Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Will Japan’s Troubles Be China’s Boon?

Defense News


Will Japan’s Troubles Be China’s Boon?


TAIPEI — Japan’s triple disaster — earthquake, tsunami and nuclear crisis — threatens to disrupt the region’s strategic balance, analysts say.

“The situation, in the near term, cannot but benefit China’s position — especially when it comes to responding to Chinese activity in the East China Sea,” said Walter Lohman, director of the Asian Studies Center at the Heritage Foundation, Washington.

Some analysts said they believe China could take advantage of a distracted and weakened Japanese military.

“Like a master strategist in a global board game, Beijing realizes it strengthens its position not only by augmenting its own resources, but when an opponent suffers a relative decline in theirs as well,” said Bruce Klingner, Asia defense analyst at the Heritage Foundation. “China would benefit from an even more inwardly­focused Japan as it struggles to recover from last week’s epic natural disasters.”

Some fear that the crisis might encourage China to be more aggressive. In the past couple of years, Beijing has reasserted territorial claims to the Japanese­controlled Senkaku Islands, called the Diaoyutai by China. Last September, a Chinese fishing vessel in the area rammed two Japanese Coast Guard vessels. Japanese officials arrested the Chinese sailors, then released them after Beijing reduced exports of rare earth minerals to Japan.

China’s military has also been intruding into Japanese airspace and maritime waters with submarines, surface ships, helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft.

Sumihiko Kawamura, vice president of the Okazaki Institute in Japan and a retired admiral of the Maritime Self-Defense Force, said Japan cannot ignore China’s continued aggressive behavior in the long term.

“The majority of the Japanese perceive that China is increasing assertiveness and threatening Japan,” so Japan must continue to update its military, he said.

The disaster came at the worst possible time for Japan’s economy, Kawamura said.

As the country’s national debt nears 200 percent of gross domestic product, Japan faces a disaster management and reconstruction bill that could top $200 billion, he said. The country spent $156 billion to recover from the 1995 Kobe earthquake. Tokyo will have to decide whether to issue more bonds and rearrange the 2011 national budget to raise needed funds, he said.

“The crisis will likely impact Japan’s economy severely, to a great or lesser extent undermining economy recovery and reducing government revenue and consequently government spending over­all, and defense will have to take at least a fair share of the hit,” said Singapore-based Tim Huxley, executive director of the International Institute of Strategic Studies – Asia.

Japan’s military budget, which hovers around $47 billion, is second in the region after China’s $91.5 billion budget released earlier this month. South Korea, which faces a tangible threat from North Korea, spends about $27 billion annually.

The Japanese military may be ordered to redirect some of its already underfunded training and maintenance budget to rescue operations, Klingner said.

“Tokyo may be less willing and able to respond to events even on its near horizon and will be more resistant to requests to devote humanitarian or military assets on international missions far from its shores,” he said.

U.S. defense industry sources in Tokyo indicate that the crisis has thrown a monkey wrench into the long-delayed F-X fighter competition. A request for proposals had been expected last week.

The $10 billion program aims to buy 40 to 50 fighter jets to replace aging F-4EJ Phantoms. Expected rivals include Boeing’s F/A-18 Su­per Hornet, Eurofighter’s Typhoon and the Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.

To make matters worse, the tsunami destroyed Matsushima Air Base, home of Japan’s F-2 fighter training unit, the 21st Squadron. Media reports indicate 18 F-2B twin-seat fighters were damaged by a 23-foot tidal wave. An unknown number of UH-60J Black Hawk helicopters belonging to the air rescue wing were also damaged.

One option is extending F-2 production, slated to end in September.

The tragedy could “push the Ministry of Defense towards an aircraft that can be procured quickly and cheaply,” Klingner said.

A U.S. defense industry source in Tokyo agreed, “I think there are going to be a lot of sacred cows served up for dinner before all this is over ... they need some serious new systems [the F-X], and this Tohoku disaster is going to suck all the oxygen out of the system.” The military will be under pressure to divert funds to develop a capacity for “high-availability disaster recovery-related tasks, possibly leading to reduced combat power and readiness,” Huxley said.

This could also mean a reallocation of funds from the integrated air and missile defense program to operational budgets.

The disaster could change the public’s perception of Japan’s mili­tary, which has suffered from suspicion since the end of World War II.

“After all, it is the Self-Defense Forces on the front lines of rescue and relief efforts, and the argument has long been made that Japan cannot play a larger regional security role as long as the public equates the military with war,” said Brad Glosserman, executive director of the Pacific Forum at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

Any attempt by China to “exploit this tragedy would really incite the nation and perhaps even stiffen the Japanese spine,” he said.

However, if the military bungles disaster relief operations, the situation could deepen cynicism about the Self-Defense Forces.

“How it responds now in the public eye will be important,” said Peter Woolley, author of the book, “Geography and Japan’s Strategic Choices.” “Heroes and goats emerge from every calamity. The Japanese Self-Defense Forces has the opportunity to improve its stature significantly — or not.”

China Ramps Up Missile Threat With DF-16

Defense News


China Ramps Up Missile Threat With DF-16


TAIPEI — China is developing a ballistic missile that will pose a “great threat” to Taiwan and regional neighbors and further complicate U.S. military action should it become involved in a confrontation with Beijing.

Tsai De-sheng, Taiwan’s National Security Bureau director-general, revealed during a legislative hearing on March 16 that China was developing the Dong Feng 16 (DF-16) ballistic missile.

A Taiwan defense source said China has already fielded up to a dozen Dong Feng 21D anti-ship ballistic missiles (ASBM) in Qingyuan, Guangdong Province, and is preparing the groundwork for its first anti-satellite (ASAT) missile brigade in Hunan Province. News of the DF-16 and additional advancements in the DF-21D and ASAT programs increases the threat to regional and U.S. military forces. No technical details about the DF-16 were given, but the admission follows mainland Chinese media reports in mid-February that the China Aerospace Science and Industry Corp. was set “to complete research, production and delivery of this new generation of missile by 2015,” said the state­controlled Xinhua News Agency on Feb. 17.

China’s Global Times subsequently reported the new missile was a medium-to long-range conventional missile with a strike range of 4,000 kilometers. Whether this is a reference to the DF-16 or another missile is uncertain.

“By deploying a new 4,000-kilometer-range, intermediate-range ballistic missile by 2015, the Chinese military is also trumping the U.S. Navy’s early answer to the DF-21D ASBM — the UCAS-D unmanned combat air vehicle, which was expected to be deployed in the early 2020s,” said Richard Fisher, senior fellow of the International Assessment and Strategy Center.

The DF-21D ASBM has been dubbed the “aircraft carrier killer” and considered a game-changer for U.S. military power in the region. Though skeptics have suggested China’s ASBM efforts face technical hurdles that make it difficult to target a U.S. warship, others suggest China has made significant progress in deploying new communications and intelligence­gathering satellites to facilitate the targeting of U.S. warships with ASBMs.

In 2009 and 2010, China deployed a record number of surveillance satellites into lower Earth orbit. These included seven Yaogan-class satellites, including the Yaogan 7 and 11 electro-optical imagine satellites. These satellites can electronically capture high-resolution digital images and transmit to ground stations via China’s Tian-lian satellite network, said Ian Easton, a researcher with the Project 2049 Institute.

In 2010, China launched a threat­satellite Yaogan 9 constellation capable of triangulating and targeting radar-emitting aircraft carrier strike groups.

New Cruise Missile Threat 

Besides the threat from the new DF-21D, China has begun fielding a new generation of anti-ship cruise missiles (ASCM). These can be launched from submarines, surface warships, land-based mobile launchers and a new variant of the H-6K/M medium-range bomber. The new H-6K/M and submarines will allow China to hit targets as far way as Guam.

At the 2010 Zhuhai Airshow, several Chinese defense companies displayed how a combination of ASCMs launched simultaneously from a variety of platforms, aided by satellites and UAVs, could locate and destroy an aircraft carrier.

Chinese sources indicated operational tests have linked these satellites to anti-ship missiles for targeting U.S. warships, Easton said. The question for the U.S. is how to protect bases in the region now that Chinese missiles can reach Guam.

Roger Cliff, a China defense analyst, who co-authored the recent Rand report, “Shaking the Heavens and Splitting the Earth,” said the U.S. must begin improving the survivability of air bases in the Western Pacific.

“This entails hardened runways, improved runway-repair capabilities, and hardened shelters for aircraft, including large aircraft such as AWACS, tankers, etc., as well as active missile defenses such as PAC-3 and THAAD.” Cliff also recommends new systems to counter China’s anti-access/area denial strategy, such as a long-range, stealthy cruise missile; a supersonic, anti-ship cruise missile; stealthy intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft; high-altitude, long-endurance UAVs that can act as communications relays; long-range air-to-air missiles; truly mobile ground-based aircraft and cruise missile defense systems; and carrier-borne, long-endurance unmanned combat aerial vehicles. 

STOVL Needed if Runways Destroyed 

The F-35B short take-off and vertical landing aircraft will also become a necessity since Chinese missiles could destroy runways at Kadena and Anderson air force bases. Taiwan is also pushing for the release of retired AV-8 Harrier jump jets to compensate for what specialists expect will be the annihilation of Taiwan’s air bases during a war.

China has about 1,300 DF-11/15 short-range ballistic missiles aimed at the island. Taiwan is pushing forward on the procurement of new F-16C/D fighters from the U.S., but critics are questioning their survivability during a war with China.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Japan To Launch Much-Delayed F-X Contest

Defense News


Japan To Launch Much-Delayed F-X Contest


TOKYO and TAIPEI — After years of vacillation, Japan’s Ministry of Defense (MoD) plans this month to formally launch a $10 billion purchase of 40 to 50 fighter jets, a program that could make or break the country’s ability to manufacture combat aircraft.

The F-X program will release a request for proposals March 28, sources in Tokyo said. Bids will be due Aug. 31, and a contract awarded at the end of this year, they said.

The competition will be closely watched by the Japanese defense industry. Unless some of the F-X planes are produced in Japan under license, the country faces its sunset as a maker of fighter jets. Production of Mitsubishi F-2s, the country’s only active fighter line, is to close in September.

A deal to make at least some of the F-Xs will prove very profitable for local industry, “but no licensed production will be tantamount to disaster,” a Japanese defense industry source said. “We have excellent engineers, and a generation of skills will be lost.” Three competitors are expected to vie for the contract: the Boeing F/A-18 Super Hornet, Eurofighter Typhoon and the Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF).

Boeing and Eurofighter are set to offer licensed production in their bids, but Lockheed may be unable to do so. Japan is not a member of the multinational JSF partnership, thanks to its self-imposed ban on making defense items for export.

Attempts by Japan’s defense industry to repeal the ban have met stiff resistance from pacifist political opposition groups.

This makes licensed production of the F-35 nearly impossible in Japan, said Satoshi Tsuzukibashi, director of the Office of Defense Production Committee at the Japan Business Federation, or Nippon Keidanren.

And that could finally scuttle the Japan Air Self-Defense Force’s (JASDF) dreams of buying a fifth-generation fighter. The F-X program was supposed to launch in 2007, but officials delayed it in hopes that the U.S. would allow Lockheed to export the F-22. When those hopes were dashed, Tokyo set its sights on the F-35, only to see the JSF effort dogged by delays and cost overruns. “The delay of the RfP last year was somewhat because of the delay of the F-35,” Tsuzukibashi said.

Despite the doubts over licensed production, Lockheed’s plans to compete for the F-X, offering some form of industrial participation, said John Giese, the company’s senior manager for international communications. He said the F-35 “meets Japan’s F-X acquisition timeline, both to support the F-X model selection decision to be made in 2011 and for delivery of aircraft and sustainment to meet JASDF’s F-X delivery requirements.” 

But for the Japanese defense industry, licensed production remains the bottom line.

Industry “will happily accept the MoD’s decision for any of the options on the table, as long as the MoD secures licensed production,” said a senior Japanese defense industry source, who added that Tokyo must “do all it can to convince the U.S. to allow for technology transfer and licensed production if the MoD does opt for the F-35.” If not, the source said, defense industry favors either the F/A-18 or the Typhoon as a matter of survival. Boeing and Eurofighter are taking advantage of these fears.

Boeing would offer Japanese industry opportunities to develop and produce the F/A-18, including options under the new Super Hornet International Roadmap capability program, said Joe Song, Boeing’s vice president of Asia-Pacific business development.

“We believe we can offer a substantial package to Japan that enables it to sustain and advance its defense aerospace business for follow-on development,” Song said.

Kory Mathews, Boeing’s vice president for F/A-18 and EA-18 programs, noted that Boeing had brought Japan licensed production of the F-4EJ and F-15J.

But the Super Hornet faces stiff competition from the Typhoon, the first serious effort by a European fighter to unseat U.S. dominance in Japan. Tsuzukibashi said Eurofighter officials have been promoting it as a flexible, inexpensive alternative to the F/A-18 and F-35, and they believe it has a good chance of winning.

A European industry source in Japan said technical export restrictions hamper F-35 exports, while Eurofighter has “no blackbox policy,” which means wider options for Japanese industry participation.

A senior Japanese defense industry source said, “The Eurofighter people are always talking about full disclosure technology for production and technology transfer to Japanese industry and the MoD. The guys from BAE are very hard workers ... very enthusiastic for promoting the Eurofighter option for the F-X.” Eurofighter has teamed with Sumitomo, a major Japanese integrated trading and investment enterprise, to fight for the F-X contract.

Yet the Japan-U.S. military alliance and pressure to procure a U.S. fighter may keep the MoD from picking a European fighter, Tsuzukibashi said.

The F-X will replace Mitsubishi F-4EJ Kai Phantoms due to begin retiring in 2015. Tokyo is also considering buying more fighters to replace F-15Js in the next 10 years. That could increase the number of F-X fighters to 150, lowering the cost of manufacturing in Japan.

China's Defense Budget Hits Record $91.5B

Defense News


China's Defense Budget Hits Record $91.5B


TAIPEI - China has announced a 12.7 percent increase in its annual defense budget to a new high of $91.5 billion, up from $78.6 billion in 2010 and a return to the double-digit growth recorded through most of the 2000s. Last year's increase was 7.5 percent. China's defense budget rose from $27.9 billion in 2000 to $60.1 billion in 2008.

China overtook Japan in 2007 and the United Kingdom in 2008 in defense spending and is now second only to the U.S.

U.S. defense analysts have accused China of hiding its actual budget, which over the past few years could be well over $100 billion annually.

"There is no such thing as a so-called hidden military expenditure in China," Li Zhaoxing, spokesman for the Fourth Session of the 11th National People's Congress, said at a March 4 news conference announcing the budget.

Li said the bulk of this year's spending would go toward moderate improvements in armament, training, human resource development, infrastructure and living standard improvements for "grass-root units." The new defense budget accounts for only 6 percent of China's total budget, he said.

"I think Li is right on the explanation of the rise of the new military budget," said Zhuang Jianzhong, vice director of the Center for National Strategy Studies at Shanghai Jiao Tong University. Commodity prices have been rising rapidly, and wages and subsidies are comparatively low compared with Western military personnel, he said.

Maj. Gen. Zhu Chenghu, director-general, Strategic Studies Department, National Defense University, echoed the explanation. Military salaries are trying to keep pace with rising inflation as the Chinese economy continues to expand, he said.

China's military also has to meet the demands of educating and training personnel as the military takes on more international responsibilities, such as piracy patrols in the Gulf of Aden and continued involvement in U.N. peacekeeping operations.

As an example, Zhuang cited Chinese military involvement in the evacuation of Chinese citizens from Libya and downplayed critics who suggest China's military is planning foreign expeditions. China has no "intention to expand or invade or station military overseas," he said.

There is also an argument that the military wants more respect from the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). Richard Fisher, vice president of the Washington-based International Assessment and Strategy Center, said the CCP lives in fear of the People's Liberation Army (PLA). The party leadership needs to increase the pay of its officers, "lest the current galloping inflation and resulting social discontent wash over to the PLA."

Party power would "collapse if the PLA were to wake up some day and 'vote' against it," which "reflects power, but also fear."

Not everyone is buying the "inflation" and "salary increases" argument for a nearly 13 percent increase in the defense budget.

"Given an inflation rate of about 4 percent, that is an 8 percent real increase," said Richard Bitzinger, a former U.S. intelligence analyst, now a senior fellow with the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, Singapore.

"While it may be a bit less than the average annual growth rate of the past 15 years, it is still up from last year and seems consistent with China's continued emphasis on putting considerable resources into building up its military," he said.

"If we applied a purchasing power parity deflator to the yuan, it would be at the very least double the size of the Chinese defense budget."

Transparency remains an issue not only in China's defense spending, but also with China's stated capabilities and intentions, said Andrew Erickson, a China defense specialist at the U.S. Naval War College.

"Even the most basic data on service budgets remain unavailable to foreign researchers," he said. "China's military capabilities are clearly growing, but its intentions - at least beyond asserting control over its territorial and maritime claims, to include Taiwan - remain somewhat unclear."

Erickson pointed to expensive efforts by China's military for force modernization, including the recent unveiling of the stealthy J-20 fighter, the outfitting of the former Varyag aircraft carrier and development of the Dong Feng 21D anti-ship ballistic missile.

Also, Beijing's strategic goals "simply do not necessitate the military resources that Washington requires to fight two wars and maintain a global presence," he said.

Although China is expanding its global presence and is now conducting its first military operations in the Mediterranean evacuating Chinese citizens from Libya, it is still far behind the U.S. in global reach and responsibilities.

One explanation for China's return to double digit military spending increases is that the CCP leadership "needs to increase spending because many programs, like aircraft carriers and nuclear missile submarines, are entering their expensive procurement phases," Fisher said.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Piracy Shifts from Malacca Strait to South China Sea

Defense News


Piracy Shifts from Malacca Strait to South China Sea


TAIPEI — Stronger regional cooperation has reduced piracy in the Malacca Strait over the past five years, new figures show.

According to the figures, just released by the London-based International Maritime Bureau (IMB), the number of actual and attempted piracy attacks in the Malacca Strait dropped from 11 in 2006 to two in 2010.

The main reason for the drop was a coordinated effort by Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand to patrol the area and tighten security in their respective territorial waters, said Ian Storey, a security specialist at Singapore’s Institute of Southeast Asian Studies.

Part of the success is due to the Eye in the Sky program, a shared aerial reconnaissance and surveillance effort by Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand. The effort began in 2005; Thailand joined the program in 2006. The result was a significant drop in piracy in the Malacca Strait.

“By 2009, Southeast Asia accounted for 45 out of 406 incidents globally, or 11 percent,” said Carl Thayer, a defense analyst on Southeast Asia for the Australian Defence Force Academy. “This demonstrated that regional states were capable of combining and addressing a major transnational security challenge without the assistance of external powers” like the United States.

However, Storey warns that the “geographical focus of the problem has shifted eastward into the South China Sea, where the number of attacks is up, especially around the Natuna Islands,” which are Indonesia’s responsibility. Indonesia has been struggling with limited resources to control the problem.

According to the IMB report, the number of attacks in the South China Sea jumped from only one in 2006 to more than 30 in 2010. There has been a “dramatic increase off the Anambas and Natuna Islands in the Indonesian waters,” said Eric Frecon, a maritime piracy analyst at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, Singapore.

This type of piracy is akin to “sea guerrilla” tactics, he said. Though the Eye in the Sky program has been effective in the sea lanes of the Malacca Strait, areas now hit by piracy are not conducive to warships, which are “too big to track and follow the pirates among islets and mangroves,” and most pirates attack at night when there are not a lot of aircraft and warship patrols.

Another reason piracy has increased in these waters is the drop­off in international shipping because of the economic downturn.

“This has had the effect of freighters weighing anchor in Southeast Asian ports or in the South China Sea waiting on new contracts,” Thayer said. The result is that the ships have fallen victim to pirate attacks more easily.

Part of the problem also has to do with the “roots of this crime” in Indonesia, where the pirates come from, Frecon said. The “coastal ghettos” where pirates live are “gray areas” for Indonesian law enforcement authorities, who now have to deal with new autonomy laws arising from the creation of an independent East Timor in 2002.

As Asian Sub Forces Grow, So Do Concerns 

Defense News



As Asian Sub Forces Grow, So Do Concerns 

Motivation Behind Submarine Acquisitions More Complicated Than Defending Shipping


SINGAPORE and TAIPEI — The increasing numbers of submarines operating in the Asia-Pacific region complicate efforts at maritime confidence-building, preventive diplomacy and safe sub operations, particularly in crowded waterways such as the Malacca Strait, where millions of tons of oil and natural gas containers transit between the Middle East and East Asia.

Submarines are an attractive naval weapon in the region, and the price tag for new diesel-electric vessels, such as the $200 million Russian-built Kilo class, makes them an affordable status symbol for countries, such as Singapore and Vietnam, concerned about their neighbors.

Over the next decade, the submarine market for Asia is estimated at about $35 billion, with 10 countries procuring or planning to procure up to 90 submarines, according to regional observers.

Recent new submarine purchasers include Australia, Singapore, Malaysia and Vietnam. China continues to expand its submarine fleet, with about 60 submarines of different classes. Taiwan wishes to procure eight new submarines, but the sale has been on hold since 2001 due largely to Washington’s reluctance to anger China.

Malaysia has two new Scorpene­class diesel submarines built jointly by France and Spain. In 2009, Vietnam ordered six Kilo submarines from Russia while Indonesia plans to procure two subs in the next few years. South Korea and Japan continue building submarines while India and Pakistan push forward on new submarine procurements.

Interest in anti-submarine war­fare (ASW) capabilities has also increased after North Korea used a mini-submarine to sink a South Korean corvette, the Cheonan, in early 2010. Japan also has expressed renewed interest in ASW capabilities due to continued problems with Chinese submarines intruding into Japanese waters.

Whatever the reasons, the proliferation of submarines in the region may be destabilizing, said Sam Bateman, maritime security adviser at the Institute of Defence and Strategic Studies, S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, Singapore.

For China, Japan, India and South Korea, the motivations are simple: safeguarding the sea lanes of communication for energy security, Bateman said. For these countries, the role would be more traditional, such as defending shipping against submarine attack and, if need be, attacking shipping. There would also be additional roles, such as intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) missions, focused on piracy and terrorist activities.

For other Southeast Asian countries, including Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia and Vietnam, the motivation is far more basic: ISR missions aimed not just at pirates but at each other. The increase in submarine procurement in the region has created a “keeping up with the Joneses” mentality, Bateman said.

ISR is one vital mission that submarines excel in, said Bob Nugent, vice president of advisory services at AMI International, a naval analysis firm.

“Deployment of special operations forces is another likely related mission to be part of the task set for subs in the region in the future,” he said.

While Asian countries are acquiring more submarines, the U.S. is increasing its submarine patrols in the area. The U.S. has begun homeporting about 60 percent of its submarine fleet in the Pacific. In mid-January, the USS Hawaii (SSN 776) visited Singapore’s Changi Naval Base to highlight the U.S. Navy’s ability to operate in Asia-Pacific littorals.

The Virginia-class fast-attack submarine arrived in Singapore on a theater security engagement port call as part of its first Western Pacific deployment, said the Hawaii’s commanding officer, Cmdr. Steve Mack.

The visit demonstrates the sub­marine’s ability to operate in shallow waters along littorals, he said. This, combined with the endurance due to its nuclear reactors, makes the Hawaii a force central to the evolving dynamics in the Asia-Pacific and further.

“In the normal course of the day­to-day naval life, managing the increased underwater traffic” in the region will be a challenge, Nugent said. “What the U.S. Navy calls ‘waterspace management’ will require some sort of minimal framework of bilateral and multilateral agreements among those operating subs to avoid unwanted incidents,” he said. “At the same time a sub’s strongest asset — stealth — is a strong enough incentive not to share even minimal information on their locations and status.” Other concerns that many Southeast Asian countries have not addressed are submarine accidents that result in trapped crews. During the Hawaii’s visit to Singapore, Mack and key personnel visited the Singaporean Navy’s submarine support vessel, MV Swift Rescue, which is outfitted to launch a submersible rescue vehicle.

Last August, Singapore held the Pacific Reach exercise, the largest and most sophisticated submarine rescue exercise in the Asia-Pacific, bringing together submarine rescue counterparts from Australia, Japan, Singapore, South Korea and the U.S., along with 13 observer nations, including Malaysia. Last June, three U.S. guided­missile submarines, whose inter­continental ballistic missiles (ICBM) launchers were converted to fire conventional weapons, visited Pacific Rim ports: the Ohio to Subic Bay in the Philippines; the Michigan to Pusan, South Korea; and the Florida to the Indian Ocean outpost of Diego Garcia. The visit of the Hawaii reinforces the 2011 National Military Strategy that states the U.S. must invest new attention in Southeast Asia.

“U.S. Navy submarines have a key role to play in bolstering U.S. maritime presence in the Indo-Pacific region, not only to counter potential threats [China, North Korea] but even more to work together with increasingly capable and numerous submarines of our allies and friends in the region,” said Stan Weeks, naval specialist at SAIC.

While Mack has spent nearly a quarter of a century with the U.S. Submarine Force, regional navies which have more recently begun operating submarines may not have the benefit of such experience.

“Navies operating submarines must be confident that their submarine commanding officers have sufficient skills and experience to handle serious incidents, including ones that could escalate into conflict,” Bateman said.

By expanding engagement with such nations as Singapore and Malaysia, the U.S. can help build the capacity of commanders and crews so these regional navies can safely operate in the undersea environment. The maritime geography, complex oceanography and volume of shipping traffic increase the difficulty of operating in East Asian waters, Bateman said.

As additional regional navies join the submarine ranks, bolstering the skills of their personnel will be essential to good order at sea, he said.

Taiwan Reels From Spy Arrest

Defense News


Taiwan Reels From Spy Arrest


TAIPEI - Taiwan military officials are still reeling from the late-January arrest of a one-star army general on accusations of spying for China, the worst espionage scandal in Taiwan's history.

Gen. Lo Hsien-che, who ran the communications, electronics and information division of Army Command Headquarters, stands accused of compromising the Po Sheng (Broad Victory) C4I program. Po Sheng includes a fiber-optic communication cable network and procedures for sharing information with U.S. Pacific Command.

During Lo's 2002-05 stint as defense attaché in Thailand, he was allegedly recruited by a mainland Chinese agent in 2004.

Sources in the Ministry of National Defense (MND) indicated that an investigation into Lo began in October. He was arrested in his home Jan. 25.

MND officials announced his arrest Feb. 8, and said a damage assessment team is looking into how much Lo may have given China.

U.S. officials are pressuring Taiwan to be more transparent about the damage allegedly caused by Lo. The consequences could include losing the Pentagon's confidence in Taiwan's ability to protect U.S. defense technologies sold to the self-rule island. Taiwan is pushing Washington hard for the release of new F-16 fighter aircraft and is awaiting delivery of Patriot PAC-3 air defense missile systems and P-3C Orion maritime patrol aircraft. All are technologies China is anxious to learn more about.

One former Taiwan defense attaché said the MND is unlikely to dig too deeply. There's a long tradition of "making a big issue small" (da shi hua xiao) in Taiwan's military bureaucracy, the former attaché said.

"Even if the top leader asks whoever is in charge of the investigation to be completely honest, from the second level down, people will most likely try to make it sound less serious," he said.

He said the MND must begin polygraphing returning attachés or risk further problems.

A MND official said the level of damage is uncertain and accused local media outlets of making up quotes and information to sensationalize the Lo case.

What is certain is the Lo case is one of several arrests over the past five years of Taiwan and U.S. officials involved in the Po Sheng program.

These include the 2008 arrest and subsequent conviction of Gregg Bergersen, director of the Pentagon's C4ISR program for Taiwan at the Defense Security Cooperation Agency. Bergersen was part of the Kuo Tai-shen spy ring that included James Fondren, another Pentagon official working on Taiwan issues. They are now in U.S. federal prisons.

In November, a Taiwan colonel in Taiwan's Military Intelligence Bureau (MIB) was arrested and charged with supplying the names of MIB agents to China.

DoD: China To Have Regional AF by 2020

Defense News


DoD: China To Have Regional AF by 2020


TAIPEI — The People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) is undergoing dramatic changes that will make it “one of the world’s foremost air forces by 2020,” according to a handbook to be released this week by the Pentagon’s principal source for air and space intelligence.

Published by the U.S. National Air and Space Intelligence Center (NASIC), “People’s Liberation Army Air Force: 2010” says the PLAAF is aiming to “extend its reach and its lethality,” and is a growing air power the U.S. Air Force “must take seriously.” Defense News received an advance copy.

“It has the potential to be an air force, among other regional air forces, that will shape the future operational environment in the Asia-Pacific region and, perhaps one day, even beyond,” the handbook says.

The PLAAF is trying “to catch up” with the U.S. and other advanced foreign militaries, in an effort “to credibly engage in high­tech 21st-century combat.” The Chinese were heavily influenced by the 1991 Persian Gulf War, which “shocked the PLA into the realization” that it had to begin focusing on high-tech and information-age warfare or risk falling further behind modern militaries around the world.

The PLAAF has traditionally been asked to concentrate solely on the defense of Chinese territory but is now also being asked to protect Chinese interests beyond its borders. Since the 1990s, China has largely shaped its modernization efforts around Taiwan, but the PLAAF is beginning to look at scenarios involving Japan, India and the South China Sea.

China also has modified key doctrinal concepts as more advanced fighter aircraft and new airborne early warning and control aircraft, such as the KJ-200 and KJ-2000, are fielded. The recent unveiling of the stealthy J-20 fighter will further adjust doctrine.

One prominent trend has been efforts to improve joint doctrine. In 2004, the PLAAF was tasked with “its own service-level strategy,” known as “Integrated Air and Space, Being Prepared for Simultaneous Offensive and Defense Operations.” Then, in 2009, the PLAAF implemented a revision of its Outline of Military Training and Evaluation (OMTE), a series of regulations guiding how training will be organized, implemented and evaluated.

“This current OMTE emphasizes joint training, training in Complex Electromagnetic Environment (CEME), and realism in training, including increased use of opposition forces (known as Blue Force),” the report said.

The PLAAF will face challenges as it moves from a primarily tactical asset to a “strategic air force,” and there are some “weighty systemic and technological challenges that will guarantee a certain amount of friction.” The intent of the study is to educate U.S. Air Force personnel about the PLAAF “beyond weapon systems, equipment, and order of battle information.”

The handbook focuses on the PLAAF’s history, leadership, organization, political system, personnel, education, training, logistics, maintenance and foreign relations.

PLAAF’s order of battle and weapons is already thoroughly covered in other U.S. government reports on China, said a NASIC source.

The NASIC report complements the Office of Naval Intelligence’s 2007 handbook on the PLA Navy and Dennis Blasko’s book, “The Chinese Army Today.”

Singapore Military Procures BullsEye

Defense News


Singapore Military Procures BullsEye


TAIPEI - Singapore's Ministry of Defense will procure the next-generation Super BullsEye II Advanced Weapons Scoring System built by Singapore-based Stratech Systems Limited for $1.14 million. Stratech made the announcement on Feb. 16.

"This contract covers the supply, delivery, installation, testing and commissioning of an integrated bomb and gunnery scoring system," Stratech officials said.

The BullsEye II is an advanced weapons scoring system that fully automates the scoring, recording and management of firing results in weapons training and defense exercises. The system can be used for the army, navy or air force and is configurable for different terrains.

"Stratech has been in the forefront of advanced technologies," said David K.M. Chew, executive chairman. The company is principally engaged in the design, development, integration, implementation, maintenance and project management of information technology and advanced technology systems.

BullsEye is powered by Stratech's proprietary Intelligence Vision technologies, which is a "proven product that has been deployed and currently used by air forces and navies from several countries," according to a company press release. "The automated scoring system is capable of accurately scoring weapons impact day or night for air, sea and land forces and weapons development agencies."

In August 2009, the company sold the BullsEye II system to South Korea.