Malaysian Armed Forces Conducts Starstreak Firing Trial Ahead of System's Service Entry

11:41:00 PM Add Comment
KUALA LUMPUR, -- The Malaysian Armed Forces carried out a live firing exercise on March 28 with the Thales Starstreak missile as part of its preparation for the 2018 service entry of the Starstreak Lightweight Multiple Launcher - Next Generation (LML-NG).

The firing took place at the Tanjung Logok Ground to Air Firing Range located in Peninsular Malaysia on the east coast of the southern state of Johor, with a total of three missiles fired by composite teams drawn from the Malaysian Army's 32nd Royal Artillery Regiment, the Royal Malaysian Navy's Base Air Defence Unit, and the Royal Malaysian Air Force's 401 GBAD (Ground Base Air Defence) Squadron. The missiles were fired at a Meggitt BTT-3 Banshee target drone, with two firings declared as hits. A fourth launch was called off due to time constraints.

The live missiles had only arrived in Malaysia on 25 March and no live firing practice had been carried out prior to the event. Defence Minister Hishammuddin Hussein, who was observing the exercise, told a media conference there that the live missiles formed part of the GBP100 million (USD142 million) Starstreak contract that Malaysia formally ratified on 15 September last year at the DSEI exhibition in London. Under the contract Malaysia's stock of phased-out Starburst missiles were exchanged for Starstreak rounds for the Malaysian armed forces to use for practice firings. The minister did not disclose the number of missiles exchanged.

The last of Malaysia's Starburst systems, operated by all three services, were phased out from the RMAF's two GBAD squadrons in 2013.

During a briefing held prior to the firing, it was stated that a total of 26 personnel had so far been trained on the Starstreak system at a Thales facility in the United Kingdom. Additional Starstreak firings are scheduled for October at Tanjung Logok.

Malaysia's Starstreak contract, which covers an undisclosed number of launchers, also includes the Starstreak/Rapid Ranger system and the LML-NG system's integration onto a Global Komited Toyota-based 4x4 GKM1 light utility vehicle.

The Global Komited GKM1 Starstreak LML-NG carrier prototype on static display at the Tanjung Logok Ground to Air Firing Range during Starstreak missile firings on 28 March.

Philippines mulls submarines as China row simmers

6:47:00 AM Add Comment
MANILA, -- The Philippines may invest in its first-ever submarine fleet to help protect its territory in the disputed South China Sea, President Benigno Aquino said on Wednesday (Mar 30).

The impoverished nation, which has never before operated submarines and until now relied largely on US surplus ships, has been ramping up defence spending in response to China's military expansion in the region.

China claims almost all of the South China Sea despite conflicting claims from the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Taiwan and Brunei.

Aquino said the Philippines could lose control of its entire west coast should China succeed in enforcing its claims.

"We've had to accelerate the modernisation of our armed forces for self-defence needs," he told reporters. "We are a natural transit point into the Pacific and we are now studying whether or not we do need a submarine force," he said.

Beijing has reclaimed more than 2,900 acres (1,174 hectares) from the South China Sea in less than two years in an intensive island-building campaign, and has deployed surface-to-air missiles on a disputed island there, according to Taipei and Washington.

China's military dwarfs that of the Philippines, despite Aquino's efforts to raise defence spending to record levels and the acquisition of new warships and fighter jets.

This year China's proposed defence spending of 954 billion yuan (US$147 billion) is about 59 times that of the Philippines.

The Philippines has turned to its long time ally the United States and former wartime foe Japan to bolster its military hardware. It has also asked a United Nations-backed arbitration panel to declare China's sea claims illegal, with a ruling expected later this year.

China boycotted the arbitration hearings at The Hague.

Aquino said the South China Sea dispute "concerns every country" since it could disrupt trade in shipping lanes through which about a third of the world's oil passes. "The uncertainty breeds instability. Instability does not promote prosperity," he said.

But while the Philippines is fortifying its defences, Aquino - who will step down in June when his single six-year term ends - said that as an impoverished nation the government would prioritise "butter rather than guns".

"We have no illusions of ever trying to match, trying to engage anybody in an arms race or in a military build-up," he said.

In a separate development a defence department official confirmed that the Philippines had sealed an agreement to acquire two anti-submarine helicopters.

The Anglo-Italian AW159 helicopters will be delivered in a little over a year, said defence undersecretary Fernando Manalo, adding they would be the nation's first. He did not disclose the cost.

Type 209/1400 diesel-electric attack submarine of the Turkish Navy.

R/V Melville to arrive in PHL in June

10:31:00 PM Add Comment
MANILA, -- The R/V Melville, which was one of the two ships pledged by President Barack Obama to the Philippines last November, is expected to arrive in the country by third week of June.

This was confirmed by Philippine Navy (PN) spokesperson Capt. Lued Lincuna in message to the PNA Tuesday.

He said that the 30 PN contingent, which will serve as the R/V Melville's sailing crew, has already arrived in San Diego, California last March 21.

"(The crew) are scheduled for familiarization and orientation on the operation and maintenance of various equipment aboard the vessel," Lincuna said.

The R/V Melville will be manned by the above-mentioned PN personnel and is expected to be in the Philippines by third week of June, he added.

Obama pledged to donate the R/V Melville and USGCC Boutwell to the Philippines during his visit to the country during the APEC Leaders' Summit last November 17, 2015.

The R/V Melville (T-AGOR-14) -- is a research vessel operated by Scripps Institution of Oceanography for oceanographic research.

She is the oldest active vessel in the academic research fleet, collectively known as the University-National Oceanographic Laboratory System.

The R/V Melville has a displacement of 2,944 long tons and a length of 279 feet and a beam of 46 feet.

The ship has a draft of 16 feet and 6 inches.

Her propulsion system consists of two 1,385 hp Propulsion General Electric motors, Bow Thruster: 900 hp retractable Azimuth-compensating bow thruster, Two 1385 hp Z-Drive Lips propellers, giving her a cruising speed of 11. 7 knots (21.7 kilometers) and a maximum speed of 14 knots (26 kilometers).

The R/V Melville has a range of 10,061 nautical miles (18,633 kilometers).

The USNS Melville (T-AGOR-14) research vessel operated by Scripps Institution of Oceanography for oceanographic research.

New Belarus air defense missile system Kvadrat-M in service with Myanmar armed forces

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NAYPYIDAW, -- During the military parade, Sunday March 27, 2016, Myanmar has unveiled its new air defense missile system "Kvadrat-M" developed and designed by the Belarus Defense Industry. Mynamar is the first foreign customer of the Kvadrat-M.

The Kvadrat-M mobile air defense system showed during the military parade in Myanmar is based on the MZKT-69222 6x6 military truck chassis. The vehicle is fitted with a modernized version of the 2K12 Kub surface-to-air missile (NATO code SA-6 Gainful).

Three missiles are carried on a turntable that can be traversed through a full 360º with the missile elevated on their launchers to a maximum of +85º.

The upgraded Kvadrat uses a new digital moving target selection system featuring a suppression coefficient increased up to 28 - 30 dB.

The system is now equipped with tracked target classification system able to detect different type of threats as aircraft, helicopter, cruise missile and other aerial threats.

The Kvadrat-M could use the 9M38M1 or 9M317E missiles also used by the Russian-made air defense systems Buk-M1 and Buk-M2.

The 9M38M1 is a surface-to-air missile using active homing when approaching the target. It has a range from 3.3 to 35 km at an latitude from 15,000 m to 22,000 m. It can carry a warhead of 70 kg which is triggered by a radar proximity fuze.

The 9M317 missile, compared to the 9M38M1 missile incorporated into the Buk-M1 system, has an extended engagement envelope of up to 45 km in slant range and up to 25 km in altitude and horizontal range, as well as a broader range of targets which can be engaged. 

Range of targets with RCS = 5 m² is 40 km. The different appearance from the 9M38M1 includes significantly shorter length of the wing chord. It provides for the use of inertial-corrected control system with semi-active radar seeker 9B-1103M-guided navigation on a proportionate basis.

New Belarus Kvadrat-M air defense missile at Myanmar military parade, Sunday, March 27, 2016.

China has deployed YJ-62 anti-ship missiles to Woody Island

6:43:00 AM Add Comment
BEIJING, -- Recent imagery suggests China has significantly enhanced its military capabilities in the South China Sea by deploying the land-based version of the 400 km-range YJ-62 anti-ship cruise missile (ASCM) to Woody Island in the Paracel Islands.

Posted on 20 March 2016 on the popular Weibo blog, the image of a launching YJ-62 ASCM is consistent with photos copied from one of the many monthly Chinese military magazines that appear on Chinese military issue web pages. The image of the launching ASCM also shows a radar dome that the Chinese blogger makes a strong case for being on Woody Island.

The China Aerospace Science and Industry Corporation (CASIC) YJ-62 was likely deployed at about the same time the HQ-9 surface-to-air missile (SAM) system was first detected on the island in February 2016.

A land-based version of the YJ-62 has been deployed by the Coastal Defence troops of the People's Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) since about 2008. Three YJ-62 ASCMs are carried on a CASIC-Sanjiang transporter-erector-launcher (TEL).

First seen in model form in 2006 under its export designation C-602, the YJ-62 also arms the Type 052C destroyer launched in 2003. Chinese brochures credit the C-602 with a range of 280 km, while the version in service with the PLAN is estimated to have at least a 400 km range.

The anti-ship version of the YJ-62 is cued by long-range radar or data from aircraft or satellites, then uses an internal nose-mounted radar for terminal guidance.

At the 2012 Zhuhai Airshow CASIC introduced the 290 km-range CM-602G land-attack variant, which has a 480 kg warhead as opposed to the 300 kg warhead carried by the C-602.

The People's Liberation Army Navy Coastal Defense Force YJ-62 Long Range Anti Ship Cruise Missile (ACSM) coastal defence missile system.

USS Ohio in Subic, USS Decatur in Manila & USS Frank Cable in Cebu

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SUBIC BAY FREEPORT, – The USS Ohio (SSGN-726), lead ship of the Ohio-class submarines of the United States of America, docked here this morning with a crew of 150 officers and enlisted Sailors.

The routine port call of the 560-foot long submarine highlights the strong historic, community, and military relations between the United States and the Republic of the Philippines. It is the fourth United States vessel to bear the name of the seventeenth state of the union.

The third Ohio (USS Ohio BB-12) was a battleship that was commissioned in 1904, and which sailed to Manila in 1905 where then U.S. Secretary of War William Howard Taft and his party boarded for a “Far Eastern inspection tour.”

Two other U.S. Navy ships, the destroyer USS Decatur, and the submarine tender USS Frank Cable, are arriving in the Philippines today, particularly in Manila and Cebu, respectively, for routine maintenance, replenishment of supplies, rest and recreation, and community assistance and outreach activities.

The US submarine USS Ohio (R) approaches the US submarine tender USS Emory S. Land (L) this morning at Alava Pier in Subic Bay for a routine port call that highlights the strong historic, community, and military relations between the United States and the Republic of the Philippines. Subic Bay, now a Freeport, was a former U.S. Naval Base, until 1992, it's largest outside the U.S. mainland.

NASA Launches First Philippine Satellite Diwata-1 to ISS

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MANILA, -- The Philippines' first microsatellite, the Diwata-1, was officially launched to the International Space Station (ISS) Wednesday at around 11:05 a.m. (Philippine Standard Time).

Diwata-1 is among the 3,395 kilograms (7,485 lb) of science gear, crew supplies and vehicle hardware cargo that Cygnus spacecraft lift off on a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket from Space Launch Complex 41 in Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, USA, at 11:05 p.m. of March 22, Eastern Standard Time.

The launch was part of National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) commercial provider Orbital ATK's fifth mission, and Cygnus' second flight atop the United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket.

Officials from Florida earlier forecast a 90 percent chance of favorable weather for the launch of Orbital ATK’s Cygnus spacecraft to the ISS.

Also, the crew explored advanced space science and reviewed their roles and responsibilities in the event of an emergency aboard the station.

Minutes before the launch, NASA also cited good weather and no interference from the sun.

At the ISS, Diwata-1 will be housed in the Japanese Experiment Module (JEM), nicknamed "Kibo." Towards the end of April, the JEM Small Satellite Orbital Deployer (J-SSOD) will release Diwata-1 into space at an altitude of 400 kilometers from the earth’s surface.

The country's first microsatellite is expected to be in orbit for approximately 18-20 months and will be imaging the country twice daily.

Diwata-1 has four cameras that would continuously take pictures of the Philippines. These images will be used for research and in remote sensing.

Remote sensing “is a necessary technology for monitoring weather, disasters, as well as environmental issues” as described by Kohei Cho, Asian Association on Remote Sensing (AARS) general secretary.

Remote sensing has been proven to be capable of monitoring El Niño, too, according to Enrico Paringit during the 36th Asian Conference on Remote Sensing (ACRS) held in the Philippines last year.

Diwata-1 was assembled by nine young Filipino engineers who were stationed in Japan to undergo an extensive course about microsatellite. The team had almost a year to finish the assembly and testing of Diwata-1 that weighs 50 kg and is about the size of a "balikbayan box".

The microsatellite passed the component tests, first vibration tests, post-vibration electrical tests, off-gas test and fit checking according to PCIEERD. There was a continuous functionality tests of modules and sensors and software optimization.

The Philippines' first microsatellite, the Diwata-1 also known as PHL-Microsat-1 Earth Observation Microsatellite. Diwata-1 can be used for disaster management purposes such as in accessing damage from typhoons and rainstorms. It will also have applications in agriculture, forest cover monitoring and national security. The satellite can take a daily average of 3,500 high resolution photos, will include images of natural wonders of the Philippines, which the DOST plans to upload daily.

A United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket carrying Orbital ATK's robotic Cygnus cargo vessel rises off the launch pad at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida on March 22, 2016.

New SOC-R Boats for Thai Navy

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BANGKOK, --The Royal Thai Navy (RTN) received six Special Operations Craft - Riverine (SOC-R) on 18 March to replace aging Patrol Boat Riverine (PBR).

These 10m-long SOC-R boats were built by Marsun, the Thai dockyard that also built the first three M10 Mk I SOC-Rs in 2012. These latest M10 Mk II boats are designed to operate along inland waterways and in coastal areas, chiefly to support special operations.

Propulsion comes from two 420hp engines with waterjets offering maximum speeds of 40+kt. They carry five crewmen and eight troops. The heaviest possible armament consists of three .50-cal machine guns.

These new SOC-Rs of the Riverine Squadron will operate in inland and boundary waterways like the Mekong River and Golden Triangle.

Their missions are to keep the peace, prevent illegal immigration, human trafficking, drug smuggling or any actions that harm homeland security. The SOC-Rs also provide fire support in combat situations.

Additionally, the boats will be used in humanitarian relief missions and to protect the royal family and VIPs.

The RTN needs more than 40 SOC-Rs to replace the Riverine Squadron’s 39 aging PBRs, some of which are more than 30 years old. All will be locally built.

The Royal Thai Navy Special Operations Craft - Riverine boats.