Peleliu, Germantown visit Subic Bay, support PHIBLEX

10:18:00 PM Add Comment
SUBIC BAY, -- Amphibious assault ship USS Peleliu (LHA 5) and amphibious dock landing ship USS Germantown (LSD 42), along with Expeditionary Strike Group (ESG) 7, Amphibious Squadron 11 and embarked Marines from the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU), pulled in to Subic Bay Sept. 27 prior to beginning Philippines-U.S. Amphibious Landing Exercise (PHIBLEX) 2015.

This is the Peleliu's first port visit to the Philippines in nearly four years when it visited during its 2010 deployment.

"For many of the Sailors and Marines on Peleliu, this is their first visit to the Philippines, and they are extremely excited about being able to experience the hospitality the Filipino people provide every time the Navy and Marine Corps visits," said Capt. Paul Spedero, commanding officer of the Peleliu. "On the other hand, we also have service members who are from the Philippines, or have family members living in the Philippines, and our visit serves as a homecoming for those individuals."

Peleliu, the flagship of the Peleliu Expeditionary Strike Group (PELESG), along Germantown and embarked 31st MEU, is participating in PHIBLEX 15 from Sept. 29 to Oct. 10 throughout the islands of Palawan and Luzon.

"As this is Peleliu's final deployment before decommissioning, we are honored to participate in the 31st iteration of PHIBLEX," said Spedero. "Our forces are exceedingly proficient at conducting combined joint amphibious operations between U.S. maritime services and our partners, especially the Philippines."

PHIBLEX is an annual, bilateral training exercise conducted by U.S. Navy and Marine forces with the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP). This exercise continues to strengthen the interoperability and working relationships between the two nations through a range of operations including disaster relief and complex expeditionary operations.

"The Marines of the 31st MEU have been looking forward to working with our Philippine counterparts for some time," said Col. Romin Dasmalchi, commanding officer of the 31st MEU. "The Marine Corps has had a long-standing relationship with the Armed Forces of the Philippines, and it's always an honor to train with them."

Approximately 3,500 U.S. Sailors and Marines will train side-by-side with 1,200 Philippine sailors and marines to conduct field training exercises, which include small arms and artillery live-fire training. In addition, the combined forces will conduct humanitarian and civic assistance projects.

"Exercises like PHIBLEX prepare us to work together for real world contingencies like disaster relief operations," said Dasmalchi. "When the 31st MEU responded here for Operation Damayan, the relationships that had been established through exercises like this were critical to ensuring an efficient response to our partner and ally."

Peleliu is the lead ship in the Peleliu Expeditionary Strike Group, commanded by Rear Adm. Hugh Wetherald, and is conducting combined exercises in the U.S. 7th Fleet area of responsibility.

USS Peleliu (LHA 5), as seen from USS Germantown (LSD 42), sits moored in Subic Bay Sept. 30.

US to provide $17.68M to boost Philippine Law Enforcement & Maritime Law Enforcement Capabilities, Judicial reforms

10:09:00 PM Add Comment
WASHINGTON, D.C.–The Philippines will be receiving more than $17.68 million in assistance from the United States as part of Washington’s commitment to help Manila enhance its law enforcement and maritime law enforcement capabilities and support justice sector reforms.

The Philippine Embassy said the assistance will be provided under Amendment 3 to the 2011 Letter of Agreement on Narcotics Control and Law Enforcement that was signed by Ambassador Jose L. Cuisia, Jr. and Assistant Secretary of State for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement William Brownfield at the Department of State last Thursday.

Ambassador Cuisia said the agreement also covers funding to help the Philippines strengthen its capacity to address extrajudicial killings and other human rights cases.

“As early as 2003, the Philippines and the US have been working together to strengthen the institutional capability in the area of narcotics control and law enforcement,” Ambassador Cuisia said, noting that the cooperation has expanded in the past decade to include combatting trafficking in persons, child sex tourism and alleged extrajudicial killings.

“Both our countries perceive these challenges as common threats and we welcome the opportunity to work with the US Government to eliminate these threats that scourge our people,” Ambassador Cuisia added.

Ambassador Cuisia said the funds will be used primarily to support the Global Security Contingency Fund Program (GSFP) to prepare the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Philippine Coast Guard to assume increased responsibility for combating terrorism and maintaining internal peace and security in the lands and waters of the southern Philippines.

He said the funds will also be used to support the Southeast Asia Maritime Initiative project to assist further development of operational and institutional capabilities of the Coast Guard and PNP Maritime Group.

Ambassador Cuisia said the agreement will also cover funding for the Law Enforcement Support Project that seeks to help develop and institutionalize professional skills training within the PNP and other law enforcement entities as well as the Southeast Asia Regional Maritime Law Enforcement Development Project that seeks to strengthen regional coordination and law enforcement activities concerning maritime issues.

“This Agreement will once again prove to be good to both the Philippines and the United States and for the entire Southeast Asia,” said Assistant Secretary Brownfield. “With better enforcement and better ability of the Philippines to police its reefs, islands and other claims, the Agreement will be beneficial to the rest of the world.”
Also to be funded is the Justice Sector Reform Project that seeks to assist in institutional reform efforts aimed at strengthening the Philippine criminal justice system and provide professional skills training to the justice sector.

Ambassador Cuisia said the agreement will also provide funding for the Investigating, Prosecuting, and Preventing Extrajudicial Killings Project aimed at enhancing the country’s capacity to address extrajudicial killings and other human rights cases.

In 2013, the Department of State and the Department of Defense allocated $40 million for GSCF programs for the Philippines to support capability of the PNP and the Coast Guard in the areas of maritime security, counterterrorism and other law enforcement training.

In 2012, a total of $584,000 was allocated to support counter-narcotics interdiction and law enforcement at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport and the Clark International Airport under Amendment 2 to the agreement. 

PNP-Maritime Group Special Boat Unit (SBU) is demonstrating boarding techniques during a drill.

China's warships perfect fit for Russian navy, says magazine

6:16:00 PM Add Comment
BEIJING, -- The August issue of Russia's National Defense Magazine has advised the country to buy warships from China to compensate for its own weakness in shipbuilding and to strengthen Russia's power in the Asia-Pacific region.
China's Type 054A frigate may be an ideal option for Russia, the report said.
With debate sparked by the suspension of a French delivery of two Mistral-class amphibious assault ships to Russia, the need to bring in escort ships is all the more pressing. Even if Russia receives the two warships — the Vladivostok and the Sevastopol — and integrates them into the fleet in the following two years, the current deploy of warships is far less from sufficient, said the article.
Russia has few active battleships. There is only the Varyag missile cruiser and four Type-1155 destroyers for the country's large anti-submarine warships. These ships, all built during the Soviet era, are old, overused, and still engaged in cruising missions in the neighboring regions or anti-piracy campaigns off Africa. The rest include three Type-956 destroyers, which have been placed under long-term maintenance and are hardly functional, according to the report.
A Mistral-class amphibious assault ship needs three to four escort ships, while other warships, including two Project 955 Borei-class nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines, are also expected to enter service by the end of the year or early next year and will need escorts as well.
Russia is incapable in this stage of filling in its shortage of escort warships, despite the many ships that are being constructed at the country's shipywards, said the report. The delivery of two Project 20380 corvettes from the Almaz Design Bureau has been delayed indefinitely, as well as the Type 22350 escort being assembled by the Northern Design Bureau, due to issues related to funding and inadequate facility technology.
Ukraine, one of the few countries capable of producing combustion turbine engines, had been providing services to Russia before the sanction prohibiting the engine's export to the country. Other countries that could build combustion turbine engines include the US, the UK and China, said the report.
China's Type 054A frigate, codenamed Jiangkai II by NATO, is a perfect fit for the Russian navy for many reasons. First of all, the model was designed and built with help from Russia's leading shipmaker, the Northern Design Bureau in St Petersburg. Second, the ship is equipped with weapons and electronic facilities that are designed according to the specs of samples, allowing the parts to be interchanged conveniently. Third, the advanced war ship meets Russian's demands for powerful weapons, invisibility, adaptability and endurance. Finally, the Type 054A frigate worked well with Russian flotillas well during the Russia-China military drill in May, which shows its capability to work side-by-side with Russian ships.
The Type 054A frigate has a full displacement of 4,053 tonnes, is 134.1 meters long and 16 meters wide. The ship can reach a maximum speed at 27 kn. Its firearms include two sets of quadruple launchers for C-803 missiles, 32 vertical launching systems for HQ-16 missiles, one H/PJ26 stealthy 76mm dual purpose gun mount, two Type 730 seven-barrelled 30 mm Gatling gun close-in weapon systems, 2 x 3 324mm YU-7 ASW torpedo launchers, 2 x 6 Type 87 240mm anti-submarine rocket launchers, and can carry one Kamov Ka-28 "Helix" or Harbin Z-9C.
Russia has been a mentor to China as it builds up its national defense technology. Now that the Chinese student has outpaced the Russian teacher, "there is no shame" asking for assistance from China, the report said.
Exporting battleships to Russia would be a win-win situation for China, too, since the Russian ships could be leverage on the side of the PLA to balance the influence of US and Japanese maritime forces in the Asia-Pacific.

PLA Navy Jiangkai II Type 054A frigate.


RI to strengthen defense in South China Sea

5:43:00 AM Add Comment
JAKARTA, -- To increase its military defenses in the South China Sea, the government is preparing to establish an F16 fighter jet squadron in Pekanbaru, Riau Islands, and an Apache helicopter squadron near the South China Sea.

Defense Minister Purnomo Yusgiantoro said the government had decided upon the measure to safeguard Asia’s largest gas field exploration at Riau Islands’ East Natuna field, formerly known as the Natuna-D Alpha block, which is set for development in the near future.

“Oil and gas production in the South China Sea is immense and we are about to develop the biggest gas field in Asia. We need to secure it as a national strategic object,” Purnomo said Saturday on the sidelines of the launch of five attack missile boats and one fast patrol boat at the Batu Ampar container port in Batam, Riau Islands. 

During the event, Purnomo said investment in the country’s defense system had been extensive over the past five years, adding that the amount was three times larger than the investment during the 2005-2009 government administration and five times larger than the 2000-2004 administration. 

The former energy and mineral resources minister said the F16 squadron would enhance the existing fighter squadron in Pekanbaru, which is home to a number of Hawk 100 and 200 weapons system jets.

“There will be a LIFT [lead-in fighter trainer] fighter jet, Hawk 100 and 200 jets as well as the latest series of F16 C/D jets. [We need them] because there are many strategic projects in the area,” Purnomo said, while declining to comment on the disputes in the South China Sea.

Indonesia has been warned that the territorial disputes over certain islands in the South China Sea is a real threat that could sooner or later impact this country.

Head of the Maritime Security Coordinating Board (Bakorkamla), Vice Adm. Desi Albert Mamahit, said Indonesia’s waters off Riau Islands were not part of the disputed territory. However, they were very close to the area and China had not yet clarified what claims it would make regarding Indonesia’s exclusive economic zone around them.

“This is clearly a real threat for Indonesia,” said Desi, who is also rector of the Indonesia Defense 

He said Indonesia needed to be prepared to deal with any move made by any party involved in the disputes.

He said China had claimed ownership over the Paracel Islands and the Spratly Islands by saying the waters around them were traditional Chinese fishing areas, even though they are located thousands of kilometers from the Chinese mainland.

At the same time, a number of ASEAN member states, namely Vietnam, Malaysia, the Philippines and Brunei Darussalam, also claim ownership over territory in the South China Sea.

“This is complicated as there are conflicts between fellow ASEAN member countries and China. It makes it difficult to speak with one voice, although so far ASEAN solidarity has been maintained,” Desi said.

Indonesian F-16 A/B Block 15 OCU.


Thailand Sign the Purchase 2 helicopters Mi-17V5

5:15:00 AM Add Comment
BANGKOK, -- Site Army Aviation Thailand recently reported about the signing of the sales contract 2 Mil Mi-17V5 helicopters to Thai Army conducted in Moscow, Russia. The contract is actually conducted in July 2014 ago.

release news purchase date is apparently done adjacent to the purchase of helicopters EC-645 5 , also for the Thai Army. EC-645 is the UH-72A Lakota helicopter propeller behind version using fenestron type.

Previous Thailand has purchased 3 Mi-17V5 helicopters and has taken delivery of it all . The helicopter is assigned to the unity of the General Aviation Support Battalion to support the mobility of the 4th Infantry Division of the Army of Thailand.

purchase of two helicopters Mi-17V5 is a realization of the budget approval in October 2013 ago. 

Mi-17V5 Thai Army.


Acquires Vietnam Unmanned Orbiter 2

5:10:00 AM Add Comment
HANOI, -- Vietnam has acquired the Orbiter 2 unmanned air system (UAS) for use as an aerial forward observation assets for its artillery corps. 

The Orbiter 2 is manufactured by Israel's Aeronautics Defense Systems, the which says using a UAS instead of a ground-based forward observation officer, will provide an improved "first round on target" for its capability of flying at customer.An Orbiter 2 2,000ft can supply artillery units with the co-ordinates of "a number" of targets, it adds . 

Aeronautics sources say the Orbiter 2 is also now being offered by Rafael as part of deals that include the latter's Spike air-to-surface missiles, and by Israel Military Industries along with its surface-to-surface rockets. 

An upgraded version of the Aeronautics aircraft is also available, with the Orbiter 2B capable of navigating independently to complete a mission, even if the GPS is jammed or lost communication links. This variant also can carry payloads to assist with intelligence gathering. 

Aeronautics Orbiter UAV.


Royal Thai Police acquire CN235-220M from Indonesian Aerospace (PTDI).

5:38:00 AM Add Comment
BANGKOK, -- The Royal Thai Police have acquired a CN235-220M from Indonesian Aerospace through Thai Aviation Industries (TAI). The acquisition, valued at $31.2 million, was made as part of an ‘industrial collaboration agreement’ signed by Indonesian Aerospace (also known as PTDI) and TAI in November 2013.

Retrofitting work for the aircraft to fit the Thai police’s needs will be done at TAI’s facility, under the Indonesian airframer’s supervision, it says.

“With this purchase of the CN235-220M, the number of CN235s in Thailand will increase as two other units are now in service with the country’s Ministry of Agriculture,” adds PTDI’s president director Budi Santoso.

Thai Aviation Industries is a government-owned aircraft repair and maintenance service centre, established in 2013. Based at Bangkok Don Mueang airport, it provides MRO services for commercial, military and government aircraft.

It is also an authorised distributor and co-producer of the CN235-220 aircraft in Thailand.


Turkey’s strategic reliability as a NATO ally has become questionable at best

5:28:00 AM Add Comment
ANKARA, -- Increasing Turkish divergence from U.S., European Union, and Western strategic objectives has given urgency to Western military planning as to how to compensate for the probable lack of access in the near future to Turkish bases, air space, and surface transit options.

Planning by NATO states and other allies of NATO — from Australia to Israel — must also take into account the possibility that Turkey could move from being an alliance partner to a state which could take an obfuscating or even adversarial position in the region. Turkey’s increasingly independent actions on regional issues, including potentially worsening relations with Iran, could one day lead to a broader conflict from in the region which could necessitate Western powers seeking a range of alternative options.

These would include finding new paths into the Middle East, Central Asia, and the Black Sea, and possibly finding new ways to address or accommodate Russian strategic access into the region. Moreover, as the region transforms, the prospect of conflict leading to internal instability or even the breakup of Turkey can no longer be ignored.

How the West — and, for that matter, Russia — regroup to accommodate this instability or unreliability at a strategic nexus point will focus heavily on re-thinking access to regional bases in the Eastern Mediterranean. Greece, Cyprus, and Israel must factor heavily in this re-thinking.

The Hellenic naval base at Souda Bay, Crete, and the nearby Hellenic Air Force (HAF) base at Chania remain vital components of the Greek, U.S., and NATO defense structure. Also located with the HAF base at Chania is the U.S. Naval Support Activity. Together these “Souda Bay” installations provide NATO forces with access to basing near a volatile region of the world which is crucial to Western security.

The post-Cold War era has demonstrated that, for deterrence to be effective, it is necessary for potential adversaries to believe that military action can be taken against them.

The ability of the West to deter adversaries in Europe and the Middle East has receded in recent decades with the drawdown of U.S. and NATO forces. Real and potential enemies of the West understand that NATO military forces, and particularly ground forces which once could have been rapidly employed against them, are now drastically reduced.

With this much meat already off the “Western defense bone”, potential foes could be left with a perception that the U.S. and its allies are no longer as prepared for, or committed to, bold action as much as they once were. The facilities at Souda Bay and the access they provide for the projection of air and naval power into or over the Middle East is a crucial element of Western security, in the same way that the British Sovereign Bases and intelligence facilities in Cyprus are. The availability of Souda Bay is strategic to Western interests, provides the West with access and extended operational reach, and compels potential adversaries to adjust the calculus involved in their decision making.

Given today’s military budgets and the reluctance of cash-strapped western governments to increase them — even in the face of increasing threats — the forces of most NATO nations can be expected to significantly reduced. Indeed, rather than take the decision to compensate for the reduction of U.S. forces in Europe, most non-U.S. NATO allies have reduced rather than expanded their military spending.

Today, the actions of Russian President Vladimir Putin in the Ukraine may be the most telling case-in-point of how an adversary might take advantage of what it perceives to be a weakening of NATO forces coupled with a weakening of resolve on the part of the U.S. and its NATO allies to defend their interests. As unsettling as the bold actions of Moscow in Eastern Europe may be, the existing threats to Western economic and security interests that originate in North Africa and Middle East are potentially even more threatening than the actions of an increasingly assertive Russia.

Egypt, the indispensable linchpin for security in the region, could quickly become undone by further conflict instigated by a Muslim Brotherhood which is anything but defeated. The fighting in the Summer of 2014 in Gaza between Israel and Hamas, while suddenly abating, could just as suddenly reignite with little provocation by either side. West Bank tensions between Israel and the Palestinian Authority are increasing with the almost total breakdown of talks between the two sides now compounded by the Israeli government’s recent announcement to further expand its West Bank settlements.

The war in Syria is in its third year with no end in sight, with the U.S. and many of its regional allies at serious odds with each other as how to proceed. Vacillation over Syria on the part of the U.S. and its allies has in part helped to create the potentially even more dangerous threat of the so-called Islamic Caliphate, also referred to as ISIL.

And as bad for Western and regional interests as the government of Bashar al-Assad may be, Assad’s administration sometimes looks preferable to alternatives which might include a takeover of Syria by ISIL. Conditions in the region, including a significant number of people seeking refuge from the fighting in Syria, have placed a visibly shaken Jordan under immense pressure to maintain itself as a viable state.

Iraq has, for the moment, been dismembered by ISIL forces which find themselves in control of almost a third of the country. Encouraged and strengthened by its rapid victories during the summer of 2014, ISIL continues to threaten the areas still controlled by the Iraqi government, including Baghdad itself. In the north, ISIL threatens the regional Kurdish government and by its actions has effectively become the catalyst which may have completed what promises to be a final separation of Iraq’s Kurdish region from the Iraqi state. Indeed, the ISIL efforts towards destroying Iraq have only been recently checked by the reluctant intervention of French and U.S. air power, an intervention which would have been much more difficult to effect absent the vital but nevertheless tenuous base support provided by various non-NATO allies in the Middle East.

Today, the U.S. Navy’s Sixth Fleet in the Mediterranean is a shadow of its former self and no longer boasts the deterring presence of a permanently-deployed aircraft carrier. Indeed, the U.S. naval force in this strategic sea sometimes consists of little more than the fleet’s command ship, the USS Mount Whitney, the vessel that serves as the nucleus around which a fleet can be built.

For its part, the U.S. Navy demonstrated its ability to push forces into the Mediterranean against the government of Libya’s Moammar Gadhafi during Operation Odyssey Dawn in 2011. Later, in 2013, the U.S. Navy augmented Sixth Fleet units in preparation for the subsequently aborted strike against the Assad government in Syria for its alleged — but later disputed — use of chemical weapons against its own people.

The U.S. perspective is that it was only after the U.S. had deployed cruise-missile-carrying warships into the eastern Mediterranean that Syria agreed to a Russian-brokered deal to surrender its stockpile of chemical weapons for destruction. It is the U.S. perspective that this solution to the now-neutralized threat posed by Syrian chemical weapons might not have come about absent a credible U.S. threat to attack. While the U.S. interpretation of events may be open to debate, the potential leverage of a U.S. force presence is indisputable.

And while it is also debatable whether the U.S. strategically “won” or “lost” by not attacking Syrian government positions, and accepting the Russian-brokered deal, the U.S. ability to concentrate potent naval forces in the region is not debatable. An important component of this deployment ability is being able to project forces into the eastern Mediterranean through the availability of bases like Souda Bay, which can support those forces over an extended period of time should their presence be essential to Western interests.

While it is a fact that the U.S. can deploy robust forces into the Mediterranean on relatively short notice, it is also a fact that available forces, including attack carriers, are today in shorter supply than they used to be. The buildup of U.S. naval power in the eastern Mediterranean in 2013 is a case-in-point. No carrier accompanied the deployed missile carrying surface units for either protection of the fleet or for the secondary punch which might have been required if a cruise missile strike proved insufficient to dissuade Assad. This shortfall in resources reinforces the importance of regionally-accessible bases which are so essential for the strategic and operational reach they ensure.

Today, U.S. and NATO forces rely on Mediterranean bases, beginning with Gibraltar and Spain in the western Mediterranean and extend to Italy and finally east to the British Sovereign Base Areas (SBA) in Cyprus. Gibraltar and the SBAs on Cyprus are “British” rather than “NATO” bases. And while Souda Bay is a “Greek” base there is a NATO docking facility and a colocated U.S. Navy Support Activity, essentially a U.S. Navy mini-base with access to the adjacent HAF airfield at Chania. Greece, like the United Kingdom, is a reliable U.S. and NATO partner which has contributed to and supported U.S. and NATO operations in Europe and the Middle East for decades.

One important lesson the U.S. and NATO have learned in the post-Cold war era is that it is one thing having a base in a volatile region of the world and quite another thing getting “permission” to use it. The oftentimes erratic record of Turkey regarding the restrictions it has placed on the use its bases only reinforces the importance of Souda Bay, an important alternative to the Turkish Air Force (TUAF) base at Incirlik; a base on which the U.S. cannot always rely during an emergency. The facilities at Souda Bay not only provide an airfield but shelter for an entire fleet, including an aircraft carrier, where it can be anchored, provisioned, and protected.

As important as naval facilities in the eastern Mediterranean are, it is apparent that the West must increasingly rely on land bases and particularly air bases for the rapid buildup of military power in the region. For instance, no U.S. attack carrier was deployed for Odyssey Dawn. The nearest U.S. attack carrier was with the Fifth Fleet in the Persian Gulf and its aircraft were not used in operations over Libya.

Indeed, the limited U.S. Navy sea-based air punch for Odyssey Dawn was provided by four U.S. Marine Corps AV-8B Harrier II STOVL combat aircraft embarked on the USS Kearsage, an amphibious assault ship. [The interventions in Libya in 2011 by the coalition were Opération Harmattan by France; Operation Ellamy by the United Kingdom; Operation Mobile for the Canadian participation. Some 19 states took part in the coalition, with a number of states flying European-based combat aircraft, and Italy, for example, flying extensive carrier-based AV-8B Harrier II strikes.]

Land, rather than sea-based, air power was the principle means used by coalition forces during Odyssey Dawn and much of the air power employed originated from aircraft operating out of Italy and Greece. In Greece, coalition aircraft operated from the Hellenic Air Force (HAF) base at Araxos in the western Peloponnesus and from the HAF base at Chania, near Souda Bay. In terms of the Middle East, the facilities at Souda Bay provide the West with a permanently deployed unsinkable “aircraft carrier” in close proximity to multiple trouble zones in the region.

Greece is a reliable NATO country whose orientation will always be Western. Turkey is a state which is drifting away, if not altogether pivoting from its modern secular orientation as it moves further towards a more conservative (and perhaps radical) brand of Islam and away from its Cold War interests as a reliable ally and partner of the West.

Turkey’s shift became dramatically evident in 2003 when just prior to the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq it refused to permit the U.S. Army’s powerful Fourth Infantry Division to deploy against Iraq through Turkey and left it floating in the Mediterranean while the U.S. and its allies were compelled to launch their invasion of Iraq absent the participation of one of the U.S. Army’s most powerful and lethal divisions. Moreover, U.S. operations from the air base at Incirlik were initially restricted at the beginning of Operation Desert Shield/Storm in 1991 and much restricted during Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Turkey’s pivot away from the West is further confirmed by its worsening relations with the U.S.’ key regional ally, Israel. And while it is fair to say that the U.S. could, as it is currently doing against the forces of the so-called Islamic Caliphate, count on a number of its Middle East friends for base support, it is also fair to say — as in the case of Turkey — that the day may come when access to such bases becomes limited or even nonexistent given some future scenario which conflicts with the interests of those states, none of which, like Greece, are members of NATO.

The TUAF base at Incirlik has been used over the years in such operations as Desert Shield/Storm and during the 2003 invasion of Iraq. However, use has been restricted and often precludes the use of U.S. attack aircraft. No U.S. attack aircraft have flown from TUAF bases against ISIL to date.

Turkey’s pivot away from the West and towards Islam does not bode well for U.S. and Western policies which may require the use of force in the Middle East. Turkey, as events in the recent past have demonstrated, is a NATO member that cannot always be relied upon to permit U.S. or NATO forces to operate from its territory.

Recently, the conduct of U.S. and coalition air operations from bases in friendly countries such as Qatar and the United Arab Emirates (although Qatar and the UAE are bitterly divided on many issues at present) has given a tremendous boost to the punishment these forces have been able to inflict on radical forces. Bases and access to them represent the key enablers which facilitate the rapid buildup of U.S. and Western military power in the Middle East and allow the West and its allies to project enormous military power into the region.

Unlike Russia, the U.S. and NATO are blessed with access to linked bases throughout Europe and the Mediterranean basin. Souda Bay and its adjacent facilities clearly represent one of the most strategic assets in the West’s linked base structure. And Souda Bay, unlike other regional bases that the U.S. and its allies are using today or have used in the past, will more likely than not be there for the support of U.S. and NATO operations when other bases are not.

Squadron of 16 US F-16s lands at Incirlik AB, Turkey.


Belgian parliament backs sending fighter jets to Iraq

4:40:00 AM Add Comment
BRUSSELS, -- Belgium's plan to send six fighter jets to join a U.S.-led coalition to combat Islamic State militants in Iraq won parliamentary approval on Friday.

Even before the vote took place, the six F-16s took off from a Belgian air base headed for Araxos in Greece, a staging post on their way to Jordan, where they will be based from Saturday.

"The six F-16s will participate in the military operation ... requested by the government of Iraq," Belgian Defence Minister Pieter De Crem told parliament.

Belgium has also sent two military transport planes, a C-130 and an Embraer, to take 120 pilots and support staff along with supplies needed for the mission.

Parliament voted 114-2 in favour of sending the Belgian contingent, initially for a period of one month which could be extended.

Washington has organised a coalition of countries to counter Islamic State, which has seized large swathes of territory in Iraq and Syria, reaching up to the border with NATO member Turkey.

Britain's parliament also voted on Friday to approve air strikes against Islamic State militants in Iraq.

Until this week France was the only Western country to answer President Barack Obama's call. But Australia, Belgium and the Netherlands have all joined since Monday and Denmark announced on Friday that it too would send planes.

Most Western countries are limiting their participation in air strikes to Iraq, however, not Syria, where the United States and Arab allies have attacked Islamic State targets.

Two Belgian Air Component F-16A's perform a split break after receiving fuel from a USAF KC-10 Extender aircraft.

MPs' Iraq vote Commons passes vote by massive majority to include Britain in Isis strikes

MPs' Iraq vote Commons passes vote by massive majority to include Britain in Isis strikes

10:20:00 PM Add Comment
LONDON, -- Six RAF Tornados will launch attacks within days after the Commons voted by 524 to 43 to approve intervention in Iraq. Some 24 Labour MPs, six Tories and one Liberal Democrat voted against. Rushanara Ali, a Labour education spokeswoman, resigned from the opposition front bench so she could abstain. Iain McKenzie was sacked as a Labour parliamentary aide after voting against.

Many MPs expressed fears of “mission creep”. But the six-and-a-half-hour emergency debate unexpectedly turned into a heated argument over whether to take military action in Syria as well as Iraq. Several MPs argued that it would be logical to extend air strikes to Syria, pointing out that Isis does not recognise the border between the two countries.

David Cameron gave his clearest sign yet that he would like to join the United States in hitting Isis in Syria. “I am very clear that Isis needs to be destroyed in Syria as well as in Iraq,” he told the Commons. “I believe that there is a strong case for us to do more in Syria.”

The Prime Minister admitted that Syria was a “more complicated” issue than Iraq, where the new government has formally requested UK military support. But he brushed aside legal doubts about action in Syria. “I do not believe that there is a legal barrier, because I think that the legal advice is clear that were we or others to act, there is a legal basis,” he said.

One method could be for Iraq to request UK help to combat Isis attacks launched from Syria, which could then allow intervention under the United Nations charter.

Watch on how will Britain will join air strikes against Isis


Thousands Of US Sailors on 3 Ships Arriving in Subic – Vic V. Vizcocho, Jr.

9:33:00 PM Add Comment
SUBIC BAY FREEPORT – Businessmen and residents here and nearby communities are bracing up for the arrival of some 5,000 US Navy personnel and marines aboard three (3) US Navy ships that are expected to arrive tomorrow, Saturday.

USS Frank Cable (AS 40), a ship that provides repairs and support to US submarines will enter Subic Bay in the morning with the USS Peleliu (LHA 5) and USS Germantown (LSD 42) docking thereafter.

The Ships’ visit, in conjunction with PHIBLEX 2015,  the annual exercise between Filipino and US Marines scheduled between Sept. 29 to Oct. 10 in Luzon and Palawan, are routine port calls that highlights the strong partnerships between the Philippines and the United States, according to the US Embassy in Manila in a statement.

USS Frank Cable, which also docked here in 2012, has a crew of approximately 500 sailors, 40 of whom are Filipino-American, who are eager to enjoy Olongapo City and strengthen their understanding of a country with deep historical ties to the United States and the U.S. Navy.

The Tarawa-class amphibious asssault ship USS Peleliu, which performed evacuation operations in Subic Bay when Mt. Pinatubo erupted in 1991, has some 3,000 officers and crew.

USS Germantown, a dock landing ship transporting and launching amphibious craft and vehicles for marine personnel, has a compliment of almost 500 officers & enlisted men.

While Subic has been converted into a Freeport after the US Military pull-out in 1992, US Navy ships’ arrivals by virtue of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) between the Philippines and the United States have always been welcome as before for the economic activities generated.

Olongapo Mayor Rolen C. Paulino has vowed to provide a safe environment for US Navy personnel going out of the Freeport to the city for rest, recreation and shopping. 

Submarine tender USS Frank Cable at Alava Dock in a previous visit to Subic Bay.


Third French FREMM set for sea trials

8:57:00 PM Add Comment
PARIS, -- Initial sea trials for the French Navy's third Aquitaine-class Frégate Européenne Multi-Missions (FREMM) Provence (D652) are scheduled to begin on 29 September, shipbuilder DCNS told IHS Jane's .

The frigate was floated out on 18 September 2013. Its preliminary trials, set to be conducted off Brittany over the course of about 10 days, are mainly intended to test the performance of the vessel's boosted electrical system technology (BEST) cross-connected hybrid propulsion architecture, its Shipmaster ship management system, and other basic systems.

On completing these preliminary trials, Provence will return to DCNS's Lorient shipyard for several weeks of quayside work.

By early 2015 the frigate will be put to sea for a second series of trials to test the integrated combat system.

The French Navy's third FREMM frigate Provence (D 652) floated out on 18 September 2013 and will begin initial sea trials on 29 September 2014.

Egypt reportedly orders S-300VM

8:36:00 PM Add Comment
CAIRO, -- Egypt has entered into an agreement to buy S-300VM long-range air defence systems for about USD500 million from Russia, the Russian business daily Vedomosti reported on 23 September, citing unidentified defence industry officials and a source close to the leadership of the state arms export agency Rosoboronexport.

The Vedomosti report came after St Petersburg's Fontanka newspaper reported on 11 September that the city's Kirov factory had an order to build 22 of the tracked vehicles used with the S-300VM system for an unidentified foreign customer. It published photographs showing one of the vehicles painted in a desert colour, although another was painted green. The GM-830 chassis is only used to carry the S-300V series.

Alexander Fomin, the head of Russia's Federal Service for Military-Technical Cooperation, suggested that no such contract had been finalised when he said Cairo and Moscow had reached a preliminary agreement for a USD3.5 billion defence deal.

While Fomin provided no details of the deal, Egyptian officials have previously said they were interested in obtaining more air defence equipment from Russia. The Egyptian military already operates Russian/Soviet-made 2K12 Kub, S-125 Pechora-2M, Buk-M1-2 and Tor-M1 air defence systems, but does not have a long-range surface-to-air missile (SAM).

Also known as the Antey-2500, the S-300VM is the current export version of a family of air defence systems developed in parallel with the S-300P series. It can use two different missiles, one for intercepting medium-range ballistic missiles, the other for air-breathing targets.

Its manufacturer, Almaz Antey, says it can destroy all types of aircraft, including those with very low radar cross sections, cruise missiles, and tactical and medium-range ballistic missiles. It can simultaneously engage up to four targets out to a maximum range of 200 km and altitude of 25,000 m.

However, the S-300VM has not sold as well as the S-300P series, with Venezuela being the only known export customer.

Venezuela S-300VM  "Antey-2500"  medium-range anti-ballistic missile system. 200 km range.

Use of China's anti-ship missile against US could trigger nuclear war

5:14:00 AM 1 Comment

BEIJING, -- If China were to launch its DF-21D anti-ship ballistic missile against a US carrier battle group in the Western Pacific, the US could respond with a full nuclear retaliation, according to Robert Farley, an assistant professor at the Patterson School of Diplomacy and International Commerce of University of Kentucky in a recent article written for Washington-based National Interest magazine.
Because it takes at least 15 minutes for an anti-ship ballistic missile to reach its target, an aircraft carrier has enough time to avoid the attack in open sea. Farley said that the missile requires terminal guidance, as it must revise its flight path after reentering the atmosphere. It needs to be adjusted remotely or needs to have the capacity to identify the carrier on its own.
Facing this potential threat against its aircraft carrier, the United States Navy is working very hard to develop ship-borne anti-ballistic missile technology. "The development of the DF-21D may have contributed to the USN's decision to focus on air defense ships such as the Arleigh Burke Flight III capable of ballistic missile interception," said Farley. At the same time, the US Navy is also exploring ways of destroying DF-21D launch sites with cruise and hypersonic missiles in the event of a war.
Farley states that a DF-21D anti-ballistic missile is capable of sinking a US aircraft carrier and killing the 6,000 American personnel on board the ship. Like any other medium-range ballistic missile, the DF-21D is capable of carrying a nuclear warhead, however China must count on very cool heads in Washington for the fifteen minutes between launch and impact, he said, as such a move could lead to a degree of escalation that China has not prepared for at all, he said.
In extreme circumstances it could start a decision process that will bring full nuclear retaliation from the United States, according to Farley. Without proper second strike capability against the United States, it makes the situation even less stable for China. The author concluded that the DF-21D cannot prevent the US Navy from destroying Chinese ships, only change the method by which they do so.

DF-21C  anti-ship ballistic missile (ASBM).

Filipino-UK firm to drill for gas in disputed sea

4:34:00 AM Add Comment
MANILA, — Pangilinan said Forum still intends to drill two wells in first half of 2016.

"We will do it on our own if we have to... as long as we are not disturbed," he said.

The Department of Energy has extended Forum's delayed drilling program by a year, giving it up to Aug. 15, 2016 to fulfil its contractual obligations. Pangilinan said weather would permit drilling only from March to May.

BRP Ramon Alcaraz sovereignty patrols around the Malampaya Gas Platform in West Philippines Sea.


Philippine Navy launches ASW helicopter procurement programme

3:34:00 AM Add Comment
MANILA, -- The Philippines Department of National Defense (DND) has dispatched an "invitation to bid" document in support of a programme to procure two anti-submarine warfare (ASW) helicopters for the Philippine Navy (PN).

The invitation, published on 25 September, outlines the requirement to acquire ASW helicopters equipped with munitions, "mission essential equipment" that includes ASW and anti-surface warfare capabilities and the provision of an integrated logistics support package.

The DND has budgeted the procurement programme at PHP5.405 billion (USD120 million) and that the selected bidder will be required to deliver the helicopters within two years of signing a contract. Bids are required to be submitted to the DND by 21 October.

Royal Navy AW159 Wildcat joins RFA Argus for sea trials. The AW-159 Likely to be Philippine Navy's First ASW Helicopters.

DND invitation to Bid  for Anti-Submarine Helicopter Acquisition Project link.


Indonesia bars reporters as final Bung Tomo corvettes arrive home

3:09:00 AM Add Comment
JAKARTA, -- The Indonesian Navy (Tentara Nasional Indonesia - Angkatan Laut, or TNI-AL) has banned reporters from covering the arrival of its final two Bung Tomo-class corvettes due to "political sensitivities", according to reports carried by Indonesian media.

The vessels, KRI John Lie (358) and KRI Usman Harun (359), arrived at the port city of Belawan in North Sumatra on 20 September after sailing 9,700 n miles home from the United Kingdom.

 KRI John Lie-358 and KRI Usman Harun-359 just arrived in Jakarta.

Singapore and the Philippines to step up defence cooperation

10:59:00 PM Add Comment
MANILA: Singapore and the Philippines have agreed to an annual defence dialogue at a senior official level to strengthen bilateral defence cooperation. A statement from the Ministry of Defence (MINDEF) said this was agreed upon as Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen met his counterpart, Philippine Secretary of National Defence Voltaire T Gazmin.

Following the visit of Singapore President Tony Tan Keng Yam to the Philippines in April, Dr Ng is in Manila for an introductory visit.

Dr Ng and Mr Gazmin's discussions focused on maintaining regional stability, which is threatened by disputes over the South China Sea involving the Philippines, China, and other ASEAN countries.

"We are not a claimant state. We have no vested interest on who wins what, but we do have a vested interest in preserving the stability of the region and we recognise that because of the South China Sea, it can destabilise the region," Dr Ng said.

He said Singapore would rather focus on building and adhering to the Declaration of Conduct signed by ASEAN members and China, in 2002. The declaration spells out what dispute claimants can and should not do. "We also agreed on the resolution of issues in South China Sea (through) diplomatic initiatives and not military ones," Dr Ng said.

Both countries have a long history of military engagement, including joint military exercises, which stopped about two decades ago. "Much has changed since events 20 years ago. There are new challenges. Geopolitics are different. It is important to refresh the relations and find firmer footing," he added.

He said the new challenges now include radical extremists like the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. He noted that the recent experience of Filipino peacekeepers who escaped rebels in Syria is instructive. Sharing information on combating extremists and terrorists will be among the aims of the bilateral defence policy dialogue starting 2015.

Both Dr Ng and Mr Gazmin reaffirmed the warm bilateral defence relations between the two countries, as well as the strong cooperation at multilateral fora such as the ASEAN Defence Ministers' Meeting-Plus and the Shangri-La Dialogue.

Dr Ng also welcomed the Philippines' expression of strong support for a new regional disaster centre in Singapore - the Changi Regional Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) Coordination Centre, MINDEF said. As part of his visit, Dr Ng visited the Philippine National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council.

via #AseanMilitaryDefenseReview

The Vietnam-India-Russia Military Ménage à Trois Leaves China in the Cold

7:26:00 PM Add Comment
While Vietnam and China may seem to have made amends in their South China Sea territorial disputes, or at least come to a mutual understanding that further disputes should be resolved peacefully, it may not be that simple. China and Vietnam have been arguing about control of islands in the region, and their corresponding territorial waters, for years.

That dispute reached a fever pitch this summer when Chinese authorities started moving an offshore drilling rig around the area for exploratory drilling; resulting in widespread anti-China riots and protests in Vietnam, including one self-immolation. More recently, senior Vietnamese officials visited China, and were able to carve out an agreement about a future dispute resolution mechanism.

Woman's self-immolation lights the murky fires of sovereignty in the South China Sea. Read more.

Vietnam, meanwhile, isn't apparently going to file this under "No harm, no foul" and is instead continuing with plans to arm up, just in case. This November, Vietnam will be receiving a delivery of an Improved Kilo-class submarine, the third in a package of six that it purchased from Russia in 2009. Vietnam signed the 2009 agreement around the same time as China's announcement of the nine-dash line, in which China laid claim to 80 percent of the South China Sea.

These subs are very roughly comparable (or a bit better) than the Kilo submarines China has in its inventory. To help Vietnam make better use of their newly-purchased submarines and payload of new Klub submarine-launched anti-ship missiles, India agreed last year to train 500 Vietnamese sailors.

This cooperation between Vietnam, Russia, and India extends into other domains as well. In August, Vietnam also purchased another 12 Su-30MK2 fighters — a long-range, maritime strike aircraft — and hopes to have 36 of the aircraft deployed by 2015. India and Vietnam are expected to sign an agreement when Indian President Pranab Mukherjee visits next week that will include Indian training for Vietnamese Su-30 pilots. India already operates a Su-30 variant, and has been building increasingly close ties with Vietnam as part of its Look East policy.

Beyond the deal to train pilots, Vietnam may also sign agreement for the purchase of BrahMos supersonic anti-ship missiles. The BrahMos missile is the product of a Russian-Indian joint venture and has a claimed speed of Mach 3.0+ and a range of more than 180 miles. The missile is one of the fastest anti-ship missiles made and a significant anti-ship cruise missile threat, able to reach targets well into the South China Sea.

India has been on the fence about exporting these missiles to Vietnam, mindful of its relationship with China, but an unnamed source in an article by the Russia&India Report noted "We understand their concerns, but then China is not ready to appreciate our concerns about the threat from Pakistan."

Trickle-down nuclear Armageddon. Read more.

Altogether, these submarines, Sukhoi fighter jets, and supersonic cruise missiles have the makings of a very effective deterrent threat and Anti-Access/Area-Denial (or A2/AD) strategy for Vietnam. A2/AD strategies are intended to prevent navies from projecting power into an area, and came into the spotlight in the defense community a few years ago, when China shifted to such an approach to deny the US access to the Western Pacific.

Now it seems that India is willing to consider putting the screws to China on its disputes with Vietnam, as long as China seems unwilling to help India in their territorial disputes with Pakistan. Meanwhile, Russia seems content to arm the Vietnamese, perhaps reasoning that denying Chinese access to South China Sea energy resources will make them a lucrative market for Russian energy firms.

Of course, none of these moves are in isolation. Other nations in the region, such as Indonesia, are interested in purchasing BrahMos missiles. Japan has been working to build ties with India, Vietnam, the Philippines, and other countries. The US is edging closer to establishing tighter ties with Vietnam as it works to build a tighter relationship with #China. There's no guessing where everything will land once the music stops, but it seems that Vietnam is going to try to weather this by speaking softly and carrying a big stick.

via #AseanMilitaryDefenseReview