Reuters reports that titanium originating from China was found in some US aircraft and may also have been used in SM-3 missiles, in violation of the Berry Amendment. The Aerospace Industries Association (AIA) raised years ago the issue [PDF] that documentation compliance down to the nuts and bolts level is impractical at best. The case for tightly controlling components subject to tampering is solid. Prohibiting the use of fungible commodity materials based on country of origin in a globalized economy makes much less sense.
Exelis and L-3 are expanding their export push as US demand for night vision goggles collapsed, but France’s Photonis, unimpeded by crippling ITAR regulations, got a head start.
Austal has announced a $124.9 million contract for a pair of High Speed Support Vessel (HSSVs) catamarans, from “a naval customer in the Middle East…. to support naval operations, including helicopter operations, rapid deployment of military personnel and cargo, and search and rescue”.
The Republic of Singapore Air Force currently relies on 4 re-engined KC-135R aerial refueling tankers, in order to extend the range of its fighter jets, and perform some long-range transport and cargo missions. This means that they share their aircraft type with the USAF, but it also means that they share the problems and rising operating costs that accompany aging aircraft.
In February 2012, the RSAF set a process in motion to replace their KC-135Rs with a new refueling aircraft. Two of the expected contenders are familiar. The 3rd is less so.
Crimea is to set up its “own” law enforcement and security services, according to Russia’s state-funded RIA Novosti, which also claims [in Russian], without noting any apparent contradiction, that the Crimean Supreme Council submitted a request to join Russia.
One important observation that governments around the world will draw from how the Ukraine crisis is resolved is whether it is wise to give up nuclear weapons in exchange for security guarantees, as implies the joint US/UK/Ukraine statement about the Budapest Memorandum.
As China’s “parliament” convenes for the 2nd session of the 12th NPC, the country is announcing another year of double-digit defense spending growth, with a budget up 12.2% to 802.2B yuan (about $131B). This growth rate is notable not just for its high level, but more importantly for its decorrelation from GDP growth. Up until recently, China could claim it was playing catch up with its military spending, thanks to a booming economy emerging from the medieval levels of poverty previously inflicted by Mao. But as of early 2014 GDP has officially been growing at about 7.7% for 7 quarters in a row, slightly below the 2012 growth level (7.8%) when the defense budget had increased by 10.7%.
In other words, while its economic growth rate continues to cool down, China is increasing the relative growth rate of its defense budget, and it is doing so from a higher base, compounding the year/year growth in absolute terms. China is adding about $14B to its defense budget, or about a quarter of Japan’s total. China downplays this by pointing out dubious ratios such as defense spending/GDP, spending/capita, or even making land mass comparisons as if having strategic depth was a liability! Isn’t it convenient to be the world’s most populated country?
Japan’s ministry of defense posted their account (with maps) of Chinese aircraft operating in the East China Sea over the last two years. Japan has been scrambling jets sometimes several times a day in response, though in fairness, there was just a single episode of China intruding on Japanese airspace, above the contested Senkaku Islands.
Japan will create a 3,000 naval infantry corps likely based on the southern island of Kyushu.
Chinese state media is pressuring the Japanese government about plutonium stockpiles reportedly about to be sent back to the US, pending an agreement at the forthcoming Nuclear Security Summit. This, from the prime instigator of nuclear proliferation (US Congressional Research Service PDF backgrounder). What’s the compound ideogram for “deliberate lack of self-awareness”?
A recent knife attack in Kunming in which 33 people were killed is the latest in a long list of killings motivated by regional separatism, possibly mixed with some level of international jihadist involvement. In any case these attacks have occurred beyond just the Xinjiang north-western region, fueling rumors of more to come. The Chinese government will address complaints from the Uyghur minority, conveniently lumped with terrorism, by continuing the beating until morale improves. As its Central Asian neighbors are realizing, China’s pressure is not just political but also demographic and cultural. China calls the Kunming attack their 9/11 and is seeking international sympathy and support, as they’re about to kick off the second session of their 12th National People’s Congress.
A Rear Admiral just appointed to lead the Ukrainian navy swore allegiance to “the residents of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea”, which really means he defected to Russia. Of course the Russians swear all they’re doing is defending human rights. Which is also the purpose of live fire exercises in the Kaliningrad exclave.
The Obama administration is putting together a list of travel and financial restrictions they could enact against Russian officials, while the Russian stock market is taking a nosedive.
“We condemn Russia’s military escalation in Crimea. We express our grave concern regarding the authorisation, by the Russian Parliament, of the use of the armed forces of the Russian Federation on the territory of Ukraine.
China clarifies its stance: they have no stance. They don’t want to look like they are meddling with the “internal affairs” of other countries. Don’t ask how that’s possibly relevant to the current situation in Ukraine. Meanwhile, China keeps pushing against the international norms regulating territorial disputes.
In a 1994 Memorandum, the US, Russia, and the UK affirmed their commitment “to respect the independence and sovereignty and the existing borders of Ukraine.”
While many observers, mostly in American media, seem taken aback by Russia’s behavior in Ukraine as if it was not right out of their playbook, DID in July 2012: “Introducing Spice de Cold War, by Vladimir.”
Stars & Stripes describes the struggle to downsize EUCOM.
The USA’s Interceptor OTV (Outer Tactical Vest) Body Armor, and its SAPI/ESAPI ceramic plate inserts, offer a significant improvement over its 1990s predecessors in terms of both weight and protection. After episodic issues with production ramp-up and quality control, this gear is widely fielded with the US Army and several allied militaries (the US Marines replaced it with the MTV). In May 2007, controversy regarding the armor’s effectiveness boiled over in the wake of a TV news feature. The US Army responded with rare public claims about a competing product, even as several high-profile legislators advocated independent civilian tests to ensure that US soldiers were really getting the best system.
Meanwhile, improvements were being made to the OTV system in response to feedback from the field. Hence the Improved OTV, whose Generation II model is now in production.