Monday, May 30, 2011

Controlling Asia's Arms Race

The Indonesian Navy's reportedly successful test-launch of a Russian-built Yakhont supersonic anti-ship missile over a distance of 250 kilometers on April 20 highlighted the growing ability of Asian militaries to destroy targets at long range. These countries are also expanding their capacity to deploy more substantial forces over greater distances.
It is true that buying new equipment does not auto-matically improve military capability. But when bolstered by developments in doctrine, training, C4ISR, logistical support and joint-service operations, and placed in an environment where the local defense industry is increasingly able to adapt, and in some cases produce, advanced systems, it is clear that many armed forces are improving their all-around capabilities.
In its latest annual edition of The Military Balance, the International Institute for Strategic Studies (which has a Singapore-based Asian branch) highlighted significant shifts in the distribution of relative military strength away from the West and toward Asia. While economic problems are undermining defense spending in the United States and Europe, Asia is becoming increasingly militarized.
Sustained economic growth in Asia is boosting resources to the armed forces, which often leverage their substantial political clout for material benefit in authoritarian or semi-democratic political systems.
In recent months, much media coverage has justifiably focused on developments in China's People's Liberation Army, notably its aircraft carrier and J-20 fifth-generation combat aircraft programs. But the PLA's anti-ship missile and submarine programs, which receive less media attention, are perhaps more strategically important, particularly for the U.S. Navy.
Military developments in other Asian states are also significant. India has major procurement programs underway, including the Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft competition, and is expanding its own aircraft carrier capabilities. South Korea is quite rapidly building a blue-water navy.
In Southeast Asia, several states - notably Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam - are investing in air and naval capabilities. And despite stagnant defense spending and the recent national disasters, Japan's revised National Defense Program Guidelines foresee major capability improvements.
The Asian strategic context, cha-racterized by a major power balance in long-term flux, widespread suspicion among Asian states and a range of latent conflicts that could worsen, provides rationales to expand military capabilities.
It is well known that concerns over China's relentlessly growing power and assertiveness, doubts over the future U.S. strategic role, escalating anxiety over North Korea's nuclear and missile programs, not to mention its generally aggressive behavior, and renewed worries about Taiwan's security influence Asian states' defense choices. These rationales constitute the conventional wisdom and allow many Asian governments to justify boosting military spending.
What makes contemporary Asian military modernization programs dangerous is that they often reflect undeclared efforts to hedge against the ulterior motives of other regional players. This is leading to potentially destabilizing interaction among defense strategies, doctrines and capability development programs.
China's strategists are viewing military power not just in the context of Taiwan but in relation to the country's territorial claims in the East and South China Seas. Some Southeast Asian states are upgrading their armed forces not on the basis of their overt, but anodyne, military modernization explanations, but because they want to deter adventurism by China - and by each other - in the South China Sea.
South Korea's defense planners think not just about a potential meltdown on the peninsula but also Korea's possible strategic rivalry with Japan in a post-unification scenario. And as China's Navy expands its operations into the Indian Ocean, India thinks increasingly in terms of balancing its major-power rival.
While boosting conventional deterrence may be the leitmotif of these developments, there is great emphasis on developing capabilities that could be used offensively and possibly pre-emptively.
Whether or not there is an arms race in Asia is a favorite essay topic for university courses in international relations and security studies. But this is a curiously semantic debate. It is evident that contemporary military developments in Asia closely resemble neither the pre-1914 Anglo-German naval arms race nor the U.S.-Soviet missile race of the 1960s.
However, it also is clear there is a real danger of multiple and wastefully expensive subregional military competitions destabilizing Asia's security, and that there are no effective regional security institutions to mitigate this threat.
The 10th IISS Shangri-La Dialogue, on June 3-5 in Singapore, will be a useful venue to increase transparency in regard to defense policies and military modernization. However, now is the time to creatively think about how to develop and implement arms control measures in a multipolar region where strategic amity and enmity are both unclear and in flux.
By Tim Huxley, executive director of the International Institute for Strategic Studies-Asia in Singapore.

F-22 Getting New Brain

It has proved so difficult and expensive to upgrade the F-22 Raptor, whose stealthy body contains sensors and electronic brains, that the U.S. Air Force may take the unprecedented step of threading what amounts to a second central nervous system into a fighter jet.
By introducing an open architecture to one of the world's most tightly knit proprietary systems, service officials hope to make it much cheaper and easier to insert new technology - even gear developed for the F-35 Lightning II - into the stealthy air-superiority fighter.
"This jet has a very highly integrated avionics system. Because of that tight coupling and that highly integrated nature, it makes it very difficult, and we are highly reliant upon [Raptor makers] Lockheed Martin and Boeing to do any kinds of modifications to the jet," said David Weber, deputy director of the F-22 System Program Office (SPO) at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio.
Weber said the open-architecture effort is meant to allow the Air Force to open upgrade work to competition.
Today, he said, "the architecture is proprietary to Lockheed Martin, and we're kinda stuck with Lockheed Martin when we want to integrate something new."
Weber said the work is at such an early stage that the F-22 SPO has no guess how much it might cost.
This year, service officials plan to study the options, in part by issuing a request for information inviting contractors to suggest demonstration projects to help flesh out the alternatives.
"All of them have different ideas about how to go about doing this," Weber said.
In October through December, the service will award contracts to allow contractors to demonstrate ideas in a lab or flying testbed, said Col. John Williams, who runs the F-22 SPO's modernization office.
The SPO officials said Boeing and Lockheed would be welcome to bid on the demonstration contracts.
Lockheed, which had earlier proposed to essentially port the hardware and software architecture of the F-35 Lightning II into the Raptor, might respond to the Air Force solicitation with a similar proposal, said Jeff Babione, Lockheed's Raptor program manager. But Babione said the company might propose a different solution, depending on the service's requirements.
The Air Force will ultimately select one contractor to install the new architecture on its Raptors - ideally, said Weber, all 185 that will be built, less two losses.
"From our perspective, the fleet size is so small compared to where we wanted to be, our objective would be to make this applicable to all aircraft," he said.
The SPO deputy director said it may be deemed too costly to install the new architecture on the 34 oldest Raptors, which are currently used for training. Those planes are also not slated to get the Increment 3.2 upgrade, the next major group of hardware and software upgrades for the Raptor fleet.
But Weber noted that the new architecture might also make it cost-effective to bring those oldest Raptors up to the 3.2 standard.
If all goes well, development work could begin in earnest around 2014 as part of the development of Increment 3.2C, which is slated to begin installation in 2019 or 2020, he said.
Grafting On
As currently envisioned, the new network would be grafted onto the F-22's existing avionics, Weber said. The twin-engine jet's current network would continue to carry data between existing components, while upgraded ones would be linked by the new network. The data from both architectures would be translated and fused so that the jet continues to operate as a cohesive whole.
The installation of the new architecture might happen in one step, or it might proceed piece by piece, Williams said.
"Potentially, you could do it multiple times based on what you're trying to open up," he said. "You're opening up the [communication, navigation and identification]; maybe you're opening up the radar more, something like that. You may actually have multiple guys doing it, but it will be to a common standard."
As more systems are ported over to the new architecture, the older systems would wither away.
"Gradually, you'd have to start migrating some of the functions that we currently have in our core integrated processor away from the core integrated processor, so that everything doesn't flow through that piece," Williams said.
It may or may not be possible to migrate all of the Raptor's functionality.
"It depends on the degree we can open up the architecture," Weber said.
Lockheed's Babione said it might not be cost-effective to move everything to the new system.
The F-22 has received one upgrade - called Increment 2 - since it first arrived on Air Force flight lines in 2005. Those upgrades have added the capability to drop two 1,000-pound Joint Direct Attack Munitions to the aircraft.
A planned upgrade, called Increment 3.1 and slated to begin this year, will add synthetic aperture radar mapping, the capability to carry eight Small Diameter Bombs, and other features.
In 2014, a software-only upgrade called Increment 3.2A will add electronic protection against jamming, better Link 16 receive capability and combat identification, and other improvements. In 2017, Increment 3.2B will add support for the plane's AIM-9X short-range and AIM-120D medium-range anti-air missiles, among many other upgrades.
In 2008, then-Pentagon acquisition chief John Young put the total cost of developing and installing Increment 3.1 and what became 3.2A and 3.2B at around $8 billion. The figure has likely gone up because the Air Force now plans to upgrade more F-22s.
Once the new architecture is installed, "if we want a new capability on the airplane, we can go out to industry with an RfI [request for information] and say, 'You all got good ideas; can you make it work with this architecture?'" Weber said.
The ultimate goal is to allow systems such as new radars to be "plug-and-play," as a printer might be to a desktop computer, he said.
This might allow the Raptor to use technology developed for the F-35 Lightning II without time-consuming and expensive integration work, Williams said. Ë

Obama Announces Joint Chiefs Appointments

President Obama on May 30 nominated U.S. Army Chief of Staff Gen. Martin E. Dempsey to be the next chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Among the appointments announced May 30 were U.S. Army Gen. Martin Dempsey, third from right, as Joint Chiefs chairman; U.S. Navy Adm. James Winnefeld, second from right, as JCS vice chair; and U.S. Army Gen. Ray Odierno, right, as Army leader. (Chris Maddaloni / Staff)
If confirmed by the U.S. Senate, Dempsey will replace U.S. Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, who retires Sept. 30.
Dempsey's promotion came less than two months after he took over as the Army's 37th chief of staff.
Obama called Dempsey "one of our nations most respected and combat tested generals. In Iraq he led our soldiers against a brutal insurgency," Obama said. "Having trained Iraqi forces he knows that nations must ultimately take responsibility for their own security."
Obama continued, "I expect [Dempsey] to push all our forces to continue adapting and innovating to be ready for the missions of today and tomorrow."
Obama also announced that he has chosen U.S. Navy Adm. James "Sandy" Winnefeld Jr., currently commander of U.S. Northern Command and the North American Aerospace Defense Command, to be vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs. Winnefeld took command of NORTHCOM and NORAD in May 2010. Winnefeld, too, will also have to be confirmed by the Senate.
In a statement, Mullen praised the appointments of Dempsey and Winnefeld.
"Both men are extraordinary leaders, who will provide the Secretary of Defense and the President not only their best military advice, but also the great benefit of their decades of military experience and their command in combat operations.
"I know, too, that they will represent faithfully and stridently the 2.2 million men and women in uniform, as well as their families."
Obama called Dempsey "one of our nation's most respected and combat-tested generals."
Dempsey, 59, was sworn in April 11, replacing Gen. George Casey Jr., who served four years as chief of staff. Dempsey had been commander of Training and Doctrine Command. Obama also joked about Dempsey's short term as Army chief, saying "your tenure as chief may go down as one of the shortest in Army history."
Dempsey's family has deep Army roots; all three of Dempsey's children have served in the Army, and Maj. Christopher Dempsey is currently on active duty.
Winnefeld will replace U.S. Marine Gen. James "Hoss" Cartwright, current service vice chief of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. For months Cartwright had been considered the front runner to replace Mullen.
"Sandy knows we have to be prepared for the full range of challenges," Obama said.
Moving Dempsey up left an opening for the U.S. Army chief job, one that Obama said would be filled by the former top U.S. commander in Iraq, Gen. Ray Odierno.
Dempsey leaves the Army at a time of significant transition - and a time when nearly half the service's four-star generals are at or nearing retirement.
Dempsey was chosen over Cartwright, who was often called Obama's favorite general and considered the front-runner to replace Mullen.
Obama praised Cartwright saying "I've also benefitted from the advice and counsel of Hoss Cartwright. I'll always be personally grateful to Hoss for his friendship and partnership."
Cartwright's management style has met increasing criticism, and a Pentagon investigation into claims of misconduct with a young female aide hurt his chances. The Pentagon's inspector general cleared Cartwright of the most serious claims, which suggested he'd had an improper relationship with the woman. But the investigation found that he mishandled an incident in which the aide was drunk and either passed out or fell asleep in his hotel room, where he was working, as his security personnel stood nearby.
Dempsey has significant combat experience. He served two tours in Iraq and served as acting commander of Central Command.
Dempsey's appointment as Joint Chiefs chairman, along with the appointment of Gen. David Petraeus to head the CIA, would put combat vets at the top of national security chain. Despite 10 years at war, a soldier has not served in the military's top position since U.S. Army Gen. Hugh Shelton retired in 2001.
Dempsey's replacement, Odierno, took the helm at U.S. Joint Forces Command on Oct. 29, but Defense Secretary Robert Gates had already decided to close the $1 billion command in less than a year - and promised Odierno a better job to follow.
Insiders say Odierno was neck-and-neck with Dempsey for the Army chief's spot earlier this year. He led forces in Iraq from September 2008 to September 2010 and the Multi-National Corps in Iraq from December 2006 to February 2008. The field artillery officer is most noted as the operational architect of the 2007 surge that significantly reduced violence in Iraq, and contributed greatly to the subsequent drawdown of U.S. forces there.
The leadership changes come at a time when many of the Army's top officers are growing long in the tooth.
There currently are 12 four-star generals on the books, not including Dempsey. Four are entering retirement: Casey, Petraeus, Gen. Walter Sharp and Gen. William Ward. Four of the remaining eight have a 2008 date-of-rank: Chiarelli, Odierno, Gen. Ann Dunwoody and Gen. Carter Ham.
Like Gens. James Thurman and Lloyd Austin, Gen. Keith Alexander was promoted in 2010. Gen. Robert Cone received his fourth star this year.
U.S. Army's change of plans
Dempsey's promotion will likely cause a delay in the forthcoming roadmap to the future.
Dempsey planned to unveil his modernization plan to build the Army of 2020 on the Army's birthday in mid-June. That Army that will look different from today's Army in many ways, he said.
Most analysts agree that Dempsey now will likely withhold those details to allow the next chief to pen his own plan.
No matter who signs his name on the dotted line, the plans would likely address many of the same issues.
Topping that list is a plan to cut 22,000 active-duty soldiers by the end of 2013, and a combined 27,000 in 2015 and 2016. The Obama administration plans to cut another $400 billion from the defense budget, and there are many questions regarding whether troops will be cut to provide some of those savings.
There also is the push to add a third battalion to Brigade Combat Teams, the need to rightly balance heavy and light forces and the integration of the Guard and Reserve.
But arguably the biggest burden resting on the next chief is the need to overhaul the way requirements become procurement

Rebels Claim Top Libyan Officers Defecting

DUBAI - Eight senior officers of Moammar Gadhafi's military, including four generals, have defected, a rebel leader said May 30.
"Eight senior officers of Gadhafi brigades, including four generals, joined the revolution," said Mahmoud Shammam, head of information for the National Transitional Council, the body which controls rebel-held eastern Libya.
"The eight soldiers are currently in Rome and they will speak to reporters during a news conference in the afternoon [of May 30]," Shammam said by telephone from the Italian capital.
Without offering details, he said the eight defectors passed through Tunisia.
A group of Libyan soldiers, including several senior officers, arrived by sea in Tunisia on May 27, the Tunisian official news agency TAP reported.
According to TAP, 34 people from Libya, including civilians and soldiers, arrived in southern Tunisia aboard two boats.

India, Pakistan Hold Talks on Strategic Glacier

NEW DELHI - Top defense officials from India and Pakistan kicked off talks May 30 over a disputed glacier high in the Himalayas where troops have clashed intermittently for decades.
The two-day meeting in New Delhi between Indian Defence Secretary Pradeep Kumar and his Pakistani counterpart Syed Ather Ali is part of the slow-moving peace process aimed at bringing lasting stability to South Asia.
India broke off all contact with Pakistan in the wake of the 2008 Mumbai attacks, which were staged by the Pakistan-based militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba according to Indian and Western intelligence.
An Indian defence ministry official said the two secretaries met behind closed doors, where they were to discuss the militarized 20,800-foot high Siachen glacier in Kashmir.
India in 1984 sent troops and occupied strategic areas on the glacier, raising fears of another full-blown war between the neighbors, and three years later the militaries fought a fierce skirmish in the region.
The two armies clashed intermittently until a ceasefire in November 2003, but the fierce cold and harsh conditions are thought to have cost more lives than combat - the temperature on the world's highest battlefield drops to minus-70 degrees Celsius (minus-94 degrees Fahrenheit) in winter.
A security analyst said the ongoing talks on Siachen, which is about 47 miles long and nearly three miles wide, may not bear fruit.
"Right now, our position is that 'you mark your ground positions on the map and give us an assurance that once we vacate [Indian posts] you will not occupy,' " retired Indian Maj. Gen. Ashok Mehta said.
"Pakistan will, of course, not agree to that and so it will be zero outcome and we will meet once again," the Indian analyst said, referring to 11 previous unsuccessful meetings over the icy mass.
India wants "iron-clad" proof of existing Pakistani military positions to dissuade Pakistan from moving its soldiers forward in the event of troop withdrawals.
Relations between the estranged neighbors, who have fought three wars since independence from Britain in 1947, have improved over the last year after contacts between prime ministers and other senior government figures.
But India has recently sharpened its criticism of Pakistan and its alleged state funding of militant groups in the wake of the death of Osama bin Laden.
At the weekend, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said the leadership in Islamabad must "wake up" to the "terror machine", while Home Minister P. Chidambaram warned last week that Pakistan was becoming a "fragile" state.
India considers the Siachen glacier strategic because of its location between China and both the Pakistani- and Indian-controlled zones of divided Kashmir.

Taiwan Happy With U.S. Senate Push for F-16 Sale

TAIPEI - Taiwan on May 29 said it welcomed a push by nearly half the U.S. Senate for the sale of dozens of F-16 fighters to the island in an arms deal Taipei said would help its dealings with China.
A Taiwanese Air Force F-16 releases flares in December 2008 during a live-fire drill at Paolishan, southern Taiwan. The island wants to buy F-16s and other weaponry from the United States. (File photo / Agence France-Presse)
In a letter to President Obama last week, 45 senators urged the administration to swiftly approve the sale of 66 F-16C/Ds to Taiwan as the fast-expanding Chinese forces tip the military balance in the region, the foreign ministry said.
"We're pleased to see the bipartisan move in the U.S. Senate," foreign ministry spokesman James Chang said.
"The arms sale will help Taiwan boost its self-defense capabilities, thus giving it more leverage while engaging the Chinese mainland," he said.
Ties between Taiwan and China have improved markedly since 2008 after Ma Ying-jeou of the China-friendly Kuomintang party came to power on a platform of beefing up trade links and allowing in more Chinese tourists.
Taiwan applied to the U.S. government to buy 66 F-16 fighters in early 2007, but observers say Washington has held up the deal for fear of angering Beijing.
The United States in January 2010 approved a $6.4 billion arms package to Taiwan, prompting a furious Beijing to halt military exchanges and security talks with Washington.
During a trip to the United States earlier this month, Chinese People's Liberation Army Chief of Staff Gen. Chen Bingde renewed his objection to any U.S. arms sales to Taiwan.

Lockheed: Little to No Damage from Cyberattack

WASHINGTON - Major U.S. defense contractor Lockheed Martin said May 29 it was investigating the source of a major cyber-attack one week ago against its information network, the company said.
"Lockheed Martin detected a significant and tenacious attack on its information systems network," the company said in a news statement released late May 28.
The company said the cyber-assault took place on May 21, and that quick action by its security team successfully repelled the attack.
"No customer, program or employee personal data has been compromised," Lockheed's statement said, adding that federal authorities had been notified.
"Throughout the ongoing investigation, Lockheed Martin has continued to keep the appropriate U.S. government agencies informed of our actions," the company said.
President Obama has been briefed about the attack, White House spokesman Jay Carney said.
"It has been part of the briefing materials that he has," Carney said. "My understanding, based on what I've seen, is they feel it's fairly minimal in terms of the damage."
Lockheed Martin said its officials are working "around the clock to restore employee access to the network, while maintaining the highest level of security."
It did not mention the suspected source of the cyber-attack.
The company's information security team detected the attack almost immediately and took what is described as "aggressive actions" to protect all systems and data, the statement added.
The statement said that despite the attack, the company remains confident in the integrity of its "robust, multi-layered information systems security."
Federal officials, for their part, told U.S. media that the consequences of the attack for the Pentagon and other agencies was "minimal," and no adverse effect on their operations was expected.
Headquartered in Bethesda, Md., Lockheed Martin employs about 126,000 people worldwide. It focuses on design, development and manufacturing of advanced technology systems, including some of the military's most advanced weaponry.
Seventy-four percent of the company's 2009 revenue came from military sales, according to published reports.
Lockheed Martin's products included the Trident missile, P-3 Orion spy plane, F-16 and F-22 fighter jets, and C-130 Hercules military cargo planes among many other major weapons systems.
The company is a primary developer of stealth technology used in U-2 and SR-71 reconnaissance aircraft, the F-117 fighter jet as well as the F-22 and F-35 Joint Strike Fighter designs.
The corporation's 2010 sales from continuing operations reached $45.8 billion.
However, the stealth Joint Strike Fighter program has faced delays and cost overruns, and the Pentagon overhauled the program last year.
The initial estimate for each F-35 Joint Strike Fighter aircraft was $50 million eight years ago, but more recent estimates were up to $92 million.
Meanwhile, NASA announced last week that a new spacecraft to ferry humans into deep space would be based on designs for the Orion crew exploration vehicle built by Lockheed Martin.
The Orion capsule, originally designed to take astronauts back to the moon, is a surviving component of the Constellation manned space exploration program canceled by Obama last year for being behind schedule and over budget.
The capsule will weigh 23 tons and NASA has no date set for a potential launch, said Douglas Cooke, associate administrator for NASA's exploration systems mission directorate.
There is also no final cost associated with the project.
Lockheed Martin is to continue its work on building the space capsule begun in 2006.