Tuesday, January 26, 2010

U.S. Prepares New Taiwan Arms Package Despite Beijing Hysterics

Defense News


U.S. Prepares New Taiwan Arms Package Despite Beijing Hysterics

By Wendell Minnick

Taipei - The U.S. appears unwilling to stop selling arms to Taiwan despite aggressive lobbying and pressure from China.

Sources in Taipei and Washington have confirmed the United States is preparing the release of U.S. congressional notifications for new arms on hold since the Bush administration.

New notifications are expected soon, said Rupert Hammond-Chambers, president of the Washington-based U.S.-Taiwan Business Council. These include 60 UH-60M Black Hawk utility helicopters, a submarine design study, phase two of the C4I/Link 16 "Po Sheng" program, two Osprey-class mine-hunter patrol boats, and additional Patriot PAC-3 missile defense systems.

Taiwan is facing about 1,400 short-range ballistic missiles from China and plans to deploy the new PAC-3s in the central and southern regions of Taiwan.

On submarines, Taiwan has been awaiting the release of congressional notifications since the Bush administration approved the sale of eight diesel submarines in 2001. A U.S. government source said they most likely would be smaller than conventional diesel attack submarines currently being deployed by China and other regional navies. Taiwan does not need deep submersibles due to the shallow waters of the Taiwan Strait, he said.

Taiwan has an urgent need for new utility helicopters to replace ageing UH-1H "Huey" helicopters procured during the 1980s. The requirement was highlighted during the recent Typhoon Morakot that killed more than 500 people in southern Taiwan in August.

Taiwan's Air Force also received a briefing from the U.S. Air Force on the General Atomics MQ-1C Sky Warrior tactical UAV in 2009. The Sky Warrior is an upgraded unarmed variant of the Predator. Taiwan's Air Force has a requirement for tactical UAVs to monitor sea lanes, coastal areas, disaster areas and conduct battlefield reconnaissance.

"USAF briefed on UAVs based upon Taiwan Air Force interest in building better ISR capabilities. They are in the info-gathering mode so nothing significant yet," said a U.S. government official.

Military-run Chungshan Institute of Science and Technology has developed a variety of UAVs, but has been unable to fulfill an Air Force requirement for an advanced, extended-range, multipurpose UAV. However, the Army is considering the procurement of CSIST's Chung Shyang.

Taiwan will have a tough time balancing new procurement costs as it implements a major streamlining and command restructuring plan. There will also be strains on the military as it begins to phase out conscription for an all-volunteer system beginning in 2011 and targeted for completion in 2015.

The problem is money, said one Taiwan defense analyst. Taiwan's legislature recently approved a $9.2 billion defense budget, a drop from the 2009 budget of $9.9 billion and a further drop from the 2008 budget of $10.5 billion. Further declines are expected as the economy continues to shrink.

To complicate matters, the United States has been hesitant to release new arms as China's increasing political and economic influence in Washington expands. The noisiest complaint by China is Taiwan's request for 66 F-16C/D Block 50/52 fighters to replace aging F-5s. Since 2006, the U.S. government has refused to accept Taiwan's letter-of-request for price and availability for new F-16s. Chinese officials have called any release of F-16s a "red line."

Taiwan's Air Force also has plans to upgrade its older F-16A/B and Indigenous Defense Fighters. The Navy has similar upgrade requirements that include refurbishing six French-built La Fayette-class frigates and two Dutch-built diesel submarines. Nien-Dzu "Andrew" Yang, deputy minister of defense for policy, has denied media reports the Navy wants to procure eight Perry-class frigates from the United States to replace eight Knox-class frigates.

Chen I-Hsin, vice president of the Foundation on Asia-Pacific Peace Studies, said Taiwan needs new U.S. arms to discourage China from becoming too aggressive. Even as cross-Strait relations improve, Taiwan still needs arms to allow Taipei to negotiate from a position of strength, he said.

Hammond-Chambers foresees further hysterics from China as the release of a new package of notifications draws near. "The Chinese are making hay in this vacuum as they raise the level of rhetoric in an attempt to spook the Obama administration into doing less in the future on Taiwan security issues," he said.
"The longer Mr. Obama delays the notifications the more shrill the Chinese will act. The delay is seen as weakness or a lack of commitment toward Taiwan."

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

China Missile Test Has Ominous Implications

Defense News


China Missile Test Has Ominous Implications

By Wendell Minnick

Taipei - Confusion over the nature of China's Jan. 11 missile test is slowly clearing up, although experts still dispute whether it was designed to test missile interception technology, as reported by Xinhua, China's state news agency, or to expand anti-satellite (ASAT) capabilities.

Sources believe the test involved the HQ-19 surface-to-air missile equipped with a new exoatmospheric kinetic kill vehicle (KKV) for use as a ballistic missile defense (BMD) or ASAT system.

However, the HQ-19 variant launched Jan. 11 is believed to have been "co-developed or stolen from the Russian S-400 Triumf," said Ian Easton, a research fellow at the Washington-based Project 2049 Institute.

One former U.S. defense official said a Chinese delegation from the China Aerospace Corp.'s "409 Issue Technical Expert Group," led by Chen Ding-chang, visited U.S. research center and laboratories gathering data for later use for the ASAT and BMD program.

"The purpose of the delegation was to consult with U.S. experts in order to overcome technical problems associated with the KKV. Among the issues was diamond-coating technology, and a U.S. research organization is said to have been willing to assist," he said.

"The 409 Issue Technical Group is generally believed to be the senior technical management of the ASAT/missile defense interceptor program," the former U.S. defense official said. "They don't necessarily 'steal' technology. They go in the front door and ask for advice from U.S. and presumably other countries' civilian academic institutions. Not too much that's sneaky about it."

Pentagon sources have said "that it was an exoatmospheric test, which may fit with an unofficial Chinese interview where an unnamed colonel suggested that the test occurred above 20,000 meters," said Dean Cheng, a research fellow at the Heritage Foundation, a Washington think tank.

The timing of the test also came as a surprise, Cheng said, since it was three years to the day that China conducted its first ASAT missile test in 2007.

"The Chinese are too crazy about the significance of dates and anniversaries for that to be a coincidence," Easton said.

The fact that the launch occurred on the anniversary of China's first ASAT missile test suggests it was hardly just a BMD effort alone, but part of a larger effort to expand ASAT capabilities.

The 2007 ASAT test involved a modified KT-1/2 or DF-21 missile derivative dubbed the SC-19. The SC-19 is difficult to use and requires 12 hours of preparation, so it would not be "useful as a ballistic missile interceptor," Easton said. "That's why the HQ-19 system is interesting as an intercept option, but still not much is known about it.

"The implications of this test are potentially huge," he said. It "definitely represents a big leap in military technology for China." Only the United States and Japan, with U.S. assistance, have "ever tested this kind of thing, and it's considered cutting edge even by us.

"Being able to do a kinetic kill that high up outside the atmosphere shows that they've also made some great leaps in sensing, cueing and guidance technology, not to mention the extreme challenge of programming software and the advanced algorithms behind it. Incredible," he said.

However, there are still fears the missile test was an attempt to expand China's ASAT capabilities. While the Chinese media have been portraying the Jan. 11 launch as a focus on missile defense, it could have been a next-generation test for an upgraded ASAT missile.

"After all, a missile is harder to hit than a satellite, and if they did have the sensor network to track and go after ballistic missiles, they could certainly hit satellites," Easton said.

"This is interesting because our birds [satellites] would presumably change orbits to avoid attack in times of tension, and in the future, we will be launching smaller satellites and manned or unmanned space planes, as well as global strike unmanned combat aerial vehicles to deal with China," he said. "From the Chinese perspective, this 'interceptor' technology could be a means for dealing with all of these threats as well as an ASAT weapon in its own right."

According to Mark Stokes, author of the book, "China's Strategic Modernization," "Beijing's goal ostensibly is both to develop missile defense countermeasures to ensure the viability of its nuclear deterrent and to develop an indigenous missile defense capability.

"A missile defense capability, especially one that is able to intercept missiles in the midcourse phase of flight, has applications for intercepting satellites overflying China as well," he said.

Stokes also pointed to concerns over China's development of an anti-ship ballistic missile (ASBM) based on the DF-21 missile. A combined ASAT, ASBM and BMD capability would place China in a respectable position to counter U.S. military operations during a war.

However, despite U.S. fears, it appears the only true ballistic missile threat to China is from India. The United States, Japan and Taiwan do not rely on ballistic missiles for their main defensive operations, save U.S. intercontinental ballistic missiles that entail a different kind of threat, Cheng said.

"But it would apply to the Indian short-range, medium-range and intermediate-range ballistic missile forces, as well as the Russians, who still retain a variety of missiles as well," he said.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Taiwan Defense Budget 6.9% Below 2009 Figure

Defense News


Taiwan Defense Budget 6.9% Below 2009 Figure


Taipei - Taiwan has approved a defense budget of $9.3 billion, a 6.9 percent drop from the 2009 figure of $9.6 billion, but only moderately below the military's request of $9.45 billion.

The reduction follows 2009's decline from the 2008 defense budget of $10.5 billion.

Part of the problem is justifying continued allocations for arms promised, but not released, by the U.S. government. The military has allotted large amounts of the defense budget for new F-16s, diesel submarines, mine hunter vessels and other arms promised by the Bush administration, but held due to Chinese pressure.

"Every year the military has to return the money back to the government, angering legislators and the general public," said a Taiwan defense source. "The public asks, 'why does the military need all this money when it does not spend it.'"

Taiwan political gamesmanship, which delayed a 2001 arms deal from the United States for several years, also contributed.

"After years of delays, Taiwan needed to show credibility and 'show us the money', but even after it did that by approving budgets for arms acquisition, the U.S. still delayed progress," said a U.S. defense analyst.

However, there are indications the United States is preparing to release new arms within the first quarter of this year. Sources indicate Washington is preparing congressional notifications for 60 UH-60 Black Hawk utility helicopters, additional Patriot PAC-3 missile defense batteries, phase II of the Po Sheng C4I/Link-16 upgrade program and a possible release of a diesel electric submarine design program.

However, the future of the defense budget appears dim as the economy continues to slip in Taiwan and the overall government budget is already in deficit. With plans to decrease taxes, few see hope of large defense spending increases in the future despite a need for more arms against China's ever-increasing military modernization program.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Experts Expect North Korea To Conduct 3rd Nuclear Test

Defense News


Experts Expect North Korea To Conduct 3rd Nuclear Test


Analysts in Seoul and Washington predict continued provocations from Pyongyang in 2010, including a third nuclear test and more missile launches.

It appears that no matter what administration is in power in Seoul or Washington, North Korea rarely behaves.

North Korea will likely conduct a third nuclear test in 2010 in an effort to be recognized by the international community as a nuclear state, according to an annual report issued Dec. 25 by the state funded Korea Institute for Defense Analyses (KIDA), Seoul.

The KIDA report also expects accelerated efforts to deploy a nuclear-tipped intercontinental ballistic missile and to mass-produce nuclear weapons.

“Compared to the first nuclear test held in October 2006, the second test [May 2009] was evaluated to yield 4 kilotons of explosive power, five times higher than the first one. This means North Korea has secured substantial capability to make nuclear weapons,” the report states. “There is no possibility that North Korea will give up a plan to become a nuclear state, and the regime will indeed make efforts to be recognized as a nuclear power.”

The missile launches and nuclear test last year could be connected to North Korean leader Kim Jong-il’s reported illness and his imminent power succession. “These [provocations] were apparently the result of Kim Jong-il feeling weak and needing to demon­strate his empowerment,” said Bruce Bennett, a RAND Corp. defense analyst.

North Korea is suffering from poor harvests, currency revaluation, inept governance and a mistaken belief that nuclear weapons would place Pyongyang on an equal footing with South Korea and the United States, despite the fact the country is hermetic and backward, Bennett said.

Bruce Klingner, a North Korea specialist at the Heritage Foundation, said Washington has had to relearn the same hard lessons as previous U.S. administrations.

“In January [2009], the predominant view in Washington was that the change in U.S. leadership from [George W.] Bush to [Barack] Obama would cause North Korea to abandon its provocative behavior and eagerly engage the new U.S. administration, which in turn would lead to a significant improvement in bilateral U.S.-[North Korea] relations and a breakthrough in North Korean denuclearization.” 

Same Behavioral Pattern 

Instead, North Korea conducted its second nuclear test and launched more missiles.

“North Korea’s belligerent behavior shocked the Obama administration,” Klingner said.

Bruce Bechtol, author of the book “Red Rogue: The Persistent Challenge of North Korea,” said the chain of events since the Clinton administration has been redundant and predictable.

“Talks, concessions, U.S. attempts to hold North Korea’s feet to the fire, followed by provocative behavior by North Korea, followed by renewed concessions by the United States,” he said. “If the current administration is to actually change this paradigm, it will have to hold the line when the inevitable happens — North Korean dissatisfaction with the talks.”

Stalled talks will, of course, lead to provocative behavior meant to move the United States, and U.S. officials know this, Bechtol said. “The question is, will they back down when North Korea engages in the behavior that has been so successful in the past?”

Bechtol said Washington must also reconsider removing North Korea from the U.S. State Department’s list of state sponsors of terrorism. Pyongyang continues to provide rogue states with banned missile technology and other support to terrorist organizations, he said.

The other issue “largely ignored” in Washington is North Korea’s highly enriched uranium program, he said. “This is an issue that must be addressed, or the talks in reality are accomplishing nothing, except to deal with one track of North Korea’s two-track nuclear weaponization program.”

There appears to be less willingness in Washington to continue offering Pyongyang deals, Heritage Foundation’s Klingner said.

“There is far less patience in Washington for Pyongyang’s antics and far fewer experts and officials who still believe that unfettered engagement will actually achieve denuclearization,” he said. “Perceived progress is habitually followed by threats, cancellations and demands for further rewards to return to the status quo ante.”

Chinese Expeditions Boost Naval Expertise

Defense News


Chinese Expeditions Boost Naval Expertise


TAIPEI — China’s call for a naval base to support anti-piracy patrols in the Gulf of Aden appears to reflect a desire to expand its littoral warfare capabilities beyond its territorial waters.

A senior Chinese defense official has proposed setting up a permanent naval base to support ships patrolling the gulf, located between Somalia and Yemen.

The proposal was posted on China’s Ministry of Defense Web site in December by Adm. Yin Zhuo, a senior official assigned to the Equipment and Research Center of the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN).

Since January 2009, the PLAN has sent four flotillas, consisting of two to three warships and one support ship, to the Gulf of Aden to conduct anti-piracy patrols on three-month rotations.

The PLAN has sent its two new 23,000-ton Qiandaohu-class replenishment ships to take turns supporting the mission, but China is limited in its ability to resupply the task force. According to a PLAN press release, the Type 054 Ma’anshan guided-missile frigate visited Salalah Port, Oman, for replenishment.

“Starting from that very day, the four warships of the fourth Chinese naval escort task force will berth in the port for rest and replenishment in succession to ensure the smooth implementation of the escort actions,” the release said.

Though the small flotilla has been getting some assistance from local countries such as Oman, PLAN sees the need for a permanent base to support future missions.

The PLAN has largely been a “littoral navy” most of its history, said Bud Cole, author of the book “The Great Wall at Sea.” The gulf mission is China’s first long-distance operational deployment, and it has been “operating almost entirely within a couple of hundred miles of the coast,” he said.

The littoral aspect of the mission has forced China to look toward a more permanent basing arrangement to support smaller vessels more suited for anti-piracy missions, such as fast attack patrol boats, and the creation of a land-based intelligence collection center, said Thomas Kane, a U.K.-based China military specialist and author of the book “Chinese Grand Strategy and Maritime Power.”

China’s current deployment is made up of frigates and destroyers, which are impractical against small pirate vessels, said Dean Cheng, a Chinese security affairs specialist at the Heritage Foundation.

“It is unlikely that the current form of PLA Navy operations in the Gulf of Aden would benefit PLA littoral combat capabilities,” he said. “It would, however, expose PLA Navy officers to some of the difficulties associated with littoral combat against unsophisticated opponents.

“Like counterinsurgency,” Cheng said, “this is a different proposition than taking on the U.S. or Soviet navies in China’s littoral waters. In short, the Chinese are learning about expeditionary littoral warfare, rather than defensive littoral warfare — a very different proposition.”

The deployment has highlighted China’s “deficiencies in their current naval capabilities,” said Sam Bateman, senior fellow at the Institute of Defence and Strategic Studies, S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, Singapore.

China’s littoral warfare capabilities are excellent but are limited to China’s territorial waters. A base in the region to support Chinese naval missions would be a “quantum leap in the PLAN’s current capabilities,” Bateman said.

Plans for a permanent base in the region, either in Africa or Pakistan, still appear to be hypothetical, but the gulf mission gives China the pretext to argue for establishment of remote land-based support facilities.

China has studied the writings of U.S. naval strategist A.T. Mahan, Kane said, adding that the Horn of Africa has a special significance to China.

“Nevertheless, whether China builds a base or not, its operations off Africa give its planners and military personnel the opportunity to gain experience in conducting littoral operations far from their own coast,” he said, “for operations in a littoral region have historically been critical to its destiny.”

Cheng agrees that expanding China’s military influence beyond its shores is critical for a rising China. PLAN expansion into the Red Sea and the Arabian Sea is “hardly surprising, given the PLA’s responsibilities, under Hu Jintao and Jiang Zemin’s ‘New Historic Missions’ of safeguarding Chinese interests, including economic ones overseas.”

What this will mean for the U.S. Navy in the event of a Sino-U.S. showdown is unknown, sources said. China has learned the hard lessons of logistical support in the Gulf of Aden, and in a future conflict with the United States, the PLAN could target underway replenishment ships. Coupled with China’s development of anti-ship ballistic missiles to target U.S. aircraft carriers, attacks on U.S. Navy support vessels could be “devastating,” said one source.

Interview: Soh Kong Pheng, CEO, DSTA 04/28/08

Note to Reader: This interview was posted out of chronological order due to a previous error. The date on this interview is correct.



INTERVIEW: SOH KONG PHENG, CEO, Singapore’s Defence Science and Technology Agency

The Defence Science and Technology Agency (DSTA) fills many needs for Singapore’s Ministry of Defence (MINDEF). In addition to being the city-state’s defense acquisition agency, it is an engineering house capable of research-and-development management, large-scale systems design and development, technology and systems management, and procurement. The agency also manages defense technology re­search and development, working closely with local defense companies, universities and research institutes. In 2000, Soh Kong Pheng joined DSTA as deputy chief executive of op­erations and led all major defense acquisition programs. Soh became the agency’s chief executive in January.

Q. What is DSTA’s main role?

A. We acquire, develop, integrate and upgrade platforms and weapons, and provide support for the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF). DSTA is also the design and de­velopment house in areas of C4I and specialized infrastructure.

These areas require indigenous de­sign and development capabilities and are critical to build up and sustain key capabilities. We pro­vide engineering support to ensure that the readiness level of systems is sustained throughout its life cy­cle. We undertake the responsibili­ty to upgrade and modify the sys­tems, when possible. We manage technology plans, foster partner­ships and invest in R&D important to Singapore’s defense science and technology needs — things that will make a difference.

Q. What challenges has the agency faced in the past five years?

A. The SAF is in the midst of a major transformation where plat­forms, weapons and sensors will be fully networked, and operated seamlessly as an integrated fight­ing system. We have to align our­selves to facilitate, support and enable the realization of the third­ generation SAF. The key feature is networking of complex systems.

Q. How has DSTA handled those issues?

A. Complexity of highly networked systems means that more planning must be done at the front end. When new requirements are pre­sented, we have to think how these systems will behave in the future, without any compromise in system reliability and safety.

Whether it’s an operational or technological change, it’s going to have effects not just on the specif­ic system, but the entire network.
Everything is multiplied.

We therefore need high-quality engineers to design, develop and integrate these networked sys­tems. Networked systems require us to have different competencies that are not just technically deep­er, but broader.

Another aspect is how to keep the maintenance and upgrading of networked systems affordable. In an integrated system, when one system is affected, the upgrades or modifications will need to extend beyond the individual system.

Network systems are complex; it requires a longer time to field be­cause programs take a longer time to plan and implement. But opera­tional demand does not allow that, hence we adopt the spiral develop­ment concept. But that raises oth­er issues. We have to establish very strong and robust manage­ment, tight configuration control, effective program management across spirals and understand the costs of doing each.

Q. What is DSTA’s five- to 10-year plan for facilitating new tech development?

A. To better support the SAF’s transformation and to tackle new defense and security challenges, we have built up a robust defense technology ecosystem, something we coined several years ago. Our ecosystem has the SAF in the core, and DSTA as the acquisition agency and integrator of complex systems, as well as DSO National Laboratories as the MINDEF’s R&D arm. Local defense industry provides sustenance, maintenance and other support.

On the next ring, we try to ex­ploit the capabilities and capaci­ties available in the market. So we foster partnerships with leading re­search institutes in the world that are not just defense-related.

In the next five to 10 years, we will continue to nurture and grow the defense technology ecosystem. We will deepen our cooperation, especially in R&D, with our local and overseas partners. By leverag­ing expertise from these partners through technology research and collaboration, we will be able to create capacity to do more for MINDEF and the SAF.

Q. What new products has DSTA recent­ly unveiled?

A. Almost every major weapon sys­tem or capability that the SAF unveils, DSTA has a part in it, either as a developer or an acquisi­tion manager. Our work includes managing programs to ensure schedules and performance expec­tations are met, to ensure training is done and to facilitate transfer of technology as contracted.

We contracted 12 F-15SGs from Boeing in 2005 and exercised the option for more in late 2007. Delivery should begin in 2009.

Our frigate program is also pro­gressing well, despite the integra­tion complexities of the platform and combat systems. We are deliv­ering six frigates — one built by DCN in France and the other five locally by ST Marine. This program is one of the most complex naval programs DSTA has undertaken.

The frigate has more than 10 dif­ferent systems from different man­ufacturers, ranging from radars to missile systems. It is designed by the French with input from DSTA.

DSTA is the systems integrator, which means we are responsible for choosing the combat systems and integrating them as a system of systems. The combat manage­ment system is indigenously devel­oped by DSTA and DSO engineers. We commissioned one ship last year and three more on Feb. 5.

Q. What is DSTA’s role in developing mil­itary infrastructure?

A. We develop master plans and engineer state-of-the-art opera­tional facilities for the SAF. Our air and naval bases and modern camp complexes are efficient in the use of space and equipped with user­ friendly facilities.

Our roles in developing defense infrastructure include master-plan­ning, project management, archi­tecture and engineering design, and construction supervision. Spe­cialized construction for protec­tion and security is a critical com­ponent in the design of many of our critical defense facilities. We also undertake technology devel­opment and testing in the area of protective technology to support such specialized designs.

Q. How does DSTA foster an environ­ment of creativity and innovation?

A. Innovation and creativity come with having a lot of good people.

We recruit and we compete to get the best talent locally. We try to get in there early in schools to enthuse the young into a science-­and-technology career. We give out scholarships for undergradu­ate programs overseas in all the best universities. We do that very aggressively. When they come back, there are a lot of opportuni­ties within the ecosystem — proj­ect or technology management, development work, software cod­ing and everything else.

Internally, we established a DSTA college in 2004 to ensure that sound systems-engineering practices and knowledge we have gained over the last 30, 40 years are passed on to the younger staff.

Q. What procurement challenges does DSTA face?

A. Affordability. We are continually looking at how we can get the most cost-effective, best-value-for ­money solutions for our defense requirements. We have started to do private-public partnerships [PPP] in certain areas, and we’ve been successful in a couple. We started small. We are now embark­ing on a couple of quite large ones.

Q. What are they?

A. Last year, we contracted the basic wings course, the Air Force’s basic training for pilots. We decid­ed we should try out the concept, which allows us not to own the aircraft but just buy the services.

We have contracted a company to sell the training hours to the Singapore Air Force. We just signed the contract last year; it will take a couple of years before it starts flying. The training will be conducted in Australia.

We are now running a competi­tion for the fighter wings course. We are trying to adopt the PPP ap­proach for that, too.

Q. What’s your most recent success in establishing a new partnership?

A. We have many memoranda of understanding, many agreements, with foreign as well as local partners. Locally we have estab­lished two laboratories, Temasek Laboratories with two local univer­sities, the Nanyang Technological University and the National Univer­sity of Singapore. These have given us high returns because we are able to use the universities’ resources. They have capacity, interest in research, a wider pool of people to conduct basic research.

We also have collaborations with many government and private agencies abroad. In the U.S, we worked with the Defense Ad­vanced Research Projects Agency, Defense Threat Reduction Agency and Sandia National Laboratories.

We have established SONDRA, the joint Supelec-ONERA-NUS-DSTA Research Alliance, in France.

The key to successful collabora­tion, especially in technology, lies in mutual benefits, bringing capa­bilities and expertise to the table, and trust. We engage anyone who has common interest and expert­ise to offer. Our Defence Technol­ogy Offices in Washington and Paris give us an extended arm to look out for potential partners.

Their role is to meet people, make the initial assessment and estab­lish contacts and help manage the joint projects. ■

By Wendell Minnick in Singapore.


2007 budget: Undisclosed.
Work force: 2,900.
Key programs: Singapore’s F-15SG, Hermes 450, Gulfstream G-550, Formidable-class frigates, Västergötland subs, Leopard 2A4 tanks, Bionix II, Basic and Advanced Wings Course for pilot training.
Affiliated organizations: DSO National Laboratories, Agency for Science and Research, National University of Singapore, Nanyang Technological University and defense partners such as ST Engineering.

Monday, January 4, 2010

U.S. Arms Expected To Flow to Taiwan

Defense News


U.S. Arms Expected To Flow to Taiwan

Black Hawks, PAC-3, Sub Study Among Delayed Programs


TAIWAN — Long-delayed sales of U.S. weapons to Taiwan may soon start moving ahead, U.S. government officials and defense industry sources say.

In coming months, the Obama administration is expected to notify Congress about the potential sale of various arms promised by the George W. Bush administration, including UH-60M Black Hawk helicopters, the remainder of a Patriot PAC-3 missile-defense package, an initial submarine design study, and the second phase of the Po Sheng C4ISR/Link 16 program, according to U.S. State Department and U.S. Defense Department sources.

In 2011, items “to watch for” include six C-27J cargo aircraft, two signal intelligence aircraft and two mine-hunter vessels, a U.S. government official said.

But Taipei’s outstanding request for 66 F-16C/D Blk 50/52 fighters, on hold since 2006, would be a “red line” that Beijing would not tolerate, said a U.S. defense analyst in Washington.

Taiwan has also expressed an interest in replacing its aging AT-3 advanced jet trainer with the South Korean-built T-50 Golden Eagle trainer, but Beijing would be expected to pressure Seoul to kill the deal.

There may be no need for trainers. U.S. officials have been reluctant to approve the sale of new F-16s to Taiwan.

“Since the United States needs China’s help on many issues, sale of F-16s will become highly unlikely,” said Joseph Wu, former de facto Taiwan ambassador to the United States.

“But some sales, such as Black Hawks and additional PAC-3s, may be forthcoming because the U.S. wants to show to the Taiwan people that it remains committed to its obligations under the Taiwan Relations Act. When China is still speeding up its military deployment against Taiwan, the overall trend is not in Taiwan’s interest.” China’s opposition may deter future sales, and the United States’ $800 billion debt to China does not help its negotiating position.

“China’s rise and U.S. growing debt has made Washington hesitant to sell F-16s to Taiwan,” said Arthur Ding, a cross-Strait specialist in Taiwan.

Yet Washington is also concerned about the warming ties between Beijing and Taipei, which have improved since the Beijing­friendly Nationalist Chinese Party won legislative and presidential elections in 2008.

“China’s new Taiwan policy gives China enough of an excuse to pressure the U.S. not to sell F-16s to Taiwan because China is to adopt ‘peaceful means’ to deal with Taiwan, a condition anticipated by the U.S.,” Ding said.

Wu said China is expected to announce in 2010 a cut to the 1,300 short-range ballistic missiles targeting Taiwan. Any decision by Beijing is a “good publicity stunt by China” and “will create pressure on Taiwan not to seek more arms and on the U.S. not to make any further sale,” he said.

There are growing concerns that cross-Strait agreements will spin out of Taiwan’s control. China and Taiwan are moving quickly on the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement, which has been widely criticized by opponents as financial capitulation to Beijing.

“The cross-Strait relations seem to be moving in a direction that Taiwan is not able to slow down or control any more,” Wu said.

That concern is shared in Washington. Interdependence with China could become an asymmetrical threat to Taiwan, said a new brief released by the Center for a New American Security in December.

Authored by Abraham Denmark and Richard Fontaine, the brief, entitled “Taiwan’s Gamble,” suggests Taiwan and the United States should “establish a joint analysis group to plan for Taiwan’s defense in light of contemporary financial, political, and military realities.”

“The United States should push for the establishment of such a group and insist that it review how any new emphasis on asymmetric capabilities in Taiwan should affect arms sales that are already in process,” the brief stated.

A Taiwan defense source said the proposal could reduce U.S. arms sales to Taiwan and redefine U.S. strategic interests in the Taiwan Strait.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Despite Tensions, Experts Anticipate Improvement in Chinese-U.S. Relations

Defense News


Despite Tensions, Experts Anticipate Improvement in Chinese-U.S. Relations


TAIPEI — Continuing attempts by the United States to develop better military relations with China are expected to remain sluggish in 2010. Deep-seated historical distrust between the two nations and a long tradition by Beijing of not compromising on core interests in negotiations with the United States are hurdles. A weakened U.S. economic position also contributes.

“Clearly, the major factor has been the trade relationship and China’s financing of U.S. debt,” said Larry Wortzel, vice chairman at the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission. “That certainly had an effect on broader strategic relations.” China owns about $790 billion —
just over 23 percent — of U.S. Treasury securities sold to foreign nations. China’s booming economy, fueled largely by U.S. spending habits, has helped pay for a massive military modernization program that includes new fighter aircraft, naval vessels and missiles.

Taiwan, not surprisingly, has also been a significant issue in U.S.-China relations. In October 2008, China severed military exchanges with the United States over a $6.5 billion arms sale to Taiwan. Three maritime incidents followed with the U.S. Navy.

The first two took place in early 2009 when Chinese maritime patrol and fishing vessels harassed two U.S. Navy ocean survey ships, the Impeccable and Victorious, in China’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ). Many in Washington interpreted the incident as a subtle warning from Beijing that continued intrusions into China’s EEZ and arms sales to Taiwan would not go unpunished.

Then in June, a Chinese submarine collided with a towed sonar array from the USS John McCain, an Arleigh Burke-class destroyer, near the Philippines.

Though the naval incidents were disturbing, Beijing did resume strategic discussions with the United States. Analysts, however, said little was accomplished.

In February, the two nations resumed Defense Policy Coordination Talks in Beijing. In June, the 10th U.S.-China Defense Consultative Talks restarted after an 18­month hiatus in Beijing. In July, the U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue took place in Washington. In October, China’s second highest­ranking military officer, Gen. Xu Caihou, vice chairman of the Central Military Commission, visited Washington. And the year ended with President Barack Obama’s visit to Beijing in November.

“Obama’s visit is a step in the right direction, but the long-term challenge remains,” said a Chinese academic source speaking on terms of anonymity.

In a joint statement released by Obama and Chinese President Hu Jintao, both sides reaffirmed a 1998 commitment not to target each other with nuclear weapons, stated a common interest in promoting the peaceful use of outer space and agreed to engage in more strategic discussions.

Further meetings for 2010 include a U.S. invitation to Gen. Chen Bingde, chief of the General Staff of China’s People’s Liberation Army, and a Chinese invitation to Robert Gates, the U.S. defense secretary, and Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Chen Bingde

However, the joint statement ap­pears disappointing, especially after the resumption of military talks by China. “If the joint statement is anything indicative of what both leaders said behind closed-door meetings, it seems the answer they provide for that question is less than exciting,” the Chinese academic source said. 

Some Key Issues Untouched

Despite efforts by Washington to engage Beijing in meaningful dialogue, China appears unlikely to dance to the U.S. beat for the time being.

“I don’t expect much movement on the part of the People’s Liberation Army, or Central Military Commission or General Staff Department, to engage in meaningful dialogue on three critical issues: computer network or cyber operations, space warfare and military activities in the EEZ,” Wortzel said.

Despite pledges made by both during the joint statement to improve military relations, “the two militaries continue to eye each other with wariness and suspicion,” the Chinese academic source said.

Many in the Pentagon maintain the perspective that China’s military buildup is aimed at challenging U.S. primacy, analysts said. On the other hand, “in the eyes of the Chinese military, suspicion of U.S. intentions can only be confirmed by the increasing U.S. military reconnaissance activities along China’s coastlines” in addition to continued U.S. arms sales to Taiwan, the academic source said.

U.S. efforts to engage China on strategic issues have a “Jekyll-Hyde” personality, the Chinese source said. The U.S. wants better military ties with China, but also fears China’s military modernization effort.

A massive military parade celebrating China’s 60th anniversary on Oct. 1 did little to calm fears. The parade was reminiscent of Soviet-era May Day parades, bristling with the latest missiles and fighter aircraft. The parade included 8,000 troops forming 56 phalanxes, along with 500 tanks.

Suspicions are also growing that China is influencing U.S. policymakers by recruiting former U.S. government officials to work for Chinese lobbying groups and so-called academic institutions funded by Beijing.

There have been allegations the Chinese government is behind the Sanya Initiative, a conference that brings together former top-tier Chinese and U.S. military officials to discuss ways of bettering military relations. The conference has been jokingly referred to as “Red Sanya.”

Though the exchange of retired Chinese and U.S. defense officials appears harmless, there is a lack of transparency about the true nature of the Hong Kong-based China-United States Exchange Foundation sponsoring Sanya, said Mark Stokes, the Pentagon’s former country director for China and Taiwan.

Efforts have been made to control the increase in Chinese interaction with the U.S. military. The U.S. Congress has recently “imposed increased requirements on Department of Defense reporting on its relations and engagement with China,” Wortzel said, “which will cause the Department of Defense to evaluate its engagement plans and gauge them to ensure that they benefit the U.S.”

U.S. Military Relations With Japan Will Remain Tricky

Defense News


U.S. Military Relations With Japan Will Remain Tricky


TAIPEI — The presence of U.S. military forces on Okinawa and the home island of Japan will continue to strain Japanese-U.S. relations in 2010, especially since the left-of­center Democratic Party’s (DPJ’s) electoral victory.

U.S. strategic policymakers and planners appear to have been ill-prepared for the unseating in August of the conservative Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), which had been Japan’s dominant party since 1955.

Under the LDP, the military had enjoyed an unmatched 10-year rise in political and strategic influence. The LDP raised the status of the military from an agency to a ministry. The military built new Aegis-equipped destroyers and a new helicopter destroyer modeled on an aircraft carrier, and upgraded its ballistic missile defense program with new Patriot PAC-3 air defense systems. There were even calls for the United States to sell Japan the new F-22 Raptor fighter.

However, during the recent political cam­paign, the DPJ called for the ejection of U.S. forces and the canceling of the 1960 U.S.­Japan Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA). It also called for drastic cuts in defense spending and the end of Japanese refueling missions in the Indian Ocean in support of coalition forces in Afghanistan.

There were hopes the DPJ would tone down the rhet

oric after the election, but just prior to U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates’ visit in October, new Japanese Defense Minister Toshimi Kitazawa raised the specter of threats to remove U.S. military forces from Okinawa and called for renegotiation of the SOFA.

Toshimi Kitazawa

The key complaint is the new location of the U.S. Marine Corps Futenma Air Station on Okinawa. In 2006, the United States and Japan finalized an agreement to move the base to the Marines’ Camp Schwab in northern Okinawa at Henoko. Now the new government in Tokyo wants to cancel the agreement.

The Gates visit appears to have calmed Japanese complaints for the time being, but the issue will continue to dog U.S.-Japan relations under Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama’s government and remains central to the DPJ’s overall position on U.S. basing, said Christopher Hughes, a specialist on Japanese defense issues.

“Prime Minister Hatoyama is very unlike­ly to make a decision on the relocation of Futenma before early 2010 as he is waiting for mayoral elections at Henoko,” he said. “The U.S. and Japan are also far apart on finding a new site; and, indeed, the U.S. wants to push the existing Henoko plan.” Hughes, author of the new book “Japan’s Remilitarisation,” said the issue “will rumble on.”

The Futenma base likely will remain at its present location, continuing to aggravate relations, he said, with the worst-case scenario being closure of the air station.

Futenma is not the only problem for U.S.­Japan military relations. During President Barack Obama’s recent visit to Japan, the United States agreed to set up a joint committee to study a new level of alliance relations for 2010 in commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the SOFA. Such a study could cause additional friction, said Masashi Nishihara, president of the Research Institute for Peace and Security, Tokyo.

“The two governments are likely to have difficult days ahead in coming to a satisfactory agreement” on Futenma, he said. “The DPJ government will also press for a revision of SOFA, with the support of its coalition partners, Democratic Socialists. On the whole, the Japan-U.S. strategic relations will continue, but with limited enthusiasm.”

Despite fears the DPJ is attempting to subvert the strategic relationship with the United States, Hughes said the party “does actually have a strategic vision toward the U.S.­Japan alliance that is attempting to be quite different from that of the LDP.

“Essentially, the DPJ is saying that it no longer wants Japan to be a simple follower of the U.S., as it perceived Japan as being under the LDP, and instead wants to assert greater autonomy,” he said.

This will be good for U.S.-Japanese relations in the long run as it will create a more “equal partnership and oblige Japan to be less dependent on the U.S.,” Hughes said.