Sunday, August 29, 2010

U.S. Releases Radar Upgrades for Taiwan Fighters

Defense News


U.S. Releases Radar Upgrades for Taiwan Fighters


KAOHSIUNG, Taiwan - The U.S. has announced the sale of new radar upgrades for Taiwan's Indigenous Defense Fighter (IDF). The announcement came during a two-day tri-service military exercise in southern Taiwan from Aug. 24-25.

During the exercise, a Ministry of National Defense (MND) source said the radar deal was part of phase two of the IDF's F-CK-1C/D Hsiang Sheng upgrade program. Specifics of the deal were not released.

The decision to release was made on Aug. 12, but U.S. State Department spokesman Philip Crowley did not make the announcement official until Aug. 24.

"We have notified Congress as required under the Arms Export Control Act of proposed direct commercial sales between Taiwan and private U.S. companies," he said. Asked about China's potential reaction to the release, Crowley said, "I'll let China react to this as they see fit."

As of publication, China's Foreign Ministry had not released a statement.

The radar sale involves the release of three U.S. congressional notifications on hold since a $6 billion arms release to Taiwan in January. Afterward, the White House reportedly decided to freeze all further notifications in an attempt to better ties with China, but the radar release indicates the White House might be re-evaluating its strategy on dealing with China.

The IDF F-CK-1A/B "Ching-kuo" fighter was developed during the late 1980s to replace aging Lockheed F-104 Starfighters. The state-run Aerospace Industrial Development Corp. built 130 aircraft, which began entering service in 1994.

The U.S. State Department's decision to release the radar upgrades was welcomed by the MND and by Taiwan supporters in Washington, though there was some criticism over policies that have resulted in an on-again off-again freeze on arms sales to Taiwan, said Rupert Hammond-Chambers, president, U.S.-Taiwan Business Council, Washington.

"The recent policy under both the Bush and Obama administrations - freezing Taiwan arms sales notifications and then releasing them as packages - has had the inverse effect of its apparent intent," he said.

"By creating multibillion dollar packages that capture headlines, the policy has increased Chinese ire at such sales rather than reducing it."

He said China has cleverly used the situation as a tool to apply pressure on Washington's policy of arms sales to Taiwan. China unilaterally canceled military exchanges with the U.S. after the January release, and then canceled a planned trip by U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates to China in June.

"China has rightly deduced that the process is vulnerable to external pressure, and recently applied such pressure by threatening sanctions against American companies and by denying entry to China for U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates," Hammond-Chambers said.

China is employing a carrot-and-stick strategy with Taiwan, offering significant economic incentives with the recently signed Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement while continuing military modernization and expanding the material threat represented by the People's Liberation Army, he said.

The U.S. has held Taiwan's request for 66 new F-16C/D Block 50/52 fighters since 2006, but is expecting to release a midlife upgrade package for its F-16A/B Block 20s in early 2011. Taiwan is anxious to replace aging F-5 fighters and high-maintenance Mirage-2000 fighters now slated for retirement.

"The Chinese believe that Taiwan should be denied access to replacement fighters for their aging F-5s and Mirage-2000s, recognizing the serious detrimental effect such a denial would have on Taiwan's military readiness; on long-term American support for Taiwan military modernization; and on the regional view of America and its willingness to make difficult decisions in the face of Chinese opposition," Hammond-Chambers said.

The U.S. Department of Defense is due to submit to the U.S. Congress a second report by the end of 2010 examining the current balance of airpower in the Taiwan Strait and making recommendations for U.S. action. This will include consideration of the impact of replacement fighters for Taiwan's Air Force.

In a separate deal, on Aug. 13, the Defense Security Cooperation Agency announced a $393,538 contract award to New Jersey-based ITT Integrated Electronic Warfare Systems for the sale of an upgrade and maintenance package for Taiwan's AN/ALQ-165 Airborne Self Protection Jammer and AN/ALQ-214 Integrated Defensive Electronic Countermeasure systems. The U.S. Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division, China Lake, Calif., is the contracting agency. Work is expected to be completed in August 2015.


The Taiwan military displayed and demonstrated a wide array of military equipment and skills during a two-day tri-service exercise in southern Taiwan from Aug. 24-25.

On Aug. 24, the military took reporters to the Chiayi Air Base, 455 Tactical Fighter Wing, to observe an anti-aircraft exercise. The Air Force's 952 Brigade, 501st Battalion, demonstrated the use of the Antelope short-range air defense missile system and the twin 20mm T-82 anti-aircraft guns on four approaching F-16s. The Antelope fires the Tien Chien (Sky Sword) missile, first developed as an air-to-air missile for the IDF. Both are locally developed and produced.

The Army next demonstrated an anti-airborne drill on Penghu Island, off Taiwan's southwest coast. The drill, designed to counter a paratrooper assault on the island, included M-60 main battle tanks and M-113 armored personnel carriers along with infantry. The Penghu Defense Command also has a small air base and naval facility on the island.

The Navy demonstrated mine-clearing capabilities at the Tsoying Naval Base, Kaohsiung, on the second day of the exercise. The Navy allowed the press to board the 500-ton MHC-1303 "Yung Ting" coastal mine hunter to observe the use of a Pinguin B3 remotely operated vehicle to search for a mine. Taiwan bought four MHC vessels from Germany in 1991.

Taiwan To Compete for DoD Contracts

Defense News


Taiwan To Compete for DoD Contracts


TAIPEI — Taiwan will be allowed to bid for U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) contracts now that an amendment has been made to the U.S. Defense Federal Acquisition Regulation Supplement (DFARS).

The decision to amend DFARS came after Taiwan became a signatory of the Government Procurement Agreement (GPA) under the World Trade Organization (WTO) in July 2009, said a DoD statement.

The GPA opens up government contracts to international competition. In Asia, Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore and South Korea are GPA signatories. There are a total of 41 signatory members of the GPA worldwide, including Taiwan.

Taiwan’s defense industry is “gearing up to take advantage of this new opportunity,” said a Taiwan defense industry source.

The new status does not replace or alter the 2004 Master Information Exchange Agreement (MIEA), which only allows for “reciprocal balanced exchanges of research and development information” between Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defense and the U.S. Defense Department, said a U.S. government document.

The MIEA did not allow for the exchange of defense articles or services, nor did it allow Taiwan companies to bid on DoD contracts.

“Despite Taiwan’s long history of producing top-tier high technology, in particular information technology, for the international market, it has been barred from selling directly to the U.S. Department of Defense,” said a former DoD official.

The main reason was a successful effort by China to block Taiwan’s accession to the GPA until last year.

“Now that Taiwan is a member of the WTO GPA, it has become eligible to sell directly to the Pentagon,” he said.

Relations across the Taiwan Strait have greatly improved since the Beijing-friendly Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) won both the legislative and presidential elections in Taiwan in 2008. China eased off efforts to sabotage Taiwan’s bid to join international agreements and organizations like the WTO GPA. Though Taiwan has been a WTO member since 2002, it has not been allowed GPA status.

China is not a party to the GPA, though since 2003, it has served as an “observer” to the agreement and is in negotiations for accession. There are a total of 23 observers in the GPA.

“Taiwan produces a considerable amount of the best off-the-shelf technology that the U.S. government spends billions procuring every year,” said Rupert Hammond-Chambers, president of the U.S.-Taiwan Business Council, Washington. Taiwan produces everything from personal computers and laptops to clothing and tools, he said.

“Taiwan has always demonstrated a capacity to produce goods at low cost and high quality with speed to market,” he said. “It will make them well-suited and competitive to execute quickly on price and quality for government requirements.” However, the process of breaking in Taiwan companies as DoD suppliers will be slow.

“Initially, the benefits are minimal. Doing business with the U.S. government and more specifically the U.S. Department of Defense is a highly complex matter, and Taiwan companies have no experience in selling to this customer,” Hammond-Chambers said.

“That said, over time it is likely that Taiwan will become an increasingly important vendor for the U.S. government and the Defense Department,” he said.

DoD Report on China Gets Lukewarm Reception

Defense News


DoD Report on China Gets Lukewarm Reception


TAIPEI — The release of the 2010 annual Pentagon report on Chinese military modernization has received a tepid response from China watchers in Washington and angry protests from Beijing.

The report, mandated by the U.S. Congress, has become a lightning rod of critics of China who say it lacks substance, and a source of complaints from Beijing, which claims the reports are part of a U.S. conspiracy to contain China.

There have been some changes in the annual report. This year, the title was altered for unclear reasons. Originally titled “Military Power of the People’s Republic of China,” it is now called “Military and Security Developments Involving the People’s Republic of China.” Critics say this is an attempt to placate China. If true, it appears to have failed.

China’s Ministry of National Defense spokesman, Senior Gen. Geng Yansheng, said the Pentagon has “ignored objective facts,” that the report criticizes “China’s normal national defense and military buildup,” exag­gerates the “so-called Chinese mainland’s ‘military threats’ to Taiwan,” and condemns “China for suspending Sino-U.S. military exchanges, thus compromising the two countries’ military cooperation.”

China unilaterally discontinued military-to­military exchanges with the U.S. after Washington released $6 billion worth of arms to Taiwan in January.

Beijing later canceled a visit by U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates.

China has about 1,300 short-range ballistic missiles aimed at Taiwan, and despite improved relations across the Taiwan Strait, there has been no reduction in military force by China, the 2010 DoD report said.

The report is due March 1 each year and has been late on a number of occasions, due to both bureaucratic and political reasons. But in July, five U.S. congressmen raised suspicions the White House was interfering with the content and release of the report.

In a letter to Gates, the five congressmen reminded the defense secretary that the “responsibility for this report lies with the DoD alone” and the “lengthy delay is puzzling.” The report may be a disappointment for many; one U.S. defense industry source in Washington called it a “vanilla report.” Still, it is not viewed as a complete failure.

One area that is getting praise is the coverage of the cyber threat and “putting it in context by outlining how cyber warfare fits into the other domains of war for the PLA [People’s Liberation Army],” said Larry Wortzel of the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission, Washington.

Another strength is the report’s coverage of strategy and deception, he said.

“There is a good treatment of the internal debate among military personnel and policy analysts in China over future roles for the PLA and an expansion of its missions [the ‘historic missions’] as security analysts in China think about regional and global issues,” he said.

“The security community inside and outside the PLA is thinking well beyond the local issue of Taiwan.” There is some criticism that the report does not give more attention to Taiwan issues.

Though quantity does not necessarily equate to quality, a word count comparing the 2008, 2009 and 2010 reports indicates Taiwan is mentioned on average 125 times in each report.

“Yet, despite devoting a chapter to the issue of Taiwan, it’s a very brief review, at the most broad level of generalities, of the things China could do to Taiwan,” said Dean Cheng at the Heritage Foundation.

"One thing that is interesting to note is the absence, in a very thick report, of any discussion of the extent of the threat posed by China’s joint forces to Taiwan,” he said. In addition, even the “threat aspect [toward Taiwan] is kind of walked back, unlike anywhere else in the report.” The tone of the DoD is “not as confrontational as previous versions,” Wortzel said. Though there is a strong call to strengthen U.S. capabilities, deterrent capabilities and re­gional alliances and partnerships, “there is certainly no sense that the United States will pull back from Asia,” he said.

“And the way that the report notes how China’s arms sales and military activities improved its broader diplomatic posture implies to me that the U.S. intends to redouble its own efforts in these areas, as reflected in [U.S. Secretary of State Hillary] Clinton’s remarks at ASEAN [Association of Southeast Asian Nations].”

Friday, August 20, 2010

Vietnam and U.S. Edge Closer, Thanks to China

Defense News


Vietnam and U.S. Edge Closer, Thanks to China


SINGAPORE and TAIPEI — Vietnam has been rattled by recent Chinese actions in the South China Sea, and U.S. officials are seizing the moment.

The United States is taking advantage of Vietnamese angst over Chinese arrests of Vietnamese fishermen, threats against multinational oil companies operating in Vietnamese waters, increased naval exercises and the establishment of a submarine base on Hainan Island.

Beijing appears to have abandoned its “smile campaign” toward Southeast Asia; Vietnam is responding accordingly, said Richard Bitzinger, a regional defense analyst at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, Singapore.

Just days after the Chinese wrapped up a naval exercise in the South China Sea that rattled Vietnam, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu scolded Vietnam for suggesting Chinese vessels were violating the smaller country’s sovereignty in the waters near the Xisha [Paracel] Islands.

China took control of the islands after a naval battle in 1974 with then-South Vietnam.

“China enjoys indisputable sovereignty over the Xisha Islands and the adjacent waters. China firmly opposes any remarks and actions that violate its sovereignty over the Xisha Islands and the adjacent waters,” Yu said on Aug. 9.

The next day, the guided-missile destroyer USS John S. McCain arrived at Da Nang for a four-day visit to mark the 15th anniversary of normalization of relations between the United States and Vietnam. That came after the June 30 visit of a Vietnamese delegation to Norfolk, Va., to visit the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush.

“There has been a lot of progress in the relationship, but there still much more that both countries can do,” said a U.S. Department of Defense official.

In 2006, the U.S. State Department modified International Traffic in Arms Regulations on arms transfers to allow export, sale, lease or other transfer of non-lethal defense articles and services to Vietnam.

“The scope of security assistance is still limited, but it is proceeding as a pace that is comfortable to both sides,” he said.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates is to visit Vietnam in October, marking the fourth meeting with his Vietnamese counterpart in just two years.

“These visits of high-level officials, along with information exchanges and expanded bilateral cooperation, are the pillars that the U.S.-Vietnam security relationship is built upon,” the DoD official said.

The pace has quickened since Gen. Pham Van Tra, then minister of national defense, traveled to Washington in 2003, the first visit at that level since normalization.

U.S. troops have trained Vietnamese personnel in humanitarian assistance/disaster relief, maritime security, military medicine, and search-and-rescue operations.

The Pentagon has spent international military education and training funding to teach English to Vietnamese personnel.

The United States and Vietnam are to hold their first military-to-military talks in the final quarter of this year. Vietnam could agree to send officers to advanced education courses in the United States, said Carl Thayer, an expert on Vietnam at the Australian Defence Force Academy in Canberra.

Vietnamese officers need postgraduate degrees to qualify for senior promotion and those courses that offer master’s degrees would be prized, Thayer said.

Vietnam has been involved with the U.S. State Department’s Global Peace Operations Initiative, and U.S. officials have encouraged the Vietnamese to participate more actively in peacekeeping missions. As confidence in the relationship builds on both sides, the opportunities to deepen security cooperation will emerge, the DoD official said.

For the time being, Vietnam will continue to rely on Moscow for much of its advanced arms and equipment. At present, Russia remains Vietnam’s biggest arms client, and Hanoi is moving forward on efforts to procure Su-30MK2 fighter aircraft and Kilo-class diesel submarines.

The spending on subs reflects tension over disputed regional maritime boundaries.

“It’s generally conceded that Vietnam’s recent uptick in arms purchases is mostly due to Chinese expansion into the South China Sea,” Bitzinger said.

He said Beijing insists that South China Sea sovereignty issues should be decided bilaterally and that Washington should stay out of it. Vietnam’s concerns will be raised in October when Hanoi hosts the ASEAN Defence Ministers Meeting Plus Eight (ADMM+8), where for the first time, dialogue partners Australia, China, India, Japan, Korea, New Zealand, Russia and United States will participate. 

French Visit 

France is also reaching out to its former colony. French defense minister Hervé Morin visited Vietnam in July in a bid to strengthen defense ties between the two countries. Morin said Paris was keen to help Vietnam modernize its military and to develop deep ties with the defense industry. It was the first visit by a French defense minister since the defeat of France in 1954 at the battle of Dien Bien Phu and the retreat from its former colony.

As well, Vietnam was on the list of country sales campaigns presented by EADS marketing and strategy director Marwn Lahoud at a media seminar ahead of the Farnborough Airshow in July.

Pierre Tran contributed to this report from Paris.

China Demonstrates New Confidence, Feeds Anxiety

Defense News


China Demonstrates New Confidence, Feeds Anxiety


TAIPEI — China’s recent naval exercise in the South China Sea showed off new ships and a new confidence in projecting force toward important shipping routes. But its timing, combined with various diplomatic assertions, fed tensions with regional and global neighbors.

The July 24-27 exercise, the largest live-fire war game held to date by the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) in the area, brought together Chinese warships, submarines and combat aircraft that included elements of all three fleets: North Sea Fleet, East Sea Fleet and South Sea Fleet.

The state-run PLA Daily said the exercise included “precision strikes on surface targets by firing guided missiles while surface warships conducted anti-missile air defense operations.”

Though the number and variety of ships is significant, it was the “newness” of many of the ships and the drills “in new forms of command and control and near state-of-the-art weaponry” that attracted the most attention, said Bud Cole, author of the book “The Great Wall at Sea.”

Exercise photos released by PLAN showed three new vessels: the 7,000-ton DDG-171 “Haikou” Luyang II-class (Type 052C) destroyer, 2,400-ton FFG-570 “Huang­shan” Jiangkai II-class (Type 054) frigate and the 220-ton stealthy catamaran Houbei-class (Type 022) fast-attack missile boat.

China has built between 40 and 80 Houbei’s since 2004, each carrying up to eight cruise missiles.

“The focus on the Houbei missile boat ‘swarm attack’ tactic in this exercise” also took place in a North Sea Fleet exercise last year, said Bob Nugent, vice president of advisory services at AMI International, a naval analyses firm.

Older vessels in the exercise included the 2,250-ton FFG Jiang­wei-class (Type 053) frigate and the 7,940-ton DDG-139 “Taizhou” Sovremenny-class destroyer. 

Stretching Southward 

China “appears to be balancing general-purpose naval force investments not just in force structure but training and readiness across three fleets,” Nugent said. “This was not always the case. Ten years ago, most fleet sea exercises appeared concentrated in the North Sea Fleet and East Sea Fleet exercise areas.”

The new emphases on southerly routes “reflect a PLAN keenly aware of its growing energy dependency and need for a more balanced fleet to assure SLOC [sea lines of communication] security for those energy inflows,” he said.

Since 2005, the PLAN has demonstrated increasing confidence at organizing and deploying surface action groups along China’s maritime periphery, said Toshi Yoshihara, a China naval specialist at the U.S. Naval War College.

“They are demonstrating greater comfort in deploying them at greater distances, breaking through the first island chain with increasing frequency,” he said.

This is part of China’s “offshore defense” or “near seas defense” strategy and has been a three­decade-long goal of the PLAN.

Therefore, he said, we should “not be surprised that Beijing is be­ginning to align its capabilities with its long-held aspirations.” 

Stoking Tensions 

The exercise was held at the same time as a U.S.-South Korean naval exercise in the Yellow Sea, an event Chinese officials had protested.

It followed Beijing’s declaration in March that the South China Sea is now a “core interest” on par with its claims over Taiwan and Tibet. And just days later, a Defense Ministry spokesman, Senior Col. Geng Yan­sheng, said China would respect the freedom of navigation of “relevant countries” traversing the South China Sea, but said the country has “indisputable sovereignty” over islands there and in “surrounding waters.” At least one Chinese academic took pains to emphasize that the claims are on the islands, not the waters.

“First of all, no one in Beijing considers the South China Sea a Chinese territorial sea,” said Zhu Feng, security analyst at Peking University’s Center for International and Strategic Studies.

“Chi­nese concern is always with territorial sovereignty claims over the Spratly Islands.” The exercise was conducted at an awkward time for regional neighbors. The day before the exercise began, Hanoi hosted the 17th ASEAN Regional Forum, where China took a browbeating from the U. S. and other regional countries, who charged Beijing with trying to dominate the South China Sea and intimidate Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) members.

At the forum, U.S. officials criticized China’s insistence that disputes in the South China Sea be settled bilaterally. Many see that as part of a Chinese strategy to “divide and conquer” ASEAN.

France agrees with the U.S. insistence on multilateral discussions, said a diplomatic source in Paris. The source added that his government wants to see these differences settled peacefully and in line with the 2002 Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea and the 1982 U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea.

Kerry Brown, senior fellow on the Asia Programme at the Royal Institute of International Affairs in London, said the EU should be worried about tensions over the South China Sea.

“China’s assertiveness has global implications and its implacability over this issue, on top of several other issues where it has been stroppy recently, are ominous,” he said. 

Andrew Chuter contributed to this report from London, Pierre Tran from Paris.


Diplomatic temperatures are rising off the coast of Asia, thanks to events in and around the South China Sea. 

■ March: China begins referring to the South China Sea as a “core national interest” on par with China’s claims over Taiwan and Tibet. 

■ March 26: The Cheonan, a South Korean corvette, is sunk in the Yellow Sea, killing 46 sailors. The remains of a North Korean torpedo is recovered at the scene. 

■ June 30-July 5: China’s East Sea Fleet conducts a live-fire naval exercise that includes 12 ships and 10 warplanes in the East China Sea.

■ July 23: The U.S. and other regional members attending the 17th Association of Southeast Asia Nations Regional Forum in Hanoi browbeat China over its policies in the South China Sea.

■ July 24-27: The U.S. and South Korea conduct a joint naval exercise in the Yellow Sea. After China protests, the aircraft carrier USS George Washington does not enter the Yellow Sea. 

■ July 24-27: China conducts a large-scale naval live-fire exercise in the South China Sea. 

■ July 27: The Chinese army tests a new land-based long-range artillery rocket toward the Yellow Sea. China’s North Sea Fleet conducts a joint maritime search-and-rescue exercise in the waters of Qingdao. 

■ July 30: Chinese Defense Ministry spokesman Geng Yansheng said China has “indisputable sovereignty” over islands in the South China Sea and the “surrounding waters.” 

■ Aug. 3-7: China’s Jinan Military Command conducts the Vanguard-2010 live-fire air defense exercise in Shandong Province involving 12,000 troops and 200 military aircraft. 

■ Aug. 5: U.S. officials announce plans to send the USS George Washington into the Yellow Sea in upcoming exercises. China protests the decision. 

■ Aug. 6 : China protests Vietnamese claims over the Paracel (Xisha) Islands, saying, “China has indisputable sovereignty” over islands. China and then-South Vietnam fought a naval battle over the islands in 1974. 

■ Aug. 7-8: China’s North Sea Fleet conducts a maritime parachute training exercise. 

■ Aug. 11: USS John McCain makes a port call at Da Nang, Vietnam, to celebrate the 15th anniversary of the normalization of U.S.-Vietnamese relations.

New Sats Bring Chinese GPS, Targeting Systems Closer to Reality

Defense News


New Sats Bring Chinese GPS, Targeting Systems Closer to Reality


TAIPEI — China is creating a global positioning system (GPS) and reconnaissance targeting satellite network that could have strategic consequences for the U.S. Navy as China prepares to field a new anti­ship ballistic missile (ASBM), the Dong Feng 21D.

The recent launch of a fifth Beidou (Compass) GPS and communications satellite Aug. 1 and the launch of a Yaogan-10 synthetic aperture radar satellite Aug. 9 bring China closer to an independent navigation and targeting network.

Two other Beidous were launched earlier this year, on Jan. 17 and June 2.

Beidou chief designer Sun Jiadong was quoted in the state-run China Daily as saying that China would launch 13 to 15 Beidou satellites by 2012 to cover regional service and, within 10 years, the network would be expanded to 30 satellites covering the planet.

When complete, it will allow China’s military to be autonomous from the rival U.S. GPS, European Galileo and Russian Global Navigation Satellite System.

The Yaogan-10 launch follows the April launch of the Yaogan-9 ocean surveillance and targeting satellite and the April 2008 launch of a Tianlian data relay satellite.

“All add to China’s goal of creating a robust military satellite system that will prove to be a pillar of a Chinese military increasingly capable of global power projection,” said Richard Fisher, a China military specialist at the Washington­based International Assessment and Strategy Center.

China has been developing a GPS network in response to fears the United States and European systems would be “turned off” during a war with the U.S., said Ian Easton, a specialist on Chinese missile technology at Washington-based Project 2049 Institute.

An independent Chinese GPS will remove one point of U.S. leverage, and in a war, would mean the United States will be “facing an opponent with potentially thousands of highly precise, Beidou-guided, long-range ballistic and cruise missiles,” Easton said. “Positioning, navigation and timing capabilities the Beidou will provide are key for optimizing missile strikes to overwhelm air and missile defenses.”

China is improving constellation control capability via the Aerospace Command and Control Network Multiple Mission Management Center and a new automated satellite management system that will help to expand its ability to track and target U.S. aircraft carriers, Easton said.

“Of course, precision guidance is key to an effective ASBM system and Beidou will help provide that. Recent Chinese missile testing on the coast of the Yellow Sea in response to the U.S.-South Korean ‘Invincible Spirit’ exercises underscores the seriousness of the threat,” he said.

China’s Navy also needs an independent satellite system to project force beyond its territorial waters. China’s Navy has been conducting anti-piracy patrols in the Gulf of Aden since December 2008, but is still reliant on foreign GPS networks.

When China achieves global coverage, expected by 2020, the implications of that should be “worrisome” and it “behooves” the U.S. to begin developing means to deny China’s military “access to Beidou in a crisis or a conflict the way they are developing and fielding the means to deny us GPS in a conflict,” Easton said.

Slated U.S. Carrier Visit to Yellow Sea Irks China

Defense News


Slated U.S. Carrier Visit to Yellow Sea Irks China


TAIPEI - Chinese government and state-run media outlets are angrily protesting the Pentagon's Aug. 5 announcement to send the aircraft carrier George Washington into the Yellow Sea (West Sea) in upcoming exercises with South Korea.

The exact date the aircraft carrier would enter the Yellow Sea was not released. The George Washington did not enter the Yellow Sea during exercises last month, supposedly after Chinese objections, but plans to do so in upcoming exercises have once again enraged Beijing.

China "won't stand for U.S. naval provocation," said Maj. Gen. Luo Yuan in an editorial published in the Aug. 9 edition of Global Times.

Foreign Ministry spokesperson Jiang Yu in an Aug. 9 statement to the press said, "we have expressed our clear and firm position on the ROK-U.S. joint military exercises to the relevant parties on several occasions. We urge the relevant parties to take China's position and concern seriously."

An Aug. 13 article on the state-run Xinhua news website warned the U.S. not to move the carrier into the Yellow Sea.

"Offending Chinese people is not in the fundamental interest of the U.S. Any activity aimed at pushing a country with a 1.3-billion populace with enormous potential would be inadvisable."

The recent joint naval exercises between the U.S. and South Korea are in response to the sinking of the South Korean corvette Cheonan by North Korea on March 26. China has denied allegations North Korea was behind the sinking, despite the discovery of the remains of a North Korean-built CHT-02D torpedo found at the scene.

Luo, deputy secretary-general of the People's Liberation Army Academy of Military Sciences, said the Pentagon decision was a "deliberate provocation" and the U.S. should "think twice about the maneuver."

"Imagine what the consequences will be if China's biggest debtor nation challenges its creditor nation," he said. Economic observers estimate China holds roughly $750 billion in U.S. debt.

Luo said China is the "world's largest market" and "offending China means losing, or at least decreasing market share."

This is not the first time Luo and other PLA officials have used the economic card to threaten the U.S. Luo, along with Maj. Gen. "Tiger" Zhu Chenghu, director-general, National Defense University, made similar public comments shortly after the U.S. released a $6 billion arms deal to Taiwan in January.

China discontinued military-to-military exchanges with the U.S. after the arms release to Taiwan. The U.S. is now considering the release of new F-16 fighter aircraft to replace Taiwan's aging F-5s, but China has called the release a "red line."

Sunday, August 8, 2010

China Builds First Anti-Ship Ballistic Missile Base?

Defense News


China Builds First Anti-Ship Ballistic Missile Base?


TAIPEI - China's new anti-ship ballistic missile (ASBM) will be deployed at the Second Artillery Corps' new missile base in Guangdong Province in southeastern China, if a new report issued by Washington-based Project 2049 Institute is correct.

On July 28, the state-run Xinhua News Agency reported the visit of local government officials to a new missile base in the northern Guangdong municipality of Shaoguan. The media report is the first to acknowledge the existence of the new missile base.

The new 96166 Unit will be outfitted with Dong Feng 21C medium-range ballistic missiles (MRBM) and possibly the DF-21D ASBM, said Mark Stokes and Tiffany Ma in a new report "Second Artillery Anti-Ship Ballistic Missile Brigade Facilities Under Construction in Guangdong?" posted on Project 2049's website.

The DF-21C was introduced into active inventory in 2005 and is designed for land targets. Though the DF-21D ASBM is nearing the stage of low rate initial production, expected in 2011 or soon after, it is not likely to be deployed into active service until after lengthy testing of the prototype.

Though the province is already home to a Second Artillery short-range ballistic missile (SRBM) base in Meizhou (96169 Unit), the new base could "have unique capabilities that could complicate the strategic calculus in Asia, and the South China Sea in particular."

The ASBM has been dubbed the aircraft "carrier killer" by observers and is part of China's larger anti-access/area denial strategy designed to discourage the U.S. Navy from coming to the aid of Taiwan during a war. Now it appears China is using the same strategy to deter U.S. and other regional navies from operating in the South China Sea.

Though U.S. aircraft carrier groups have significant air defense capabilities, including SM-3 missiles, the threat ASBMs pose is a new one, said Stokes. No country has yet developed a reliable ASBM system and therefore there is reluctance among some analysts to dismiss the possibility China has developed the capability of locating and destroying a moving target at sea with a ballistic missile.

However, U.S. Pacific Commander Admiral Robert Willard told members of the U.S. House and Senate Armed Services Committee in March that China was nearing a test phase for an ASBM.

China has recently announced that the South China Sea is a "core interest" and now state-controlled media outlets are claiming the entire South China Sea as Chinese territory.

"Seems to me they are staying on policy by asserting their ownership of the South 'CHINA' Sea," said a former U.S. intelligence officer now based in Singapore. "They aren't going to deviate from that policy. They've got the patience until they own it."

The deployment of ASBMs near the South China Sea adds a new dimension to the problem regional powers and the U.S. are facing as China begins enforcing maritime claims.

The 1,700 km range DF-21C MRBM can hit most land targets in Vietnam as well as the northern Philippines, including Subic Bay, with little difficulty.

The 1,500-2,000 km range DF-21D ASBM should be able to cover the Spratly Islands at 1,800 km. This would include roughly seventy percent of the South China Sea, if the maximum range of 2,000 km is confirmed.

Additionally, the DF-21C and D will easily handle land targets on Taiwan and naval targets beyond the island with no difficulty. The eastern coast of Taiwan is roughly 800 km from the base. China already has 1,300 DF-11/15 SRBMs aimed at Taiwan and an unknown number of cruise missiles.

During China's 60th anniversary parade in Beijing in October 2009, the military displayed a variety of mobile missile systems, including the DF-11A and DF15B SRBM, DF-21C MRBM and DF31A intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM). The parade also displayed the DH-10 land-attack cruise missile.

The DF-31A is China's first road mobile ICBM capable of hitting Washington. Before this missile, China relied on aging silo-based DF-5 ICBMs for use as nuclear counterstrikes on the U.S.

As mobile missile systems, they will be difficult to locate and destroy during a war with the U.S. To add more difficulties for the U.S., the Shaoguan area is near tunneling projects through the Nanling Mountains that divide Guangdong and Hunan provinces.

"A Second Artillery engineering unit known to be responsible for tunneling work under the so-called 'Great Wall Project' has been in Shaoguan since as early as 2008," said the Project 2049 report.

China Is Checkmated at ASEAN

Defense News


China Is Checkmated at ASEAN


TAIPEI — The U.S. checkmated China at the 17th Association of Southeast Asia Nations (ASEAN) Regional Forum (ARF) in Hanoi on July 23 by emphasizing multilateralism and offering to act as mediator in regional disputes.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the U.S. supported collaborative diplomatic efforts by all for the resolution of territorial disputes “without coercion,” further stating the U.S. opposes “the use of threat of force by any claimant.” She also emphasized the importance of multilateralism, challenging China’s insistence on bilateral approaches to South China Sea disputes.

China’s Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi said the comments were an “attack” on China. Regional nations should “exercise restraint” and not “make it an international issue or multilateral issue,” he said.

China recently declared the South China Sea a “core interest” on par with Tibet and Taiwan, which has unsettled regional neighbors. Clinton’s response to the “core interest” was that the South China Sea was “pivotal” to regional security and that freedom of navigation is a U.S. national interest.

“Until recently, the U.S. tended to stay on the sidelines of the dispute” by emphasizing freedom of navigation, the non-use of force and peaceful resolution of disputes, said Ian Storey, an ASEAN specialist at Singapore’s Institute of Southeast Asian Studies. The U.S. does not take positions on competing claims, but “due to its growing concerns [over Chinese behavior], the U.S. has signaled a more proactive policy.”

China was also surprised by Clinton’s offer to facilitate talks on implementing confidence-building measures agreed upon in the ASEAN-China Declaration on the Conduct of Parties (DoC) in the South China Sea, Storey said. Since it was signed in 2002, neither ASEAN nor China has made any progress on DoC.

In June, at the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore, U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said the U.S. supported the “concrete implementation” of the DoC.

“What will be the consequences if this issue is turned into an international or multilateral one?” Yang said. “It will only make matters worse and the resolution more difficult. International practices show that the best way to resolve such disputes is for countries concerned to have direct bilateral negotiations.” Observers view China’s bilateral emphasis as a strategy to “divide and conquer” ASEAN and take control of the South China Sea.

There are concerns China is formulating a “Chinese Monroe Doctrine,” said Paul Giarra, president of Global Strategies and Transformation, a Washington-based consulting firm.

China’s “bellicosity and diplomatic outrage appear to be a sign of weakness rather than strength,” said Carlyle Thayer, a South China Sea specialist at the Australian Defence Force Academy. This year’s ARF “witnessed a turning of the tide” with the U.S. re-engaging Southeast Asia on a multilateral basis, he said.

The U.S. has “directly confronted China and its bullying,” Thayer said. “China’s claim that the U.S. orchestrated regional states to attack China verbally is disingenuous. It has been using diplomatic muscle to divide ASEAN and undermine the network of U.S. alliances and security ties.” Tensions over competing sovereignty claims in the Paracel and Spratly Islands have been rising since 2007, when China began turning up the heat in the South China Sea and intimidating ASEAN members.

China has increased naval exercises in the South China Sea, threatened multinational oil companies operating in Vietnamese waters, detained Vietnamese fishermen and constructed a new submarine base on Hainan Island.

In 2009 and 2010, China declared a unilateral moratorium from May to August on fishing in the South China Sea. The dates coincided with the Vietnamese fishing season. Hanoi was outraged when Chinese fishery administration vessels boarded and seized the catches of Vietnamese fishing boats in 2009. As recently as June, China seized three Vietnamese fishing boats and arrested the crew near the Paracel Islands.

The U.S. has been relatively lax in addressing ASEAN security concerns in recent years, but new efforts have placed it on the front burner.

The first signs of change came in July 2009, when the U.S. signed the ASEAN Treaty of Amity and Cooperation; then in November, President Barack Obama attended the first ASEAN-U.S. leadership summit in Singapore. He will host the second meeting in the U.S. next year.

“Clinton has not only attended two ARFs in a row,” but offered U.S. assistance in settling diplomatically security issues in the South China Sea, Thayer said.

Clinton is expected to attend the East Asia Summit (EAS) in Hanoi in October, and Obama will most likely attend the EAS in Jakarta in 2011, he said.

Clinton’s comments at ARF and Vietnam’s hosting the event appear conspiratorial to Beijing, particularly as they are uniting ASEAN in opposing China.

“Vietnam has played its role as ASEAN chair to perfection, but the role is not over,” Thayer said. The culmination, with added difficulties, will come at the inaugural meeting in Hanoi of the ASEAN Defense Ministers Meeting Plus Eight (ADMM + 8) in October, Thayer said. This year, the ADMM was expanded to include Australia, China, India, Japan, New Zealand, South Korea, Russia and the U.S.

China is expected to fire back at the U.S. at ADMM+8 in an effort to regain the high ground, including an attempt to block U.S. membership in the EAS.

Panel Recommends Japan Abandon Cold War Defense Policies

Defense News


Panel Recommends Japan Abandon Cold War Defense Policies


TAIPEI — A government advisory panel in Tokyo will recommend major changes in Japan’s self-defense policy, joint Japan-U.S. weapons development and the redeployment of forces in response to increased Chinese military activity and North Korean nuclear weapons and missile development, analysts said.

The panel, led by Keihan Electric Railway Chief Executive Shigetaka Sato, will send a final report to Prime Minister Naoto Kan in early August, but a draft was leaked to the Japanese media last week.

Recommendations will include abolishing now-unsuitable Cold War-era guidelines, said Sumihiko Kawamura, deputy director of the Okazaki Institute in Tokyo.

Kawamura said it is “significant that the draft contains one of the most important defense policy issues: the call on the government to discuss whether Japan should be able to exercise the right of collective self-defense,” which suggests the legal interpretation of constitutional laws and policy must be more flexible to deal with new threats.

The recommendations are largely that — “recommendations” designed to “generate ideas to feed” the Ministry of Defense’s National Defense Program Guidelines that are due at the end of the year, said Christopher Hughes, author of the book, “Japan’s Remilitarisation.”

Some of the recommendations bolster new policies already being implemented, such as the redeployment of forces to the southern island chains between Kyushu and the east of Taiwan, in response to Chinese naval activities in the area. The report will “accelerate these moves,” Hughes said.

Relations this year with Beijing have not been helped by Chinese claims that the South China Sea is a “core interest” and refusal to condemn North Korea’s sinking of a South Korean naval vessel.

“Recent territorial encroachments by Chinese ships and extreme measures that China employs to obtain resources are a vital problem with regard to Japan’s own national interests,” Kawamura said.

The recommendations stress that the military should be capable of dealing with multiple contingencies rather than a singular event, such as a North Korean missile strike on Tokyo.

“North Korea has shown no signs of abating its nuclear program or stabilizing its foreign politics,” said Peter Woolley, author of the book, “Japan’s Navy.” “The only question here is how long can Japan afford to wait before getting its missile defenses in order — including a reliable chain of command.”

The panel also suggests the military should work “proactively” to respond to limited, small-scale contingencies on the Korean Peninsula and in the Taiwan Strait. “Much of Japan’s defense posture remains a legacy of the Cold War and Soviet naval and air force deployments,” Woolley said. Much of Russia’s Far East Navy is “little more than rusty bolts,” and China’s Navy has been on the ascendency. “It is time for Japan to consider a much different and broader array of threats and confrontations,” he said.

One recommendation gaining attention in the defense industry is the panel’s proposal to allow for international research and development (R&D) of weapons, something forbidden in Japan during the Cold War. 

Japan’s current arms procurement policies are “simply too expensive, too inefficient,” a Tokyo defense industry source said. “The current situation is unsustainable.”

One example is Japan’s F-X requirement for 40 to 50 fighters, which has placed those in the Air Force favoring the F-35 in a difficult position. Due to the ban on international R&D on weapons, Japan was unable to participate in the international partnership development program for the F-35.

Consequently, those favoring the F-35 as the “only serious contender for the F-X ... have zero content on it,” the industry source said. “To enter the program now means negotiating with a whole passel of people, and huge costs, for a small initial buy.” The result is that Japan might have to consider the F/A-18 Super Hornet and Eurofighter Typhoon as a co-assembly option, but involvement now in the F-35 program as a partner is nearly impossible, he said.

Japan remains a world leader in technology and has “shown remarkable restraint by not being a leader in arms exports,” Woolley said. “But that position seems more and more inefficient and difficult to explain in this era of globalized research, development and production.” The only problem with the panel’s recommendations is potential political opposition to changes in policies that have been in place, in many cases, since the end of World War II.

In the case of lifting the ban on international weapons development collaboration, the original “notion was to enhance Japan’s national security by not embroiling it in foreign conflicts, but the resulting isolation of the Japanese defense industry, increasingly expensive and not competitive, only led to decreased national security,” the defense industry source said.

There are certainly political elements that will oppose the changes, including leftist elements within the current party in power, the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ), Kawamura said. “It can be said that it will be the first step forward in a serious attempt to alter Japan’s defense guidelines of engagement” by the DPJ.