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.

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Nigerian Military’s offensive using latest technology to push Boko Haram back out of most territory, UN asks to address ‘Roots of conflict’

The Nigerian army says it lost three soldiers after successfully clearing 13 Boko Haram hideouts in Sambisa Forest in one week. Colonel Kingsley Samuel, Deputy Director, Public Relations, 7 Division of the Army, disclosed this in a statement in Maiduguri, yesterday.  He added that the troops successfully cleared the terrorists’ hideouts at Talala, Ajigin, Mangzum, Abagajiri, Kafa, Dusula, Buk, Malumti and Abulam among others.

In early 2015 the group controlled an area around the size of Belgium, but it has since been pushed out of most of that territory by Nigeria’s army and troops from neighbouring countries. Nigerian troops have freed hundreds of hostages held by the militant Islamist group Boko Haram in it’s  counter-terrorism efforts in Nigeria’s northeast. Soldiers also destroyed a terrorist training camp, warehouse, and factory in Tilem, a northeast village, army Public Relations Director Sani Usman said.

Nigeria’s army has captured Boko Haram’s last enclave in the vast Sambisa forest that was the Islamist group’s stronghold, the country’s president has announced. Nigeria’s Sambisa forest, became the Boko Haram hideout where kidnapped school girls are believed to be held. They have also constructed super bunkers there.  Members of Boko Haram are knowledgeable about the enormous endowment of the Sambisa Forest and have capitalized on the fact that even if military tanks must be moved into the place to dislodge them, it must be done with knowledge and tactics.

THE Chief of Defence Staff, General Gabriel Olonisakin, said that the Nigerian Military would utilize space technology in security the country’s territorial interest. Olonisakin said the integration of space capabilities into the various military functions would give the Armed Forces of Nigeria and other security agencies an array of technological capabilities with multitude of effects to gain battle ground superiority against adversaries.

Gruesome methods and weapons

Boko Haram launched an insurgency in 2009 to carve out an Islamic state in north-east Nigeria. Boko Haram has bombed schools, churches and mosques; kidnapped women and children; and assassinated politicians and religious leaders alike. Religious freedom advocates say Boko Haram is working to mirror efforts by ISIS in Syria and Iraq to execute Christians and others who fail to accept their extremist ideology. The group’s violence has killed more than 30,000 in north-east Nigeria and neighbouring countries since 2011 and displaced 2.1m.

Boko Haram is strapping bombs to birds as it continues to develop more deadly weapons in its bloody insurgency in Africa. The commander of a coalition battling the Isis-affiliated militants revealed the discovery at a meeting with American diplomats and security officials. A Syrian officer involved in the operation to re-take the group’s former stronghold of Palmyra last month described how jihadists had “booby-trapped everything”, including animals and trees.

Isis is known to be unusually liberal with its use of explosives, which it manufactures using cheap chemicals and equipment readily available on the civilian market. Boko Haram has been using improvised explosive devices (IEDs), including car bombs, and suicide bombers to kill civilians at markets, transport hubs, schools and other public institutions.

Some attacks were carried out by just two or three gunmen on a motorcycle, some by hundreds of fighters supported by tanks and anti-aircraft weapons mounted on flat-bed trucks. Schools, churches, mosques and other public buildings have been attacked and destroyed. Sophisticated weapons like T-55 armored tank and a highly sophisticate Armored Personnel Carrier (APC) and thousands of AK 47 rifles are possessed by them.

Women as shields and suicide bombers

BOKO HARAM has used more female suicide-bombers than any other terrorist group in history. Of the 434 bombers the group deployed between April 2011 and June 2017, 244 have been definitely identified as female.

At least 2,000 women and girls have been abducted by Boko Haram since the start of 2014 and many have been forced into sexual slavery and trained to fight. The abducted women and girls are indoctrinated with their version of Islam, they undergo three-week training on shooting guns, using bombs and attacking villages, after which they are sent to operations, the others who refuse are killed and buried in mass graves.

Boko Haram used some of the women as armed human shields, a first line of defense who opened fire as the troops approached, according to an intelligence officer and a soldier who were in Sambisa during the rescue.




Nigerian Military Offensive with  Technology

Nigerian Air Force  have been using Unarmed Combat Aerial Vehicle (UAV)  to destroy a Boko Haram logisitics base in Sambisa forest. The armed CH-3 UAV was sold to Nigeria by China, to help in its campaign against Boko Haram.

Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari won elections in March 2015 partly on a promise to crush the militant Islamist group Boko Haram – and gave his military chiefs until the end of the year to beat the insurgents. Technically he achieved that goal with a series of military defeats that pushed the militant group out of the northeastern towns and villages it had captured in late 2014 and back into the barely inhabited forest lands that are its stronghold.

The Nigerian Army in JUly 2017  inducted locally fabricated Infantry Patrol Vehicles (IPV) that would enhance troops operations across the country. The Chief of Army of Staff, Lt.-Gen. Tukur Buratai explained that the vehicles were locally designed and fabricated by personnel of the Nigerian Army after extension research.

As part of renewed strategy to sustain the clearing of the remnants of Boko Haram terrorists, the Nigerian Army has inducted a combat motorbike battalion at the Headquarters of 25 Task Force Brigade, Damboa, Borno State. The Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Lieutenant General Tukur Yusufu Buratai while inducting the unit stated that “the essence of the battalion is to open and secure motorways from various towns to and fro Maiduguri and other parts of Yobe State.

Inducting the combat motorbike unit, the Chief of Army Staff stated that the battalion will serve as a force multiplier in the clearance operations of remnants of Boko Haram terrorists. He stated further that with the induction of the unit, troop’s presence will be available along the roads thus keeping the roads open and safe.

Nigerian military to explore space technology in security

The Chief of Defence Staff, who noted that Nigeria was being faced with many internal and external security challenges including cross border terrorism, ethnic crisis, armed banditory, crude oil theft, kidnapping and other criminal activities, said the commissioning of the Defence Space Administration Office was “another testimony to our determination to provide added capability to the Armed Forces of Nigeria in the performance of its constitutional roles.”

“The integration of space capabilities into the various military functions would give the Armed Forces of Nigeria and other security agencies an array of technological capabilities with multitude of effects on speed, accuracy, recession of information collection, strategic planning, decision making and integration of technology to gain battle ground superiority across the different forces and platforms, “he insisted. Other identified benefits of the space technology, according to him, were in the areas of signal intelligence, navigational capabilities, battle field situation nay awareness, surveillance and communication capabilities.



Nigerian Military

President Muhammadu Buhari has blamed corruption for the deaths of thousands in the seven-year Islamic uprising that has killed more than 20,000.Last year, Boko Haram claimed the morbid title of deadliest terror group for its killings in Nigeria, Chad and Cameroon. The extremist group based in northern Nigeria killed 6,644 people in 2014, an increase of more than 300% from the previous year, according to the latest tally from the Global Terrorism Index. Boko Haram killed more people than ISIS, which it reportedly pledged allegiance to last year, the tally says.

Nigeria’s military says some officers are selling arms and ammunition to Boko Haram, indicating the corruption bedeviling the country’s fight against the Islamic extremists continues despite government efforts to halt graft.

The Nigerian military is one of the largest and well-funded in Africa, Nigeria’s defence budget was $5.8 billion in 2014, and its military includes conventional weapons as well as fleets of jets, drones and helicopters.

Although the Nigerian soldiers do win some fights, they are regularly forced to turn tail and run for their lives by the sheer volume of gunfire from Boko Haram fighters. “There’s so many issues,” said Alkasim Abdulkadir, a Nigerian freelance journalist and security analyst, citing the lack of a unified command structure, poor equipment, low morale and allegations of corruption among commanders as key reasons behind the military’s failures.

Nigeria has consistently misread the nature of the threat from Boko Haram at both the military and political levels. The army is struggling to prosecute a counterinsurgency campaign, which it was never designed or trained to fight, according to Chris Ngwodo, Nigerian writer and political analyst, “It just has found itself out of its depth when it comes to dealing with an irregular fighting force such as Boko Haram.”

Haram has anti-aircraft guns, which he says are accurate up to three-quarters of a mile, whereas the Nigerian military has AK47 small machine guns, accurate, up to a few hundred meters, complain soldiers. Often the Nigerian soldiers are given only 60 bullets each, so they quickly run out. Boko Haram, he says, has large supplies of ammunition and more fighters. The troop morale is also very low. Nigeria is also woefully short of training which has impacted their combat effectiveness.

Apart from arms and ammunition shortages, there are also deep divisions within the military, with some troops and commanders being sympathetic and refuse to fight insurgents. It has emerged that despite the presence of over 1,000 well-armed Nigerian troops in Mubi and its environs in Adamawa State, it took just a handful of 30 Boko Haram insurgents to capture the commercial city in October 2013 without firing a shot.

“For the past 14 years, the Nigerian security has been underfunded. For the same past 14 years, they have been shortage of manpower and without weaponry


Outside Support from America and European countries

America, Britain and other European nations are among those supporting military intervention against Boko Haram.

The Pentagon notified US Congress  in Aug. 17  of the sale of $593 million worth of military equipment to Nigeria. The equipment consists of 12 Super Tucano A-29 surveillance and attack planes, among other weapons. The drones are conducting intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance operations. Information from drone missions will be shared with other partners in the region, such as Nigeria, Chad and Mali in order to strengthen security across the Sahel and Lake Chad Basin region.The United States donated 24 armored vehicles to Nigeria in January in a sign of greater trust between the two administrations.

As part of the annual U.S.-sponsored “Flintlock” counter-terrorism exercises  the United States introduced technology allowing African partners to communicate between cellphones, radios and computers. The RIOS system would allow soldiers in the field to transmit photos from a remote location in the Sahel immediately to a central command room and can also precisely pin-point the coordinates of personnel, a U.S. military official said. U.S. military will also be introducing a “cloud-based” technology to allow African allies to quickly share intelligence across borders, such as mapping information on the location of potential targets, Linder said.

U.S. officials blame the Nigerian military for being brutal and corrupt and ineffective. “Heavy weaponry will only make the situation worse if it enables the Nigerian military to kill more innocent civilians, thus leading their friends and relatives to flock to Boko Haram for protection and revenge,” US officials say. “As the terrorists increase their sophistication and their desperation, we are aware that we are operating in our country. We must be very careful with the deployment of weapons, we must be very careful with the level of collateral damage that we can impose on the country, but as they get more desperate we also adjust the mission and maybe that is what is coming this far,” Major General Chris Olukolade, Nigerian Director of Defence Information told reporters.

Germany has provided more than 100 military vehicles to Cameroon, The Cubic Lane reported. Russian Ambassador to Cameroon Nikolay Ratsiborinskiy was quoted by The Cubic Lane as saying on national radio that the country will deliver ‘weapons and [the] latest generation of the most sophisticated systems’. The equipment will include ‘artillery guns, air protection, anti-aircraft missiles and cannons, armoured trucks and other equipment and armaments’, Ratsiborinskiy added.




Address the Roots says UN

‘Roots of conflict’ must be addressed to defeat Boko Haram, says top UN rights official. “Profound inequalities, corruption, and resulting marginalization, naturally generate discontent. And the more marginalized and desperate the people, the more likely they are to turn to radical and violent movements,” Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, told the Human Rights Council in Geneva.

“Vanquishing this threat to peace will require sustained attention that extends beyond the use of military force. Strengthening the rule of law, repealing discriminatory legislation, and implementing inclusive and non-discriminatory policies must be part of the response to the violations committed by Boko Haram.”

Buhari has sketched out an ambitious plan to do just that, with proposals to invest in the historically neglected northeast in order to bolster education and employment opportunities, which would go a long way towards denying support for Boko Haram. But those investments require money that Nigeria no longer has. Nearly 70 percent of government revenue comes from oil, which has plummeted in price over the past year. The country is currently in talks with the World Bank and the African Development Bank over loans of up to $3.5 billion to help with a forecasted $11 billion budget shortfall.


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India and Russian Defence cooperation heading for joint research, development and production of advanced defence technologies and systems

During the Recent Visit of PM Modi to Russia, India and Russia  signed the much-awaited agreement on setting up of two more units of a nuclear power plant in Tamil Nadu and decided to give a “new direction” to the defence cooperation between the two “great powers“.

India-Russia military technical cooperation has evolved from a simple buyer – seller framework to one involving joint research, development and production of advanced defence technologies and systems. BrahMos Missile System, Joint design and development of the Fifth Generation Fighter Aircraft, as well as the licensed production in India of SU-30 aircraft and T-90 tanks, are examples of such flagship cooperation. The two countries also hold exchanges and training exercises between their armed forces annually.

In a major boost to their military ties, India and Russia are for the first time planning to hold large-scale military exercises involving the three armed services armies, navies and air forces, under Indra bilateral drills. The armies and navies of India and Russia have been regularly holding the Indra joint exercises. The air forces of the countries held joint exercises in 2014.

Putin clearly stated that Russian relations with India were ‘based on trust’ and ties with other countries would ‘not dilute’ ties with one of its ‘closest friends’.  He went on to say that Russia’s military ties with Pakistan were ‘not tight’. He also emphatically supported India’s fight against terrorism, “no matter where the threat comes, it is unacceptable.” India had been concerned with growing military ties of Russia with China and Pakistan.

Addressing the media jointly with Putin after the talks, Modi said the relations between India and Russia have been unwavering, based on “mutual love, respect and strong trust“. “From culture to security, our relations have been at par… We speak in one language,” he added.  He said the two leaders had decided to speed up the bilateral cooperation in all fields, for which an ‘Action Plan’ has been devised.

Russia has been a longstanding time-tested partner of India. Defence relations between India and the Russian Federation have a historical perspective. The Soviet Union was an important supplier of defence equipment for several decades, and that relationship was inherited by Russia after the break-up of the Soviet Union. In 1997, Russia and India signed a ten-year agreement for further military-technical cooperation. That agreement encompassed a wide range of activities, including the purchase of completed weaponry, joint development and production, and joint marketing of armaments and military technologies.

Russia is a major supplier of defence equipment to the India armed forces, with at least 60% of their arms inventory of Russian origin. India remains the second largest market for the Russian defence industry, and the largest dollar for-dollar importer of Russian defence products worldwide.

India is all set to order a fresh batch of 42 Sukhoi fighter aircraft from Russia leading to over 222 Sukhois in its fleet by 2020. This step is seen to placate Russia which is sour after being kept out of ongoing MMRCA deal evaluation process.


Indian armed forces include the delivery of the INS Vikramaditya, the joint development of the BrahMos missile system, and the extensive Indian employment of T-90 tanks.


Russia’s T-90S tanks for deployment on its Western Borders

India has begun talks with Russia for a multi-million dollar deal to upgrade the army’s nearly 1,000 T-90 tanks, under which the Russian firms will transfer the tank technology to Indian partners in a bid to shake off the armed forces’ over-dependence on Russian supplies, according to reports

The Indian Army plans to buy 464 advanced T-90 battle tanks from Russia for deployment on its western borders with Pakistan. The Rs 13,448-crore contract will include a Make-in-India element for integration at the Heavy Vehicles Factory in Avadi near Chennai. India has already inducted 18 regiments of T-90 tanks which are deployed in Rajasthan and Punjab against on the Pakistan front. India has about 850 T-90 tanks currently and plans to induct 1,657 by the year 2020.


INS Vikramaditya

The INS Vikramaditya has been called a black stain on the otherwise snow-white sheet of the two countries’ positive defence technology relationship. The project was a sound idea, but the execution has left much to be desired. Purchased by the Indian Navy from Russia in 2013, this Kiev-class aircraft carrier project was plagued by overspending and systems integration failures. The Vikramaditya should have been delivered three years ago, but it only began sea trials in the first week of June 2012. Its cost has meanwhile risen threefold to about $3 billion.

While the carrier has since entered service, it ultimately prompted the initiation of an indigenously built carrier project, the Vikrant, which is likely to be a joint venture with the US rather than Russia, indicating a potential souring of the two BRICS countries’ relationship.

Vikramaditya, the 44,500 tonnes mega structure has an overall length of about 284 meters and a maximum beam of about 60 meters, stretching as much as three football fields put together. The 06 turbo alternators and 06 diesel alternators onboard generate a total electricity of 18 megawatts to power various equipment of the ship, enough to cater to the lighting requirement of a mini city. An extensive revamp of sensors including fitment of Long range Air Surveillance Radars, Advanced Electronic Warfare Suite makes the ship capable of maintaining a surveillance bubble of over 500 kms around the ship.

The ship is equipped with state of the art launch and recovery systems along with aids to enable smooth and efficient operation of ship borne aircraft. Major systems include the LUNA Landing system for MiGs, DAPS Landing system for Sea Harriers and Flight deck lighting systems

The ship has the ability to carry over 30 aircraft comprising an assortment of MiG 29K/Sea Harrier, Kamov 31, Kamov 28, Sea King, ALH-Dhruv and Chetak helicopters. The MiG 29K swing role fighter is the main offensive platform and provides a quantum jump for the Indian Navy’s maritime strike capability. These fourth generation air superiority fighters provide a significant fillip for the Indian Navy with a range of over 700 nm (extendable to over 1,900 nm with inflight refueling) and an array of weapons including anti-ship missiles, Beyond Visual Range air-to-air missiles, guided bombs and rockets.

With her complete stock of provisions, she is capable of sustaining herself at sea for a period of about 45 days. With a capacity of over 8,000 tonnes of LSHSD, she is capable of operations up to a range of over 7,000 nautical miles or 13000 kms.

The heart of the operational network that infuses life into the combat systems onboard the ship is the Computer aided Action Information Organisation (CAIO) system, LESORUB-E. LESORUB has the capability to gather data from ship’s sensors and data links and to process, collate and assemble comprehensive tactical pictures. Vikramaditya also boasts of a very modern communication complex, CCS MK II, to meet her external communication requirement. Installation of Link II tactical data system allows her to be fully integrated with the Indian Navy’s network centric operations..


Russian rotorcraft

Russia and India are also cooperation is also continuing in Helicopters. About  400 Ka-226T multi-mission helicopters to be license-built in a JV between Hindustan Aeronautics and Russian Helicopters as a replacement for outdated French models. The Ka-226T underwent testing in India as part of the Reconnaissance and Surveillance Helicopter (RSH) acquisition programme, where this helicopter out-performed its Western counterparts during flights in India’s hot conditions and mountainous areas.

The Ka-226T is a light, twin-engine multi-role helicopter offered by Russian Helicopters, for military and civilian missions. The military version of Ka-226T is designed for operation in hard-to-reach upland conditions as well as hot and cold climates.

The Ka-226T is produced by Kumertau Aviation Production Enterprise, a part of Russian Helicopters, and is currently in service with the Russian Air Force. It performs surveillance, reconnaissance, search and rescue (SAR), targeting, and transportation of cargo and troops.

The helicopter can fly at a maximum speed of 250km/h and cruise speed of 220km/h. It has a maximum flight range of 600km with main fuel tanks. The operational and hover (OGE) ceilings of the helicopter are 5,700m and 4,100m respectively and the maximum rate of climb is 10m/s.



Joint development of the BrahMos missile system

The BrahMos is a ramjet powered supersonic cruise missile developed in a joint venture between India and Russia. It is the world’s fastest operational cruise missile. Cooperation between the Indian Defense Research and Development Organisation and Russia’s Mashinostroyeniye Company began in 1998, with the first successful test of the BrahMos missile conducted in 2001. Since then, the missile has been employed aboard at least eight warships of the Indian Navy, and by three regiments of the Indian Army.

In April 2017, the Indian Navy successfully carried out the first-ever test of a supersonic land-attack cruise missile (LACM). A “land attack version of BrahMos supersonic cruise missile was fired for the first time from an Indian Navy’s stealth frigate, off the eastern coast, at a land target,” an unnamed Indian Ministry of Defense source noted. To date, the only variants of the BrahMos tested by the Indian Navy were the anti-ship variants.

The missiles are capable of Mach 2.8 flight. The variant tested on Friday has a range of 290 kilometers, but India is working toward longer-range variants with ranges of up to potentially 800 kilometers.

India is developing a second generation BrahMos-II missile is collaboration with Russia based on the scramjet technology.The BrahMos-II is expected to have a range of 600 km. The missile is expected to be ready for testing by 2020.


Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft / Fifth Generation Fighter Aircraft (FGFA)

This $35 billion project is designed to produce an aircraft analogous to the American F-22 Raptor. In 2007 Russia and India signed an agreement on joint development of fifth generation fighter FGFA (Fifth-Generation Fighting Aircraft), based on the Russian Sukhoi PAK FA (PAK FA). It is expected that the launch customer for the aircraft will be Indian Air Force, and later it would be delivered to third countries.

On 11 July 2016 it was reported that India’s talks with Russia on the joint development and creation of a fifth generation fighter (FGFA, Fifth Generation Fighter Aircraft) had resulted in an agreement for an equal investment of the parties in the amount of $ 4 billion at the stage of development work. This was reported by the newspaper Times of India citing Defense Ministry of India.

According to the prepared project, India and Russia will invest $4 billion to develop prototypes of their test and establish the necessary infrastructure for the next six years. The total cost of production of 127 single-seat fighters in India is about $ 25 billion.”

To date, the stage of conceptual design was completed the FGFA, at a cost of $ 295 million, and the parties decided all the questions, and the Russian developers considered more than 40 modifications proposed by the Indian side. As the military expert, “Russia not only has met with technical and financial issues,” but also “allowed the Indian Air Force to acquire FGFA prototypes for flight testing now.”

The Medium Combat Aircraft [MCA] was envisioned as a replacement for the British Jaguar and Mirage 2000 the IAF flies, which as of 2002 were to be phased out by 2015.

In December 2010, a further joint venture was announced between HAL and the Russian firm Ilyushin, to design and build a new mediumlift transport aircraft. Known as the Multirole Transport Aircraft (MTA; with a range of 2500 km and payload of 20 tonnes), this will be based on the existing design of the Ilyushin 214. This twin-turbofan aircraft is as yet still on the drawing board and its maiden flight is not expected before 2025.


References and resources also include:

Ka-226T Multi-Mission Helicopter

US India Defense Cooperation leaps forward from buying-selling and Intelligence Sharing to Strategic Partnership

The US has offered to jointly manufacture F-16 fighter jets and has approved the sale of Guardian drones to India for long surveillance missions in the Indian Ocean where Chinese ships and submarines are increasing their presence. The US has agreed to release the technology for the advanced Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System (EMALS) for the Indian Navy’s under development future aircraft carrier, INS Vishal.


“In their first conversation, Secretary Mattis committed to build upon the tremendous progress in bilateral defence cooperation made in recent years, underscoring the strategic importance of the US-India relationship and India’s role in advancing global peace and security,” said the Pentagon Press Secretary Jeff Davis. Recognising India’s status as a ‘Major Defence Partner’, the US has made necessary changes in its export control laws that would benefit India by facilitating smoother transfer of technologies and arms to it.


The designation as a Major Defense Partner, the joint statement noted, is a status unique to India and institutionalises the progress made to facilitate defence trade and technology-sharing with India to a level at par with that of the United States’ closest allies and partners, and ensures enduring cooperation into the future.


India and the United States are seeking to “re-energise” their defence technology and trade partnership to support expanded emphasis on joint development and production, the Indian Ministry of Defence (MoD) has said. The three-day visit by US Defense Secretary James Mattis to India was the first to New Delhi by a senior official in the Trump administration. The main objective was to outline a joint defense strategy and to enhance overall cooperation between the two countries. Numerous sources reported that talks aimed at deepening coordination in the Indian-Pacific naval arena, as well as enhancing India’s role in targeting terrorist infrastructure in Afghanistan.


These talks include potential collaboration on land systems and additional opportunities for intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) system. Underwater surveillance systems such as sonars and sonobuoys are of particular interest to India as it is augmenting its capabilities to keep track of the increasing Chinese naval presence in the Indian Ocean.



“The heart of that is to create cooperative technology and industrial relationships that are not just the buyer-seller kind,” the secretary said. “Both we and the Indians want to move beyond that, and there’s no reason why that can’t occur in the sense that industry wants to do it. We’re very willing to be flexible, creative. We are being that with a number of pathfinder projects.” The agreement requires both countries to cut through the “historical burden of bureaucracy,” he said. “It’s the burden that we carry forward from the fact that we were two separated industrial systems for so long during the Cold War,” Carter said. “It just takes time to get the two of them together.”


Asked about India and the US firming up close defence ties during the recent visit of US Defence Secretary James Mattis, Chinese Defence Ministry spokesman Col Wu Qian said ,”We hope that the military cooperation between India and the US will be conducive to regional peace and stability but not the opposite.”

Deepening Strategic partnership

In June 2015 Defense Secretary Ash Carter and Indian Defense Minister Manohar Parrikar signed a 10-year defense framework agreement, highlighting the growth of defense cooperation between the two countries. After the Summit-level meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and US President Barack Obama, India and the United States  agreed to extend their defence agreement for another 10 years. Out of that meeting grew the Defense Trade and Technology Initiative.The summit meeting at Washington between President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Narendra Modi in June resulted in India being designated as “a major defence partner of the United States.”


In a joint statement, Parrikar and the U.S. Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter said discussions ranged from “increased strategic and regional cooperation, to deepened military-to-military exchanges, to expanded collaboration on defense technology and innovation.” The Logistics Exchange Memorandum Of Agreement allows for reciprocal exchange of logistic support, supplies, and services between the two armed forces. This includes food, water, fuel, spare parts, repair, transportation, communication and medical services.


US has been asking India to complete the ongoing negotiations on concluding the three foundational pacts, out of which one has already been signed. These two pacts are Communication and Information Security Memorandum of Agreement (CISMOA) and Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement (BECA).


The Sides reaffirmed their commitment to work together as priority partners in the Asia Pacific and the Indian Ocean region in accordance with the roadmap for cooperation under the India-U.S. Joint Strategic Vision for the Asia Pacific and the Indian Ocean Region. In this regard, they welcomed the convening of the inaugural Maritime Security Dialogue in May 2016 and engagement on maritime domain awareness, including through a White Shipping Agreement. They also decided to strengthen cooperation in the area of connectivity.


Recognizing the growing threats and challenges in cyberspace and the serious risks to national security from malicious cyber activity, both Sides reaffirmed working together to promote cyber security, combat cyber-crime, advance norms of responsible state behavior in cyberspace, improve cooperation among technical and law enforcement agencies, and promote cyber R&D and capacity building. In this context, they welcomed the signing of the Framework for the India-U.S. Cyber Relationship.


The countries have been exchanging intelligence information as well as in our training and exercises under counterterrorism cooperation agreement. India and the US will enhance their counterterrorism cooperation, by sharing exchange information on their respective citizens who may be going off to Syria, Iraq or any other new terror hotspot. The intelligence cooperation will stretch to the defence forces who will now exchange their own sets of information and intelligence. The Sides reiterated their condemnation of terrorism in all its forms and reaffirmed their commitment to dismantle safe havens for terrorist and criminal networks such as Da’esh/ISIL, Al-Qa’ida, Lashkar-e-Taiba, Jaish-e-Mohammad, D Company and its affiliates and the Haqqani Network. The Sides called on Pakistan to bring the perpetrators of the 2008 Mumbai and 2016 Pathankot terrorist attacks to justice.


New Delhi is also on the cusp of sealing a US nuclear reactor deal worth billions of dollars. In return, Washington has given New Delhi access to high-end military technology, such as a new system to launch planes off aircraft carriers, and leaned on other countries to give India membership in the Missile Technology Control Regime, which cleared the way for the sale of the unarmed Predator. India’s military has also asked for the armed version of the Predator to help target suspected militant camps in Pakistan but US export control laws prohibit such a transfer.


United States has become the second largest defense equipment supplier to India.

Over the past three years, Russian defense deals with India exceeded 340 billion rupees (over $5 billion), with the United States coming in at a close second with 300 billion rupees (around $4.4 billion) in deals. U.S. defense contractor Boeing alone has won bids to supply the Indian military with ten C-17 Globemaster-III strategic airlift aircraft (worth $4.1 billion), eight P-8I maritime patrol aircraft (worth $2.1. billion), 22 AH-64E Apache, and 15 CH-47F Chinook helicopters (both helicopter deals have a combined worth of $2.5 billion). Besides, India is now a country with which the United States conducts the largest number of peace-time military exercises bilaterally every year (nearly 70).


According to defence analysts, India – the world’s largest arms importer – is poised to spend $250 billion in the next decade to modernise its armed forces by acquiring more lethal weapons and combat jets. India has raised the FDI cap in defence sector recently from 26 per cent to 49 per cent with an aim of boosting indigenous defence production. Foreign investment beyond 49 per cent has now been permitted through government approval route, in cases resulting in access to modern technology in the country or for other reasons to be recorded. The condition of access to ‘state-of-art’ technology in the country has been done away with.


The US will also sell the famous MRAP vehicles to India to counter IEDs especially in the Maoist-hit areas for security forces who are frequently killed in landmine and IED blasts. The two sides are likely to sign is 145 ultra-light M-777 howitzers (worth $885 million), meant to be deployed by India’s new mountain strike corps which will essentially be China-centric. US has offered India high grade technology for the next generation of Indian Navy vessels. Indian navy are in the process of building over 40 different classes of warships and destroyers.


The sanctions on DRDO – that were placed after Pokhran II in 1998 , were lifted off in 2011. So far, DRDO and the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency have agreed only to joint development of explosive detection systems and C4I systems. The Sides noted the ongoing progress on the Engineers and Scientists Exchange Programme (ESEP) Agreement between India and the United States, which would further strengthen bilateral co-operation in defense research.


The two-way Indo-U.S. trade has also quadrupled in just seven years from $25 billion in 2006 to about $100 billion in 2013. Two sides are now targeting increasing trade to $500 billion in near term. The enhanced bilateral relations are a result of a significant increase in government-to-government dialogue, US Ambassador Richard Verma said. “We have broken every record that we keep in every category… The highest two-way trade numbers ever between the countries last year has reached USD 109 billion; the highest defence trade numbers last year was USD 15 billion; we even did USD 6 billion cumulatively in agri trade,” he said at the USA-India Innovation Forum in New Delhi

Defense Trade and Technology Initiative (DTTI)

India’s defence Ministry has cleared a proposal that could give impetus to the first joint defence development project between India and United States for new, lightweight, protective clothing for soldiers. The project has been named as Defence Trade and Technology Initiative. The initial amount allocated for the project is Rs 300 crore. The Indian Army has planned to modernize it and also have plans to acquire chemical and biological resistant clothing in the current five year plan


US has sold equipment worth Rs 60,000 crore in the last 10 years to India but none of these weapon sales programme is about joint production or co-development and does not include transfer of technology. However, the Indian side is not too inclined to off-the-shelf purchases, and would instead push for arrangements that would galvanise Indian defence industry in partnership with US firms. Modi is pushing for greater participation by US defense companies in forging partnerships with domestic defense companies to boost the domestic defense industry.


The  DTTI initiative is aimed at co-development and co-design of defence equipment, weapons platforms and other military technology. Nine working groups have been established under the initiative, which aims to promote co-development and co-production of military technologies for use by both countries. The latest group set up recently is on new naval systems, such as sonars and sonobuoys, which are of interest to India. Two other joint working groups – one for development of new aircraft carriers, and the other to design new jet engines.



The Defense Trade and Technology Initiative (DTTI), the body responsible for working out areas of joint development in defense, has several weapon projects on the table, Some of the technologies are big data for predicting terrorist attacks and for smart surveillance, anti-tank Javelin missile, the Hawk 21 surface-to-air missile and magnetic catapults, which help larger planes take off from smaller ships. In addition to LEMOA, two “pathfinder projects” were announced, to co-develop a Digital Helmet Mounted Display; and so was a Joint Biological Tactical Detection System for protection for individual soldiers from chemical and biological weapons


The US believes this because India is currently the world fastest growing economy in the word, it will have the largest middle class, college graduates, holders, and mega cities. “…two-third of the population is less than age of 35 and there will be massive investment in infrastructure… So, we are quite optimistic and we are quite excited about India,” US Ambassador Richard Verma said. To achieve this, India would have continuously take reform measures on the policy sides besides stronger Intellectual property (IP) framework, Mr Verma said.


References and Resources also include:


Taiwan developing Jets and Submarines to boost indigenous Defense Industry and “double-level deterrence” to combat threat from China

President Tsai Ing-wen, who took office in May 2016, has accelerated that development largely in aerospace, submarines and cyber security.“In the current phase, we are committed to building our own military jets and submarines, which, particularly for young engineers and researchers, will create many new job opportunities,” she said. “I trust that a more robust defense industry will not only strengthen our military capabilities, but prove beneficial to our overall industrial development as well.”Tsai also called cyber warfare a “growing threat” and said Taiwan “must be more prepared” for it.

The Ministry of National Defense said on 16th March 2017  in “Taiwan’s Quadrennial Defense Review” (QDR) that the country plans to acquire stealth fighters and vertical/short takeoff and landing (V/STOL) aircraft to strengthen its defense forces, particularly as China has announced it will increase its military budget 7 percent to a reported US$147 billion this year.

The stealth fighters are necessary to combat threats from China,  will help support the navy and ground forces in Taiwan and V/STOL aircraft are necessary for rapid response to potential threats to Taiwan, the report added. Taiwan’s strategy with the improved weaponry will be that of “double-level deterrence” to ensure security. Also included in the QDR are plans to strengthen naval capabilities and missile defense systems. Taiwan purchased two decommissioned frigates, USS Taylor and the USS Gary, from the U.S. for about NT$5.5 billion (US$177.21 million).

Ministry of National Defense (MND) said in a report that Patriot Advanced Capability-3 (PAC-3), has been stationed on Taiwan’s east coast, to ensure that Taiwan can defend itself in the event of an attack.

“In addition to posing a military threat to our country, it also has a negative impact on regional stability,” the report said, referring to the Chinese military activities. The Taiwanese defense paper further pointed to Japan’s move away from its pacifist constitution “to strengthen its armaments and lift a ban on using troops abroad” as likely to have profound consequences on the security situation in the Asia-Pacific and the Taiwan Strait.

Beijing has called Washington’s involvement in the dispute the “greatest” threat to the region, accusing the US of displaying a show of force by increasing its military strength and that of its allies in the region.

China Threat

Beijing has laid claim to nearly all of the resource-rich South China Sea, through which an estimated $5 trillion worth of trade passes each year. An assertive China is investing heavily in developing military power, laying claims on island territories, and the air space over the South China and East China seas. China is building islands and building facilities, including airstrips, on those islands with a scope and pace unprecedented in the region. Beijing considers Taiwan a breakaway province and has never ruled out the use of force to achieve reunification. Chinese President Xi Jinping, was quoted in state media warning Taiwan against independence, saying “no secessionist act will be tolerated” by Beijing.

Taiwan figures in China’s long-term strategic planning. It is part of China’s so-called First Island Chain, the innermost defensive ring of islands that China considers essential for national defense. In the long term, controlling the island is in China’s interests both to shield the mainland and as a springboard to operate into the Second Island Chain.

Taiwan’s Minister of National Defense Yen Ming had once told the national legislature’s Foreign Affairs and National Defense Committee the country’s military could hold out “at least one month” alone against a Chinese invasion. The widening power imbalance in the Taiwan Strait might embolden Beijing to exercise the military option to resolve the issue. The potential for armed conflict has made the Taiwan Strait one of the world’s most worrisome hot spots.

Taiwan faces an adversary in the maritime domain that is close to its territory and equipped with dozens of attack submarines, hundreds of strike aircraft, thousands of offensive missiles, and tens of thousands of sea mines.


RAND report, “Air Defense Options for Taiwan”

RAND report, “Air Defense Options for Taiwan: An Assessment of Relative Costs and Operational Benefits,” suggests that Taiwan downsize its fighter fleet and increase investment in SAM systems. “We estimate that Taiwan will spend about US$22 billion in the next 20 years on the fighter aircraft currently in its fleet with no changes, and another US$3.3 billion to retrofit the F-16 fleet. That is fairly substantial for a military that has averaged about US$10.5 billion in total annual spending in recent years,” the report says. It was written by Michael J. Lostumbo, David R. Frelinger, James Williams and Barry Wilson.

China’s procurement and development of fighter aircraft, surface-to-surface ballistic missiles, land-attack cruise missiles and bomber aircraft advancements are not slowing, and could pulverize Taiwan’s air bases within hours of a war, the report says. None of Taiwan’s fighter aircraft would survive or be deployable on runways turned into a lunar landscape.

The report finds that the acquisitions that will turn the tide against Taiwan include current J-11B upgrade (J-16), armed with improved PL-15 air-to-air missiles and active electronically scanned array radar, procurement of Russian Su-35 fighter aircraft, Russian S-400 surface-to-air missile system (400 kilometer range, allowing for coverage for the first time of all of Taiwan island), indigenous development of stealthy fighters that include the J-20 and J-31, and unmanned combat aerial vehicles.

“It is plausible that only fifth-generation fighters, such as the F-22 and JSF [F-35], will be able to counter a numerically superior fourth-generation ‘plus’ fighter, such as J-16, if operated by a determined and competent pilot,” the report says.


Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defense (MND) in its 2013 Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR) identified its principal objectives in the maritime domain to be the expansion and improvement of surveillance, early-warning, and naval and air intelligence collection capabilities.


Taiwan and Maritime Domain Awareness in the Western Pacific: Project 2049 report

The Project 2049 Institute in their recent report “Taiwan and Maritime Domain Awareness in the Western Pacific have analyzed the Taiwan’s maritime domain awareness capability.

Taiwan has a large number of land, air, and sea-based radars, located in mainland and offshore islands that provide surveillance of maritime targets, monitoring major Chinese ports across the Taiwan Strait, and early warning of hostile Chinese naval activity, including the preparation for amphibious attacks, blockades or missile strikes.

Taiwan’s early-warning and anti-submarine warfare (ASW) aircraft fleets provide long-range maritime awareness and intelligence information. It has a large number of “technical intelligence” (or SIGINT) collection capabilities in the Taiwan Strait and the South China that allow it to (1) track Chinese ships as they enter and exit port; (2) monitor PLAN activities at sea; and (3) obtain PLAN mission orders in advance. Taiwan’s HUMINT capabilities in China are the most effective in the world, its human agents that have penetrated the Chinese party, military and security apparatus. The ROC military’s C3I system is also considered as being “world-class” providing near-real time common operational picture.

The 2049 report emphasizes the importance of Taiwan’s strategic location in the heart of East Asia and the Western Pacific for collecting information and monitoring regional events, No country in the world is better positioned to influence the course of political and security affairs in the Asia-Pacific region than Taiwan.”. The U.S. and Taiwan should continue to work toward the ability to better share a common operational picture that would allow them to seamlessly work together as coalition partners during a crisis or conflict, the 2049 report recommends.

China and Russia have signed a US $3 billion contract for Russian sale of 400-kilometer-range S-400 Triumf road-mobile SAM systems to China. “The China has added another asymmetric capability, together with anti-ship ballistic missiles, which will boost Chinese potential in dealing with the local conflicts in East Asia,” says Vasiliy Kashin, a China military specialist at Moscow’s Centre for Analysis of Strategies and Technologies. S-400 will give China more confidence in controlling airspace over Taiwan, and will serve as a critical factor in defeating Taiwan’s air defense capabilities during a war, said York Chen, a former senior adviser of Taiwan’s National Security Council.

Smaller defense budgets and an overwhelming Chinese conventional force have moved Taiwan toward asymmetrical systems and an anti-access, area denial capability all its own, says Kyle Mizokami. Rather than matching China ship for ship and plane for plane, Taiwan is fielding systems that imperil China’s ability to operate in the Taiwan Strait.

One such example is the Hsun Hai, or “Swift Sea” program of small missile corvettes. The catamarans are capable of 38 knots and designed to have a minimal radar signature. Armed with eight Hsiung Feng II and Hsuing Feng III anti-ship missiles, the corvettes have been dubbed “carrier killers” by the Taiwanese media. The first, Tuo River, was commissioned on March 14 and expected to be operational by mid-2015. Twelve ships are planned.

Submarines stand to be a key pillar of Taiwan’s asymmetrical approach. “After Taiwan has lost air and sea control, it’s the subs that will still be able to attack groups of amphibious landing aircraft,” Wang Jyh-perng, RoCN reserve captain told the Asia Times in 2011. In January, Taiwan’s navy headquarters announced a 15-year upgrade plan for naval forces. Under the plan, a local shipbuilder has been directed to determine the feasibility of locally built submarines by June of this year.


References and Resources also include:

China leading the Global Space race to build Moon bases, harness it’s mineral resources and helium-3, an ideal 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.

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.

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.

 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 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.”

NASA and Russia  to work collaboratively for space station

At this year’s International Astronautical Congress, 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.”


USA bypasses Moon mission to Mars 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 disapprove 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.


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:

US, Russia, China, UK & Indian Militaries are restructuring and downsizing troops to be effective under changing threats and Warfare

The U.S. Army is preparing to downsize by 40,000 more active duty personnel from 490,000 to 450,000. U.S. Army officer announced that the Army is looking to slim down its personnel numbers and adopt more robots over the coming years. The Navy, Marine Corps and Air Force will experience much smaller force reductions without a loss of capability. However, The Trump administration has proposed increasing Army active end strength from its current level of 476,000 to about 540,000 within the next few years.

The UK Army is cutting the number of regulars from 102,000 in 2010 to 82,000 by 2017, but seeking to increase the number of reservists. The plans also involve cutting the Royal Navy from 35,500 regulars in 2010 to 30,000 in 2020 and the RAF from 40,130 regulars in 2010 to 35,000 in 2020.

President Putin has already declared  years back that the transformation of Russia’s armed forces from a bloated giant to a lean fighting force has been accomplished, and no further reductions are needed.

China will downsize its 2.3 million-strong army, the world’s largest, to under one million in the biggest troop reduction in its history as part of a restructuring process, an official Chinese daily said.

The Indian government recently announced significant reforms to the Indian Army to enhance its combat capability and also optimize expenditure. The reforms involve the redeployment of 57,000 personnel, optimization of communication arms and the closure of military farms.

One of the prime reason for downsizing is improving the tooth to tail ratio. Others are the changing character of warfare in which the non Conventional warfare, cyber warfare are becoming more prominent. For US,  troops will be reduced, but Special Operations Forces, the personnel most likely to be deployed in today’s security environment, will be increased from 66,000 to 67,900. This is due to continuing and ever increasing threat of ISIS and radical Islamist ideology that is spreading the world.  Demand for SOF will only increase as the United States faces an increasing number of conflicts in the gray zone.

The People’s Liberation Army (PLA) will increase the numbers of other services, including navy and missile forces, the PLA Daily, the official newspaper of the Chinese military, reported. Another reason is the rising capabilities and confidence in robots and other technologies.

US for reduction of its troops

A reduction of 40,000 personnel does not, moreover, equate to the loss of 40,000 combat troops. US Army is trying to increase the tooth-to-tail ratio (ratio of soldiers directly involved in fighting missions (tooth) to those involved in supporting activities (tail)).

A typical ratio is about 1/3 tooth to 2/3 tail, which means that you’re spending a lot of resources on logistics, supplies, and other efforts to support the actual combat operations. According to Gen. Cole, the Army sees that as an opportunity to become more efficient. “Maybe it’s one-half to one-half,” he said. “The point is you get to keep more tooth, more folks that actually conduct operations on the ground and less supporting structure.”

In the near term the supporting activities shall be filled by using support robots, Robots will likely include autonomous vehicles that can transport supplies, autonomous aircraft that can transport supplies and other autonomous robots that can transport supplies.


China To Downsize Army To Under A Million In Biggest Troop Cut

China will downsize its 2.3 million-strong army, the world’s largest, to under one million in the biggest troop reduction in its history as part of a restructuring process, an official Chinese daily said. The People’s Liberation Army (PLA) will increase the numbers of other services, including navy and missile forces, the PLA Daily, the official newspaper of the Chinese military, reported.

“This is the first time that active PLA army personnel would be reduced to below one million,” it said. It added that the number of troops in the PLA Navy, PLA Strategic Support Force and the PLA Rocket Force will be increased, while the PLA Air Force’s active service personnel will remain the same

Chinese President Xi Jinping has called for a smaller army with better combat capability and optimized structure as the military reform deepens. Xi announced in September last year that the armed forces would be cut down by 300,000 troops from the original 2.3 million. The president, who is also general secretary of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, said the military’s structure must be readjusted and optimized, new type of forces be developed, the ratios between different types of forces be rationalized, and the number and the scale of the military be downsized. The Chinese army must grow into modern armed forces with Chinese characteristics, which can win informationized wars and implement their missions, the president said.

Citing rapid changes to the global military environment, Xi spoke about the informationized modern warfare, noting that joint operations have grown to be the basic form of combat. “Accordingly, there have been new changes in terms of the military’s size, structure, and formation, which features smaller in size, more capable in strength, modulization and multi-functionality, with scientific factors playing bigger roles,” Xi said. “Quantity should be reduced, quality improved to build a capable and efficient modernized standing army,” Xi said, adding that China must develop a joint operation force system with the elite force at its core.


India government announces significant reforms to increase its  “teeth to tail ratio”.

The indian government recently announced significant reforms to the Indian Army to enhance its combat capability and also optimize expenditure. The reforms involve the redeployment of 57,000 personnel, optimization of communication arms and the closure of military farms.

The government said it has decided to implement 65 of the reforms recommended by the Lt-Gen. (retd) D.B. Shekatkar committee that submitted its report last year. The committee was mandated to recommend measures to enhance the combat capability of the army and rebalance defence expenditure to increase the “teeth to tail ratio”. The teeth-to-tail ratio refers to the amount of supply and support personnel (tail) for each combat soldier (tooth).

The Indian Army has 1.3 million personnel. “It is a big reform and has been carried out in consultation with the army,” Jaitley added. The move is unlikely to result in any job losses and the process is expected to be completed by 31 December 2019.

Apart from the redeployment of personnel, the measures also include optimization of supply, transport and ordnance infrastructure and the closure of 39 military farms and several military postal departments in so-called peace locations.


Changing nature of warfare driving military restructuring and downsizing

Some believe the future of modern warfare will be fought by automated weapons systems. Osama and other terrorists were tracked by these military robots; they have proved themselves in Iraq and Afghanistan. Several militaries are currently working on a range of not only unmanned, but autonomous military vehicles. Israel  became the first to actually deploy such machines to active duty. IDF spokespeople told that since mid-July, fully-automated, self-driving vehicles have been patrolling the border of the Gaza Strip. In addition to patrol vehicles, Israeli defense contractors are also developing autonomous assault units. The robots currently in the field are unarmed, but future plans include equipping them with weapons as they are deployed to additional border regions.


Russia has claimed to have carried out for first time in the world, an attack on a fortified area of militants by battle robots. In the province of Latakia, army units of the Syrian army, with the support of Russian specialists and Russian combat robots, took the strategic tower of “Syriatel”, 754m in height. In the attack on the tower, six robotic complexes “Platform-M” and four complex “Argo” were used. A friendly robot was recently deployed to Syria featuring self-propelled artillery installations (SAU) “acacia” that can destroy enemy positions.


Military robotics is a top priority for Russia’s military future, given the length of the Russian border and the need for military operations in places unsuitable for humans, like the Arctic. Recently, the chief of the General staff of the Russian armed forces, General Gerasimov, stated that Russia seeks to completely automate the battle, and perhaps soon we will witness robotic groups independently conducting warfare.


Major Kenneth Rose of the US Army’s Training and Doctrine Command outlined some of the advantages of robotic technology in warfare: Machines don’t get tired. They don’t close their eyes. They don’t hide under trees when it rains and they don’t talk to their friends … A human’s attention to detail on guard duty drops dramatically in the first 30 minutes … Machines know no fear.


As the capacities of military robots expand from semi-autonomous machines to potentially fully autonomous, future robots are even expected to replace soldiers in combat roles. “Intelligent robotic weapons – they’re a reality, and they will be much more of a reality by 2030,” former UK intelligence officer John Bassett said. “At some point around 2025 or thereabouts the US Army will actually have more combat robots than it will have human soldiers,” he added, mentioning upcoming robot trucks that would drive themselves and be more effective on the road than an ordinary manned vehicle.


“The Russian Defense Ministry approved the concept of combat use of robotic systems and complexes of various types and purposes for the next 10 years, until 2025,” – said O.Martyanov, who directs the interdepartmental working group on the development and application of robots. According to the document, the expert said, the proportion of robotic agents in the overall structure of arms and military equipment (AME) should be about 30%.


According to Russia’s deputy prime minister Dmitry Rogozin, the robots will save lives: “We have to conduct battles without any contact, so that our boys do not die, and for that it is necessary to use war robots,” he said. The idea was backed by Russia’s Defense Minister Sergei Shoygu, who urged engineers to make robots combat ready by 2015-17, instead of initially scheduled 2020.


In response rapid development of killer drones by Russia and China, Pentagon officials have planned to develop and deploy automated killer machines in US military within ten years. The Pentagon top officials believe that it will allow the US not to be behind Russia and China militarily. A report from the Defence Science Board in the US concluded that there are both benefits and dire negatives in using cyborgs to fight their battles, but the country needs to act quickly if it does not want to be left behind any further. The report said “there are both substantial operational benefits and potential perils associated with its use.” Robots on the battlefield will be more efficient, result in less casualties and could ultimately be cheaper.


The militaries are also restructuring while becoming more efficient, Gen. Robert Cone, head of the Army’s Training and Doctrine Command, offered some surprising details about the slim-down plans. As Defense News put it, he “quietly dropped a bomb,” saying the Army is studying the possibility of reducing the size of a brigade from 4,000 soldiers to 3,000 in the coming years.


The weapon and platform modernization is also leading to less requirement of manpower as these High-tech weapons systems often require fewer personnel than traditional ones. Obsolete ships and planes will be replaced by new ones, which may require fewer people to operate them.





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Growing China Pakistan security and military nexus threat to national security of the United States and other nations

Recently  the relationship between United States and Pakistan is on the downslide, with pakistan fearing of possible cut in aid or  US even declaring it a “state sponsor of terrorism” because of complaints by Afghan authorities. Today, Pakistan continues to receive hundreds of millions of dollars in U.S. annual support. The United States is “considering stripping Pakistan of its status as an ally because of a perceived failure to tackle terrorism,” according to reports.


Senior U.S. Congress members, led by Congressman Mike Rogers, Chairman of the Sub-committee on Strategic Forces, had warned that China is supplying super sensitive nuclear weapons systems to Pakistan which could pose a threat to the national security of the United States and other nations like India. In his speeches, Trump has drawn attention to China’s ‘devious track record’ in nuclear material matters and the fact that Beijing has actively assisted Islamabad in its nuclear program in violation of global and United Nations norms. Trump has been calling for firm action against China and, if this illicit nuclear relationship is confirmed by the U.S. Government, then by law, it will have to impose economic and other sanctions on Beijing.


As the relations between United states and pakistan are soaring Pakistan is increasingly looking to china to bail itself out of its economic woes. China has also stepped in to expand its sphere of influence. It currently is involved in a major mutually beneficial project to build a network of roads and other infrastructure from its territory to Pakistan’s Gwadar port in order to provide a shorter route to the Persian Gulf. Russia, too, has been making diplomatic overtures and recently participated in joint naval exercises off Pakistan.  “If the US does not consider our legitimate concerns and just toes India’s line, then we will certainly move closer to China and Russia,” the official said, referring to Pakistan’s first “contingency plan.


China and Pakistan have agreed to strengthen anti-terrorism and security cooperation along a US $50 billion economic corridor that links the restive regions of the two countries through a network of rail and road projects. The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) connects Xinjiang province in northwest China with the deep-water Gwadar port on the Arabian Sea in southwestern Pakistan. It faces challenges from Islamic militants in both the regions.


China and Pakistan have agreed to strengthen bilateral cooperation on science and technology under the Belt and Road Initiative. The agreement was made on Saturday during a meeting between Pakistani President Mamnoon Hussain and visiting Chinese Minister of Science and Technology Wan Gang. Wan, also vice chairman of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference National Committee, said the two sides have carried out a series of pragmatic cooperation such as joint laboratory construction and young scientists’ exchanges.


Furthermore, the two sides should push forward energy cooperation in the fields of thermal power, Hydropower, solar energy and clean energy, implement infrastructure cooperation projects such as highways, railways, urban rail facilities, deepen cooperation in industrial parks and strengthen personnel training, the Chinese vice premier said. China and Pakistan should further tap the potential in bilateral economic and trade cooperation, maintain the growing momentum in bilateral trade so as to promote trade balance, he said. The two sides should also boost cooperation in the fields such as education, science and technology, culture, health, youth and media in a bid to consolidate the social basis of the China-Pakistan friendship, Wang said.

Counterterrorism Cooperation

Both countries are working towards deepening their Counter-terrorism cooperation. Pakistan supports china strategy on the issue of Muslim separatism in Xinjiang. It has killed and extradited many of Uighurs to China. In return, China has supplied an increasing amount of counter-terrorism equipment, such as explosive scanners, to Pakistan. Both also collaborate to check East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM) and call the group their “common enemy”.


The “Friendship-2016” joint anti-terrorism training of the Chinese and Pakistani armies was held at Pakistani national anti-terrorism training center on October 18, 2016. This was the sixth “Friendship” joint anti-terrorism training between the special operations forces of China and Pakistan. Focused on “anti-terrorism combat by special operations units in mountains and urban residential areas”, the training was aimed at exchanging anti-terrorism skills and tactics and sharing experience in the building, training and real combat of the special operations forces.


China is also concerned with security of its heavy investment in Pakistan from the Karakorum Highway in the north of the country to the seaport of Gwadar in the south. In a bid to address their fears, Pakistan last year created an army division,  to focus specifically on protecting CPEC projects and Chinese workers. Reports have said that Pakistan deployed a 15,000-strong military force to protect Chinese nationals working on various projects linked to the CPEC. This includes 9,000 Pakistan Army soldiers and 6,000 para-military forces personnel. Officials expect the CPEC projects to significantly boost Pakistan’s economic growth above the current 5 percent a year. China has become increasing concerned about al-Qaeda linked terrorism originating in Pakistan and sought help to set up military bases on Pakistani soil to deal with the problem.


During the joint anti-terrorism training, two sides also performed actual-troop live-ammunition comprehensive exercises with a view to improving the soldiers’ tactical and real combat capability, enriching the pragmatic training cooperation between the two militaries, and deepening their traditional friendship.

Military Cooperation

Military cooperation between China and Pakistan started in the 1960s when China began supplying arms to Pakistan and established a number of arms factories in Pakistan. Military cooperation in both conventional and non-conventional security is strengthening. According to Stockholm International Peace Research Institute Pakistan is China’s biggest arms buyer, counting for nearly 47% of Chinese arms exports.


Military cooperation has deepened with joint projects producing armaments ranging from fighter jets to guided missile frigates. 600 Al Khalid tanks produced in Pakistan form the backbone of the Pakistan Army’s Armoured Corps. They are variants of Chinese Type 90II tank.


Aerospace Collaboration

Pakistan recently inducted 16 new JF-17 Thunder jets to its air force. The JF-17 Thunder is the backbone of PAF and already more than 70 fighters of the category are part of it.


The JF-17 combat aircraft is the most notable piece of military hardware that is jointly produced. JF-17 fighter jet project (JF standing for joint fighter), was launched in 1999, when CATIC signed a cooperation agreement with the Pakistan Air Force. Both countries contributed half of the cost, estimated at US$150m. The design for the plane was finalised in 2001, and the maiden flight was held in 2003. The planes are powered with Russian engines and be armed with Chinese missiles.


Pakistani Air Force is expected to induct 250 to 300 JF17 fighter planes which will form its backbone. Nigeria has signed a memorandum of understanding to purchase an unknown number of JF17 aircraft, according to IHS Jane’s, a defence/aerospace publication, making Pakistan a defence exporter. China has also provided Four Karakoram Eagle airborne early warning & control aircraft (AWACS) at a cost of $278 million.


Emerging Naval Collaboration

China is the largest investor in Pakistan’s Gwadar Deep Sea Port, which is strategically located at the mouth of the Strait of Hormuz. It is viewed warily by both America and India as a possible launchpad for the Chinese Navy, giving them the ability to launch submarines and warships in the Indian Ocean. China has recently pledged to invest nearly $43 billion US dollars.


Pakistan’s Ministry of Defence Production confirmed a contract with China for the purchase of eight conventional diesel electric submarines, which will cost between $4 billion to $5 billion (Rs. 25,600 crore to Rs. 33,200 crore), China’s biggest defence export deal.


China has sold four 2,5000 ton Zulfiquar class frigates at a cost of $500 to $750 million. Three of these were constructed in China, the fourth in Karachi.


China’s  Nuclear assistance to  Pakistan

In Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has inaugurated a nuclear power facility built with the assistance of China. The plant at Chashma, in Pakistan’s Punjab province, adds 340 megawatts to the national grid. Beijing has already constructed two other nuclear reactors, with a combined capacity of more than 600 megawatts.


The three power plants at Chashma are known as C-1, C-2 and C-3 respectively. They are are part of broader plans to overcome long-running crippling power shortages in Pakistan. “The next (nuclear) power projectwith an installed capacity of 340 megawatts, C-4, is also being built here (in Chashma with Chinese assistance). God willing, it will be operational and connected to the national grid in April, 2017,” Sharif told Wednesday’s ceremony.


In the past, China has played a major role in the development of Pakistan’s nuclear infrastructure, especially when increasingly stringent export controls in Western countries made it difficult for Pakistan to acquire plutonium and uranium enriching equipment from elsewhere such as the Chinese help in building the Khushab reactor, which plays a key role in Pakistan’s production of plutonium.



China has provided Nine HQ16 medium range surface to air missile systems with a maximum intercept range of 40 km at a cost of $600 million.


The U.S. Congressmen reportedly said that they are specifically alarmed over the supply of Transporter Erector Launcher (TEL) systems, which would provide instant mobility to Pakistan’s medium range nuclear ballistic missiles like the Shaheen III. The Pakistan Army successfully conducted a training launch of the Ghauri medium-range ballistic missile (MRBM) fired from the transporter erector launcher from Tilla Test Range in Jhelum District in 2015. Ever since it has been in the market for several TEL systems. Pakistan Army already uses Chinese origin 8×8 transporter erector launchers similar to the Russian MAZ-543/MAZ-7310.


US Congressmen have cautioned that availability of more such mobility vehicles would provide Pakistan’s nuclear command with far reaching powers to strike anywhere in South Asia, including in Afghanistan and India and on targets that affect U.S. national security interests in the region.


Close strategic partnership

China–Pakistan share a close strategic partnership since 1950s. The 1962 Sino-India War strengthened the relationship and, in 1963, Pakistan agreed to cede part of Kashmir to China. China and Pakistan formed a strategic partnership in 1972. China supports Pakistan’s stance on Kashmir while Pakistan supports China on the issues of Xinjiang, Tibet, and Taiwan.


The relations between Pakistan and China have been described by Pakistan’s ambassador to China as higher than the mountains, deeper than the oceans, stronger than steel, dearer than eyesight, sweeter than honey, and so on. On January 26, 2015, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi during a conclusion of a two-day visit of Raheel Sharif to Beijing called Pakistan China’s ‘irreplaceable, all-weather friend’.


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US administration identifies Disruptive technologies, Doctrinal innovation and Nuclear modernization under Third Offset Strategy to sustain America’s military dominance for the 21st century

In an Aug. 17 memorandum from Mick Mulvaney, director of the Office of Management and Budget, and Michael Kratsios, deputy assistant to the president in the Office of Science and Technology Policy, the Trump administration outlines its technology-related research and development priorities for fiscal year 2019.

It calls for Agencies to invest· in R&D that can support the military of the future, including in technologies related to the development of missile defense capabilities, a modern strategic deterrent, hypersonic weapons and defenses, autonomous and space-based systems, trusted microelectronics, and future computing capabilities.

“Agencies should invest in R&D to increase the security and resilience of the Nation’s critical infrastructure from both physical threats and cyber-attacks, which have increased rapidly in number and complexity in recent years,” the memo says. “Special attention should be paid to R&D that can support the safe and secure integration into society of new technologies that have the potential to contribute significantly to American economic and technological leadership.”

In November 2014, then–Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel announced a new Defense Innovation Initiative, which included the Third Offset Strategy. Hagel said, “This new initiative is an ambitious department-wide effort to identify and invest in innovative ways to sustain and advance America’s military dominance for the 21st century.”

“Adversaries are devising ways to counter our technological over-match. So across the board, we see rapid developments in nuclear weapons, modernization of nuclear weapons; new anti-ship, anti-air missiles; long-range strike missiles; counter-space capabilities; cyber capabilities; electronic warfare capabilities; special operations capabilities that are operated at the lower end. All are designed to counter our traditional military strengths and our preferred way of operating,” said Deputy Secretary of Defense Bob Work.

The US’s first Offset strategy  was recommended in the 1950’s to counter Soviet conventional superiority with large increase in its nuclear weapons and their delivery systems  like bombers, missiles and submarines to provide a credible deterrence even with reduced military budget. The Second Offset took shape in the 1970’s when the US developed precision-guided weapons, night vision devices and stealth technology in response to the Soviet Union’s nuclear parity.

Third Offset will leverage new technologies such as artificial intelligence, autonomous systems and human-machine networks to equalise advances made by the nations opponents in recent years. More than technology the third offset is about architectural innovations and massive changes in doctrine, operations, training and organization. Deputy Secretary of Defense Bob Work said “Offset is about operational and organizational constructs which are ‘enabled’ by new technology but not simply a matter of technology” during Air, Space & Cyber Conference.

Pentagon has dedicated $18 billion in its Future Years Defense Program (FYDP) to researching and developing third offset technologies and operational concepts in the years to come. Money allocated includes $3 billion on researching Anti-Area/Access-Denial (A2/AD) technologies, $3 billion on submarine and undersea challenges, $3 billion on human-machine collaboration and teaming, $1.7 billion on cyber and electronic warfare, $500 million on guided munitions challenges, and $500 million on wargaming and the testing of third offset operational concepts

Air Force Gen. Paul Selva, Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said his way of looking at the strategy “isn’t an answer; it’s a question,” comparable to a journey rather than a destination. “But we have to ask the right questions” through experimentation to determine success or failure, then develop doctrine and distribute that doctrine across the joint force and share with allies, and keep refreshing it over time. An example of that would be long-range precision strike at volume across every domain from cyber to undersea, he added.

Nuclear Dimension and Russian counter strategy

President Donald Trump has added Nuclear dimension to Third offset by proposing to boost federal spending on the production of nuclear weapons by more than $1 billion in 2018. The federal spending  increase  by $1.4 billion for the National Nuclear Security Administration shall support  refers to an existing effort to modernize three types of warheads, so they can be deployed with bombers, submarine-launched missiles, and land-based missiles, some of which will themselves be modernized in years to come.

US has developed super-fuze device that has resulted in vastly increase in nuclear targeting capability of the US submarine force against hardened targets such as Russian ICBM silos. A decade ago, only about 20 percent of US submarine warheads had hard-target kill capability; today they all do. Russian planners will almost surely see the advance in fuzing capability as empowering an increasingly feasible US preemptive nuclear strike capability—a capability that would require Russia to undertake countermeasures that would further increase the already dangerously high readiness of Russian nuclear forces.

“Russian responses to counter these initiatives consist of two major elements: The first one is ‘countering the Third Offset Strategy with the First Offset Strategy’, which means prioritising the development of a wide array of both strategic and tactical nuclear weapons systems,” wrote Michael Raska, a professor at IDSS, and Vasily Kashin, a senior research fellow in the Institute of Far Eastern Studies in the Russian Academy of Sciences.

The second element of the response strategy is more ambitious, and carries greater technological risks. Russia began to counter many U.S. technological initiatives via similar indigenous programs, although more narrowly focused and smaller in scale. In October 2012, Russia established the Advanced Research Foundation (ARF) – a counterpart to the U.S. DARPA. The ARF focuses on similar areas such as the Third Offset Strategy, including hypersonic vehicles, artificial intelligence, additive technologies, unmanned underwater vehicles, cognitive technologies, directed energy weapons, and others.


Third U.S. offset strategy

Deputy Secretary of Defense Bob Work said, “We don’t face a single monolithic or implacable adversary like we did in the Cold War. We face multiple potential competitors, from small regional states like North Korea and Iran, to large advanced states like Russia and China, to non-state adversaries and actors with advanced capabilities. Each of these are probably going to require a different approach and a different strategy, which is why we actually say “offset strategies.”

This offset strategy that we pursue in the Pacific is focused primarily on overcoming anti-access and area of denial network. As applied to Europe, for example, we’re probably going to have to have a high technology component as well as an innovative whole-of-government concept to counter the ambiguous hybrid threats we saw in Crimea and we continue to see in Ukraine today.


U.S. develops “super-fuze” under its Nuclear Force modernization

Under its Nuclear modernization program US has developed a “super-fuze” device that by making small adjustment to the height of warhead explosion results in revolutionary increase in lethality of U.S. submarine–launched ballistic missiles, according to the report in the 1 March issue of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists (BAS). The targeting change is part of the nuclear stockpile stewardship plan that began a decade ago and is aimed at maintaining the U.S. nuclear deterrent without the need to develop and test new weapons.

“Shortly before a warhead arrives at its target, the superfuze uses radar to gauge the distance remaining on the ballistic path, taking into account any drift off track. The old technology set the detonation at a fixed height at or near the ground; course errors could shift the center of the blast away from the target (see diagram). But the new system adjusts the detonation altitude so that the blast is triggered at a higher point to keep it in the target’s so-called “lethal volume.” Within this zone, the authors say, a 100-kiloton warhead will destroy a hardened structure with 86% certainty”. The public has “completely missed [the superfuze’s] revolutionary impact on military capabilities,” reports Eliot Marshall, a science journalist in Washington, D.C.

The BAS authors calculate that by the end of 2016, U.S. weapon facilities had already produced roughly 1200 of a planned 1600 W76s armed with the superfuze. Of these, they say, “about 506” are now deployed on ballistic missile submarines. They estimate that potentially 272 such warheads, with two sent against each target, could eliminate “all 136 Russian silo-based ICBMs [intercontinental ballistic missiles].” US submarine-based missiles can carry multiple warheads, so hundreds of others, now in storage, could be added to the submarine-based missile force, making it all the more lethal.

The increased capability of the US submarine force will likely be seen as even more threatening because Russia does not have a functioning space-based infrared early warning system but relies primarily on ground-based early warning radars to detect a US missile attack, writes Hans M.  Kristensen director of the Nuclear Information Project with the Federation of American Scientists (FAS) in Washington, DC. Since these radars cannot see over the horizon, Russia has less than half as much early-warning time as the United States. (The United States has about 30 minutes, Russia 15 minutes or less.)



AFMC proposes Third Offset strategic plan for USAF

The Air Force Materiel Command (AFMC) has a devised a strategic plan to help carry the US Air Force (USAF) to Third Offset by developing the next-generation of operational capabilities.

The strategic plan aims at increasing agility of AFMC support to the Air Force enterprise, driving cost-effectiveness into the capabilities. AFMC commander general Ellen Pawlikowski said. “The expertise in our centres and laboratories puts us in the perfect position to deliver Third Offset capabilities and this strategic plan is the bedrock of our road ahead.”


Army Acquisition Chief: Ground Combat Technology a Key Piece of Third Offset Strategy

Acting Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics and Technology Katrina McFarland, argued that the Army has a piece of this movement (third offset strategy). The categories in the strategy include: Autonomy, human systems and cognition, big data, quantum sciences and hypersonics. The Army community fits into each of those five categories, she said at the National Defense Industrial Association’s Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear Defense Conference.

“There has to be boots on the ground. So not matter what approach you take to a conflict, at some point you have to have a presence” and these five categories must be partnered with ground forces, she added.  “We are looking at how autonomous systems can provide an extension to a soldier so that they can gather information on the battlefield without putting themselves in harm’s way,” she said. The Army wants to use big data to make effective decisions, she added. The amount of data coming at soldiers can be overwhelming and human cognition can help them sort it all out and make decisions faster. These categories address the need for speed on the battlefield, she said.

For the Army to be maneuverable and mobile, the logistics trail for equipment is a dynamic that must be taken into account, she said. “From the pack that the soldiers wears to the gear that the soldier operates, that equipment must be designed with this in mind.”

Often times called the “tooth to tail ratio,” it’s not just about money, she said. “In fact, I would probably pay more if I could be faster, more maneuverable, carry less and have a more effective outcome,” she added.


Work Outlines Key Steps in Third Offset Tech Development

Deputy Secretary of Defense Bob Work gave greater insight into five key points he is looking into over the next year:


Deep-Learning Systems

Autonomous “deep learning” machines and systems, which the Pentagon wants to use to improve early warning of events in cyber defense, electronic warfare attacks and large-density missile raids when human reactions just aren’t fast enough. As an example, 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. A deep-learning system might be able to analyze 90,000 Facebook post made by ISIL in one day, crunch that data and find patterns from it, pulling out what might be of use.

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency is also working on two programs, Adaptive Radar Countermeasures and Behavioral Learning for Adaptive Electronic Warfare. The aim is to enable U.S. airborne EW systems to automatically generate effective countermeasures against new, unknown and adaptive radars in real-time in the field.


Human-machine collaboration

Human-machine collaboration, specifically the ways machines can help humans with decision-making. This teams up human insight with the tactical acuity of computers by allowing machines to help humans make better, faster decisions. Pairing the two will combine the ability of humans to think on the fly with the quick problem-solving methods of artificial intelligence. Work pointed to the advanced helmet on the F-35 joint strike fighter, which fuses data from multiple systems into one layout for the pilot.


Assisted-human operations

Assisted-human operations, or ways machines can make the human operate more effectively — think park assist on a car, or the experimental “Iron Man” exoskeleton suit DARPA has been experimenting with. At the Air Force Research Lab, they’re perfecting skin biosensors that look and feel like a Bandaid, except they’re equipped to read all sorts of data, like your heart rate, hydration and other vital signs. Work was careful here to differentiate between this point and what he called “enhanced human operations,” for which he did not offer an example, but warned “our adversaries are pursuing [enhanced human operations] and it scares the crap out of us, frankly.”


Advanced human-machine teaming

Advanced human-machine teaming, where a human is working with an unmanned system. This is already going on with the Army’s Apache helicopter and Gray Eagle Unmanned Aerial Vehicle, and the Navy’s P-8 aircraft and Triton UAV.

There are also swarming UAV’s like the Perdix mini-drone, which has a 3D-printed airframe and electronics made from cellphones. Only about a foot long, the Perdix can be launched from an unmanned aircraft and fly in close proximity to several identical drones, communicating with them to complete a mission. “We’re actively looking at a large number of very, very advanced things,” Work said, including swarms of unmanned systems. While the above collaboration helps humans make better decisions, human-machine combat teaming actually works with the unmanned systems to perform operations.


Semi-autonomous weapons

Semi-autonomous weapons that are hardened to operate in an electronic warfare environment. Work has been raising the alarm for the past year about weapons needing to be hardened against such attacks, for example, the DoD is modifying existing systems, like the small-diameter bomb, to operate completely without GPS if an enemy is somehow able to deny it service.

The deputy also was up front about why he, and others at the Pentagon, have been talking openly about the technologies it is looking at, citing it as part of the conventional deterrence strategy against near-peer competitors. “We will reveal to deter and conceal for war-fighting advantage. I want our competitors to wonder what’s behind the black curtain,” Work said.

DARPA and Third offset strategy

“Fundamentally, what’s behind the push of the Third Offset Strategy is this idea that the department needs to reinvigorate our ability to develop these advanced technologies,” Prabhakar said. “If we do that at the same old pace in the same old way, there’s a strong recognition that we’re just not going to get there.” Instead of such custom-tailored, tightly integrated systems, you want a modular and open architecture where you can easily replace a component — hardware or software — without disrupting the rest of the system.

Instead of a relatively small number of pricey manned platforms, you want a “heterogeneous” mix of manned and unmanned vehicles of all kinds, from 130-foot robotic ships to disposable handheld drones. Instead of architectures designed for a specific kind and size of force, you want systems that can scale up and down as the force changes.

And instead of brittle networks dependent on a few means of transmission and a few central nodes, you want a highly distributed network that stays up despite physical attack, jamming, and hacking. A project called HACMS — High Assurance Cyber Military Systems — applies a class of mathematics called “formal methods” to finding and closing cyber vulnerabilities. DARPA’s also applying new methods to the old problem of electronic warfare. To keep up with these ever-mutating signals, “cognitive electronic warfare” aims to use artificial intelligence to detect, catalog, and counter transmissions in real time.

“There’s this powerful new wave that’s happening today in AI,” she continued, and the Pentagon needs to exploit it.  DARPA already has some programs tackling this problem, Prabhakar said, but “you’ll see more, I think, in that area as we start developing this next foundation for AI.”


DARPA seeks ideas and disruptive technologies

A recent announcement by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency seeks ideas and disruptive technologies related to Battle Management, Command and Control (BMC2), Communications and Networks, Electronic Warfare, Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR), Position, Navigation, and Timing (PNT), Maritime, and Foundational Strategic Technologies and Systems.

The subject areas are ones that fit within the department’s third offset strategy, which is aimed at maintaining the United States’ military technological superiority.


Battle Management, Command and Control (BMC2)

Warfare is increasingly conducted by networks of platforms, weapons, sensors, and EW systems. The BMC2 of such networks poses complex algorithmic and software challenges, particularly with intermittent connectivity, limited data rates, and robustness against network disruption from electronic and physical attack.

Of particular interest are BMC2 technologies and systems for mixtures of manned and unmanned systems. Efforts in this area should develop and incorporate realistic assumptions concerning allocation of functions between human operators and automated systems.


Communications and Networks

The success of military operations depends on assured, secure, communications at every military echelon, from the continental U.S. to the forward-deployed warfighter. DARPA seeks system concepts and enabling technologies that will provide assured high-capacity mobile communication capabilities in space, air, ground, sea surface, and underwater environments.

This will include systems with and without access to infrastructure. The goal is delivering relevant and timely information to the warfighter anytime and anywhere while denying the same capabilities to our adversaries. Approaches to this goal include developing new system concepts and technologies that: improve network availability; increase network capacity and scaling; enable tolerance to network degradation; mitigate extremely high levels of man-made and natural electromagnetic interference; defeat network and RF exploitation techniques; and counter denial of service techniques.

Approaches that can potentially mitigate emerging threats exploiting commercially-leveraged technologies are also desired. DARPA is interested in approaches that leverage commercial infrastructure when it is available as well as and those that leverage the capabilities and cost efficiencies of commercial devices, components, processes and applications. These commercial leveraging approaches will need to consider the reliability, robustness, and security of commercial infrastructure, devices, and applications in a military environment. Also of interest are approaches and technologies for preventing or disrupting the adversary’s capability for assured communications.

Of special interest are: approaches for greater spectrum efficiency in complex RF environments; new spectrum use technologies such as dynamic use of space/time, as well as access to new modalities, such as high frequency Radio Frequency (RF) and optical polarization; intra- and cross-modality (radar, communications, and sensing) spectrum access techniques; spatial reuse through higher frequency operations; interference avoidance and tolerance; and large-scale testing of complex RF environments.


Electronic Warfare

The proliferation of highly capable RF technology has created a new emphasis on positive control of the electromagnetic (EM) spectrum. Many adversaries are increasing their reliance on RF sensing and communications in order to provide significant improvements to their offensive and defensive systems. This includes short-range tactical communications, long-range C2 communications networks, networked defensive systems, and RF seekers.

DARPA is looking for system approaches for active and passive EW techniques in order to counter these advanced networked and agile systems using technologies such as distributed systems, coherent systems, disposable systems providing asymmetric capabilities, and close-in remote sensing coupled with advanced jamming and spoofing.


Strategic Technologies

The EW capabilities that the U.S. military will encounter are also becoming much more sophisticated. Many advanced capabilities that were only available for use by the U.S. military are now available to be used against U.S. military systems. The commercial investments in RF materials, components, and subsystems are immense and the cost threshold to deploy high power, agile systems continues to drop.

DARPA is seeking systems concepts and advanced technologies that provide the US military fundamental asymmetries to address these new capabilities. These can include concepts using physical and network solutions, distributed systems, as well as exploitation of precise spectral, time, and position information.


Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR)

The U.S. military has become accustomed to collecting large quantities of ISR data in permissive environments, such as recent operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, and in processing and exploiting this information with ground-based exploitation and C2 centers. However, in contested environments, new approaches are needed to provide survivable, standoff sensing that is difficult for adversaries to detect, exploit and counter.

DARPA is seeking new, innovative methods for finding difficult targets in contested environments that could include combining existing or new sensor modalities, novel in-sensor Automatic Target Recognition (ATR) techniques, new algorithms, and new system concepts and processing techniques.

DARPA is also interested in new approaches for the design of low-cost, adaptable sensors that leverage commercial technologies and processes to reduce development time and cost, and increase adaptability and technology refresh rate of sensor systems. As other nations develop and acquire increasingly sophisticated ISR and counter ISR capabilities, new approaches and technology will be required to protect and preserve a superior U.S. ISR capability in all strategic environments. DARPA is interested in innovative technology and approaches that can potentially provide U.S. warfighters with superior ISR and situational awareness while denying the same capability to our adversaries.


Position, Navigation, and Timing (PNT)

The U.S. military has become increasingly dependent on the Global Positioning System (GPS) for accurate and precise position, navigation, and timing in a wide variety of operational environments. However, as U.S. military operations are increasingly being carried out in areas where GPS is denied, unreliable, or not accessible, military use of GPS has evolved from strategic advantage to vulnerability. GPS access can now be readily blocked by jamming or environmental conditions.

Many environments in which our military operates (under heavy foliage, underground, underwater, in buildings, and in cities) have limited or even no access to GPS. In addition, evolving mission requirements for EW, communications, and cooperative effects are challenging the limits of state-of-the-art clocks used in military systems. Current system solutions for providing accurate and precise position, navigation and timing in GPS denied environments are costly, inflexible, and often need an external fix that requires intermittent access to GPS. DARPA is seeking new technology and systems solutions to provide the U.S. military with accurate and precise PNT independent of GPS


Strategic Technologies communications, and cooperative effects.

Technologies of interest include architectures for ad hoc PNT networks of disparate nodes; sensors and signal processing to enable PNT in adverse environments; and new architectures that enable other domains, such as communications, EW, and ISR systems, to inherently support PNT systems. In addition, technologies that enable affordable, compact, and flexible system solutions that can quickly and easily be reconfigured to meet the PNT needs for a broad range of military missions and platforms continue to be of interest.



DARPA is interested in innovative ideas for maritime networked operations in contested environments. Maritime networked systems must provide cost leverage and a high degree of adaptability to address new threats or missions. Ubiquitous, survivable communications and networking concepts that are extendable throughout the subsurface, surface and air domains are of interest. Innovative ideas in ubiquitous communications and networking for the undersea domain are especially important to the integration of operations.

DARPA is interested in developing system-of-systems methodologies to help maintain and enhance U.S. maritime superiority using distributed and disaggregated systems as force multipliers for scarce capital assets. This includes simulation tools to assess feasibility and conduct system trades in a mission context. Feasibility and affordability of these systems requires efficient and survivable delivery methods for off-board assets – network elements, sensors and effects packages – and novel delivery approaches are of interest. DARPA is interested in the use of autonomy at the end nodes and management tools at the network level to reduce the operator burden for these systems.


Foundational Strategic Technologies and Systems

DARPA is seeking innovative ideas for systems and systems-of-systems incorporating disruptive technologies that offer significant potential capability improvement across multiple Strategic Technology Office focus areas as described above. This could include technologies that would enable dramatic reduction in size, weight, power, or cost of systems, technologies that allow for adaptability and/or rapid refresh, technologies that offer the potential for significant advances in system level performance, and approaches to demonstrating the military utility of these systems and technologies.

This can include aperture, components, hardware, firmware, software or power mechanisms to reduce size, weight, power, cost, enable multiple modes, simplify porting of signal processing waveforms and capabilities amongst multiple platforms with varying constraints, means to manage and control modes of operation, and or means to collect performance information from multiple networks


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The increasing tensions between Iran and the West, driving Iran’s rapid naval modernization based on Asymmetric strategy

President Hassan Rouhani ordered Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization to develop nuclear propulsion for warships. Rouhani has stated that the Joint Comprehensive Plan for Action, an agreement between Iran and the West that ends Iran’s nuclear weapons research, does not block the construction of nuclear-powered warships.

The order is reportedly in response to the extension of Iran sanctions by the U.S. Congress by 10 years. Meant to punish Iran for developing nuclear weapons and its association with terrorist groups such as Hezbollah, the act blocks the development of Iran’s oil industry, targeting both exports to Iran and financial transactions.

Islamic Republic of Iran is building up its naval forces to control the Strait of Hormuz owing to its importance as a strategic global chokepoint. Millions of barrels of oil are transported daily to Europe, the United States and Asia through the Bab el-Mandab and the Strait of Hormuz, waterways that run along the coasts of Yemen and Iran.

General Mohammad Hossein Baqeri, chief of staff of the Iranian armed forces said in remarks published on 27 November 2016 that Iran needed a fleet in the Indian Ocean that would be equal to the one stationed in the Gulf of Oman, and urged the Navy to enhance its intelligence activities by working on satellite and cyber-space technologies, as well as by developing naval drones. Iran should also develop its own naval infrastructure, as its coasts could provide space for several new ports, the major general said, stressing that the Islamic Republic should break Russia’s monopoly on providing Central Asian countries with access to international waters.

Taking lessons from Iran-Iraq conflict and subsequent regional wars such as Operation DESERT STORM, Operation ENDURING FREEDOM, and Operation IRAQI FREEDOM , IRGC has decided that its naval strategy would involve fighting an asymmetric war against potential enemies. According to the IRGC commander, an asymmetric war would involve “working on all the weaknesses of the enemy and the maximal usage of our capability.” By choosing an asymmetric approach, however, Iran was not abandoning modern military technology. The IRGC claims that Iran would use its growing arsenal of modern weapons, including cruise missiles, modern mines, and submarines, but in a different way and at a time and place the enemy would not know or expect.

The U.S. Navy’s Fifth Fleet is based in the region and protects shipping lanes in the Gulf and nearby waters. Since the conflict during the Iran-Iraq War, known as the Tanker War, the United States has deterred anti-ship mines, missile fires, swarm attacks, and general harassment from Iran. Since taking office last month, Trump has pledged to get tough with Iran, warning the Islamic Republic after its ballistic missile test on Jan. 29 that it was playing with fire and all U.S. options were on the table.

Iran’s growing Naval Capability

Iran has successfully tested the country’s indigenous Valfajr torpedo system during two week-long naval drills, during which the Islamic Republic also featured other advanced military technology including cruise and anti-ship missiles. The Iranian Navy’s Qadir-class submarines (which are equipped with sonar-evading technology and can fire missiles and torpedoes simultaneously) searched and traced hypothetical enemies’ targets using advanced radar systems and then destroyed them by firing Valfajr torpedoes,” Iran’s Fars news reported.

“What makes Valfajr torpedo stand apart from other similar products in the world is the short preparation time in the supporting and firing units; a characteristic which leads to a remarkable increase in tactical capability and a quick response from surface and subsurface combat units,” Iran’s Defense Minister Brigadier General Hossein Dehghan was quoted as saying earlier.

Also, the Navy’s anti-submarine helicopters used tracking systems to detect subsurface targets in the drill zone and blew them up with their optimized torpedoes. The Iranian naval forces conducted a mine clearance operation during the massive ‘Velayat 95’ wargames in Feb 2017, using sonic and magnetic demining devices.

Mine sweeping and defusing by means of sonic and magnetic equipment and devices requires complicated technology that was just mastered and owned by the big powers, but the Iranian military joined the club in practice today.

The Iranian Navy fired the latest version of its home-made coast-to-sea cruise missile, ‘Nasir’, on the second day of the main phase of the massive wargames. Iranian Defense Minister Brigadier General Hossein Dehqan told FNA that the cruise missile has hit the specified target with maximum precision.

Iran is developing a submarine that could launch an anti-ship cruise missile designed to quickly sink an American warship operating in the Strait of Hormuz, according to a new assessment of Iranian naval capabilities published by the U.S. Office of Naval Intelligence. Citing Iranian press reports, the new ONI study – Iranian Naval Forces: A Tale of Two Navies – said development of Tehran’s new Besat-class of diesel-electric attack submarine will include an anti-ship cruise missile (ASCM) capability.

The tensions between Iran and the West, is leading to naval confrontations and threat to merchant shipping Strait of Hormuz will continue to serve as a chokepoint of economic importance for global oil markets and the West.

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