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23 Dec 21. Russia to hold paratrooper drills near Ukrainian border – Ifax. Hundreds of Russian paratroopers will hold drills near the Ukrainian border this week, the Interfax news agency quoted Russia’s defence ministry as saying on Thursday, amid a standoff between Moscow and the West over Kyiv’s NATO aspirations. Some 1,200 troops and over 250 vehicles and aircraft will be involved in the exercise that will be split between training grounds in Crimea – which Russia annexed from Ukraine in 2014 – and the nearby Krasnodar province. Interfax quoted the ministry as saying that the troops would simulate capturing an area as part of an offensive operation. Russia has amassed tens of thousands of troops at staging posts close to Ukraine and demanded that its southern neighbour not be admitted to NATO and that no offensive weapons be deployed there or in other neighbouring countries. (Source: Reuters)
22 Dec 21. Japan and Vietnam deepen security ties. Japan and Vietnam’s defence ministers conducted a briefing in late November to deepen the country’s co-operation on cyber security and military medicine.
In late November, Vietnam’s Minister of National Defence General Phan Van Giang and Japan’s Minister of Defence Nobuo Kishi signed two memoranda between the nations to pledge closer cyber security ties and closer collaboration in the field of military medicine.
According to the Japanese Ministry of Defense, the November meeting marked the third consultation between the two defence ministers, having recently met in September.
“Then, the ministers each spoke about the significance of Japan-Vietnam defence co-operation, which was redefined at the last Japan-Vietnam Defense Ministers’ Meeting in September 2021, not just as cooperation for the benefit of Japan and Vietnam, but also for more proactively contributing to the peace and stability of the region and the international community. They reached a consensus to make specific efforts under this ‘Japan-Vietnam Defense Cooperation at the New Level’,” a release from the Japanese Ministry of Defense read.
Throughout the meeting, both ministers confirmed that their respective nations supported compliance with the international rules-based order and the freedom of navigation, while rejecting unilateralism and coercive behaviour in the region.
“The ministers shared the view that under the ‘Japan-Vietnam Defense Cooperation at the New Level’, Japan and Vietnam will contribute more proactively to the peace and stability of the region and the international community, by making specific efforts utilizing their respective advantages and resources,” Japan’s Ministry of Defense said.
“Based on the achievements at the Japan-Vietnam Defense Ministers’ Meeting in September 2021, the ministers reconfirmed the promotion of further cooperation in the field of peacekeeping operations. In this context, Minister Giang requested that Japan share knowledge to assist Vietnamese preparation to participate in UNISFA.
“Minister Kishi expressed his strong appreciation to Vietnam for its proactive stance towards the peace and stability in the international community through its participation in peacekeeping operations. In response to Minister Giang’s request, Minister Kishi stated that Japan will provide necessary cooperation, including dispatching Japanese experts comprising mainly of Japan Ground Self-Defense Force’s personnel to Vietnam.
“Minister Giang expressed his appreciation, and the Ministers consented to proactively continue this collaboration as a model case of ‘Japan-Vietnam Defense Cooperation at the New Level’.”
Following the meetings between the two representatives, it is expected that Japan and Vietnam will accelerate their military co-operation in the region. (Source: Defence Connect)
23 Dec 21. Latest on the Australian Joint Air Battle Management System (JABMS). In August, the Department of Defence shortlisted Lockheed Martin Australia and Northrop Grumman Australia as finalists for the AIR 6500 Phase I project, aimed at delivering the Australian Defence Force with a sovereign Joint Air Battle Management System (JABMS). Valued at an estimated $2.7bn, the JABMS will play a critical role in the future of Australia’s defence apparatus. Not only is the program intended to bolster situational awareness of air and missile threats via defence’s future Integrated Air and Missile Defence (IAMD) system, it is also aimed at enhancing the interoperability between Australia and partner nations. The final decision on the program is expected to be announced in 2023.
The recent down selection of the two primes followed extensive stakeholder engagement via defence’s tender process, which involved an assessment of the respective integrated air and missile defence offerings proposed by the contenders. The two shortlisted primes edged ahead of Boeing Defence Australia and Raytheon Australia, who also nominated for the first phase of the competitive evaluation process. Minister for Defence Peter Dutton explained that the JABMS will connect the ADF’s warfighting domains, thus enhancing their joint defensive capabilities.
“Through the competitive evaluation process, Australian industry has demonstrated its versatility and adaptability to provide innovative proposals in the challenging field of integrated air and missile defence,” Minister Dutton said.
“The Joint Air Battle Management System will connect our ships, aircraft and other capabilities together in a way that multiplies their defensive power.”
Defence analysts have reiterated Minister Dutton’s optimistic outlook for the JABMS. In 2019, ASPI’s Dr Malcolm Davis described the proposed JABMS capability as a “system of systems”.
“The fifth-generation force has to be capable of operating across, land, sea, air, cyber, EM and space, and that is a core component of the transition to the joint force. We have to have systems of systems, not just stovepipe platforms that are capable of connecting across a network and that is what is driving the AIR 6500 Integrated Battle Management program,” Davis noted.
Lockheed Martin Australia and Northrop Grumman are hotly contesting the project bid. In a statement to Defence Connect, Steve Froelich, AIR 6500 program executive, Lockheed Martin Australia said, “since 2014, LMA has been building our sovereign AIR 6500 presence by growing our Australian workforce across Canberra, Adelaide, Melbourne and Williamtown, establishing partnerships with Australian industry and investing in leading local capabilities.
In early December, Lockheed Martin Australia (LMA) and Leidos Australia signed a teaming agreement, which will see the firms jointly design, develop and build advanced secure technologies under the Royal Australian Air Force’s Joint Air Battle Management Systems Project (AIR6500-1).
As part of the collaboration, LMA – which is one of two primes selected to participate in the final competitive phase of AIR6500 Phase 1 Project – will work alongside Leidos Australia to develop capabilities that can be integrated into an open architecture framework, supporting application development for the project.
“LMA is committed to partnering with Australian industry, academia and government to develop an AIR 6500 solution powered by a sovereign open architecture connected to a tactical cloud. This will enable the ADF to rapidly integrate best of breed capabilities from Australia and the US to meet emerging operational needs and defeat future threats.
“LMA’s solution will be developed in Australia, by Australians, creating in-country capability and jobs for Defence industry. Our solution will generate exportable advanced warfighting technology to enhance our military alliances and support Australia’s economic growth.
“Fundamental to Northrop Grumman Australia’s proposed solution for AIR 6500 Phase 1 is our unmatched expertise in developing complex, multi-domain, multi-mission weapons systems, our team is led by Australians with local understanding of how best to partner with the Commonwealth, and our investment in sovereign infrastructure that allows for the transfer of US technology to support the growth of an Australian defence industry.”
Speaking on Northrop Grumman’s bid for the AIR 6500 project, Christine Zeitz, general manager Asia Pacific, Northrop Grumman said that the bid capitalises on the company’s deep global expertise in battle command capabilities.
“The Northrop Grumman developed Integrated Battle Command System (IBCS) is the basis for our fifth-generation Joint Air Battle Management System (JABMS) solution offering and it is game-changing technology already making a great contribution to emerging Joint All Domain Command and Control (JADC2) capabilities for militaries around the world. The open, modular systems architecture Northrop Grumman Australia is developing will be the cornerstone of Australia’s integrated air and missile defence (IAMD) capability. It gives the Commonwealth the ability to bring in different C2s to allow the integration of current and future multi-domain capabilities and determine how they are integrated.
“With support from our US Northrop Grumman team, we’re working with our 22 industry partners, including 12 Australian SMEs, in the areas of sensors, artificial intelligence and deployable capabilities to extend to the broader Australian supply chain. We’re doing this through our investment in our sovereign infrastructure, Parallax Labs, a distributed secure capability that supports the transfer of US technology to our Australian engineers and into our supply chain.
“We look forward to continuing to collaborate with our industry partners through the phases of AIR 6500 to bring the best of breed solution from industry to the Commonwealth to build an enduring and innovative Australian sovereign capability for the delivery, sustainment and ongoing evolution of the nation’s integrated air and missile defence (IAMD) capability.”
Already, both contenders have begun to showcase their uniquely Australian supply chains for the project, and draw from their international pedigree in building a unique, robust and innovative defence system. 2023 will shape up to be an exciting year! (Source: Defence Connect)
23 Dec 21. Korean firm bags P25B deal to build PH Navy corvettes. It’s official: South Korea’s Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI) has secured a contract to build two corvettes for the Philippine Navy for P25bn. A notice of award was issued by the Department of National Defense (DND) last Dec. 15, two senior security officials familiar with the matter told Inquirer.net. The development came shortly after the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) released funding for the 15 percent downpayment of the corvette acquisition project worth P3.75bn last Dec. 10. A contract signing could happen before yearend, said the senior officials. The acquisition would be financed by a government-to-government loan agreement, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said in earlier statements. HHI has been the favored supplier for the program since it was announced in 2019, based on statements of top defense and navy officials. The South Korean shipbuilder also built two multi-role frigates for the Philippine Navy in a P16bn contract in 2016. But the frigate acquisition project attracted public interest in 2018 after a conflict in the selection of the combat management systems (CMS), considered as the “brain” of the warships. The disagreements stemmed from the failure of the shipbuilder to meet the original preference for a Link 16 compatible CMS by the Philippine Navy’s technical working group. In the end, the South Korean Ministry of Defense issued a guarantee that the ships’ CMS is compatible with Link 16 despite the absence of US certification, and the shipbuilder has offered to pay for the integration of the CMS to Link 16 when the Navy acquires this capability in the future. The corvette acquisition project, which is estimated to cost P28 billion including weapon systems, is one of the big-ticket items in the Philippine Navy’s upgrade program. Plans to acquire the corvettes had been stalled last year because of the diversion of defense funds to pandemic response. The warships would boost the country’s presence around the archipelago especially in the West Philippine Sea, where tensions continue to rise. The Navy recently retired the last two of its World War 2-era patrol ships despite the lack of immediate replacements. Navy chief Vice Adm. Adeluis Bordado said the two corvettes and six offshore patrol vessels would see initial deliveries in two to three years. (Source: News Now/https://globalnation.inquirer.net/)
22 Dec 21. U.S. concerned over Turkey’s drone sales to conflict-hit Ethiopia.
- Signs that Ethiopia govt using drones against rebels
- Washington has ‘profound humanitarian concerns’ -official
- Ankara says it’s urging negotiations in Ethiopia
- U.S. has clamped down on defence exports to Ethiopia
- U.S. sanctions on Turkey over sales a distant possibility
U.S. authorities have taken issue with Turkey over its sales of armed drones to Ethiopia, where two sources familiar with the matter said there was mounting evidence the government had used the weapons against rebel fighters.
Washington has “profound humanitarian concerns” over the sales, which could contravene U.S. restrictions on arms to Addis Ababa, a senior Western official said.
The year-long war between Ethiopia’s government and the leadership of the northern Tigray region, among Africa’s bloodiest conflicts, has killed thousands of civilians and displaced millions.
A State Department spokesman said U.S. Horn of Africa envoy Jeffrey Feltman “raised reports of armed drone use in Ethiopia and the attendant risk of civilian harm” during a visit to Turkey last week.
A senior Turkish official said Washington conveyed its discomfort at a few meetings, while Ethiopia’s military and government did not respond to detailed requests for comment.
Turkey, which is selling drones to several countries in Europe, Africa and Asia, has dismissed criticism that it plays a destabilising role in Africa and has said it is in touch with all sides in Ethiopia to urge negotiations.
Last week the United Nations agreed to set up an independent investigation into rights abuses in Ethiopia, a move strongly opposed by its government.
Tigrayan rebel forces said on Monday they were withdrawing from some northern regions after government advances and, in a letter to the UN, called for a no-fly zone for drones and other hostile aircraft over Tigray.
The U.S. State Department clamped down in May on exports of defence products for Ethiopia’s armed forces.
In September, the White House authorised sanctions on those engaged, even indirectly, in policies that threaten stability, expand the crisis or disrupt humanitarian assistance there, though there has been no indication of any such imminent action against Turkey.
The U.S. Treasury, which has broad economic sanctions authority under that executive order, declined to comment on whether sanctions could apply to Turkey.
The senior Turkish official said the foreign ministry examined how the drone sales might impact U.S. foreign policy as part of 2022 budget planning.
“The United States has conveyed its discomfort with Turkey’s drone sales …but Turkey will continue to follow the policies it set in this area,” the person told Reuters.
A second senior Turkish official, from the defence ministry, said Ankara had no intention of meddling in any country’s domestic affairs.
Turkish defence exports to Ethiopia surged to almost $95 million in the first 11 months of 2021, from virtually nothing last year, according to Exporters’ Assembly data.
DRONES IN ACTION
Ethiopian government soldiers interviewed by Reuters near Gashena, a hillside town close to the war’s front, said a recent government offensive succeeded following an influx of reinforcements and the use of drones and airstrikes to target Tigrayan positions. read more
A Reuters team spotted destroyed tanks and armoured anti-aircraft trucks there. read more
A foreign military official based in Ethiopia said satellite imagery and other evidence gave “clear indications” that drones were being used, and estimated up to 20 were operating. It was unclear how many might be Turkish-made.
“Surveillance drones are having a greater impact …and being very helpful,” the person said, adding the guerrilla-warfare nature of the conflict made armed drones less useful.
Asked whether foreign countries had also supplied drone operators, the official said: “I know Turkish personnel were here at one point.”
Turkish and Ethiopian officials have not publicly confirmed the drones sale, which Reuters first reported in October, and Turkey’s foreign ministry did not respond to a request for further details. read more
It said last week that U.S. envoy Feltman and Deputy Foreign Minister Sedat Onal had discussed developments in Ethiopia, Somalia and Sudan.
Ethiopia has also bought drones from the United Arab Emirates, which did not respond to a request for comment about possible U.S. concerns. Feltman was also scheduled to visit the UAE earlier this month.
Under President Tayyip Erdogan, Ankara has poured military equipment into Africa and the Middle East, including training of armed forces in Somalia, where it has a base.
The Turkish military used its Bayraktar TB2 drones last year with success in Syria, Libya and Nagorno-Karabakh, prompting interest from buyers globally in a market led by U.S., Chinese and Israeli manufacturers. read more
In October, a Turkish foreign ministry spokesman said Ethiopia was free to procure drones from anywhere. Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said last week that engagement with Africa was based on mutual benefit.
NATO allies Washington and Ankara have strained ties over several issues including the Turkish purchase of Russian missile defences, and U.S. support for Kurdish fighters in northern Syria.
The State Department spokesperson said Feltman had underscored that “now is the time for all outside actors to press for negotiations and end the war” in Ethiopia.
The Western official, who requested anonymity, said Ankara had responded to U.S. concerns by saying it attaches humanitarian provisions to the Ethiopia deal and requires signed undertakings outlining how drones will be used. (Source: Reuters)
22 Dec 21. Indonesia gives up on Russian aircraft purchase, instead turning to US and French options.
Indonesia has admitted defeat in its attempt to buy Russian fighter jets and will now decide between the Boeing F-15EX Eagle II and the Dassault Rafale, according to the country’s Air Force chief of staff.
Speaking to media during a gathering at Halim Perdanakusuma Air Base near the Indonesian capital Jakarta, Air Chief Marshal Fadjar Prasetyo said the Southeast Asian nation is seeking a 4.5-generation mediumweight or heavyweight fighter.
He said the narrowing of the choices to the American F-15EX and the French Rafale was made together with the Defense Ministry, adding that Indonesia wants two to three squadrons’ worth of fighter jets, depending on the budget.
Prasetyo also confirmed that it was “with a heavy heart” that Indonesia would abandon its plan to acquire the Sukhoi Su-35 Flanker-E. The country had selected the Russian twin-engine, single-seat fighter in 2015 but never signed a contract for 11 aircraft following negotiations with Russia in 2018.
While Indonesia has not explicitly said so, it’s possible its reticence to conclude the Su-35 acquisition was due to concern the move could trigger U.S. sanctions under the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act. The law was passed by Congress in 2017 and is meant to discourage governments or entities from acquiring weapons as well as military hardware and parts from American adversaries like Iran, North Korea and Russia.
Prasetyo noted that if Indonesia chooses the F-15EX, deliveries of the multirole fighter could start as early as 2027.
Any new fighter will serve alongside Indonesia’s existing fleet of refurbished Lockheed Martin F-16C/D Fighting Falcons and Russian Sukhoi Su-27/30 Flankers. The former were previously operated by the U.S. Air Force.
Indonesia is seeking the aircraft to meet its increasingly urgent air defense needs, but budgetary problems and a long list of defense requirements are stymieing efforts to fill the air defense gap of the country, which is made up of more than 17,000 islands that stretch from the eastern edge of the Indian Ocean to Papua New Guinea.
Indonesia previously expressed interest in buying Austria’s fleet of Eurofighter Typhoon fighter jets, which the European country was withdrawing from service prematurely due to cost and a corruption scandal. (Source: News Now/Defense News)
21 Dec 21. Putin says Russia has ‘nowhere to retreat’ over Ukraine. President Vladimir Putin said on Tuesday that Russia had no room to retreat in a standoff with the United States over Ukraine and would be forced into a tough response unless the West dropped its “aggressive line”.
Putin addressed his remarks to military officials as Russia pressed for an urgent U.S. and NATO reply to proposals it made last week for a binding set of security guarantees from the West.
“What the U.S. is doing in Ukraine is at our doorstep… And they should understand that we have nowhere further to retreat to. Do they think we’ll just watch idly?” Putin said.
“If the aggressive line of our Western colleagues continues, we will take adequate military-technical response measures and react harshly to unfriendly steps.”
Putin did not spell out the nature of these measures but his phrasing mirrored that used previously by Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov, who has warned that Russia may redeploy intermediate-range nuclear missiles in Europe in response to what it regards as NATO plans to do the same. read more
Russia rejects Ukrainian and U.S. accusations that it may be preparing an invasion of Ukraine as early as next month by tens of thousands of Russian troops poised within reach of the border.
It says it needs pledges from the West – including a promise not to conduct NATO military activity in Eastern Europe – because its security is threatened by Ukraine’s growing ties with the Western alliance and the possibility of NATO missiles being deployed against it on Ukrainian territory.
Ukrainian President Volodymr Zelenskiy said on Friday that he was ready to meet Russia for “direct talks, tête-à-tête, we don’t mind in what format”. But Moscow has said repeatedly it sees no point in such a meeting without clarity on what the agenda would be.
A Kremlin statement said Putin stressed in a phone call with French President Emmanuel Macron that reconvening the four-power Normandy group – which brings together the leaders of Russia, Ukraine, France and Germany – would require concrete steps by Kyiv to implement existing peace agreements. Ukraine says it is Russia and its proxies who are refusing to engage.
With Western powers keen to show Russia they are solid in their support of Ukraine and NATO, Germany’s new Chancellor Olaf Scholz also spoke by phone with Putin.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Tuesday ruled out an in-person meeting between Biden and Putin for now. “I think we have to see if, in the first instance, there’s any progress diplomatically,” Blinken said in a news briefing when asked if an in-person summit could happen to try to ease the tensions.
Karen Donfried, the U.S. State Department’s top diplomat for Europe, said in a briefing with reporters that Washington was prepared to engage with Moscow via three channels – bilaterally, through the NATO-Russia Council that last met in 2019, and at the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe.
In the meantime, she said, the United States would continue to send military equipment and supplies to Ukraine in the weeks and months ahead – something that has antagonised Moscow.
“As President (Joe) Biden has told President Putin, should Russia further invade Ukraine, we will provide additional defensive materials to the Ukrainians above and beyond that which we are already in the process of providing,” she said.
Washington is considering tough export control measures to disrupt Russia’s economy if Putin invades Ukraine, a Biden administration official told Reuters, and the measures would be discussed in a meeting of senior officials on Tuesday. read more
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said the alliance would seek meaningful discussions with Moscow early next year.
Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu alleged that more than 120 U.S. private military contractors were active in eastern Ukraine, where Ukrainian troops have been fighting Russian-backed separatists since 2014, and said they were preparing a “provocation” involving chemical substances.
He offered no evidence in support of the claim, which Pentagon spokesman John Kirby described as “completely false”.
Throughout the crisis, Russia has veered between harsh rhetoric, calls for dialogue and dire warnings, with Ryabkov repeatedly comparing the situation to the 1962 Cuban missile crisis when the world stood on the brink of nuclear war.
Many of Moscow’s demands, including for a block on NATO membership for Ukraine and the withdrawal of U.S. and other allied troops from Eastern Europe, are seen as non-starters by Washington and its partners.
But rejecting them out of hand would risk closing off any space for dialogue and further fuelling the crisis. (Source: Reuters)
21 Dec 21. Japan passes record $317bn extra budget. Here’s what it includes. Japan’s parliament has approved a record extra budget of nearly 36trn yen (U.S. $317bn) for the fiscal year through March that includes additional military spending. The budget, approved Monday, is largely meant to fund COVID-19 measures, including booster shot vaccines and oral medicines. It also includes cash payouts for families with children and a promotion campaign for the hard-hit tourism industry, which critics said are pork barrel giveaways.
Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said the supplementary budget is meant to revive an economy not yet fully recovered from the pandemic and to achieve stronger growth and a more equitable distribution of wealth under his “new capitalism” policy.
Under Kishida, the government has tightened border restrictions to help keep at bay cases of the fast-spreading omicron variant of the coronavirus, after managing to bring infection levels down sharply in the past few months.
In response to growing concern about rising Chinese power and other strategic challenges, the budget includes about 773 billion yen dedicated to speeding up deployment of missile defense systems and other military preparedness.
The budget also includes 100,000 yen payouts to households with children 18 or younger, and a 2.5m yen subsidy for businesses that suffered substantial losses of sales due to the pandemic. It also will pay to increase salaries of nurses and other caregivers.
It allocates 617bn yen for promoting semiconductor manufacturing inside Japan as the country moves to improve its economic security and counter shortages of the computer chips that are vital for a wide range of products. The budget will also fund promotion of tourism, sustainability and digitalization.
Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Seiji Kihara told reporters Monday that the government plans to deliver planned measures promptly to the people to support “reconstruction of the pandemic-hit economy and the resumption of social and economic activity” after widespread public health precautions imposed to battle coronavirus outbreaks.
Japan’s government has insisted that it is managing to catch people infected with the omicron variant at the border, but experts have cautioned that it may be spreading locally.
The health ministry reported 14 omicron cases among arrivals at Japanese airports, bringing the known omicron cases to more than 80.
In Okinawa, a major cluster has been spreading at the U.S. Marine Corps base of Camp Hansen, where at least 180 Marines who recently transferred from the United States have been infected. It was not known if they included omicron cases. Japan, a country of about 126 million, has reported about 1.73 million COVID-19 cases and 18,400 deaths since the pandemic began two years ago. (Source: Defense News)
20 Dec 21. India fines French firm Dassault Aviation over offset delays. The Indian government imposed a fine on French company Dassault Aviation last month over delays in offset obligations that were part of a 2016 deal for 36 Rafale fighters, Defense News has learned. The French and Indian governments signed the €7.8bn (U.S. $8.8bn) contract in September 2016. Under the arrangement, 50% of the contract value was to be offset and executed by Dassault Aviation and its partners Safran and Thales in seven years’ time. To implement the offsets, the three firms teamed with more than 70 Indian companies and the Defence Research and Development Organisation. A senior defense scientist in India said DRDO is seeking from French businesses several technologies related to stealth capabilities, radar, aerospace engines, thrust vectoring for missiles, and materials for electronics.
An Indian Ministry of Defence official told Defense News that the penalty will come from the €185m bank guarantee funded by Dassault Aviation as a safeguard against contractual violations. The official spoke on the condition of anonymity because the person was not authorized to speak to the media.
The official would not share the value of the penalty imposed on Dassault Aviation, nor would the individual detail problems hindering implementation of the offset obligations.
Under MoD policy, original equipment manufacturers can discharge offsets by purchasing related goods or services from Indian suppliers, by making a foreign direct investment in India’s defense industry, or by transferring advanced technology.
When asked for comment, the French Armed Forces Ministry referred Defense News to Dassault Aviation, which did not return requests for comment.
French Armed Forces Minister Florence Parly and Indian Defence Minister Rajnath Singh met Dec. 17 to discuss ways to increase bilateral defense cooperation. During the 3rd annual dialogue, the MoD pointed out that several French defense companies were not cooperating in the transfer of technology to DRDO.
The MoD source said French businesses have been claiming the Indian firms who were expecting to receive technology transfers do not meet the necessary core competencies.
“It is well known that the original equipment manufacturers have been facing difficulty in discharging their offset obligations. This may partly be on account of the policy,” said Amit Cowshish, a former financial adviser for acquisitions at the MoD.
He recommended the ministry meet with OEMs, ascertain difficulties their facing and then take corrective action. (Source: Defense News)
20 Dec 21. Qatar receives Meteor missiles, NH90 helos. Qatar has received MBDA Meteor beyond visual-range air-to-air missiles (BVRAAMs) and NHIndustries NH90 helicopters that were both displayed at the country’s recent national day military parade. Images from the event posted by the Ministry of Defence (MoD) on 18 December showed Dassault Rafale combat aircraft carrying the Meteor missile, confirming for the first time the Gulf state’s receipt of the BVRAAM. One of a batch of NH90 helicopters, delivered just days earlier, also participated in the flypast for the first time. As noted by Janes World Air Forces, the Qatar Emiri Air Force (QEAF) has received 23 of 24 Rafale combat aircraft. These fighters are equipped with a range of French- and European-made weaponry including the anti-ship MBDA AM39 Exocet Block II, MBDA SCALP EG cruise missile, medium‐range air‐to‐ground AASM, MICA IR air-to-air missile, and the Meteor. The Meteor will also equip the QEAF’s Eurofighter Typhoons. (Source: Janes)
17 Dec 21. Ukraine receives new equipment. The Ukrainian armed forces have taken delivery of new armoured vehicles, aircraft, and vessels, the President of Ukraine website announced on 6 December. During the commemoration of the 30th anniversary of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, which was held in Kharkiv on 6 December and attended by President Volodymyr Zelenksy, the armed forces received new equipment. Ceremonies were also held simultaneously in and broadcast live from Lviv, Odessa, Kramatorsk, Ozerne in the Zhytomyr region, and Kyiv. The Ukrainian Army received 34 Kozak-2M1 armoured vehicles, T-64BV main battle tanks, and BTR-4E armoured personnel carriers. Three T-64BVs and 10 BTR-4Es participated in the ceremony in Kharkiv. Units received 15 Humvees in Lviv, 13 in Kyiv, and 12 in Odessa. Air force units in Zhytomyr received two Su-27 multirole fighters, two L-39 jet trainers, an An-26 transport aircraft, and an Mi-8 medium-lift helicopter. (Source: Janes)
17 Dec 21. Readout of AUKUS Joint Steering Group Meetings.
Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States of America recently held the inaugural meetings of the AUKUS Trilateral Joint Steering Groups. Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States of America recently held the inaugural meetings of the AUKUS Trilateral Joint Steering Groups, which were established as part of the governance structure of AUKUS in September 2021. The Joint Steering Group for Advanced Capabilities met on December 9 and the Joint Steering Group for Australia’s Nuclear-Powered Submarine Program met on December 14. Both meetings were held at the Pentagon.
The delegations reaffirmed the Leaders’ vision that was laid out in September 2021 and discussed the intensive work underway across the governments and the significant progress made in the three months since the announcement of AUKUS.
The meetings were productive and the participants outlined next steps to continue the positive trajectory in implementation.
During the Joint Steering Group meeting on Advanced Capabilities, participants identified opportunities for collaboration on a range of critical capabilities and technologies. They committed to significantly deepen cooperation and enhance interoperability, and in so doing strengthen security and stability in the Indo-Pacific region and beyond. In particular, participants committed to finalising a program of work in relation to advanced capabilities by early 2022. Beyond the four initial areas of focus outlined in the Joint Leaders’ Statement on AUKUS—cyber capabilities, artificial intelligence, quantum technologies, and additional undersea capabilities—participants also discussed other additional capabilities and agreed to identify potential opportunities for collaboration in those areas.
During the Joint Steering Group meeting on Australia’s Nuclear-Powered Submarine Program, the participants reaffirmed the trilateral commitment to bring the Australian capability into service at the earliest possible date. The delegations agreed on the next steps over the 18-month consultation period to define the optimal pathway for Australia to acquire nuclear-powered submarines, and for the Working Groups to examine in detail the critical actions necessary to establish an enduring program in Australia. The participants reviewed achievements since September, including the signing of the Exchange of Naval Nuclear Propulsion Information Agreement and the path forward to bring that into force, which will enable full and effective consultation between the governments over the 18-month period.
The participants also discussed how they will work to ensure that the submarine program upholds their longstanding leadership in global non-proliferation, including through continued close consultation with the International Atomic Energy Agency. The participants underscored that the three countries remain steadfast in support of the nuclear non-proliferation regime and its cornerstone, the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty. They reaffirmed that the three governments will comply with their respective non-proliferation obligations and commitments and that they intend to implement the strongest possible non-proliferation standards. Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States look forward to continuing to build on this momentum as they work together to deliver advanced defence and technology capabilities, including an Australian nuclear-powered submarine capability. (Source: US DoD)
16 Dec 21. Statement by the North Atlantic Council on the situation in and around Ukraine. We are gravely concerned by the substantial, unprovoked, and unjustified Russian military build-up on the borders of Ukraine in recent months, and reject the false Russian claims of Ukrainian and NATO provocations. We call on Russia to immediately de-escalate, pursue diplomatic channels, and abide by its international commitments on transparency of military activities.
We are seriously assessing the implications for Alliance security of the current situation. We will always respond in a determined way to any deterioration of our security environment, including through strengthening our collective defence posture as necessary. NATO will take all necessary measures to ensure the security and defence of all NATO Allies. Any further aggression against Ukraine would have massive consequences and would carry a high price. NATO will continue to closely coordinate with relevant stakeholders and other international organisations including the EU.
We reiterate our support for the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine within its internationally recognised borders, and call on Russia to withdraw its forces from Ukraine in accordance with its international obligations and commitments. We support the right of all countries to decide their own future and foreign policy free from outside interference. NATO’s relationship with Ukraine is a matter only for Ukraine and the 30 NATO Allies. We firmly reject any attempts to divide Allied security.
We are ready for meaningful dialogue with Russia. We reiterate our long-standing invitation to Russia for a meeting of the NATO-Russia Council in the near future. We are aware of Russia’s recent European security proposals. We are clear that any dialogue with Russia would have to proceed on the basis of reciprocity, address NATO’s concerns about Russia’s actions, be based on the core principles and foundational documents of European security, and take place in consultation with NATO’s European Partners. Should Russia take concrete steps to reduce tensions, we are prepared to work on strengthening confidence-building measures. The OSCE is also a relevant platform.
NATO is a defensive Alliance and will continue to strive for peace, security, and stability in the whole of the Euro-Atlantic area. We stand united to defend and protect all Allies. (Source: https://www.gov.uk/)
16 Dec 21. Iran more than doubles Revolutionary Guard’s budget in FY22 bill. Iran will spend on its Revolutionary Guard next year more than double the amount allocated in 2021, according to a budget bill submitted by President Ebrahim Raisi to parliament on Dec. 12. According to the legislation for fiscal 2022, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps will receive 930trrials (U.S. $22bn). Last year, the force was given a budget of 403trn rials. The country’s conventional military, which last year received 212.79trn rials, is to get about 339.68trn rials (U.S. $7.99bn) for 2022. The exchange rate between the U.S. dollar and the Iranian rial barely fluctuated from around April 2018 to December 2021.
Michaël Tanchum, a senior associate fellow at the Austrian Institute for European and Security Policy and a nonresident scholar at the Middle East Institute, told Defense News that Tehran’s minimum strategic goal — beyond political survival — is to ensure the state of the region’s security architecture accommodates its national interests.
“The IRGC, through its use of proxy militias, drones, unconventional naval warfare and missiles, cost-effectively provides Tehran the ability to inflict costs on its neighbors to ensure this deterrent capability, as seen from the attacks on Saudi Arabia’s Abqaiq oil processing facility, the UAE’s Fujairah oil port, among others,” Tanchum said.
The Guard’s blend of unconventional tactics and hybrid warfare has expanding Iran’s sphere of influence to the shores of the Mediterranean and the Red seas, he added. From Iraq to Yemen, the tactical combination has made Saudi Arabia vulnerable on both its northern and southern land borders.
“With the increased budget, further advances in the IRGC aerospace division’s capability to use ballistic missile[s] and next-generation UAVs could shift the strategic equation in Iran’s favor without countervailing action on the part of Saudi Arabia and the UAE,” he said.
The president’s bill also allocated 955trn rials (U.S. $22bn) for the Defence Ministry; 46trn rials to the joint military forces command (which essentially reviews military strategies and responsibilities); and 7.7trn rials to the Khatam al-Anbia Air Defense Base.
“The increased budget aims to replenish expertise and materiel killed and depleted by proxy wars in order for the IRGC to keep their edge for any external attack or internal disruption brought by failed nuclear talks, as well as lost resources and possible upcoming brinkmanship escapades in regional operations theaters,” according to Yusuf Mubarak, a Bahrain-based military researcher.
The Guard, which makes up about 10% of Iran’s overall armed forces, is independent of Iran’s regular Army and is tasked with safeguarding the Islamic Republic, which was formed after the the 1979 revolution. In that context, Mubarak said, the Guard is considered Iran’s core military force when it comes to protecting the government. And if internal unrest should unfold, he told Defense News, Iran’s conventional military is not expected to be as heavy-handed.
The government also doesn’t rely on those conventional services to spearhead external offensive missions, he added.
“IRGC members have been systematically isolated — and engineered demographically and ideologically — to be indifferent to the people of Iran should they be ordered to oppress them,” Mubarak explained.
The Guard’s relatively advanced, homegrown ballistic research and development capabilities are derived from Chinese and Russian technology, he said. “This means that should advancing the IRGC’s capabilities and Iran’s regional agenda better serve Sino-Russian strategies against the U.S. and the West, the Arabian Gulf states most exposed to Iranian proxies might witness a spike in the number and complexity of the attacks through enhanced missiles and drones using Eastern tech.”
An April report by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute found Iran’s military spending fell by 3% in 2020 to $15.8bn. The report said the decrease was part of a downward trend that started in 2018, when the U.S. reinstated economic sanctions over Iran’s nuclear activities. Iran’s military spending fell by 20% between 2018 and 2020. Iran’s fiscal year starts March 21, 2022. (Source: Defense News)
15 Dec 21. Blinken says U.S. ready to move forward with sale of F-35s, drones to UAE. The United States is prepared to move forward with the sale of F-35 fighter jets and drones to the United Arab Emirates (UAE), U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Wednesday, after reports the UAE intended to suspend discussion of the deal.
A UAE official on Tuesday told Reuters that it had informed the United States that it would suspend discussions to acquire F-35 fighter jets, part of a $23bn deal that includes drones and other advanced munitions.
The official cited “technical requirements, sovereign operational restrictions, and cost/benefit analysis” as reasons that have prompted a re-assessment of the deal by the UAE government.
The UAE had signed an agreement to purchase 50 F-35 jets and up to 18 armed drones, people familiar with the situation told Reuters in January.
Speaking at a news conference in Kuala Lumpur, Blinken said Washington had to conduct some reviews.
“We’ve wanted to make sure, for example, that our commitment to Israel’s qualitative military edge is assured, so we wanted to make sure that we could do a thorough review of any technologies that are sold or transferred to other partners in the region, including the UAE,” Blinken said.
“But I think we continue to be prepared to move forward if the UAE continues to want to pursue both of these,” he said.
The sale of 50 F-35 warplanes made by Lockheed Martin (LMT.N) to the UAE had slowed amid concerns in Washington over Abu Dhabi’s relationship with China, including its use of 5G technology made by China’s tech giant Huawei.
A person briefed on the negotiations said for several months sticking points between the United States and the UAE revolved around how the stealthy jets could be deployed and how much of the sophisticated F-35 technology the UAE would be allowed to take advantage of. The person asked not to be identified by name or by association with either country.
The UAE, one of Washington’s closest Middle East allies, had long expressed interest in acquiring the F-35 jets and was promised a chance to buy them in a side deal when it agreed to normalize relations with Israel in August 2020. (Source: Reuters)
16 Dec 21. Germany: Merkel government greenlit controversial arms deal with Egypt. The former German government under now ex-Chancellor Angela Merkel greenlit several controversial arms deals with Egypt before leaving office, German news magazine Der Spiegel reported this week.
Then-Economy Minister Peter Altmaier sent a letter about the deals on December 7 to Bundestag President Bärbel Bas, one day before the swearing-in of Chancellor Olaf Scholz.
What do we know about the deals?
The weapons agreements disclosed in the letter include the delivery of three MEKO A-200 EN frigates to Egypt from Kiel-based Thyssenkrupp Marine Systems, along with 16 air defense systems from Diehl Defense, which is located in the southwestern German state of Baden-Württemberg.
A sale of a type 218 G submarine to Singapore from Thyssenkrupp was also divulged in the letter.
The three agreements were approved by the Federal Security Council, which includes not only the chancellor but also several ministers, such as the minister of finance. The Finance Minister under the previous Merkel-led government was Scholz, meaning Germany’s new chancellor was aware of the agreements.
Arms deals stir outrage
The disclosure of the weapons deals has sparked anger from some German political leaders due to Egypt’s poor human rights record and its involvement in Yemen’s civil war.
Agnieszka Brugger, a leading member of the Green Party in the German Bundestag, slammed the arms deal by the previous government “in their last hours.”
She said it was a politically calculated move, as the Green Party, which is represented in the new governing coalition with Scholz’s center-left SPD and the business-focused FDP, would likely not have approved such a decision.
These types of deals have also been sharply criticized by leaders of Germany’s Christian community, an important voting bloc for the Christian Democratic Union (CDU), which after 16 years with Merkel at the helm of the country now leads the political opposition.
Martin Dutzmann, the Protestant chairman of the Joint Conference Church and Development (GKKE) said he has little understanding for such deals and called current arms controls “inadequate.” He said arms licensing has not been restricted legally or politically.
The German government issued €5.82bn ($6.59bn) in individual export licenses for weapons in 2020. Half of this figure consisted of weapons permits to so-called “third countries” outside of NATO and the European Union.
Germany increasingly sending arms to non-EU countries
Simone Wisotzki, an international security expert and project leader at the Peace Research Institute Frankfurt, told DW it is “no longer justifiable to speak of exceptional cases” in regards to exports to “third countries.” She said sales to these nations have instead “become the rule.”
Karl Jüsten, the Catholic chairman of the GKKE, said Europe as a whole is exporting more arms to outside countries, most notably the UAE and Saudi Arabia.
“Anyone who wants to take the Common European Foreign and Security Policy seriously must also pursue a coherent restrictive arms policy, for instance legally-binding EU regulation on arms control,” Jüsten told DW.
The new German government between the SPD, Greens and FDP has agreed to implement a “restrictive weapons export policy,” particularly in regards to countries that are involved in Yemen’s war. Jüsten has welcomed the announcement, but it’s unclear if the new governing coalition will keep to its promise. (Source: https://www.taiwannews.com.tw/)
16 Dec 21. RAF Typhoon Destroys Terrorist Drone in Syria. The event was the first operational air-to-air engagement conducted by an RAF Typhoon, and also the first RAF air-to-air missile firing during Operation SHADER.
A Royal Air Force Typhoon has shot down a small hostile drone in Syria which posed a threat to Coalition forces in the area.
This unprecedented event was the first operational air-to-air engagement conducted by an RAF Typhoon, and also the first RAF air-to-air missile firing during Operation SHADER – the UK’s contribution to the Global Coalition against Daesh.
Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said: “This strike is an impressive demonstration of the RAF’s ability to take out hostile targets in the air which pose a threat to our forces. We continue to do everything we can alongside our Coalition partners to stamp out the terrorist threat and protect our personnel and our partners.”
The engagement took place on 14 December when the drone activity was detected above the At Tanf Coalition base in Syria. As the drone continued on its track, it became clear it posed a threat to Coalition forces.
RAF Typhoons conducting routine patrols in the area were tasked to investigate. Despite the small size of the drone making it a very challenging target, it was successfully shot down using an Advanced Short Range Air to Air Missile (ASRAAM) and the threat eliminated – a tribute to the skill and professionalism of Royal Air Force pilots.
This comes several weeks after the RAF successfully eliminated a known terrorist threat in Syria using a remotely piloted Reaper armed with Hellfire missiles. The Global Coalition against Daesh has liberated eight m people across 110,000 sq km from Daesh tyranny in Iraq and Syria.
Nevertheless, Daesh is still a threat. The UK remains firmly committed to working with our Coalition partners and the Iraqi Security Forces on further degrading the terrorist group. (Source: https://www.gov.uk/)
16 Dec 21. Update: air strikes against Daesh. The RAF are continuing to take the fight to Daesh in Iraq and Syria.
Tuesday 14 December – Typhoons destroyed a hostile drone over Syria in an air to air engagement.
On Tuesday 14 December, hostile drone activity was detected around the At Tanf coalition base in Syria. A pair of Typhoon FGR4s from Royal Air Force Akrotiri were conducting one of their regular patrols over Syria and Iraq as part of the global coalition against Daesh, and were tasked to investigate. On arrival in the At Tanf area, the pilots were able to identify a small hostile drone, and despite the diminutive size of the target, succeeded in conducting an air to air engagement with an ASRAAM (Advanced Short Range Air to Air Missile) which eliminated the threat it posed to coalition forces.
Royal Air Force aircraft have continued to fly missions over Iraq and Syria in support of the global coalition against the Daesh terrorist movement. On Monday 25 October, the crew of a remotely piloted Reaper, armed with Hellfire missiles, tracked a known terrorist in northern Syria, near the city of Ras al Ayn, and at a safe moment, when the individual was alone in a field, carried out a successful strike. (Source: https://www.gov.uk/)
16 Dec 21. France completes withdrawal from northern Mali. French forces completed their withdrawal from northern Mali on 14 December when they handed over their base at Timbuktu to their Mali counterparts.
The other main French bases at Kidal and Tessalit were transferred to the Armed Forces of Mali (FAMa) in October and November respectively.
When it announced the Timbuktu withdrawal, the French Armed Forces Staff (EMA) released a graphic showing there are now 4,800 French troops in the Sahel, down from the approximately 5,500 it reported earlier this year.
The previously announced plan was to reduce French forces in the Sahel to 2,500-3,000 by 2023, but General Laurent Michon, the commander of France’s Operation Barkhane mission, indicated that this is being accelerated when he told Agence France-Presse there would be about 3,000 personnel in the region by mid-2022.
The EMA said the remaining troops are supported by seven fast jets, 20 helicopters, and six unmanned aircraft, as well as up to eight tactical and strategic transport aircraft. (Source: Janes)
16 Dec 21. USA vs Russia vs China – how do their weapons sales compare?
Arms trade prospers during pandemic as profits hit record $531bn in 2020.
The sales of military services and weapons reached a record of $531bn in 2020 according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI).
The Swedish think tank has concluded that the global arms trade was not affected by the economic downturn created by COVID 19.
According to Alexandra Marksteiner, a researcher at SIPRI, global military spending increased, while some governments even accelerated payments to the arms industry to mitigate the economic impact of the pandemic.
During the first year of COVID 19, military sales either grew faster or declined at a slower rate than their civilian sales or remained stable while civilian sales fell, illustrating the resilience in the demand and production of military goods and services.
The seven UK firms in the Top 100 list of biggest arms manufacturers saw sales of $37.5bn in 2020, up by 6.2 per cent from 2019.
Meanwhile, French sales declined by 7.7 per cent.
US companies continue to dominate the arms sales industry, accounting for about 54 per cent of all arms sales. Out of the 100 largest arms selling companies, 41 are US-based. Their total sale in 2020 amounted to $285bn, more than half of the global market share. The top five companies in the ranking since 2018 have all been based in the US. By far the largest arms company in the world, Lockheed Martin, has occupied the top spot every year since 2009. In 2020 Lockheed Martin’s revenue from arms sales and military services totalled $58.2bn – 11 percent of total arms sales. The second biggest arms company in the world is the Massachusetts-based Raytheon Technologies, which was formed in 2020 by the merger of Raytheon Company and United Technologies Corporation. In bronze place is Boeing, one of the world’s most well-known aviation manufacturers. Due to the decrease in international travel because of the pandemic, Boeing recorded a loss in total sales of $19.6bn in 2020. Its military industry sales also decreased (by 5.8 per cent) from $34.1bn in 2019 to $32.1bn in 2020.
The Russian presence on the global arms sales market has steadily been declining since 2017 when sales peaked at $31.5bn. Out of the Top 100 of SIPRI’s list of biggest companies – only nine are Russian. Those nine companies accounted for 5.0 per cent of all total sales in 2020. Their combined arms sales fell by 6.5 per cent from 2019 to 2020 – $28.2 bn to $26.4bn. Some of the sharpest declines in arms sales in 2020 were suffered by Russian firms. Almaz-Antey’s (ranked 17th) arms sales decreased by 31 per cent, Russian Helicopters’ (ranked 81st) by 13 per cent and United Shipbuilding Corporation’s (ranked 33rd) by 11 per cent. The decrease in production and sales can be attributed to the State Armament Programme for 2011-20 coming to an end. The programme saw a major modernisation, and with it the pumping of funds into the Russian armed forces. Coming to an end in 2020, the funding allocated to arms procurement in the follow-up programme is lower in real terms. Despite the overall downward trend, some Russian companies increased their arms sales significantly. United Aircraft Corporation’s (ranked 21st), with a majority of shares belonging to the Russian government, saw its sales rise by 16 per cent. While KRET (ranked 58th) and Russian Electronics (ranked 71st) grew their sales by 22 per cent and 39 per cent, respectively.
China has performed incredibly well in the arms sales market last year. The eastern economic giant has become a major arms producer in a bid to become more self-sufficient in weapons production. The rise can also be attributed to massive military modernisation programs of recent years. Chinese firms beat British companies, to be the second behind the US in the volume of total arms sales in 2020 – 13 per cent of total Top 100 arms sales. Weapons sales from China amounted to an estimated $66.8bn in 2020, 1.5 per cent more than in 2019. All five Chinese companies that made it onto the list are state-owned, all ranked in the top 20, with three ranking in the top 10. NORINCO came out on top as China’s largest arms company. Founded in 1988, the state-owned defence corporation has more than a quarter of a m employees and traded $17.9 bn in weapons sales in 2020.
Other countries with a stake in the global arms sale industry in the Top 100 included Japan, Israel, South Korea, UAE, Singapore, Ukraine, Germany, Spain, Italy, Turkey, Poland and Sweden.
Several of the top firms such as Boeing and Safran are also involved in the civilian aerospace sector, which was hit particularly hard by the pandemic. (Source: forces.net)
15 Dec 21. IAEA and Iran Reach Agreement on Replacing Surveillance Cameras at Karaj Facility. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) will soon install new surveillance cameras at Iran’s Karaj centrifuge component manufacturing workshop under an agreement reached today by Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi and the Head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, Mohammad Eslami.
The cameras, to be installed in coming days, will replace those that were removed from the Karaj facility earlier this year. In addition, the Agency and Iran will continue to work on remaining outstanding safeguards issues with the aim of resolving them.
“The agreement with Iran on replacing surveillance cameras at the Karaj facility is an important development for the IAEA’s verification and monitoring activities in Iran. It will enable us to resume necessary continuity of knowledge at this facility,” Director General Grossi said. “I sincerely hope that we can continue our constructive discussions to also address and resolve all outstanding safeguards issues in Iran.”
The agreement between the two sides includes the following elements:
- The Agency and Iran will continue to work on remaining outstanding safeguards issues with the aim of resolving them. To this end, Iran and the Agency will conduct a series of exchanges of information and assessments including through meetings of experts.
- The Agency will make available a sample camera and related technical information to Iran for analysis by its relevant security and judiciary officials, in the presence of the Agency inspectors, on 19 December 2021.
- The Agency will reinstall cameras to replace those removed from the workshop at Karaj and perform other related technical activities before the end of December 2021 on a date agreed between the Agency and Iran.
13 Dec 21. As US and China Warily Eye Each Other, Taiwan Could Be the Flashpoint. The United States and China are squaring off in a global competition with a scale unseen since the Cold War, as the two nuclear powers race for military dominance and new weaponry that ranges across the seas, space, cyberspace and beyond.
It’s a rivalry that includes everything from what U.S. officials say are near-daily low-level attacks on satellites such as blinding them with lasers, to U.S. Navy operations challenging China’s claims in the South China Sea, to a race fielding hypersonic missiles that can evade air defenses.
Stuck in the middle is Taiwan, one of the most valuable pieces on the geopolitical chess board — and one many worry could be the flashpoint for war between the United States and China.
A war with China over Taiwan would be larger than anything the U.S. military has faced in recent decades, when it has been focused on counterterrorism and counterinsurgency rather than preparing to fight against a peer adversary.
China has been stepping up military drills around the island in what Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin recently said appear to be “rehearsals” for an invasion.
Defense officials and analysts worry Taiwan is not well enough defended, as lawmakers and commentators debate whether the U.S. military should intervene if China tries to take Taiwan by force.
“Nobody wants to see this develop into a conflict in this region,” Austin said Dec. 4 at the annual Reagan National Defense Forum. “So we’re going to do everything in our power to help prevent conflict and dial down the temperature whenever possible.”
The status of Taiwan, an island that’s a little bigger than the size of Maryland and home to roughly 23 m people, has been in limbo for more than half a century.
While Taiwan lacks assets that countries traditionally fight over, such as natural resources, it has taken on an outsize importance in U.S.-China competition as both countries see it as symbolic of their larger goal for regional dominance. The island’s location off the coast of China and between southeast and northeast Asia would also make it a strategic asset during any global conflict.
U.S.-China tensions have been flaring over a raft of issues, from the COVID-19 pandemic to trade disputes to China’s oppression of Uyghur Muslims, which the United States has declared a genocide.
Beijing’s rapid military rise especially has caused alarm. U.S. officials point to its leaps forward on hypersonic weapons, an expanding nuclear arsenal and anti-satellite capabilities.
But even as the concerns stack up, it’s Taiwan that is the focus of increasing tension, and the risk of escalation between China and the U.S.
Austin had a broader message for the national security elite gathered at the annual Reagan forum in Simi Valley, California, earlier this month: Don’t panic.
The Taiwan Conundrum
Under decades-old policy, the U.S. maintains what’s called “strategic ambiguity” toward Taiwan, remaining purposefully vague about whether it would come to the island’s defense if China invades.
The policy is meant to deter China from attacking and discourage Taiwan from formally declaring independence — a move opposed by Beijing — by keeping them both guessing.
After the Chinese Revolution brought the Communist party to power in 1949, the previous government fled to Taiwan and established what they called the new, true capital of China in Taipei.
Since then, Beijing has considered Taiwan a breakaway province, and current Chinese President Xi Jinping has vowed to pursue “reunification.”
The United States sees Taiwan as a democratic bulwark against authoritarian China’s expanist ambitions. However, as part of normalizing relations with China in the 1970s, the United States does not officially recognize Taiwan as an independent country.
But stepped-up Chinese war games around the island in recent months have made the thought of an invasion seem more realistic and reignited questions about how the U.S. would respond.
During October drills, China flew a record 56 military flights around Taiwan in one day, part of a total 149 flights over four days.
Earlier this year, U.S. Indo-Pacific Command chief Adm. John Aquilino testified during a congressional hearing that the possibility of China trying to invade is “closer to us than most think,” though he declined to endorse a specific timeline. His predecessor, Adm. Philip Davidson, told lawmakers weeks earlier that he thought China could try to invade within six years.
Talking to reporters on the sidelines of the Reagan forum, Aquilino suggested there are elements of psychological warfare in China’s near-constant drilling around Taiwan.
“It has a coercive nature. … It’s a form of a pressure campaign,” he told reporters.
While there’s Chinese activity near Taiwan almost daily, Aquilino also said the spikes that make headlines are “a bit of a tit-for-tat” response to U.S. activities. For example, the October Chinese drills came after the United States and five of its allies conducted a massive naval exercise in the Philippine Sea that included two U.S. aircraft carriers, a British carrier and 15 other warships.
Bonnie Glaser, director of the Asia program at the German Marshall Fund think tank, said she does not believe war is imminent, despite the ramped-up military presence.
“The Chinese are training in a very realistic way,” she told Military.com in a phone interview. “A rehearsal doesn’t mean that they have the intention to invade.”
Glaser pointed specifically to congressional testimony from Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Mark Milley, who told the Senate Appropriations Committee in June that China has “little intent right now or motivation” to take Taiwan “militarily.”
But some lawmakers want deeper assurances that the U.S. is prepared.
The bipartisan annual defense policy bill that is on track to become law includes a similar statement of support for Taiwan. The National Defense Authorization Act would make it U.S. policy to “maintain the capacity of the United States to resist a fait accompli that would jeopardize the security of the people on Taiwan,” while also specifying the policy should be consistent with the U.S. law that sets the basis for strategic ambiguity.
That does not go as far as some other lawmakers in both parties have proposed: preemptive authorization for U.S. military action to defend Taiwan.
How War Might Play Out
Should war over Taiwan come, it could include everything from clandestine skirmishes to all-encompassing combat.
Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Jack Reed, D-R.I., predicted that China could start with tactics that fall below the traditional threshold of war, known as grey zone warfare, such as certain types of cyber operations.
“Looking at the issue of Taiwan in particular, I don’t think it would be the traditional D-Day because that would take months to organize your landing forces, and we would know that, and we would have time to either take action or to negotiate,” he said during a panel at Reagan.
Rather, Reed compared a possible Chinese invasion of Taiwan to Russia’s 2014 invasion of Crimea in Ukraine, saying it could entail “cyber operations, infiltrating, getting people in there quickly via air.”
Ukraine serves as an easy stand-in for Taiwan, with the invasion of Crimea a warning that countries caught between great powers are serving as proxy battlefields. Despite Russia’s claiming of Ukrainian territory, and international condemnation over the annexation, an equilibrium had been reached until earlier this year, when tens of thousands of Russian troops began amassing near the Ukrainian border, leaving western officials scrambling to head off a possible Russian invasion. Recent news reports said U.S. intelligence has found Russia is planning a military offensive for early 2022 that could include as many as 175,000 troops.
Much like when he spoke about Taiwan, Austin expressed hope at the Reagan forum for avoiding conflict, despite the escalation.
“There’s a lot of space here for diplomacy and leadership to work,” Austin said. “We’re going to remain engaged with our allies in the region, our partners in the region, and we’re going to continue to do everything we can to help provide Ukraine the capability to protect its sovereign territory.”
Taiwan’s ambiguous status in U.S. policy has made defense officials reluctant to go into detail about how the American military might step in during an invasion, and whether a clear military response would even be triggered.
About 375,000 U.S. sailors, soldiers, airmen, Marines and civilian personnel are focused on the Pacific, with hundreds of ships and more than a thousand aircraft spread across the region and U.S. military bases in Hawaii, Guam, South Korea and Japan.
In October, Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen confirmed in an interview with CNN that a small number of U.S. troops are on the island training Taiwanese forces.
But Austin sidestepped a question at the Reagan forum about making those troops more visible. Instead, he spoke in general terms about how the U.S. is going to “look for ways to do more” to help Taiwan.
How many U.S. troops would be needed to defend Taiwan depends on an exact invasion scenario, Glaser said. For example, trying to remove Chinese forces after they land in Taiwan would mean an enormous commitment of military forces, compared to countering a Chinese blockade.
The United States does not have enough military resources in the region to defend Taiwan from a full-scale invasion.
“We don’t have enough force in place, and the forces we have are very vulnerable to Chinese attack,” Glaser said.
Taiwan’s own defenses also need to be hardened, officials said, particularly through arms sales.
The island government has traditionally been attracted to buying “shiny objects,” such as fighter jets, rather than addressing a more urgent need to make the island “much less easy to swallow” by Chinese forces, Army Secretary Christine Wormuth told the audience at the Reagan forum this month.
“We need Taiwan to be investing in things like sea mines, in anti-ship missiles and coastal defense, and really working on the readiness of their forces,” Wormuth said.
The Great Global Competition
Taiwan is only one of a dizzying number of facets of the competition between the U.S. and China.
Over the summer, China tested a nuclear-capable hypersonic missile that was launched into space, circumnavigated the globe and hit a target. U.S. officials were at first reluctant to confirm details they said were classified, but have since been referring more and more to the test as they argue the United States is at risk of falling behind.
“Hypersonic weapons, especially at intercontinental ranges, greatly complicate the strategic warning problem,” Gen. David Thompson, vice chief of space operations for the Space Force, said at the Reagan forum. “The ability to maneuver means you no longer know with confidence where it’s going and cannot be prepared to deal with it unless you keep track of it throughout its flight, throughout its trajectory.”
Thompson said he is confident the U.S. could “absolutely” catch up to China on hypersonic weapons.
Officials are increasingly discussing hypersonic weapons and space capabilities — including the ability to sabotage satellites integral to both the military and civilians, such as the Global Positioning System, or GPS — in terms of an arms race with China.
“The fact, that in essence, on average, they are building and fielding and updating their space capabilities at twice the rate we are means that very soon, if we don’t start accelerating our development and delivery capabilities, they will exceed us,” Thompson said.
He added that 2030 is “not an unreasonable estimate” for when China could overtake the U.S. in space.
The heated competition extends into cutting-edge technologies such as artificial intelligence and nanotechnology. Austin called on businesses and industry leaders to “work with us and help keep our country strong,” promising to make it easier for those who are making advances to work with the Defense Department.
China has also been using less high-tech solutions to extend its power base. The country is building military bases and airstrips on islands in the South China Sea that are disputed territory, prompting the U.S. military to sail ships and fly aircraft around the islands in so-called freedom of navigation operations.
And China is leaning on diplomacy to help expand its military influence beyond the Pacific.
China’s primary means of gaining an international foothold is its so-called Belt and Road initiative of investing in infrastructure, which U.S. officials say is really a trap to leave countries indebted to Beijing.
China has lent African countries hundreds of bns of dollars as part of the initiative, and one of those countries, Djibouti, is home to China’s first overseas military base. China is also reportedly now eyeing a base along the Atlantic Ocean in Equatorial Guinea, according to The Wall Street Journal.
U.S. Southern Command chief Gen. Laura Richardson warned that a similar situation is unfolding in South America that could lead to Chinese military bases and Chinese-owned enterprises in the western hemisphere.
“China’s playbook for Africa is taking place in Latin America now,” she said on a panel at Reagan. “If we’re not careful, what’s happening in Latin America will in five or 10 years have the same impacts.”
To critics, the military’s focus on China offers a useful boogeyman to justify ever-increasing defense budgets. The defense budget, including both Pentagon and non-Pentagon funding such as Department of Energy nuclear weapons programs, is expected to jump from $740bn in 2021 to $768bn in 2022.
Both China and the United States say they don’t want war, and it’s unclear whether the U.S. would have the appetite to get into a massive conflict, particularly as the public remains weary following two decades of war in the Middle East.
But U.S. defense officials also continue to beat the drum about why the United States must win the competition with China.
“I don’t want to see them eroding the current international order, which I think has kind of helped raise everybody’s boats,” Wormuth said. “Making it clear to China that they can’t violate the laws of territorial sovereignty is why Taiwan matters, because we want the Indo-Pacific to remain stable and free.” (Source: Military.com)
13 Dec 21. Saudi Arabia decreases defense spending to $46bn. Saudi Arabia will spend 171bn riyals (U.S. $46bn) on its military in 2022, about a 10% decrease from the 2021 defense budget of 190bn riyals, according to the kingdom’s budget statement. Abdullah Al Junaid, a Bahraini strategic expert and political researcher, told Defense News that the reason for the decrease is twofold: The move is part of the kingdom’s local production strategy, and the second is due to the near completion of several defense deals.
He pointed to the acquisition of the F-15SA fighter jet, for which the kingdom is nearing completion as it converts its F-15S fleet to the F-15SA standard. He also noted the nearly finished acquisition of Spanish corvettes.
Theodore Karasik, a senior adviser at the U.S.-based geopolitical consultancy Gulf State Analytics, told Defense News the spending decrease could also be an attempt at making the government more efficient — something he’s seen the kingdom try before.
“Perhaps what we’re seeing is some of the bloat of the Saudi [Ministry of Defense] being reduced so it becomes more efficient, but time will tell,” Karasik said.
Asked if this implies less participation in the war in Yemen, he said: “Not necessarily because of the requirements on the ground and of course defense capacity for protection from loitering munition attacks.”
“Saudi reduction in [its] defense budget is necessary to show that the kingdom is moving in a more systematic way toward their military requirements. The decreases are necessary to show outside observers that the kingdom is making progress in this regard as the region undergoes a dramatic defense spending shift because of current social-economic requirements. Part of this is also associated with the generation of more a indigenous defense industry in order to meet more immediate demands,” Karasik said.
An April report by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute ranked Saudi Arabia as having the sixth largest defense budget for 2020, with the country taking up a 2.9% share of worldwide military expenditure. The report also estimated Saudi Arabia spent 8.4% of its gross domestic product on its military in 2020. According to the country’s budget document, the kingdom spent 201bn riyals on its armed forces in 2020. (Source: Defense News)
13 Dec 21. Huntsman deal to strengthen regional security posture: PM. The Australian prime minister is confident the newly established industrial co-operation agreement with South Korea would bolster the nations’ mutual response to regional security threats. The Commonwealth government has officially awarded a contract to Hanwha Defense Australia for the supply of 30 Huntsman AS9 self-propelled artillery systems and 15 AS10 armoured ammunition resupply vehicles to the Australian Army under the LAND 8116 Phase 1 program. As part of the contract, valued at approximately $1bn, the vehicles will be manufactured in Australia at a new Hanwha facility based in Greater Geelong, Victoria. Construction of the facility is scheduled to commence in the second quarter of 2022, spanning approximately two years, while production of the AS9 Huntsman self-propelled howitzers is expected to begin in the fourth quarter of 2024.
Several Australia-based companies have been tasked with supporting Hanwha’s project, including Kongsberg Defence Australia, ElmTek, Penske Australia, HIFraser, CBG Systems, TAE Aerospace, Bisalloy Steels, Thales Australia, Sigma Bravo and Elphinstone.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison, who was joined by President of the Republic of Korea Moon Jae-in at a signing ceremony at Parliament House in Canberra, noted the significance of the new deal as a means to strengthening regional security co-operation.
“Our Comprehensive Strategic Partnership with the Republic of Korea is underpinned by our joint commitment to defence and security co-operation,” he said.
“The contract with Hanwha demonstrates the value of industrial collaboration in supporting our countries in addressing mutual security challenges.”
Minister for Defence Peter Dutton listed the capability benefits of the platforms, which he said would bolster Army’s offensive and defensive posture.
“The prime ability of the new vehicles is to fire and move quickly, avoiding enemy counter-attack. This project will mean a significant increase in the level of firepower and security for Australian artillery capability,” Minister Dutton said.
“We are committed to keeping our region safe, while protecting our interests in a rapidly changing global environment.
“The self-propelled howitzer capability, including a strengthened industrial base, is one of several projects that will modernise the Australian Army, ensuring it continues to maintain a capability advantage now, and into the future.”
In addition to bolstering capability, the contract is tipped to generate approximately 300 jobs across facility construction, acquisition and maintenance, with support opportunities for Australian industry expected to be offered over the next two decades.
Minister for Defence Industry Melissa Price said the investment would support the sustainment of critical defence capabilities and strengthen Australia’s position as an exporter of military equipment and technology to allies.
“The new facility will create hundreds of local jobs and become a national asset for military capability, supporting land combat vehicles for the Australian Army,” Minister Price said.
“Australian industry will play a vital role delivering and sustaining the Huntsman capabilities at the new facility.
“The announcement of this significant contract and the future facility is tremendous news for Victoria and working Australians, as well as defence companies across the country.”
This is the latest investment in Army capability, coming just days after the government confirmed plans to purchase up to 40 Sikorsky-built UH-60 Black Hawks to replace the Australian Army’s fleet of 47 Airbus-built MRH-90 Taipan helicopters. A request has been made as part of a provisional assessment process designed to inform a prospective purchase.
Representatives from Sikorsky Australia – a subsidiary of Lockheed Martin – informed Minister Dutton during preliminary discussions that six Black Hawk helicopters could be available from the company’s 2022 global production line, with the remaining helicopters potentially delivered by 2026. This comes amid ongoing concerns over the troubled MRH-90 Taipan fleet, currently in service as Army’s utility aircraft. (Source: Defence Connect)
13 Dec 21. Australia, South Korea sign $717m defence deal. Defence contract is the largest struck between Australia and an Asian nation, and its signing came during a visit by South Korean President Moon Jae-in to the capital of Australia, Canberra. Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison and South Korean President Moon Jae-in have signed a $717m defence deal. Worth about 1bn Australian dollars, the contract was signed on Monday during a four-day visit by Moon to Canberra. The South Korean president is the first foreign leader to visit Australia since the pandemic began.
The new defence deal will see South Korean defence company Hanwha provide the Australian army with artillery weapons, supply vehicles and radars.
It is the largest defence contract struck between Australia and an Asian nation, and comes at a time of heightened tensions between Australia and China.
Australia recently announced a deal to build nuclear-powered submarines in a partnership, dubbed AUKUS, with the United States and the United Kingdom — a move that China has strongly condemned.
Morrison said the new defence contract would create about 300 jobs in Australia, where a division of Hanwha operates.
“The contract that we have signed today, I think, speaks volumes about what we believe are the capabilities of the Korean defence industry,” he said.
“It’s an important further chapter in the defence industry story for Australia as we continue to build our sovereign capability and Korea is an important partner in that journey – both in our security arrangements, but also in the building of our sovereign capability in defence manufacturing.”
Moon said South Korea had similar values to Australia when it came to its geopolitical outlook and said his Canberra visit “is very important for the national interest of Korea and to promote peace and prosperity in the region”.
But he also said that South Korea’s relationship with China was important, particularly when it came to pursuing peace with North Korea.
“Therefore, South Korea is focused on the steadfast alliance with the US and also with China,” Moon said. “We want a harmonised relationship.”
The South Korean president also ruled out joining a US-led diplomatic boycott of the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing, saying he was “not considering” such a move.
Australia, Canada and the United Kingdom have joined Washington’s campaign, citing concern over alleged human rights abuses in China.
A top diplomat in Canberra told the ABC broadcaster that Moon had calculated it was worth travelling to Australia to strengthen ties despite possible repercussions from China.
“At the end of his single five-year term and in the midst of the pandemic, it has to be quite important to signal a degree of support and comfort with Australia’s membership of the Quad and the AUKUS agreement,” said Bill Paterson, a former diplomat who served as Australia’s ambassador to Seoul until 2016.
“[The] Koreans have obviously taken a view that they want to send a positive signal to Australia both strategically and economically – and are prepared to take some measure of risk in this.”
Australian Defence Minister Peter Dutton said his government was committed to keeping the region safe, and the new contract would help modernise the Australian army.
“The prime ability of the new vehicles is to fire and move quickly, avoiding enemy counterattack,” Dutton said. “This project will mean a significant increase in the level of firepower and security for Australian artillery capability.”
South Korea is Australia’s fourth-largest trading partner and fourth-largest export market under a free trade agreement that has been in force since 2014.
This year marks the 60th anniversary of diplomatic ties between the two countries.
During their talks, Morrison and Moon agreed to upgrade the formal ties between their nations to a “comprehensive strategic partnership”.
The leaders also said they would work together on developing clean energy technologies, including hydrogen, and on facilitating the supply of critical minerals, which Australia has in abundance. (Source: Defense News Early Bird/https://www.aljazeera.com/)
13 Dec 21. Taiwan says confident Chinese invasion would be very hard.
A full Chinese invasion of Taiwan with troops landed and ports and airports seized would be very difficult to achieve due to problems China would have in landing and supplying troops, Taiwan’s Defence Ministry said in its latest threat assessment.
Tensions between Taipei and Beijing, which claims the democratically-ruled island as its own territory, have risen in the past two years as China steps up military activities near Taiwan to pressure it to accept Chinese rule.
In a report to lawmakers, Taiwan’s Defence Ministry said China’s transport capacity was at present limited, it would not be able to land all its forces in one go, and would have to rely on “non-standard” roll-on, roll-off ships that would need to use port facilities and transport aircraft that would need airports.
“However, the nation’s military strongly defends ports and airports, and they will not be easy to occupy in a short time. Landing operations will face extremely high risks,” the ministry said in its report, a copy of which was reviewed by Reuters.
China’s logistics face challenges too, as any landing forces would need to be resupplied with weapons, food and medicines across the Taiwan Strait that separates the two, it added.
“The nation’s military has the advantage of the Taiwan Strait being a natural moat and can use joint intercept operations, cutting off the Communist military’s supplies, severely reducing the combat effectiveness and endurance of the landing forces.”
China would also need to keep some of its forces in reserve to prevent any foreign forces joining in to help Taiwan and to keep close watch on other fractious areas of China’s border, like with India and in the South China Sea, the ministry said.
“U.S. and Japanese military bases are close to Taiwan, and any Chinese Communist attack would necessarily be closely monitored, plus it would need to reserve forces to prevent foreign military intervention,” it added.
“It is difficult to concentrate all its efforts on fighting with Taiwan.”
Experts say though that China has other means at its disposal to bring Taiwan to its knees short of a full out invasion, including a blockade or targeted missile attacks.
Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen is overseeing a military modernisation programme to make the island harder to attack, making the military more mobile and with precision weapons like longer-range missiles to take out an attacking force. The government is planning an extra T$240bn ($8.66bn) over the next five years in military spending to go mostly toward naval weapons, including missiles and warships. (Source: News Now/Reuters)
12 Dec 21. Russia leads the world in hypersonic missiles tech, Putin says. Russia is the global leader in hypersonic missiles and, by the time other countries catch up, is likely to have developed technology to counteract these new weapons, President Vladimir Putin said.
Russia and the United States have an approximate parity when if comes to the number of warheads and their carriers, Putin said in comments aired on Sunday as part of a documentary film called “Russia. New History”.
“But in our advanced developments, we are definitely the leaders,” Putin said, adding that Russia is also No. 1 in the world by the scale of upgrades of its traditional weapons.
The president said that in the future, other world powers would possess similar hypersonic weapon technology.
“When they get this weapon, it is highly likely will have means to fight this weapon.”
Putin said last month that tests of Russia’s Zircon hypersonic cruise missile are nearing completion and deliveries to the navy will begin in 2022. read more
Some Western experts have questioned how advanced Russia’s new generation of weapons is, while recognising that the combination of speed, manoeuvrability and altitude of hypersonic missiles makes them difficult to track and intercept.
They travel at more than five times the speed of sound in the upper atmosphere, or about 6,200 km per hour (3,850 mph). This is slower than an intercontinental ballistic missile, but the shape of a hypersonic glide vehicle allows it to manoeuvre toward a target or away from defences.
Moscow’s military spending is much lower than that of Washington. Russia channelled $62bn on military expenditures in 2020 versus $778bn spent by the United States, according to the World Bank data.
U.S. Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall told Reuters last month that the United States and China were engaged in an arms race to develop the most lethal hypersonic weapons.
In October, the top U.S. military officer, General Mark Milley, confirmed a Chinese hypersonic weapons test that military experts say appears to show Beijing’s pursuit of an Earth-orbiting system designed to evade American missile defences.
Putin spoke about Russia’s military power in the same documentary film where he lamented the collapse of the Soviet Union three decades ago as the demise of what he called “historical Russia”. (Source: Reuters)
12 Dec 21. Ukraine blames Germany for ‘blocking’ Nato weapons supply Strategy of ‘not provoking Russia won’t work’, Kyiv defence minister Oleksii Reznikov tells FT Ukrainian soldiers patrol in the eastern Lugansk region. Kyiv has struggled to plugs gaps in its military capabilities, with allies wary that supplying arms may be deemed a provocation by Russia. Ukraine’s new defence minister has blamed Germany for blocking the supply of weaponry to Kyiv through Nato, despite US warnings of a possible imminent invasion by Russian forces. Oleksii Reznikov told the Financial Times that Berlin had in the past month vetoed Ukraine’s purchase of anti-drone rifles and anti-sniper systems via the Nato Support and Procurement Agency. However, Germany had since relented on the first item, after deeming it non-lethal. “They are still building the Nord Stream 2 pipeline and at the same time blocking our defensive weapons. It is very unfair,” Reznikov said, referring to the Russian gas pipeline that runs through the Baltic Sea to Germany and bypasses existing supply routes through Ukraine. Kyiv has struggled to plug gaps in its military capabilities, but allies are wary that supplying arms may be deemed a provocation, or even a pretext for escalation, by Russian president Vladimir Putin. Ukraine is urgently seeking to acquire anti-missile and anti-aircraft systems, electronic warfare kit and cyber defence equipment. Given the German blockage of procurement of lethal equipment — a position taken by Angela Merkel’s former government — Reznikov said Ukraine would seek to acquire arms through bilateral deals with allies, including the US, UK, Lithuania and France. The position of the new German government, led by Chancellor Olaf Scholz, is not yet clear. The German economy ministry, which is responsible for approving or vetoing weapons exports, declined to comment on Sunday, as did the German chancellery.
In May, Robert Habeck, co-leader of the Greens and now economy minister in the ruling coalition, said Ukraine’s requests for defensive weapons would be “hard to deny”. Ukraine’s defence minister Oleksii Reznikov warned that attempting to placate Putin ‘does not work and will not work.’ Reznikov said he was in a “very optimistic mood” about obtaining missiles and other defensive weaponry from the US and other western backers after holding talks with his counterparts. But he could not confirm whether supplies would arrive swiftly enough to deter a full-blown Russian invasion. Western leaders, led by US president Joe Biden, have threatened crippling economic sanctions to dissuade Moscow from further aggression. After a summit in Liverpool on Sunday, G7 foreign ministers released a statement calling on Moscow to “de-escalate, pursue diplomatic channels and abide by its international commitments”. “Russia should be in no doubt that further military aggression against Ukraine would have massive consequences and severe cost in response,” the statement said. Reznikov said western allies’ fears of confronting Putin from a position of strength were misguided. “Not provoking Russia — that strategy does not work and will not work,” he said, noting that Moscow had invaded Georgia after Berlin and Paris had blocked the country’s path to joining Nato in 2008. Recommended The Big Read Ukraine: what does Vladimir Putin want? Despite the increasingly loud US warnings of a possible Russian invasion, Reznikov, like other Ukrainian officials, downplayed the imminent threat.
Kyiv estimated there were about 100,000 Russian troops deployed along its borders — similar to the Russian build-up during the spring and summer. While Moscow was building encampments for up to 175,000 personnel, according to US assessments, many of the tents appeared to be unoccupied, Reznikov said. A conflict would be a calamity for Europe, with ms of Ukrainians likely to flee to the EU and Ukraine’s vast exports of grain in jeopardy, he said. “There will be a lot of coffins coming back to Russia,” he said, adding an invasion would mark “the end of the current world” and open “a new era” without international rules. Reznikov, a lawyer who served as minister for the reintegration of occupied territories until his promotion to defence minister last month, said Kyiv had no indication from Washington that its aspirations to join Nato would be delayed or excluded. Biden last week agreed to further talks with Putin to discuss Russia’s opposition to Ukraine’s Nato membership. Moscow’s “red line” against Ukraine entering Nato was just part of Russia’s “salami-slicing tactics” against the alliance, Reznikov said. “My perception is the US has understood these threats. They have to keep the alliance unified.” Reznikov also denied Kyiv had come under any pressure from the US to grant special status or deeper autonomy to the occupied Donbas regions as a way of kick-starting stalled peace talks. (Source: FT.com)
12 Dec 21. Arms Sales of SIPRI Top 100 Arms Companies Continue to Grow Amid Pandemic. The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) reports that sales of arms and military services by the defense industry’s 100 largest companies totaled $531bn in 2020—an increase of 1.3 percent in real terms compared with the previous year. The arms sales of the Top 100 arms companies in 2020 were 17 percent higher than in 2015—the first year for which SIPRI included data on Chinese firms. This marked the sixth consecutive year of growth in arms sales by the Top 100. Arms sales increased even as the global economy contracted by 3.1 percent during the first year of the pandemic. ‘The industry giants were largely shielded by sustained government demand for military goods and services,’ said Alexandra Marksteiner, Researcher with the SIPRI Military Expenditure and Arms Production Programme. ‘In much of the world, military spending grew and some governments even accelerated payments to the arms industry in order to mitigate the impact of the Covid-19 crisis.’ Nevertheless, operating in the military market did not guarantee immunity to the effects of the pandemic. French arms manufacturer Thales, for example, ascribed a drop in arms sales of 5.8 percent to lockdown-induced disruptions in the spring of 2020. Some companies also reported supply chain disruptions and delayed deliveries. The United States once again hosted the highest number of companies ranked in the Top 100. Together, the arms sales of the 41 US companies amounted to $285bn—an increase of 1.9 percent compared with 2019—and accounted for 54 percent of the Top 100’s total arms sales. Since 2018, the top five companies in the ranking have all been based in the USA. The US arms industry is undergoing a wave of mergers and acquisitions. To broaden their product portfolios and thus gain a competitive edge when bidding for contracts, many large US arms companies are opting to merge or acquire promising ventures. ‘This trend is particularly pronounced in the space sector,’ said Marksteiner. ‘Northrop Grumman and KBR are among several companies to have acquired high-value firms specialized in space technology in recent years.’ The combined arms sales of the five Chinese companies included in the Top 100 amounted to an estimated $66.8bn in 2020, 1.5 percent more than in 2019. Chinese firms accounted for 13 percent of total Top 100 arms sales in 2020, behind US companies and ahead of companies from the United Kingdom, which made up the third-largest share. ‘In recent years, Chinese arms companies have benefited from the country’s military modernization programs and focus on military-civil fusion,’ said Dr. Nan Tian, SIPRI Senior Researcher. (Source: glstrade.com)
09 Dec 21. US to ship small arms and ammunition to Ukraine. Ukraine can use the items in the security systems package for self-defence purposes only. The US is set to send the final components of a $60m security systems package, consisting of small arms and ammunition, to Ukraine. During a press briefing, Pentagon press secretary John F. Kirby confirmed that the package will be shipped this week. The other elements of the package, which include the Javelin missile system, have already been delivered to the Ukrainian armed forces. Kirby told reporters that Ukraine can use the materiel for self-defence purposes only. He stated: “Our expectation for use of the Javelins … [is] that they are to be used in a self-defensive mode … for self-defence purposes.
“There is no geographical restriction on where they can be used inside Ukraine. We expect them to use them responsibly and for purposes of self-defence.”
Kirby added that no decision has been taken to provide additional security assistance to Ukraine. The delivery comes amid increasing tensions between the two neighbouring countries of Ukraine and Russia. (Source: army-technology.com)
09 Dec 21. The US Just Ended Combat in Iraq, but Thousands of Troops Will Stay Put for Now. The U.S. military ended its combat operations in Iraq this week under terms from an earlier agreement, though thousands of troops will remain in the country for now, the Pentagon said Thursday.
About 2,500 service members are in Iraq after months of winding down the mission against the Islamic State group; they will continue advising and training Iraqi security forces after the transition was completed this week. The change was finalized at the conclusion of technical talks between the two countries Thursday. The move marks a de-escalation of the U.S.-led coalition’s war against the Islamic State, or ISIS, that began in 2014 as the terrorist group swept through Iraq, staged public executions, and sponsored attacks around the world.
“This is the natural evolution,” Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said, but will not result in any immediate change to the laydown and number of U.S. forces there.
The U.S.-Iraq agreement to pull all combat troops from the country by the end of this year was hammered out in July.
Former Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi declared the military defeat of ISIS in 2017, after all territory such as the city of Mosul was reclaimed and the border with Syria was secured. But an insurgency waged by the group continued.
The terrorist group has been dramatically reduced to underground networks with no territory, but it once claimed 40,000 soldiers and controlled 110,000 square kilometers, according to the U.S.-led coalition.
“Many brave men and women gave their lives to ensure Daesh never returns, and as we complete our combat role, we will remain here to advise, assist, and enable the ISF, at the invitation of the Republic of Iraq,” Maj. Gen. John W. Brennan Jr., commander of Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve, said in a released statement, referring to ISIS with the term used by Iraqis.
ISIS “is down, but not out,” Brennan said in the statement.
It is the second time in a decade that the U.S. has pulled back forces amid an apparent calming in Iraq. In 2011, President Barack Obama announced an end to the earlier Iraq War launched in 2003 to topple Saddam Hussein, only to re-enter the country three years later to fight the burgeoning terrorist group.
The main threat now to U.S. troops remaining in the country is Shia militia groups backed by Iran. The groups are blamed for drone and rocket attacks on U.S. bases in Iraq and Syria.
“We have to assume threats to U.S. forces remain credible in Iraq,” Kirby said. (Source: Military.com/AP)
10 Dec 21. Nigerian Navy commissions large number of new vessels. The Nigerian Navy on Thursday commissioned dozens of new vessels and aircraft during a ceremony attended by President Muhammadu Buhari at the Naval Dockyard in Lagos. This included indigenously built boats.
Highlights of the ceremony included the commissioning of the third locally built Seaward Defence Boat (NNS Oji) and the keel laying of the fourth and fifth boats at the Naval Dockyard. The first (NNS Andoni) was launched in 2012 and the second (NNS Karaduwa) in 2016.
The Chief of Naval Staff (CNS), Vice Admiral Awwal Gambo, said the event marked another milestone in the history of the Nigerian Navy. He further stated that with the experience garnered so far, the Naval Dockyard Limited is adequately poised to take on the challenge in pursuit of the Federal Government of Nigeria’s Local Content Development effort.
South Africa’s Paramount division Nautic Africa is believed to have assisted the Naval Dockyard with delivering the third Seaward Defence Boat. The Nigerian Navy has acquired a number of rigid-hulled inflatable boats (RHIBs) from Paramount in the past.
Other vessels commissioned on 9 December included two Damen FCS 4008 patrol vessels (NNS Kano and NNS Ikenne), two Aresa 1700 inshore patrol boats, four Manta Mk II fast patrol craft, two FPB 110 fast patrol boats (NNS Sokota and NNS Aba), an FPB 72 Mk II fast patrol boat (NNS Osun), and dozens of RHIBs. On the aviation side, a Leonardo Helicopters AW139 was also commissioned.
The Damen vessels were built by Damen Song Cam shipyard in Vietnam and were delivered around June/July this year. The FCS 4008 Patrol features Damen’s Sea Axe design for improved seakeeping. This enables top speeds of 29 knots and a range of over 2 000 nautical miles in sea states that Damen says would slow down other vessels of the same size. The FCS 4008 is just over 40 metres long and has a 140m² aft deck and can be used for transporting personnel and cargo.
The Aresa boats are part of four that were completed by the Spanish company for the Nigerian Navy. The first (P494) was launched in April and Aresa said in September that the boats had been shipped. The Aresa 1700 (Fighter II class) is built from aluminium and is 17 metres long, with each vessel displacing 7.6 tons. The type is powered by two MTU engines delivering 1 250 hp, giving a top speed in excess of 40 knots. A RHIB can be carried at the rear of the vessel and launched by what Aresa calls its vertical launching system.
Malaysia’s Northern Shipyard completed the four Manta Mk II craft in December 2020 after receiving a contract from Suncraft International. They were delivered to Nigeria at the beginning of this year. The Nigerian Navy is a repeat customer for the Manta Mk II and by 2013 had taken 22 of the 17 metre long vessels into service. The Suncraft International Manta Mk II is powered by two 1 200 hp diesel engines, giving a top speed of between 45 and 50 knots.
France’s Ocea has supplied a large number of vessels to Nigeria, including the hydrographic survey ship NNS Lana. In October, Ocea announced that the Nigerian Navy had ordered a 35 metre hydrographic survey vessel (OSV 115 SC-WB).
Over the last eight years Ocea has supplied one FPB 98 Mk I patrol vessel, eight FPB 72 Mk II, two FPB 110 and two FPB 110 Mk II patrol vessels to Nigeria in addition to four C-Falcon interceptors. The FPB 110s NNS Sokota and NNS Aba were delivered at the end of 2020 along with the first two C-Falcons.
Gambo said the newly commissioned vessels will be deployed for surveillance and patrol duties within Nigerian territorial waters. President Buhari for his part reiterated the Federal Government’s commitment to properly equip the Nigerian Navy with the right mix of platforms. He added that given Nigeria’s present high dependence on oil and gas revenues, the Navy is undeniably a major contributor to the economic well-being of the country.
The President also commended the Nigerian Navy’s effort in the fight against maritime crimes in Nigerian waters and the Gulf of Guinea region and noted the arrests of those involved in illegalities has yielded results as some pirates, illegal bunkering syndicates, pipeline vandals and other criminals have been convicted during the year. He attributed these successes to the enforcement of Nigeria’s new anti-piracy law on Suppression of Piracy and Other Maritime Offences Act 2019. (Source: https://www.defenceweb.co.za/)
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