Wednesday, January 4, 2012

All Eyes On North Korean Leadership Succession

Defense News


All Eyes On North Korean Leadership Succession


TAIPEI - With the death of North Korean leader Kim Jong Il, all eyes are on his son and heir, Kim Jong Un.

Kim Jong Il died of "physical and mental overwork" according to North Korean propaganda broadcasts. Although Kim had several heath problems, including a stroke in 2008, he appeared vibrant in recent meetings, said Bruce Klingner, a North Korea specialist at the Heritage Foundation, Washington.

His death has been long awaited by outside analysts and speculation has been rampant for years on how his young son, reportedly in his late 20s, would transition to the top spot in Pyongyang's opaque political decision making apparatus.

Kim Jong Un is a "pale reflection" of his father and grandfather, Kim Il Sung, Klingner said. "He has not had the decades of grooming and securing of a power base that Jong Il enjoyed before assuming control from his own father."

The person who will most likely serve as a bridge between father and son is Kim Jong Il's brother-in-law, Jang Song Thaek, who has long been in charge of the top security agencies, said Bruce Cumings, a North Korea specialist at the University of Chicago.

Cumings warned that the U.S. media "constantly mistake this regime for a one-man dictatorship … [when] in fact an entire generation of leaders rose in tandem with Kim Jong Il, and they are now in power and have much privilege to protect, with Jong Un being the key symbol of continuity and power."

Furthermore, a senior generation guided the transition to both Jong Il and his son, and the ones still alive are powerful leaders on the "most powerful body," the National Defense Commission (NDC). "They may be octogenarians, but they have a huge army behind them, and this is also one of the most patriarchal societies in the world," Cumings said.

This does not mean that Kim Jong Un's attempt to consolidate power will be smooth. If the party and the military do not support him, the chances of the regime imploding or falling into a variety of instability scenarios that could lead to collapse are at least 50-50, said Bruce Bechtol, author of the book, "Defiant Failed State: The North Korean Threat to International Security."

The big difference between Kim Jong Un and his father is that when Kim Il Sung passed away in 1994, Kim Jong Il was the second highest ranking member of the NDC, a leader in the Organization and Guidance Department of the Party, a marshal in the Army, and in charge of the North Korean security services, Bechtol said.

Not so with Kim Jong Un. Although the son has been groomed for these positions, "he is not actually in them," Bechtol said. "And thus, the succession process from father to son is much more tenuous then it was in 1994."

What is certain is that six-party talks on the country's nuclear program will stall as North Korea works out leadership issues, said Zhuang Jianzhong, vice director of the Center for National Strategy Studies at Shanghai Jiao Tong University, China. Prior to the announcement of Kim Jong Il's death, media reports suggested that the U.S. and North Korea had made preliminary agreements for the resumption of multilateral nuclear negotiations.

Some Western analysts argue that Kim Jong Un's early education in Switzerland will make him more amenable to the West, but the North Korean elite has a vested interest in maintaining the system and will assess Kim Jong Un's ability to protect their interests, Klingner said. "The elite will balance a shared sense of external threat against fear of domestic instability from an inexperienced leader," he said.

"The senior government leadership may assess Jong Un's shortcomings as sufficient justification for contesting his succession. Elite resistance to Jong Un's rule could manifest itself in outright opposition or in usurping his power and leaving him a mere figurehead."

This could force Kim Jong Un to become more bellicose towards South Korea and the U.S. by instigating a crisis in order to generate a "rally around the flag effect," he said.

That wouldn't necessarily lead to war, Zhuang said. Kim Jong Un will be busy with domestic issues and China will most likely have more influence over Kim Jong Un as both countries continue to ramp up economic cooperation, he said.

In recent years, hundreds if not thousands of markets - many joint ventures with foreign firms - have opened, and there is a new export zone at Kaeson, which employees more than 40,000 North Koreans, Cumings said.

This could make for a "happy ending" in the form of soft landing for this dictatorship, more openings to the outside world and eventual decompression of totalitarianism, Cumings said. However, he warned, "happy endings don't have much meaning in North Korea."

Newsmakers, Walter Doran, President, Raytheon Asia

Defense News



Walter Doran

President, Raytheon Asia

Retired U.S. Navy Adm. Walter Doran is president of Raytheon Asia for Raytheon International Inc., and is based in Singapore. Before joining Raytheon, he served in the U.S. Navy for more than 38 years, retiring in 2005 with the rank of admiral as commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet. 

Q. With declining defense budgets, what is Raytheon’s plan in Asia for 2012?

A. While this is a challenging environment, Raytheon has prepared for it over several years in part by increasing our emphasis on international markets. We’re on track to achieve in 2011 about 25 percent of total worldwide sales, and about 30 percent of total bookings, from international customers. Overall, our approach is to offer the broadest technology portfolio with a strong emphasis on missile defense, ISR, C3 and electronic warfare.

The Asian market has changed and become more competitive in recent years, and we are always seeking points of differentiation and collaboration, including business partnerships that can allow us to address opportunities. 

Q. Among the countries you deal with directly on business issues, which impress you?

A. One can feel the pulse, confidence and the enthusiasm throughout Asia today: It is simply remarkable. Northeast Asia remains a very well-developed market for Raytheon with mature relationships. As a senior naval officer, I have watched the defensive capabilities of the Republic of Korea and Japan develop over the past 40 years. Raytheon has also had an enduring relationship with Taiwan. Southeast Asia is now developing into a very good market for Raytheon and we remain committed to India for a long-term partnership. I am living in Singapore and the achievements of the “Lion City” are recognized around the world. 

Q. Since leaving the U.S. Navy and entering the private sector, what has surprised you and what advice would you give to those following your path from government into the Asian defense sector?

A. I suppose what I found most surprising was how much easier the transition from the military to Raytheon actually was, as compared to what I might have originally expected. The work ethic and talents that we develop within the military prepare us all well to apply ourselves to leadership positions in industry. My advice to those leaving the service today would be to remain patient and flexible, and reach back and rely upon on the depth of experiences that their time in the military has provided. 

Q. As the former U.S. PAC Fleet commander, what are your thoughts on the Pentagon’s realignment efforts in Asia?

A. I have great faith and confidence in the leadership within the U.S. military and the Departments of State and Defense today, and I believe these recent moves reflect a realistic appraisal of today’s opportunities and challenges. Adm. [Robert F.] Willard has lived and worked in the Pacific as the Seventh Fleet commander, the Pacific Fleet commander and now the Pacific commander, and we are extremely fortunate to have his experienced leadership and wisdom at this time.  

By Wendell Minnick in Taipei.

No Clear Signal Yet From Japan on F-35 Selection

Defense News


No Clear Signal Yet From Japan on F-35 Selection


TAIPEI, WASHINGTON and TOKYO - The F-35 could see its wings emblazoned with the red sun roundel, if Japanese media reports are correct.

The Lockheed Martin Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) has been in competition with the Boeing F/A-18 Super Hornet and Eurofighter Typhoon for the Japanese F-X program for several years. The F-X will replace Mitsubishi F-4EJ Kai Phantoms, due to begin retirement in 2015.

Japan plans to purchase between 40 and 50 fighters for roughly $10 billion. Tokyo is also considering replacing F-15Js within the next 10 years, increasing the number of F-X fighters to 150.

However, both the Japanese Ministry of Defense (MoD) and the U.S. Pentagon's Joint Program Office are denying any final decision has been made. Boeing discounted the reports, holding out hope the Japanese government will continue to work with the company, as it has with the F-15J.

"We've seen the speculation on the JSF winning but won't comment on that aspect," said Lorenzo Cortes, international communications, Boeing Defense, Space & Security. "The Japanese government could best respond to what's going on. We are expecting a formal announcement as early as this week, but ultimately, it's Japan's discretion as to when they want to do that."

The MoD has repeatedly said they "were unable to confirm neither decision in favor of the F-35 nor the public release of the announcement for Dec. 16," an MoD spokesman said. "Nothing has been decided on the selection, and we can't confirm when the decision will be announced."

Richard Aboulafia, an analyst with the Teal Group, Fairfax, Va., said that if true, Japan's selection of the F-35 is a "very strong endorsement from a respected service." The F-35 has been under attack in the U.S. Congress and media due to a variety of production and program problems.

"Despite all the doubts, they still see the F-35s capabilities and technology as the future," he said. "It's the first new customer outside the original partner nations."

Despite the Japanese endorsement for the F-35, there will be challenges finding a role for Japan's indigenous aviation industry, which is facing layoffs and reduced production with the end of the Mitsubishi F-2 fighter, the country's only active fighter line, scheduled to close soon.

"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."

A U.S. defense industry source in Tokyo said the F-35 program is a "complex multinational program that will take some negotiation to carve out a Japanese aviation industry role."

Part of the problem is the limited number of F-X fighters, 40 to 50, which "means investment would be quite high, so question is, does this position the F-35 to fulfill the F-XX/F-15J replacement program?"

S. Korea’s F-16 Upgrade Contest Could Affect Taiwan

Defense News


S. Korea’s F-16 Upgrade Contest Could Affect Taiwan


TAIPEI — BAE Systems and Lockheed Martin are locking horns over an estimated $1 billion program for the avionics upgrade and weapon systems integration on 135 KF-16C/D Block 52 fighters for the South Korean air force. The price tag does not include procurement of weapons or radar.

The competitive programs have direct implications for upcoming bids sought by Taiwan to upgrade 146 F-16A/B Block 20s in 2012. Both companies submitted the prime integration proposals on Dec. 2 to the Korean Defense Acquisition Program Administration.

“No matter who wins in [South] Korea, they will surely benefit commercially from that competition,” said Ralf Persson, BAE vice president of international marketing.

Lockheed appears unconcerned about BAE’s challenge. Laura Siebert, Lockheed’s F-16 spokeswoman, noted that the company worked with the U.S. Air Force on the recent upgrade of South Korea’s F-16C/D Block 32s, and the company is confident it will continue to manage such programs in South Korea. “This program is ongoing and when implemented, will result in an aircraft configuration that is very much like the USAF Block 40 and 50 fleet,” Siebert said. “Consequently, knowledge of the entire system, including the weapons and associated delivery system, is necessary to ensure a low-risk program.” Siebert said one key area is the installation and integration of the Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radar, with which Lockheed has a unique history.

“We have integrated AESA radars into all of our current fighter programs: the F-16 [Block 60], the F-22 and the F-35,” giving Lockheed a “baseline knowledge of the aircraft and the experience to ensure that the job is done right and within the cost and schedule that our customer demands.” 

Taiwan Upgrades 

Despite Lockheed’s history of building and upgrading F-16s, BAE feels strongly that the Korea upgrade bidding process will encourage Taiwan to consider a BAE bid to upgrade Taiwan’s F-16A/Bs.

The two programs are “almost identical,” said Persson. “We believe it would be in Taiwan’s interests to open it up and that they should look to [South] Korea as an example.” In September, the U.S. government released a $5.3 billion retrofit program to Taiwan to upgrade 146 F-16A/B fighters procured during the early 1990s. Included in the package is the AESA radar, Embedded Global Positioning System Inertial Navigation System and the Terma ALQ-213 Electronic Warfare Management System. The price includes procurement of weapons and AESA radar.

At present, Lockheed is the sole source for the upgrade and integration, but BAE is now lobbying Taiwan officials to allow BAE to compete against Lockheed.

“A competition offers the best deal for Taiwan. They will realize significant savings no matter who wins, and it is also the most fair, open and honest approach,” Persson said.

An Oct. 12 directive issued by Taiwan’s legislature requires that the letter-of-acceptance for the F-16 upgrade package “shall not specify any specific supplier and that the Ministry of National Defense shall request a U.S. team to perform an open competition.” Though BAE attempts to link the South Korean and Taiwan F-16 upgrade programs, Lockheed insists the programs are not “identical,” but there are “some elements which are common to the [South] Korean program — namely a request for an AESA radar,” Siebert said.

One advantage that BAE Systems has is an “Ethernet design” for the fire control computer, Persson said.

There are two F-16 operational flight programs in USAF service: the Lockheed M-Tape, which is hosted on the modular mission computer built by Raytheon using Lockheed software; and BAE’s SCU-Tape, hosted on BAE’s fire control computer.

The SCU-Tape passed full USAF operational test and evaluation in April 2010, and has been installed on more than 270 USAF F-16s and has flown in combat operations, Persson said.

“In response, Lockheed is offering a new development [modular mission computer] with Ethernet, but this MMC has not yet passed USAF OT&E nor is it in service on any F-16 aircraft,” he said.

Lockheed’s Siebert did not respond to the Ethernet issue, but said the integration and installation of the AESA was a “complex task.” Further, “the radar is obviously one of the key components in a fighter aircraft and the task associated with changing radars is integrated throughout the fire control system…[and] it is this new AESA configuration that we have had considerable interest from our USAF and several international customers.”