27 June 2017

Think Tank: Sea, air, land and space updates (27-Jun-2017)

An unpainted Chinese Y-8Q/GX-6 ASW Aircraft during testing
Zoe Glasson, Sophie Qin, Madeleine Nyst and Patrick Kennedy
Sea State
Just in time for President Modi’s visit to Washington, the Trump administration has agreed to sell 22 Guardian drones to India, in a deal that’s been described as a ‘game changer’ for US–India relations. The drones would be a ‘force multiplier’ for the Indian Navy, improving its maritime surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities. Though yet to be approved in India, New Delhi reportedly sees the deal as ‘a key test of defence ties’. Defense News speculates that the sale of the unarmed Guardians could be a precursor to the purchase of armed drones—something India has sought previously but which is currently prohibited by US export laws. Finalising the deal is likely to require a fine balance between Trump’s “America First” platform and Modi’s “Make in India” policy.
Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) successfully test-fired its Long-Range Artillery system (LORA) on 20 June. LORA’s strength is its portability: it launches from a container that can be trucked onto the deck of a cargo ship. According to The Drive, LORA’s relative low-cost and plug-and-play nature means that a range of auxiliary ships ‘could suddenly become impromptu combatants’. IAI says ‘several deals’ for LORA are underway, but it remains to be seen who’s in the market for the platform.
And for the final Sea State reads this week, here are two great pieces: one about how noisy herrings are creating (submarine) confusion; and another about marauding orcas fleecing fisherman.

AUS: Update on HMAS Canberra and Adelaide

HMAS Adelaide and Canberra (© Australian DoD)
HMA Ships Adelaide and Canberra are due to complete their maintenance period this week after rectification of emergent issues with their propulsion systems.

HMAS Adelaide is due to leave the dry dock at Navy’s Fleet Base East today. Once undocked, HMAS Adelaide will undergo sea trials and a return to its operational capability program over the next few months.

HMAS Canberra completed initial propulsion sea trials in May, which together with advice from industry partners indicates Canberra is able to return to sea on the 29 Jun 17 and will participate in Exercise Talisman Sabre 2017.

NZ: Navy frigate to help out after US destroyer collision

HMNZS Te Kaha (Image: Wiki Commons)
The Royal New Zealand Navy frigate HMNZS Te Kaha is to extend its current deployment in Asian waters to support the United States Seventh Fleet.

This is in response to the recent collision between a Philippines’ container ship and the destroyer USS Fitzgerald, Defence Minister Mark Mitchell says. Seven US sailors were killed and the Fitzgerald sustained significant damage in the 17 June collision.

Announcing the deployment, Mr Mitchell extended the Government’s condolences on the tragedy.

“Our thoughts are very much with the bereaved families and the crew of the USS Fitzgerald after this terrible event,” he says.

USA: Mattis Meets With India's Prime Minister

DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, June 26, 2017 — Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and India Prime Minister Narendra Modi met here today to discuss the importance of the U.S.-India relationship and the role of both nations in cooperating to foster democratic laws and principles, chief Pentagon spokesperson Dana W. White said. 

In a statement summarizing the meeting, White said Mattis applauded India's long-term efforts to promote stability in the Indian Ocean region.

"The two pledged to continue the strong defense partnership between both nations and broaden military to military engagements," she added.

USA: Possible Foreign Military Sale to Australia for Gulfstream G550 Aircraft with Airborne ISR and EW (AISREW) mission systems

A G550 with an AISREW system installed under the fuselage
WASHINGTON, Jun. 26, 2017 - The State Department has made a determination approving a possible Foreign Military Sale to Australia for Gulfstream G550 Aircraft with Airborne Intelligence, Surveillance, Reconnaissance, and Electronic Warfare (AISREW) mission systems. The estimated cost is $1.3 billion. The Defense Security Cooperation Agency delivered the required certification notifying Congress of this possible sale on June 23, 2017.

The Government of Australia requested the possible sale of up to five (5) Gulfstream G-550 aircraft modified to integrate Airborne Intelligence, Surveillance, Reconnaissance, and Electronic Warfare (AISREW) mission systems, Global Positioning System (GPS) capability, secure communications, aircraft defensive systems; spares, including whole life costs of airborne and ground segments; aircraft modification and integration; ground systems for data processing and crew training; ground support equipment; publications and technical data; U.S. Government and contractor engineering, technical and logistics support services; flight test and certification; and other related elements of logistical and program support. The total estimated program cost is $1.3 billion.

USA: Possible Foreign Military Sale to the Government of India for C-17 transport aircraft

An Indian Air Force C-17 Globemaster in flight (File Photo)
WASHINGTON, Jun. 26, 2017 - The State Department has made a determination approving a possible Foreign Military Sale to the Government of India for C-17 transport aircraft. The estimated cost is $366.2 million. The Defense Security Cooperation Agency delivered the required certification notifying Congress of this possible sale today.

The Government of India has requested the possible sale of one (1) C-17 transport aircraft with four (4) Turbofan F-117-PW-100 engines. The sale would also include one (1) AN/AAR-47 Missile Warning System, one (1) AN/ALE-47 Countermeasures Dispensing System (CMDS), one (1) AN/APX-119 Identification Friend or Foe (IFF) Transponder, precision navigation equipment, spare and repair parts, maintenance, support and test equipment, publications and technical documentation, warranty, Quality Assurance, ferry support, U.S. Government and contractor engineering, logistics and technical support services, and other related elements of logistics and program support. The estimated cost is $366.2 million.

News Report: Cargo Ship Captain: USS Fitzgerald Ignored Warnings Before Deadly Crash

USS Fitzgerald after the collision with ACX Crystal (File Photo)
According to the captain of the Filipino cargo ship the ACX Crystal, which collided with the destroyer USS Fitzgerald on June 17, the American warship failed to respond to warning signals or take evasive action before the collision which killed seven US seamen.

The statement came by way of Dainichi Investment Corporation, the Japanese company that owns the Crystal. According to them, Captain Ronald Advincula stated that he signaled at the USS Fitzgerald with flashing lights after the warship "suddenly" changed course to cross his cargo ship's path.

Advincula says that the Fitzgerald then failed to change direction, while the cumbersome cargo ship in vain veered right to avoid it. The collision between the 9,000-ton destroyer and the 29,000-ton cargo vessel tore a hole in the underside of the Fitzgerald, flooding two sleeping compartments. Seven Americans were killed, making it the most fatal incident to befall a US Navy vessel since the al-Qaeda terrorist attack against the USS Cole in 2000 that killed seventeen.

In addition, three sailors including the ship's captain, Navy Commander Bryce Benson, were injured and had to be medivaced to the US Naval Hospital in Yokosuka, Japan. Benson and one of the sailors have since been discharged, while the third remains in the hospital. 

News Report: North Korean, Russian, Chinese Missile Tech Advances Raise Threat to US

The development of ballistic and cruise missile technology around the world has raised the potential threat level faced by Washington, even if the projectiles don’t carry nuclear warheads, according to a new US Defense Department report.

Missiles have seen “dramatic improvements” in location targeting, which “allows them to be used effectively with conventional warheads,” according to a National Air and Space Intelligence Center assessment shared with Bloomberg News prior to its public release. The aerial weapons are widely viewed internationally as “cost-effective weapons and symbols of national power,” the report said.

The US and its allies have repeatedly called on North Korea to halt its ballistic missile research and development, but Pyongyang has rejected any suggestions of this sort. A recent op-ed circulated through the North Korean media indicating that, regardless of convening diplomats of North and South Korea, Pyongyang would push forward on its quest to achieve intercontinental ballistic missile capability, Sputnik reported on Sunday.

News Report: Ex-South Korean President Park Reportedly Had Plot to Bring Down Kim Jong-un

The administration of former South Korean President Park Geun-hye had several scenarios drawn up to assassinate North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, according to a report by Japan’s Asahi Shimbun newspaper.

Park, who was succeeded by newly elected South Korean President Moon Jae-in in May following a corruption scandal and subsequent impeachment, had plans drawn up detailing several scenarios in which the leader of the People’s Democratic Republic of Korea (DPRK) could be brought down.

The scenarios included staged automobile accidents, train derailments and the staging of a coup, according to Asahi Shimbun.

Documents signed in 2015 by the previous South Korean president referred to the plans for an extrajudicial killing of Kim Jong-un as “regime change,” RT reported.

News Report: Tension Erupts as Chinese Troops Enter Indian Territory, Destroy Bunkers

A major scuffle has erupted along the India-China border as Chinese troops entered the Indian state of Sikkim and destroyed two Indian bunkers. Chinese troops also engaged in a fight with Indian troops, who are guarding the border at the location.

New Delhi (Sputnik) — Ever since newly-appointed Indian Army chief Bipin Rawat took charge, India has expedited work related to building movable modern bunkers along the border shared with China. Sputnik reported in January this year that the Indian Army was using hollow block structures for building hundreds of bunkers near Sikkim.

“The face-off has been going on in Doka La general area in Sikkim for the past 10 days and the Chinese troops have also stopped a batch of pilgrims proceeding on Kailash Mansarovar Yatra,” Indian defense ministry told to news agency PTI. Doka La is located at the tri-junction of Sikkim-Bhutan-Tibet. The situation remains tense despite a flag meeting held between senior army officers of both sides on June 20.