Saturday, November 27, 2010

China Developing Armed/Recon UAVs

Defense News


China Developing Armed/Recon UAVs


ZHUHAI, China - China is making inroads in the development of armed unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), as was evident at last week's 8th China International Aviation and Aerospace Exhibition (2010 Zhuhai Airshow).

The biennial air show and defense exhibition coincided with the release of a critical report on China's military to the U.S. Congress by the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission. The annual report indicates China is developing a "variety of medium- and high-altitude long-endurance" UAVs that will include "options for long-range reconnaissance and strike" missions.

The Zhuhai Airshow provided plenty of examples of China's efforts in developing combat UAVs.


The China Aviation Industry Corp. (AVIC) displayed a model of the new Pterodactyl I UAV. Similar in configuration to as the U.S.-built Raptor, the model was equipped with an unidentified air-to-ground missile under each wing. The 9nine-meter-long UAV has a wingspan of 13 meters and a fuselage width of 1 meter. Performance capabilities include a range of 4,000 kilometers, an endurance of 20 hours, maximum speed of 280 kilometers per hour and a maximum altitude of 5,000 meters. It was also outfitted with a sensor turret under the nose.

AVIC also displayed a model of the TL-8 training drone capable of simulating second- and third-generation fighter aircraft and cruise missiles. According to an AVIC brochure, the drone can operate at 0.85 Mach with a maximum flight time of 40 minutes.

The company also displayed models of two short-range fixed winged reconnaissance UAVs - Night Eagle and SW-1. Both have an operational flight time of three hours. AVIC also provided information on the new ducted-fan Whirlwind Scout. Capable of vertical takeoff and landing, the Scout has a 20-40 minute operational endurance.

AVIC also displayed four examples of its YY Series multipurpose electro-optical and multisensor turrets. The stabilized turrets allow for a variety of surveillance and reconnaissance missions, including tracking, identification, observation, range measurement, and aiming and target designation of marine, ground and air targets. The YY Series brochure showed turrets outfitted on two different unidentified UAVs and one manned helicopter.


The China Aerospace Science and Technology Corp. (CASC) displayed a full-scale model of an armed CH-3 UAV with air-to-ground missiles. The model was also outfitted with a sensor turret. According to a CASC brochure, the multipurpose UAV is capable of battlefield reconnaissance, fire adjustment, data relay, intelligence collection, ground-strike missions and electronic warfare (EW) missions.

"It can be modified as an unmanned attack platform to carry small precision guided weapons for performing reconnaissance/strike missions." The CH-3 has a cruising speed of 220 kilometers per hour, 12-hour maximum endurance and a 200 kilometer communications radius.

A model of the CASC CH-803 multipurpose UAV was also on display. The aircraft can perform battlefield reconnaissance, fire adjustment, intelligence collection and EW. Parameters include a cruising speed of 80-110 kilometers per hour, five-hour endurance and a communications radius of 50 kilometers.

CASC also provided new data on UAV-related products, including the "TH Mini Precise Attack Missile" for air-to-ground strike missions and the new CP-04 motor for the SK-200 turbofan-propelled UAV booster.

The "TH Mini" can be outfitted on light UAVs and be used to target stationary or low-velocity moving ground targets. The missile, armed with a 5-kilogram blast fragmentation warhead, has a maximum range of 3.2 kilometers at 277 meters per second. Guidance modes include an inertial navigation system and charge coupled-device system.

The 13 kilogram CP-04 motor "gives a boost for the UAV during take-off" then separates and falls to the ground. The motor design has been completed and batch production will soon begin, said a CASC brochure.


No armed reconnaissance UAV received more attention than the WJ-600. Produced by the China Aerospace Science and Industry Corp. (CASIC), the jet-powered, multimission UAV was shown in a CASIC video locating a U.S. aircraft carrier and sending targeting information for a follow-on anti-ship cruise missile attack.

The WJ-600 can conduct "informationized warfare," said a CASIC display. It can be outfitted with a synthetic aperture radar, electro-optical and multisensor turret, information relay and a variety of weapons. Weapons on display included the air-to-ground KD-2 missile and two weapons with the designation "TBI" and "ZD1," which were not clearly described. Operational parameters were not provided.

Another CASIC UAV on exhibit was a stealthy tailless flying wing configuration, the SH-1. The aircraft, outfitted with a sensor turret, can perform battlefield reconnaissance, target identification and positioning, and "strike effect assessments." The SH-1 appears to be a short-range UAV with limited capabilities, though no operational parameters were provided.


The largest exhibit of UAVs was by ASN Technology Group, a company solely dedicated to UAV development and production. ASN provided new details about the ASN-229A "Reconnaissance and Precise Attack" UAV. A display of a model of the aircraft indicates it can perform reconnaissance and has a "mini precise guidance weapon system."

However, the maximum mission payload is only 100 kilograms and it is unlikely to be able to carry a weapon. The ASN-229A will have a take-off weight of 800 kilograms and a cruising speed of 160-180 kilometers per hour with an endurance of 20 hours.

China Unveils Lead-in Fighter Trainer; Carrier Variant Next?

Defense News


China Unveils Lead-in Fighter Trainer; Carrier Variant Next?


ZHUHAI, China — China has unveiled its first lead-in fighter trainer (LIFT) aircraft for fourth-generation training at the 8th China International Aviation and Aerospace Exhibition (Zhuhai Airshow 2010), China’s biggest commercial and defense aviation show.

About 70 aircraft from 35 countries and more than 600 domestic and foreign exhibitors showcased their products, including flight demonstrations by aircraft from the People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) and the Pakistan Air Force.

The twin-engine supersonic trainer is the latest of three variants of the L-15 Hunting Eagle produced by Hongdu Aviation, a subsidiary of the China Aviation Industry Corp. (AVIC). The L-15 LIFT demonstrated a variety of aerial maneuvers at the show, which ran from Nov. 16-21 in China’s southeastern province of Guangdong.

AVIC and Hongdu officials provided new details about the aircraft during a joint press conference here. An AVIC official did not rule out a potential carrier-based variant in the future. Depending on the requirements of the Chinese military, “we will do our best,” said Li Yuhai, AVIC Defense deputy president.

China’s aircraft carrier ambitions are in full steam as refurbishment of the former Soviet carrier, the Varyag, continues at Dalian Shipyard. China has faced difficulties acquiring aircraft for carrier missions. Russia has repeatedly rejected Chinese offers to buy Su-33 fighters. An L-15 carrier trainer variant might serve in a variety of roles, including attack and reconnaissance missions.

Designed and built by Hongdu, the debut of the LIFT variant follows the unveiling in 2009 of the L­15 Advanced Jet Trainer (AJT) at the Dubai Air Show. AVIC is attempting to enter the international fighter trainer market and is pushing the AJT, LIFT and a “companion variant” as possible competitors against the Russian Yak-130, Korean KAI T-50 Golden Eagle and Italian Alenia Aermacchi M-346 Master trainers.

The L-15 LIFT conducted its first flight Oct. 20, said the L-15’s chief architect, Zhang Hong, Hongdu vice general manager. The new trainer was re-engineered with more powerful Ivenchenko after­burning engines. The earlier L-15 ADT has “nonafterburner” engines, he said.

The new Ukrainian-built engine allows for a better thrust-weight ratio. It was designed specifically for the L-15, and “we have good cooperation with Ukraine on the L-15 program,” he said. The new engines give the LIFT variant better maneuverability than many third­generation fighters, he said.

During the flight demonstration at Zhuhai, the L-15 LIFT demonstrated a short takeoff and loop at full afterburner, a high banking turn, low-speed level flight, continuous roll, and vertical and horizontal maneuvering capability. The aircraft can take off in less than 300 meters, Zhang said.

The nose section of the LIFT variant has been modified to accommodate a phased array radar. The glass cockpit has one head-up display and three multifunction displays, which allow the LIFT variant to better simulate a fourth­generation fighter.

It is clear that AVIC is enthusiastic about its export potential.

“We can deliver this aircraft in two years’ time from the date of contract,” Li said.

Ukraine was mentioned as a possible export customer.

In comparison to competitor aircraft, the L-15 can perform as a trainer or in a combat role, including attack and reconnaissance, he said.

“As a trainer it must be safe and reliable,” Zhang said. “This aircraft has low fuel consumption and a long service life, which makes it economical.” AVIC has produced a variety of aircraft for the export market, including the JF-17/FC-1 fighter and K-8 trainer in a co-development program with Pakistan.

The Pakistan Air Force flew both the K-8 and JF-17 during demonstration flights at Zhuhai. One of the JF-17s on display was armed with AVIC-built weapons, including the SD-10 medium-range air-to­air missile, C802A anti-ship missile and SL-6 glide bomb.

Pakistan officials at the airshow would not confirm reports that 250 JF-17 fighters would be outfitted with the SD-10 air-to-air missile.

China Displays Booming Industry at Show

Defense News


China Displays Booming Industry at Show


ZHUHAI, China — China’s aviation and defense industry pulled out the stops for the eighth edition of the Zhuhai air show, which is becoming a leading international aviation and defense exhibition.

Held Nov. 16-21 in China’s southeastern province of Guangdong, the China International Aviation and Aerospace Exhibition broke its own attendance records, with displays from more than 600 domestic and foreign exhibitors.

Underscoring the show’s rising importance to Beijing, Vice Premier Zhang Dejiang officially opened the show and toured exhibition halls.

Chinese companies and government institutions took the lion’s share of booths with 180. Chinese companies displayed a variety of anti-ship cruise missiles, multi­launch rocket systems and more than 25 UAVs.

China’s biggest aerospace and defense aviation company, China Aviation Industry Corp. (AVIC), accounted for more than 70 of the stands, showing new bombs, missiles, electronic warfare systems, UAVs, fighter aircraft and commercial aviation products.

Numerous Chinese booths featured artists’ renderings of sophisticated attacks on U.S. aircraft carriers. One video on display showed a Chinese UAV finding an aircraft carrier task force and relaying targeting information for a Chinese assault by anti-ship cruise missiles.

Still, the show was dominated by commercial aviation, and U.S. and European companies pushing into China’s civil market appeared undaunted by the suggestions that China’s defense aviation industry considers the United States the primary target of its products.

Forty-two U.S. companies had booths at the show, including Boeing, Honeywell Aerospace, Kallman, Moog, Pratt & Whitney, Rockwell Collins, Sikorsky Aircraft and United Technologies. GE Aviation had both a booth and a chalet. None displayed military equipment, aiming their pitches instead at China’s skyrocketing civil aviation market.

The commercial airline and cargo aircraft market is projected to be around $500 billion in the next two decades. China is buying U.S. and European airliners but also developing domestic airliners.

The ARJ-21, China’s newest airliner, was on exhibit. A full-scale mockup of the C919 airliner was on display, and sources indicate the plane will make its first flight in 2014.

French companies are pushing hard into the aviation market. Airbus showcased its A380 jumbo airliner and the new A330-200F freighter. Safran and AVIC signed a general strategic partnership agreement that will expand the scope of collaboration between the two groups, said a Safran press release. Turbomeca, under Safran, is developing an engine, the WZ16, with China’s Dongan to power both commercial and military helicopter variants of the Avicopter Z-15.

Engine development is still a serious challenge for China’s aviation industry. It continues to procure Russian and Ukrainian engines for many of its helicopters and fighter jets, including the L-15 Lead-In Fighter Trainer and the J-10, J-11 and JF-17/FC-1.

China’s “aviation industrial barons are pursuing an ambitious strategy to build an internationally competitive, innovative and comprehensive aviation design and manufacturing base,” said Tai Ming Cheung, a China defense industry specialist at the Institute on Global Conflict and Cooperation, University of California.

He said China’s aviation industry has experienced a renaissance, and is “reaping record profits” from new orders, developing advanced aircraft, and forging business and technology ties with international aviation companies.

About 70 aircraft from 35 countries were on display. The People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) August 1st Aerobatics Team conducted flight demonstrations of the new J-10 fighter, and there were static displays of the JH-7A fighter­bomber, J-8F fighter, H-6 medium­range bomber, KJ-200 “balance beam” airborne early warning aircraft, and Z-9WA and Z-8KA helicopters.

The Pakistan Air Force flew the JF-17/FC-1 fighter and K-8 trainer in demonstration flights. Both aircraft were jointly developed by China and Pakistan. The JF-17 on static display was outfitted with Chinese weapons, including the SD-10 medium-range air-to-air mis­sile, the GB1 laser-guided bomb, the LS-6 glide bomb and the C802A anti-ship cruise missile.

Among other events, AVIC and Hongdu Aviation unveiled their L-15 Lead-In Flight Trainer for the export market. The L-15 conducted a demonstration flight, and AVIC officials gave a rare press conference.

The day before the show opened, the PLAAF held the Military Flight Training Conference 2010, which emphasized future pilot training trends. Representatives from 20 countries attended, including AVIC President Lin Zuoming and Lt. Gen. He Weirong, the PLAAF’s deputy commander.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Zhuhai Airshow Goes Unmanned

Defense News

Zhuhai Airshow Goes Unmanned



ZHUHAI, China - Chinese commercial and defense aviation companies are exhibiting more than 25 UAV models at the 8th China International Aviation and Aerospace Exhibition (Zhuhai Airshow 2010).

That is a record number of UAVs, according to show officials, and continuing evidence of China's growing interest in unmanned technology.

Some of the UAVs will serve as combat and battlefield reconnaissance roles. In one video, a UAV locates a U.S. aircraft carrier and relays the information for a follow-on attack by Chinese anti-ship missiles.

About 70 aircraft from 35 countries and more than 600 domestic and foreign exhibitors are showcasing their wares at Zhuhai in China's southeastern province of Guangdong. The show is China's biggest aerospace and aviation show and will run from Nov. 16-21.

Three Chinese companies - ASN Technology Group, China Aerospace Science and Industry Corp. (CASIC), and China Aerospace Science and Technology Corp. (CASC) produced most of the UAVs on display.

ASN Technology is the largest UAV production company in China, with a history of developing unmanned aerial platforms, including drones, since 1958, said a company press release. The primary customer is the Chinese military and the company controls more than 90 percent of the UAV market in China.

A company spokesperson said ASN works closely with the Northwestern Polytechnical University's UAV Institute.

ASN showed off 10 different UAVs, including the new ASN-211 Flapping Wing Aircraft System, which simulates a bird in flight. The prototype on display has a take-off weight of only 220 grams with a maximum speed of six-to-10 meters a second and an altitude ranging from 20-200 meters. A spokesperson said the micro-UAV would mainly be used for low-altitude reconnaissance for troops in the field.

The largest UAV on display by the company was the ASN-229A Reconnaissance and Precise Attack UAV. Equipped with a satellite data link, it can perform aerial reconnaissance, battlefield surveys, target location and artillery fire adjustment during the day or night. It has a take-off weight of 800 kilograms and a cruising speed of 160-180 kilometers per hour with an endurance of 20 hours.

Though ASN had the most UAVs on display, the most sophisticated unmanned platforms are being produced by CASIC and CASC. Both companies displayed models designed not only to locate the target, but also to destroy it.

CASC displayed the CH-3 multipurpose medium-range UAV system suitable for battlefield reconnaissance, artillery fire adjustment, data relay and electronic warfare. A company official said the CH-3 could be modified as an attack platform carrying small precision-guided weapons. Weapons outfitted on the display included two air-to-ground missiles similar in configuration to the U.S.-built Hellfire.

CASIC took the prize for UAVs capable of intimidating the U.S. military. These included the jet-powered WJ-600. In a CASIC video, the WJ-600 identifies a U.S. aircraft carrier and relays targeting information for a Chinese assault by anti-ship cruise missiles.

The UAV can handle a variety of payloads, including weapons, synthetic aperture radar, electronic warfare equipment and data relay systems. Air-to-ground weapons featured with the WJ-600 include the Hellfire-like KD-2 and two unidentified weapons - the TBI and ZD1.

Other UAVs displays included a little-known company called Zhuhai X.Y. Aviation, which exhibited two new reconnaissance platforms, the 200-kilogram Blue Arrow (UR-J1-001) and 40 kilogram Sky Eyes (UR-C2-008). A company spokesperson said there were three prototypes of the Blue Arrow now being test-flown and that the prop-driven engine was from an unidentified "German company."

The company had produced two prototypes of the Sky Eyes now being test flown.

China Preps To Showcase Air Power at Zhuhai Show

Defense News

China Preps To Showcase Air Power at Zhuhai Show



Zhuhai, China - About 70 aircraft from 35 countries and more than 600 domestic and foreign exhibitors are showcasing their wares at China's biggest aerospace and aviation show, the 8th China International Aviation and Aerospace Exhibition (Zhuhai Airshow), beginning Nov. 16 in the southeastern province of Guangdong.

The biennial aviation exhibition has become a must-see for foreign defense officials and academic analysts seeking information on China's opaque defense industry and military establishment. The show is unlikely to disappoint, with displays of new UAVs, missile and rocket systems, and other equipment not seen before.

Journalists were allowed a preshow visit Nov. 15.

There were several detailed artist renderings of anti-ship cruise missiles destroying a U.S. aircraft carrier. Two displays by the China Aerospace and Science and Technology Corp. demonstrated how using aerial reconnaissance from UAVs and Beidou satellite communication and navigation satellites could coordinate an anti-ship cruise missile assault from aircraft, surface ships, submarines and land-based coastal batteries.

The show is operated by the government-owned, commercially run Zhuhai Airshow Co. and sponsored by the People's Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF), Civil Aviation Administration, China Aviation Industry Corp. (AVIC) and a variety of defense and commercial aviation industries and supporters.

Foreign commercial aviation and defense companies exhibiting this year include Airbus, AgustaWestland, Bombardier, GE Aviation, Irkut, Pratt and Whitney, Rolls-Royce, Rosoboronexport, Sikorsky, Sukhoi Aviation and Thales.

A new U.S. exhibitor this year is Moog, and Honeywell is returning to the show after a long absence, show officials said.

Asian exhibitors are low-keyed at the show, but include the Society of Japanese Aerospace Companies and Korea Aerospace Industries Assoc.

The PLAAF is showcasing a wide range of aircraft, including the Kongjing-200 advanced warning and control system aircraft, H-6 medium-range bomber and JH-7 and J-10 fighters. The service's August 1st aerobatics team will be flying six J-10s.

AVIC will show off the new L-15 advanced jet trainer. Sources at the show indicate that a new supersonic version of the L-15 has been developed.

The Pakistan Air Force will participate with flying displays of the JF-17 Thunder fighter and K-8 jet fighter trainer.

The JF-17 is a joint development program between the Chinese and Pakistan governments. The Pakistan Air Force's Sherdils aerobatic team will make its show debut with nine K-8s.

There are a number of seminars and conferences, mostly dealing with commercial aviation issues. The Military Flight Training Conference, jointly sponsored by the PLAAF and AVIC, ran from Nov. 14-15, with attendance from various countries, according to a show press release, but journalists were not allowed to attend.

"The main themes of the conference will concentrate on the pilot training from a future perspective," the release stated.

19th-Century Strategist Shapes China’s Navy 

Defense News


19th-Century Strategist Shapes China’s Navy 


TAIPEI — China is building a navy that will soon begin challenging U.S. dominance in maritime Asia, according to a new five-year study released by the U.S. Naval War College (NWC).

Written by NWC’s Toshi Yoshihara and James Holmes, “Red Star Over the Pacific” draws on Chinese­language material by strategists from China’s top military academies and institutions.

The report provides an “in-depth treatment of the single-most conventional strategic challenge of the future: the naval rise of China,” said Robert Kaplan, an analyst at the Center for a New American Century and author of “Monsoon: The Indian Ocean and the Future of American Power.” The co-authors of the report said the U.S. “needs to think seriously about its side of the interactive relationship with China if it is to sustain a strategic position that has benefited itself and Asia for many decades.”

China’s maritime capacity, measured by hardware but also in seamanship and warfighting skills, “has reached a point where Chinese strategists’ theorizing will be put to the test,” the report said.

Chinese strategists have become obsessed by Alfred Mahan, a U.S. naval strategist who defined U.S. geostrategic maritime thought at the turn of the 20th century, and have followed his precepts to build an increasingly formidable People’s Liberation Army Navy, the report said. Mahan wrote that a nation’s power is defined by its ability to control choke points, island facilities, commercial waterways and other strategic points.

China is clearly testing the commitment of U.S. forces by probing for weaknesses in areas it considers vital under Mahanian law.

Three recent examples of Chinese attempts to induce the U.S. to commit militarily illustrate the problem, the report said. These include the 2001 EP-3 surveillance plane incident near Hainan Island, the breach of Japanese territorial waters in 2004 by a Han-class nuclear attack submarine, and Chinese harassment of the survey ship USNS Impeccable in 2009 near Hainan. 

Taiwan: A Springboard? 

Taiwan is the key to continued U.S. naval dominance of the region, the report said. Losing Taiwan to China would end Washington’s ability to protect sea lines of communication and would endanger allies.

“The sea and air combat radii from bases on Taiwan would reach the flanks of Japan and the Philippines,” the report said.

As a U.S.-leaning, self-governing entity, the island — along with its “first island chain” co-members Japan and the Philippines — are a “great wall in reverse” that hems in Chinese action, according to Chinese naval strategists.

Citing Mahan, they argue that China must overcome this barrier if it is to secure greater territorial control in the Pacific and South China Sea.

Respected Chinese naval specialist Jiang Yu argues that the solution is to take control of Taiwan, transfer forces to its air and naval bases, and turn the “Gibraltar of the East” into a springboard to the South China Sea and the Pacific.

This will allow China to “build absolute control over the adjacent sea areas,” Chinese strategists say, according to the report.

A Taiwan defense analyst said Taiwan’s air bases and naval facilities, largely built by the U.S. during the Cold War, are the best in the region. Hualian air base on the east coast includes an underground aircraft shelter inside a hollowed-out mountain.

Taiwan’s coastline along the Pacific plummets quickly into the abyss. A submarine base placed along the east coast, possibly at Suao, would give the Chinese Navy unprecedented access to the Pacific and create a serious challenge for the U.S. Navy, said the Taiwan analyst.

Moreover, said one Taiwan defense analyst who read the report, Beijing might turn Taiwan’s Navy into a proxy power to enforce territorial claims that Beijing felt politically uncomfortable with, such as the Spratly and Senkaku islands.

The report said some Chinese strategists even see Taiwan as a platform to attack U.S. positions in the Pacific, including Guam.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Vietnam’s Cam Ranh Bay Opens for Warship Support 

Defense News


Vietnam’s Cam Ranh Bay Opens for Warship Support 


TAIPEI — Cam Ranh Bay, a Cold War strategic chess piece, is now open for business for foreign navies interested in using the deep­water port on Vietnam’s southeastern coast facing the South China Sea.

Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung made the announcement at the conclusion of the East Asia Summit in Hanoi on Oct. 30.

“In the center of the Cam Ranh port complex, Vietnam will stand ready to provide services to the naval ships from all countries, including submarines, when they need our services,” Dung said.

The announcement is seen by many as an effort to hobble China’s attempts to claim the South China Sea. If the U.S. and other foreign navies gain access to Cam Rahn Bay, it would have strategic ramifications that will clearly upset China.

The decision is part of a “logical, carefully plotted extension of Vietnam’s policy of multilateral political and military global engagement with its neighbors and its large powerful friends, such as the United States and India,” said Frederick Brown, a Vietnam specialist at Johns Hopkins University’s Nitze School of Advanced International Studies.

This will be an effective way to improve Vietnam’s strategic position vis-à-vis China, “without rubbing China’s nose the wrong way,” he said.

Carlyle Thayer, an ASEAN specialist at the Australian Defence Force Academy, agreed.

“In sum, the offer of Cam Ranh Bay to for­eign navies is a master stroke of Vietnam’s omni-directional foreign policy. It will attract precisely those navies that can be expected to keep China’s naval ambitions in check,” Thayer said.

When the U.S. lost Cam Ranh Bay at the end of the Vietnam War, many U.S. political pundits expected the rise of Russian naval dominance in the South China Sea as Moscow invested millions of dollars into upgrading and expanding the facility. However, as political problems increased in Moscow in the 1990s, Russian strategists began rethinking naval basing issues and vacated in 2002.

“Many of the facilities at Cam Ranh Bay deteriorated after Russia withdrew,” Thayer said.

Now, the Vietnamese see an opportunity to improve the facilities by charging fees to foreign navies to use the port.

“Vietnam can recoup its investment on upgrading,” he said. “If Vietnam seriously develops this facility, Cam Ranh Bay could become one of the best service ports in the region.” 

Assistance From Russia 

Part of the upgrading will come from Russia’s agreement to sell six Kilo-class submarines to Vietnam. The deal includes a provision that Russia set up a base to berth, maintain and repair the submarines, Thayer said.

The decision to open the port as a repair hub for other navies will strengthen regional security, a U.S. defense official said.

“The U.S. Navy had used other Vietnamese ports for voyage ship repairs; adding this to the list of available ports will be a positive development,” he said.

Those who see it as a potential basing opportunity for the U.S. Navy could be disappointed.

“We have to look at the practicalities of the proposal,” said Sam Bateman, a naval security adviser at the Institute of Defence and Strategic Studies, S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, Singapore.

“If it’s just a refueling/storing stop, then it doesn’t mean anything more than what’s already available commercially from other ports in the region,” he said. “If it means a maintenance base or some sort of forward­operating base, then this would mean the visiting navy would have some physical presence ashore at Cam Ranh Bay — even just a small personnel detachment.”

Southeast Asian navies do not really need the port, and the Australian and U.S. navies already use Singapore, he said. The one country that might find the port useful is India, but an Indian naval deployment to the area would be an “obvious provocation” for China.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Experts: China Looks To Expand Air Power, Take on U.S. in Region 

Defense News


Experts: China Looks To Expand Air Power, Take on U.S. in Region


TAIPEI — By 2020, China’s air power capabilities will allow it to project force beyond the first island chain and begin challenging the dominance of U.S. air power in the region — according to a recent academic conference here on China’s air power, attended by many top experts on China’s military in Taiwan and from the United States.

Sponsored and run by the Chinese Council of Advanced Policy Studies, based here, the three­day conference — “The PLA Air Force: Evolving Concepts, Roles and Capabilities” — was co-sponsored by the U.S.-based Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Rand and the National Defense University.

Though hindered by an army­minded leadership, the People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) has been expanding its influence in China’s military modernization efforts.

This makes many regional players nervous, including the U.S. military.

Part of the problem is China’s recent aggressive language, said one U.S. attendee with close ties to the Pentagon. Threats against U.S. aircraft carrier deployment in the Yellow Sea and problems with Japan over the Senkaku Islands demonstrate a new cockiness by Beijing.

“They are full of piss and vinegar now. They really believe they are taking charge of the region,” the attendee said. “They are looking for a fight.”

But the conference members said China is not quite ready to engage the U.S. successfully in a war. They generally agreed that PLAAF still has a decade of development and training before it has the power capabilities needed to challenge U.S. air forces in the region.

Grim Predictions for Taiwan

But most also agreed that Taiwan has already seen or will soon see the end to its ability to fend off a Chinese air force and ballistic/cruise missile campaign.

Though Taiwan is pushing the U.S. to sell it new F-16 fighter jets to meet that challenge, most at the conference expressed doubts that Taiwan’s air bases would survive an attack by the roughly 1,300 short-range ballistic missiles aimed at the island. Some attendees suggested a vertical/short takeoff and landing aircraft, such as the AV-8B Harrier, that would allow Taiwan’s Air Force to operate without runways.

By 2015, weapons and platforms China is acquiring may enable it to implement four types of PLAAF air campaigns: air offensive, air defense, air blockade and airborne, said Roger Cliff, a China military specialist at Rand in Washington.

By then, fighter aircraft, surface­to-air missiles and early warning radar, “coupled with the hardening and camouflage measures China has already taken, would make a Chinese air defense campaign ... highly challenging for U.S. air forces,” he said.

In 2020, China could begin flying prototypes of its fifth-generation fighter, then retire older Chengdu J-7 and Shenyang J-8 fighters.

“It seems unlikely that China will choose to replace its own legacy fighters on a one-for-one basis, so the PLAAF will probably continue to shrink,” said David Shlapak, another Rand analyst.

China is expected to expand upon its indigenous development of aircraft and weapons, including more advanced airborne warning and control system (AWACS) aircraft, electronic warfare gear, and air-to-air weapons that can hit U.S. E-3 Sentry AWACS aircraft. It also will improve its smart weapons, use more UAVs, and continue to deploy long-range HQ-9 SAMs and buy Russian S-400 SAMs, Shlapak said.

Despite China’s advancements in technology, PLAAF still needs to straighten out its education and training regime. Though China has made progress in this area in recent years, “it has not yet achieved the development goals it seeks for officers and NCOs,” said Kevin Lanzit, a senior analyst with Alion Science and Technology.

PLAAF’s primary focus will be developing the midlevel and senior noncommissioned officer curriculums, with education and training for junior NCOs remaining secondary, he said.

Future PLAAF officers are likely to be “universally educated at the university level, adept in the employment of modern technologies, and competent in multiservice joint operations,” Lanzit said.

Conference attendees largely agreed that PLAAF’s biggest challenge would be interoperability with not just the other branches of the military, but within PLAAF itself. Education is likely to be the key driver in China’s overall effort to attain a level of interoperability that allows it to directly challenge the U.S. military in the region. All key indicators point to no earlier then 2020 before China is capable of standing its ground against U.S. air power in the region, the conferees said.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

China Infiltrates Taiwan's MIB – Again

Defense News


China Infiltrates Taiwan's MIB – Again


TAIPEI - The arrests of two Taiwanese men allegedly working for China has again shaken the military intelligence establishment here.

Taiwan and U.S. defense analysts say the arrests are further evidence that China has thoroughly penetrated Taiwan's Military Intelligence Bureau (MIB).

Col. Lo Chi-cheng of the MIB and Taiwanese businessman Lo Pin are accused of supplying Beijing with the identities of MIB agents working in China. Both men were arrested Nov. 1. The number of MIB spies compromised since the two began giving information to China in 2007 was not revealed.

The MIB is responsible for collecting military intelligence within China and has a history of recruiting Taiwanese businessmen working in China.

Taiwan Premier Wu Den-yih told the legislature Nov. 2 that the government has a responsibility to protect exposed MIB agents in China and find ways to have them safely returned home.

The MIB recruited Lo Pin in 2005 to collect intelligence in China, but after a year, Chinese authorities arrested and allegedly tortured him. Lo Pin agreed to return to Taiwan as a double agent and recruited his MIB handler, Lo Chi-cheng, paying him about $100,000 over four years.

The arrests again put the spotlight on Taiwan's ability to keep secrets and its failure to penetrate China.

Taiwan's Ministry of National Defense (MND) confirmed the arrests but downplayed the significance of the intelligence sold to China. MND spokesman Yu Sy-tue said the information had a limited impact on military intelligence operations.

The arrests add to a growing list of Chinese espionage cases in Taiwan:

■ In 2008, Taiwanese authorities arrested Wang Hui-hsien, a retired MIB colonel, for identifying MIB officers and agents to China over the course of six years.

■ In 2007, Lin Yu-nung, an agent in the Ministry of Justice's Investigation Bureau (MJIB), and Chen Chih-kao, a retired MJIB agent working in Shanghai, were arrested for collecting data on MJIB counterintelligence agents for China.

■ The MIB faced its biggest crisis in 2004, when more than 30 Taiwanese businessmen and one MIB officer were arrested in raids across China. The crackdown demonstrated China's growing confidence at locating and identifying Taiwanese agents.

China has also been successful at using Taiwanese to recruit spies in the U.S. government. During the past three years, two U.S. government officials were arrested and convicted of spying for China. James Fondren, a former official with the U.S. Pacific Command, and Gregg Bergersen, an official with the U.S. Defense Security Cooperation Agency, were recruited to spy for China by Tai Shen Kuo, a Taiwanese arms dealer who worked for various U.S. defense companies.

China’s Air Power Faces Challenges

Defense News


China’s Air Power Faces Challenges


TAIPEI — A premier international military conference on China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) here underscored China’s expanding air power, but also the obstacles imposed by the Army’s continued dominance of the air arm.

Sponsored and run by the Chinese Council of Advanced Policy Studies, based here, the three­day conference examined the ever­expanding role the PLA Air Force (PLAAF) has in China’s military modernization. The U.S.-based Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Rand and the National Defense University co-sponsored the event.

Conference speakers also looked closely at the workings of the Second Artillery Corps, responsible for China’s ballistic missile force, and the PLA Navy’s air power requirements, including plans to build an aircraft carrier.

Despite improvements in China’s ability to dominate the airspace in and around Taiwan and project air power into the South China Sea, the PLAAF faces challenges from Army-led leaders that often inhibit air power.

“The Army has always and will most likely continue to dominate the PLA’s joint leadership and structure,” said Kenneth Allen, a China military specialist at the Defense Group of the Center for Intelligence Research and Analyst, Washington.

All the uniformed vice chairmen of the powerful Central Military Commission (CMC), which has total authority over the military, have been Army officers, he said. This includes the head of each of the four General Departments and the commander of each military region. 
“In my opinion, there are no indications this situation will change,” Allen said.

Integration of air command and control has also been a challenge. There is still no single national air command system, said Zhuang Xiaoming, a China military specialist at the U.S. Air War College. Though there have been suggestions within China’s defense community to create a “Chinese NORAD,” there has been no visible progress on the issue.

Additional problems arise in China’s military culture, he said. The PLA’s political structure, service tradition and an outdated organizational system all “formulate relentless constraints” that continue to undermine the PLAAF’s modernization efforts.

Despite these issues, the PLAAF’s war-fighting capability has grown in tandem with China’s economy in many areas, particularly in efforts to push into “near space” — 65,000 to 328,000 feet —
and an obsession with defending China from long-range precision air strikes from the U.S., said Mark Stokes, a China analyst at the Project 2049 Institute.

China has compensated for its many weaknesses by expanding its conventional ballistic and ground­launched cruise missile force, he said. In addition, the Air Force is accelerating its transition from territorial air defense to both offensive and defensive operations that will target U.S. air bases in the region, including at Okinawa and Guam.

In 2004, the CMC approved the PLAAF’s first service-specific strategic concept, said Murray Scot Tanner, a China studies analyst at the U.S.-based Center for Naval Analyses.

“This concept clearly suggested a much broader mission than in the past, with a greater emphasis on offense,” he said.