The melting ice has brought Arctic into geostrategic prominence, Russia quickly projects its military power

As the Global warming is melting the Arctic ice, and opening up new shipping trade routes and real estate, intense resource competition over an estimated $1 trillion untapped reserves of oil, natural gas and minerals has started. Human activities have grown in the Arctic by almost 400 percent in the last decade, the U.S. board estimated, in terms of shipping, mining, energy exploration, fishing and tourism

Considering its geostrategic importance many countries including Russia and US  are planning military presence to protect their interests. Russia is acting quickly to become dominating Geostrategic and Military power in the Arctic. Russia has been carrying out rapid Arctic militarization by building New airbases, icebreakers, ground forces, missiles and and carrying out military exercises there. Russia’s new military doctrine signed into effect on December 26, 2014, identified Arctic as one of three geopolitical arenas that Moscow has deemed vital to national security.

Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Paul Zukunft warned that Russia was militarizing the Arctic and accused Moscow of “saber-rattling” by conducting unannounced military drills in the Arctic area involving thousands of troops. Adm. Mark Ferguson, commander of U.S. Naval Forces Europe, expressed similar concerns about aggressive Russian activity in the Arctic, noting that Russian submarine activity was at its highest point in 20 years.

Russia isn’t alone in its Arctic ambition. The United States, Russia, Canada, Denmark, Norway, and Iceland all lay claim to the area and its abundant natural resources. China is the latest entry to have arctic ambitions. US has intensified its intelligence activities in Arctic, through U.S. spy satellites orbiting overhead and Navy sensors deep in the frigid waters. Most of the 16 U.S. intelligence agencies have assigned analysts to work full time on the Arctic. The U.S. intelligence focus is chiefly aimed at Russia’s military buildup in the far north under President Vladimir Putin.

China has outlined its ambitions to extend President Xi Jinping’s signature Belt and Road Initiative to the Arctic by developing shipping lanes opened up by global warming. Releasing its first official Arctic policy white paper in Jan 2018, China said it would encourage enterprises to build infrastructure and conduct commercial trial voyages, paving the way for Arctic shipping routes that would form a “Polar Silk Road”.

The white paper said China also eyes development of oil, gas, mineral resources and other non-fossil energies, fishing and tourism in the region. It said it would do so “jointly with Arctic States, while respecting traditions and cultures of the Arctic residents including the indigenous peoples and conserving natural environment”.

The Arctic is currently a staggering 36 degrees warmer than normal at this time of year, according to information from the Danish Meteorological Institute. NASA report also shows that a vast region in the Arctic Ocean has gone missing and people from NASA think that the polar ice caps are now more vulnerable than ever. “What we’ve seen over the years is that the older ice is disappearing,” said Walt Meier, a sea ice researcher at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. “This older, thicker ice is like the bulwark of sea ice: a warm summer will melt all the young, thin ice away but it can’t completely get rid of the older ice. But this older ice is becoming weaker because there’s less of it and the remaining old ice is more broken up and thinner, so that bulwark is not as good as it used to be.

The diminishment of Arctic ice could lead in coming years to increased commercial shipping on two trans-Arctic sea routes—the Northern Sea Route close to Russia, and the Northwest Passage;  more exploration for oil, gas, and minerals and  increased tourism (cruise ships) in the Arctic. Although there is significant international cooperation on Arctic issues, the Arctic is increasingly being viewed by some observers as a potential emerging security issue. Some of the Arctic coastal states, particularly Russia, have announced an intention or taken actions to enhance their military presences in the high north. U.S. military forces, particularly the Navy and Coast Guard, have begun to pay more attention to the region in their planning and operations, says Changes in the Arctic: Background and Issues for Congress.

 

How would future war would be in Arctic

Kyle Mizokami writes in The Week, “It would be two wars: one against the human enemy, which would often be hundreds of miles away and seldom seen, and another, constant war against the elements. Both would be trying to kill you. War would mostly be conducted by aircraft and submarine, the better to avoid actually operating on the ice.”

“The weather and the flat, featureless terrain would mean long-range subs and planes that pack plenty of firepower would play decisive roles. Unmanned, autonomous drones that can survive the harsh weather would be particularly useful. Large numbers of ground forces would be difficult to manage, so small Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine units trained to parachute, ski, or infiltrate by submarine would be used to attack and defend isolated Arctic bases. Search and rescue, to recover pilots shot down in such a bleak, hostile environment, would be a must,” he further says

 

Russia dominating military power in Arctic

Russia is trying to claim 460,000 square miles of the Arctic Ocean as its national territory — an area that includes the North Pole. Russian divers even planted a national flag on the North Pole seabed in a symbolic claim to the region’s energy riches.

It has created a new Arctic Joint Strategic Command, tasked to protect Russian interests in its Arctic territories. Moscow is training two Arctic warfare brigades in addition to constructing 16 deepwater ports, 13 airfields, and ten air-defense radar stations in the region. A shipyard in northern Russia also is constructing four nuclear-powered submarines.

Moscow formed the 45th Air Force and Air Defense Army as part of its Northern Fleet in December 2015. Shoigu said that modern military technology was “necessary for guarding borders” in the Arctic. Russian officials have previously said that the air base facilities are essential for protecting shipping routes that link Europe with the Pacific region across the Arctic Ocean.

Russia plans to develop a “self-sufficient” standing military force by 2018, based in the territory it owns in the Arctic, according to a report. The military force will include Air Force and air defense subunits. Russia will also create a new training center in the Arctic. Sergei Shoigu told Russian news agencies that the “creation and arming” of the Arctic military unit should be completed by 2018.

The next important thing is that Russia has established the Independent Military Group of Aerospace Forces in the Arctic region. The Aerospace Forces as a new branch of the military was activated on the 3rd August.

Moscow launched its latest Arctic military base in April 2017 on one of the northernmost points of its remote Franz Josef Land archipelago. The base can comfortably support 150 staff for up to 18 months, establishing the mold for Russia’s post-Soviet military strategy. The Russian government announced plans in March 2014 to reopen 10 former Soviet-era military bases along the Arctic seaboard, including 14 airfields, that were closed after the end of the Cold War.  Shoigu also said four were completed in 2015, a base on the Franz Josef Land archipelago is nearly complete. “We are not hiding this from anyone: we are have practically finished building bases on the Novosibirsk Archipelago and on Kotelny island.” .

Shoigu said Russian troops will be stationed in the Arctic on a permanent basis, with a focus on increasing the Kremlin’s control over the region’s airspace. “We are creating comfortable living conditions for our military personnel who will serve in the Arctic on a permanent basis,” Nikolai Yevmenov, the fleet’s chief of staff, said.

The new base on Franz Josef’s northern Alexandra Land has limited conventional combat capabilities and is primarily focusing on radar and surveillance. “The problem with Russian defense is that until recently the Russian military had a huge gap in its radar coverage on its Arctic coast,” Igor Sutyagin, a  Russian military expert at London’s Royal United Services Institute,  says, noting that Moscow had few facilities along the Northern Sea Route that spans the majority of the country’s length. “It meant that virtually everybody could enter the waters without notice. Now you need radar so you are just aware of what passes through.” Sutyagin estimates that the base will have standard self-defense capabilities, such as Russia’s surface-to-air missile system Pantsir, for air defense, and a cruise missile battery with up to 400 kilometers in range.

Russia’s nuclear-powered Yuri Dolgoruky submarine has successfully test-launched an intercontinental ballistic missile in the Barents Sea in the Arctic, according to state news agency Itar-Tass. “The launch was carried out from an underwater position in accordance with the combat readiness plan,” a statement from the Ministry of Defense read, reported in Itar-Tass. The launch “hit the designated targets on the course.”

Russia plans to step up its fourth Sunflower (Podsolnukh-E) radar system, which, according to Russian experts, is capable to detect US stealth aircraft, such as В-2 Spirit, flying over the ocean at a height of 500 kilometers, the China Topix informational website reported. As the website reported, citing sources in the Russian Defense Ministry, the new Sunflower will be stationed in the Novaya Zemlya archipelago in the Arctic Circle.  According to the media, Russia intends to build six over the horizon radar systems in the Arctic.

For more information on Over the Horizon Radars: http://idstch.com/home5/international-defence-security-and-technology/technology/electronics/over-the-horizon-radars-being-improved-to-detect-and-target-stealth-aircrafts-and-aircraft-carriers/

In March 15, Russia carried out a five-day massive military exercise in the Arctic that involved some 80,000 troops, 220 aircraft, 41 ships, and 15 submarines. The training exercises were reportedly meant to test the Russian military’s ability to rapidly deploy forces from the mainland and to test the combat readiness of its Northern Fleet.

Russia boosts Science and Technology in Arctic

In tandem with the military expansion, Russia is building the Yamal LNG plant in the Ob River estuary in collaboration with the French energy company Total. It will produce gas, liquefy it and ship it to European and Asian markets.

“This is where future Russian oil and gas resources are located,” Malte Humpert, executive director of the Arctic Institute, said of the region. “Most other areas are peaking and running out. So for Russia it will be important to develop more unconventional sources. Russia will need to invest $100 billion per year in their oil and gas sector just to maintain their current levels.”

In 2014-2016, the government unveiled funds for 31 R&D projects in the Arctic. In these years, nearly two billion rubles ($32 million) were spent from the federal budget and non-budget sources on Arctic development.

St. Petersburg is now becoming the centerpiece of the Artic development program since the city boasts significant industrial and scientific capabilities. Among the leading scientific organizations are the Arctic and Antarctic R&D Institute, the Russian R&D Institute for Geology and Mineral Resources of the World Ocean and the Karpinsky Russian R&D Geological Institute.

Currently a new Russian nuclear-powered icebreaker is being built at the Baltic Shipyard. The Arktika, the first project 22220 class ship and the first nuclear icebreaker to be fully built in modern-day Russia, was successfully launched on June 16.

Russia operates a fleet of 40 icebreakers and is working on adding about a dozen new ships over the next couple of years. Out of the 40 around 27 are ocean-going icebreakers, some of which are nuclear-powered. Russia is also planning to introduce a new class of super-nuclear icebreakers, by the end of 2020. According to Russian Deputy Defense Minister Dmitry Rogozin, the layout of the new vessel, purportedly capable of cutting through 13-feet-thick ice sheets, will be presented by the end of 2015.

The Ilya Muromets could be the lead ship of a new class of icebreakers, depending on how well the vessel will do perform in service. The 6,000-ton ship is 85-meter (280-feet) long and can purportedly break through a meter of ice. It can traverse the entire 5,600 kilometer (3,500 mile) length of the Northern Passage and can operate autonomously for up to 60 days, according to Russia’s Ministry of Defense. The icebreaker will have a crew of 35.

Any industrial project in the Artic would require tons of electric energy, and this is why Russia is also developing floating nuclear power plants. Russian company Rosenergoatom (part of Rosatom state-owned corporation) launched a project in 2006 to build floating NPPs in regions with limited energy capabilities.

 

China’s growing Arctic ambitions

“China hopes to work with all parties to build a ‘Polar Silk Road’ through developing the Arctic shipping routes,” the paper, issued by the State Council Information Office, said. Among its increasing interests in the region is its major stake in Russia’s Yamal liquefied natural gas project which is expected to supply China with four million tonnes of LNG a year, according to the state-run China Daily.

Among its increasing interests in the region is its major stake in Russia’s Yamal liquefied natural gas project which is expected to supply China with four million tonnes of LNG a year, according to the state-run China Daily.

A report by the State Department’s International Security Advisory Board (ISAB) expresses concern about the rapid expansion of China’s activities in the Arctic. China, which is geographically far from the North Pole, is now claiming to be a near-Arctic country, to match its “long-term, strategic objective of pursuing economic development and growth in the Arctic,” the ISAB report said.

The search for a shorter route from the Atlantic to Asia has been the quest of maritime powers since the Middle Ages. The melting of Arctic ice raises the possibility of saving several thousands of miles and several days of sailing between major trading blocs. If the Arctic were to become a viable shipping route, the ramifications could extend far beyond the Arctic. For example, lower shipping costs could be advantageous for China (at least its northeast region), Japan, and South Korea because their manufactured products exported to Europe or North America could become less expensive relative to other emerging manufacturing centers in Southeast Asia, such as India,  says Changes in the Arctic: Background and Issues for Congress.

Economic opportunities in the Arctic are important to China in the short term, the report said, such as “sea and air routes [that] would allow for expanded shipping to markets in Europe and North America.” “In the long term,” the report added, “China could benefit from access to resources including oil, other hydrocarbons, minerals and fisheries, and expanding its tourism and bioprospecting industries to the region.”

The report notes China’s cooperation with Russia in the development of natural-gas deposits in the Arctic Siberian Yamal Peninsula. ISAB member Sherri Goodman, former deputy undersecretary of defense  said the impact of Sino-Russian cooperation on Arctic regional security has not attracted enough attention from the U.S. government.

China has begun work on its second large-scale icebreaker. In addition, two mid-size military icebreakers recently joined the PLA Navy’s North Sea Fleet.

Shipyard Jiangnan confirms that it has officially started the construction of the vessel,  and that it is planned to be ready for sailing in 2019. Ship designed by Finnish company Aker Arctic Technology Co, will be 122,5 meter long and 22,3 meter wide. It will have a deadweight of 13,000 tons and will be able to carry supplies for 60 days of uninterrupted operation. The ship design will allow it to break 1,5 meter thick ice both with its front and its rear.

China has previously announced that it intends to build also a nuclear-powered icebreakers. An agreement was signed this year between the National Nuclear Corporation and State Shipbuilding Corporation development of the nuclear-powered ships.

 

References and Resources  also include:

 




Integrated Air and Missile Defense (IAMD) Battle Command System (IBCS) for countering sophisticated modern threats, approved for Foreign Military Sale to Poland

Militaries around the world are increasingly facing formidable strategic and threat environment in terms of complexity, lethality, range, sophistication and number of threats ranging from inter-continental ballistic missiles testing, and proliferation of cruise missile and UAV technology. There is also growing threat of sophisticated cyber and electronic warfare systems that can hack or jam Air and Missile defense Networks.To counter these threats, the militaries around the world are developing global, layered,  networked integrated Air and Missile defence systems.

Currently, each anti-aircraft weapon or missile defense system comes with its own launchers, its own command-and-control, and its own radar. However each system is best against a different kind of threat air or missile defense or even a subclass of them. Therefore military employ many systems as a layered defense. However, multiple screens can lead to many errors by humans like hitting a friendly target or taking multiple shots against one target.

To prevent these tragedies, US Army is developing Integrated Air and Missile Defense (AIAMD) system of systems (ASoS) that  integrates all Air and Missile Defense (AMD) sensors, weapons, and their respective command and control (C2) into a networked air and missile defense (AMD) system. The Command and Control (C2) of IAMD is known as the IAMD Battle Command System (IBCS).   IBCS is designed to create “a single integrated air picture” fusing data from all available sensors into a coherent and consistent whole.  Ultimately, IBCS will replace seven separate command-and-control systems currently in service. IBCS allows “any sensor, best shooter” operations to optimize limited resources and facilitate flexible defense designs.

The State Department has made a determination approving a possible Foreign Military Sale to Poland for an Integrated Air and Missile Defense (IAMD) Battle Command System (IBCS)-enabled Patriot Configuration-3+ with Modernized Sensors and Components for an estimated cost of $10.5 billion.

Poland will use the IBCS-enabled Patriot missile system to improve its missile defense capability, defend its territorial integrity, and deter regional threats. The proposed sale will increase the defensive capabilities of the Polish Military to guard against hostile aggression and shield the NATO allies who often train and operate within Poland’s borders. Poland will have no difficulty absorbing this system into its armed forces.

This proposed sale will support the foreign policy and national security objectives of the United States by helping to improve the security of a NATO ally which has been, and continues to be an important force for political stability and economic progress in Europe. This sale is consistent with U.S. initiatives to provide key allies in the region with modern systems that will enhance interoperability with U.S. forces and increase security.

 

Emerging threats to Air Defence System

Fifth generation stealth fighters, cruise and ballistic missile and unmanned air vehicle technology is becoming widely proliferated to become more accessible to emerging nations.

Sukhoi Pak FA is being developed by Sukhoi for the Russian Air force. China has become second nation to have two stealth fighter designs, J-20 and J-31.  Stealth fighters drastically reduce the range at which air defence forces can engage a threat, the number and type of defensive systems, or tiers with shot opportunities.

More than 70 countries have some kind of cruise missiles and about 60 countries import them. They have range of 30 to 1500 Km and armed with Conventional, WMD and Anti-Armor Submunitions. Russia has demonstrated its long-range cruise missile capabilities in Syria, where it was able to hit targets at a distance 1,500 kilometers (932 miles) from ships located in the Caspian Sea.

There are 150 operational programs of UAVs in 40 countries today. They perform missions ranging from RSTA, Decoy/Drone, and Electronic Warfare to Lethal Attack missions and have Ranges up to 150 Kms. There are 353 Countries with Some Type of Tactical Ballistic Missiles having payload of 190 to 1000 Kg with Warheads ranging from Conventional, WMD and Smart Sub munitions. CMs and unmanned aircraft also present elusive targets and are difficult to detect, identify, and engage.

By 2030, the threats facing the United States around the world will have twice, if not three times, the lethality and range of today’s threats, said Maj Gen VeraLinn “Dash” Jamieson, USAF and Lt Col Maurizio “Mo” Calabrese, USAF. Anti-access/area denial (A2/AD) weaponry capabilities could include modern weapons such as hypersonic cruise missiles, fifth generation fighters, digital adaptive electronic warfare waveforms, air-to-air missiles with 150 nmi ranges, perhaps long-range (300 nmi plus) and ultra-long-range (500 nmi) surface-to-air missiles (SAMs).

Integrated Air and Missile Defense program

In the complex air domain, today’s air and missile defenders are forced to deal with uncertain information, short timelines and high consequences for wrong decisions. IBCS enables significantly enhanced aircraft and missile tracking improving the ability of combatant commanders and air defenders to make critical decisions within seconds. It links the radar, the launcher, and the human decision makers — and in more flexible ways that ever before.”The ultimate long range goal is to be able to engage any target with any weapon with data that comes from any sensor” said Northrop Grumman vice president Dan Verwiel.

The IAMD program will allow transformation to a network-centric system of systems. Each sensor and weapon platform will have a “Plug and Fight” interface module, which supplies distributed battle management functionality to enable network-centric operations. The integration of all components shall allow improved engagement of air breathing targets, cruise missiles, unmanned aerial vehicles, and the tactical ballistic missiles threat.

IAMD is implementing the vision for 2020 Joint Integrated Air and missile Defense (IAMD), which is one where all capabilities-defensive, passive, offensive, kinetic, non-kinetic (e.g. cyber warfare, directed energy, and electronic Attack) – are melded into a comprehensive Joint and combined force capable of preventing an adversary from effectively employing any of its offensive air and missile weapons.

IAMD Battle Command System (IBCS)

While in conflict soldiers and their commanders are watching the battlefield on monitors inside command centers, checking for incoming mortars, UAVs, artillery, or large missiles and trying to decide if they are enemy or friendly. After that the command is send to appropriate weapon to engage the threat. Currently, each anti-aircraft weapon or missile defence system comes with its own launchers, its own command and control, and its own radar.

However, when these systems have to work together in defeating a threat results in humans to switch between multiple views which may lead to multiple shots or collateral damage. “That’s a capability that on a very short timeline, must understand what is the situation in the environment around our forces, decide how best to react, and then react to keep them safe,” Northrop Grumman’s Program Director Chuck Johnson. “What’s different across many of our situations is the timeline that’s required. It’s all a stressful environment but timelines, as they get shorter, the stressful environments increase. So a global missile defense situation might have tens of minutes of decision making time where a very short range short timeline situation to negate a rocket, artillery, or mortar round, is measured in seconds not minutes.”

The IBCS ensures that everyone in control of each system, be it Patriot, C-RAM, or something else, can see the same information at the same time and make these critical decisions.  IBCS is designed to create “a single integrated air picture” fusing data from all the available sensors into a coherent and consistent whole. The Northrop Grumman IBCS solution is based on a non-proprietary, open architecture approach for integrating sensors, weapons, and battle management command, control, communications and intelligence systems (C4ISR).

IBCS will replace the current proprietary standards of different companies with an enterprise-focused modular open systems architecture developed with Northrop Grumman. By integrating not just the basic routing, relay and server components of the network, but also standardizing the sensors, radars and launchers, the services expect to share a single, ubiquitous view of the battlespace—whether from land or sea—and allow an “any sensor, best shooter” approach to weapon to achieve mission objectives in a true open architecture environment, according to Northrop Grumman.

Northrop Grumman has developed IBCS for the U.S. Army,  that integrates air and missile defense systems to eliminate stovepipes and allow warfighters to use any sensor or weapons to achieve mission objectives against aerial vehicles and balloons (air defence), as well as the defence against ballistic missiles and cruise missiles (missile defence).

IBCS will integrate seven separate command-and-control systems currently in service including Patriot, Surface-Launched Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air Missile (SLAMRAAM), Joint Land Attack Cruise Missile Defense Elevated Netted Sensor (JLENS), Improved Sentinel radar, Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) and Medium Extended Air Defense System (MEADS). The IBCS functionality will also be incorporated into Air Defense Airspace Management Cells, Air Defense Artillery Brigade Headquarters, and Army Air and Missile Defense Command Headquarters.

The common IBCS provides the functional capabilities to control and manage the IAMD sensors and weapons via the Integrated Fire Control Network capability for fire control connectivity and enabling distributed operations. It also enables commanders to tailor organizations, sensors and weapons to meet the demands of diverse missions, environments and rules of engagement, not achievable today. The architecture also satisfies the requirements of protection of networks from cyber and electronic warfare. The information from multiple sensors also  provide protection against  jamming, electronic deception, and stealth.

There is also requirement to protect the networks from Jamming and Cyber atacks. Army Cyber Command and Army Space & Missile Defense Command have “recently ramped up” their ongoing partnership to secure air and missile defense networks, said ARCYBER’s deputy commander for operations, Brig. Gen. Joseph McGee. Those networks have “unique requirements,” McGee emphasized. “It is hard for me to think of another field in which the reliability and the assurance of the network and the speed of the decision-making is equally [critical as in] air defense.”

IBCS should allow Army missile defense to keep pace with the threat at a price we can afford,said Barry Pike, the Army’s deputy program executive officer for missiles and space. Under the old model, if you needed to replace an obsolescent radar (for example), you needed to upgrade — or replace — the weapon and command system that went with that radar as well. Under IBCS, which allows components to plug and play, you just need to replace the obsolescent piece, without having to touch anything else– a major cost savings.

 

Live firings and demonstrations

During recent ‘Formidable Shield 2017’  that ran from 24 September to 18 October, was  designed to improve allied interoperability in an IAMD environment, using NATO command-and-control reporting structures and datalink architecture. More than 14 ships, 10 aircraft, and approximately 3,300 personnel from Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, the United Kingdom, and the United States are participating in the exercise, which is being conducted on the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) Hebrides Range on the Western Isles of Scotland.

The IAMD live firing event was based on a collective self-defence scenario. The MRBM engagement saw Donald Cook – equipped with then Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) system – successfully detect and track the Terrier Oriole target vehicle and then destroy the threat in space using an SM-3 Block 1B interceptor. The Terrier Oriole had been launched from the MoD Hebrides range site on South Uist.

Simultaneous with the engagement of the MRBM target, the Spanish frigate SPS Alvaro de Bazan fired a RIM-162 Evolved SeaSparrow Missile (ESSM) against an incoming anti-ship cruise missile, while the Royal Netherlands Navy frigate HNLMS Tromp fired ESSMs against a pair of incoming anti-ship cruise missiles.

IBCS has carried out three live fire tests and demonstrations successfully. It has demonstrated the ability to use any sensor to enable a shooter “without eyes on the target” to intercept at greater range. It has integrated Aegis data and other joint sensor data to improve combat identification, decision time, and defense effectiveness. In its most recent flight test, the Integrated Air and Missile Defense (IAMD) Battle Command System (IBCS) successfully used sensors and interceptors from different air defense systems, selecting from different missile types to defeat multiple threats arriving at the same time.

Earlier U.S. Army soldiers have successfully flight tested the Northrop Grumman Corporation -developed IAMD Battle Command System (IBCS) to identify, track, engage and defeat ballistic and cruise missile targets. “The program is still in the development phase; we’re coming to the end of that and we’re coming to a production decision this summer that will lead to additional fielding in 2018.”

In April 2016, the U.S. Army successfully conducted a dual engagement flight test using IBCS, validating the system’s ability to manage multiple threats simultaneously. The system is scheduled to reach initial operational capability in 2019, however, in August 2016 the system’s production was put on hold because of software issues.

 

United States’ Joint Integrated Air and Missile Defense: Vision 2020

“United States’ Joint Integrated Air and Missile Defense: Vision 2020” document outlines the Chairman’s guidance to the joint force and, by extension, to all the stakeholders that contribute to the air and missile defense of the U.S. homeland and its regional forces, partners, and allies.

The vision document warns, “The future IAMD environment will be characterized by a full spectrum of air and missile threats—ballistic missiles, air-breathing threats (cruise missiles, aircraft, UAS [unmanned aerial systems]), long-range rockets, artillery, and mortars—all utilizing a range of advanced capabilities—stealth, electronic attack, maneuvering reentry vehicles, decoys, and advanced terminal seekers with precision targeting.”

 

IAMD in 2020 must be balanced, versatile, responsive, decisive, and affordable

The vision document says that, the approach of IAMD in 2020 will be balanced, taking into account a full range of opportunities including diplomacy, a robust approach to passive defence both left and right of enemy launch, electronic warfare, active defense, and increased cooperation with our friends and allies.

The document makes it clear that the first responsibility of joint IAMD is to deter adversaries by developing and fielding credible and effective defensive capabilities failing which is to prevent adversary’s air and missile threats by both active and passive defenses and offensive actions.

The vision points out, “the link between offensive and defensive operations for IAMD is critical,” and “all means, including penetrating assets” should be employed to “defeat large threat inventories. Frankly, the failure of IAMD “risks suffering potentially devastating attacks” that could jeopardize an entire campaign.

Should deterrence and prevention fail, joint IAMD melds active and passive defenses to mitigate and survive the assault. “Still, it is unreasonable to believe that offensive operations can wholly negate any sophisticated threat; therefore, the joint force must employ robust passive measures, such as CCD, dispersion, and hardening as well as layered, complementary active defenses to survive air and missile attacks.”

Joint IAMD will require the horizontal integration of these capabilities, and the vertical integration of policy, strategy, concepts, tactics and training.

“The solutions to current and future capability gaps must be aligned with fiscal realities,” US weapon systems costs are becoming prohibitively high. “We must find ways to avoid scenarios where adversaries launch large number of relatively cheap rockets, ballistic and cruise missiles, or unmanned air vehicle systems and our only response option is to intercept them with highly complex and expensive weapons.”

The core of the Chairman’s intent for IAMD is encapsulated in six key imperatives designed to guide the joint force in meeting these challenges in a logical and fiscally responsible manner.

 

Six Imperatives of Joint Integrated Air and Missile Defense: Vision 2020

The first is to “incorporate, fuse, exploit, and leverage every bit of information available regardless of source or classification, and distribute it as needed to U.S. Forces and selected partners.” Tapping into and cross –utilizing all-source information wrings maximum utility from every dollar spent on intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance and can lessen requirements for new, single use collection systems. The joint force must seek out and eliminate technical deficiencies and organizational barriers to information-sharing and enable the free flow of ISR data between national systems and the warfighters who need it.

The second imperative is to “make interdependent Joint and Combined force employment the baseline.” From the earliest stages of planning, exercising, and employment, IAMD must leverage the comparative advantages of joint force components and partner nations.

The third imperative is to “target development, modernization, fielding, and science and technology efforts to meet specific gaps in IAMD capabilities, all the while stressing affordability and interoperability.” Chairman asks for “special focus” on “closing high-leverage technology gaps such as an adversary’s emerging seeker or missile development, and the development of U.S. non-kinetic capabilities.” Breakthroughs in these areas can have a dramatic effect in reducing the need to rely on expensive kinetic solutions.

Imperative number four requires the joint force to “focus Passive Defense efforts on addressing potential capability and capacity shortfalls in air and missile defense.”

The fifth imperative is to “establish and pursue policies to leverage partner contributions.” Partners should be encouraged to invest in their own air and missile defense capabilities that are interoperable with ours. “Developing an integrated defensive network of interoperable IAMD systems can leverage cost sharing and help spread the burden among the willing partners.”

This sixth and final imperative, which directs the joint force to “create an awareness of the IAMD mission and the benefits of its proper utilization across the Department of Defense to include the development of the enabling framework of concepts, doctrine, acquisition, and war plans that support full integration of IAMD into combat operations.”

Commanders must understand and embrace every weapon and tool available to them. Educate personnel at every level how IAMD is supposed to work for the joint force and to train their people to effectively execute. How to employ joint elements together, how to employ in joint engagement zone, what combinations create what capability, and which are ineffective when employed on a stand-alone basis.

 

References and Resources also include

https://thaimilitaryandasianregion.wordpress.com/2016/04/01/us-army-test-fires-aim-9x-from-latest-air-defence-systems/

http://www.waaytv.com/redstone_alabama/taking-a-closer-look-at-the-integrated-air-missile-defense/article_eb41b8ac-e7c1-11e5-84d0-b7fbc8cf7b20.html

http://breakingdefense.com/2015/06/army-tests-new-missile-defenses-brain-ibcs-navy-mda-intrigued/

http://breakingdefense.com/2017/02/achilles-heel-of-army-air-missile-defense-the-network/

http://breakingdefense.com/2017/06/support-ibcs-best-missile-defense-c2-weve-got-former-mda-tester/

https://janes.ihs.com/Janes/Display/FG_667624-JNI

https://www.globalsecurity.org/space/library/news/2017/space-171117-dsca01.htm?_m=3n%2e002a%2e2159%2egl0ao06e6g%2e1zjy




The growing Sri Lanka- China – Pakistan economic and military relationship poses threat to India

Sri Lanka has signed a $1.1bn (£837m) deal with China for the control and development of the southern deep-sea port of Hambantota.  Under the proposal, a state-run Chinese company will have a 99-year lease on the port and about 15,000 acres nearby for an industrial zone. Sri Lanka’s government says money from the deal will help repay foreign loans. With the island nation’s total debt standing at $64 billion (Rs 41,000 crore), almost 95 per cent of all government revenue goes towards debt repayment.

The deal had been delayed by several months over concerns that the port could be used by the Chinese military. The government has given assurances that China will run only commercial operations from the port, on the main shipping route between Asia and Europe.

Opponents of the project said they feared the area being turned into a Chinese colony. There were also concerns that the Chinese navy could use the port as a base. For now, Colombo insists that the Sri Lankan navy will be in charge of security at the Hambantota port and no foreign navy will be allowed to use it as a base. Sri Lanka has a crucial geographical location, at the cross-roads of oil tanker shipping lanes in the Indian Ocean and immense natural resources.

Hambantota port, overlooking the Indian Ocean, is expected to play a key role in China’s “One Belt, One Road” initiative, otherwise known as the new Silk Road, which will link ports and roads between China and Europe. In recent years, China has helped to build a network of ports or facilities in South Asian countries such as Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Pakistan and Myanmar and secured docking rights in Seychelles. In 2016 its announced its intention to finance and develop jointly with the host nation companies two commercial ports in the Indian Ocean-, the Maleka Gateway in Malaysia and Dquam port in Oman. China is also developing key ports in Kenya and Tanzania in East Africa.  However, Experts have questioned the economic viability of many of these projects and point out that they have more to do with military rather than commercial interests.

Chinese nuclear submarines have made several visits to Sri Lanka in September and November 2014, despite strong displeasure from the Indian government. The presence of Chinese nuclear attack submarines in the Indian Ocean reinforces Beijing’s aggression in competing with India for dominance in a region strategically vital to India’s security.

The political and military relations between Pakistan –Sri Lanka are also growing strong. Sri Lanka will become the first foreign country to acquire Pakistan’s multi-role combat aircraft JF-17 Thunder, and the Pakistan Air Force will begin delivery of the fighter to Sri Lanka from 2017, a report said. The relationship between both Pakistan and Sri Lanka, who are also members of SAARC, which are generally warm have gone into strong tie recently.

In March 2017, Two warships from the Pakistan Navy (PN), PNS Nasr and PNS Saif, made a port visit to Sri Lanka’s Colombo port during their overseas deployment to South East Asian countries, said a statement by the Pakistan Navy. The PN flotilla conducted exercises with Sri Lankan warships in the Indian Ocean for enhancing interoperability and operational coordination between the two navies, added the statement.

The relationship also fosters on strong mutual Sino-Pakistan and Sino-Sri Lankan relationship, as China maintains strong mutual interest in the economic and military development of Sri Lanka and Pakistan.

Sri Lanka –China Relationship

China has pumped millions of dollars into Sri Lanka’s infrastructure since the end of a 26-year civil war in 2009. Chinese funds have been channeled into roads, airports, and sea ports, the two highest profile initiatives being the Hambantota Port Development and the Colombo Port Project.

Relations between both countries during the rule of Sri Lankan president, Mahinda Rajapaksa, resulted in many agreements and saw closer relations due to Rajapaksa’s pro-China stance.

Under current Sri Lankan president, Maithripala Sirisena, relations remain strong with Sirisena interested in balancing both Chinese and Indian influence in the country. Despite this, recent developments have shown a “pro-China” slant to Sri Lanka’s current foreign policy evident in the continued Chinese investment in Sri Lanka and country’s support of China’s position in the South China Sea dispute.

 

Growing China Sri Lanka Defense ties

In October 2016, the Chinese government announced it would offer military aid to Sri Lanka to help them purchase Chinese made military equipment.

China has been a continuing source of military equipment to Sri Lanka, and is helping to modernize and expand the Sri Lanka Armed Forces. China exports military equipment to the Sri Lanka military including: ammunition, anti-tank guided missiles, rocket launchers and shoulder-fired surface-to-air missiles, deep penetration bombs and rockets, mortar ammunition, night vision devices, artillery, armor, mortars, security equipment, tanks, jets, naval vessels, radars, and communications equipment. China also aids in the training of Sri Lankan military personnel.

China National Aero Technology Import-Export Corporation is helping the Sri Lanka government to create an Aircraft Maintenance Centre. However, the location has not yet been finalised, but Katunayake, Mattala and Trincomalee are possible locations.

 

Sri Lanka Pakistan

Sri Lanka recently acknowledged Pakistan’s “decisive role” in consolidating the country’s integrity during the civil war with the LTTE as Pakistan’s Navy chief Admiral Muhammad Zakaullah called on its top leadership. The Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Hussein A. Bhaila of Sri Lanka, after the defeat of Tamil Tigers, said: “The government and the people of Sri Lanka have considered Pakistan as a true friend of Sri Lanka, which has always stood by it in times of need…”

Sri Lanka started buying arms and ammunition from Pakistan in a big way from 1999. With India reluctant to sign a Defense Cooperation Agreement with Sri Lanka and unwilling to supply it with the kind of weapons it is looking for, Colombo has turned increasingly to Pakistan.

The total purchases until December 2007 were worth $50 million while there has been a sudden jump in the quantity of merchandise ordered in 2009 and the amount has been tripled. In May 2000, President Musharraf of Pakistan supplied millions of dollars of much-needed weapons to the Sri Lankan government, when separatist Tamil Tiger rebels were about to recapture their former capital of Jaffna.

In May 2008, Lt. Gen Sarath Fonseka of the Sri Lanka Army held talks with his Pakistan Army counterparts regarding the sale of military equipment, weapons and ammunition. The supplies of 22 Al-Khalid MBTs to the Sri Lanka Army was finalized during these talks in a deal worth over US$100 million.

In April 2009, Sri Lanka requested $25 million worth of 81 mm, 120 mm and 130 mm mortar ammunition to be delivered within a month. During a state visit by President Asif Ali Zardari to Sri Lanka in Nov 2010, Sri Lanka evinced interest in purchase of Pakistani al-Khalid Main Battle Tanks, light weapons and ammunition, and the Sino-Pak joint venture product JF-17 Thunder aircraft. Pakistan has also offered to train Sri Lankan spies for intelligence gathering purposes. Apart from traditional military assistance to Sri Lanka, Pakistan has also offered to train Sri Lankan police and intelligence service officers.

In April, 2015 Sri Lanka signed a nuclear energy deal with Pakistan. , snubbing a similar offer from India. The snub is thought to come in the wake of India’s vote against Sri Lanka on the Tamil issue at the UN human rights council. Sri Lanka also avoided joining the boycott of the SAARC summit that was scheduled to be held in November 2016 in Pakistan.

 

India Sri Lanka

India has sought to counter the growing Chinese influence in Sri Lanka, by strengthening ties with the Colombo government through economic cooperation as the Indian Ocean island nation assumes increasing importance as a regional trading hub in one of the world’s busiest sea lanes.

India’s importance to Sri Lanka is beyond question: it is the island’s largest trading partner and has provided over $2.5 billion worth of development assistance. Over 70 percent of the cargo handled in Colombo port is transhipment cargo to and from India. The two countries are keen to upgrade their existing FTA by signing a new trade pact called the Economic and Technology Cooperation Agreement (ETCA), which would enhance commercial ties between Sri Lanka and India’s fast-growing southern states.

 

 

References and Resources also include:

http://thediplomat.com/2017/05/india-and-chinas-tug-of-war-over-sri-lanka/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pakistan%E2%80%93Sri_Lanka_relations

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/China%E2%80%93Sri_Lanka_relations

https://www.dawn.com/news/1321288




China leading the Global Space race to build Moon bases, harness it’s mineral resources and helium-3, fuel for future nuclear fusion power plants

China will send lunar probe Chang’e 5 to land on the moon and return with samples in the second half of 2017, in first such attempt, officials said. It will be the first time a Chinese probe would land on the moon, collect samples and return to Earth, and the third stage of China’s lunar exploration endeavour, according to the State Administration of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defence (SASTIND). Exotic materials including helium-3 and the potential for solar power could prove invaluable for humankind, said Prof Ouyang Ziyuan of the department of lunar and deep space exploration.

 

President Trump signed a presidential order  directing NASA to prepare a return to the moon. “It marks an important step in returning American astronauts to the moon for the first time since 1972 for long-term exploration and use,” the president said during a White House signing ceremony in the Roosevelt Room. “We’re dreaming big.”

 

NASA’s Catalyst program is urging companies to make “soft landings” on the surface with probes and ships. NASA calls for bids to mine in space. NASA recently announced that for human astronauts, the path to Mars will include a stop at the moon, where the agency may build a facility currently being called the Deep Space Gateway. That structure could serve as a kind of way station between the Earth and the Red Planet. (The concept for this particular lunar way station has been around for at least five years.)

 

Space agencies in China, Japan, Europe, Russia, Iran and a few private companies all hope to send people to the moon by as early as 2025. They’re talking about building bases, mining for natural resources, and studying the moon in unprecedented detail. A key figure at the European Space Agency says we must look at how we exploit the moon’s resources before it is too late, as missions begin surface mapping.

 Moon has abundance of invaluable materials

The moon has abundant of invaluable materials; an acronym KREEP signifies the richness of geochemical components potassium (K), rare-earth elements (REE) and phosphorus (P) in lunar rocks. The lunar orbiters from Europe, China, Japan, India and US have also pointed to the presence of minerals and related geologic processes.

 

The moon is also rich in helium-3, gold, cobalt, iron, palladium and tungsten. The soil samples collected by Appolo 17 mission had confirmed the presence of helium-3. Helium-3 can fuel non-radioactive nuclear fusion reactors in the future to produce safe, efficient and clean energy, vital to our energy security. Scientists estimate that the moon could contain approximately 1 million tons of helium-3, enough to power the entire earth for 10,000 years.

 

NASA’s Moon Mineralogy Mapper, known as M3, carried on India’s Chandrayaan-I, found many mineral concentrations and even presence of water on the surface of the moon. Water on the moon is strategically important for life support, energy storage and as propellant.

 

Rare earth elements, called rare because of their low abundance on earth, are essential ingredients of many modern consumer and defense products including wind turbines, glass for solar panels and guided missiles.

International Initiatives

China

China is taking another step in its space exploration programme, starting a trial scenario for a permanent Moon station.Four postgraduate students from the astronautics university of Beihang moved into the cabin, ambitiously called the Yuegong-1, or Lunar Palace in English. They will stay in the cabin for 60 days, followed by another group who will stay for 200 days. The first four will then return for yet another 105 days.

 

According to state news agency Xinhua, one of the main elements of the experiment is to explore is how a space mission could be entirely self-contained over a long period of time. Human waste will undergo a bio-fermentation process, and crops and vegetables are to be grown with the help of food and waste by-products. The model Moon station has two plant cultivation modules and a living cabin housing four bed cubicles, one common room, a bathroom, a waste treatment room and a room for raising animals.

 

China successfully landed a spacecraft — the Chang’e 3 — on the moon in December 2013, becoming only the third nation after the United States and Russia to land on the moon’s surface. The Chang’e 3 mission, included lander and China’s first lunar rove called Yutu (“Jade Rabbit”), which successfully soft-landed on the Moon.

 

The country will also unveil a new generation of carrier rockets including Long March 5 and 7 in 2016, along with other new satellites and spacelabs.

 

China’s growing space ambitions are targeted towards future economic development and strategic advantage. Ouyang Ziyuan, a prominent Chinese geologist and chemical cosmologist, was among the first to advocate the exploitation not only of known lunar reserves of metals such as titanium, but also of helium-3, an ideal fuel for future nuclear fusion power plants.

 

China’s official news agency Xinhua reported that China will start its third phase in 2017 by launching the Chang’e-5 spacecraft. Its mission includes orbiting, landing on the moon and then returning to earth. After making a soft landing on the moon, the lander will dig and collect rock samples from up to two meters below the surface.

 

China first to explore ‘dark side’ of the moon

China has confirmed it plans to send a spacecraft to land on the moon’s “dark side” before 2020, state media reports — a mission, which, if successful, would make it the first country to do so.

 

The mission will be carried out by the lunar probe Chang’e-4, Zou Yongliao, a scientist at the Chinese Academy of Sciences said at a deep space exploration forum on Tuesday. In May, Wu Weiren, the chief engineer for China’s Lunar Exploration Program told state-run broadcaster CCTV that China would send the Chang’e-4 spacecraft to orbit the moon before sending a rover to the surface.

 

“We probably will choose a site on which it is more difficult to land and more technically challenging… Our next move will probably see some spacecraft land on the far side of the moon,” Wu said.

 

When the Apollo astronauts visited the moon in the late 60s and early 70s, “they covered two parts in one million of the lunar surface,” David Kring of the Lunar and Planetary Institute said. The far side of the moon and its polar regions remain untouched.

 

Johann-Dietrich Wörner director general of European Space Agency asserted that a far-side outpost on the moon offers a number of “drivers,” including cosmological research. For instance, the lunar far side is shielded from radiation-chatter broadcasts from Earth, allowing radio telescopes built there to survey the universe with very little background noise, he said.

Chinese Ambitions

Prof Ouyang Ziyuan of the department of lunar and deep space exploration explained that there were three motivations behind the drive to investigate the Moon. “First, to develop our technology because lunar exploration requires many types of technology, including communications, computers, all kinds of IT skills and the use of different kinds of materials. This is the key reason,” he told BBC News.

 

“Second, in terms of the science, besides Earth we also need to know our brothers and sisters like the Moon, its origin and evolution and then from that we can know about our Earth. “Third, in terms of the talents, China needs its own intellectual team who can explore the whole lunar and solar system – that is also our main purpose.”

 

A rationale for this long-term programme is that “there are many ways humans can use the Moon”. With no air on the Moon, solar panels would operate far more efficiently, he believes, and a “belt” of them could “support the whole world”. The Moon is also “so rich” in helium-3, which is a possible fuel for nuclear fusion, that this could “solve human beings’ energy demand for around 10,000 years at least.

 

Prof Ouyang highlighted the combination of an extremely thin atmosphere and massive temperature extremes offering a unique possibility for manufacturing that does not exist on Earth. “The Moon is full of resources – mainly rare earth elements, titanium, and uranium, which the Earth is really short of, and these resources can be used without limitation.

 

Moon Express look toward Lunar Mining

California-based company Moon Express, which aims to fly commercial missions to the moon and help unlock its resources, has signed a five-launch deal with Rocket Lab, with the first two robotic liftoffs scheduled to take place in 2017.

 

The 3.9-foot-wide (1.2 m) Electron rocket is designed to deliver a 330-lb. (150 kilograms) payload to a sun-synchronous orbit 310 miles (500 kilometers) above Earth, according to Rocket Lab’s website.

 

The contract puts Moon Express in position to possibly win the Google Lunar X Prize, a $30 million competition to land a privately funded robotic spacecraft on the moon by the end of 2017. The first team to do this — and have the craft move 1,640 feet (500 m) and beam high-definition video and images back to Earth as well — will win the $20 million grand prize. (The second team to accomplish these goals gets $5 million; another $5 million is available for meeting certain other milestones.)

 

Mining the moon for rare minerals is considered an exciting prospect because the supply of resources here on Earth is limited. Given the finite amount of these Earth-based minerals and metals, the cost is astronomically high. Palladium, for instance, which is used for electronics, sells for $784 per ounce.

 

Moon Express plans to send its robotic lander, dubbed “MX-1,” to the moon by 2016, aiming to demonstrate safety and reliability of the moon landing. It has already put into test a prototype at the Kennedy Space Center.

 

Naveen Jain, the co-founder of Moon Express said, that while the first mission of the company’s lander is a one-way trip — which means that MX-1 won’t be traveling back to Earth — the second and third missions could already involve bringing precious minerals, metals and moon rocks back to Earth.

Russia plan to place astronauts on the moon by 2029

“A manned flight to the Moon and lunar landing is planned for 2029,” Vladimir Solntsev, head of Roscosmos Energia (RSC Energia), said in an announcement, reported Russia Today. Also, in the far eastern part of their country, the Russians are building a huge, $3 billion cosmodrome. Reports indicate that this be a new spaceport specifically designed to send and receive spacecraft from lunar orbit.

 

After a series of failures, the Russian space industry stands on the brink of new technological breakthroughs in the field of space technology, Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin said. According to Rogozin, one of the goals of the Russian space industry today is to build a super-heavy rocket that would ensure the creation of a manned lunar station.

 

As for the rocket and the spaceship, there are two big issues about it. If it goes about unmanned exploration of the moon, Luna-25 and Luna-26 stations and so on, then these activities are part of the federal space program before 2025 that should be implemented soon, in 2017 and 2018.

 

“As for a manned flight to the moon, a breakthrough effort is required indeed, because existing launch vehicles and even launch vehicles of the near future are, unfortunately, unable to deliver Russian cosmonauts to the Moon. We need to develop new launch vehicles for the purpose. “There is Angara-A5V launcher, for example. This is a heavy carrier rocket with increased lifting capacity. This rocket could make a lunar mission possible, but this work is outside the federal space program, but we have the potential.”

 

“This is part of a larger Putin strategy to reestablish Russia as a significant political player and a major state in international affairs that needs to be taken into account,” Charles Hermann, professor of international affairs at the Bush School said. Hermann said politically and economically, Russia might experience problems in a moon mission. “It’s a long way until 2029, and there is not only the technological challenges of doing this but perhaps even greater is the financial one,” Hermann said.

 

However, experts point out that some of their rockets are dating back to 1960’s and in historical terms, Russia has not had a successful interplanetary mission since 1984. The Vega 2 to Venus remains their biggest accomplishment since then.

 

“Russian economy is incredibly dependent on petroleum at this point in time and if they don’t have a stronger economic base than they do now it may be difficult to sustain, to allocate, the kinds of resources to this project that it will require.” Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev intends to cut funding for the space program by 30%. Russia is now looking for collaboration with Europe for joint moon missions.

Russian and European Space Agency Plan Permanent Moon Bases

Roscosmos, the Russian federal space agency, in partnership with the European Space Agency have planned to cooperate in a sequence of missions to the moon that could lead to a possible permanent human settlement there.

 

The first mission, dubbed Luna 27 and intended to put a robotic lander on an unexplored area of the moon’s south pole, will launch in 5 years’ time. The South Pole has been chosen as a landing site because scientists believe many areas of the region which are in constant darkness might harbor ice, which could be a resource usable by future manned missions. ESA will also provide a mini-laboratory, named ProSPA, which will be used by astronauts to evaluate their findings.

 

“First of all, it goes about the exploration of the Moon itself. The lunar exploration of the past – the flights of US astronauts and Soviet spacecraft to the Moon could give us just a glimpse of the Earth’s satellite. Not that long ago, scientists discovered large reserves of water in the lunar soil. This is very important, because, if a lunar station is ever built, it will be possible to extract water and produce oxygen and hydrogen from it. Hydrogen would be used as fuel, so this is a direct way to the development of lunar resources.

 

“The 21st century will be the century when it will be the permanent outpost of human civilization, and our country has to participate in this process,” said mission leader scientist Professor Igor Mitrofanov, of the Space Research Institute in Moscow. “We have to go to the moon.”

 

Building a settlement for a permanent human presence on the moon’s surface can provide both scientific and commercial benefits, Mitrofanov says. “It will be for astronomical observation, for the utilization of minerals and other lunar resources and to create an outpost that can be visited by cosmonauts working together as a test bed for their future flight to Mars.”

 

“The Moon can also be used for various astrophysical experiments, because there is no atmosphere there, and one can install different radio telescopes directly on the surface of the satellite. Cosmonauts would play the role of both scientists and technical operators in this case.”

 

USA Reorients towards Moon mission

In 2010, President Obama announced the administration’s decision to cancel NASA’s plans to return to the moon based on financially unsustainability, in favor of ambitious Asteroid Redirect Mission. Obama said that the U.S. would first send astronauts to an asteroid, then to orbit Mars by the 2030s, and finally to land on Mars after that.

 

NASA is developing the first ever mission to identify, capture and relocate an asteroid to a stable orbit around the moon, and send astronauts to return samples of it to Earth. This Asteroid Redirect Mission (ARM) will greatly advance NASA’s human path to Mars, testing the capabilities needed for future crewed missions to the Red Planet.

 

An overwhelming majority of the scientific community seems to disapproved of Obama’s change in plans. David Kring of the Lunar and Planetary Institute said he, like many others, believes that a moon mission would serve as a much better precursor for a trip to Mars than a mission to an asteroid. He explained that the moon would allow NASA to develop the skills and technology needed to go to Mars while staying in relatively close proximity to Earth, meaning a quicker recovery time if problems arise, and the ability to do more missions and speed up the learning process.

 

Now President Trump signed a presidential order directing NASA to prepare a return to the moon. NASA recently announced that for human astronauts, the path to Mars will include a stop at the moon, where the agency may build a facility currently being called the Deep Space Gateway. That structure could serve as a kind of way station between the Earth and the Red Planet. (The concept for this particular lunar way station has been around for at least five years.)

 

Both the president and the vice president said today that NASA’s focus on its human spaceflight program will help create jobs for the country, and both men briefly mentioned the defense and military applications of the space program. “As everyone here knows, establishing a renewed American presence on the moon is vital to achieve our strategic objectives and the objectives outlined by our National Space Council,” Pence said. “In pursuing these objectives, Mr. President, we will, as you said, enhance our national security and our capacity to provide for the common defense of the people of the United States of America.”

 

Robert Lightfoot, NASA’s acting administrator, said he thinks the new directive could provide “a sense of urgency” to NASA’s spaceflight pursuits. He noted that there are “a lot of people that want to help [NASA]” reach those goals, including international space partners and commercial space partners in the U.S. “And if we can all stay focused on the same goal, we’ll be okay,” Lightfoot said.

 

NASA and Russia  to work collaboratively for space station

NASA and Russia’s space agency, Roscosmos, signed a joint statement expressing their intent to work collaboratively toward the development of a space station further out from Earth, orbiting the Moon, as a staging point for both lunar surface exploration and deeper space science.

This is part of NASA’s expressed desire to explore and develop its so-called “deep space gateway” concept, which it intends to be a strategic base from which to expand the range and capabilities of human space exploration. NASA wants to get humans out into space beyond the Moon, in other words, and the gateway concept would establish an orbital space station in the vicinity of the Moon to help make this a more practical possibility.

“While the deep space gateway is still in concept formulation, NASA is pleased to see growing international interest in moving into cislunar space as the next step for advancing human space exploration,” Robert Lightfoot, NASA’s acting administrator at NASA Headquarters in Washington said in a NASA press release announcing the news. “Statements such as this one signed with Roscosmos show the gateway concept as an enabler to the kind of exploration architecture that is affordable and sustainable.”

 

Technology Challenges

However, commercial moon mining is so technologically daunting that it may take decades before it can become economically viable. Enough robotic exploration moon missions are required to map the quality, quantity and distribution of these minerals. The potential mining methods, their economic viability and methods to separate the almost similar minerals from the ore need to be studied.

 

The cost of lunar access and bringing the mined ores back to earth shall need to be reduced drastically through advances in propulsion, avionics, mining robots, launchers and spacecraft design. The technologies like 3D printing could help build infrastructure on the moon, as well as missions which are beginning to map its surface ahead of bids to drill for its resources.

 

John Junkins, distinguished professor of aerospace engineering, said getting astronauts to the moon and back is no easy feat. “There are many many technical challenges, but the biggest one is attention to detail with a very, very large and complicated effort and to do that over a sustained period of time so that they can get there and back safely,” Junkins said.

 

Junkins said a moon landing involves a mixture of various disciplines. “Everything from life support, to designing the rockets themselves, all of the navigation aspects and control functions, the tremendous attention to detail, to integration of a massive human effort and many technologies, and then the discipline that is required to do this safely,” Junkins said.

 

Worner also proposed a permanent moon station as the successor of ISS, this station should be international, “meaning that the different actors can contribute with their respective competencies and interests.” Wörner said that “the moon station can be an important stepping stone for any further exploration in deep space,” adding that a lunar outpost could help humanity learn how to use resources on-site instead of transporting them.

References and Resources also include:

https://techcrunch.com/2017/09/27/nasa-and-russia-agree-to-work-together-on-moon-space-station/

http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/china/2016-05/27/content_25486034.htm

http://www.space.com/30720-moon-express-private-lunar-launch-2017.html

http://www.bbc.com/news/25141597

http://www.pravdareport.com/science/tech/29-11-2016/136290-moon_exploration-0/

https://www.space.com/39050-trump-directs-nasa-humans-to-moon.html




South Korea deploying swarm drones and killer sentry robots for surveillance and weapon attacks

Kim  has finally succeeded in  developing  an ICBM operational capability through which it can  deliver a nuclear weapon anywhere in the United States, according to analysis based on Images released by North Korea. North Korea released dozens of photos and a video after 29 Nov launch of the new Hwasong-15 missile, and leader Kim Jong Un declared the country had “finally realized the great historic cause of completing the state nuclear force”. Kim Jong Un’s regime is believed to have between 25 and 60 nuclear weapons.

United States and South Korea have decided to counter North Korean missile capabilities with an advanced system on the Korean peninsula. This year, South Korea installed a US operated Terminal High-Altitude Area Defence antimissile battery that can shoot down short and medium-range missiles. But, the battery only has a short range and cannot cover the whole of the country.

South Korea also requires surveillance technologies  to keep watch  on the North , according to a  senior South Korean official the South lacks a military satellite, however, the US and Japanese satellites share images with South Korean officials in real time.

South Korea is also planning to deploy drones  and drone swarms for surveillance and  weapon attacks. South Korea’s military is planning to set up a weaponized drone combat unit to bolster its ability to defend against North Korea, the Seoul-based Yonhap News Agency reports.

“The Army plans to set up a special organization to lead the development of dronebots, establish a standard platform and expand the dronebot program by function,” a South Korean army official told Yonhap. “To begin with, we will launch a dronebot combat unit next year and use it as a ‘game changer’ in warfare.” Dronebot is a combination of the words “drone” and “robot.” The drone unit, set to be launched in 2018, will be used for surveillance and will also be ready to mobilize to launch attacks.

ROK has also deployed killer robots  on the DMZ  to reduce casualties across the border as well allow the ROK to match with massive military force of North Korea in case of flare up.The Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) is a strip of land running across the Korean Peninsula that serves as a buffer zone between North and South Korea. It is 250 kilometers (160 miles) long and approximately 4 km (2.5 mi) wide, is one of the most heavily militarized border in the world, patrolled all along its length.

South Korea’s automatic killer sentry robots  guard Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ)

South Korea has deployed the automatic sentry guns, Samsung SGR-A1 and the Super Aegis 2 in the DMZ. Super Aegis 2 an automated, turret-based weapon platform capable of locking onto a human target three kilometers away. The Samsung SGR-A1 is $200,000, Sentry Guard Robot has IR and visible light cameras and motion sensors to detect and track multiple targets from over two miles (3.2 km). It can give warning and provide suppressive fire against intruders, through a 5.56 mm robotic machine gun under the control of a human operator from a remote location.

Super Aegis 2, manufactured by DoDaam of South, Korea, supports a variety of weapons, from a standard machine-gun to a surface-to-air missile. It uses sophisticated thermal imaging software and camera systems to lock onto a human-sized target even in the dead of night. The system requires no human presence., It’s operated remotely from a distant control room.

The SGR-A1 robot is developed jointly by the Korea University and Samsung Techwin Co. It has a CCD and an infra-red camera, allowing it to detect and track targets at ranges of up to 4Km during the day and 2Km during nighttime. The system uses pattern recognition software to distinguish humans from animals or other objects. The robot can verbally command an enemy target to surrender, recognize the surrendering gesture of the soldier’s arms held high and then decide not to fire. If the intruder is unable to provide the necessary access code when at a distance of ten meters, the Samsung SGR-A1 can either sound an alarm, fire rubber bullets or make use of its Daewoo K3 5.56mm machine gun.

There are also moral and ethical issues with these killer robots, they pose a great threat to human rights, and international community need to evolve sufficient controls to govern their use.

 

References and resources also include:

https://www.express.co.uk/news/world/886609/North-Korea-South-Korea-nuclear-war-missile-strike-WW3-ICBM-military-kim-jong-un-news

http://www.newsweek.com/north-koreas-nuclear-threats-prompt-south-korea-form-armed-drone-unit-case-war-736210




China is on the way to displace US as global leader In Renewable Energy enabling strategic military advantage

US president Trump’s budget contain significant cuts in government spending on clean energy development, while he pursues policies to bring back coal. The administration’s 2018 budget proposes to slash funding for the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy by a stunning 71.9%. “We are unified that cuts of this magnitude…will do serious harm to this office’s critical work and America’s energy future,” the former officials wrote in a letter to members of Congress.

Investments made by that office are critical to “creating good-paying jobs, cutting pollution and ensuring American global competitiveness,” the letter said. Solar employment expanded last year 17 times faster than the total U.S. jobs market, according to the Solar Foundation. Overall, taxpayer investment of $12 billion in the DOE’s renewable division has generated an estimated net economic benefit to the U.S. of more than $230 billion, according to its website.

Meanwhile China has put almost $88 billion into renewables in 2016—one-third more than the U.S. pointing to its new role as the world leader in renewable energy investment. China has vaulted to the top of the world in solar power capacity in 2016, passing Germany, which had been the long-standing leader. The country added more than 34 gigawatts of solar capacity last year—nearly 1.5 times the amount the U.S. has installed in its entire history. China also installed more than 23 gigawatts of wind power in 2016, almost three times as much as the U.S. added that year.

Earlier, President Donald Trump announced withdrawal of the United States from the Paris climate accord. In a speech from the White House Rose Garden, Trump made a largely economic case for withdrawing from the agreement, arguing the nonbinding accord was unfair to American workers and U.S. competitiveness.

China said its CO2 emissions in 2017 will drop 1 percent from 2016, making it the fourth consecutive year of either zero growth or a decline in the country’s emissions. The forecast by China’s National Energy Administration is encouraging news in the effort to slow climate change.  China is on track to meet its pledge to get 15 percent of its energy from clean energy sources including renewables, nuclear and hydropower, and to reduce the energy intensity of its economy by 40 to 45 percent from 2005 levels by 2020.

“As Trump’s rhetoric leaves the world in doubt over what his plan is to tackle climate change, China is being thrust into a leadership role,” Li Shuo, a global policy advisor for Greenpeace, said in a statement.

China has announced that it will invest $361 billion in renewable energy by 2020. The investment will create over 13 million jobs in the sector, the National Energy Administration (NEA) said in a blueprint document that lays out its plan to develop the nation’s energy sector during the five-year 2016 to 2020 period. The NEA said installed renewable power capacity including wind, hydro, solar, and nuclear power will contribute to about half of new electricity generation by 2020.

The Energy Information Administration (EIA), the statistical arm of the U.S. Department of Energy, in its International Energy Outlook 2016 estimates China’s oil imports in 2015 amounted to about 6.6 million barrels per day (b/d), representing 59 percent of the country’s total oil consumption. By 2035, the EIA projects China’s oil imports will rise to about 9.7 million b/d, accounting for about 62 percent of total oil consumption.

China’s reliance on imported natural gas is also significant. According to the EIA, China’s natural gas imports, which amounted to 1.4 trillion cubic feet (Tcf) in 2015 (about 24 percent of consumption), are expected to rise to 6 Tcf (about 26 percent of consumption) in 2035. The EIA forecast on China’s energy imports implies a rather modest annual growth rate of about 2 percent for oil imports and a more robust 7.5 percent annual growth rate for gas imports.

China majority of  oil and gas imports is over sea lines of communication (SLOCs) and through maritime choke points are controlled by U.S. navy and are susceptible to naval blockade.

China is  developing alternate land routes to bypass current maritime routes.  Earlier in May Last year, China had entered into a historic contract with Russia, an estimated $400 billion gas deal to supply 38 billion cubic meters of gas annually over three decades starting in 2018. Per EIA’s base case projection, in 2035 Russia could satisfy about 85 percent of China’s oil import requirements (8.1 of 9.7 million b/d) and all of China’s needs for natural gas imports (6 Tcf).  China shares a 4,179 kilometers (km) land border with Russia, so pipelines connecting Russian oil and gas fields to northeastern China would be secure and energy flows could not be effectively shut down by the United States.

China’s thrust in renewable energy shall also reduce the vulnerability of its oil and gas imports over sea lines of communication (SLOCs) and through maritime choke points. Advanced energy systems will temper rising global demand for oil, impacting global diplomacy and influence, with direct national security implications for the U.S., says CNA report.

The United States must lead in the global transition to clean energy or risk losing influence in South Asia and Africa, a coalition of retired U.S. generals and admirals said in a report.

Russia and Iran, two countries not always friendly to Washington, are positioning themselves to meet burgeoning oil and natural gas demand in India and China. For example, a nearly $13 billion agreement giving Russian state oil firm Rosneft and its partners a 98 percent share of India’s Essar oil company is expected to close this month.

Meanwhile, China and countries in Europe are leading the way in investing in clean energy in Africa and India, where energy demand is expected to grow strongly for decades.

 

The Global lead in Renewable technology shall enable strategic  military advantage

Energy is also vital to Defence for war fighting capabilities, such as increased range, better endurance, longer time on station, and reduced requirements for resupply.

“Installations at home and abroad are increasingly dependent on energy for real-time command and control, remote operations of unmanned air and ground units, and intelligence analysis. In addition, the Defense Department is developing a new strategy—“The Third Offset Strategy”—that places specific focus on next-generation technologies, platforms, and weapons systems to sustain our competitive advantage. These new systems, such as rail guns and directed energy weapons (lasers), will be more dependent on reliable high-capacity electrical systems that will require advanced energy components. Secure power is essential now, and will be even more so in the future,” says CNA report.

Improved energy performance also can reduce the risk and effects of attacks on supply lines and enable tactical and operational superiority. One in nearly 40 fuel convoys in Iraq in 2007 resulted in a death or serious injury, according to a study commissioned by the Defense Department. In Afghanistan the same year, one in 24 fuel convoys suffered casualties.

Advanced energy systems can lower vulnerable logistical requirements, extending missions by reducing the need for fuel resupply, and lowering the number of combat forces needed to protect fuel supplies for our warfighters in forward operations and installations. DoD should explore alternate and renewable energy sources that are reliable, cost effective, and can relieve the dependence of deployed forces on vulnerable fuel supply chains to better enable our primary mission to win in conflict. The purpose of such efforts should be to increase the readiness and reach of our forces.” said James Mattis, U.S. Secretary of Defense.

The DOD has made advanced energy sources for installations a priority. This is being driven “to ensure the energy resilience and reliability of a large percentage of the energy it manages, reduce the amount of budget allocated to this energy, and treat installation energy as a force multiplier in the support of military readiness.”  To realize this objective, the DOD has set a goal to procure at least 25 percent of total facility energy from renewable energy sources, while installing 3 gigawatts of renewable energy directly on its installations, by FY 2025

The lack of emphasis on renewable may also impact US  Department of Defense (DoD) that  had embarked upon an ambitious program of expanded renewable energy generation on bases and in the field, with a goal of producing 25% of its energy from renewable sources by 2025. The armed forces nearly doubled renewable power generation between 2011 and 2015, to 10,534 billion British thermal units, or enough to power about 286,000 average U.S. homes, according to a Department of Defense report. The number of military renewable energy projects nearly tripled to 1,390 between 2011 and 2015, department data showed, with a number of utilities and solar companies benefiting.

 

Zhao Keshi, a member of the CMC and director of the Logistics Department of the CMC, asserted that President Xi Jinping conceives of energy construction as an integral part of the national security plan to include expansion and construction of more renewable energy resources.

Additionally, Zhao identified two important and ongoing trends in his remarks: the revolution in national energy and the full integration of civilian and military (civ-mil) development that will enhance the Chinese “wartime ability to fight.” From Zhao’s comments, it would appear that China is securitizing renewable energy, as part of a broader energy strategy (能源戰略).

Chinese leader Xi has repeatedly stressed the importance of “military-civilian integration” as a core component of the country’s military development strategy. China’s leaders believe this integration will help China continue its rapid defense modernization without creating too great a drag on its economy. “Through in-depth development of military-civilian integration, military technologies are gradually applied in civilian fields, making high-tech equipment available to commercial markets. At the same time, we have also emphasized the importance of encouraging more civilian product suppliers to actively participate in the defense-building process,” said Dai Hao, Director-General of China’s Institute of Command and Control.

 

According to The CNA Military Advisory Board, a Virginia-based think-tank,The US is falling behind other countries in advanced energy technologies, threatening national security and undermining its global influence. The CNA Military Advisory Board, a Virginia-based think-tank, argues that the US should “take a leadership role in the transition to advanced energy” by stepping up research and development of technologies such as renewables, nuclear power, energy efficiency and electricity storage.

 

 

 

References and Resources also include:

http://money.cnn.com/2017/06/08/investing/renewable-energy-trump-budget-cuts/index.html

https://www.epa.gov/ghgemissions/global-greenhouse-gas-emissions-data

http://thediplomat.com/2017/01/deconstructing-chinas-energy-security-strategy/

https://www.cna.org/CNA_files/PDF/IRM-2017-U-015512.pdf




Strategic relationship between Russia & China have expanded from energy, economic, technology to military and aerospace domains after sanctions

On May 14-15, China hosted the very first Belt Road Forum (BRF) in Beijing. 29 heads of state, including special guest Russian President Vladimir Putin, attended the forum. The BRF is a major milestone of the four-year long development of Beijing’s key foreign policy idea – the Belt Road Initiative (BRI). The Belt and Road Initiative proposed by China in 2013 consists of the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st-Century Maritime Silk Road. It aims to build a trade and infrastructure network connecting Asia with Europe and Africa along and beyond the ancient Silk Road trade routes.

Russia is considered to be a major partner and a key driver of the BRI.  One of the economic result of the BRF for Moscow is the establishment of China-Russia Regional Cooperation Development Investment Fund “to promote cooperation between China’s Northeast and Russia’s Far East.” Russia-China cooperation under the Belt and Road Initiative will accelerate the development of bilateral relations and lead to global changes in Eurasia, said Valentina Matviyenko, Speaker of the Federation Council, or the upper house of the Russian parliament, at the third international conference “Russia-China: Taking on a New Quality of Bilateral Relations.”

Western sanctions on Russia over its role in the Ukraine crisis have fuelled the deepening ties between them. In response to the annexation of Crimea and Sevastopol by Russia, the European Union, United States have introduced various trade sanctions against Russia which have been extended and further strengthened. The current official Western view is that sanctions are a way to punish Russia for violating the rules of the international order and to thereby correct its behavior in the future. The Russians believe the sanctions are designed to weaken Russia and reduce its ability to defend itself.

Since sanctions began to bite, and sharp decline in global oil and natural gas prices,Putin has reached out to China to fill the investment gap, drawing up a $400bn gas supply deal, a potential $230bn rail link, fighter jet sales and deals to bring China’s UnionPay payment system to Russia’s banks. According to the Chinese Ministry of Commerce, Chinese companies invested more than $100 million in Russia between January and April this year. “We see a serious interest in Russia-China cooperation from business circles of both countries,” said Vitaly Monkevich, president of the Russian-Asian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs (RAUIE).

“China and Russia are facing renewed threats from their neighbors 70 years after the end of WWII. The two countries’ past contributions in WWII have also been undermined by the West. There is a need for the two countries to unite and provide support to each other,” said Wang Haiyun, former military attaché at the Chinese embassy in Moscow.

Another analyst, Xu Guangyu, a retired general, said China and Russia did not want to form a military alliance. Instead, they were developing their “all-round strategic partnership”, which covered “political, economic, security and diplomatic” issues

Russia and China have established in recent years a relationship that is more than a simple strategic partnership, which will be further promoted, Russian President Vladimir Putin said at his annual year-end press conference.

Russian and China cooperating  on New Silk Road (One Belt, One Road) mega-project

China has made Russia a stakeholder in its New Silk Road (One Belt, One Road) mega-project. Russia and China working to merge the Russian-led Eurasian Economic Union and the Chinese-led Silk Road Project into a single whole as part of their joint “Greater Eurasia” project in which they ultimately want to involve Europe too.

President Xi Jinping of China, Vladimir Putin of Russia, and Elbegdorj Tsakhiaof Mongolia approved of the Russian, Chinese, Mongolian Tri- lateral Cooperation Plan: “On politics, we need to promote mutual trust, and unite our destinies. In terms of economic cooperation, the three sides must continue to join separate regions in collective collaboration. For society, the three sides should pay close attention to the populace and their communication and exchange. For international affairs, we must promote collaboration to sustain world peace and stability.”

Chinese and Russian companies will be involved in the two countries’ economic and trade cooperation, after Moscow and Beijing signed a joint statement on integrating China’s Silk Road Economic Belt initiative with the building of the Russia-led Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) in 2016.

The aim of member-states of the EEU currently comprises Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Armenia and Kyrgyzstan, which came into effect on January 1, 2015, is to ensure the free movement of goods, services, capital and workforce on their common turf. The EEU common market is of significance for the Silk Road Economic Belt, which calls for closer diplomatic coordination, standardized trade facilities, and free trade zones.

Economic cooperation is the main priority and key point for all three sides involved. This means completing the Silk Road and further driving all of Eurasia’s development. The road will help local regions and areas in each country grow each other’s’ economies.

 

Energy

Earlier in May Last year, Russia entered into a historic contract with China, an estimated $400 billion gas deal to supply 38 billion cubic meters of gas annually over three decades starting in 2018. China, with its rapid economic growth, is already the world’s largest energy consumer. As of 2016, China was also the world’s largest net oil importer and a growing natural gas importer, ranked fifth in the world.

In 2016, Russia became China’s largest supplier of oil. As per EIA’s base case projection, in 2035 Russia could satisfy about 85 percent of China’s oil import requirements (8.1 of 9.7 million b/d) and all of China’s needs for natural gas imports (6 Tcf).

The EIA estimates that as of 2015 Russia has proved reserves of 80 billion barrels of oil and 1,688 Tcf of natural gas (the world’s largest reserves of gas). In 2015, it produced 11 million b/d of oil and 22.4 Tcf of gas, of which 7.5 million b/d of oil and 7.3 Tcf of gas were exported. By 2035, the EIA forecasts that Russian energy production will rise to 11.8 million b/d of oil and 29.3 Tcf of gas, of which 8.1 million b/d of oil and 12.3 Tcf of gas will be exported.

China shares a 4,179 kilometers (km) land border with Russia, so pipelines connecting Russian oil and gas fields to northeastern China would be secure and energy flows could not be effectively shut down by the United States. China  majority of  oil and gas imports is over sea lines of communication (SLOCs) and through maritime choke points are controlled by U.S. navy and are susceptible to naval blockade.

 

Economic cooperation

China and Russia have seen rapid development in industrial, economic and technological cooperation, said Viktor Kladov, head of the Russian company’s international cooperation department, in an interview with Beijing’s Economic Observer. Putin discussed at SPIEF 2016 for the Eurasian Economic Union and China to conclude free trade agreements with each other.

Trade between China and Russia jumped 26.2 percent year-on-year to $24.7 billion dollars in the first four months of 2017, according to China’s General Administration of Customs. In addition to oil and gas, Russian analysts saw the possibility of expanding bilateral trade to more areas. “RAUIE members often turn to us with requests for export of sunflower oil, honey, ice cream, confectionery and alcohol … We see a great potential for the development of exports other than raw materials,” said Monkevich.

During the summits of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) and the BRICS nations — Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa — held in the Russian city of Ufa in early July, the heads of state in both organizations also published “Vision 2025” and decided to start talks on trade, energy and technology cooperation. They also agreed to push for the creation of a development fund and a development bank under the SCO, said the report.

The development of transport facilities is one of the key problems Russia faces, given its vast territory and low quality of roads and railways. “Chinese investment and joint projects will play a major role in the vast areas of Siberia and the Far East, as well as in other parts of Russia,” said Sergei Luzyanin, director of the Far Eastern Studies Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences.

Russia and China signed a memorandum of cooperation on the development of a high-speed rail network in mid-October that included construction of a high-speed rail line from Moscow to Beijing. The planned high-speed railway stretching some 7,000 kilometers between

Moscow and Beijing will cost about 7 trillion rubles ($153 billion) to build, over half of the sum, or 4 trillion rubles ($87.5 billion), is expected to come from Chinese investors, said Alexander Misharin, who heads Russian Railways’ subsidiary High-Speed Rail Lines, news agency TASS reported.

Overall, in 2014, bilateral trade was worth $95.3 billion and the intention is to raise this to $100 billion as part of a plan to reach $200 billion by 2020.

Space

Chinese  are known to rely heavily on Russian liquid fuel technology for their rocket engines both for their ballistic missiles and for their space programme, which in general appears to rely heavily on Russian technology, even for design of space vehicles. CHINA and Russia are expected to formally announce a new deal that would see Beijing buy powerful rocket engines (RD-180) from Moscow, in a landmark agreement between the two world powers. If an agreement is reached, the engine would increase China’s lift capacity, which is needed for manned lunar and deep space missions.

Igor Komarov, director general of the Russian space agency Roscosmos, said: “We are speaking about practical spheres such as engines. Chinese partners are interested in such directions as purchasing engines as well as creating perspective engines and carrier rockets including heavy-lift launch vehicles.”

 

Russia-China Moon Base

Both sides are actively discussing creating a lunar research station by 2024 jointly, as well as cooperation between Russia’s GLONASS navigation system, and China’s own homegrown version, called BeiDou, Russian news agency TASS reported. China was also keen to begin producing Russian space rockets on its own territory, news agency RIA Novosti reported.

“China is willing to develop cooperation in engine building [and] urges to consider the idea of setting up joint production. We are more interested in commercialization. We intend to sell engines,” Denis Kravchenko, deputy general director of the United Rocket and Space Corporation (URSC), told Sputnik.

Deputy Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin said that both parties share “deep mutual understanding and mutual interests” in space-related projects.

Military Cooperation

Russian and Chinese military forces cooperate on a regular basis within the framework of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. Collaboration on security issues would benefit both sides. Russia in fact is seeking foreign investment because of the sanctions imposed by the international community following the crisis in Ukraine. China instead hopes to obtain up-to-date weapons, to mark its status as a world power.

In 2016, the Russian share of Chinese arms imports grew to over 64 percent, but remained well below levels achieved at the height of Russia’s arms sales to China. In recent years, China has acquired Russian engines for its newest fighters and bombers, as they are more reliable and have better performance than Chinese versions.  According to Dr. Kashin, all three of China’s indigenous fourth-generation* fighter lines use Russian engines, and China appears to be interested in outfitting its prototype fifth-generation† J-31 fighters with next-generation Russian engines.

Russian aerospace and military industry, have decided to purchase electronic components worth several billion dollars from China Aerospace Science and Industry Corporation (CASIC), reversing  earlier decision of not using components produced in China, according to Izvestia, referencing a source close to Roscosmos, Russia’s Federal Space Agency.

China’s military-industrial complex is the most promising sector for cooperation with Russia, as its defense complex is more diversified, said Vasily Kashin, senior research fellow at the Institute of Far Eastern Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences. Kashin raised the example of a joint-venture project of LED production in cooperation between Russia’s state-run hi-tech company Ruselectronics and China Electronics Technology Group Corp. He also mentioned a strategic cooperation agreement between Russian mining and energy company En+ Group and China North Industries Group Corporation.

 

Joint Military Drills

In May 2015, China and Russia began their first joint naval drill in the Mediterranean Sea. The ten-day exercise displayed their power and cooperation in the American-dominated Mediterranean, around which neither Russia nor China has any coastline.

The exercise involved anti-submarine, air defense, and anti-ship missile simulation exercises to prepare the navies against attacks from the air and sea, according to Zhang Junshe, a research fellow at the Chinese Naval Research Institute, China News Service reported.

Russia and China are planning joint military exercises in the waters and airspace of the Sea of Japan. The exercises are a part of increasing defense collaboration between the countries. The drills will “aim to improve China and Russia’s capacity in coping with maritime security threats,” the Chinese state news agency Xinhua quoted Yang saying. “Navies of the two countries will join forces to simulate anti-submarine combat, air defense and other relevant missions.”

During a visit to Beijing in September 2015, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said, “The most important issue of the Russian-Chinese military cooperation are the … military exercises. They contribute to improving combat training of the Armed Forces of [the] two countries, and demonstrate our readiness to counteract modern threats.”

Earlier China and Russia held their first computer-assisted missile defense drill at the Central Research Institute of Air and Space Defence in the Russian capital. “The exercise will aim to practice combined operations of Russian and Chinese air and missile defense task forces to provide protection from accidental and provocative attacks of ballistic and cruise missiles,” it adds. The Russian defense ministry also noted that the drill is not directed against a third country.

Vasily Kashin, an expert on China’s military at the Higher School of Economics in Moscow said, “The ability to share information in such a sensitive area as missile launch warning systems and ballistic missile defence indicates something beyond simple co-operation.” They have also issued a statement urging the United States and South Korea to desist from stationing the so-called Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system on the Korean Peninsula.

 

Modernized Mi-26 Helicopter

Russia and China to jointly modernize Russia’s Mi-26 heavy-transport helicopter. The new helicopter would be a lighter version of the heavy-transport helicopter, but would be able to carry the same 15-ton load. The final product would be mostly used by China, but could find its way into Russia’s air fleet.

Joint production of the first prototype is scheduled to occur in China within two years , and over 200 helicopters could be built by 2040. Before the intergovernmental agreement was signed, a deputy chief engineer at Avicopter, AVIC’s helicopter wing, indicated China would be responsible for the avionics systems and materials, with Russia working on the design, transmission, and de-icing equipment. The helicopter will improve the PLA’s ability to conduct transport and evacuation operations in extreme terrain and weather conditions

S-400 Missile System

China to become the first foreign country to purchase Russia’s advanced S-400 anti-aircraft missile system, overcoming latter fears that Beijing would simply copy the technology for a domestic analogue. In April 2015 Russia confirmed the $3 billion sale of four to six S-400 SAM system battalions to China, and plans to deliver them no earlier than 2018.  The S-400 can engage multiple airborne targets at a range of 400 kilometers.

The S-400 will increase the range of China’s SAM force from the S-300’s 300 kilometers (approximately 186 miles) to 400 kilometers (approximately 249 miles)—enough to cover all of Taiwan, parts of the East China Sea, and parts of the South China Sea. In addition to an extended range, the S-400 features more advanced radar than the S-300 (currently China’s most advanced SAM system), can track more targets at once, and is increasingly resistant to jamming and other countermeasures used against it. The S-400 also could be used to help enforce China’s East China Sea Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ).

 

Russian Su-35 fighter jets

The purchase of 24 Russian Su-35 in the amount of about $2 billion is the second largest transaction between the Russian and Chinese militaries, the Carnegie Moscow Center wrote. “The Chinese Air Force will not only get new jets that could affect the balance of power in the Taiwan Strait, but may also allow the Chinese military to assess the progress and development of J-11.”

Su-35 utilizes passive electronically scanned array radar, added stealth capability, improved avionics, a pair of AL-117S turbofan engines with three-dimensional thrust vectoring technology* (allowing for added maneuverability), and potent jamming capabilities.

“For Russia, the successful delivery of the fighter jets to China will further improve its position in foreign markets. It is expected that the next buyer of the Russian Su-35 may be Indonesia,” wrote Sputnik

 

LADA-class diesel electric submarines

In December 2012, Russia and China reportedly agreed on the framework for joint production of four LADA-class submarines (two to be produced in Russia and two in China), and signed the official agreement in March 2013 just prior to President Xi’s visit to Moscow—his first foreign trip since taking office.98 Since then, the deal has evolved.

According to the U.S. Department of Defense, China is  pursuing a joint design and production program with Russia for a new advanced conventional submarine based on the LADA-class. These submarines would help advance the PLA Navy’s underwater combatant fleet, as LADA-class submarines make less noise than China’s quietest submarines, the KILO-class, and have more advanced sensors and combat systems. In addition, China’s defense industry could absorb certain advanced Russian technologies and integrate them into the development of current and future Chinese systems.

 

Technology Cooperation

In October 2014, China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation signed an agreement with Rostec to promote joint development and production of dual-use technology, including electronic components, information technology, and new materials.

In November 2014 at China’s Zhuhai Airshow, Chinese defense firms AVIC, China Aerospace Science and Industry Corporation, and two subsidiaries of China Electronics Technology Group Corporation signed four agreements with Russian defense firm Russia Technologies (Rostec). The agreement between AVIC and Rostec covers potential collaboration in fixed-wing and helicopter manufacturing, engine production, aircraft materials, avionics, and other areas

 

Passenger Plane ‘2020’

Russia and China are joining forces to create a new aircraft that they say will rival Boeing and Airbus planes. Russia’s United Aircraft Corporation (UAC), a huge state-owned airplane manufacturer, announced last year that it planned to build a long-haul, wide-bodied airliner with Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China, or COMAC.

In late March, UAC chief Yury Slyusar told newspaper Vedomosti that the plane would enter serial production by 2025 and hold between 250 and 280 passengers. He estimated the project’s cost at $13 billion. Officials have said they expect the bulk of the investment to come from China. 

The 18 representatives of 12 CASIC institutions engaged in the development and production of electronic components will visit Moscow to take part in a special workshop for Russian manufacturers in August. A parallel workshop will be held in St. Petersburg. “Establishing large-scale cooperation with Chinese manufacturers could become the first step toward forming a technology alliance involving BRICS member states,” Izvestia reported, quoting Andrei Ionin, chief analyst at GLONASS Union.

Russian state firm Rostec pushing for tech cooperation with China

Rostec also works with several Chinese companies on the modernization of China’s chemical industries, building equipment used in natural gas pipelines being built between the two countries and mining and petrochemical operations in Russia’s Far East region, Kladov added.

In addition, Rostec signed five strategic agreements with Chinese state-owned enterprises — China Poly Group, China Electronics Technology Group, China Aerospace Science and Industry Corp., China Aerospace Science and Technology Corp. and CATIC International Holdings — for joint projects in areas, such as energy-efficient technology, aircraft manufacturing and communications systems.

 

Constructive relations between Russia and China are important for international stability and security, the head of Russia’s General Staff of the Armed Forces, Valery Gerasimov, said after talks with his Chinese counterpart Fang Fenghui and Vice Central Military Commission Chairman Fan Changlong in Beijing Wednesday.

 

References and Resources also include:

http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/a3e35348-2962-11e6-8b18-91555f2f4fde.html#axzz4KcnVuqFc

http://www.express.co.uk/news/world/727552/China-Russia-forge-new-military-alliance-deal-buy-rocket-engines

http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/business/2017-05/31/content_29559079.htm

https://www.rbth.com/international/2017/05/16/putin-plans-one-belt-one-road-initiative-763456

http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2017-05/30/c_136324704.htm

https://www.uscc.gov/sites/default/files/Research/China-Russia%20Mil-Mil%20Relations%20Moving%20Toward%20Higher%20Level%20of%20Cooperation.pdf




China challenging US dominance in AI, aims to dominate the next generation of “intelligentized” warfare

Every year AI is creating new milestones. In March 206, Google’s AlphaGo scored a 4-1 victory over Korean Go master Lee Se-dol last year, marking a milestone in artificial intelligence. The winning computer program, created by researchers at Google DeepMind in London, used an artificial neural network that took advantage of what’s known as deep learning, a strategy by which neural networks involving many layers of processing are configured in an automated fashion to solve the problem at hand.

As the world itself becomes more complex, AI will become the defining technology of the twenty-first century, just as the microprocessor was in the twentieth century, wrote Albert Einstein. In an article for the World Economic Forum, Marc Benioff, chairman and CEO of Salesforce, explains that the convergence of big data, machine learning and increased computing power will soon make artificial intelligence “ubiquitous”.

AI race has ensued between countries like US, China and Russia to take a lead in this strategic technology. US has launched third Offset strategy to  leverage technologies such as artificial intelligence, autonomous systems and human-machine networks to equalise advances made by the nations opponents in recent years. Under this one of the important initiatives is Autonomous “deep learning” machines and systems, which the Pentagon wants to use to improve early warning of events. As an example, Deputy Secretary of Defense Bob Work pointed to the influx of “little green men” from Russia into Ukraine as simply a big data problem that could be crunched to predict what was about to happen.

IN JULY 2017, CHINA’S government issued a sweeping new strategy with a striking aim: draw level with the US in artificial intelligence technology within three years, and become the world leader by 2030. China aims to dominate the next generation of “intelligentized” warfare, relying on “long-range, precise, smart, stealthy and unmanned weapons platforms.”

China has overtaken the United States to become the world leader in deep learning research, a branch of artificial intelligence (AI) inspired by the human brain, according to White House reports that aim to help prepare the US for the growing role of artificial intelligence in society.

A new Harvard Kennedy School study concludes AI could revolutionize war as much as nuclear weapons have done. China and Russia have also reached effective technological-military parity with the U.S. But, America does not have a roadmap like China, which plans to dominate AI by 2030, while Russia will make 30% of its military equipment robotic by 2025.

Putin warns: “Artificial intelligence is the future, not only for Russia but for all of humankind. Whoever becomes the leader in this sphere will become the ruler of the world.” The Russian military is also developing robots, anti-drone systems, and cruise missiles that would be able to analyze radars and make decisions on the altitude, speed and direction of their flight, according to state media.

The National Artificial Intelligence Research and Development Strategic Plan lays out the strategy for AI funding and development in the US. The report says the US will need to step up investment: “Current levels of R&D spending are half to one-quarter of the level of R&D investment that would produce the optimal level of economic growth.

China making high performance power efficient AI chips

 Chinese chips could catch up and even stand out in the current Artificial Intelligence (AI) boom, according to a news report published in a US  MIT Technology Review, a magazine founded by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.In the current wave of enthusiasm for hardware optimized for AI, China’s semiconductor industry sees a unique opportunity to establish itself, said the report .The article cites Chinese chip “Thinker” as an example. Designed to support neural networks, “Thinker” could recognize objects in images and understand human speech. What makes the chip stand out is its ability to “dynamically tailor its computing and memory requirements to meet the needs of the software being run.” This is important since many real-world AI applications—recognizing objects in images or understanding human speech—require a combination of different kinds of neural networks with different numbers of layers.

Also remarkable is a mere eight AA batteries are enough to power it for a year. “The chip is just one example of an important trend sweeping China’s tech sector,” said the report.

In a three-year action plan to develop AI, published by China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology in December 2017, the government laid out a goal of being able to mass-produce neural-network processing chips by 2020.

“Compared to how China respond to previous revolutions in information technology, the speed at which China is following the current trend is the fastest,” the review quoted Shouyi Yin, vice director of Tsinghua University’s Institute of Microelectronics as saying. Yin is also the lead author of a paper describing the design behind “Thinker.”

The article also listed some difficulties that Chinese chip researchers faced, such as how to commercialize their chip designs, how to scale up, and how to navigate a world of computing being transformed by AI.

AI  enabling smart and autonomous Military Weapons and Systems

RAND report has also suggested  several possible AI applications for the military. Replacing frozen software with systems that do not need to be refreshed periodically creates a broad potential for creating more nimble systems, possibly at lower cost. Again, AI could be used in training systems. For example, it could provide unpredictable and adaptive adversaries for training fighter pilots. Computer vision, the ability of software to understand photos and videos, could greatly help in processing the mountains of data from surveillance systems or for “pattern-of-life” surveillance.

Other suggested applications might include: using AIs to solve logistics challenges; to support war games; to automate combat in so-called manned-unmanned operations; to speed weapon development and optimization, and for identifying targets (as well as non-combatants).

AI is has also entering into military  weapons and systems. US navy is  developing new weapon, called the Long Range Anti- Ship Missile, or L.R.A.S.M, a collaborative effort between Lockheed, the Office of Naval Research and the Defense Advanced Project Research Agency, or DARPA. With a range of at least 200 nautical miles, LRASM is designed to use next-generation guidance technology to help track and eliminate targets such as enemy ships, shallow submarines, drones, aircraft and land-based targets. According to the Pentagon, this means that though targets are chosen by human soldiers, the missile uses artificial intelligence technology to avoid defenses and make final targeting decisions.

China is looking to create a new generation of cruise missiles, which will have a high level of artificial intelligence, will be multifunctional and reconfigurable based on modular design according to a senior designer from China’s Aerospace and Industry Corp. “They will allow commanders to control them in a real-time manner, or to use a fire-and-forget mode, or even to add more tasks to in-flight missiles.”

The new Chinese weapon typifies a strategy known as “remote warfare,” said John Arquilla, a military strategist at the Naval Post Graduate School in Monterey, Calif. The idea is to build large fleets of small ships that deploy missiles, to attack an enemy with larger ships, like aircraft carriers. “They are making their machines more creative,” he said. “A little bit of automation gives the machines a tremendous boost.”

 

China outlines plans become world leader in AI, challenges U.S. dominance

China has outlined plans to become a world-leader in artificial intelligence by 2025, laying down a challenge to U.S. dominance in the sector amid heightened international tensions over military applications of the technology. China released a national AI development plan, aiming to grow the country’s core AI industries to over 150 billion yuan ($22.15 billion) by 2020 and 400 billion yuan ($59.07 billion) by 2025, the State Council said.

With this major push into AI, China is looking to rival U.S. market leaders such as Alphabet Inc’s Google and Microsoft Corp, as it is keen not to be left behind in a technology that is increasingly key from smart cars to energy.

China has unveiled first national laboratory for brain-like artificial intelligence (AI) technology in Hefei, capital of east China’s Anhui Province, to pool the country’s top research talent and boost the technology. Approved by the National Development and Reform Commission in January, the lab, based in China University of Science and Technology (USTC), aims to develop a brain-like computing paradigm and applications.

The lab will carry out research to guide machine learning such as recognizing messages and using visual neural networks to solve problems. It will also focus on developing new applications with technological achievements. (Xinhua). Wan Lijun, president of USTC and chairman of the national lab, said the ability to mimic the human brain’s ability in sorting out information will help build a complete AI technology development paradigm.

China,  is  making great strides in AI, ” In China  AI is set to take-off, driven by initiatives like Baidu Brain, which is developing a platform for third-party AI applications, investments in the development of autonomous vehicles, and the emergence of startups focused on developing machine learning applications and associated business models, write Christopher Thomas and Gang Liang, Phd in Rise of machines. Baidu has bagged third place in AI/ Machine learning after Google and IBM in the the Most Innovative Companies of 2017 list.  Some Chinese companies are even winning prestigious global competitions in AI technology, such as iFlytek at NIST and HIK Vision at ImageNet.

China’s state-run news agency Xinhua reported that the country’s Academy of Sciences has allocated a whopping 10 million yuan (1.4 million US dollars) for the creation of a sophisticated artificial intelligence (AI) processor that is due to add to China’s presence on the global chip market. The deep learning processor chip, the “Cambrian,” is expected to be the world’s first processor that simulates human nerve cells and synapses to conduct deep learning, according to a statement issued by CAS.

The Cambrian research team is led by Chen Yunji and Chen Tianshi from the CAS Institute of Computing Technology. Google’s AI program AlphaGo needs huge power and large servers to operate, but the Cambrian aims to perform at the same level and use just one watt of power and be the size of a smartphone or a watch, according to Chen Yunji.

 Baidu’s Strategy to compete with Google

Google is going a big way in AI technologies; recently it has acquired (AI) startup DeepMind, a London-based company the tech giant bought up for an estimated minimum of $400 million. It was its eight acquisition of a Robotics Company in the past few months. Other recent Google acquisitions include Flutter, which specializes in gesture recognition.

Earlier, it had acquired Boston Dynamics, which famous for its human like robots. Two of their bipedal robots named Atlas and Petman have a significant degree of freedom, which can only be matched by human beings. Boston Dynamics is also a leading provider of human simulation software. Its primary customers are the US Army, Navy and Marine Corps.

Google unveiled a number of new AI-driven products, including Google Home, a voice-activated product that allows users to manage appliances and entertainment systems with voice commands, and which draws on the speech recognition technology in its announced “Google Assistant” (the product is scheduled to be released later this year).

The Google Translate app, on iOS or Android, is the most powerful way to translate between 90 languages. You can speak or type in a phrase and get a translation on your desktop computer or mobile. ‘People use Google Translate a lot – we translate over 100 billion words a day,’ Aaron Babst, community program manager at Google Translate wrote in a blog post.

China’s Iflytek, is an artificial intelligence company that has focused on speech recognition and understanding natural language. The company has won international competitions both in speech synthesis and in translation between Chinese- and English-language texts. The company, which Chinese technologists said has a close relationship with the government for development of surveillance technology, said it is working with the Ministry of Science and Technology on a “Humanoid Answering Robot.”

Baidu, the dominant provider of online search services on the mainland, has already accelerated its efforts in AI, with its recruitment last year of former Google scientist Andrew Ng. Last year, Baidu also hired Zhang Yaquin, who helped build Microsoft’s biggest technology research operation outside of the United States. He was appointed as Baidu’s president for new business.

In 2016, Baidu’s CEO Robin Li publicly stated that the company is actively integrating artificial intelligence technologies into all of Baidu’s major businesses, including the search engine, as well as new businesses such as autonomous driving. In August, Baidu, Stanford, and the University of Washington released an academic study demonstrating that voice input is more accurate and three times faster than human typing on smartphones. Its Silicon Valley lab is dedicated to finding new uses for AI, and the speech recognition engine it created has been integrated into the company’s mobile search tool, used by hundreds of millions of people in China.

Baidu, has developed a voice system that can recognize English and Mandarin speech better than people, in some cases.The new system, called Deep Speech 2, is especially significant in how it relies entirely on machine learning for translation.The Baidu app for smartphones lets users search by voice, and also includes a voice-controlled personal assistant called Duer (see “Baidu’s Duer Joins the Personal Assistant Party”).

When Deep Speech 2 was first released in December 2015, Andrew Ng, the chief scientist at Baidu, described Deep Speech 2’s test run as surpassing Google Speech API, wit.ai, Microsoft’s Bing Speech, and Apple’s Dictation by more than 10 percent in word error rate.

In healthcare, the Baidu Doctor project is focused around applying machine and deep learning to building a chat program that can reliably diagnose illness just like a human doctor, simply from the patient’s voice input. The company has stated that it’s long term goal is to create a “medical robot” – a concept familiar to science fiction fans which is now, thanks to advances in machine learning, tantalisingly close to becoming a reality.

Baidu plans to use its new Beijing lab AR Lab, as well as technology from its AI research – image recognition, object detection, and more – to build smartphone-based AR applications. “Our cell phone-based approach has enabled us to ship augmented reality experiences to a significant number of users in a very short amount of time,” says Andrew Ng, chief scientist at Baidu, in a press release. “There is an appetite for this technology; we are seeing rapid adoption by our partners in a range of industries.”

“Artificial intelligence technologies have gained a more and more solid presence in recent years, including programs in voice recognition, image recognition, multi-language translation, unpiloted vehicles and airplanes, robots and more. This is one of the peaks of world technology, and China is not lagging behind in this area, so I think we have an opportunity to do something big. ”

“Whoever wins artificial intelligence will win the internet in China and around the world. Baidu has the best shot to make it work,” Ng said in a Bloomberg report last October.

 

Google leader in Global search market, Baidu in China

Google continues to dominate the global search market with 54.7 percent of search ad revenues worldwide in 2014. Google effectively controls 90 percent of searches globally compared to the Baidu’s 1 percent market share worldwide. Globally 1.17 billion People use Google for search queries in a given month; 293 million people use Baidu; 292 million use Yahoo Search & 267 million use Bing. Google also dominates mobile market,

Like Google, Baidu’s core service is also search – Baidu is said to account for 75% of search traffic in its homeland. Here, it has rolled out machine learning algorithms for voice and image recognition, as well as natural language processing, to help it return smarter, more useful and more personalized results

One key difference between Google and Baidu is the former’s presence in mobile software. Google’s establishment of the Android operating system has rapidly grown to the most widely used smartphone operating system in the world. Google controls 91.14% market in Mobile and Tablet search market while Bing has only 2.38%.

Driverless Cars

The Google Self-Driving Car project, involves developing technology for autonomous cars. In late May 2014, Google revealed a new prototype of its driverless car, which had no steering wheel, gas pedal, or brakes, being 100% autonomous. Google has updated its prototype self-driving vehicle to make it road worthy, adding headlights and manual steering and braking to comply with road rules, Google’s cars are now on the streets of California (and Texas).

Baidu has opened up its driverless car technology for auto makers to use as it aims to be the default platform for autonomous driving in a bid to challenge the likes of Google and Tesla. The Chinese internet giant said that the new project named Apollo, will provide the tools carmakers would need to make autonomous vehicles. There would be reference designs and a complete software solution that includes cloud data services. Essentially, Baidu is trying to become to cars what Google’s Android has become to smartphones – an operating system that will power a number of driverless vehicles.

The technology giant has been investing heavily in this area since 2015 and that same year tested fully autonomous cars on highways and roads in Beijing. But the company has also expanded to the U.S. where it received a driverless car test permit for California last year. The company has said that it is planning to begin mass production of driverless cars by 2021.  “The A.I. technologies, including machine vision, sensor fusion, planning and control, on our car are completely home-brewed,” Mr. Wu said. “We wrote every line by ourselves.”

“An open, innovative industry ecosystem initiated by Baidu will accelerate the development of autonomous driving in the US and other developed automotive markets,” Qi Lu, chief operating officer at Baidu, said in a press release.

In China, ‘super brain’ AI robot takes on humans in reality TV show

A robot is invading a popular reality TV show in China that tests people’s brainpower. The smart, AI-powered bot, Xiaodu, will take on human competitors in complex trials involving face and voice recognition. The AI robot built by search engine giant Baidu is one of the contestants, facing off against four people and other clever computer programs.

Baidu is confident its AI bot has the savvy to do well in its tough TV test. The Beijing-based company, worth US$63 billion, has a lab in Silicon Valley devoted to artificial intelligence, natural language processing, intelligent interaction, as well as speech, image, and facial recognition.

 

National Level Plan for both military and civilian use

China News Agency, Beijing, February 15 Xinhua (reporter Zhang Su) 15 reporters from the Ministry of science and technology in China held a press conference was informed that the “scientific and technological innovation, 2030 major projects have been started 4 pilot, or the recent new” artificial intelligence 2. While various developed economies have stepped up their efforts in AI, the mainland has lagged behind in basic AI research and investment. There is no national-level plan in place that supports AI development.

Li is proposing that the mainland set up a state-level “China Brain” (中国大脑) project. This would focus on specific research areas: human-machine interaction, so-called big data analysis, automated driving, smart medical diagnosis, smart drones, and robotics technologies for both military and civilian use.

“I hope China can mobilize the resources of the whole nation to develop the biggest AI development platform in the world.” He also hopes for funding from China’s national defense and military. “I expect that in the future, private companies, science research institutes and China’s national defense industry and military science department can form closer collaborations to do something that can put China on the frontlines of world innovation for 10 to 20 years and more.”

“The government should support capable companies in building an open platform offering AI-related basic resources and public services,” he said. “This platform will make its resources available to support research and integration with social resources to facilitate jointly-generated innovation.” In addition, Li proposed that this platform “be kept open and competitive, rather than being made only available to select research institutes”.

“A market mechanism should help transform AI-related research into actual results and products, and push forward integration and innovation in traditional industry, the service sector and in the military,” he said.

 

 

References and Resources also include




After launching first indigenous Aircraft carrier, China building Second with breakthrough electromagnetic launch system

China’s first aircraft carrier is in operation, the second and third indigenous  carriers are  currently under advanced stage of construction and fourth is in the planning phase. China has begun operating its first aircraft carrier —the refurbished, conventionally powered, Ukrainian built flattop Liaoning – with a full load displacement of almost 60,000 tons. The Liaoning’s air wing may consist of 24 J-15 fighters, six anti-submarine warfare helicopters, four airborne early warning helicopters, and two rescue helicopters, for a total of 36 aircraft. China has also strengthened the battle capabilities of its first and lone aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, as reported by the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Daily. China is training its own carrier-borne fighter pilots. It is one of the few countries to do so.

 

CHINA’s first homegrown aircraft carrier — dubbed Project 001A, or CV17, is nearing completion and is likely to be launched within weeks. China Central Television (CCTV) reported that the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Navy’s Type 001A class aircraft carrier’s scaffold has been removed and red undercoat has been painted below the ship’s waterline in Dalian, northeastern Liaoning Province, and that a launching ceremony will soon be held. However, “there’s still a long way to go from its launch to enlistment, which normally takes two years,” Yin Zhuo, a senior researcher at the PLA Navy Equipment Research Center, told CCTV. China’s second aircraft carrier is expected to begin service by 2020, experts said.

 

China has reportedly achieved a breakthrough on a conventional propulsion system for its next carrier, which would allow it to operate advanced catapults for launching aircraft without necessitating the use of nuclear propulsion.

 

China needs at least three aircraft carriers to defend its 14,500 kilometer coastline as well as dealing with threats in the South and East China seas, said Cao Weidong, a Chinese military expert. With tensions escalating in the South China Sea, China has embarked upon steady naval building and modernization program. It now has 29 submarines armed with antiship cruise missiles. It added 10 new vessels to the PLA Navy last year including guided missile destroyers, frigates and minesweepers such as the Qingzhou. “The number of new warships that are put into service annually in China has overtaken the U.S. and has become the first in the world,” China Military Online said. In addition, the PLA Navy is also in the process of adding new aircraft carriers.

 

Xu Guangyu, a senior advisor to the China Arms Control and Disarmament Association, told the Global Times, “In the long run, China needs to develop its own aircraft carrier battle teams, with at least six aircraft carriers, maritime forces led by guided missile destroyers, as well as attack submarines.” Xu said China will build about 10 more bases for the six aircraft carriers. He explained that they could be built around countries friendly to China, such as Pakistan. He added that the bases could also be built in every continent, but this would depend on whether the countries would want to cooperate with China.

 

The aircraft carriers are further expected to increase in future. “In order to protect China’s territories and overseas interests, China needs two carrier strike groups in the West Pacific Ocean and two in the Indian Ocean. So we need at least five to six aircraft carriers,” a Chinese defence analyst recently told the People’s Daily. China’s warships have carried out a high-seas training in the Indian Ocean. Chinese navy’s increasing presence in the Indian Ocean comes following the release of a White Paper published by the PLA in 2015 outlining a new military strategy enhancing its navy’s duties for the first time to “open seas protection” far from its shores.

 

The large number of aircraft carriers, successful use of catapult systems and atomic propulsion and long experience in operating carriers would confer Beijing true blue open ocean capability and expand its global reach.

 

Indigenous Aircraft Carriers

“Unlike the Liaoning(Type 001), China’s first aircraft carrier, a refitted ship built by Ukraine (under the former Soviet Union), the 001A is China-built, and its design, combat capability and technologies will be much more advanced,” Song Zhongping, a military expert, told the Global Times. “One key difference is the design will be more ‘humanized,’ which means all personnel on the carrier will enjoy a more comfortable and modern environment,” Song said

 

The Liaoning lacks aircraft catapults and instead launches fixed-wing airplanes off the ship’s bow using an inclined “ski ramp.” The electronic catapult system allow the aircraft to be launched with greater fuel and weapon loads hence can fly further than “ski-jump” style carriers. It also allows heavier support aircraft, such as airborne early warning (AEW) radar planes to fly off the deck.

 

China’s future carrier should be able to carry as many aircraft as possible for China to gain control of the air when fighting strong adversaries at sea, according to Cao Weidong, a Chinese military expert. Cao said the PLA Navy needs a supercarrier similar to the Forrestal-class aircraft carriers of the United States Navy. He said, however, that China’s first supercarrier should not be powered by a nuclear reactor since the nation does not have the technology to operate it.

 

In 2004, Chinese President Hu Jintao unveiled a new military doctrine calling for the armed forces to undertake “new historic missions” to safeguard China’s “national interests.” Experts believe these missions include asserting or defending China’s territorial claims in the East and South China Sea, securing international shipping lanes and access to foreign oil and asserting China’s status as a leading regional power and a major world power. South China sea is a highly contested region through which roughly $5 trillion in trade passes annually, most of the waterway is claimed by China, though there are overlapping claims by Taiwan, the Philippines, Vietnam, Brunei, and Malaysia.

 

Two Liaoning-pattern aircraft carriers by 2020

In December 2013 China’s Central Military Commission told Duowei News it planned to commission two Liaoning-pattern aircraft carriers by 2020, designated as Type 001A. Contracts were awarded to China Shipbuilding Industry Corporation to build the two carriers at a projected cost of US$9 billion and construction started in late 2014.

 

China’s first domestically built aircraft carrier will be a larger version of Liaoning. The design is reportedly based on drafts of a Soviet-era, nuclear-powered, 80,000-ton vessel capable of carrying 60 aircraft. Chinese website qianzhan.com, citing top sources in the People’s Liberation Army, said China’s first domestically produced aircraft carrier should be launched by 2020. “By that time, China will be able to confront the most advanced US carrier-based fighter jets in high sea,” the Chinese-language article reads.

 

According to IHS Jane’s, satellite photos of Huangdicun Airbase appear to show the construction of two catapult systems. One of these is thought to be steam-powered while the other is an electromagnetic version. According to analysis by IHS Janes based on Satellite photos, the construction of Chinese second aircraft carrier is in advanced stage in a Dailan shipyard. The second aircraft carrier features a more sophisticated design than its predecessor, the Liaoning. A third carrier currently in the planning stage could be nuclear-powered.

 

Earlier, China lacked  requisite expertise in designing and building the propulsion systems for large ships as well as metallurgy for the vessel’s hull. After three years of research and development, the country finally succeeded in making a special kind of steel that is needed for the manufacturing of the aircraft carrier. It is so strong that an aircraft landing on it will not scratch it.
In addition to the qualified materials, China has trained 2,400 professional welders who work 24 hour shifts in the narrow cabins to produce the ship.

Third 80,000 tonnes  Carrier with breakthrough conventional propulsion system to power electronic catapult

A third carrier currently in the planning stage could be bigger than her two predecessors—as big as an American Nimitz-class supercarrier, the ship’s features apparently mirror those on the latest American carriers—three elevators for efficiently moving planes between decks and four electric catapults for quickly launching them.

 

The third carrier shall be equipped with a Electromagnetically Assisted Aircraft Launch System (EMALS) catapult. Compared to steam catapautls, EMALS catapults are less maintenance intensive, mechanically simpler and have greater power and flexibility to launch  larger and heavier aircraft like the U.S. Navy’s E-2 Hawkeye airborne early warning aircraft or the C-2 Greyhound carrier on-board delivery aircraft.

 

The PLAN currently operates a version of the Changhe Z-18 transport helicopter fitted with a multimode active electronically scanned array radar on board the Liaoning as its airborne early warning platform. However, compared to a fixed-wing turboprop aircraft like the Hawkeye, a helicopter has significantly reduced endurance and operating altitude, which results in a significantly reduced time on station and radar range, respectively.

 

US flattops  are nuclear-powered which confers a greater sailing range and supports more sensors, weaponry and other systems. However China has reportedly achieved a breakthrough on a conventional propulsion system for its next carrier, which would allow it to operate advanced catapults for launching aircraft without necessitating the use of nuclear propulsion.

 

Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post newspaper, quoting sources close to China’s People’s Liberation Army, reported that a team led by China’s top naval engineer, Rear Adm. Ma Weiming, has developed a medium-voltage, direct-current transmission network to replace an earlier system based on alternating current.

 

Forming part of an integrated propulsion system, the new system would allow a conventionally powered aircraft carrier to operate an Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System, or EMALS, which conveys a number of advantages over traditional steam catapults that include increased efficiency, precision and shortening aircraft launch cycles.

 

Last year,  Beijing-based Chinese naval expert Li Jie  acknowledged the problem to the South China Morning Post  “Compared with submarines, a carrier is much bigger,” . “It will take time for our nuclear engineers to develop a safe and powerful engine capable of driving a huge platform of more than 100,000 tonnes.” However, China might attempt to follow in the footsteps of the recently retired USS Enterprise (CVN-65), which used eight submarine reactors but at the cost of a lot of space, since United States didn’t have the technology to build reactors suitable for an aircraft carrier when Enterprise was built.

 

 

Aircraft Carriers remain premium Force Projection instruments

Despite the proliferation of threats, Carriers remain premier instruments for presence, deterrence, and coercion, while air wing renders the carrier a potent warfighting system able to project power and exert control of the seas around which it operates.

 

U.S. Naval War College analyst Andrew Erickson expects Beijing to produce “more than three” homemade flattops, presumably by the 2020s. “Developing such a capability is the only way for China to achieve robust sea control and long-range maritime power projection,” Erickson wrote.

References and Resources also include:




Beijing $900 billion New Silk Road project starts Central-Asia Europe geostrategic cooperation and competition

One Belt, One Road Originally announced in fall 2013 refers to the New Silk Road Economic Belt, which will link China with Europe through Central and Western Asia, and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, which will connect China with Southeast Asian countries, Africa and Europe.

Chinese President Xi Jinping’s pet project, it is heavy on infrastructure—calling for new roads, railways, bridges, and ports—to recreate the overland and maritime trade routes that once led to China. Nearly 70 nations have agreed to cooperate in the plan, which aims to foster industrial development not only in the developing nations of Asia and Africa, but also in China’s western provinces, which have yet to share in the economic prosperity of the country’s coastal regions.The ambition is immense. China is spending roughly $150bn a year in the 68 countries that have signed up to the scheme.

The 2-day Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation  was organised in Beijing in May 2016. “Innovation is an important force powering development,” Xi said in a speech to the opening session of the forum. And so the initiative will include technical cooperation in fields including artificial intelligence, nanotechnology, quantum computing, and smart cities. He also mentioned the need to pursue economic growth that is in line with sustainable development goals, and that rests on environmentally friendly approaches.

The first freight train from China arrived in the Iranian capital in Feb 2016, as part of the New Silk Road infrastructure project being led by Beijing.  The arrival of the train shows that the 10,400-km route from the city of Yiwu in China’s Zhejiang province to Tehran, known as the “Economic Belt of the Silk Road,” is complete and soon will be ready for use. The first train containing Chinese products  arrived in  Hairatan, northern Afghanistan in Sep 2016. This marked another advance in President Xi Jinping’s Silk Road project to deepen his nation’s influence along old trade routes.

China plans to build a high-speed railway between China and the UK, which will connect Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Iran, Turkey, Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary, Austria, Germany, Belgium and France. The project, with an estimated cost of $150 billion, is scheduled for completion in 2020-2025.”

There has been no unified EU policy toward China’s One Belt, One Road initiative, writes Philippe Le Corre. Several EU countries and cities have been particularly receptive to Chinese investors. Others have been more cautious, seeking guarantees from China that it will follow international standards and not exclusively pursue its geostrategic interests.

“One belt, one road” (OBOR) is a development strategy and framework proposed by the Chinese government in 2013 and focuses on the connectivity and cooperation among countries primarily at Eurasian continent. In its largest definition, OBOR involves 65 countries and covers 4.4 billion people, accounting for 63% of global population. The aggregate economic value of these countries amounts to US$21 trillion, with share in the global trade 29%. China is backing the plan with considerable resources, setting up a New Silk Road Fund of US$40 billion to promote private investment along OBOR. The New Silk Road Fund is sponsored by China’s foreign exchange reserves, as well as government investment and lending arms. In addition, the China Development Bank said it would invest almost US$900 billion into more than 900 projects involving 60 countries to bolster the initiative.

 

CHINA: One Belt, One Road

When the New Silk Road is ready, the Chinese-led $900 billion infrastructural project will connect China with Central Asia, the Middle East, Europe and Africa. President Xi Jinping said the ambitious project is designed to “break the connectivity bottleneck” in Asia.

The land route will begin in Xi’an, in central China, before stretching to the border with Kazakhstan. The Silk Road, then heads southwest to Iran before passing through Iraq, Syria and Turkey. The new Silk Road, then crosses the Bosphorus and heads through Europe, traversing Bulgaria, Romania, the Czech Republic, Germany and Rotterdam in the Netherlands – from which the path runs south to Venice where it converges with the planned maritime route.

The “Silk Road Economic Belt” initiative, announced by Xi Jinping in 2013, is designed to allow capabilities of Chinese state-controlled construction companies to further expand its already booming trade with central Asia and Europe by diversification of Chinese trade routes, lowering transportation costs, opening up new markets, and an expansion of the Chinese sphere of influence beyond Asia. It will also secure the supply of Uranium and rare metals from Central Asia.

OBOR project also includes Maritime Silk Road (MSR) passing through the ports of Colombo in Sri Lanka, Gwadar in Pakistan, Chittagong in Bangladesh, Maday Island in Myanmar, and Port Victoria in the Seychelles.

Experts claim that china’s final aim is to to provide the PLA-N access to a series of ports stretching from the South China Sea to Africa’s East Coast. China has accelerated its drive to draw Africa into the MSR by speedy construction of a modern standard-gauge rail link between Nairobi and Mombasa. OBOR project also includes a Digital Silk Road, a cooperative Internet plus Plan which would link the OBOR countries by a super-fast broadband network.

The Chinese Silk Road plans, however, compete with other Central Asian strategies, especially the Russia-initiated the Eurasian Economic Union and the U.S.-initiated Silk Road Initiative.

China-Pakistan Economic Corridor will lead to more India-Pak tension, says UN report

The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), which is the flagship project of China’s ‘One Belt, One Road’ (OBOR) initiative, has been projected as a game-changer for Pakistan’s economy. It is expected that the $50 billion project would not just help raise Pakistan’s economic output but also transform the country, which is at present infamous for its terror credentials. However, a report has revealed that Pakistan may not gain much from CPEC in its present form. The report by UN’s Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), prepared on the request of China, has made some disturbing predictions for Pakistan.

The report said CPEC, which will traverse through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) may create “geopolitical tension” in the region by igniting further tensions between India and Pakistan. “The dispute over Kashmir is also of concern since the crossing of the CPEC in the region might create geopolitical tension with India and ignite further political instability,” said the report on China’s ambitious Belt and Road Initiative.

This problem can be resolved only when China take India on board OBOR but this cannot happen as long as Pakistan continues to claim PoK as its own. Secondly, Pakistan also needs to shun terrorism to start a peaceful relationship with India.

The report says that CPEC could fuel separatist movement in Pakistan’s Balochistan province. While noting that CPEC could serve as the “driver for trade and economic integration” between China, Pakistan, Iran, India, Afghanistan and the Central Asian states, the report said that the project may also cause several problems within Pakistan and reignite separatist movement in the country due to opposition in Balochistan. “However, social and environmental safeguards are a concern. The CPEC could lead to widespread displacement of local communities. In Balochistan, there are concerns that migrants from other regions of Pakistan will render ethnic Baloch a minority in the province,” it said.

The report says that instability in Afghanistan could cast a shadow over the viability of the CPEC. “Afghanistan’s political instability could also limit the potential benefits of transit corridors to population centres near Kabul or Kandahar, as those routes traverse southern and eastern Afghanistan where the Taliban are most active,” it said.

Moreover, the report says that there are concerns over CPEC passing through the already narrow strip of cultivable land in the mountainous western Pakistan, destroying farmland and orchards. The resulting resettlements will reduce local population into an “economically subservient minority”, it said, adding, “In addition, Hazaras are another minority of concern. If the benefits of the proposed CPEC are reaped by large conglomerates, linked to Chinese or purely Punjabi interests, the identity and culture of the local population could be further marginalised,” the report cautioned.
“Marginalisation of local population groups could reignite separatist movements and toughen military response from the Government,” it further said.

The UN report says that CPEC would “wide-reaching implications for China and for the countries it links across the Asia-Pacific and for the global economy.” But to realise the full potential of the project, the report has pointed some prerequisites. It said that CPEC should be founded on principles such as trust, confidence and sharing benefits among participating states. These are, however, missing at present. Second, CPEC should play a positive role in the response to climate change. “Lastly, to be effective and deliver results in a timely fashion, it should go beyond bilateral project transactions to promote regional and multilateral policy frameworks,” the report said.

China and Afghanistan

“It’s an unprecedented, vital project for the Afghan economy,” said Azarakhsh Hafizi, the head of the international relations committee at Afghanistan Chamber of Commerce & Industries in the capital, Kabul. “That will greatly reduce Chinese imported commodities’ prices and unprecedentedly improve our trade with China, now standing at tens of millions of dollars.”

China has for years had grand investment plans for Afghanistan’s resource riches, which the Afghanistan Geological Survey estimates are as much as $3 trillion. “The direct railway can be the best route for them to transfer copper to China,” Hafizi said.

Iran and China

“The arrival of the first cargo train from China to Iran opens a new chapter in mutually beneficial cooperation between our countries… This saves time and significantly increases the trade volume between Iran and China,” Mohsenpour Seyed Aghaei, the Iranian Deputy Minister of Transport, Roads and Urban Development, told Sputnik.

“Iran is the key link of the “Silk Road” land route to Europe, as it is connected to China by a railway through Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan,” Sarkis Tsaturyan, a Russian-Armenian historian and international policy analyst, writes in his latest report for Regnum. Indian scholar and strategic affairs consultant Debalina Ghoshal  points to the fact that China’s interest in Iran goes “beyond its energy resources.”

“It [China] has a keen interest in Iran’s geostrategic location, bordering both the Caspian Sea and the Persian Gulf. The location enables China to carry out the One Belt One Road agenda,” the Indian scholar emphasizes.

This project shall further boost China’s economic co-operation with Iran that was $53 billion in 2013 –In January, during the visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping to Iran, the two sides agreed to increase trade to $600 billion over the coming decade.

China considers Iran to be key strategic partner for meeting its energy security needs, Iran has world’s fourth-largest oil reserves, second-biggest stores of natural gas. Iran is emerging as a large weapons market for China, with a bigger scale and more promising prospect than the Pakistan market.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and Chinese leader Xi Jinping agreed on January 23 to sign 17 agreements which would, among others, have China build two nuclear power plants in southern Iran and for Tehran to provide crude oil over a long period to Beijing.

On 5 May 2014, the Chinese Defence minister Chang Wanquan declared, during a meeting with his Iranian counterpart Hossein Dehqan, that Iran was a “strategic partner” of China (Zachary Keck, “China calls Iran a “strategic partner”, The Diplomat, May 06, 2014).

The high-ranking Iranian official added that Iran is ready to build the railroad further, so it would reach Europe. That way, Tehran would become a key transportation hub between China and the European Union.

China and Russia

The New Silk Road will also include Russia as one of the major partners. In February, a test freight train arrived in Russia’s Kaluga Region from China.

Russia has permanent interests in Central Asia, Putin’s political project to pull former Soviet republics of Central Asia into the Kremlin’s orbit via the Eurasian Customs Union with Belarus and Kazakhstan, which were later joined by Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. Russia is trying to extend its traditional soft power in the region, project its military might as well as facilitating Central Asia’s hydroelectric revolution.

 

China and Turkey

It is also to bolster China Turkey trade, Turkey and China have agreed to increase economic cooperation and take their annual bilateral trade to USD 100 billion.

The major logistics companies from China, Kazakhstan, Georgia, Azerbaijan and Turkey have signed a document on establishing a consortium for the transportation of goods from China to Europe, bypassing the Russian territory. The Russia Turkey relations have been deteriorating after downing of a Russian Su-24 bomber by the Turkish Air Force.

China and US

The Trump administration has resuscitated the ‘New Silk Road’ initiative, first announced by then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in July 2011 in a speech in Chennai, and the Indo-Pacific Economic Corridor linking south and Southeast Asia.  A brief outline of the two projects was made available in the administration’s maiden annual budget, which indicated that the ‘New Silk Road’ project would be a public-private initiative in which India would be an important player.

The state department said the budgetary request of its south and central Asia will support the two initiatives: the New Silk Road (NSR) focused on Afghanistan and its neighbours, and the Indo-Pacific Economic Corridor linking South Asia with Southeast Asia.

The New Silk Road Initiative, aims to integrate the Central Asian countries of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan with Afghanistan, India, and Pakistan by liberalizing trade and building infrastructure, such as roads, bridges, electrical grids, railways, and pipelines as well as provide needed balance in the region, helping avoid a Chinese monopoly.

India  has launched a vision document for Asia-Africa Growth Corridor (AAGC) at the ongoing African Development Bank meeting in Gujarat. The initiative,  is a joint vision of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe. It aims for Indo-Japanese collaboration to develop quality infrastructure in Africa, complemented by digital connectivity. The AAGC, based on India’s decades old goodwill in Africa and Japan’s financial resources, aims to be an efficient and sustainable mechanism for linking economies, industries and institutions, ideas and people among, and between, Africa and Asia in an inclusive fashion. There is still vast and untapped potential among, and in between, Asia and Africa, which needs to be explored for shared growth, development, peace, prosperity and stability of these regions, officials said.

“The AAGC would consist of four main components: development and cooperation projects, quality infrastructure and institutional connectivity, capacity and skill enhancement and people-to-people partnerships. These four components are complementary to promote growth and all round development in both the continents,” the document said.

Japan is expected to join the Indian foray into the expansion of Iran’s Chabahar port and the adjoining special economic zone. In eastern Sri Lanka, the two countries are expected to jointly expand the strategically located Trincomalee port. They are also likely to join hands to develop Dawei port along the Thai-Myanmar border.

However the strained US-Russia relations, growing Russia-China understanding, stagnation of Russia’s economy, US capability to offer much fewer resources, compared to the increasing financial clout of China,  implies china has upper hand at present.

The article sources also include:

http://www.sjtu-germany.de/sites/default/files/SJTUAMD-Files/8th%20FCPAE%20Europe%20Forum%20Invitation%20(1st%20draft)_0.pdf

http://osnetdaily.com/2016/06/china-marches-turkey-germany-intrudes-armenia-whats-next/

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-09-11/china-lays-new-brick-in-silk-road-with-first-afghan-rail-freight

https://sputniknews.com/politics/20160712/1042846437/iran-china-pivot-silk-road.html

http://www.financialexpress.com/world-news/cpec-why-pakistan-will-not-gain-much-from-this-obor-project-in-its-present-form/684725/