Monthly Archives: November 2013

US backs Japan as China tensions soar on air zone

The United States on Monday joined ally Japan in vowing not to recognize China’s declaration of an air defense zone over much of the East China Sea, a move that has sharply escalated tensions.

China and Japan each summoned the other’s ambassador after Beijing said Saturday it had established an Air Defense Identification Zone — which would require aircraft to obey its orders — over an area that includes islands administered by Japan.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who has vowed no compromise on sovereignty issues, called on China to “restrain itself” over the move, which put Tokyo’s conservative government in rare unison with South Korea and Taiwan.

“I am strongly concerned as it is a profoundly dangerous act that may cause unintended consequences,” Abe told parliament.

US President Barack Obama’s administration has vowed to defend Japan and said that the islands — known as the Senkakus in Japanese and the Diaoyus in Chinese — fall under the US security treaty with its ally, which has been officially pacifist since World War II.

“This announcement from the Chinese government was unnecessarily inflammatory,” White House deputy spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters aboard Air Force One.

“There are regional disputes in that part of the world and those disputes should be resolved diplomatically,” he said.

The US military, which stations more than 70,000 troops in Japan and South Korea, said it would not abide by the “destabilizing” Chinese-imposed zone.

“When we fly into this aerial zone, we will not register a flight plan, we will not identify our transponder, our radio frequency and our logo. Those are the four things the Chinese have publicly said are a requirement,” Pentagon spokesman Colonel Steve Warren told reporters.

“We will not in any way change how we conduct our operations as a result of this new policy,” he said.

Japan also said that it would not respect the Chinese demarcation, with a foreign ministry statement saying the move had “no validity whatsoever in Japan.”

But an official at Japan Airlines said that the carrier received a notice and would start submitting flight plans to Chinese authorities.

All Nippon Airways, which like its rival considers Asian flights a core part of its business, is following suit, the Jiji Press news agency reported.

Strong words from all corners

The East China Sea dispute has simmered for decades but heated up in September 2012 when Japan nationalized three of the islands, in what it billed as an attempt to avoid a more inflammatory step by a nationalist politician.

Asia’s two largest economies now play an almost permanent game of cat and mouse in the area, with official ships and aircraft shadowing each other.

Newspapers in China, where Japan is often portrayed as the villain due to its occupation in the early 20th century, rejected Tokyo’s outrage.

“Tokyo is hypocritical and impudent in its complaint with Beijing,” said an editorial in the Global Times newspaper, which is close to China’s ruling Communist Party.

“If Japan sends warplanes to ‘intercept’ China’s jet fighters, Beijing’s armed forces will be bound to adopt defensive emergency measures,” it said.

Patrick Cronin, an expert on Asia at the Center for a New American Security, said that China was hoping to set off the “natural proclivities” of both the conservative Abe and the left-leaning Obama.

“China is taunting Japan to act in an incendiary manner while pressing the United States to exercise caution and restrain its ally,” Cronin wrote in an essay.

China, which has rapidly expanded its military as its economy soared over the past two decades, also has territorial feuds with other neighbors including the Philippines and Vietnam.

China’s declaration of the air zone angered South Korea, which has tense relations with Japan linked to historical memories and just days ago had upset Tokyo by cooperating with China to erect a statue of a Korean activist who assassinated a Japanese governor in 1909.

Part of the air zone overlaps South Korea’s own air defense area and incorporates a disputed, submerged South Korean-controlled rock — known as Ieodo — that has long been a sore point with Beijing.

Taiwan, which is claimed by China but has been reconciling in the past few years, also complained and vowed to “defend its sovereignty” over the islands.

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EADS chief warns jobs cuts coming in defence unit

A reduction in defence orders will have an impact on jobs in EADS’s defence unit, the head of the European aerospace giant said in an interview published Monday.

Tom Enders told vbw-Unternehmenmagazin, the magazine of the Bavarian economic federation, that “if defence orders are cancelled or reduced as has happened in Germany in recent years, an impact on production and employment cannot be avoided.”

Enders’s comments follow a report by the German news agency DPA last week that EADS is considering cutting the workforce by 20 percent, or 8,000 employees. The group will be renamed Airbus Defence and Space next year as it reorganises.

EADS said no numbers have been decided, but Enders has previously said drastic measures were needed to secure the future of the division.

The restructuring is seen as unavoidable after the failed plan to merge with Britain’s defence firm BAE Systems last year.

That was shelved after objections from government stakeholders, notably Germany, which worried it would cause considerable layoffs.

Enders said the outlook is not rosy for defence manufacturers due to the high value of the euro and the eurozone debt crisis pushing countries to cut back on acquisitions of new equipment.

Enders told the Bavarian magazine that EADS had lost over the past few years orders worth several billion euros just in Germany that the company had thought were certain.

He said EADS cannot absorb that without making changes at the affected sites. He did not go into details.

The German newspaper Suedeutsche Zeitung reported Monday that a defence factory of EADS’s Cassidian unit located north of Munich would be closed with activities shifted to another facility in Bavaria, where EADS employs some 16,000 people.

An EADS spokesman declined to comment on the report, telling AFP that it would not make detailed announcements on its plans before informing its European works council, which meets in Munich on December 9.

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Northrop Delivers Additional MQ-8C Fire Scout to the US Navy

By on Wednesday, November 27th, 2013

Northrop Grumman Corporation has delivered the second MQ-8C Fire Scout unmanned helicopter to the U.S. Navy after completing final assembly at the company’s unmanned systems center in Moss Point, Miss.

The aircraft is joining the first one delivered to Naval Base Ventura County, Point Mugu, Calif., to conduct flight testing before using the system for operational missions in 2014.

“Since 2006 we have conducted final assembly of the earlier MQ-8B Fire Scout aircraft from our Moss Point facility, so we have a lot of manufacturing experience there,” said George Vardoulakis, vice president for medium range tactical systems, Northrop Grumman. “With the MQ-8C variant being assembled there as well, we can use the same expertise and quality processes already developed.”

The MQ-8C Fire Scout is the Navy’s newest unmanned helicopter that can fly twice as long and carry three times more intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance payloads than the existing variant.

To prepare the second MQ-8C Fire Scout for flight operations, a series of ground and flight tests will occur to validate payload integration and that communications between the ground control system and the aircraft are working properly.

Including the two test aircraft, 14 new Fire Scouts are currently under contract to be built. The Navy’s current plan is to purchase 30 MQ-8C Fire Scouts.

Northrop Grumman is a leading global security company providing innovative systems, products and solutions in unmanned systems, cyber, C4ISR, and logistics and modernization to government and commercial customers worldwide.

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China’s Aircraft Carrier Leaves for Sea Trials

By on Wednesday, November 27th, 2013

China’s first aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, left its homeport of Qingdao in east China’s Shandong Province for the South China Sea on Tuesday on a scientific and training mission.

This is the first time the carrier has conducted a cross-sea training voyage since it was commissioned into the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Navy last year, according to the Liaoning’s Captain Zhang Zheng.

The aircraft carrier was escorted by two missile destroyers, the Shenyang and Shijiazhuang, and two missile frigates, the Yantai and Weifang. The voyage will test the carrier’s equipment, Zhang said.

Long cross-sea voyages are a necessary stage of experimentation and training to test equipment and troops under continuous work and different hydrological and meteorological conditions.

The Liaoning and its crew conducted a series of tests and training drills, including landing and takeoff by various aircraft, including the J-15 carrier-borne fighter.

The upcoming South China Sea trial is a normal arrangement in the carrier’s scheduled training, according to the PLA Navy.

The Liaoning is China’s only aircraft carrier in operation. It was refitted based on an unfinished Russian-made carrier and delivered to the navy on Sept. 25, 2012.

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BAE to Upgrade South Korean KF-16

The Defense Security Cooperation Agency notified Congress today of a possible Foreign Military Sale to the Republic of Korea for Phase 1 upgrades of 134 KF-16C/D Block 52 aircraft and associated equipment, parts, training and logistical support for an estimated cost of $200 million.

The Republic of Korea has requested a possible sale for Phase 1 of an upgrade of 134 KF-16C/D Block 52 aircraft to be completed in a potential two-phased approach. Phase 1 entails the sale of U.S. Government and contractor technical, engineering, and logistics support services to support the initial design and development for the overall upgrade program.

This phase will furnish detailed design requirements to include computers, displays, sensors and weapons, system design and pilot-vehicle interface efforts; initiate software design and development; engineering installation design (Group A); construction of an avionics systems integration facility and test stations; define support and training requirements; develop long-lead items; and prepare reports, analyses, and presentations to support system requirements and preliminary design reviews.

Phase 2, if implemented, relates to the KF-16C/D aircraft upgrade with advanced radar and updated avionics. In the event of such a sale, a subsequent notification will be prepared.

This notice relates only to Phase 1. The estimated cost is $200 million.

This proposed sale will contribute to the foreign policy goals and national security objectives of the United States by meeting the legitimate security and defense needs of an ally and partner nation. The ROK continues to be an important force for peace, political stability, and economic progress in North East Asia.

This proposed sale will provide the ROK with a design and development plan to improve the capabilities of its KF-16 fleet in order to continue to deter regional threats and strengthen its homeland defense. If Phase 2 of the upgrade program is implemented, the upgraded KF-16 will contribute to the ROK’s goal to develop a more capable defense force and enhance interoperability with U.S. forces.

The proposed sale of this support will not alter the basic military balance in the region.

The principal contractor will be BAE Systems Technology Solution & Services, Inc. in Arlington, Virginia. There are no known offset agreements proposed in connection with this potential sale.

Implementation of this proposed sale will require one additional contractor representative to ROK to facilitate communications with the FMS customer to clarify requirements in support of development activities.

There will be no adverse impact on U.S. defense readiness as a result of this proposed sale.

This notice of a potential sale is required by law and does not mean the sale has been concluded.

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Russian Navy Gets New Carrier-Based Fighters

By on Wednesday, November 27th, 2013

The Russian navy has taken delivery of its first four series-produced MiG-29K/KUB carrier based fighter jets, the Defense Ministry said Monday.

“The MiG aircraft-manufacturing corporation has handed over two MiG-29K single-seat and two MiG-29KUB twin-seat carrier-based fighter aircraft,” a spokesman said.

The Russian Defense Ministry signed a contract with MiG in February 2012 for delivery of 20 MiG-29K and four MiG-29KUB fighters by 2015.

The aircraft will be deployed on Russia’s sole serving carrier, the Admiral Kuznetsov, based in Murmansk with the Northern Fleet. The Admiral Kuznetsov currently operates Sukhoi Su-33 naval fighter aircraft.

The MiG-29K is a naval variant of the MiG-29 Fulcrum fighter jet, and has folding wings, an arrester tail-hook, strengthened airframe and multirole capability thanks to its Zhuk-ME slotted array radar, MiG says.

Unlike the Su-33, which is capable of air defense missions only, the MiG-29K can be armed with a wide variety of air-to-surface as well as air-to-air weaponry and laser-designation systems.

The aircraft is also capable of “buddy” refueling other MiG-29Ks using the PAZ-1MK refueling pod.

So far, the aircraft has only entered service with India, for use on the refitted Russian-built carrier INS Vikramaditya, which was handed over to the Indian Navy on November 15.

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RAF Begins Training on Upgraded Puma Mk2 Helicopter

The RAF has begun training on the Puma Mk2 helicopter following a £260 million upgrade programme.

Pictures released today show crews from 33 and 230 Squadrons carrying out training flights of the upgraded aircraft from their base at RAF Benson in Oxford.

The multi million pound upgrade means that the helicopters benefit from new engines which give them 35 per cent more power and improved fuel efficiency to allow them to fly faster and twice as far as the Puma Mk1. They also have state of the art digitised glass cockpits and upgraded LCD instruments.

The Puma Mk2 can fit into a C-17 which means that it can be transported anywhere in the world and, crucially, can be ready to deploy in support of both combat and humanitarian missions in just 4 hours. The aircraft, with improved ballistic protection, is capable of carrying up to 16 fully equipped troops. Twin cargo doors and low rotor downwash make it ideal for transporting personnel and equipment in and out of confined urban environments.

Minister for Defence, Equipment, Support and Technology, Philip Dunne said:
“With its greater range, endurance and payload the Puma Mk2 helicopter will give the Royal Air Force significantly enhanced, agile capability in support of combat and humanitarian operations in even the most austere conditions.

“In 2012 we committed to spending £12.1 billion to ensure our helicopter capability remains up to date. The delivery of the Puma Mk2 will further strengthen our world class helicopter fleet which recently saw the introduction of the upgraded Merlin Mk2 and upgraded Chinook Mk4s.”

Puma Force Commander Group Captain Nigel Colman said:
“The Puma is a remarkable aircraft and its ability to operate in urban and harsh conditions will see it play a key role in any future deployments. Needless to say the Puma Force are really enjoying getting to grips with the aircraft and are reporting that it is outperforming expectations.”

Seven of the RAF’s fleet of 24 Puma Mk2s have so far been delivered to RAF Benson and the remainder will be handed over during the next two years ahead of the helicopters entering service in 2015.

Almost a third – around £78m – of the upgrade carried out by Eurocopter (UK) has taken place in the UK with companies in Oxford, Oldham, Redditch, Gloucester, Boscombe Down, Basildon, Surrey, Marlow, Cheltenham and Reading contributing to the work. The remainder has taken place Eurocopter (UK)’s plants in France and Romania.

The table below highlights the companies in the UK which are benefiting from this contract.

Contractor/Place of Work/Type of Work:

  • Eurocopter UK, Kidlington, Oxford: LEP Prime Contractor, Project Management, Secure Communications, TES and Role Modifications;
  • Ferranti Technologies Ltd, Oldham: Helmet Mounted Display
  • GKN Aerospace, Redditch: Self-sealing Fuel Tanks
  • Permali, Gloucester; Ballistic Protection and Sacrificial Floor
  • QinetiQ, Boscombe Down: Qualification and Testing
  • Selex, Basildon, Essex: Defensive Aid Suite
  • Thales, Surrey: Avionic Components
  • Cobham, Marlow: Antenna Systems
  • GE Aviation, Cheltenham: Aircraft Management Systems
  • Rockwell Collins UK, Reading: Communication/Navigation Equipment

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