US says ‘scaled-down’ military drills to go ahead in Thailand

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BANGKOK, -- The United States said Saturday a “scaled-down” version of annual military exercises in Thailand will go ahead next year, after mulling moving the drills outside the kingdom in response to an army coup.

Washington suspended $4.7 million in security-related aid to Thailand, roughly half of its annual assistance to the longtime ally, after the Thai military seized power from an elected government in May.

In June the United States said it was also considering moving next year’s Cobra Gold joint military drills – the largest US multilateral exercise in the Asia-Pacific – outside of Thailand due to junta rule.

But on Saturday a US Embassy spokeswoman confirmed the annual war games would go ahead.

“We are proceeding with a refocused and scaled-down Cobra Gold 2015 exercise… In light of the current political situation, the US government has increased its focus on non-lethal activities, such as humanitarian assistance and disaster relief,” she said.

The drills bring together thousands of troops from the US, Thailand and other countries for field training, with the 2014 exercises held in February drawing some 13,000 participants.

The spokeswoman added that military aid to Thailand will remain suspended “until a democratically elected government takes office”.

The United States has strongly condemned Thailand’s military takeover and urged military rulers to restore democracy in the country.

Junta chief Prayut Chan-O-Cha says he was forced to seize power after months of protests left nearly 30 dead and hundreds more wounded, paralysing ex-premier Yingluck Shinawatra’s administration and cramping the kingdom’s once-dynamic economy.

But critics say the coup was orchestrated to remove the influence of Yingluck’s older brother and former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra who was ousted in a coup eight years ago.

Thailand’s long-running political conflict broadly pits a Bangkok-based middle class and royalist elite, backed by parts of the military and judiciary, against rural and working-class voters loyal to Thaksin.

The United States and Thailand have held the joint Cobra Gold exercises since 1980.

In recent years it has become a key element of a US strategy to pivot power to Asia amid concerns by several nations over China’s rise.

Amphibious assault joint military exercise Cobra Gold 2014 at a military base in Chonburi province, Thailand, 14 Febuary 2014.

Vietnam PM seeks India support on maritime row

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HANOI, -- Vietnam Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung has sought India’s support to resolve territorial disputes in the South China Sea, local media reported Monday, in a bid to shore up regional alliances as relations have soured with Asian giant China.

Tan, who is on a two-day visit to India, is due to meet Indian counterpart Narendra Modi on Tuesday, and is expected to discuss strengthening regional alliances at a time when both countries have seen relations with China strained over territorial disputes.

Beijing and several Southeast Asian nations lay claims over the South China Sea, with Vietnam staunchly opposing China’s efforts to develop airstrips and military bases on the island chains it controls in the sea.

“Vietnam hopes that India, as a major power in the region and the world, will actively support the parties concerned to peacefully resolve all disputes,” Tan told the Press Trust of India (PTI) in an interview published Monday.

“Thus contributing to the maintenance of peace, stability, maritime security and safety and freedom of navigation in the East Sea.”

In May, relations between China and Vietnam sank to their lowest point in decades after Beijing moved a deep-sea oil rig into disputed waters near the Paracel Islands, triggering deadly anti-China riots in Vietnam.

Tan told PTI that he “will continue to allow ships from other countries including India” to visit his country, an assurance that comes a month after China told an Indian naval vessel to leave waters off Vietnam claiming it as “Chinese waters.”

China says it has sovereignty over essentially all of the South China Sea, which is a crucial maritime route and is also believed to hold huge oil and gas deposits.

ASEAN states Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines and Vietnam also claim parts of the sea, while Taiwan is a sixth claimant.

Similarly, India and China have long been embroiled in a bitter dispute over their shared border, with both sides accusing soldiers of crossing over into the other’s territory.

Tensions rose at the remote frontier last month when hundreds of Chinese troops allegedly moved into territory claimed by India, resulting in a tense stand-off during a visit to India by China’s President Xi Jinping.

 Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung will hold talks on a range of issues with Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday.

China launches new 3,000-tonne coast guard cutter

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BEIJING, -- The Guangzhou Huangpu Shipyard has launched a new cutter for the China Coast Guard (CCG), Chinese media reported on 14 October.

Zhongguo Haixun 2303 - literally 'China Sea Police 2303' - is expected to begin sea trials before the end of the year and it will be commissioned in the first quarter of 2015.

CCG ship numbers work as follows: the first number stands for the fleet, with 1 standing for North Sea Fleet, 2 for East Sea Fleet, and 3 for South Sea Fleet. The second number stands for displacement, and the third number is the class-hull number.

As such, 2303 denotes that the ship belongs to the CCG's East Sea Fleet, has a displacement of 3,000 tonnes, and is designated number 03 in its class. This does not automatically mean it is the third ship to be built, as China has previously applied non-consecutive numbers to the ships it commissions.

The 2303 is part of a class of 13 ships: 4 are under the North Sea Fleet, 3 under the East Sea fleet, and 5 ships are for the South Sea Fleet. All are armed with a heavy water cannon in front of the bridge and equipped with two interceptor boats.

In one photo showing the 2303 vessel an under-construction Zubr-class landing craft air cushion (LCAC) is visible. The People's Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) has procured four LCACs from Ukraine in a USD315 million deal. Two of these were built in Ukraine and have been delivered, while the other two are being built in China under licence.

Colombia gets corvette and two patrol vessels from South Korea

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BOGOTA, -- The Colombian Navy (ARC) received three vessels from South Korea in late July as part of its 'Plan Orion 2' naval expansion scheme that aims to significantly increase patrol capabilities by 2030.

The first was the 1,723-ton ARC Nariño , the former Republic of Korea Navy (ROKN) Donghae-class guided missile corvette ROKS Anyang (PCC 755) that was retired from service in September 2011.

Nariño was delivered to the ARC on 30 July and will be based at the Malaga naval base on the Pacific coast once it arrives in Colombia, according to a communiqué from the Colombian Embassy in Seoul.

Nariño was delivered to the ARC on 30 July and will be based at the Malaga naval base on the Pacific coast once it arrives in Colombia.


R E P O R T : Malaysia dismantles lighthouse in disputed maritime territory

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JAKARTA, -- Malaysia has begun to dismantle the foundations of a lighthouse that it tried to build in disputed waters off the Kalimantan coast, the Indonesian Navy's (Tentara Nasional Indonesia Angkatan Laut, or TNI-AL) corporate communications chief Admiral Manahan Simorangkir confirmed to local media on 17 October.

Tensions between Indonesia and Malaysia emerged in May 2014 after Malaysia attempted to construct the lighthouse near Tanjung Datu, West Kalimantan, in waters claimed by both countries. Indonesia said that the Royal Malaysian Navy (RMN) dispatched a warship to accompany the civilian vessels involved in the construction work.

The TNI-AL had stated that it would deploy three vessels - Kakap-class offshore patrol vessel KRI Barakuda , Todak-class guided missile attack craft KRI Lemadang , and Kapitan Pattimura (Parchim I)-class corvette KRI Sutedi Senoputra - to waters off West Kalimantan as an interim measure while it established a new naval base there. It is, however, not known if these deployments occurred.

Malaysia halted work on the structure on 22 May after Jakarta lodged a formal protest.

"The dismantling shows that the Malaysians are committed to having good bilateral relations and regional peace. We would like to express our appreciation to them," said the admiral. He added that the TNI-AL would refrain from any action that might risk unsettling matters in the area until a diplomatic solution to the dispute can be found.

KRI Sutedi Senoputra.


The Royal Thai Navy and Air Force acquire five EC645 T2 and two EC725

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MARIGNANE, -- The airborne capabilities of Thailand’s navy and air force will be significantly enhanced with the acquisition of two mission-ready Airbus Helicopters rotorcraft types: the light-utility EC645 T2 and the 11-ton-class EC725.

The Royal Thai Navy signed for five EC645 T2s to be deployed on transport duties and other missions, with deliveries scheduled to begin in 2016. Its purchase represents the first export order of this militarized version of the EC145 T2, which is the newest and most powerful model in Airbus Helicopters’ proven EC145 light twin-engine helicopter family.

In the Royal Thai Air Force’s reorder of Airbus Helicopters’ EC725, the military service is obtaining two of the tactical transport rotorcraft for SAR/CSAR (search and rescue/combat search and rescue) missions, operating from Wing 2 at Lop Buri Air Base in Thailand’s Lop Buri Province. These aircraft will be provided in 2017, joining the four previously-ordered EC725s booked in 2012 for deliveries from 2015.

“By acquiring both the EC645 T2 and EC725, Thailand will be operating two of the most capable helicopters in their categories, delivering high levels of mission flexibility with their modern avionics and rugged airframes,” said Philippe Monteux, Airbus Helicopters’ Head of Region South East Asia & Pacific.

The EC645 T2 features a modern digital cockpit and a 4-axis autopilot. With a maximum take-off weight of 3.7 tons, the helicopter is powered by Turbomeca Arriel 2E powerplants equipped with dual-channel full authority digital engine controls (FADEC). Operational safety is enhanced by Airbus Helicopters’ Fenestron shrouded tail rotor, particularly for landings and takeoffs in confined landing sites, as well as during loading/unloading on the ground while the rotor is turning.

The EC725 is a highly capable twin-engine helicopter with a digital 4-axis autopilot and five-blade composite main rotor. It can perform multiple missions that range from combat search and rescue, long-range tactical transport and aeromedical transport to logistic support and naval duties.

Currently operated by the military forces of France, Brazil, Mexico, Malaysia, Thailand and soon in Indonesia as well, the EC725’s reliability and durability has been confirmed in such crisis areas as Lebanon, Afghanistan and Mali, while also supporting French troops during NATO-led operations in Libya.

 EC645 T2 

EC 725 Caracal 

New Izumo-class carriers to greatly boost Japan's force projection

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BEIJING, -- Japan's new Izumo-class aircraft carriers will make the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force one of the most lethal offensive forces in the world, reports the Beijing-based China Youth Daily.

The JDS Izumo helicopter carrier has been undergoing intensive sea trials since late September as Japan prepares to launch two Izumo-class destroyers over the next two years, the report said.

Once commissioned, these Izumo-class vessels will greatly enhance Japan's anti-submarine, anti-ship, air combat and amphibious assault capabilities, giving the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force two light aircraft carrier battle groups and two helicopter carrier battle groups.

Izumo-class carriers will boost the Japanese navy in four key respects. First of all, the Izumo-class can potentially double the anti-submarine capabilities of the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force. Currently, Japan's Shirane-class destroyers can carry 9-10 helicopters, compile two anti-submarine crews and carry 16 anti-submarine torpedoes, while its battle groups can equip 42 MK-46 anti-submarine torpedoes and 112 ASROC anti-submarine missiles, which have a range of 11 kilometers and 22 km, respectively.

On the other hand, Izumo-class destroyers can carry 14 helicopters, five anti-submarine crews and 40 anti-submarine torpedoes, with battle groups that can equip 42 MK-46 anti-submarine torpedoes and 104 ASROC anti-submarine missiles.

Second, the Izumo-class can more than double Japan's air combat capabilities. Shirane-class battle groups come equipped with more than 300 SM-2MR, RIM-7 series and RIM-162 ship-to-air missiles with ranges between 16 km and 150 km. By comparison, the Izumo-class destroyer can carry eight F-35 stealth fighter jets and carry 32 AIM-120 mid-long range missiles and 16 short-range missiles. Its battle groups can also equip more than 400 ship-to-air missiles with ranges between 16 km and 150 km.

Third, the Izumo-class can more than triple Japan's anti-ship combat capabilities. The Shirane-class destroyer can carry 56 Harpoon or Type 90 ship-to-ship missiles which have a range between 90 km and 200 km. But with up to eight F-35 fighters on board, the Izumo-class can carry as many as 48 Norwegian-made naval strike missiles, extending its anti-ship combat radius to 640 km. At the same time, Izumo-class battle groups can also carry more than 50 Harpoon or Type 90 ship-to-ship missiles.

Fourth, the Izumo-class destroyer will lead to a dramatic surge in Japan's remote delivery and amphibious combat capabilities. At the moment, Japan's three Oosumi-class landing ships can be loaded with 990 marine officers, six landing craft and 30 tanks. Each Izumo-class carrier, on the other hand, can carry 500 soldiers and multiple helicopters and tiltrotor aircraft, with a deck that can cater to five helicopters or MV-22 Ospreys landing or taking off simultaneously. Two Izumo-class vessels will be able to transport 1,000 soldiers to the frontline while also strengthening defense and invasion capabilities.

The first in class 22DDH aircraft carrier, Izumo, DDH-183, for the Japanese MArittime self-Defense Force (JMSDF) was launched on Auguts 6, 2013 in Yokohama, Japan.

Fourth Chinese Type 071 LPD is in build

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BEIJING, -- Photographs released on Chinese websites since mid-October 2014 suggest that China may have started work on the People's Liberation Army Navy's (PLAN's) fourth Type 071 (Yuzhao)-class amphibious assault ship (LPD).

The photographs, allegedly taken at the Hudong-Zhonghua Shipyard in Shanghai, show the construction of a grey hull measuring about 200 m in length with a stern design similar to that of the Type 071.

The PLAN currently operates three Type 071s - Kunlunshan (998), Jinggangshan (999), and Changbaishan (989) - which were commissioned between November 2007 and September 2012. All three ships are currently deployed with the South Sea Fleet.

Chinese South Sea Fleet Type 071 Yuzhao Class Amphibious Transport Dock (LPD). 

Indonesia plans to purchase Russian submarines

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JAKARTA, -- Russia and Indonesia are considering the possibility of expanding military and technical cooperation, including supplies of Russian submarines, Russian Industry and Trade Minister Denis Manturov said on Tuesday after his meeting with new Indonesian President Joko Widodo.

The two countries hope to boost inter-state trade from $3 billion to $5 billion in the next two years, Manturov said. There are plans for energy cooperation and for construction of Russian oil refineries in Indonesia. “Our Indonesian counterparts have raised this issue for the first time,” the minister said. “We are ready to discuss and develop this area.”

Another issue under discussion concerns cooperation in military supplies, Manturov said. “Indonesia already has experience in purchasing our equipment — helicopters, planes, armored vehicles and other items,” he said. "We are considering the possibility of supplying the Project 636 diesel-electric submarines (to Indonesia)," he noted.

Russian Project 636 diesel-electric submarines.

US carrier docks in Manila

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MANILA - The USS George Washington on Thursday docked at the Manila harbor "for a routine port call", the United States embassy here said in statement.

"Recently, the BRP Gregorio del Pilar (PF 15) of the Philippine Navy joined the George Washington Carrier Strike Group off the coast of the Philippines from October 22-23 to conduct maneuvering, communications, and gunnery exercises to further enhance their ability to work together and demonstrate their commitment to the US-Philippines alliance," it said.

The warship was also reportedly involved recently in the battle against Islamic State wrecking havoc in large parts of Iraq and Syria.

The ship was also the first responder on a humanitarian mission sent by the US government to deliver hundreds of tons of assorted relief goods to victims of the super typhoon Yolanda in November last year in Eastern Visayas.

The warship, a Nimitz-class aircraft carrier commissioned on 4 July 1992, is forward deployed to the 7th Fleet area of operations, operating from Yokosuka, Japan. It is commanded by Capt. Greg Fenton, with its embarked air wing, Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 5, commanded by Capt. William Koyama, is crewed by approximately 5,500 sailors, of whom 320 are Filipino-American.

The Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS George Washington (CVN 73) transits through the Basilan Strait.


R E P O R T : China installs buoys in Pacific Ocean, report says

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BEIJING, -- A Chinese submarine takes part in a marine training session in the South China Sea. China's move …

China has installed 17 sets of submerged buoys in "key marine areas" of the western Pacific Ocean, state media said, a move that could exacerbate territorial tensions in the region.

The mission carried out by the Chinese research vessel Kexue "marks the first time that China has put an array of submerged buoys on such a big scale", the official Xinhua news agency reported late Tuesday.

"The buoys will provide important scientific statistics about ocean circulation and climate," Hu Dunxin, a scholar at the Chinese Academy of Sciences, told Xinhua.

The vessel is expected to return to the region next month "to conduct a deep sea environment project", the report added.

Beijing has regularly clashed with its neighbours in the East and South China Seas over issues of territorial sovereignty, and is increasing its naval reach into the Pacific as it expands its blue-water fleet, while the US has declared a foreign policy "pivot" towards Asia.

China claims the South China Sea almost in its entirety, and its increasingly assertive stance has heightened tensions with the Philippines and Vietnam, two of the other claimants.

This spring, a wave of deadly anti-Chinese riots took place in Vietnam after China deployed the giant Haiyang Shiyou 981 oil rig into waters claimed by Hanoi.

Two weeks ago Beijing announced the completion of a runway for military aircraft on Woody Island, part of the Paracel chain that is also claimed by Vietnam.

Vital shipping routes run through the waters of the South China Sea and they are believed to sit atop vast oil and gas deposits.

Relations between Beijing and Tokyo have plunged over their competing claims to a chain of Japanese-controlled East China Sea islands, where vessels and aircraft from both countries regularly patrol.

Experts say that China is acting to assert its legal claim and practical hold over contested territory, creating so-called "incidents of sovereignty" whatever the short-term political and diplomatic costs.

China And The US Are In A Race To Develop The World’s First Aircraft Carrier-Borne Stealth Jets

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China and the US could be on the verge of a new arms race, as both countries appear to be developing fifth-generation stealth aircraft that can launch from aircraft carriers.

David Axe, at War is Boring, notes China has placed a full-scale model of its fifth-generation J-31 stealth prototype aboard a mock-up of China’s single aircraft carrier. China frequently tests new additions to its military arsenal by building these kinds of model prototypes first — although the J-31 also underwent its first test-flights this past June.

If China is actually planning on deploying its J-31 fighter aboard its Liaoning aircraft carrier, the J-31 would be a direct competitor to the US’s troubled F-35C. The F-35C, which is meant to deploy to the US’s carrier fleet by 2018, would be the first stealth plane that can be deployed from sea.

China’s aspirations towards such advanced military capabilities come at a time that the US is attempting to pivot much of its military and diplomatic efforts to the Asian Pacific region. China believes it stands to lose from this possible gain in American power in Asia, and Beijing is seeking to counterbalance any increase in US influence in its backyard.

The ability to launch fifth-generation fighters from the open ocean would be a huge boon to both the US and China, and it’s a capability that could dramatically shift the balance of power in the Pacific. Tensions have continued to rise between China and its neighbors in the South China Sea to the south and Japan to the east; a carrier-borne fifth-generation fighter could hypothetically give China greater first-strike capability in the event of a war.

Aside from the J-31, China is currently in the process of placing two more aircraft carriers in its fleet. One of the two would be nuclear-powered and as large as a US supercarrier.

China is also developing a second fifth-generation stealth aircraft called the J-20. The J-20 is only in its prototype phase, and is further from a full rollout than the more-developed F-35. But the plane could still be a game changer within Asia, and the aircraft has been at least partially modeled off of stolen F-22 and F-35 plans. The J-20 could hypothetically reach targets within Japan, the Philippines, and Vietnam.

Whereas the J-20 is largely seen as a copy of US aircraft, the J-31 will be smaller, sleeker, and more original in its design, assuming it flies in its intended form. Vladimir Barkovsky, chief of the Russian MiG aircraft design bureau, has called the J-31 a “well-done indigenous design.”

The J-31 is about the same size as the F-35. However, the Chinese aircraft has smaller engines and a flatter fuselage, which implies a focus on air-to-air combat. The design means that the J-31 will have a smaller weapons bay than the F-35 — but it will have improved fuel efficiency and higher speed due to its comparatively less drag.

It is possible that China is developing the J-31 to eventually fly alongside the J-20. This would be similar to the US’s envisioned use of the F-22 and the F-35, which are meant to compliment rather than replace one another.

China may also be developing the J-31 solely for the export market and as a rival to the F-35. If this is the case, China sees itself as a future world weapons supplier to nations that the US would otherwise not necessarily sell to.

A likely candidate for the purchase of a Chinese fifth-generation fighter would be Pakistan. The two nations had previously jointly developed an advanced fighter and Pakistan receives 54% of its arms from China.

China’s sale of a fifth-generation fighter to Pakistan might feed into regional tensions with India — Pakistan’s bigger geopolitical opponent is currently co-developing a fifth-generation fighter with Russia.

via #AseanMilitaryDefenseReview

The U.S. And China Are In A Race To Develop Next-Generation Hypersonic Missiles

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China and the U.S. have both conducted tests of new hypersonic weapons systems over the past month. Although both tests were unsuccessful, they signal continuing military competition between the two countries, which are each attempting to develop high-accuracy projectiles that can travel several times faster than the speed of sound.

On August 7, China performed an unsuccessful second test of its WU-14 hypersonic glide vehicle. The U.S. in turn tested its Advanced Hypersonic Weapon (AHW) from the Kodiak Launch Complex in Alaska on August 25.

Hypersonic weapons can hit their targets extremely quickly and effectively. If ever made operable, these weapons would be able to to travel five times faster than the speed of sound and cover a range of several thousand miles.
Although this phase of the hypersonic arms race between China and the U.S. is fairly recent, the weapons themselves have existed in some form for decades.

“Hypersonic weapons are not that new,” James Acton, a senior associate with the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, told Arms Control Wonk. “Ballistic missiles are hypersonic weapons.”

However, the weapons that the U.S. and China are now testing belong to a different class of hypersonic weaponry called “boost-glide weapons.”

Boost-glide weapons “are launched by big rockets just like a ballistic missile is,” Acton said, “but then rather than arcing higher than the atmosphere, they are put on a trajectory to reenter the atmosphere as quickly as possible. Then they just glide to the target.”

Boost-glide weapons are capable of traveling on a trajectory that makes them difficult for missile-defense systems to intercept. These systems are designed to work against the high arc of traditional ballistic missiles. Boost-glide projectiles travel quickly and at a flat angle, working at speeds and trajectories that flummox existing missile defense technologies.

Prior to the most recent failed launches by China and the U.S., both nations had successfully carried out test-runs of their boost-glide systems. In January, China tested its WU-14, a sucess which served “as a sign of China moving towards longer range, stronger retaliatory and potentially preemptive capability,” Lora Saalman, a specialist on China with the Carnegie Endowment, told The Washington Free Beacon.

The U.S.’s concern, according to Saalman, is that China may eventually use its boost-glide weapons as nuclear delivery system. This could give China hypothetical nuclear first-strike capability across large portions of the globe, assuming that the U.S. doesn’t develop this capability as well.

In 2011, American successfully test-fired the Advanced Hypersonic Weapon. During that test, the AHW flew 2,300 miles in less than half an hour.

The cause for the most recent failure of the AHW in Alaska is uncertain, and the damage at the launch facility was apparently extensive.

Along with China and the U.S., Russia and India are also engaged in developing hypersonic weapons programs.

via #AseanMilitaryDefenseReview

To Save the Navy’s Next-Gen Drone, Kill It First

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The Defense Department was set to release this summer the final request for proposal for the Unmanned Carrier-Launched Airborne Surveillance and Strike, or UCLASS, aircraft, but divisions within the department about the scope of the program and the Navy’s requirements of the drone have led to repeat delays.

Paul Scharre is a fellow and Director of the 20YY Warfare Initiative at the Center for a New American Security. From 2008-2013 he worked in the Office of the Secretary of Defense on unmanned systems and intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance capabilities. He is a former reconnaissance team ... Full Bio

Shawn Brimley is executive vice president and director of studies at the Center for a New American Security. He served in the Pentagon and at the White House from 2009 to 2012. Full Bio
Already, the drone has become a symbol of a broader debate within DOD about what capabilities future carrier air wings need, particularly whether they need a long-range penetrating surveillance and strike aircraft. At this point the UCLASS program is so deeply troubled that the most sensible action DOD leaders can take is send the program back to the drawing board to begin scoping requirements from scratch.

This time, however, department leaders should make clear from the outset that UCLASS is meant to fill a gap. It is a long-range stealthy aircraft meant to give aircraft carriers greater reach in a new age. This wouldn’t be a new requirement, but rather the original guidance to the Department of the Navy that was issued in the 2006 Quadrennial Defense Review (and largely repeated in the 2010 QDR and the 2012 Defense Strategic Guidance). Namely, the military wants to “develop an unmanned longer-range carrier-based aircraft capable of being air-refueled to provide greater standoff capability, to expand payload and launch options, and to increase naval reach and persistence.”

Here’s why. Threats from long-range ballistic and cruise missiles – especially the kind being fielded by China – are pushing aircraft carriers further from enemy shores, beyond the range of their aircraft. Without a long-range penetrating aircraft, the carrier will be irrelevant against sophisticated adversaries. The Navy’s current plan is a modestly stealthy maritime surveillance platform, which will not help solve this problem.

Threats from long-range ballistic and cruise missiles – especially the kind being fielded by China – are pushing aircraft carriers further from enemy shores, beyond the range of their aircraft.
Killing UCLASS now, so that it may be reshaped into a useful program, may be the best way to save it in the long run. In doing so, DOD leaders would be taking a page from one of the department’s most important future weapon systems, known as the long range strike bomber, which was originally born out of the ashes of the terminated “next-generation bomber.”

(Related: Congress’s Chance to Fix Aircraft Carrier Drones)

In 2009, then-Defense Secretary Bob Gates cancelled the next-generation bomber program amid concerns about rising costs. The Air Force still needed the capability to strike targets at long range, however, so his cancellation spurred a detailed review of requirements to determine how to affordably field long-range strike capabilities. In 2011, Gates announced the results of that review, a new bomber with revised requirements. Critics decried that the Air Force’s “zombie bomber” had risen from the grave, but the new bomber was more phoenix than zombie. With adjusted requirements and a new cost ceiling, the bomber that resulted from Gates’ cancellation and subsequent review was more affordable and achievable.

UCLASS should be put on a similar footing, by pushing reset on the program and giving it a fresh start. The biggest objection to such a move would be that it would inevitably delay getting an operational unmanned aircraft on a carrier deck even longer. So, the military should continue to develop other critical technologies in the interim. This includes continuing the X-47B, or experimental unmanned combat air system aircraft carrier demonstration (UCAS-D) and developing autonomous aerial refueling, a key enabler for long-range operations. The department also should retain some UCLASS funds to further mature designs from all four industry competitors, in order to ensure a robust competition for the UCLASS program once final requirements are issued.

Before Pentagon officials embark on a major acquisition program costing billions of dollars, they should ensure that they are getting the right weapon system for the right mission.
Before Pentagon officials embark on a major acquisition program costing billions of dollars, they should ensure that they are getting the right weapon system for the right mission. Particularly in the current fiscal environment, the Defense Department does not have the luxury of expending precious resources on a program that does not meet a critical need. The Navy’s current vision of UCLASS is too deeply flawed to correct at the margins. To preserve the carrier’s relevance in the future, DOD leaders should kill the existing UCLASS and start over.

via #AseanMilitaryDefenseReview

China's Alarming Military Buildup Is Shifting The Balance Of Power In Asia

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China’s decades-long buildup of strategic and conventional military forces is shifting the balance of power in Asia in Beijing’s favor and increasing the risk of a conflict, according to a forthcoming report by a congressional China commission.

China’s military has greatly expanded its air and naval forces and is sharply increasing its missile forces, even while adopting a more hostile posture against the United States and regional allies in Asia, states a late draft of the annual report of the bipartisan US-China Economic and Security Review Commission.

As a result, “the potential for security miscalculation in the region is rising,” the report said, using the euphemism for a conflict or shootout between Chinese forces and US forces or those of its regional allies.

The report paints an alarming picture of China’s growing aggressiveness and expanding power, including development of two new stealth jets, the first deployment of a naval expeditionary amphibious group to the Indian Ocean, and aerial bombing exercises held in Kazakhstan.

China’s communist government also views the United States as its main adversary — despite strong trade and financial links between the two countries, the report says.

The commission report — to be released in final form in November — concludes that the war-footing-like buildup by the People’s Liberation Army is increasing the risk that a conflict will break out between the United States and China.

A copy of the draft report was obtained by the Washington Free Beacon.

“China’s rapid military modernization is altering the military balance of power in the Asia Pacific in ways that could engender destabilizing security competition between other major nearby countries, such as Japan and India, and exacerbate regional hotspots such as Taiwan, the Korean Peninsula, the East China Sea, and the South China Sea,” the report concludes in a section on military developments

With declining US defense spending and cuts in forces, the balance of power in Asia “is shifting in China’s favor,” the report says.

The report warns that China’s communist leaders are fueling nationalist tensions amid concerns about declining economic growth and increasing social unrest.

“Promoting a sense of grievance among the Chinese people and creating diversionary tensions in the region would carry real risks of escalation and create the potential for the United States to be drawn into a regional conflict,” the report says.

The high-technology weapons and other capabilities China is fielding also pose a growing threat to America’s ability to deter regional conflicts, defend allies and maintain open and secure air and sea-lanes.

As China builds up its naval power, the US Navy is declining, and the current American ability to defeat China in a conflict will be difficult to maintain, the report says.

By 2020, China is expected to have 342 submarines and missile-firing warships deployed, many of them equipped with advanced weapons. By comparison, the total US naval forces will be 243 ships and submarines in 2020.

Recent Chinese provocations in sea and aerial encounters also are a signs the two nations could become embroiled in a conflict.

“China already has initiated dangerous encounters at sea on several occasions,” the report said, noting the near-aerial collision between a Chinese interceptor jet and a Navy P-8 reconnaissance aircraft.

Rick Fisher, a China military affairs analyst, said the congressional report augments a sometimes-deficient Pentagon annual assessment of the Chinese military.

“The China Commission is hitting its stride concerning China’s growing military challenge, offering the Congress an expansive and multi-dimensional assessment of that challenge not offered by the Pentagon’s annual China Military Power reports,” said Fisher, with the International Assessment and Strategy Center.

Fisher credits the commission for highlighting the shift in the balance of power that he said is linked to China’s growth in air and space power.

“The regional balance of power shift in China’s favor is based on well documented analysis and should be required reading for anyone concerned with China’s growing ability to threaten US interests in Asia,” he said.

China military
Jason Lee/Reuters
Missiles are displayed in a parade to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China, in Beijing on October 1, 2009.

The report also confirms that China twice this year tested a new, ultra-high speed strategic strike vehicle called the Wu-14. When deployed, the Wu-14 will give the Chinese military the capability of attacking any target on earth in as little as “minutes to hours,” the report says.

The hypersonic vehicle tests were first disclosed by the Free Beacon in January and August.

A super-fast strike vehicle that glides to its targets of speeds of up to nearly 8,000 miles-per-hour could be deployed by 2020 and a similar high-speed scramjet powered hypersonic attack vehicle could be fielded before 2025, the report says.

“Hypersonic glide vehicles could render existing US missile defense systems less effective and potentially obsolete,” the report says.

On China’s strategic nuclear buildup, the report identifies China’s large-scale buildup of both conventional and nuclear-armed missiles as a serious threat.

China’s has as many as 1,895 ballistic and cruise missiles, including up to 1,200 short-range missiles, up to 100 medium-range missiles, up to 20 intermediate-range missiles, up to 75 intercontinental missiles, and up to 500 ground-launched land attack cruise missiles.

The Pentagon after 2010 halted releasing annual assessments of Chinese missile forces that one expert said undercuts the Obama administration’s policy of seeking a more open Chinese military by “indirectly assisting Chinese secrecy.”

For short-range missiles, China currently is developing five new systems with ranges between 94 and 174 miles. The new missiles will have greater accuracy and lethality.

For targeting US forces in Japan and South Korea, China has deployed DF-21C theater-range missiles with ranges of about 1,240 miles and appears to have developed a second system, the DF-16.

Its new intermediate-range missile, to be deployed in the next five years, will be able to hit US forces on Guam, Northern Australia, Alaska, and US forces in the Middle East and Indian Ocean.

A variant of the DF-21D is a unique anti-ship ballistic missile that has been deployed in two brigades in southeastern and northeast China.

China’s nuclear strike forces remain couched in secrecy, the report said. “China’s official statements about its nuclear forces and nuclear capabilities are rare and vague in order to maintain ‘strategic ambiguity,’” the report says.

The commission report faults the Pentagon for ending its practice of providing details of China’s nuclear arsenal in annual reports to Congress, saying the omission is contributing to Chinese military secrecy.

The Pentagon has not released an assessment of Chinese nuclear forces since 2006 when it said China had more than 100 warheads.

“Despite the uncertainty surrounding China’s stockpiles of nuclear missiles and nuclear warheads, it is clear that China’s nuclear forces over the next three to five years will expand considerably and become more lethal and survivable with the fielding of additional road-mobile nuclear missiles; the integration of as many as five [Jin-class missile submarines], each of which can carry 12 JL-2 submarine-launched ballistic missiles; and the introduction of intercontinental ballistic missiles armed with multiple independently targetable reentry vehicles,” the report says.

China also is modernizing its silo-based nuclear missiles, along with hardening storage facilities, launch sites, and transportation networks.

The network of some 3,000 miles of underground nuclear facilities is also being expanded, the report states.

China currently has deployed five road-mobile long-range missiles, and one submarine-launched ballistic missile, the JL-2, with a new JL-3 missile planned for 2020.

The newest system is the DF-41 ICBM that is expected to be deployed as early as next year with up to 10 multiple nuclear warheads. The DF-41’s range of about 7,456 miles is sufficient “to target the entire continental United States,” the report states.

The Free Beacon first disclosed Oct. 2 that China flight-tested a sixth road-mobile ICMB, the DF-31B. The test appeared to take place after the cutoff date of June for most information in the commission report.

The report also includes the graphic published in China’s state-run Global Times in November revealing that a Chinese submarine-launched ballistic missile attack on the United States could kill 5 million to 12 million people.

China’s space warfare programs also are expanding significantly, according to the report.

“The PLA is pursuing a broad counterspace program to challenge US information superiority in a conflict and disrupt or destroy US satellites if necessary,” the report said.

Recent missile tests indicate Chinese anti-satellite weapons can destroy both low-altitude and high-altitude satellites, including strategic Global Positioning System satellites and communications and intelligence orbiters.

“China likely will be able to hold at risk US national security satellites in every orbital regime in the next five to ten years,” the report says.

The report also revealed China last year conducted a space test of three small, maneuvering satellites, one of which is capable of grabbing and destroying orbiting satellites.

To counter the Chinese military buildup, the commission recommends that Congress increase funding for naval deployments in Asia; continue three-a-year production of Virginia-class submarines; develop an unmanned Navy carrier strike aircraft; fund a new long-range anti-ship missile; and build ship-based directed energy arms.

China's President Xi Jinping
Felipe Dana/AP
China's President Xi Jinping arrives for a meeting with Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff at the Planalto Presidential Palace, in Brasilia, Brazil, on July 17, 2014.

The commission also wants Congress to direct the Pentagon to provide more details on China’s conventional and nuclear missiles and warheads.

On China’s cyber espionage activities, the report said China’s government has been engaged in “large-scale” cyber attacks against U.S. networks, including defense and private company systems.

Among the data stolen by Chinese hackers were details of US weapons systems including Patriot anti-missile defenses, the F-35 and F-18 jets, P-8 reconnaissance aircraft, Global Hawk drones, Black Hawk helicopters, Aegis ballistic missile defenses, and the Littoral Combat ship.

The Chinese military also obtained secrets on defense technologies, including know-how related to directed energy weapons, drone video systems, technical data links, satellite communications, electronic warfare systems, and electromagnetic aircraft launch systems.

“In addition to stealing the designs of these weapon systems and technologies, China’s cyber actors targeted internal communications, program schedules, meeting minutes, and human resource records, among other documents,” the report said.

The Obama administration policy of not responding forcefully to Chinese cyber attacks is not working, the report says, despite the federal indictment in May of five Chinese military hackers.

“China’s material incentives for continuing this activity are immense and unlikely to be altered by small-scale US actions,” the report says.

via #AseanMilitaryDefenseReview

Navy to get 2 submarines by next year

6:56:00 AM Add Comment
CHITTAGONG, -- Bangladesh Navy is going to have two submarines in its fleet by 2015, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina announced yesterday.

“Inshaallah, two submarines will be added to the naval force by next year,” she said while awarding National Standard to BNS Osman at Naval Berth in Chittagong.

Besides, two new corvettes will be added to the Navy fleet to strengthen the capability of the force to protect the maritime boundary and sea resources, Hasina said adding that a process is on to set up the biggest naval base at Rabanabad in Patuakhali with facilities for submarine berthing and aviation.

“It's imperative to ensure a favourable atmosphere and security in the maritime area for extracting sea resources and securing trade. The naval force has to perform an important role in this regard,” said Hasina, who also holds the defence portfolio.

BNS Osman has been awarded with the National Standard for its outstanding contribution at home and abroad for the last 25 years, including its engagement in the UN Peacekeeping Mission in Lebanon for the last four years.

The premier hoped that the Navy members would uphold the dignity of the force through their high efficiency and discipline and by maintaining the chain of command.

Hasina said her government has taken short and medium term plans to make the Navy an efficient, modern and balanced three-dimensional force by 2030.

PLA Navy Ming class submarine in the Indian ocean.

Attack helicopters with night vision for Philippine Air Force arriving

6:35:00 AM Add Comment
MANILA, — New attack helicopters that can operate in the dark are set to arrive for the Philippine Air Force, Armed Forces of the Philippines chief Gen. Gregorio Pio Catapang said.

The new units will have night vision capability allowing pilots to target hostile subjects even in the dark.

"We have capable helicopters arriving for the PAF," Catapang said while touring in Sulu on Sunday, according to a state news report.

Catapang said that the new helicopters set to arrive this year shows progress in the military's modernization campaign.

The Air Force earlier selected eight pilots to man and operate the AgustaWestland AW-109 Power helicopters and sent them to train in Costa di Samarate, Italy.

Also undergoing training are 22 maintenance personnel.

The Air Force signed the contract for eight AW109 Power light twin helicopters last November. The P3.44-billion contract includes initial logistics support and training for aircrew and maintenance personnel, the Italian firm said.

"These aircraft will be used to perform a range of duties including homeland security, armed reconnaissance and close support," AugustaWestland said in an earlier statement.

The AW109 Power is a three-ton class eight seat twin engine helicopter, dubbed as the most cost effective helicopter in its class for a range of government tasks.

Agusta A109BA (Belgian Army) Hirundo helicopter.


RM 27.6 Billion Allocated To Beef Up National Security

8:08:00 AM Add Comment
KUALA LUMPUR, -- Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak announced a RM27.6 billion allocation to beef up National security, increase the level of safety and public order when tabling the 2015 Budget in Dewan Rakyat Friday.

Najib who is also the Finance Minister said to increase the level of safety and public order as well as national security, RM17.7 billion would be allocated to the Armed Forces, RM9.1 billion to Police and RM804 million to the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA).

In efforts to reduce crime rate in the country, the government will increase the intake of policemen by 11,757 personnel, build 14 police headquarters and police stations including a new block for the Perlis police contingent.

To strengthen the presence of police and patrolling, Najib said 1,000 units of motorcycles would be purchased while an allocation of RM121 million is provided for police to implement various programmes under the National Key Result Areas.

The Prime Minister said to increase the readiness of the Armed Forces personnel and assets, RM7 billion will be allocated to purchase and maintain defence assets as well as to improve the welfare of armed forces personnel, including health services and housing.

To improve maritime safety, the MMEA will be allocated RM393 million to improve the operational efficiency and the purchase of seven new patrol vessels, said Najib.

He said RELA, under the Home Ministry will continue to be a voluntary agency to assist the security forces to maintain peace and security of the nation, a sum of RM117

Naval Exercise "BERSAMA SHIELD 2014" RMN & RSN partners KD Kasturi and RSS Formidable in SEA waters.

Jokowi Called Ready Buy 3 "Drone" of America

7:59:00 AM Add Comment
JAKARTA, -- President-elect Joko Widodo deemed to have understood the concept of a strong national defense that must be applied in a maritime country like Indonesia. One step that can be done to protect the marine and air Indonesia is to have a drone ( unmanned aerial vehicle -UAV) or drones .
"Generation next war takes an integrated power , he (Jokowi) already understand about the need for a powerful defense , "said military analyst and defense, Rahakundini Connie Bakrie, as a speaker in a discussion titled Realizing Indonesia as World Maritime Axle: Islands Toward State of the State Maritime National Resilience Institute (National Resilience Institute), Thursday (09/10/2014).

Connie admitted, some time ago, he was talking with Jokowi about aircraft purchase plan drones are. To himself, Jokowi admitted trying to buy three units drone Global Hawk type, which made ​​the United States.

He said, the price of one unit of drones is quite fantastic, reached Rp 4.3 trillion. Hence the need for a budget of Rp 12 trillion to Rp 13 trillion to buy all three drones that.

"The price was not too expensive when compared to the benefits because it can protect the potential loss of Rp 300 trillion over the theft of fish and natural resources that occur in our country," said Connie mimicked Jokowi statement.

 U.S. Air Force RQ4 Block 30 Global Hawk  high-altitude surveillance UAV.


INDUSTRY: Australia and Navantia Sign Contract for Design Analysis of Two Supply Ships

7:52:00 AM Add Comment
Navantia and DMO of Australia have signed the contract for the RRDS (Risk Reduction Design Study) Australian AOR supply ship, called program SEA1654. The contract signing was held at the naval base at Garden Island and attended Admiral Purcell and Patrick Fitzpatrick, both of DMO, the Commercial Director of Navantia, Gonzalo Mateo-Guerrero, and the Director of Navantia Australia, Francis Baron .

The contract, which will take approximately 8 months to analyze the design of the Buque de Aprovisionamiento de Combate/Combat Supply Ship (BAC) "Cantabria", built by Navantia for the Spanish Navy, addressing specific requirements Australians.

With this phase of study the process of acquiring two supply ships AOR by the Australian Government starts. Navantia has been shortlisted, along with another company, as a possible supplier of ships.

After this phase, the Australian government will begin the final phase by a request for tender for the construction of ships.

This event, coupled with the recent acceptance of "Canberra", the first of the two amphibious ships ALHD built by Navantia and BAE Systems, by the Commonwealth of Australia, is another milestone in Navantia and shows the importance of this country as a client strategic for the company.

The BAC "Cantabria", delivered by Navantia in 2010, was deployed for several months in Australia, with a mission to integrate and operate with the Royal Australian Navy (RAN).

SPS Cantabria (A15) is a replenishment oiler operated by the Spanish Navy.

Taiwan's new stealth corvette designed to blind Liaoning

7:45:00 AM Add Comment
BEIJING, -- The first of Taiwan's Tuo River-class stealth corvettes launched earlier this year was designed especially to counter the radar and command center of China's first aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, Aleksey A Maslov, the director of the Centre for Chinese Studies at the Peoples' Friendship University of Russia has told the website of RTR-Planeta based in Moscow.

Though known as carrier-killers, the Tuo River-class corvette was not developed to actually sink the Chinese carrier, Maslov said. However, this class of vessel has the capability to conduct electronic warfare against the carrier's radar and communication systems, hindering its ability to launch its fighters and helicopters.

The ROC Navy plans to build between eight and 12 Tuo River-class stealth corvettes in the near future.

Tuo River, the lead ship in the class, entered service in March. In addition to its electronic warfare capabilities, the corvette also boasts powerful weapons systems. It can carry eight Hsiung Feng II and eight Hsiung Feng III anti-ship missiles, one Otobreda 76mm gun, one close-in weapon system and two 12.7mm machine guns.

As the PLA Navy begins to deploy more advanced and modern warships, asymmetrical warfare becomes the only option for Taiwan's navy. With its relatively small size, Tuo River-class stealth corvettes can be deployed from smaller ports. The ship's hull uses an aluminum alloy which offers protection against magnetic mines.

The Republic of China Navy Tuo River-Class Littoral Corvette PGG 618 "Tuojiang".

WATCH: Moving images of HMS Prince of Wales

WATCH: Moving images of HMS Prince of Wales

7:34:00 AM Add Comment
ROSYTH, -- Dockyard workers faced a weighty problem trying to manoeuvre HMS Prince of Wales into position in Rosyth.

The time lapse film shows the double docking of two of the aircraft carrier's largest hull sections.

At a combined weight of 14,000 tonnes, the LB02 and LB03 sections were docked down over a two day process at the dockyard.

The first of the aircraft carriers, HMS Queen Elizabeth, was officially named by the Queen in July and is due to undergo sea trials in 2016.

The HMS Prince of Wales will also weigh 65,000 tonnes on completion and sea trials are pencilled in for the start of 2019.

Assembly is taking place in Rosyth and the carriers will be the UK's largest ever warships with a price tag of around £6 billion.

They are being delivered by the Aircraft Carrier Alliance, a partnering relationship between BAE Systems, Thales UK, Babcock and the Ministry of Defence.


DRS Unveils Very Small SIGINT Sensor

7:21:00 AM Add Comment
WASHINGTON, --  Imagine reconnaissance teams operating in enemy territory being able to hump in their own tiny  signals intelligence (SIGINT) sensors, able to gather intel on both electronic emissions (ELINT) and communications (COMINT). Ok, they don’t have to hump them in because each one weighs roughly two-and-half pounds. Sound like science fiction?

Well, DRS, the American subsidiary of Finmeccanica, has unveiled what it claims is the world’s smallest SIGINT package — roughly the size of a small self-contained hard drive. When I saw this thing, called Polaris, sitting on a table at the DRS booth during the Association of Old Crow’s annual conference, I was (in the Australian vernacular) gobsmacked.

It is ruggedized to cope with the bangs and bumps of combat. The company has already got an “American customer,” but the VP for SIGINT business development, Stephen Robillard, smiled and declined to identify it any more closely. Your guess is probably as good as mine — Special Operations Command or a close relative.

DRS already made one of the world’s smallest SIGINT sensors, but this is a quarter the size, boasts twice the frequency coverage and offers twice the bandwidth. Ah, the miracle of cooler and smaller computer chips.

For decades, signals intelligence (SIGINT) sensors came in pretty big packages: big satellites; big satellite dishes, big planes like Compass Call and Global Hawk and smaller aircraft like the U-2 or Guardraii.

These sensors needed sizable power sources and needed bigger platforms to carry them or support them. If you can combine dozens or hundred of SIGINT sensors across a battlefield — carried by SOCOM teams, slapped onto Abrams tanks, Bradley personnel carriers, Kiowa Warriors and Apaches — with the much-lower density systems such as Global Hawk, Compass Call, and satellites, you can achieve remarkable accuracy and provide the Intelligence Community with an enormous amount of data to crunch.

Most of the market for the Polaris may be commercial, Robillard said. The units can be used by the FAA and FCC or companies to monitor for signals that might jam GPS, for example. He estimated the overall market’s size in the “tens of millions” over the next five years.

Topics: AOC 2014, Compass Call, drones, DRS, Finmeccanica, Global Hawk, infantry, nsa, RC-12 Guardrail, SIGINT, Stephen Robillard, UAVs.

US Army RC-12N Guardrail.


Air Force successfully test fires guided missile

8:45:00 PM Add Comment
SEOUL, -- The Air Force said yesterday that its indigenously developed FA-50 fighter jet had succeeded in firing a guided missile that reached its intended target in the sea.

The live firing exercise took place on Wednesday over the East Sea, the Air Force said. During the drill, an FA-50 fighter jet fired a guided missile, an AGM-65G Maverick, from an altitude of 1.2 kilometers (0.7 miles) and hit its target about 7 kilometers away. The target was a retired ship.

“With the successful live firing, we were able to confirm the precision attack capability of the FA-50s, built with our own technologies,” said an Air Force official.

The FA-50 Fighting Eagle is a light combat aircraft manufactured by Korea Aerospace Industries. It is a combat version of the T-50 Golden Eagle supersonic advanced jet trainer.

The FA-50s are meant to replace the military’s aging fleet of F-5s, and the Air Force started operationally deploying them last year.

Capable of flying at a maximum speed of Mach 1.5, the light attack aircraft can carry weapons weighing up to 4.5 tons and be armed with air-to-air and air-to-surface missiles and general-purpose bombs. It is also mounted with a three-barrel Gatling gun.

The aircraft can also be armed with precision-guided weapons.

Korea signed a deal to export 12 indigenously developed FA-50s to Indonesia in 2011. Iraq also agreed to buy 24 units last year, and the Philippines earlier this year agreed to purchase 12 FA-50s.

 A Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) built FA-50, attack plane, firing an AGM-65 Maverick air-to-surface tactical missile.