Friday, July 30, 2010

Taipei Eyes Harriers as Substitute for F-16s

Defense News


Taipei Eyes Harriers as Substitute for F-16s


TAIPEI — If the U.S. does not release new F-16s to Taiwan, elements in the pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) plan to push Washington to provide refurbished AV-8B Harrier attack jets.

The Harrier strategy was revealed by senior DPP members at an international conference here 

— “A Rising Chinese Hegemony and Challenges to the Region,” held July 19-20 — that outlined continued threats by China’s military modernization to Taiwan and the region.

The Washington-based Project 2049 Institute jointly sponsored the conference with the Taiwan Brain Trust, a new think tank created in January by the DPP.

Supporters of the Harrier purchase argue that Chinese missiles will destroy airbase runways, leaving conventional aircraft grounded.

The Harriers’ vertical/short takeoff and landing (VSTOL) capability would make them perfect for Taiwan, said York Chen, a former member of the National Security Council under the Chen Shui­bian administration.

However, the plan is largely dependent on whether the DPP can oust the Beijing-friendly Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) from presidential and legislative power in 2012.

The DPP might recover some of the legislative seats and possibly retake the presidency in 2012. At present, observers indicate the DPP has two potential presidential candidates, Su Tseng-chang and Tsai Ing-wen, but neither will discuss a presidential bid this early. Su is the favorite and “oozes presidential,” said an observer at the conference.

Since 2006, the U.S. has stalled on Taiwan’s request for 66 F-16C/D Block 50/52s, and with the production line for new F-16s nearing an end, some are beginning to look at alternative platforms.

“F-16s would be useless in a war anyway,” said a Taiwan Defense Ministry official. “The runways will be destroyed.” 

Growing Missile Threat 

Local analysts have pointed to the massive buildup of Chinese short-range ballistic missiles (SRBM), which now stands at 1,300, aimed at the island since the 1996 Taiwan Strait missile crisis. A paper recently released by the Ministry of National Defense has been widely misquoted in the Western media, suggesting the number of SRBMs will climb to 1,960 by the end of 2010.

The actual paper, “2010 China Attack Strength Analysis Study,” by Marine Corps Col. Tsai Jing-fa, states China will have 1,960 “short-to medium­range missiles” aimed at Taiwan by the end of the year. U.S. Defense Department and Taiwan Ministry of National Defense numbers normally only include SRBMs and do not include medium-range ballistic missiles (MRBM) or cruise missiles.

However, MRBMs are still a concern, said Mark Stokes, a former Pentagon official now with Project 2049. China is outfitting a missile brigade in Chizhou, Anhui province, believed to be an MRBM base capable of hitting Taiwan, he said.

The conference looked beyond missile threats and posed the question of what Taiwan’s unification with China would look like in the future. Lin Cheng-yin, a research fellow at Academia Sinica, suggested “nightmare scenarios” where China puts bases on the island and uses the Taiwan Navy as a proxy force for securing disputed maritime areas in the South China Sea.

Observers expressed concerns over the rapid sequence of cross-Strait agreements since the KMT won the presidency and legislature in 2008. China and Taiwan signed the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement in Chongqing, China, on June 29.

The historic agreement is expected to solidify closer economic and trade relations between Beijing and Taipei. There is now talk of a “Western Taiwan Straits Economic Zone” that would integrate the economies of Taiwan and China’s Fujian Province.

Project 2049 president, Randy Schriver, former U.S. deputy assistant secretary of state for East Asia, said at the conference that China is maneuvering Taiwan into de facto unification under a “one country, two systems” arrangement that will abrogate Taiwan sovereignty.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

U.S. Senators Demand DoD Release China Report

Defense News


U.S. Senators Demand DoD Release China Report


TAIPEI – Five influential U.S. Congressmen raised suspicions of White House interference in the delayed release of the Pentagon's annual report on China's military in a July 23 letter addressed to U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates.

The Congressional mandated report on the "Military Power of the People's Republic of China," is nearly five months late and the "lengthy delay is puzzling," said the letter signed by Republican Senators John Cornyn, John McCain, James Risch, Pat Roberts and James Inhofe.

The letter reminds Gates the "responsibility for this report lies with the DoD alone. We ask for your assurance that White House political appointees at the National Security Council or other agencies have not been allowed to alter the substance of the report in an effort to avoid the prospect of angering China."

"Anything less would risk undermining its very credibility."

The annual report, due March 1, has become a political football in relations with China, which angrily denounces each release. Analysts dissect the report each year looking for new clues about China's military modernization.

Observers point out that the annual report has been late on a number of occasions due to fears it would anger Beijing.

"In the past, it's been the case that a delayed or, in one year (2001), never published DoD report reflects the administration wanting to tone down the import of what DoD writes," said a defense analyst specializing on China.

This makes logical sense for a White House wanting better ties with China in the hopes it will cooperate on Iran and North Korea, the analyst said.

The letter raises suspicions the report is being held up for political reasons due to the fact that a "draft of the report was completed by the DoD several months ago."

Placating China does not seem to be bearing fruit. Military relations between the U.S. and China were canceled by Beijing after a January arms sale to Taiwan. The $6 billion package included Patriot PAC-3 air defense missile systems, Osprey-class mine hunting ships and UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters.

A planned visit by Gates to China in June was canceled by Beijing without explanation, but most observers attribute the slight to the January arms deal.

A joint U.S.-South Korean military exercise in the Yellow Sea scheduled to begin July 25 has raised cackles from the state-controlled Chinese media. This despite the fact the exercises are a show of strength against North Korean aggression and not aimed at China.

Observers note that Chinese protests over U.S. naval exercises in the Yellow Sea appear to be an overall strategy of area denial.

The Congressional letter quotes a 2010 paper by the Washington-based Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, "AirSea Battle: A Point-of-Departure Operational Concept," by Jan van Tol. China "appears to be purposefully developing and fielding operational military capabilities that challenge U.S. freedom of action in all domains – space, cyberspace, at sea and in the air."

The letter also makes use of comments by Admiral Robert Willard, commander of the U.S. Pacific Command, before the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee on March 26.

"China's interest in a peaceful and stable environment that will support the country's developmental goals is difficult to reconcile with the evolving military capabilities that appear designed to challenge U.S. freedom of action in the region or exercise aggression or coercion of its neighbors, including U.S. treaty allies and partners," he said.

Friday, July 23, 2010

China Condemns U.S. Plan For Yellow Sea Exercise

Defense News


China Condemns U.S. Plan For Yellow Sea Exercise


TAIPEI — Chinese official media are darkly hinting about a naval re­sponse to a planned U.S.-led anti­submarine exercise with South Korea in the Yellow Sea.

“China will not stay in ‘hands-off’ mode as the drill gets underway,” said an unsigned editorial in China’s state-controlled Global Times on July 12. “Chinese airplanes and warships will very likely go all the way out to closely watch the war game maneuvers.

“Within such proximity on not-so-clearly-marked international waters, any move that is considered hostile to the other side can willy-nilly trigger a rash reaction, which might escalate into the unexpected or the unforeseen. One false move, one wrong interpretation, is all it would take for the best-planned exercises to go awry.”

The naval drill, whose date has not been announced, is intended as a response to the March 26 sinking of a South Korean naval vessel and the deaths of 46 sailors. North Korea has been blamed for the incident, and U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates will be in Seoul on July 21 to discuss the issue.

But for more than a month, Chinese Foreign Ministry and defense officials have condemned plans for the military exercise, saying it threatens peace and Chinese sovereignty.

China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs began criticizing the U.S. exercise plans last month. On June 22, Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang said China was “seriously concerned” about reports that the exercise was being planned and that it might include an aircraft carrier.

“Under current situations, relevant parties should exercise restraint and refrain from doing things that may escalate tensions and harm the interests of the countries in the region,” Qin said.

On July 1, a Ministry of Defense statement said, “Chinese websites and BBS forums have been flooded with furious criticism of the planned U.S.-ROK war games.” And Gen. Ma Xiaotian, deputy chief of general staff of the People’s Liberation Army, has been quoted in the media on almost a daily basis since June expressing strong opposition to the exercise.

The scare tactics, an example of China’s anti-access/area denial strategy, might even be the beginning of a “Chinese Monroe Doctrine,” said Paul Giarra, the president of Global Strategies and Transformation, a Washington-based consulting firm.

“I see this as a huge collision,” Giarra said. “You have to take into account we are used to having our way” in these waters.” The Chinese, he said, “are trying to change the entire of calculus” of how the U.S. Navy operates there.

The Pentagon says the U.S. has the right to exercise when and where it chooses in international waters. DoD spokesman Geoff Morrell said July 14 that China is a regional power and a country “whose opinion we respect and consider, but this is a matter of our ability to exercise in the open seas, in international waters.” Morrell said that beyond the 12­mile limit, “we or anybody else is free to operate.” He noted that the aircraft carrier USS George Washington was in the Yellow Sea in October without incident, “so it’s not unusual at all for U.S. to be operating in the Yellow Sea.”

The planned participation of the George Washington in the exercises has riled Chinese officials the most. Some observers say the carrier may now operate solely in the Sea of Japan during the exercise, a decision that might have been an attempt to placate China.

Part of China’s anger is due to a “century of humiliation” by Western powers, said Toshi Yoshihara, a professor at the U.S. Naval War College.

The commander of the People’s Liberation Army Navy, Wu Shengli, has “pegged the number of Western imperial seaborne encroachments at more than 470,” going back to the Boxer Rebellion¸ Yoshihara said.

Beyond the emotional reactions to U.S. naval exercises in the region, China has operational concerns about the protection of sea lines of communication and the security of port facilities along the coast of the Bohai Sea and Yellow Sea.

Since 2003, China has become the largest handler of seaborne containers in the world, said Yoshihara, who co-wrote the book “Chinese Naval Strategy in the 21st Century: The Turn to Mahan.” The northern Chinese ports of Qing­dao, Tianjin and Dalian are three of the largest, busiest and fastest­growing container hubs in the region, he said.

Qingdao is the headquarters of the Chinese North Sea Fleet. Tianjin serves as the commercial gateway to Beijing. A large-scale shipyard operates in Dalian, and Lushun, a neighboring port, is a major naval base. These ports serve as China’s northernmost access points to the sea and collectively serve as the Bohai Rim Economic Circle.

“As such, Beijing will no doubt intensify its vigilance over any power reconfiguration on the [Korean] peninsula that might harm the network of major cities — including the capital — and vital industries within the economic rim,” Yoshihara said.

Some Chinese observers see no need for an exercise in the Yellow Sea in response to North Korea.

“It’s not necessary to hold military exercises at this critical juncture,” said Zhuang Jianzhong, vice director, Center for National Strategy Studies, Shanghai Jiao Tong University.

Instead, Zhuang said, all sides should concentrate on maintaining regional stability and restarting six-party talks. Showing force is “contrary” to this goal and could be seen as a threat to China; an aircraft carrier, for example, would place U.S. fighters within striking distance of Chinese cities.

“If China dispatches ships near Long Beach, California, would the U.S. feel easy about it? So we are strongly against the forthcoming exercise.” Zhuang said.


October 1994: Han-class submarine shadows the aircraft carrier USS Kitty Hawk in the Yellow Sea.

April 2001: Chinese J-8 fighter jet collides with a U.S. EP-3E Aries intelligence aircraft near Hainan Island.

October 2006: Chinese submarine surfaces near the USS Kitty Hawk carrier group during exercises near Okinawa.

March 2009: Chinese vessels harass U.S. Navy survey ships Victorious and Impeccable.

June 2009: Chinese submarine collides with a sonar array towed by the USS John McCain near Subic Bay, Philippines.

China’s F-XX Program Faces Engine Problems

Defense News


China’s F-XX Program Faces Engine Problems


TAIPEI — Engine and radar issues will prevent low-rate production for China’s F-XX next generation fighter before 2020, sources said.

A Taiwan defense source has confirmed the fighter is still in the research stage and challenges remain in securing a high-performance engine and radar.

“Given the challenges integrating fifth-generation technology, there appears little evidence China is about to roll out a stealthy fighter” capable of engaging the F-35 or F-22 anytime before 2020, the source said. The Chinese have a requirement of 300 fighter aircraft.

Two Chinese companies have developed competing prototype designs, the Chengdu Aircraft Industry Group and the Shenyang Aircraft Corp, with sources indicating both aircraft are twin-engine, twin-tailed multirole fighters.

One of China’s most demanding problems is developing the engine for the F-XX, the source said. Russia has been increasingly reluctant to sell fighter engines to China, forcing Beijing to look for a homegrown alternative. These include the Shenyang WS-10 turbofan and a higher-thrust WS-15, now under development, said Richard Fisher, vice president of the Washington-based International Assessment and Strategy Center.

“There may also be multiple fifth­generation fighter engine programs underway,” he said. “A 15-plus ton thrust variant of Shenyang’s WS-10 is sometimes called the WS-10G, while it is not clear if the 18-ton thrust WS-15 is a Chengdu or a Shenyang program.”

Fisher, the author of the new book “China’s Military Modernization,” said 2010 was a “critical year for the WS-15, as a lack of success” could mean China will not meet its stated goal of having a fifth-generation fighter in service by 2017 to 2019.

China might have to act fast. Russia appears increasingly ill at ease selling high-performance engines to China.

Mikhail Pogosyan, the general director of Sukhoi Design Bureau and Russian Aircraft Corp., recently asked Russia’s Federal Service for Military-Technical Cooperation to block delivery of 100 RD-93 engines to outfit China’s JF-17/FC-1 fighter due to fears it would compete against the MiG-29 in the export market. Pogosyan is also upset with China’s decision to ignore intellectual property agreements over the J-11B (Su-27) fighter issue.

In many cases, China has turned instead to Ukraine for technology and know-how barred by Russia. There are unconfirmed reports China procured an early prototype of the Su-33 fighter from Ukraine as a model for China’s indigenous development of a carrier-based fighter.

Debate continues on whether an indigenous carrier-based fighter will be Shenyang’s J-15 “Flying Shark” canard-configuration fighter, based on the J-11B, or the Su-33 prototype procured from Ukraine, sources said.

In 2009, Chinese Adm. Wu Shengli stated publicly that the Navy was also interested in a supercruise capable fighter, indicating the F-XX was of interest for both land-based and carrier-based missions, Fisher said.

China has expressed an interest in procuring a small number of Su-33s as stopgap trainers for the eventual fielding of an indigenous carrier-based variant, but Russia has turned down the request because of production costs and fears China would reverse-engineer the fighter.

In Asia, Big Market Seen for F-35

Defense News


In Asia, Big Market Seen for F-35


The potential market in Asia for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) could be more than 500 fighters in the next two decades, with Japan, Singapore, South Korea and Taiwan paying the closest attention.

Though there have been problems in the F-35 program office over the past year, interest in Asia in a stealthy fifth-generation fighter has not dampened. Of all of the potential Asian customers for the JSF, only Singapore has an active, but minor, role in the program.

Singapore is evaluating the F-35 as a Security Cooperation Participant (SCP) and “we are fully supporting their process,” said John Giese, Lockheed Martin’s senior manager for international communications. As an SCP, Singapore is participating in the System Design and Development Phase.

Sources indicate Singapore’s Air Force could procure up to 100 fighters to replace its roughly 60 F-16C/Ds beginning in 2020.

“Singapore has shown determination to stay ahead of the game regionally, in terms of having a more modern and more capable air force than its Southeast Asian neighbors,” said Singapore-based Tim Huxley, executive director, International Institute for Strategic Studies -


“Increasingly, the RSAF [Republic of Singapore Air Force] has moved toward equivalent capability with tactical elements of the USAF [U.S. Air Force], and I don’t think Singapore would willingly let its air capability deteriorate relative to either potential adversaries or its security partners,” including Australia, which seems determined to acquire F-35s, he said.

Some of Singapore’s neighbors, such as Indonesia and Malaysia, might object to the F-35 procurement depending on the state of their relations with Singapore at the time.

“If relations were going through a rough patch, there might be a temptation for politicians to grandstand,” Huxley said. “What is more predictable, though, is that their defense and Air Force establishments would have another reason—if they needed one—for continuing to improve their own air power and air defense capabilities.” Beyond Southeast Asia, there is growing interest in East Asia for the JSF. Japan has a requirement for 200 to 250 fighters for the F-XX competition set to begin in 2020.

“With respect to both Japan and [South] Ko­rea, Lockheed Martin fully supports each country’s fighter fleet recapitalization efforts through full and open competitions,” Giese said. “We believe that the F-35, the world’s only internationally available fifth-generation fighter, fully meets their requirements, including acquisition timelines.”

However, Japan began working on a stealthy, indigenous fifth-generation fighter program last year. The Advanced Technology Demonstrator-X (ATD-X) is a $500 million study being conducted by the International Public Affairs Office under Japan’s Ministry of Defense (MoD). Dubbed the Shinshin stealth fighter, the MoD has indicated that only preliminary research has been conducted so far.

The ATD-X is part of Japan’s three-pronged approach to strengthening its air power, which for the short term is based on improving air-to­air combat and self-defense capabilities of its present stock of F-2 and F-15 fighters, while a request for proposals to replace aging F-4s is expected later this year, according to sources. In terms of strengthening the combat capability of its fighter fleet, Japan is equipping the F-2 with self-guided air-to-air AAM-4 missiles and upgrading the fighters’ radars.

Meanwhile, its fleet of F-15s is getting an integrated electronic warfare system with upgrades to the radar jamming equipment, a radar warning system and a countermeasures dispenser system, according to MoD documents.

South Korea also has expressed interest in the F-35, which often has been referred to as a front-runner by military officials for South Korea’s F-X III program for 40 to 60 fighter air­craft. Details of the program are expected to be released in 2011. Seoul views advanced fighter buildups in both China and Japan with concern, as well as the threat posed by its traditional enemy, North Korea.

South Korean defense industry sources have indicated delivery of the F-35 conventional takeoff and landing variant could be made as early as 2014 if a contract is sealed by 2011, but a series of cost overruns and delays related to the F-35 international development program casts doubts on whether Lockheed could deliver within this timetable.

The F-35 is not necessarily the only choice for the F-X III. Other competitors are the F-15 Silent Eagle, a stealthy version of the F-15 Strike Eagle, and the Eurofighter Typhoon.

Taiwan defense officials have openly expressed an interest in the F-35 as a replacement for aging fighters. At present, Taiwan has roughly 60 F-5s and 60 Mirage 2000-5s scheduled for retirement within the next 10 years.

“In Taiwan, we stand ready to support both governments as they decide how to address Taiwan’s fighter needs,” Giese said, without acknowledging Taiwan’s interest in the JSF.

Since 2006, the U.S. government has refused Taiwan’s letter of request to buy 66 F-16C/D fighters. Part of the reason has to do with increased diplomatic and economic pressure from Beijing, which claims Taiwan as its territory.

Taiwan defense officials are also pushing the U.S. to approve a midlife upgrade program for 146 aging F-16A/B fighters.

“Many of the U.S.’ allies and partners in the Asia-Pacific region today operate the F-16,” Giese said. “We are engaged with many to upgrade their F-16 fleets as they provide for the defense of their nations well into the future.”

Wendell Minnick contributed to this report from Taipei, Jung Sung-ki from Seoul and Paul Kallender-Umezu from Tokyo.

Typhoon Tries To Wrest Japanese F-X From Super Hornet

Defense News


Typhoon Tries To Wrest Japanese F-X From Super Hornet


TAIPEI and TOKYO — A request for proposals for the Japanese Air Force’s $10 billion F-X tender is expected as early as October, and the Boeing F/A-18 Super Hornet and Eurofighter Typhoon are preparing to duke it out for the 40 to 50 fighters.

Budget allocations to replace 73 aging F-4EJ Kai Phantoms are planned for 2011, said Satoshi Tsuzukibashi, director of the Office of Defense Production at the Japan Business Federation, or Keidanren, Japan’s most powerful industrial lobby. The decision has been on hold since 2007 due to budgetary problems, political upheaval and procurement scandals.

Tokyo also delayed a decision hoping the U.S. would release the F-22 Raptor for export. But that option died last year, when the U.S. canceled further production.

There were also hopes that program delays would make available the F-35, though this appears unlikely, except for possible low-rate initial production aircraft, due to program setbacks in the U.S., sources said. Japan put itself in the back of the line when it failed to join the F-35 international investment partnership, a Japan-based U.S. defense industry official said. The F-35 is not expected to be available until 2020 or later for Japan.

But not everyone in Japan has given up on the F-35 for F-X.

“The F-35 is the most probable choice,” Tsuzukibashi said. “However, Keidanren doesn’t support any specific option. Our request is to maintain and strengthen Japan’s industrial technology and production base, and we don’t particularly favor one option.” Sources indicate the F-35 is better suited for Japan’s F-XX program for 200 to 250 fighters, scheduled for around 2020. Many see F-X only as a stopgap to a fifth-generation jet.

Though the Eurofighter consortium is offering Japan attractive industrial participation, the Typhoon faces an uphill battle. The Japanese have never procured a non-U.S. fighter jet.

“Normally, the Japanese would not mess with the U.S. alliance, therefore the F-18 will have a political advantage,” a European defense industry source said. “But the Eurofighter might well serve as a stop­gap to the F-XX program’s preferred platform, the F-35. If they want the better fighter, the Eurofighter is better than the F/A-18.

“But for some, they may be nervous of drawing into question the U.S. alliance by picking a non-U.S. fighter,” he said. “We do not want to be viewed as a threat to U.S. relations with Japan or perceived as doing anything to endanger them.” One strategy is to offer the Eurofighter as a pragmatic “stepping stone in terms of capability, industrial participation and technology transfer to either the indigenous development of the F-XX or the F-35,” the European source said.

Eurofighter is offering Japanese industry licensed production.

There also is European interest in helping Japan develop its own indigenous stealthy fighter for the F-XX competition.

In 2009, Japan’s Ministry of De­fense (MoD) initiated a $500 million research program, through the Technical Research and Development Institute, for the Advanced Technology Demonstrator-X (ATD-X) Shin­shin stealth fighter.

Boeing also is offering attractive industrial participation options.

“We are prepared to work with the Japanese heavies as well as other firms to identify opportunities for local assembly and licensed production, including a tailored indigenous logistics support package,” said Joe Song, Boeing’s vice president of Asia-Pacific business development. Boeing has a long history of working closely with the Japanese defense industry, including deals with Kawasaki Heavy Industries and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Song said.

These deals include co­assembly and co-production of CH-47 Chinook helicopters, AH-64 Apache Longbow helicopters and upgrades for F-15J/DJ fighters.

Song said recent sales to Australia provide evidence of a strong vote of confidence in the acquisition of Super Hornets. “Boeing delivered five Super Hornets in March — and six this week — on time and on budget. “In addition, our affordability is the most important factor that can ensure robust licensed production for the Japanese industrial base under the current Japan Ministry of Defense F-X budget,” Song said. “Our known cost, delivery schedule and proven track record of industrial participation in Japan is how Boeing brings the best value to Japan.”

The Super Hornet has a lot going for it, said one Tokyo-based U.S. industry analyst. Most important is commonality with the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps, which both fly it. Boeing also has a long history of cooperation with Japanese industry. However, there are shortcomings. The F/A-18 has only 11 hardpoints to accommodate weapons and a range of 2,300 kilometers compared with the Eurofighter’s 13 hardpoints and 2,900-kilometer range, the analyst said.

Not everyone agrees Japanese industrial participation is economically viable for just 40 to 50 fighters.

“It’s also hard to see the Japanese government spending a lot of money to set up a production line for a small number of fighters that, while competent and deadly, are certainly not on the cutting edge of stealth or control technology,” the analyst said.

“I simply don’t see where the Japanese industry would gain that much with either F/A-18 or Eurofighter limited co-production,” he said. “Full licensed production is probably not remotely realistic, but the question is, what do they get in terms of technology to build any part of either fighter? Both are long in the tooth compared to the latest and greatest fifth-generation fighters. So the Japanese industry will be hard-pressed to make the technology transfer case in this instance.”

Monday, July 12, 2010

Russia Fears Competition From Chinese Fighter Jets

Defense News


Russia Fears Competition From Chinese Fighter Jets


Just two weeks before Beijing plans to showcase its JF-17/FC-1 multirole fighter to potential buyers, a leading executive of Russia’s aircraft industry is trying to keep the planes from getting off the ground.

In a recent letter, Mikhail Pogosyan, the general director of Sukhoi Design Bureau and Russian Aircraft Corp. (RAC) MiG, asked Russia’s Federal Service for Military-Technical Cooperation (FSMTC) to block the Chernyshyov Machine-building Enterprise from delivering 100 RD-93 engines.

“I am not against the export of separate technologies, but it should be agreed with those who make final products that such export would not harm them,” Pogosyan told the Russian business daily newspaper Kommersant on July 6.

Pogosyan fears the single-engine JF-17, which costs up to $20 million per copy, could undercut sales of the $30 million, twin-engine MiG-29 Fulcrum.

FSMTC controls and supervises military cooperation with non-Russian governments.

A senior MiG executive confirmed the sending of the letter, but would not disclose other details.

The engines are to power the Pakistani JF-17 Thunder and the Chinese FC-1 Xiaolong (Fierce Dragon), the nearly identical aircraft developed in a joint effort by China’s Chengdu Aircraft Industries Corp. and the Pakistan Aeronautical Complex (PAC).

China plans to show two JF-17s at the Farnborough International Airshow later this month — the planes’ debut at international defense exhibitions — in hopes of drumming up export sales.

In 2005, China placed a $238 million order for 100 RD-93 engines from Chernyshyov, a Moscow­based subsidiary of the state­owned OPK Oboronprom holding company.

A contract for another 100 engines had been expected soon.

On July 6, Kommersant quoted a military industry source as saying, “The new contract with China for the sale of 100 RD-93 engines has not been signed.” As well, China’s Guizhou Aero Engine Group is reportedly working on an alternative to the RD-93, dubbed the WS-13 Taishan. 

Russian Fears 

The Russians are worried about China’s burgeoning defense aerospace industry, which is targeting markets once dominated by Soviet and Russian products.

In another demonstration of Russia’s concern over competition with China, the administration issued a July 7 tender on the state procurement website for a study on the strategy and tactics of Chinese exporters of arms and military equipment, their success and competitive advantages.

The Kremlin offers $6,500 for a research paper that will be used to prepare a report for President Dmitry Medvedev. The authors will be expected to study Russian-Chinese military and technical cooperation, including the state regulatory mechanisms, to identify factors that give Chinese exporters competitive advantages. Separately, authors of the paper should study how Chinese exporters operate in the markets that Russia traditionally considers its own.

Moreover, Russian officials say, China is doing it by intellectual theft.

At the 2009 Dubai Airshow, an official from Rosoboronexport, Russia’s state arms export agency, accused China of stealing the designs for the Su-27 (J-11B) and called China’s L-15 trainer jet a cheap copy of Russia’s Yak-130.

“Everyone in the defense industry should be concerned about the Chinese push into the market,” he said.

In China, said Dean Cheng of the Washington-based Heritage Foundation, “R&D does not stand for ‘research and development,’ but rather ‘receive and duplicate.’”

Some Chinese officials appear unconcerned over Russian complaints that China is stealing its customers.

“I hope that is the reason,” said Maj. Gen. Zhu Chenghu, director-general of the Strategic Studies Department of the Chinese Army’s National Defense University.

Russia has a lot to protect. In 2009, MiG exports reached $325 million and its order portfolio now exceeds $3 billion.

Last year, the MiG-29 beat out China’s FC-1 and J-10 for a 20­fighter order from Myanmar. This year, the MiG-29 is competing against the JF-17/FC-1 for an Egyptian tender of 32 fighters. The FSMTC has already approved the re-export of RD-93 engines if China wins the Egyptian tender.

Dmitry Vasilyev, an arms export analyst with Moscow’s Center for Analysis of Strategies and Technologies, said the JF-17’s relatively small price tag makes it more attractive.

“Two engines needed to equip one fighter costs about $5 million, and engines usually make up about one-quarter of the total price of a fighter,” Vasilyev said.

In fact, he said, it looks as if the Chinese government is offering the fighter for less than its production cost — “dumping” them on the world’s arms market.

Russia and China have already clashed in the international market over air defense missile system exports. The Russian S-300 anti-aircraft system is competing with the Chinese HQ-9 system for a three­year-old Turkish tender. 

Pakistani Concern 

Pakistan is watching the engine dispute with concern. One observer gave even odds that Pogosyan would succeed in his efforts to block the engines.

“Russian military-industrial oligarchies are powerful and have immense say in the Russian governmental structures,” said retired Pakistan Air Force Air Commodore Kaiser Tufail.

That would hurt Pakistan’s domestic fighter program, Tufail said. Waiting for the Chinese WS-13 engine would require a whole range of test trials in different configurations and could lead to a two-year delay.

It does not help, Tufail said, that “China is not going whole hog with the JF-17 for reasons of their own.” China is not building the fighter for its own air service; that role will be filled by the more capable J-10 aircraft.

Wendell Minnick contributed to this report from Taipei, Usman Ansari from Islamabad and Nabi Abdullaev from Moscow.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Major Cyber Security Conference Set for Singapore

Defense News


Major Cyber Security Conference Set for Singapore


TAIPEI - Singapore will host the first Regional Collaboration in Cyber Security conference from July 13-14 at the Shangri-La Hotel. The conference will cover cyber terrorism, information operations, cyber warfare, wireless hacking and cyber crime.

The U.S. National Defense University (NDU) Information Resources Management College (NDU iCollege) and the National University of Singapore (NUS) Institute of Systems Science (ISS) are jointly hosting the conference.

The theme of the conference is "Securing the Cloud, Web, and Virtual Networks," with a keynote speech by Jaak Aaviksoo, Estonia's Defense Minister. Aaviksoo was invited specifically to talk about the 2007 Estonian cyber war, said Robert Childs, NDU iCollege senior director.

The Estonian incident has sometimes been referred to as "Web War I" and Estonian officials blamed Russia for the intrusions.

The conference will have over 24 speakers and panelists, including John Grimes, former U.S. assistant secretary of defense for networks and information integration; Brigadier General Mark Perrin, U.S. Army, J-2, U.S. Forces Korea; Brigadier General Brett Williams, director, C4 Systems/J-6, U.S. Pacific Command; Brigadier General David Koh, director of military security, Ministry of Defense, Singapore; James Heath, technical director, U.S. Forces Korea, special advisor for cyber operations; and David Aucsmith, senior director, Institute for Advanced Technology in Governments, Microsoft.

"The ISS is known for its broad-based advanced professional continuing education in information technology (IT) specializing in software technology and engineering practice and provides industry with strategic IT management, e-business and knowledge management expertise," said a conference press release.

NDU iCollege and NUS-ISS are coordinating with the U.S. Pacific Command, the Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies (APCSS) and Singapore's Ministry of Defense to put on the conference. Over 400 attendees are expected for the conference. APSCC is a U.S. Defense Department academic institute based in Honolulu, Hawaii.

Attendees will be a mix of senior-level government and private-sector representatives from Asia and the U.S. needing to form relationships and collaborate on cyber security issues, Childs said.

Singaporean speakers and panelists will also include Meng-Chow Kang, co-chair, Regional Asia Information Security Exchange (RAISE); Lim Swee Cheang, director, NUS-IISS; Derek Kiong, NUS-ISS, a specialist on wireless tracking; and Thomas Kok, NUS-ISS, a specialist on e-Crime management.

"We are now planning other conferences on the same topic at regional locations around the world," Childs said. "This is the first one and we envision it will be the start of an annual series of conferences on cyber security issues."

IISS-Asia Set to Release Sanctions Study

Defense News


IISS-Asia Set to Release Sanctions Study


TAIPEI - The London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) will release a new study on the efficacy of economic sanctions on rogue states such as North Korea and Iran on July 22 as part of the IISS-Asia Seminar Series in Singapore.

Authored by Brendan Taylor, a senior lecturer at the Strategic and Defence Studies Centre at Australia National University, "Sanctions as Grand Strategy" will address crucial foreign policy questions, such as, what is the aim of economic sanctions and in what circumstances can they be effective?

"Economic sanctions are becoming increasingly central to shaping strategic outcomes in the twenty-first century," said an IISS press release. "They afford great powers a means by which to seek to influence the behavior of states, to demonstrate international leadership and to express common values for the benefit of the international community at large."

Sanctions are a "middle way" for many governments to satisfy both moderates and hardliners, particularly for superpowers in the multi-polar world order. Unfortunately sanctions pose a threat to trading relations and often serve as a "prelude" to military action, said the press release.

Problems also exist with the growing influence of China and Russia who often oppose sanctions making it "ever more difficult to reach a consensus on their application."

The study focuses on the different sanction strategies of the United States, China, Russia, Japan and the European Union, with regard to the unfolding nuclear crises in Iran and North Korea.

"It examines how these measures, designed to marginalize the regimes in both countries and restrict their ability to develop nuclear weapons, have also influenced the sanctioning states' international partners." As a result, sanctions are "not just a tool of statecraft: they are potentially an important facet of grand strategy."

The paper is being published under IISS' Adelphi book series. Adelphi is the IISS' principle contribution to policy relevant academic research. Recent new titles on Asia include "Japan's Remilitarisation" by Christopher Hughes and "China's African Challenges" by Sarah Raines.

Monday, July 5, 2010

U.S. State Dept. Holds Arms Sales to Taiwan

Defense News


U.S. State Dept. Holds Arms Sales to Taiwan


TAIPEI — The U.S. State Department is holding all U.S. congressional notifications for new arms sales to Taiwan for 2010, said sources in Taipei and Washington, due to effective lobbying by Beijing.

“The Chinese are ramping up the pressure and engaging us in disinformation to complicate our review, particularly in the context of a vulnerable process for arms sales,” a Washington defense analyst said.

Three notifications, unidentified, are on hold until at least spring 2011, with more expected to “stack up” as 2010 ends, said Rupert Hammond-Chambers, president of the U.S.-Taiwan Business Council, Washington, here last week for a visit.

Taiwan is also pushing for the release of an F-16A/B midlife upgrade program, but that has not yet reached the notification stage, he said. The real concern is Taiwan’s request for 66 F-16C/D fighter aircraft, now on hold since 2006.

The Air Force has a mix of 387 indigenous, French and U.S.-built fighter aircraft: 145 F-16A/Bs, 126 Indigenous Defense Fighters, 56 Mirage 2000-5s and 60 aging F-5E/Fs.

The service is preparing to retire the F-5s in five years and mothballing the Mirage fighters within five to 10 years due to high maintenance costs. This will reduce the number of fighters to 271 at the same time China increases its fighter strength, said Mark Stokes, a China defense analyst at the Project 2049 Institute in Washington who also met with military officials here last week.

Chinese officials have called the release of new F-16s to Taiwan a “red line,” and yet it is unclear what China would do if the United States released the fighters. Despite the ambiguity of the risk, Washington is taking the threat seriously and arms sales are now “frozen” for this year, Hammond-Chambers said.

“The Chinese appear to believe they have killed the [F-16] sale by setting their own terms — that this is a ‘red line’ issue — with the administration accepting their interpretation that replacement F-16s is possibly a bridge too far, that the sale is somehow ‘different’ from other arms sales considerations,” he said. “If it’s ‘different,’ will the sale still be evaluated in the framework of the Taiwan Relations Act? Does the administration have a different process and framework in which it will evaluate the follow-on F-16 sale?”

The 1979 Taiwan Relations Act guarantees continued arms sales to Taiwan in the face of China’s continued military threat.

Despite improved relations between China and Taiwan, Beijing has resisted calls for a reduction or redeployment of the more than 1,300 short­range ballistic missiles aimed at Taiwan.

However, China has stopped increasing the number of missiles “since the change of leadership” here, said Maj. Gen. Zhu Chenghu, director­general of the Strategic Studies Department of the PLA’s National Defense University. Zhu was referring to 2008, when the Beijing-friendly Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) defeated the pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party in presidential and legislative elections.

Despite media reports last week that China was proposing a redeployment of missiles in exchange for Taipei abandoning Dongyin Island, a missile and surveillance base northeast of Matsu Island, there is no evidence Taiwan is considering turning the island fortress over to China.

Dongyin is considered a strategic asset and one of the military’s most fortified facilities. Tien Kung air defense missiles and Hsiung Feng anti-ship missiles are deployed there, along with two long­range radar systems and other surveillance equipment capable of seeing deep inside China.

With the coming closure of the F-16 production line at Lockheed Martin, the Chinese are employing a delaying action that will result in Taiwan missing the deadline for new orders, Hammond-Chambers said.

Taiwan Air Force and Ministry of National Defense officials live in a “fantasy world,” one U.S. defense analyst said: Military officials here have stated that if F-16 production closes, they will order F-35s. But the F-35 is unlikely to be available in time to replace the F-5 and Mirage, and there is widespread doubt the United States would risk selling a fifth-generation fighter to Taiwan.

Part of the problem is fear that China and Taiwan are growing too close, too quickly, the defense analyst said. They are preparing to sign a historic Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA) in Chongqing, China, on June 29.

ST Engineering Broadens Global Role

Defense News


ST Engineering Broadens Global Role


TAIPEI — As Singapore’s premier defense manufacturer, Singapore Technology (ST) Engineering has been pushing further into the international market, securing sales to the United Kingdom of the new Warthog Bronco All Terrain Tracked Carrier, and is in discussions with Mideast and South Asian countries for armored vehicles, artillery and other equipment.

This is a departure from ST Engineering’s traditional exports of ammunition and small arms, demonstrating a bolder and more sophisticated approach to its product line and as a service provider.

ST Engineering is actually divided into four sectors: ST Aerospace, ST Electronics, ST Land Systems (also called ST Kinetics) and ST Marine. Company officials have said there are continuing efforts to improve communication and cooperation at all levels among the four units to improve products and services.

The company is increasing its emphasis on boosting combat mobility and survivability, said Letticia Fong, manager of ST Engineering Corporate Communications.

“It continues to evolve, innovate and customize new technological capabilities and solutions to meet the transformational needs of the modern armed forces,” she said. “Some of the new advanced indigenous platforms and systems which we design, develop and integrate include the Bronco Fire Support Vehicle, 40mm munitions and unmanned aerial vehicles.”

ST Engineering, which moved up five spots in the Defense News Top 100, secured its first armored vehicle sale from a NATO member country in December 2008, when ST Kinetics won a $250 million contract with the U.K. military for 100 Warthog Broncos. Also dubbed “the Beast,” the vehicle was selected in response to a British urgent operational requirement for Afghanistan.

“In many ways, ST Engineering is itself a product of the Singaporean defense acquisition process in which defense contractors are subject to an exacting evaluation and selection process where cost-effectiveness is the sine qua non,” said Weichong Ong, a fellow at the Institute of Defence and Strategic Studies, S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, Nanyang Technological University, here.

The development of the Warthog for the British Army is a case in point of how ST Engineering has been able to successfully deliver a combat platform customized to the specific needs of the end-user, he said.

“In short, ST Engineering has built upon its significant expertise in the niche customization of combat systems, upgrades and solutions for the Singapore Armed Forces into a successful export,” he said.

However, despite ST Engineering’s success at securing the U.K. Bronco deal, not all are convinced the company is ready for top-tier status as an international arms exporter.

“The aphorism ‘one swallow does not a summer make’ comes immediately to mind,” said Tim Huxley, executive director of the International Institute for Strategic Studies, suggesting ST Engineering will have to do more than secure one armored vehicle sale before it can safely be dubbed a “tier one” exporter.

“One question is whether the U.K. deal was part of a broader package with the implicit or explicit promise of the U.K. having a better chance of securing SAF [Singapore Armed Forces] contracts,” Huxley said. “It’s conceivable that this sale to the U.K. might help ST Engineering enter other developed-country markets, but this might also be a quid pro quo for sales to the Singapore Armed Forces.”

ST Engineering is competing in India with the FH 2000 155mm 52-cal­iber towed howitzer and the Pega­sus 155mm 39-caliber lightweight howitzer for two separate howitzer competitions. ST Kinetics is also exploring the sale of the SAR 21 as­sault rifle to India.

However, the company is not shying away from showcasing its latest arms. ST Engineering unveiled a new variant of the Bronco at Eurosatory 2010 in mid-June, Fong said.

“Designated the Bronco Fire Support Vehicle, it is fitted with the world’s first dual Remote Control Weapon System to provide outstanding fire support to improve war-fighters’ lethality, while ensuring survivability,” Fong said.

Other products the company ex­hibited at Eurosatory included the CIS 40mm Automatic Grenade Launcher, 40mm Soldier Parachute Aerial Reconnaissance Camera System, and the Advanced Combat Man System that enables network-centric warfare at the infantry soldier level. At Eurosatory, the company introduced the all-new 40mm Low Velocity Extended Range (LVER) ammunition.

“The 40mm LVER round is the latest addition to our 40mm munitions family and is specifically designed for the urban battlefield,” Fong said, with a flatter trajectory and 30 per­cent shorter flight time.

ST Engineering has a long history of producing 40mm ammunition, including high- and low-velocity rounds that include high explosive, enhanced blast, self-destruct, air bursting, surveillance, insensitive and less-than-lethal rounds.

“More than 1 million 40mm rounds are sold annually, with over 3,000 automatic grenade launchers sold internationally to more than 20 countries,” Fong said.

Indigenously developed UAVs are also an area of interest.

The FanTail UAV system comprises a set of FanTail 5000 air vehicles, a ground control station and a data-link system. The FanTail is suited for urban and military field environments where a combination of high transit speed and a vertical takeoff and landing capability allows for over-the-hill, around-the­corner, and over-the-next building surveillance and reconnaissance, she said.

Jointly developed with Singapore­based DSO National Laboratories, the latest versions of the fixed-wing Skyblade III and Skyblade IV UAV systems are designed for rapid deployment in both military and civilian applications.

Export sales are a priority for ST Engineering, but indigenous sales remain its stable revenue source.

“The most important factors in making ST Engineering successful are surely that it has a large and guaranteed revenue stream from the SAF, and that the government sees it [like other government­linked companies] as a strategic asset that must be preserved and protected,” Huxley said.