White House wheels out new arms export policy | After West’s salvo, Russia’s Lavrov murky on S-300 deployment to Syria | Germany’s shopping spree
- The Trump administration has rolled out a new weapons export policy keeping in mind that “economic security is national security.” While some in the defense industry will be disappointed that the reforms did not go far enough—particularly when it comes to the export of military drones—the new rules “create broad new language emphasizing the need to consider economic benefits when looking at potential weapon exports to partner nations,” Defense News reports. Speaking on the new rules, Peter Navarro, White House National Trade Council head, said this change will allow allies and partners “to more easily obtain” American security goods, which in turn improves the security of the Untied States while “reducing” the need for them to buy Chinese and Russian systems, while Tina Kaidanow, principal deputy assistant secretary for political-military affairs, said the change represents “efforts to do things a little bit more strategically. We need to do, the US government, a better job of strategic advocacy for some of our companies. We need to think about those areas where we can really enable sales oversea.” However, both failed to offer many hard details about what would change for conventional arms transfers, and Navarro declined to say what economic impact could potentially be in terms of jobs or dollar figures.
- Boeing will take care of additional Super Hornet and Growler sensor upgrade work after receiving an $18.7 million award from the US Navy last Thursday. Awarded by the Naval Air Warfare Center Training Systems Division, out of Orlando, Florida, the agreement enables Boeing to integrate advanced software to the Tactical Operational Flight Trainer sensor models on F/A/-18E/F Super Hornet and the EA-18G Growler. Work will take place across the United States with some work to take place in Japan. Contract completion is expected in July 2021.
Middle East & Africa
- Russia’s Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov, said Monday that Moscow had not yet decided whether it would deliver advanced S-300 missile systems to Syria, but would not make a secret of the matter if it took such a decision, Reuters reports. Earlier in the day, the daily Kommersant newspaper, citing unnamed military sources, reported that Russia might start supplying the anti-aircraft missile systems to Syria in the near future—a suggestion the Kremlin declined to comment on. However, Lavrov had said on Friday that Western military strikes on Syria this month had removed any moral obligation Russia had to withhold the missile systems from its ally Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. A Russian diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity to Reuters said Israel has asked Moscow not to supply the Syrian military with the S-300s. An Israeli government spokesman declined comment.
- A report in Germany’s Handelsblatt newspaper on Sunday discusses an upcoming German defense ministry shopping spree with plans for 18 arms contracts totalling 25 million euros to be shortly approved by the budget and defense committees. Aimed at filling growing deficiencies in the armed forces’ equipment and capabilities, other procurements include six C-130J transport aircraft from the United States, Heron TP UAVs from Israel, new rescue helicopters, as well as upgrades to its fleet of Puma armored personnel carriers and the radar found on its Eurofighters. However, Reuters says that the list is “preliminary” and would depend on the 2018 budget. The ministry was not immediately available for comment on the report.
- Serbia has received four additional MiG-29 fighter aircraft from Belarus bringing to 14 the fleet now available to Belgrade. Previous deliveries included six from Russia last October and the transferred aircraft will now undergo a three-stage period of modernization with between 180 million to 230 million euro earmarked for the purpose. According to the Russian news agency TASS,Russia’s assistance in addition to the MiGs will include 30 T-72 tanks and 30 BRDM-2 combat patrol vehicles. Also in discussion are surface-to-air gun and missile systems. Belarus had previously announced its plans to hand over to Serbia in 2018 eight MiG-29 fighter jets and two Buk missile systems on condition that Belgrade pays for their repairs.
- Lithuania wants the regular deployment of both long-range and short-range advanced anti-air and missile assets in its country to allow for more regular training with NATO, Defence Minister Raimundas Karoblis has said. “Yes, of course (we are asking the Americans)”, he told Reuters on Thursday. “We are talking not only about the Patriots but also other capabilities, such as short-range Avengers, and other systems to create a regional architecture of air defence, because we are not able to do that ourselves.” While Karoblis did not expect NATO to increase defences in the Baltics immediately, he does expect the alliance to show greater commitment at a NATO leaders summit in July to deterring any threat in the Baltics. “We would like to have the permanent deployment of ground missile systems and other capabilities, but we understand that a quite significant part of these capabilities were lost by NATO after the Cold War and it’s difficult to rebuild them fast”, he said. “We need to ensure that (air defences) could be deployed (in the Baltics) at any time necessary.” Formerly part of the Soviet Union, Lithuania—along with neighboring Estonia and Latvia—have since 1991 realigned themselves by joining NATO and the European Union. Anxious since Russia’s annexation of the Crimea from Ukraine in 2014, the nations have continued to ask for Western help despite growing defence budgets due to their small economies. Poland was equally alarmed by Moscow’s Crieman seizure, spending more than $5 billion on buying Patriot missiles from Raytheon after a deal in March.
- A Pentagon award last Thursday, April 19, to Northrop Grumman has tasked the firm with supplying identifying friend or foe technology compatible with the E-2C Hawkeye for the government of Japan. Valued at $51.8 million, the US Navy contract is against a previously issued basic ordering agreement and calls for supplies and services required for the delivery, installation, and testing of one Japan E-2C compatible AN/APX-122A Mode 5/S interrogator and transponder unit and will include non-recurring engineering for the developmental laboratory work, integration laboratory testing, software modifications, technical data, training, and post installation ground and flight testing support, kits, and associated hardware for aircraft integration. Work will take place at several locations across the US and in Japan with a scheduled completion time set for December 2020.
- China’s recent live-fire drills in the Taiwan Strait:
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