solutions available to fill a hypersonic detection capability gap? Congress wants to know.
By Jen Judson
The Pentagon is engaged in a variety of hypersonic weapons and hypersonic defense development, but it hasn’t flight tested its hypersonic glide body since March 2020. The Defense Department was supposed to have conducted another test in the third quarter of fiscal year 2021, but delayed that test and it is now not expected before the end of the year.
It is possible the recent test could trigger more discussion on orbital defense, Panda said. The U.S. doesn’t claim to have any programs explicitly considered anti-satellite systems, although the SM-3 Block I missile was demonstrated against a satellite in 2008 as part of Operation Burnt Frost, he added.
Advancing with nuclear capability modernization in the U.S. is also critical to deter China, Bradley Bowman, senior director of the Center on Military and Political Power at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, told Defense News.
“The best response is to press forward with the modernization of America’s nuclear triad, including the Ground Based Strategic Deterrent, deploying it as soon as possible,” he said.
With satellite imagery indicating China is building up possible nuclear silos and the recent space-based hypersonic test, Geller said she hopes the U.S. will take China’s nuclear threat seriously.
The Nuclear Posture Review, which will be released as part of the new administration’s National Defense Strategy along with a Missile Defense Review, should hopefully account for “the China nuclear threat and the fact that we’re going to have to contend with two nuclear competitors,” she said.
“This will affirm and hopefully prove that we do need to modernize our nuclear forces, rather than delay or cancel any of those programs,” she said.
Panda said the soon-to-be-released strategies “are all going to have to contend with what are pretty significant changes to how China thinks about its nuclear forces.” (Source: Defense News)
20 Oct 21. Arriving in fighter jet, S. Korea’s Moon urges defence industry growth. South Korea should redouble its efforts to become a global defence industry leader, President Moon Jae-in told a military expo in the outskirts of Seoul on Wednesday, after landing at the site in an air force fighter jet.
Clad in a flight suit, Moon arrived at the biennial Seoul International Aerospace & Defense Exhibition (ADEX) in the back seat of an FA-50 jet fighter, South Korea’s first indigenous supersonic aircraft and a major defence export.
The military display came a day after North Korea test fired a ballistic missile from a submarine. Last week North Korea opened a defence exhibition of its own, where leader Kim Jong Un said his country’s military developments were for self-defence and accused South Korea of destabilising the peninsula with an arms build up.
In his speech on Wednesday, Moon defended the South’s increasingly sophisticated military as necessary for peace.
“The goal of building strong defence power is always to foster peace,” he said.
Amid glittering displays of drones, sniper rifles, helicopters, missiles, and other weapons, crowds of company representatives, diplomats, and South Korean troops mixed with military delegations in an array of foreign uniforms.
At least 440 companies from 28 countries are participating in what organisers said was the largest ADEX ever. About 300 government, military and defence acquisition officials from 45 countries were expected to attend the event, which lasts through Saturday.
Moon said it was time for South Korea’s arms industry to become a global leader.
Pointing the FA-50, he praised South Korean technology.
“I could feel the dashing dignity of the FA-50, which we’ve developed with our own technologies,” Moon said.
South Korea plans to spend more than 80% of its acquisition budget on domestic supplies and to quadruple support for parts localisation by 2026, with a focus on areas that could shape future wars, including AI, drones, robotics and space, he said.
“We envision a smart yet strong military based on advanced science and technology, and promote peace together with the international community,” Moon added.
South Korea’s arms exports from 2016 to 2020 were 210% higher than from 2011–2015, according to Stockholm International Peace Research Institute data. It is also one of the largest arms importers in the world, buying major weapons systems such as American-made F-35 stealth fighter jets in recent years. (Source: Reuters)
19 Oct 21. U.S., Ukraine Aim to Implement Strategic Defense Framework. Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III met with Ukrainian leaders in the capital city of Kyiv to strengthen ties between the nations and look for ways to implement the Strategic Defense Framework that was signed at the end of August. Austin assured Defense Minister Andriy Taran that U.S. support for Ukraine’s territorial integrity and sovereignty is unwavering. Later in the day, Austin is scheduled to meet with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
The strategic defense framework provides the roadmap for both countries to follow to strengthen security and defense cooperation.
Austin arrived in a country at war. As part of his arrival ceremony, he placed roses at the Memorial to Fallen Warriors on the grounds of the Defense Ministry. Ukraine has lost 14,000 citizens in the conflict with Russia in eastern Ukraine. There are books of the dead in the memorial, and they list those killed each day.
“The United States calls on Russia to end its occupation of Crimea, to stop perpetuating the war in eastern Ukraine, to end its destabilizing activities in the Black Sea and along Ukraine’s border, and to halt its persistent cyberattacks and other malign activities against the United States and our allies and partners,” Austin said in a news conference after his meeting.
Austin also mentioned the sacrifices made by Ukraine in the conflict with Russia, saying “I want to commend Ukraine’s brave men and women in uniform, who continue to stand up to defend our shared values and our core democratic principles.”
The secretary — who arrived in Kyiv from Tbilisi, Georgia — said he wants to see regional cooperation among the United States’ Black Sea allies and partners to deter Russia. “In support of these efforts, the United States will continue to provide assistance to enhance the maritime capacities of not only Ukraine, but also Georgia, Romania and Bulgaria. We have long understood the importance of cooperation and unity among our allies and partners to deter Russian aggression.”
The strategic defense framework will also help Ukraine qualify for NATO membership. During the NATO Summit in Brussels in June, alliance leaders reaffirmed their support for Ukraine’s right to decide its own future free from the outside interference of Russia. “To that end, we encourage the government of Ukraine to remain committed to the deep and comprehensive reforms needed to advance its Euro-Atlantic aspirations,” Austin said. “That means continuing to enhance civilian control of the military, align defense-industry institutions with global best practices, and to introduce human resources management reforms.” (Source: US DoD)
20 Oct 21. N. Korea confirms submarine launch of new ballistic missile. North Korea test-fired a new, smaller ballistic missile from a submarine, state media confirmed on Wednesday, a move that analysts said could be aimed at more quickly fielding an operational missile submarine.
The statement from state media came a day after South Korea’s military reported that it believed North Korea had fired a submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) off its east coast, the latest in a string of North Korean missile tests. The White House urged North Korea to refrain from further “provocations”, with spokeswoman Jen Psaki saying on Tuesday the United States remained open to engaging diplomatically with North Korea over its weapons programmes. Pyongyang so far has rejected those overtures, accusing the United States and South Korea of talking diplomacy while ratcheting up tensions with their own military activities.
South Korean Foreign Minister Chung Eui-yong on Wednesday called for Washington to ease sanctions if the North returns to talks.
“Action must be taken as soon as possible to stop North Korea from further developing nuclear and missile capability,” he told parliament. “I think considering relaxing sanctions can surely be an option.”
The United States and Britain plan to raise the North’s latest test during a U.N. Security Council meeting on Wednesday, diplomats said.
The “new-type” SLBM was launched from the same submarine involved in a 2016 test of an older SLBM, North Korea’s state news agency KCNA said.
North Korea has a large fleet of aging submarines, but has yet to deploy operational ballistic missile submarines beyond the experimental Gorae-class boat used in the tests.
Photos released by KCNA appeared to show a thinner, smaller missile than North Korea’s earlier SLBM designs, and may be a previously unseen model first showcased at a defence exhibition in Pyongyang last week.
A smaller SLBM could mean more missiles stored on a single submarine, although with a shorter range, potentially putting nuclear-armed North Korea closer to fielding an operational ballistic missile submarine (SSB).
“Though a smaller North Korea SLBM design could enable more missiles per boat, it could also enable smaller less challenging SSB designs, including easier integration/conversion on pre-existing submarines,” Joseph Dempsey, a defence researcher at the International Institute for Strategic Studies, said on Twitter.
Still, the development was expected to have only a limited impact on Pyongyang’s arsenal until it made more progress on a larger submarine that has been seen under construction.
“It just means they’re trying to diversify their submarine launch options,” said Dave Schmerler, a senior research associate at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies in California. “It’s an interesting development but with only one submarine in the water that can launch notionally one or two of these it doesn’t change much.”
Kim Dong-yup, a former South Korea Navy officer who teaches at Seoul’s Kyungnam University, said the missile could be an advanced version of the KN-23, a short-range ballistic missile first tested in 2019, citing its range, visual resemblance and stated guidance technologies.
KCNA said the new SLBM featured advanced capabilities including “flank mobility and gliding skip mobility.”
“(The SLBM) will greatly contribute to putting the defence technology of the country on a high level and to enhancing the underwater operational capability of our navy,” KCNA added.
Schmerler said “glide skip” was a way to change a missile’s trajectory to make it harder to track and intercept.
North Korea has conducted several tests in recent years with short-range ballistic missiles that analysts say are designed to evade missile defence systems in South Korea.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un was not reported to have attended Tuesday’s test.
The missile was launched from the sea near Sinpo, where North Korea keeps submarines as well as equipment for test firing SLBMs, South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said on Tuesday.
The test came as both Koreas have been developing increasingly sophisticated weapons, while efforts prove fruitless to bring a negotiated end to the North’s nuclear and missile programmes in return for U.S. sanctions relief.
South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in said in a speech at an annual defence expo on Wednesday that his drive to boost defence is aimed at achieving peace on the Korean peninsula. (Source: Reuters)
19 Oct 21. Drone sale to Ethiopia could jeopardize Turkey-Egypt dialogue. Turkey risks derailing normalization talks with Egypt by selling armed drones to Ethiopia, in addition to coming under international fire should Ethiopia use the drones in the conflict in Tigray.
Turkish-made Bayraktar TB2 drones, touted as a game-changer for Ankara’s allies in the Libya and Nagorno-Karabakh conflicts, appear bound for further showing in African skies, but not without the risk of complicating Turkey’s foreign ties, primarily its fledgling bid at fence-mending with Egypt.
Ethiopia — long at loggerheads with Egypt over a giant dam on the Blue Nile — has reportedly joined Algeria, Morocco, Nigeria and Rwanda as a potential African buyer of the TB2 drones, manufactured by a company owned by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s son-in-law and thus widely regarded as a family business. Reuters reported last week that Turkey had negotiated a deal with Ethiopia that could include also spare-part guarantees and training. Details remain unknown as both sides have kept silent on the issue.
Morocco, meanwhile, received its first batch in mid-September after ordering 12 TB2s in May and sending staff to Turkey for training during the summer, according to local media.
Turkey’s intention to supply armed drones to Ethiopia amid its quest to normalize relations with Egypt raises questions over the strategic wisdom behind the sale. Is Ankara making an imprudent move that would undermine its dialogue with Cairo? Or does it see military cooperation with Ethiopia as a tactic to pressure Egypt for concessions? Or does it believe the sale would cause no friction with Egypt, given that Cairo sees the conflict in Tigray — the potential usage area of the drones — as an internal matter of Ethiopia?
Two Egyptian security sources told Reuters that Cairo had asked the United States and some European governments to help it freeze any drone deal between Turkey and Ethiopia, while a third Egyptian official said the issue would have to be clarified in bilateral talks. A source close to the Turkish government, meanwhile, told Al-Monitor the deal was progressing faster than expected, stressing Ankara does not anticipate Cairo will react in a way that derails the bilateral dialogue.
Addis Ababa’s rapprochement with Ankara has proceeded against the backdrop of two major predicaments. First, it is bent on completing the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), which has fueled a water-sharing row with Egypt and Sudan for a decade. Diplomatic efforts to resolve the crisis have proved futile. Second, Addis Ababa has sought to enhance its military capabilities to suppress separatist rebels in its Tigray region. In a move seen as an effort to pave the way for military cooperation with Turkey, Addis Ababa has heeded Turkish calls to transfer schools run by the Gulen movement, which Ankara blames for the 2016 coup attempt, to a foundation affiliated with the Turkish government. For Erdogan, in turn, rapprochement with Ethiopia has offered an opportunity to advance his policy of opening up to Africa.
From Cairo’s perspective, a military dimension in Turkish-Ethiopian ties would be an unwelcome development that might weaken Egypt’s military deterrence in the region. The foremost factor that compelled Cairo to accept Ankara’s offer for normalization earlier this year was the decisive position that Turkey had gained in Libya by backing the Tripoli government. For Cairo, the Turkish presence in Libya became a national security issue.
A Turkish posture that would embolden Ethiopia in the dam crisis would be similarly challenging for Cairo. It remains unknown whether Turkey’s plan to sell armed drones to Ethiopia came up during the second round of normalization talks between Turkish and Egyptian officials in September.
For Egypt, Turkey’s involvement in conflicts in the Middle East and North Africa has become a fundamental issue of concern. Ankara, for its part, has shown no qualms about selling weapons to conflict zones. Earlier this year, for instance, Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu countered Russian warnings over Turkey’s drone sales to Ukraine by saying Turkey is ready to sell drones to Russia as well.
Ankara could put on a similar attitude if the issue comes up in negotiations with Egypt. And despite the optimism in Ankara, the normalization process with Egypt might well come to be at risk should it proceed with a drone sale to Ethiopia. Figures close to the government have repeatedly argued against any Turkish involvement in the GERD crisis.
According to Aydin Sezer, a former commerce attaché at the Turkish Embassy in Cairo, Ankara could hardly gain any leverage against Cairo if it sees the drone talks with Addis Ababa as a card of pressure. Ankara, he argued, is short of the capacity to come up with a strategy squeezing Cairo.
“The Turkish side is in a weak position,” Sezer told Al-Monitor, referring to the normalization talks. “Let alone giving concessions, the Egyptians are not trying to extract any. They are mostly listening to the Turkish side and want to see the steps Ankara will take. The process remains far from the mutual appointment of ambassadors,” he added.
Moreover, Ankara’s approach to Cairo is flawed, Sezer said, pointing to the Turkish argument that Egypt would have gained a larger economic zone in the Eastern Mediterranean had it made a maritime delimitation deal with Turkey rather than the Greek Cypriots. “This has greatly irritated the Egyptians. They react like ‘Do you think we are stupid or a third-class country?’ and say the Egyptian Foreign Service has nothing to learn from its Turkish counterpart,” he said.
Egypt’s misgivings have to do also with the timing of Turkey’s rapprochement with Ethiopia, which began after Ankara’s acrimonious fallout with Cairo over the Muslim Brotherhood’s ouster in 2013. The process saw Turkish offers to share dam-building and irrigation expertise with Ethiopia and Egyptian allegations that Turkey and Israel were behind the Renaissance Dam.
As for the prospect of Ethiopia using the drones to fight separatists, any anticipation that this argument would remove Egypt’s concerns appears too optimistic.
In July, amid escalating clashes in Tigray, reports circulated that Addis Ababa had received 10 surveillance drones from Ankara, a claim the Turkish Embassy denied.
The rebel forces in Tigray had seized the regional capital, Mekelle, in June, which apparently prompted the Ethiopian government to seek closer ties with Turkey and make a request for the TB2s as an efficient and low-cost weapon to tip the military balance on the ground. Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed signed three deals on military cooperation during a visit to Ankara in August.
According to Reuters, Turkish defense and aviation exports to Ethiopia rose to $51 m in the first three months of 2021 from $203,000 in the same period last year. The agency reported a jump in August and September, without specifying figures.
Ethiopia’s use of Turkish armed drones in Tigray could trigger fresh trouble in Turkey’s foreign affairs, beyond the potential tensions with Cairo. Following a UN meeting on Ethiopia in September, Britain, France, Germany and the United States called for an end to hostilities in Tigray, the resumption of talks and unhindered humanitarian access to the region. Washington raised the specter of sanctions. In a move that further fueled the tensions, Addis Ababa expelled seven UN officials in retaliation for criticism that it is blocking humanitarian aid to Tigray.
To top it all, the patriarch of Ethiopia’s Orthodox Church has decried the government’s actions in Tigray as “genocide.”
All those developments show that Ankara would have tough questions to answer to the international community should it proceed with selling armed drones to Addis Ababa.
Similarly, Turkey’s military cooperation with Morocco could sour its ties with Algeria as the two North African countries remain at odds over the disputed territory of Western Sahara.
On Oct. 17, Erdogan embarked on a tour of Angola, Togo and Nigeria, with the armed drones expected to be on his agenda again. Speaking ahead of Erdogan’s visit, the governor of Nigeria’s Zamfara state announced plans to acquire armed drones from Turkey. Nigeria has been in talks also with Turkish company Roketsan to buy munitions. (Source: Defense News Early Bird/https://www.al-monitor.com/)
16 Oct 21. China tests new space capability with hypersonic missile. Launch in August of nuclear-capable rocket that circled the globe took US intelligence by surprise. China tested a nuclear-capable hypersonic missile in August that circled the globe before speeding towards its target, demonstrating an advanced space capability that caught US intelligence by surprise. Five people familiar with the test said the Chinese military launched a rocket that carried a hypersonic glide vehicle which flew through low-orbit space before cruising down towards its target. The missile missed its target by about two-dozen miles, according to three people briefed on the intelligence. But two said the test showed that China had made astounding progress on hypersonic weapons and was far more advanced than US officials realised. The test has raised new questions about why the US often underestimated China’s military modernisation. “We have no idea how they did this,” said a fourth person. The US, Russia and China are all developing hypersonic weapons, including glide vehicles that are launched into space on a rocket but orbit the earth under their own momentum. They fly at five times the speed of sound, slower than a ballistic missile. But they do not follow the fixed parabolic trajectory of a ballistic missile and are manoeuvrable, making them harder to track. Taylor Fravel, an expert on Chinese nuclear weapons policy who was unaware of the test, said a hypersonic glide vehicle armed with a nuclear warhead could help China “negate” US missile defence systems which are designed to destroy incoming ballistic missiles. “Hypersonic glide vehicles . . . fly at lower trajectories and can manoeuvre in flight, which makes them hard to track and destroy,” said Fravel, a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Fravel added that it would be “destabilising” if China fully developed and deployed such a weapon, but he cautioned that a test did not necessarily mean that Beijing would deploy the capability. Mounting concern about China’s nuclear capabilities comes as Beijing continues to build up its conventional military forces and engages in increasingly assertive military activity near Taiwan. Tensions between the US and China have risen as the Biden administration has taken a tough tack on Beijing, which has accused Washington of being overly hostile. Michael Gallagher, a Republican member of the House armed services committee, said the test should “serve as a call to action”. “The People’s Liberation Army now has an increasingly credible capability to undermine our missile defences and threaten the American homeland with both conventional and nuclear strikes,” said Gallagher. “Even more disturbing is the fact that American technology has contributed to the PLA’s hypersonic missile programme.” Recommended FT Magazine The return of Mao: a new threat to China’s politics US military officials in recent months have warned about China’s growing nuclear capabilities, particularly after the release of satellite imagery that showed it was building more than 200 intercontinental missile silos. China is not bound by any arms-control deals and has been unwilling to engage the US in talks about its nuclear arsenal and policy. Last month, Frank Kendall, US air force secretary, hinted that Beijing was developing a new weapon.
He said China had made huge advances, including the “potential for global strikes . . . from space”. He declined to provide details, but suggested that Beijing was developing something akin to the “Fractional Orbital Bombardment System” that the USSR deployed for part of the Cold War, before abandoning it. “If you use that kind of an approach, you don’t have to use a traditional ICBM trajectory. It’s a way to avoid defences and missile warning systems,” said Kendall. In August, General Glen VanHerck, head of North American Aerospace Defense Command, told a conference that China had “recently demonstrated very advanced hypersonic glide vehicle capabilities”. He warned that the Chinese capability would “provide significant challenges to my Norad capability to provide threat warning and attack assessment”. Two of the people familiar with the Chinese test said the weapon could, in theory, fly over the South Pole. That would pose a big challenge for the US military because its missiles defence systems are focused on the northern polar route. Hu Xijin, editor of Global Times, an ultranationalist Chinese state-run media outlet, tweeted that Beijing would improve its nuclear deterrence to “ensure that the US abandons the idea of nuclear blackmail against China”. Recommended FT News Briefing podcast9 min listen Japan refocuses on semiconductors The revelation comes as the Biden administration undertakes the Nuclear Posture Review, an analysis of policy and capabilities mandated by Congress that has pitted arms-control advocates against those who believe the US must do more to modernise its nuclear arsenal because of China. The Pentagon did not comment on the report but expressed concern about China. “We have made clear our concerns about the military capabilities China continues to pursue, capabilities that only increase tensions in the region and beyond,” said John Kirby, spokesperson. “That is one reason why we hold China as our number-one pacing challenge.” The Chinese foreign ministry denied that China had tested a hypersonic missile.
“This was a routine test of a space vehicle to verify technology of spacecraft’s reusability,” said Zhao Lijian, a spokesperson, without explaining why China did not announce the test at the time. One Asian national security official said the Chinese military conducted the test in August. China generally announces the launch of Long March rockets — the type used to launch the hypersonic glide vehicle into orbit — but it conspicuously concealed the August launch. The security official, and another Chinese security expert close to the People’s Liberation Army, said the weapon was being developed by the China Academy of Aerospace Aerodynamics. CAAA is a research institute under China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation, the main state-owned company that makes missile systems and rockets for the country’s space programme. Both sources said the hypersonic glide vehicle was launched on a Long March rocket, which is used for the space programme. The China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology, which oversees launches, on July 19 said on an official social media account that it had launched a Long March 2C rocket, which it added was the 77th launch of that rocket. On August 24 it announced that it had conducted a 79th flight. But there was no announcement of a 78th launch, which sparked speculation among observers of its space programme about a secret launch. CAAA did not respond to requests for comment. (Source: FT.com)
18 Oct 21. US Navy rejects Russian MoD’s claims on naval interaction. The US Pacific Fleet Public Affairs claimed that the ships’ interactions were ‘safe and professional’. The Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) has said that one of its military vessels prevented a US destroyer’s attempt to violate the country’s national border. In a Facebook post, the MoD claimed that US Navy’s Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer USS Chafee (DDG 90) approached the territorial waters of Russia on 15 October. The US destroyer, which has been operating in the Sea of Japan, was warned by the Russian Navy’s Pacific Fleet anti-submarine ship Admiral Tributs. Competing in the Red Bull Air Race is not for the faint of heart. The elite group of pilots must maneuver a treacherous course of inflatable pylons just feet above the ground in the fastest time possible, reaching speeds of up to 400 knots and enduring forces of 10G. This stomach-turning display of high-speed, low-altitude flying requires skill, precision and a pilot who is brave – or crazy – enough to take part.
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It was notified that the area was closed due to the Joint Sea 2021 Russian-Chinese naval exercise’s artillery firings.
The Russian MoD statement said that when USS Chafee did not change course, Admiral Tributs was set on a course ‘for ousting the intruder from Russian territorial waters’.
The US ship was eventually forced to turn back, with the two vessels less than 60m apart.
The US Pacific Fleet Public Affairs has denied this statement and said the Russian claims were false.
US Pacific Fleet in a statement said: “The statement from the Russian Defense Ministry about the interaction between our two navy ships is false.
“While USS Chafee (DDG 90) was conducting routine operations in international water in the Sea of Japan on 15 October 2021, a Russian Udaloy-class destroyer came within approximately 65 yards of USS Chafee (DDG 90) while the ship was preparing for flight operations.
“The interaction was safe and professional. Although Russia issued a Notice to Airman and Mariners (NOTAM/NOTMAR) in this area for later in the day, the NOTAM/NOTMAR was not in effect at the time of the interaction.
“At all times, USS Chafee conducted operations in accordance with international law and custom. The United States will continue to fly, sail, and operate where international law allows.”
In June this year, Russia accused UK Royal Navy Type 45 destroyer HMS Defender of entering its territorial waters near Crimea after the ship sailed 3km inside Russian territory off Cape Fiolent.
The UK Defence Ministry refuted the statement saying that HMS Defender carried out a routine transit from Odesa towards Georgia across the Black Sea and ‘no warning shots have been fired at HMS Defender’.
According to work by global HR consulting firm Robert Half, cloud migration and project management experience are top of the tech list for hiring managers in 2021, with DevOps engineers, programme leads and network architects all in high demand.
But with requirements – and technology – evolving at breakneck speed, and fierce competition between enterprises to attract the best candidates, how does one secure the personnel required to thrive in a crowded market? In a similar vein, how can ambitious tech professionals ensure they are joining an employer that gives them the opportunities to grow, while also being an attractive place to work? (Source: naval-technology.com)
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