Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Iran Unveils New Marine Missile, Torpedo

TEHRAN, Iran - President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad unveiled a short-range marine missile and a torpedo system Aug. 23 as Iran marked its annual "Defense Industry Day," state media reported.
"Qader (Able) missile, built by the capable hands of Iranian experts, is a marine cruise missile with a 120 mile range, possessing high destructive ability which can be used against coastal targets and warships," the state television website reported.
Ahmadinejad also unveiled a torpedo system called "Valfajr (The Dawn) to be used by submarines.
It has a payload of 485 pounds and can be used in shallow and deep water, the website said, adding that the unveiling ceremony was held at Tehran's Malek Ashtar University, which has close links to the Revolutionary Guards, the elite military force.
Ahmadinejad said Iran's arsenal was not aimed at any nations and would only be used to fend off possible aggressions.
"We do not want to use our military might to conquer lands and dominate humanity," the official IRNA news agency quoted him as saying in the unveiling ceremony.
"The best deterrence is that enemy does not dare aggression and must be so certain of a decisive response that it does not contemplate" an attack, he added.
"The enemy's weaponry should be grounded at deployment point and not above Tehran's sky," he added.
Both weapons were "successfully tested," the state television website said.
It quoted Defense Minister Brigadier Gen. Ahmad Vahidi as saying that Iran was now "locally" producing the equipment and weapons systems for the navy.
Iran has increased in the past two years the development, testing and unveiling of new "indigenous" military equipment, including missiles.
These weapons are always accompanied by warnings against any potential aggressor, sometimes explicitly directed at the Islamic republic's archfoes, Israel and the US forces deployed in the region.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Taiwanese Official: F-16 Buy From U.S. 'Hopeless'

TAIPEI, Taiwan - Taiwan's bid to buy F-16 fighter jets from the United States has become "hopeless," a top Taiwanese official was quoted as saying in an Aug. 20 report. This follows up a report by Defense News last week that Washington told Taiwan it will not sell the jets.
AN ARMED U.S.-BUILT F-16 fighter takes off during a drill in April. (Sam Yeh / Agence France-Presse)
The comments by parliamentary speaker Wang Jin-pyng, who said the U.S. had changed its mind about selling the jets, mark the first time an official has stated publicly that the long-awaited deal is expected to fall through.
At that time, both U.S. and Taiwanese officials insisted no decision had been made.
It is now "all but hopeless" for Taipei to get the jets, although Washington will still help it upgrade the F-16A/Bs and provide the island other defensive weapons, Wang said in an Aug. 19 speech, according to the report in the Taipei-based China times newspaper.
However, the Taiwanese defense ministry said it was still seeking to acquire the new jets.
"We will continue to push for our request to buy the F-16C/Ds and we will not give up on that," ministry spokesman David Lo said.
Taiwan applied to the U.S. in 2007 to buy the 66 F-16C/Ds, improved versions of the F-16A/Bs that the island's air force now uses, claiming that the new jets were needed to counter a rising China.
Washington recognizes Beijing rather than Taipei but remains a leading arms supplier to the island.
China reacted furiously in January 2010 when the Obama administration announced a $6.4 billion arms deal with Taiwan. That package included Patriot missiles, Black Hawk helicopters and equipment for Taiwan's existing F-16 fleet, but no submarines or new fighter jets.

No Firm Decision on Keeping U.S. Troops: Iraq

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta on Aug. 19 said the Iraqis want to extend the presence of U.S. troops into 2012 - but the Iraqi government in Baghdad said it has made no final decisions yet.
"My view is that they finally did say yes," Panetta said. "There was unanimous consent among the key leaders of the country to go ahead and request that they negotiate on what a training presence would look like."
In an interview with Defense News, Panetta said he viewed the Iraqis recent decision to begin formal discussions with the U.S. about a possible troop extension beyond December, the current withdrawal deadline, as a sign of Iraqi political support for U.S. forces to stay there in some capacity.
"We have made progress and as a result of that we are going to be engaging with them and trying to negotiate what that presence would look like," Panetta said.
But a spokesman in Baghdad said no deal has been finalized.
"We have not yet agreed on the issue of keeping training forces," Ali Mussawi, media advisor to Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, told Agence France-Presse. "The negotiations are ongoing, and these negotiations have not been finalized."
A spokesman for Panetta later clarified the secretary's remarks. "He made clear that the Iraqis have said yes to discussions about the strategic relationship beyond 2011, and what that relationship might look like," said George Little, a Pentagon spokesman.
In July, Panetta went to Baghdad and told the Iraqis publicly to "damn it, make a decision" about whether to request U.S. troops to say there beyond December, when the current U.S.-Iraqi security agreement expires.
"There were obviously a number of us that went to Iraq and delivered the same message and that message was basically three- or four-pronged, which was, you've got to make a decision about whether or not - what kind of presence you want to maintain," Panetta said.
The U.S. is also pushing the Iraqis to forge a new status of forces agreement that will provide legal protection for any U.S. troops who remain beyond December. "There had been some dispute as to whether or not that was needed. I think they now recognize that they have to get that enacted as part of it," Panetta said.
It remains unclear how many of the roughly 44,000 U.S. troops in Iraq today might stay and what their mission would be.
"The issue then will become what is the kind of training and assistance presence that Iraq feels it needs in order to be able to defend itself and secure itself," he said.

Iraq Cleric Warns of War if U.S. Presence Extended

NAJAF, Iraq - A radical anti-U.S. Shiite cleric warned of "war" if U.S. forces stayed in Iraq beyond a year-end deadline for their withdrawal, in a brief statement viewed on Aug. 17.
Asked whether he would negotiate directly or indirectly with U.S. forces over a security training mission to last beyond the end of this year, the cleric replied simply: "No, there will be war."
Moqtada al-Sadr did not give any further details in the written reply to a follower's question, released by his office in the holy Shiite city of Najaf.
The statement was at least the fourth message in the past two weeks from Sadr calling for American forces to leave the country, following an Aug. 3 announcement by Iraqi political leaders that they would open talks with Washington over a training mission.
On Aug. 6, he warned that a post-2011 U.S. presence "should be resisted through military means".
About 47,000 U.S. troops are still stationed in Iraq, all of whom must leave by the end of the year under the terms of a 2008 bilateral security pact, which would remain in force if a training deal is not agreed.
U.S. and Iraqi military officials assess Iraq's security forces capable of maintaining internal security, but say the country is lacking in terms of capacity to defend its borders, airspace and territorial waters.
Sadr's movement has 40 deputies in parliament and five ministers in Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's national unity government.
Before it was disbanded in 2008, Sadr's Mahdi Army militia numbered some 60,000 fighters with fierce loyalty to the cleric. It fought bloody battles with the U.S. Army in the years following the 2003 invasion which ousted Saddam Hussein. On July 10, Sadr said he would not revive the Mahdi Army, complaining it had been infested with "criminals."

Venezuela's Chavez Thanks Russia for Tanks

CARACAS - Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez thanked Russia on Aug. 17 for its sale of 25 tanks and other arms to the South American country, saying they were needed for "defending our sovereignty."
"These arms from Russia, now in Venezuela, will be for defending our sovereignty. Thanks to Russia. A round of applause for Russia," he added, to applause, speaking at a military ceremony to receive the arms.
"I want to thank (Russian) President Dmitry Medvedev and Prime Minister (Vladimir) Putin for these weapons manufactured in the Russian Federation, in sister Russia," Chavez said in a message broadcast by state TV.
The Venezuelan military received 25 tanks and hundreds of other weapons, according to generals present at the ceremony.
Between 2005 and 2007 Venezuela reached deals to buy $4 billion worth of arms from Russia, including Sukhoi fighter jets, combat helicopters and guns.
The Chavez government also secured a $2.2 billion loan in 2010 to purchase Russian T-72 tanks and an undisclosed number of S-300 antiaircraft missiles.
Chavez, a leftist firebrand who often rails against the "imperialist" United States, said Venezuela needed to guard its vast oil and mineral wealth. "We do not seek war with anyone, but we have to defend our country."

Friday, August 19, 2011

Israel, Gaza Trade Strikes After Attacks

GAZA CITY, Palestinian Territories - Gazan rockets hit southern Israel on Aug. 19 after a long night of air strikes as Israel sought to smash the militants behind desert attacks that killed eight Israelis.
As the air force pounded targets across the Gaza Strip, militants there lobbed 12 rockets at south Israel early on Aug. 19, injuring two - one seriously and one moderately - in the city of Ashdod, police said.
Several hours earlier, one Gazan was killed and 17 injured as Israel pounded targets across the strip following a day of violence in which gunmen unleashed bloody mayhem on a desert road near the Red Sea resort town of Eilat.
Six Israeli civilians, a soldier and a police officer were killed in several hours of attacks on a desert road some 12 miles north of Eilat.
Israeli warplanes responded immediately, attacking targets in southern Gaza which killed six people, including five militants from the Popular Resistance Committees (PRC) - the group it said was behind the violence.
The PRC vowed bitter revenge for the attack, which killed its leader and three other top cadres, and on Friday claimed responsibility for firing at least seven rockets and mortars into Israel.
Overnight, the Israeli air force hit seven targets in Gaza, including two training camps for Hamas militants, a weapons factory, two smuggling tunnels and a "terror tunnel."
Palestinian sources reported two more raids on Aug. 19, lightly injuring one person.
"The Israeli Defense Forces will not tolerate any malicious attempt to harm Israeli civilians and IDF soldiers and will not hesitate to respond with strength and determination to any element that uses terror against the State of Israel and until calm is restored," a statement said.
In Egypt, state television said two "unidentified Egyptians" had been killed by Israeli gunfire on Aug. 18 in an area near the site of the attacks; overnight security officials said three Egyptian policemen were also killed in the same area when an Israeli Apache fired a rocket at militants.
Israel officials were quick to point the finger at Gaza, although the territory's Hamas rulers denied any connection to the attacks.
But the Israeli military said it held the Islamist group ultimately responsible for violence coming from the territory it controls.
"If Hamas wants an escalation, it will pay a high price," Brigadier General Yoav Mordechai told public radio on Aug. 19, saying some form of ground operation in Gaza was not out of the question.
"All options are open, including a pin-point (ground) operation," he said.
Both sides were burying their dead on Aug. 19, with funerals in Jerusalem for the soldier and the police officer and a burial procession due to take place in southern Gaza for the five militants and the toddler.
As Israeli police went on high alert across Israel, the country's main newspapers painted a much clearer picture of how events unfolded on Aug. 18 involving an estimated 15 to 20 gunmen, some wearing Egyptian army fatigues.
The first attack saw three gunmen open fire on a packed bus heading to Eilat, injuring seven people. Shortly afterwards, they opened fire on a civilian car in the same area, killing four people.
Then one of the militants detonated an explosives-packed belt he was wearing as an empty bus drove past, blowing himself up and killing the driver.
Further gunfire was directed at another car, killing one man. The soldier and the police officer were killed in two separate gun battles with the attackers which lasted into the evening, the papers said.
Six of the attackers were killed by Israeli troops and special police forces, while the seventh blew himself up; others are believed to have fled across the Egyptian border.
Egypt's state television on Aug. 18 showed footage of rifles, grenades and army uniforms seized during an ongoing security operation in northern Sinai, while in a separate development, security officials said they had uncovered a workshop capable of producing suicide belts.

Turkey Continues Bombing Northern Iraq

ANKARA, Turkey - Turkey kept pressure on Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) separatists in northern Iraq on Aug. 19, with a rebel spokesman saying Turkish jets were carrying out air strikes for a third straight day.
"The attacks started again this morning against Qandil only," Dozdar Hammo said, referring to an area of north Iraq close to the border with Turkey.
He added that bombings by the Turkish air force lasted for around three hours on the night of Aug. 18 against Qandil and other bases close to the Iraq-Turkey border.
The Turkish military said its jets had bombed 28 targets on a second day of attacks on bases in northern Iraq used by PKK.
Following bombing raids on 60 targets on Aug. 17, the air force launched an "effective" operation Aug. 18 against 28 targets in the Qandil, Hakurk, Avasin-Basyan and Zap regions of northern Iraq, the military said in a statement on its website.
In coordination with the air strikes, 96 more targets in the region were kept under intense artillery fire, the statement said.
"The targets were positively identified as belonging to the PKK, and the necessary sensitivity is paid to protect civilians," it said.
"The actions under the struggle against terror will go on with determination inside and outside the country based on the requirements of military needs," it added.
The military launched a first wave of bomb attacks on Aug. 17 against rebel targets in Iraq in response to a deadly attack by the rebel group against a military unit in Cukurca town in southeast Turkey, killing nine security officials.
It is the first time in more than a year that the Turkish military has carried out air strikes on PKK bases in northern Iraq.
The second bombing raid by Turkey also followed a new rebel attack earlier on Aug. 18 in the southern province of Siirt, killing two soldiers, media reports said.
The escalation in violence came as the National Security Council (MGK), which brings together top civilian and military officials, met for five hours on Aug. 18 before pronouncing support for a tougher stance against the PKK.
The council, led by Turkish President Abdullah Gul, spoke of the need for "better coordination" of military and police resources in suppressing the Kurdish rebels.
The council's statement also called on Turkey's neighbors "to accept their responsibilities" to eradicate the PKK from their territory, without naming any countries.
The PKK, listed as a terrorist group by Ankara and much of the international community, took up arms in the Kurdish-majority southeast in 1984, sparking a conflict that has claimed about 45,000 lives.

Taiwan's Defense Show in Decline; F-16s in Limbo

TAIPEI - The biennial Taipei Aerospace & Defense Technology Exhibition (TADTE), which ran Aug. 11-14, was forced to share floor space with a comic book convention at the World Trade Center here. If that was not humiliating enough, several mainland Chinese businessmen were seen perusing booths. Who and what they were about remain a mystery.
A UCAV on display at the recent Taipei Aerospace & Defense Technology Exhibition. (Wendell Minnick / Staff)
Those familiar with the vibrancy of the Singapore Air Show might be surprised to learn that Taiwan spends about $2 billion more than Singapore on defense annually, yet there was no evidence of that at TADTE this year.
The show has seen steady declines over the past decade. Only six U.S. defense companies exhibited this year: ITT, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon, Pratt & Whitney and Sikorsky Aircraft. Missing were BAE Systems, Bell Helicopter, Boeing, General Dynamics, L-3 Communications, Rockwell Collins, Thales and U.S. Ordnance, all of which traditionally have had booths.
Part of the lack of interest could be attributed to the fact that Taiwan's shopping list for new arms has been filled for the near term and there are few, if any, items left to procure. The military is struggling to pay for $16.5 billion in new U.S. arms released since 2007, including Patriot PAC-3 ballistic missile defense systems, P-3C Orion maritime patrol aircraft, AH-64D Apache attack helicopters and UH-60M Black Hawk utility helicopters.
Added to procurement costs are expensive reform programs. The Ministry of National Defense (MND) is implementing a streamlining and modernization program that will reduce troop strength from 275,000 to 215,000 within the next five to 10 years.
Despite the MND's financial struggles, a U.S. Department of Defense delegation was in Taiwan during TADTE to finalize price and availability options for a $4.2 billion upgrade package for 146 F-16A/B fighter jets.
Sources at TADTE said the midlife upgrade package has been renamed a "retrofit" to reduce complaints from China. To further placate China, the F-16A/B retrofit will be released incrementally rather than as a total package under the U.S. Foreign Military Sales program.
The only serious competition at TADTE was between Northrop Grumman and Raytheon to supply the active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar for the F-16A/B retrofit requirement. Northrop's Scalable Agile Beam Radar and the Raytheon Advanced Combat Radar are vying to replace the current APG-66(V)3 mechanical radar.
If the U.S. government does not release an AESA radar for Taiwan, TADTE sources indicate that the Northrop APG-68(V)9 mechanical radar would be offered as a substitute.
Taiwan is awaiting a final decision by the U.S. on a deal for 66 F-16C/D fighters for $8 billion, and a 2001 offer for eight diesel submarines estimated at more than $10 billion.
TADTE participants said the U.S. plans to release the F-16A/B retrofit with the AESA radar, but not new F-16C/D fighters.
A senior Taiwan MND official said he was "disappointed" by U.S. plans to deny Taiwan the new fighters.
But senior MND and U.S. government officials are denying the report. MND officials insist the U.S. Defense Department delegation did not inform Taiwan of a final decision on the F-16C/Ds, and hope remains for a positive release.
Since 2006, the U.S. has repeatedly denied Taiwan's request for F-16C/D fighters to placate China. In July, the U.S. State Department indicated a final decision on the F-16 issue would be made before Oct. 1.
News of the DoD delegation's visit comes at an awkward time for the administration of President Barack Obama. U.S. Vice President Joseph Biden arrived in Beijing on Aug. 17 to discuss economic and political issues. China has insisted the U.S. end all arms sales to Taiwan, and has threatened to invade the island should it continue to refuse unification.
MND Pavilion
During TADTE, the MND displayed a variety of new weapons and equipment. The most startling were exhibits by the military-run Chungshan Institute of Science and Technology (CSIST).
CSIST displayed the new Hsiung Feng 3 (Brave Wind 3) supersonic anti-ship missile. Though the missile had been displayed at TADTE 2009, this is the first time it was described as an "aircraft carrier killer," with a mural depicting three HF-3 missiles sinking China's new aircraft carrier, the Varyag.
China began sea trials for the Varyag on Aug. 10, the same day the HF-3 display was unveiled to the media. The Taiwan Navy has outfitted two Perry-class frigates, the 1101 Cheng Kung and 1103 Cheng Ho, with the HF-3.
CSIST also displayed models of two new unmanned aerial combat vehicle (UACV) concepts. CSIST officials did not provide any information about the UACV models, but one appeared similar to the General Atomics MQ-9 Reaper, while the other had a diamond-shaped fuselage similar to the Boeing X-45.
A CSIST animated demonstration video showed three X-45-like UACVs flying alongside an F-16 on a mission to attack a Chinese air base. The video also demonstrated how the Reaper-like UACV could be used to attack ground-based radar facilities in China.
The 202nd Arsenal displayed a new 105mm low-recoil turret being developed for the eight-wheeled Cloud Leopard armored vehicle. One Cloud Leopard on display was equipped with a 40mm grenade launcher. Full-rate production has begun, and the military has a requirement for 300 vehicles.

Pentagon Clears F-35 Test Fleet to Fly Again

The F-35 Lightning II test fleet has been cleared for flight, but the U.S. Air Force's production aircraft at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., are still grounded, the Pentagon announced Aug. 18.
An Air Force safety investigation board is continuing its investigation of the failure of the AF-4's Integrated Power Package on Aug. 2, which led to the grounding of the entire fleet of 20 aircraft. The AF-4 is the fourth conventional takeoff and landing variant produced by Lockheed Martin.
A government and contractor engineering team determined that flight operations of the test aircraft could continue after reviewing data from ground and flight tests, and revised the test monitoring procedures that govern the IPP. Ground operations of the test fleet resumed Aug. 10.
"The root cause investigation indicates that an IPP valve did not function properly," a release from the F-35 Joint Program Office states. "Monitoring of valve position is a mitigating action to allow monitored operations. A permanent resolution is in work."
The IPP, which is built by Honeywell International, combines the functions performed by an auxiliary power unit, emergency power system and environmental controls.
The Air Force's test F-35s are at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., with U.S. Navy and U.S. Marine Corps' variants based at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Md. The Air Force's aircraft at Eglin, which do not have test instrumentation, will be grounded until the investigation is finished and any required corrective actions are completed.

Israel-China Revive Military Ties, But Not Defense Trade

TEL AVIV - In yet another step toward revived Sino-Israeli defense ties, Gen. Chen Bingde, chief of staff of the People's Liberation Army (PLA), concluded a four-day trip to Israel on Aug. 17, the first ever by a commander of the Chinese military.
Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak toasts Gen. Chen Bingde, left, as Lt. Gen. Beni Gantz nods in agreement. (Israel Ministry of Defense)
The visit, hosted by Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz, Chen's counterpart in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), followed Barak's mid-June trip to Beijing and a PLA Navy delegation hosted here in May.
Chen's visit included tours of several military installations and a series of high-level working meetings at IDF headquarters here, but did not involve substantive discussion of revived Israeli arms transfers to China, sources here said.
"There's no change in our export license policy to China due to continued American opposition. But as the string of recent visits indicates, we're working hard to find other ways to advance our mutual interest in strengthened [Sino-Israeli] defense cooperation," a government official here said.
The Israeli official said the Chinese still resent the U.S. pressure that forced Israel to terminate a $1.3 billion deal for early warning aircraft more than a decade ago, as well as the consultative process that gives Washington de-facto veto rights over any proposed trade with Beijing.
A U.S. State Department cable published by WikiLeaks provided rare insight into the process in place since 2006 with respect to Israeli technology transfers to China. According to the July 2009 cable, authorized by Andrew Shapiro, U.S. assistant secretary of state for political-military affairs, "As it now stands, the government of Israel must pursue any export to China through the bilateral statement of understanding with the United States. While the statement calls for expeditious resolution of any requests to export to China, it often takes up to 80 days to obtain approval."
Israeli sources say that since the crisis of confidence with Washington that triggered the bilateral consultative process, Washington has approved only a few, nonoffensive, homeland security-related sales to China.
"Compared to what we could have sold in that huge market, defense trade to China has been miniscule ... And the Chinese know that decisions of this nature are not taken in Jerusalem, but in Washington," the Israeli official said.
Beyond stymied defense trade, however, sources here say Israel can provide China valuable information on military tactics, assessments of regional threats, and insight into Israeli diplomatic and other initiatives that may impact neighboring countries and China's access to Mideast oil.
"As long as there is no change in Israel's arms export policy - and there is no evidence that such a change has occurred ... a strengthening of military ties could still prove beneficial to China," wrote Yoram Evron, senior researcher for the Institute for National Security Studies, based here.
In an Aug. 17 paper, Evron, a lecturer at the Department of Asian Studies at Haifa University, noted that China has not engaged in military operations since 1979, and therefore is interested not only in Israeli technology but in broader operational and tactical knowledge accrued in recent years by the IDF. Similarly, Evron said that information-sharing with Israel would support Beijing's desire to establish a gradual strategic presence in the region.
"Not only can Israel provide China an updated perspective on regional occurrences - for example, developments pertaining to the 'Arab spring' and trends in the field of terrorism - but strategic information-sharing with Israel could spare China surprises from Israeli actions" that impact the region, according to Evron. Israel's position as a key U.S. ally makes such channels with Israel all the more worthwhile, he said.
"Given the intensifying competition between the two powers, the strengthening of military ties with an American ally is a credit to China," Evron added.
The Israeli researcher concluded that as Israel continues to enhance its standing with a vital player in the region and on the world stage, it will have to tread carefully so as not to upset Washington, its pre-eminent ally and strategic patron.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

First Karakoram Eagle to make a touchdown in Pakistan in November 2011

Delivery of first ZDK-03 Karakoram Eagle AWACS (Airborne Warning and Control Systems) produced for Pakistan Air Force is expected in November this year, according to latest report.

The aircraft is in final stages of preparations/system testings/installation for delivery to Pakistan.

Pakistan Air Force signed an agreement for the joint development of four ZDK-03 AEW&C aircraft Karakoram Eagle which were to be configured to meet Pakistan's specifications with China Electronics Technology Group Corporation.

PAF has plans to induct a total of four Shaanxi ZDK-03 AWACS aircraft in a $278m deal. ZDK-03 also features a solid nose with MAWS sensors on both sides, as well as two small vertial tail stablizers.

U.S. Security Experts Seek More Extensive Information-Sharing

It's not the loud pronouncements by hacking groups or the highly visible denial-of-service attacks that scare cybersecurity experts. It's silence.
In the escalating battle against cyber attackers, the focus has been on new security software and cyber hygiene, but one of the greatest tools against "the adversary," as cyber attackers are called in industry parlance, is the relatively low-tech approach of sharing information about attacks.
Yet contractors continue to remain mum on many intrusions - citing liability concerns - creating a vacuum that reduces their ability to fight attacks. The U.S. Defense Department continues to hunt for a way to increase reporting when both classified and unclassified sensitive data are compromised.
"The bad guys are fast; they have no intellectual property boundaries, no rules, they just execute and with all this funding they could kill us if we don't match that with good information sharing," said Phyllis Schneck, vice president and chief technology officer for the public sector at McAfee Security. "It's like a weather forecast; the more data you have, the more lives you can save if you can forecast the tornado or the hurricane."
McAfee highlighted the issue of information sharing when it released a report Aug. 3 about an effort to track a group of intruders. The project, Operation Shady RAT, found that the intruders had grabbed data from 72 different entities, including 13 defense contractors and 22 government agencies, in 14 different countries, with more than two-thirds of those attacks targeting the U.S.
The project's name refers to a technique of using remote access tools (RAT) to infiltrate networks. In order to gain access to the networks, the attackers employed spear phishing, sending emails that appear to be from a recognized contact that encourages a download concealing malicious hardware.
The group used the same set of tools for five years, suggesting that later victims might have been able to respond more effectively if they had learned of the pattern in earlier attacks.
To push for greater disclosure, the DoD has been exploring two avenues: a new Defense Federal Acquisition Regulations Supplement (DFARS) rule that would make mandatory the reporting of intrusions that compromise certain types of sensitive information; and the Defense Industrial Base (DIB) Cyber Pilot program, a voluntary program that includes roughly two dozen companies reporting intrusions involving classified and sensitive data, and disclosure by the DoD of threats it has detected.
But reporting attacks, even to government agencies that promise anonymity, is not without risks, said Alan Chvotkin, executive vice president of the Professional Services Council. "It's reputation liability, legal liability and business liability," he said.
DFARS Proposed Rule
Dipping its toe into mandatory compliance, the Pentagon is circulating for comment until Aug. 29 the proposed new rule for the DFARS that would compel contractors to disclose intrusions. The rule would require that contractors provide "adequate security," report cyber incidents within 72 hours and conduct a review of their networks to search for information about the attacks.
But although Chvotkin said that contractors agree with the notion of improving security, there are questions about the rule.
"One of the underlying concerns in the DFARS proposed rule is that it makes security a contract compliance issue, so does a breach incur not only some liability and exposure but also a contract breach because you haven't met the standards? Even if you've met the regulations, errors still occur."
He also pointed to the unknown risk of liability, acknowledging concerns about trust as it relates to company anonymity during the reporting process.
"Trust develops over time," he said. "As companies have participated, that trust factor goes up. Just like voluntary disclosure and others, you come to the first one reluctantly."
The issue of trust is very real, said Bill Marshall, managing director of The Chertoff Group and former deputy chief of staff for cyber at the National Security Agency.
"There's a significant lack of trust between the government and the private sector," he said. "There's also a lack of understanding as far as concerns and needs on both sides of the fence, and that's an impediment."
He pointed to the potential repercussions of information leaks. "What if a penetration shows up in The Washington Post? What if you have to explain that to your shareholders?"
Jeff Moulton, a researcher at the Georgia Tech Research Institute, said there would need to be a means for enforcement for the rule to be effective.
"There has got to be an ironclad way to make sure that there are serious repercussions for a person who discloses information," he said. "If somebody wants to torpedo the stock price of a company, all they have to do is release that information."
DIB Cyber Pilot
The Pentagon has also looked for a voluntary approach to the reporting problem. The DIB Cyber Pilot, lasting 90 days and including a limited number of companies, has been successful, said Alan Paller, who directs research at the SANS Institute.
"It worked wonderfully," he said. "It found specific evidence of attacks taking place in one company that was occurring in three other companies that those other companies didn't know about."
He noted that even when companies volunteer, reporting is still an issue.
"There are at least two to three times the number of attacks than are presented to the community, and that's among people that are agreeing to share the data," he said.
Experts said voluntary reporting would be most effective if smaller companies were included in the process, whereas most of the companies in the DIB Cyber Pilot are large. Larger companies typically have large cybersecurity staffs and conduct extensive research on intrusions, while smaller companies may not have the resources to invest in this type of research.
By sharing data between larger and smaller companies, the contracting community as a whole would likely be better protected as the transfer of sensitive data occurs across the spectrum of company size.
While there has been discussion of implementing a program similar to the DIB Cyber Pilot on a larger scale, the problem of cost looms. Speaking about the DIB Cyber Pilot, Deputy Defense Secretary William Lynn talked about the cost issue at a press conference in July.
"One of the reasons this is a short pilot is that for 90 days, people are willing to hold their breath and not worry about the 'who pays' part," he said. "But when you get beyond that, when we get more permanent, there is a question of who pays, and that's one of the central questions that we're tackling."
Cost and Oversight
Regardless of the technique employed to promote communication, the issue of cost remains.
"Quite frankly, this is a cost that they're trying to drive as close to zero as they can, and the costs keep going up," Marshall said.
Those costs are hard to justify for many companies, as there isn't a simple risk/reward equation that companies can do, and potential gains in security are hard to compare against the costs.
"The view that the regulations need to change is a recognition that there is not a financial incentive for them to do that," Marshall said. "That's one of the things that is kind of an arrow in the quiver that has to be used judiciously."
And the cost to companies is not alone. The issue of government resources to provide data analysis and potentially enforcement of mandates raises important questions, Moulton said.
"The government doesn't have enough people to police themselves, so how are they going to go out and verify that companies are doing this?" he said.
Chvotkin voiced the same concern.
"It calls on the resources available to the government. How much are they willing to spend?" Chvotkin asked.
The DFARS proposed rule would also include a mandate to provide "adequate security," meaning the cost would be twofold: creating an appropriate security system and providing the manpower to produce the report for the Pentagon in the event of an intrusion.
But the concerns about cost are insignificant compared to what is being lost, Paller said.
"They're losing America's greatest treasures. Their fears are irrelevant," he said. "They've lost some of the stuff that our entire economic infrastructure is based upon."

Indian Team Visits Moscow for Su T-50 Flight Demo

NEW DELHI - A delegation of Indian military officers and technicians was in Moscow to witness the first public flight Aug. 16 of the Sukhoi T-50, the base platform of the Fifth-Generation Fighter Aircraft (FGFA) that India and Russia have contracted to develop jointly.
A new Russian twin-engine jet fighter T-50 lands at Zhukovsky airfield as it takes part in MAKS-2011, the International Aviation and Space Show, in Zhukovsky, Russia, on Aug. 14. (Dmitry Kostyukov / AFP)
The aircraft, which made its maiden flight at a Far East airbase in Russia in January 2010, was rolled out for its first public viewing at the MAKS international air show outside Moscow, where two of the sleek silver prototypes are due to perform air stunts Aug. 16 under the watchful eye of Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.
India's Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. (HAL) and Russia's Rosoboronexport and Sukhoi Design Bureau are working together to develop and produce the plane.
The two countries have proposed building about 500 FGFAs to meet the needs of both the Indian and Russian air forces. India's FGFA order is expected to cost the country more than $25 billion over the next two decades.
The exact details of the pact between India and Russia on technical collaboration are still not known, Indian Air Force sources said.
But a Defence Ministry official here said that HAL and Rosoboronexport on Dec. 21 signed a preliminary contract for design and development of the aircraft by HAL and the Sukhoi Design Bureau at a cost of $295 million. The preliminary development phase will last 18 months. Full-scale design and development work will be taken up under a separate contract, which will be negotiated and signed toward the end of the preliminary phase, the ministry official said.
The induction of the FGFA into the Indian fleet is to begin in 2018 as the first prototype has already undergone several tests, the official added.
The FGFA will be a stealthy, lethal swing-role fighter with advanced avionics, 360-degree situational awareness, smart weapons, data links and high-end mission computers, the Indian Air Force has said.

U.S., South Korea Begin Drills; North Warns of War

SEOUL, South Korea - South Korea and the United States launched a massive joint military exercise on Aug. 16, prompting the North to condemn the maneuvers as provocative and warn that war could erupt.
The two allies have described the 10-day Ulchi Freedom Guardian exercise as defensive and routine, but the North habitually terms such joint drills a rehearsal for invasion and launches its own counter-exercises.
"The exercise started this morning," a spokesman of the U.S.-South Korea Combined Forces Command (CFC) told AFP, referring to the annual computer-assisted simulation command-post exercise.
All of CFC's major units are taking part, involving more than 530,000 troops, including some 3,000 military personnel from the United States and other bases around the Pacific region, CFC said.
CFC commander U.S. Gen. James D. Thurman said the drill was focused on "preparing, preventing and prevailing against the full range of current and future external threats" to South Korea and the region.
"We are applying lessons learned out of Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as those garnered by the Alliance's recent experiences with North Korean provocations on the peninsula and past exercises," he said.
Pyongyang condemned the exercise as "extremely provocative," calling it a preparation for an "all-out war" against the North and the "largest-ever nuclear war exercise".
"The Korean peninsula is faced with the worst crisis ever. An all-out war can be triggered by any accidents," the North's ruling communist party newspaper Rodong Sinmun said in a commentary.
Seoul and Washington wanted to use the latest exercises to build up their capability to mount surprise attacks on the North's nuclear and missile facilities, it said.
"The U.S. warmongers are planning to carry out a realistic war drill to remove our nuclear facilities with a mobile unit led by the U.S. 20th Support Command, which was sent to Iraq to find and disable weapons of mass destruction," it said.
"Our military and the people will not sit idle as U.S. imperialists mobilize massive military forces and threaten our sovereign rights," the commentary said.
It accused the United States of seeking to bring war to the Korean peninsula after Afghanistan and Iraq as a way to "extricate itself from its worsening economic crisis."
The CFC spokesman said that during the exercise, troops would train for a "wide variety of missions including those involving the location and security of chemical, biological, nuclear and radiological threats."
The allies will simulate the detection and destruction of North Korean atomic bombs, missiles and chemical weapons, Yonhap news agency said last week.
Professor Yang Moo-Jin of the University of North Korean Studies in Seoul said the North was unlikely to escalate tensions despite its criticism of the exercise, one of two annual Korean peninsula-wide drills by the CFC.
"The North is unlikely to raise tension at a time when diplomatic efforts are underway to resume dialogue" even though the North's statement is strongly-worded, Yang told AFP.
The North's military urged Seoul and Washington last week to show their willingness to work toward denuclearization by scrapping the exercise.
In an open letter published by its state media, Pyongyang also called for a peacekeeping mechanism to replace the current armistice that ended the 1950-1953 war.
A flurry of diplomatic efforts have been underway to resume stalled six-party disarmament talks involving the two Koreas, Russia, China, Japan and the United States.
Senior Pyongyang officials met their counterparts in Seoul and Washington last month. The meetings raised hopes that the talks - last held in December 2008 - could resume.
The North has repeatedly expressed a desire to return to the forum, but the United States has urged it to show more sincerity and mend ties with the South first.

Turkey Signs Deal To Buy Six CH-47 Copters

ANKARA - Turkey has signed a government-to-government deal with the United States to buy six CH-47 Chinook heavy-lift transport helicopters, worth up to $400 million, a senior procurement official said.
The U.S. Defense Security Cooperation Agency, the Pentagon body that coordinates weapon sales, notified Congress of a potential sale of 14 CH-47F heavy-lift helicopters for $1.2 billion in December 2009, and Congress gave permission later that month.
But because of financial constraints, the Undersecretariat for Defense Industries (SSM), Turkey's arms procurement agency, later decided to buy only six CH-47Fs, five for the Army and one for the Special Forces Command, postponing a decision on the remaining eight aircraft. Contract negotiations among the SSM, the U.S. government and Chinook maker Boeing were launched last year.
"The contract was signed in late July," the procurement official said. "It was worth around $400 million. After the helicopters begin to arrive, we plan to make some modifications on them according to our needs."
The six CH-47F Chinooks will be the first heavy-lift helicopters in the Turkish Army's inventory. Their deliveries are expected to begin in 2013 and end in 2014.
"These helicopters have incredible capabilities. Three or four of them can transport a company-sized unit and its equipment to long distances only in a few hours," the procurement official said. The maximum speed of the CH-47F is about 312 kilometers an hour.
Developed in the 1960s, the Chinooks have been exported to many countries, including Australia, Britain, Canada, Egypt, Greece, Italy, Japan, Morocco, the Netherlands, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand and the United Arab Emirates.
The Chinook has been successfully operated in combat in several wars and armed conflicts.
The Chinook is a twin-engine, twin-rotor helicopter. The counter-rotating rotors eliminate the need for an anti-torque vertical rotor, allowing all power to be used for lift and thrust.
The CH-47F is the upgraded version of the CH-47D, and is the latest model in this helicopter family. It can carry up to 60 troops and personnel.
A CH-47 Chinook was shot down by Taliban forces southwest of Kabul in Afghanistan in earlier this month, killing 30 U.S. troops, including 23 Navy SEALs, and eight Afghans.
"These are not unsafe devices. On the contrary, these helicopters had mission flights of thousands of hours in Afghanistan only this year, and this was the first such incident," the procurement official said.
Turkey usually manufactures its own defense equipment, or jointly produces it with foreign partners. But since the number of heavy-lift helicopters being ordered is rather small, SSM decided on direct procurement from a single source, i.e. Boeing. The heavy-lift helicopter program is expected to be among Turkey's last direct foreign procurement projects.

China's Aircraft Carrier Ends Maiden Trip: Xinhua

BEIJING - China's first aircraft carrier has returned to port after completing a "smooth" set of sea trials designed to test its capabilities, the state news agency Xinhua reported on Aug. 15.
The 990-foot ship docked in the northeastern port of Dalian on Aug. 14 after five days of trials that have sparked international concern about the country's widening naval reach.
The carrier tests came amid heightened tensions over a number of maritime territorial disputes involving China, notably in the South China Sea, which is believed to be rich in oil and gas and is claimed by several countries.
Dockworkers set off fireworks as the vessel, a refitted old Soviet carrier called the Varyag, returned to port, Xinhua said, adding that the ship would now undergo further work and testing.
"The sea trials carried out by the aircraft carrier on its maiden voyage went smoothly," it said.
China's People's Liberation Army - the world's largest active military - is extremely secretive about its defense programs, which benefit from a huge and expanding military budget boosted by the nation's runaway economic growth.
Earlier this year, China announced military spending would rise 12.7 percent to 601.1 billion yuan ($91.7 billion) in 2011.
In January, China revealed it was developing its first stealth fighter jet. It is also working on an anti-ballistic missile capable of piercing the defenses of even the most sturdy U.S. naval ships.
Japan recently expressed concern about what it called the "opaqueness" of China's military budget, and the U.S. State Department last week called on the country to explain why it needed an aircraft carrier.
"This is part of our larger concern that China is not as transparent as other countries," said spokeswoman Victoria Nuland. "It's not as transparent as the United States about its military acquisitions, about its military budget."
Beijing only recently confirmed it was revamping the old Soviet ship. It has repeatedly insisted that the carrier poses no threat to its neighbors and will be used mainly for training and research purposes.
But a news website run by China's defense ministry took a different stance four days ago, stating that the carrier should handle territorial disputes as well.

Israeli, Chinese Defense Chiefs Meet in Tel Aviv

JERUSALEM - China's chief of staff Gen. Chen Bingde for the first time met his Israeli counterpart, Gen. Benny Gantz, and Defense Minister Ehud Barak in Tel Aviv, the Defense Ministry said in a statement.
"The defense minister and the Chinese chief of staff discussed the situation in the region, relations with the Palestinian Authority and the situation in Pakistan and Iran, as well as the fight against global terrorism," the statement said.
During his trip Chen will "meet senior security officials and attend strategic and security briefings, visit the IDF Urban Warfare Training Centre, and observe a display of IDF forces training," an Israeli military spokesman said earlier.
Israeli army radio has described the visit as "historic."
The Israeli military declined to say how long Chen would be in the country.
In June, Barak made a rare visit to Beijing for talks with Chinese leaders, at the invitation of his Chinese counterpart, Liang Guanglie.
Defense ties had been frosty after U.S. intervention twice scuttled Israeli arms deals with China: the sale of advanced Phalcon spy planes in 2000 and of spare parts for Israeli-built Harpy drones five years later.
Chen's visit comes as Israel seeks to convince the international community to vote against a bid by the Palestinians for recognition of a state at the U.N. General Assembly in September.
Israel has in the past also sought tougher measures from Beijing, a key U.N. Security Council member, against Iran's controversial nuclear program.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

U.S. To Deny Taiwan New F-16 Fighters

Offers AESA Radar in Upgrade for Older Jets
TAIPEI - Bowing to Chinese pressure, the U.S. will deny Taiwan's request for 66 new F-16C/D fighter aircraft, a Taiwan Ministry of National Defense (MND) official said.
An armed U.S.-built F-16 fighter takes off during a drill in April. A Taiwan Ministry of National Defense official says Taipei will not be able to purchase new F-16s and is “so disappointed” in the U.S. decision. (Sam Yeh / Agence France-Presse)
"We are so disappointed in the United States," he said.
A U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) delegation arrived here last week to deliver the news and offer instead a retrofit package for older F-16A/Bs that includes an active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar.
The visit coincided with the biennial Taipei Aerospace and Defense Technology Exhibition (TADTE), held here Aug. 11-14.
"The U.S. Pentagon is here explaining what is in the upgrade package," a U.S. defense industry source said at TADTE. "They are going to split the baby: no C/Ds, but the A/B upgrade is going forward."
Sources said an official announcement of the decision is expected by month's end.
But an official at the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT), the de facto U.S. Embassy, said "no decisions have been made," while DoD officials declined to comment on their delegation's mission.
The proposed upgrade package would make the 146 Taiwanese F-16A/Bs among the most capable variants of the aircraft, perhaps second only to the APG-80 AESA-equipped F-16E/Fs flown by the United Arab Emirates.
Originally requested by Taipei in 2009, the package would cost $4.2 billion, sources at TADTE said.
The new gear would include an AESA radar, likely either Northrop Grumman's Scalable Agile Beam Radar or the Raytheon Advanced Combat Radar, to replace the planes' current APG-66(V)3 radar.
Either one would be an improvement on the Northrop APG-68(V)9 mechanical radar once contemplated for Taiwan's upgrade package. The switch is meant to soften the blow of denying new planes to Taipei, a Lockheed Martin source said.
A decision between the two AESA candidates could foreshadow the U.S. Air Force's own choice as it prepares to upgrade its fleet of F-16s. The upgrade package will also improve the planes' Raytheon ALQ-184(V)7 electronic countermeasures pod by adding the capacity to intercept and save hostile radar transmissions, then use the same frequency to jam them.
However, ITT is offering the ALQ-211 Advanced Integrated Defensive Electronic Warfare Suite pod as an alternative.
ITT is also offering the BRU-57/A Smart Twin Store Carrier, which doubles the number of bombs an F-16 can carry, an ITT source said.
The package would also replace the AIM-9P/M Sidewinder air-to-air missile with the new AIM-9X; fit the planes to carry enhanced GBU-12 Paveway II laser-guided bombs; and add a digital radar warning receiver, helmet-mounted cueing system and center pedestal display.
The package will not include new engines to better handle the additional weight and electrical draw, though there could be an upgrade to bring the existing Pratt & Whitney F100-PW-220 to the PW-220E standard. The upgrade would swap out obsolete parts for newer ones, but wouldn't offer any additional performance.
Lockheed Martin will be working with Taiwan's state-run Aerospace Industrial Development Corp. (AIDC) to integrate the new gear on the jets.
"Changing a fighter's major sensor should not be taken lightly. It is more than electrical capacity. It is the integration of sensors, weapons, displays, etc., that make a fighter aircraft effective," Lockheed spokeswoman Laura Siebert said.

Siebert said the failure to release F-16C/Ds will weaken Lockheed Martin's plans to extend the production line for the fighter.
"While Congress has been notified of Oman and Iraq's desire for F-16s, the Taiwan order for 66 aircraft is very important to the long-term viability of the F-16 production to include the U.S. Air Force, Lockheed Martin and the thousands of suppliers throughout the U.S.," she said.
More than a few TADTE attendees said the Obama administration might reverse the decision as the 2012 presidential election approaches and political pressure for new jobs builds.
A June report by the Perryman Group, a Texas-based economic and financial analysis firm, estimated that Taiwan's F-16C/D program would create more than 16,000 jobs and almost $768 million in U.S. federal tax revenue. Much of that tax revenue and new jobs would go to election battleground states: California, Connecticut, Florida, Maryland, Ohio, Texas and Utah.
But China holds about 8 percent of U.S. debt, the largest block in foreign hands.
As one TADTE attendee said, "Beijing's Kung Fu is better than Washington's."
The denial of the new jets will likely lead AIDC officials to ask the government to expand upgrade plans for Taiwan's 126 Indigenous Defense Fighters, of which 71 are currently slated for upgrades.
The company has also been pushing Taiwan's Air Force to allocate funds for full-rate production of the IDF C/D Goshawk, which features improved range and weapons payload.

In July, the U.S. State Department indicated a final decision on the F-16 issue would be made by Oct. 1. Since 2006, the U.S. has repeatedly denied Taiwan's request for 66 F-16C/D Block 50/52s, a prospective sale estimated at more than $8 billion.
The planes would replace 60 F-5 Tigers and 60 Mirage 2000-5s due for retirement within five to 10 years.
China has called the sale a "red line." A recent editorial in the state-controlled People's Daily called for the use of a "financial weapon" against the U.S. if new F-16s were released.
The U.S. decision comes as a blow to the self-ruled island's effort to counter China's growing military, whose first aircraft carrier began sea trials last week, and therefore to its independence.
There are fears that losing Taiwan could spell the end of U.S. power projection in the region. Losing Taiwan would "change everything from the operational arch perspective to the posture of Japan and the U.S." in the region, said Raytheon's Asia president, Walter Doran, a retired admiral who once commanded the U.S. Pacific Fleet.
Staff writer Dave Majumdar in Washington contributed to this report.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

India Tests BrahMos Block III Supersonic Missile

NEW DELHI - Even as Pakistani and Chinese troops jointly conduct war games close to the Indian border, the Indian Army has tested a supersonic missile, the BrahMos Block III, in the Rajasthan desert.
The supersonic cruise missile can engage inaccessible targets, even inside hillocks. The BrahMos Block III, developed jointly by India and Russia, can scale mountainous terrain and then take a steep dive to engage targets located inside hillocks, officials said.
The BrahMos would be used in the mountainous terrain along the Pakistani and Chinese border.
Citing technical issues, officials said the BrahMos test had been scheduled for Aug. 8 but was postponed to Aug. 12.
An Indian Army official said the BrahMos Block III can engage ground targets from a very low altitude and can reach a speed of Mach 2.8 with a solid propellant rocket for initial acceleration and a liquid fueled ramjet to sustain supersonic cruise.
China's People's Liberation Army 101 Engineering regiment is taking part in land exercises inside Pakistan along the Indian border. This is the first time Chinese and Pakistani troops have been spotted carrying out joint exercises.

Japan Calls for China To Explain Aircraft Carrier

TOKYO - Japan's defense minister called on China on Aug. 12 to explain why it needs an aircraft carrier, after Beijing sparked increased concerns over its military expansion by starting sea trials for the vessel.
"As an aircraft carrier, it is of a highly maneuverable and offensive nature. We want China to explain the reasons why it needs it," Toshimi Kitazawa told reporters.
"There is no doubt that it will have a big impact on the region," he added.
China put the revamped Soviet-built aircraft carrier Varyag to sea on Aug. 10, prompting the United States to call for an explanation.
Beijing has sought to play down the vessel's capability, saying it will mainly be used for training and "research."
In its annual defense report last week, Japan expressed concern over China's growing assertiveness and widening naval reach in nearby waters and the Pacific and over what it called the "opaqueness" of Beijing's military budget.
China criticized the report as "irresponsible," insisting its drive to modernize its forces was entirely defensive.

Norway pulls Falcons back

HELSINKI - Norway has withdrawn its F-16 fighter squadron from NATO's Operation Unified Protector (OUP). The return of the F-16s ends Norway's direct involvement in the operation and the enforcement of NATO's no-fly zone over Libya.
Danish F-16 fighters are seen at the Italian military airport of Sigonella in March. Norway has withdrawn its F-16 fighters from NATO's Libya operation, but Denmark's fighter jets have continued bombing missions. (Mario LaPorta / AFP via Getty Images)
The Norwegian Air Force's squadron, comprising six F-16s, flew 596 missions, almost 10 percent of the total by NATO-aligned aircraft, since March. The aircraft dropped 542 bombs and logged about 2,000 hours of flight time over the four-month period, according to Norwegian Ministry of Defense figures.
The number of missions flown by the aircraft declined in June when two F-16s were recalled to Norway from Souda Airbase in Crete. Britain compensated for the partial withdrawal, sending an extra four Panavia Tornado GR.4 ground-attack jets to replace the F-16s.
By contrast, Denmark's F-16 fighter squadron, which joined the operation in early April, dropped some 705 bombs, including seven precision bombs, on Libya, according to the latest data from the Danish Ministry of Defense.
In recent weeks, six Danish Air Force F-16s have been engaged in bombing missions on targets located between Zlitan and the Libyan capital Tripoli. Targets have included military depots and support facilities.
The Libyan mission cost the Danes up to $16 million a month, a figure that excludes capital outlay to replace precision missiles, bombs and other munitions. The Danes' core arsenal includes GBU-49 type 500-pound bombs and 1-ton bunker killer BLU-109 warheads.
The Zlitan area, which lies 160 kilometers east of Tripoli, has seen increased fighting between rebel groups and forces loyal to the Libyan leader, Moammar Gadhafi, in recent weeks.

Gadhafi Unable to Launch Offensive: NATO

MONTREAL - Forces loyal to Libyan strongman Moammar Gadhafi are no longer able to launch a credible military offensive, the commander of NATO-led Libyan operations told AFP in an interview Aug. 11.
"The Gadhafi regime's forces continue to be weakened, both in strength and their will to fight," Canada's Lieutenant-General Charles Bouchard said, speaking from his Italy headquarters, as rebel troops made new advances.
"They are no longer able to launch a credible offensive," he added.
NATO was authorized in March by U.N. Security Council resolution 1973 to defend Libya's civilian population from attacks by Colonel Gadhafi's regime, which faced a popular revolt after 42 years in power.
As NATO-led airstrikes have helped the rebels on the ground without managing to decisively turn the tide in the conflict, Gadhafi has brought in fighters from other African countries to bolster his embattled forces.
"We're seeing lots of mercenaries, ruthless mercenaries that come from other countries and are enlisted by Gadhafi's forces to inflict extreme violence on men, women and children," Bouchard said.
"The recruiting of these mercenaries continues," he said. "There is a growing demand for their services which lends credibility to the fact that Gadhafi's forces are being affected by NATO's actions as well as defections of generals, policemen and even politicians."
The rebels, meanwhile, have treaded water since scoring early victories that led to their control of Cyrenaica in the west, and enclaves in Tripoli.
Today, there's "activity" on three fronts, in Brega in the east, and in Misrata and Jebel Nefoussa in the west. Gadhafi forces are "shooting blindly on civilians," Bouchard said.
"On the three fronts, we're seeing changes as anti-Gadhafi forces march forward to stop the attacks on the population," he added.
Gadhafi's regime this week accused NATO airstrikes on the village of Majer of killing 85 people, including women and children, south of the disputed city of Zliten.
"I can assure you that the target was a legitimate one that contained mercenaries, a command centre and 4x4 vehicles modified with automatic weapons, rocket launchers or mortars," Bouchard said.
"I cannot believe that 85 civilians were present when we struck in the wee hours of the morning and given our intelligence" on the target, he added.
"I can assure you that there wasn't 85 civilians present, but I cannot assure you that there were none at all."
"Frankly, I cannot say if there were any civilian deaths or how many," said the general, who accused Gadhafi forces of often leaving already dead corpses at military sites after they have been leveled by NATO airstrikes to make the bombings appear like blunders.
The NATO mission is due to wrap up in September unless it is extended by states participating in it, including Britain, Canada, France, Italy and the United States. Their governments are under increasing fiscal pressure to pull back.
And if the mission "Unified Protector" is not renewed? "It's just speculation," said Bouchard. "My goal is to bring this conflict to an end before the mission is over."

Denmark Extends Libya Mission

COPENHAGEN - Denmark decided Aug. 11 to extend its participation in NATO operations in Libya for three months and to allow the rebel National Transitional Council to send envoys to Copenhagen.
Denmark's multi-party Libya contact group announced at a news conference the Scandinavian country's six F-16 fighter jets would continue participating in NATO bombing missions over Libya for another three-month renewable period after the current one expires later this month.
"There is a broad agreement that the strategy we have chosen is the right one," Danish Foreign Minister Lene Espersen told AFP after the news conference.
She insisted that Denmark's participation in the NATO operations was creating a possibility for Libya to become a free and democratic society.
"But the pressure must remain on (Libyan leader Moammar) Gadhafi, so we will maintain our strategy, but adjust it so that it fits the developments of the past couple of months," she said, adding there were no plans to pull the Danish fighters out of Libya any time soon.
"We agree that Denmark must be patient and steadfast. We will continue both the military pressure on Gadhafi and our political efforts to find a political solution to the problems in Libya," Espersen told AFP.
The foreign minister added that Denmark was prepared to welcome envoys from the NTC as representatives of their country, after Copenhagen on Aug. 9 declared the two remaining Libyan diplomats appointed by the Gadhafi regime persona non grata.
"We have chosen to say that we are positively inclined to letting the National Transitional Council have a political representative in Denmark in order to have a partner for political dialogue so we are also able to ensure they move along the road of democracy," Espersen said.
She stressed the TNC had not yet applied for such a post, and it was not yet clear whether such a representative would be able to move into Libya's now empty embassy.
Other parties said they supported the strategy.
"I hope we soon see an end-date (for military operations), but that depends on when Gadhafi leaves the scene," Mogens Lykketoft, the foreign policy spokesman of the main opposition Social Democrats, told AFP.
The Socialist People's Party also agreed with the decision, and the party's defense spokesman Holger Nielsen told AFP that if the left-leaning opposition wins general elections - set to be held in Denmark no later than November - it would not shift the strategy.
"We have broad consensus among most political parties in parliament about this military mission, so I do not see any changes in the Danish policy towards Libya," he said.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Andrew Yang

Taiwan's Deputy Defense Minister

Taiwan's Ministry of National Defense (MND) continues to maintain a strong deterrence in the face of a growing Chinese military threat. The island state's future is uncertain as the U.S. and China grow closer and Washington wavers on the sale of new F-16 fighter jets. This makes Nien-Dzu "Andrew" Yang's role as the MND's policy coordinator a challenge.
Andrew Yang is Taiwan's deputy defense minister. (Patrick Lin / AFP via Getty Images)
The stakes are high. Should China capture or confederate Taiwan, the potential is great for destabilizing the region. China, which continues to threaten to impose unification by force, has more than 1,400 short-range ballistic missiles aimed at Taiwan. The MND, meanwhile, faces budget constraints as it struggles to implement an all-volunteer force, begin an expensive streamlining program, pay for $16 billion in new U.S. arms released since 2007, and convince Washington to sell it F-16s and submarines. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced recently the decision would be made by Oct. 1.
Adding to the confusion, since 2008, China and Taiwan have signed historic economic agreements that are moving them closer together. Taiwan has just opened the floodgates for mainland Chinese visitors, prompting fears of an increase in espionage and agents of influence here.
Yang is a former secretary-general of the Chinese Council of Advanced Policy Studies and adviser to the Mainland Affairs Council, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the MND.
Q. China now has unprecedented influence over the U.S. with its economic, diplomatic and military muscle. How can Taiwan expect the U.S. to continue to defend Taiwan?
A. We are certainly aware that Beijing is a very important global and regional power and has close mutual interests with the United States. High-level visits are becoming regular in intensity. Beijing is increasing their influence over Washington decision-making not only over Taiwan, but over other important regional and global issues.
We firmly believe that Washington still plays great influence in Asia and has repeatedly made strong commitments to regional security. Taiwan is a very important factor contributing to the multilateral effort to preserve peace and stability in this region. So I do not think the United States will tip over to Beijing's side and ignore its vested interest in the Asia-Pacific region, particularly Taiwan. The U.S. has repeatedly emphasized they will continue to honor the Taiwan Relations Act and provide adequate and necessary articles to enhance our self-defense.
Q. How has the U.S. reacted to a reduction of tension between China and Taiwan since Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou's 2008 election?
A. The U.S. fully supports President Ma's strategy and approaches. They consider his approach as a way to de-escalate tensions and find opportunities to enhance peace dividends and to reduce misunderstanding and miscalculation. This has, in a way, made Beijing less belligerent toward Taiwan.
Q. Has China reduced the military threat against Taiwan, or the number of missiles aimed at Taiwan?
A. No, they have not done anything yet. There has been nothing from Beijing's top leadership on the issue. I think Beijing considers that both sides can create a new kind of status quo based on engagement. It doesn't mean that Beijing is reducing its military preparations over Taiwan, but they have to think twice in terms of their approach.
There are more mutual interests involved, not just between Taiwan and mainland China, but also multilateral interests in this region, which Beijing needs to continue to develop its economy and stabilize its society. So Beijing has to make some kind of calculation here - whether to rock the boat for the sake of pursuing Beijing's unification policy, either by force or by other means; or work side-by-side with Taiwan and regional partners to create a more stable, peaceful and prosperous environment.
Q. As the U.S. becomes economically weaker and defense budgets are slashed, many in China see the U.S. as a declining superpower. Will this encourage Chinese adventurism?
A. If you look at Chinese President Hu Jintao's visit to Washington earlier this year, it seems to me that from the policymaker's point of view, they don't look at each other as enemies. That's number one. They are still reaching out to each other to the best of their ability to create a win-win situation. From Chinese leaders' comments, they are not taking advantage of U.S. weakness to advance Chinese strategic or national interests in this region. They still emphasize that China should work along with the U.S. to resolve many problems around the world.
Q. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has said the U.S. will decide about the sale of 66 F-16C/D fighters by Oct. 1. What do you think Beijing's reaction will be if the U.S. releases new F-16s to Taiwan? China calls it a "red line."
A. They will be extremely unpleasant and upset, as they always are. They've been calling everything a red line for 30 years, ever since 1979, when the U.S. switched relations from Taipei to Beijing.
If we don't get the F-16C/Ds to replace our vintage fighters, then we lose our leverage and immediately face the challenge of fulfilling our responsibility of preserving peace and stability in the region. Washington sometimes does not get the right picture of Taiwan's responsibility. That is part of the reason we want new fighters. Otherwise, the U.S. has to send its own military to replace our daily patrols in the region.
China has already sent a strong warning to Washington that if such a decision is adopted, then U.S.-China relations will be damaged. Cutting off regular military exchanges is one way to show Beijing's animosity. But if we look at previous experiences, they will be downgraded for a while, but they have strong mutual interests binding each other together. So they have to make a decision on what will be the next step.
Q. Economic sanctions?
A. I don't think Beijing will take drastic economic actions against the U.S., because they have a lot of investments, including huge foreign reserves in U.S. banks. If the U.S. economy suffers, Beijing suffers.
Q. The U.S. offered Taiwan eight submarines in 2001, but the deal has been stalled. What's the status?
A. It's a long-delayed decision by the U.S. We are constantly urging them to pay attention to our concerns because we consider submarines to be important to our self-defense.
Q. What would happen if China took control of Taiwan and placed bases here?
A. It opens the door for Chinese military and power projection not only into the East China Sea, but also into the South China Sea. Taiwan would become an important hub and stepping stone for China to exert and expand its presence in the South China Sea, which is certainly not in the U.S. interest. It would immediately challenge U.S. strategic calculations and its security umbrella in the Asia-Pacific region. If Taiwan becomes part of China in terms of political integration in the future, then immediately the United States will lose a vital interest in this part of the world.
Q. There has been talk about beefing up Taiwan's military presence on Taiping Island in the South China Sea.
A. We are not ruling out our options. But the current decision adopted by the National Security Council and the president is to improve and reinforce the Coast Guard's capability on the island. So the Marines are training the Coast Guard members stationed on the island. We are also evaluating whether they can actually perform the assigned responsibilities and duties to protect the island and conduct judicial patrol over the waters.
We will never allow China to step onto the island. It is part of our territory, under our management. There is no room for compromise.
Q. Is the primary Chinese military threat amphibious invasion or missile bombardment?
A. It's a combination. They have all sorts of options at hand.
Of course, Beijing will use the minimum military option to achieve maximum political objectives. Our way of defending ourselves is to make sure they pay a high price and cannot succeed in achieving their political objectives. We have to make sure that if Beijing launches missiles against Taiwan, they cannot immediately compromise our defense and force Taiwan to come to terms with Beijing.
Q. Is the streamlining program still on schedule? You are going from conscription to an all-volunteer military force.
A. It is very much on schedule. By law, we have to implement this streamlining process starting in January. We have to implement the all-volunteer program.
It's an incremental process. We are not targeting any particular date to complete this transformation. Certainly, they are predicated on continuous sufficient resource allocation and support from the legislature.
Q. Do you worry about Beijing becoming more nationalistic, more aggressive?
A. It is always a major concern. China is a dynamic society. You have many forces inside China. People only talk about the good side of Chinese development, but not many pay great attention to the challenges and the difficulties.
They are facing increasing domestic problems. We hope the Chinese government can have better management of those problems, but you never know. We worry about succession. Beijing is going to have a top leadership change next year, so who will be the official leader? What does he think about Taiwan? What will be his priorities? We don't want to wake up to a renegade in charge of China who fires missiles over the Taiwan Strait.
Q. How good is Taiwan's intelligence inside China?
A. We are collecting good stuff, at least from our neighborhood. We also share our intelligence during regular meetings with the United States and others. We are much better off than our counterparts, like Japan and the U.S. The U.S. has its satellite images, but we have our human intelligence, and our analysts are resourceful. We have analysts who have spent 30 years watching China.
Ministry Profile
Established as the Ministry of War in 1912 in China; became the Ministry of National Defense in 1946. Moved to Taiwan in 1949 at the end of the Chinese Civil War.
Defense budget:
■ $10.2 billion for 2011
■ $11.2 billion projected for 2012
Troop strength:
■ 275,000 currently
■ 215,000 projected for 2014