Boxer ARG, 13th MEU Arrive in 7th Fleet Area of Operations

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PACIFIC OCEAN - The Boxer Amphibious Ready Group (ARG), 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) team began operating in the U.S. 7th Fleet area of operations, Feb. 27.

"The BOXER ARG, 13th MEU team has trained hard and is ready to enter the complex 7th Fleet operating area," said Capt. Keith Moore, commodore of Amphibious Squadron 1. "This is a vibrant, diverse and vital region of the world with immense importance to global security. I am looking forward to making new friends as we work with our regional partners to improve cooperation and readiness."

While forward deployed to 7th Fleet, the ARG/MEU team will participate in exercise Ssang Yong 2016, work to strengthen ties with allies, deter conflict and conduct operations in support of the Asia-Pacific Maritime Security Strategy.

“Few regions in the world are as important to America’s interest as the Pacific and 7th Fleet’s area of responsibility. The Boxer ARG, 13th MEU team contributes to the security and stability of our partners and allies throughout the region by engagement and cooperation,” said Col. Anthony Henderson, commanding officer of the 13th MEU. “Yes we are trained and ready across the spectrum of contingencies and potential crisis, but just as important our presence shows our commitment.”

The 7th Fleet AOR spans more than 124 million square kilometers stretching from the International Date Line to the India/Pakistan border and from the Kuril Islands in the North to the Antarctic in the South encompassing 36 maritime countries and half of the world’s population.

Boxer ARG is comprised of Amphibious Squadron 1, amphibious assault ship USS Boxer (LHD 4), amphibious transport dock USS New Orleans (LPD 18) and amphibious dock landing ship USS Harpers Ferry (LSD 49).

The 13th MEU is comprised of a ground combat element, Battalion Landing Team 2nd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment; an aviation combat element, Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 166 (Reinforced); a logistics combat element, Combat Logistics Battalion 13; and a command element.

While deployed, the ARG/MEU team serves as a sea-based, expeditionary crisis response force capable of conducting amphibious missions across the full range of military operations.

The mission of the Boxer ARG is to help provide deterrence, promote peace and security, preserve freedom of the seas and provide humanitarian assistance/disaster response as well as support the Navy's maritime strategy when forward deployed.

The mission of the 13th MEU is to provide a forward deployed, flexible sea-based Marine Air Ground Task Force capable of conducting amphibious operations, crisis response and limited contingency operations, including enabling the introduction of follow on forces and designated special operations in order to support the theater requirements of geographic combatant commanders.

The US Navy Amphibious assault ship USS Boxer (LHD 4) transits the Pacific Ocean.

Malaysian Air Force CN-235 crash lands near Kuala Selangor

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KUALA #LUMPUR, -- A Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF) CN-235 transport aircraft crash landed near the coast of Kuala Selangor on 26 February.

"An RMAF CN235 transporter aircraft from the Subang airbase made an emergency landing near the coast of Kuala Selangor at around 8.50 a. m. today," said the Malaysian Ministry of Defence in a media statement issued about an hour after the crash landing.

Although the incident was referred to officially as an "emergency landing", images of the aircraft carried on websites of various Malaysian media on the same day show a partially submerged fuselage billowing smoke and fire in what appears to be a mangrove swamp.

The Royal Malaysian Air Force CASA CN-235 medium-range twin-engined transport aircraft in flight.

Israel has delivered 20 EXTRA surface-to-surface guided rockets to Vietnam for coastal defence

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HANOI, -- According the latest SIPRI (Stockholm International Peace Research Institute) data of 2015, Israel has delivered 20 EXTRA Guided rocket SSM (Surface-to-Surface) to the Vietnamese armed forces to be used for coastal defence.

The Extended Range Artillery (EXTRA) is a precision rocket munition developed by IAI MLM and IMI Rocket Systems Division.

The EXTRA rocket munition is being offered packaged in a four-unit pod configuration for land based launchers. It can be installed on high mobility trucks or fixed stations.

The EXTRA rocket is 4.4m long and 306mm in diameter. It was developed by IMI as private venture and first announced in 2005.

One in flight, Extra rocket is guided to its target by an Israeli-made GPS-augmented inertial navigation system resulting in a circular error probable (CEP) of 10 m with a maximum range of 150 km.

For the naval application, the rocket carries a 120 kg explosive-fragmentation warhead.

First pictures of the EXTRA rocket used by the Vietnamese Armed Forces were released on the Vietnamese website DATVIET.

During a military parade in Vietnam, Extra rockets were mounted at the rear of 6x6 KrAZ military truck chassis in two configurations, one with a four-unit pod configuration and a second version with a two-unit pod.

The Israeli EXTRA surface-to-surface guided rocket mounted on KRaZ truck at military parade in Vietnam.

Australia to Double Defence Spending Over Next 15 Years

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CANBERRA, -- Australia's Defence White Paper has shown that Australia will almost double its defence spending within the next 15 years in order to keep up with what it called the "unprecedented transformation" occurring in the Indo-Pacific region.

Defence Minister Marise Payne said the Australian government is set to raise the annual defence budget from 23.5 billion U.S. dollars in 2016/17 to 42.5 billion by 2025/26 - in line with its promise to raise defence spending up to 2 percent of the nation's gross domestic product (GDP) by 2023.

Dr Amy King, from the Strategic and Defence Studies Centre at the Australian National University (ANU) in Canberra, told Xinhua the White Paper was a measured response to the "modernization" of military forces in the immediate South East Asian region.

The paper, released this week, outlines the major investment in the defence department on the grounds that "Asia's defence spending is now larger than Europe's".

The Defence Department also cited other reasons for the sudden growth in funding and military interest - Payne said a number of "complex security challenges" such as the threat posed by terrorist outfits such as Islamic State (IS) also justified the budget.

Under the plan, more than 140 billion U.S. dollars will be poured into strengthening Australia's maritime and air force defence systems, with 12 new submarines to be built locally, while nine new frigates, 12 offshore patrol vessels and 15 new aircraft have all been given the green light.

Along with a further 2,500 ground troops and a new fleet of armoured vehicles also in the works, the government highlighted the need to provide Australia's construction industry with stable employment over the next decade.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) on Thursday that China was "dissatisfied" about some "negative" remarks surrounding the South China Sea in the white paper.

"It mentions Australia is willing to enhance cooperation with China, China welcomes that and hopes it can translate these positive statements into concrete actions."

"We also noticed that this white paper made some remarks about South China Sea and East China Sea...These remarks are negative and we are dissatisfied about this."

However the federal government said that spending money on an improved defence force was no cause for concern.

Following Beijing's comments, Payne told the ABC on Thursday evening that despite the South China Sea being a "point of difference" between the two nations, Australia and China share a number of "significant relationships" - such as those in trade and defence.

"We obviously have very significant relationships with China across a range of areas and not least of which is our trading relationship," she said.

"But importantly as part of our defence relationship we work with the PLA Navy, with the PLA itself."

Meanwhile King said Australia's interest in the region was formed on the basis that a number of major trading partners were involved in the South China Sea 'dispute'. She said Australia had no interest in causing further "destabilization".

"(The paper) is reflecting that while Australia doesn't face a direct threat, but it does note the region is become tenser because of those disputes," King told Xinhua.

The Royal Australian Navy HMAS Hobart (DDGH 39) Air Warfare Destroyer after its launch in Adelaide.

Japan to provide Philippines with war-fighting equipment

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MANILA, -- Japan and the Philippines are to sign an agreement as early as next week to promote technological cooperation, a move that would allow Tokyo to transfer some war-fighting equipment to Manila.

The two governments have been holding working-level talks on the matter since a broad agreement was reached at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in November last year, NHK reported.

The deal is the first of its kind between two Asian countries, although Japan has a similar standing agreement with the US, Australia, Britain and France.

Manila has shown an interest in adopting training aircraft used by Japan’s Maritime Self-Defense Force, with an eye toward surveillance and patrol activities in the South China Sea as the Philippines continues to be locked with China in a sovereignty dispute over several islands.

Observers say the Japanese government is apparently aiming at keeping China in check after the latter reclaimed a disputed island, built an airstrip and installed radar systems and surface-to-air missiles.

In late November, Manila and Tokyo broadly agreed on a pact for the transfer of defense equipment and technology, a move likely spurred – at least in part – by mutual concern over Beijing’s massive land-reclamation projects.

Once inked, the pact would allow Tokyo to send Self-Defense Forces equipment to the Philippines.

Despite being one of the most vocal opponents of Beijing’s territorial claims in the South China Sea, Manila is considered ill equipped to challenge China’s moves and has looked both to Tokyo and Washington in an effort to alleviate this shortcoming.

Japan has already agreed to supply the Philippines with a low-interest loan to purchase a fleet of 10 patrol vessels and has reportedly received requests from President Aquino for larger coast guard patrol vessels and PC-3 submarine-hunting planes.

Media reports have also said that Japan hopes to donate three used Beechcraft TC-90 King Air aircraft, which it uses to train military pilots and can be fitted with basic surface and air surveillance radar.

These moves have been in lockstep with Washington, which has also scaled up its assistance to Manila as part of its so-called rebalance to the Asia-Pacific region.

Experts say Japan hopes that by providing aircraft, ships and other gear, it can help beef up the Philippines’ maritime surveillance abilities as a way to check China’s growing territorial ambitions in both the South and East China seas.

The the Japan Maritime Self Defense Force Lockheed (Kawasaki) P-3C "Orion" maritime patrol aircraft.

Cambodia in Talks to Buy Warships from China

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PHNOM PENH, -- The commander of the Royal Cambodian Navy yesterday revealed that Cambodia was in negotiations to buy two 140-metre heavy warships armed with modern weapon systems from China.

Admiral Tea Vinh made the revelation during a meeting with Chinese Rear Admiral Yu Manjiang at the Navy’s headquarters in Phnom Penh.

“The Royal Cambodian Navy needs two warships but communication is in process between the two defence ministries,” he said. “We will not use them for war – we will only use them to protect our territorial sovereignty. Cambodia should not be looked down on by its neighbours.”

During the meeting, Vinh also reminded Manjiang that Cambodia stayed on China’s side in the South China Sea dispute. He said he didn’t talk about such issues because “the Royal Cambodian Navy has close ties to China and respects One China”.

Three Chinese warships carrying 737 sailors docked in Preah Sihanouk province on Monday and are scheduled to leave on Friday. The Chinese navy personnel are undertaking joint exercises with the Cambodian Navy during the visit.

The People's Liberation Army Navy Cangzhou (537) Type 053H2 Jianghu-III class frigate.

Israel Arming Philippines’ Attack Crafts with Missiles

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MANILA, -- Israeli firm Rafael Advanced Defense Systems will be arming Philippine Navy’s upcoming three Multi-purpose Attack Crafts (MPAC) to be built by the partnership between Filipino shipbuilder Propmech Corporation and Taiwanese builder Lung Teh Shipbuilding Corporation.

According to the Notice of Award issued by the Department of National Defense, Rafael’s proposal for the MPAC (Lot 2) Weapons System and Missiles Acquisition Project worth PhP 594,319,550 was accepted.

According to reports, the Israeli firm will provide 3 Mini-Typhoon remote-controlled naval stabilized gun and SPIKE-ER launchers and missiles.

According to Rafael, Mini-Typhoon gun was designed for day and night operation, especially designed for fast maneuvering patrol boats. The system provides day and night observation, operation, and accurate firing capabilities.

The SPIKE-ER is a guided weapon which is the extended long-range version of the Spike family, capable of defeating targets at a range of up to 8 kilometers. “This missile is designed for installation on land vehicles, helicopters and naval platforms,” Rafael said.

Mini-Typhoon has a variant which incorporates a machine gun and surface-to-surface missiles.

Lot 1, the project for three attack crafts, is expected to be completed within one year. These MPACs will be capable of storing 2,000 rounds for 12.7mm, 4,000 rounds for 7.62mm ammunition and 10 canisters of surface-to-surface missiles.

The Rafael Typhoon MLS-ER naval missile system includes SPIKE-ER, an EO-guided multipurpose missile exceeding a combat range of up to 8km (4.3nm) with pinpoint accuracy.

Australia to replace Tigers in mid-2020s

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CANBERRA, -- Australia will replace its fleet of 22 Airbus Helicopters Tiger armed reconnaissance rotorcraft in the mid-2020s with a mix of manned and unmanned assets.

The disclosure was made in Australia’s 2016 defence whitepaper. Other requirements include the planned acquisition of light helicopters for special forces use, and a plan to explore the possibility of a long-range combat search and rescue asset.

“Armed reconnaissance helicopter operations will rely increasingly on intelligence and mission data and access to the common operating picture and other real time data for effective integration with joint forces,” says the whitepaper.

“The Tiger has had a troubled history – essential upgrades are programmed to maintain the capability’s effectiveness. Defence will invest in a future armed reconnaissance capability to replace the Tiger, which could include manned or unmanned systems or a combination of both, to be introduced from the mid-2020s.”

Canberra also plans to obtain “light helicopters” that can be easily transported aboard the Boeing C-17 strategic transport.

“A new capability for the ADF will be introduced with the acquisition of dedicated light helicopters to support Special Forces operations,” says the whitepaper. “These light helicopters can be rapidly deployed in C-17s, and can insert, extract and provide fire support for small teams of special forces undertaking tasks ranging from tactical observation through to counter-terrorism missions, or hostage recovery.”

Another new capability Canberra plans to explore in the 2020s is “a long-range, aero-medical evacuation and combat search and rescue aircraft.”

The whitepaper did not explicitly state if this would be fixed-wing aircraft or a helicopter, but it requires that it be “capable of operating with the amphibious ships.”

In addition, Canberra confirmed its interest in three additional CH-47F Chinooks, taking its fleet of the twin rotor type to 10. The US government approved a Foreign Military Sales (FMS) case for this in December 2015.

The Royal Australian Army Tiger ARH (Armed Reconnaissance Helicopter) in 2015.

2017: Vietnam Navy will Have 17 Modern Missile Ships

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HANOI, -- Straight up is defined modern and robust investment priorities, by 2017, the Navy will have on the service 17 advanced rocket ship.

(4) Missile Escort Gepard-3.9

Following the first pair of ships of Gepard 011-Dinh Tien Hoang and 012-Ly Thai missile escort vessel, 2nd pairs (units 3 & 4) being built by Zelenodolsk Shipyard (Russia) to urgently complete Navy handed over to Vietnam in 2017.

Progress is a bit slower than the original for several reasons, including the failure of Ukraine not to handed over to the Russian engine mount aboard Gepard. But then, both Vietnam and Russia jointly resolve this issue satisfactorily way.

Although not released details, but most likely the next Gepard vessel will be fitted with MTU engines originating in Germany. Earlier, Germany's partners to provide at least 2 MTU-8000 diesel engines for ships BPS-500's first domestically built in Vietnam.

Reportedly, this is the 2nd pair of vessels added submarine hunting ability, officially turn them into rocket ships versatile protector perfectly true, just anti-ship, submarine hunting recently, just as the command ship records or naval strike group ready to attack the invaders.

Russian media also reported, most likely in the near future Vietnam Navy ships will set paired 3rd Gepard (the No. 5 & 6), but perhaps the parties are still in the process of completing discussions design should contract has not yet been formally signed.

There is news that the next pair of ships, beyond anti-ship, submarine hunting, they will be equipped with air defense missile vertical launch, longer range, formed relatively strong air defense umbrella to cover Vietnam Navy ships operating at sea.

(8) Molniya Corvettes

As of early 2016, had all six boats Molniya be handed over to the Vietnam Navy. 2 of which are built in Russia and 4 units built in Vietnam by the corporation Bason construction under license and technology transfer, supervised by the Russian side.

3rd vessel Molniya pair (the No. 5 & 6) are also officers, engineers and skilled workers of Ba Son complete urgently to conduct testing, commissioning and handover to the navy unit use this right in 2016.

It is expected that after the phase 1 close 6 ships of this type, Ba Son Corporation will implement phase 2 with a 4-6 series next Molniya ships with advanced configuration and more powerful weapons.

(4) Tarantul Fast Attack Missile

In the final stages of 1990 and early 2000, Vietnam navy received four fast attack missile ship Tarantul, the forerunner of today's Molniya vessels.

This is the rocket ship was deployed but the Russian side is not completed by many different reasons. Vietnam has successfully acquired the vessel, initially acquainted with modern missile boats, as a foundation for mastering the reception and more modern ships.

We can, in a few years, with the study of anti-ship missiles successfully KCT-15, this can Tarantul vessels will be upgraded to improve the firepower, continue to serve in the Vietnam Navy add a few more decades.

(1) BPS-500 Fast Attack Missile

Shipbuilding project fast attack missile BPS-500 has been postponed for reasons both subjective and objective, after just finishing is a unique one.

The project, which has helped draw more experience in choosing the type of ship, armament comes, is a prerequisite for shipbuilding Project M, ie the Molniya modern ships.

Expected in the near future, ships will be upgraded to maximize the speed, the power of anti-ship missile, meet the requirements of maritime warfare in the new situation.

In addition to the modern rocket ship above, at present, on the service of Vietnam Navy ships also have some OSA-II class missile was put into use for quite some time.

In the future, when the number of Vietnam ship missiles more are added, they will be able to archive, taken as the reserve force.

The Vietnam People's Navy Tarantul Fast Attack Craft - Missile l FAC-M (HQ-376).