Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Canada strips Billions in Defence Equipment Purchases

The Liberal government is stripping $8.5 billion out of the equipment budget at National Defence over the near term — and then promising to put it back and spend it sometime over the next 20 years. The so-called 're-profiling' of capital expenditures at the Defence Department has caused outright confusion about references to the need to reallocate cash in the future.

It is still far from clear what projects in the already moribund defence procurement system were being postponed and under what circumstances.
The budget, as written, will almost certainly drive Canada's defence spending below one per cent of GDP. And that is something that will incur the wrath of the new administration in Washington.

Analysts say it will certainly have consequences on the bilateral relationship with the United States in the future.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

China offers tourist packages to disputed South China Sea

China is offering increasing numbers of package tours to the manmade islands in the South China Sea in a bid to show its authority on the region. It comes just months after US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson threatened to block China's access to the area. China has plans to build holiday resorts.

According to the South China Morning Post, the tour groups at the moment only contain Chinese citizens and have a definite patriotic tone. Tourists can visit three islands in the South China Sea.
China already operates flights to the Meiji reef in the area. It also currently runs flights to Woody Island which China claims is the 'administrative centre for the South China Sea' despite the fact that Vietnam and Taiwan also have claims on the territory.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

China building on Scarborough Shoal - First Challenge to Trump?

Scarborough Shoal in the South China Sea, a triangle-shaped chain of coral reefs, has been at the center of the South China Sea controversy. The Philippines has long claimed sovereignty of the island but China seized the territory in 2012, blocking Filipino fisherman that had long fished there. The Philippines territorial claims were upheld by a U.N. tribunal, but China has ignored the ruling.

This week Chinese officials said China plans to begin building 'environmental monitoring stations' on many of the islands it controls in the area, including Scarborough Shoal. It is feared that China will impose an air defense zone and control the whole South China Sea if it builds a radar station at the Scarborough Shoal.
Scarborough Shoal is a resource-rich rocky outcrop 124 nautical miles off Palawan’s northwestern coast. A radar station on Scarborough Shoal will immediately complete China's radar coverage of the entire South China Sea. China can then impose an ADIZ or air defense identification zone, cementing it's claims over the area.

On July 12, 2016, the Permanent Court of Arbitration delivered a sweeping victory to the Philippines on its case against China and invalidated Beijing's massive and historical claims on nearly the entire South China Sea. China has refused to recognize the ruling.

Friday, March 17, 2017

US Nuclear Weapons Infrastructure Is Crumbling - Report

President Donald Trump says the United States will be at the “top of the pack” with nuclear weapons. But his goal has already hit a snag: the infrastructure that supports the country’s nuclear weapons is crumbling to “alarming” levels, a Congressional panel warned Thursday.

The infrastructure that supports the U.S. nuclear weapons programs, including labs, production facilities, and weapons storage complexes were all built six decades ago.
There’s a $3.7 billion backlog in deferred essential repairs to the U.S. nuclear weapons infrastructure and maintenance issues pose increased risks of a serious nuclear accident.

The warnings come as the U.S. government begins to pour over $1 trillion into modernizing its nuclear weapons stockpile over the next 30 years.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Philippine President Duterte wants "structures" on Benham Rise

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has ordered the navy to put up "structures" to assert sovereignty over a stretch of water east of the country, where Manila has reported a Chinese survey ship was casing the area last year.

The Philippines has lodged a diplomatic protest with Beijing after the vessel was tracked moving back and forth over Benham Rise, a vast area east of the country declared by the United Nations in 2012 as part of the Philippines' continental shelf. China's foreign ministry on Friday said the ship was engaged in "normal freedom of navigation and right of innocent passage". The issue risks disturbing ties with China at a time of rare cordiality between the two countries under Duterte, who has chosen to tap Beijing for business rather than confront it over its intentions in disputed waters.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Japan sends Warship into South China Sea.

Japan is set to dispatch its largest warship, the JS Izumo, a helicopter destroyer, on a three-month tour through the South China Sea.

The Izumo, which costs between $1 billion and $1.5 billion, is 816 feet long and can carry up to 14 helicopters. The vessel will be used primarily for anti-submarine warfare and command-and-control operations. It has two Raytheon RIM-116 Rolling Airframe Missile SeaRAM launchers for air defense and two Phalanx close-in weapon systems to take on anti-ship missiles. It can carry a crew of around 470 and up to 400 of Japan’s Maritime Self-Defense Force troops.
China appears to be building a large port in the disputed Paracel Islands in the South China Sea. The new construction could be taking place as China continues to militarize other areas of the South China Sea, including the disputed Spratly Islands.

According to satellite images, China has begun the construction of harbors on North Island, north of Woody Island. China recently expanded a runway on Woody Island and may have deployed surface-to-air missiles in the area. Countries including the United States have condemned China's militarization of the South China Sea.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

US Marines' New Chopper to Be More Expensive Than F-35?

The US marines new King Stallion CH-53K carries a current unit sticker-price of $95 million. The Pentagon’s 10th bulk order of F-35s brought those jets into service for about $94.6 million each.

Both vehicles share at least one other characteristic, aside from their absurdly high cost and regular poor performance, as they are both manufactured by Lockheed Martin or subsidiary Sikorsky, which Lockheed acquired in 2015.
The Marine Corps told the representative that helicopter costs are projected to balloon a whopping 22 percent, to about $122 million each.

Plans entail buying 200 units so that cost growth multiplied 200 times is approximately $5.4 billion in new costs.

US Trident missile program update

America’s latest update to its Trident missile program – aboard Navy subs – virtually guarantees every missile will explode at the exact moment to cause maximum devastation.

Thanks to the so-called 'super fuze' the ballistic missile fleet has effectively tripled its destructive potential. In the past, US military leaders would have only used their sub fleets to strike ‘soft targets’ like military bases. Now they can be used to wipe out Russia’s nuclear arsenal buried deep underground.

US submarines now patrol with more than "three times the number of warheads needed to destroy the entire fleet of Russian land-based missiles” wrote report authors. The US can now concentrate its ‘big nukes’ and bombers on devastating the underground shelters Vladimir Putin and his Kremlin officials would flee to during an attack. Russian defence officials would have less than 15 minutes to decide if an incoming object was legitimate, where it was coming from, and how to respond.

"The combination of lack of Russian situational awareness, dangerously short warning times, high-readiness alert postures, and the increasing US strike capacity has created a deeply destabilizing and dangerous strategic nuclear situation" states the report.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

US deploys THAAD in South Korea

The U.S. military said on Friday it plans to forge ahead with deployment of the THAAD missile defense system in South Korea. The United States started deploying the first elements of its advanced anti-missile defense system in South Korea on Tuesday in response to North Korea's ballistic missile and nuclear tests.

U.S. officials said the system could be operational in several weeks, although the Pentagon has declined to say when it will be up and running. Relations with China and the United States could dominate soon. Beijing has vigorously protested against the deployment, fearing its radar could see well into its missile systems.
Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) is a United States Army anti-ballistic missile system designed to shoot down short, medium, and intermediate ballistic missiles in their terminal phase using a hit-to-kill approach.
The missile carries no warhead but relies on the kinetic energy of the impact to destroy the incoming missile. A kinetic energy hit minimizes the risk of exploding conventional warhead ballistic missiles, and nuclear tipped ballistic missiles won't explode upon a kinetic energy hit, although chemical or biological warheads may disintegrate or explode.

Friday, March 10, 2017

U.S. House approves US$578 billion to keep armed forces operating

The House voted decisively to approve a US$578 billion spending bill that keeps the U.S. armed forces operating through September. It sets the stage for substantial increases to the Pentagon's budget advocated by U.S. President Donald Trump.

The fiscal year 2017 defence legislation passed the GOP-led chamber by a 371-48 margin. The Trump administration is preparing a $30 billion supplement to the bill.

The United States spends more on defence than the next seven nations combined. Yet defence hawks are pressing Trump to spend tens of billions more.
The spending bill has $516 billion for basic military requirements, which covers everything from the purchase of bombs and bullets to troop training. Nearly $62 billion is included in the bill to pay for ongoing military operations in Afghanistan, Iraq and elsewhere.

33 Republican members of the House Armed Services Committee want Trump to add at least another $37 billion, for a total increase next year of $91 billion beyond the caps.

Monday, February 20, 2017

US carrier starts ‘routine’ patrols in South China Sea

The US deployed the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN-70) to the disputed waters of the South China Sea as part of maritime “routine operations.” Sailing with the 97,000-ton Vinson is the guided-missile destroyer USS Wayne E. Meyer, the Navy said in a statement. The Vinson carries a flight group of more than 60 aircraft, including F/A-18 jet fighters.

During his confirmation hearing, new Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said China should be blocked from accessing the artificial islands it’s built, setting the stage for a potential showdown. In a news conference, China’s Foreign Ministry said it heard about the planned deployment of the Vinson days before it happened, and warned Washington against challenging its sovereignty.
Beijing's artificial islands in the area have been outfitted with military features. Satellite imagery released by Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative in December showed China has installed weapon systems on all seven artificial islands.

The US operation comes amid growing tensions between the United States and China over territory and trade, and as the Trump administration looks set to take a more confrontational stance toward China than its predecessor.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

China sends troops to restive Xinjiang

Chinese security forces have staged another mass anti-terror rally in the restive far western region of Xinjiang, parading hundreds of armed men through the streets of the regional capital Urumqi in a show of force after an uptick in violence.

Hundreds have died in Xinjiang in the past few years, mostly in unrest between the Muslim Uygur people, who call the region home, and the ethnic majority Han Chinese. Beijing blames the unrest on Islamist militants.
On Tuesday, three knife-wielding attackers killed five people and injured another five in Pishan county before themselves being shot dead in Hotan prefecture. In December, five people were killed when attackers drove a vehicle into a government building and police shot dead what authorities described as three terror suspects last month.

Xinjiang deputy party secretary Zhu Hailun said the Urumqi rally was a sign of “real action” to deepen the fight against terror. Militants and extremists would be “smashed and destroyed”, Zhu said.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

US military sending the big guns to South Korea

Days after North Korea tested a new missile and allegedly engaged agents to assassinate Kim Jong Un's half-brother in Malaysia, the US plans to send the big guns to the Pacific in a massive show of force. The USS Carl Vinson has been making its way to the Pacific, and it will be joined by combat planes, F-22s, a nuclear-powered submarine, and possibly B-1 and B-2 nuclear-capable bombers.

South Korea is expected to spend $114 million developing an electromagnetic pulse weapon to cripple North Korea's command and control abilities as well as laser weapons systems to pull off a surgical strike on the country's nuclear missile facilities.
US and South Korean forces will participate in military drills together to enhance readiness. 'Key Resolve' and 'Foal Eagle' represent two annual major military drills carried out by US and South Korean troops that regularly rile North Korea.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Incredible Military Robots

This year, the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) will spend nearly $3 billion to develop new military technologies.

As artificial intelligence improves, governments may turn to autonomous weapons — like military robots — in order to gain the upper hand in armed conflict. These weapons can navigate environments on their own and make their own decisions about who to kill and who to spare.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Trump deploys tanks to Estonia

The US Defence Department said: "The movement of equipment and troops into and around Europe marks the beginning of a continuous rotation of armoured brigade combat teams from the United States as part of Operation Atlantic Resolve. The move of more military equipment into Europe comes days after Trump refused to call Putin a "killer" and aligned the US and Russia on the same moral plain.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Trump ‘trims $600 mil.’ from F-35 costs

U.S. President Donald Trump said on Monday his administration had been able to cut some $600 million from the latest U.S. deal to buy about 90 F-35 Joint Strike Fighters. Negotiations for the 10th batch of F-35 aircraft — about 90 planes — have been under way. The contract was expected to be around $9 billion, with the price per plane falling below $100 million.
The United States is expected to spend some $391 billion over 15 years to buy about 2,443 F-35s.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

China places ballistic missiles on border with Russia; unconfirmed reports

China has reportedly placed ballistic missiles that can carry nuclear warheads and are capable of reaching the United States on its border with Russia.

The 3rd generation missiles, which can carry up to ten nuclear warheads up to 8,700 miles, are reportedly being moved to Heilongjiang province in north eastern China close to the frontier with Russia. Chinese social media has carried pictures purporting to show an advanced intercontinental ballistic missile system, Dongfeng-41 in the northeast. Heilongjiang province is the closest point in China to the United States.
The Dongfeng-41 is a Chinese solid-fueled road-mobile intercontinental ballistic missile. It has an operational range between 12,000 km to 15,000 km. This would make the DF-41 the world's longest range missile, surpassing the range of the US LGM-30 Minuteman which has a reported range of 13,000 km.
It is believed the DF-41 has a top speed of Mach 25
Some media claimed the People's Liberation Army leaked the social media photos of the missiles as a warning to Trump.
The US president, who took office on Friday, has rattled Beijing with tough talk on trade, national security, and the South China Sea.