Friday, November 21, 2008

China, India and Russia will increasingly challenge US influence

US global dominance 'set to wane' (NSI News Source Info) November 22, 2008: The US will face more competition at the top of a multi-polar global system US economic, military and political dominance is likely to decline over the next two decades, according to a new US intelligence report on global trends. The National Intelligence Council (NIC) predicts China, India and Russia will increasingly challenge US influence. It also says the dollar may no longer be the world's major currency, and food and water shortages will fuel conflict. However, the report concedes that these outcomes are not inevitable and will depend on the actions of world leaders. It will make sombre reading for President-elect Barack Obama, the BBC's Jonathan Beale in Washington says, as it paints a bleak picture of the future of US influence and power. The US will remain the single most important actor but will be less dominant Global Trends 2025 "The next 20 years of transition to a new system are fraught with risks," says Global Trends 2025, the latest of the reports that the NIC prepares every four years in time for the next presidential term. Washington will retain its considerable military advantages, but scientific and technological advances; the use of "irregular warfare tactics"; the proliferation of long-range precision weapons; and the growing use of cyber warfare "increasingly will constrict US freedom of action", it adds. Nevertheless, the report concludes: "The US will remain the single most important actor but will be less dominant." Nuclear weapons use The NIC's 2004 study painted a rosier picture of America's global position, with US dominance expected to continue. But the latest Global Trends report says that rising economies such as China, India, Russia and Brazil will offer the US more competition at the top of a multi-polar international system. NIC REPORT The EU is meanwhile predicted to become a "hobbled giant", unable to turn its economic power into diplomatic or military muscle. A world with more power centres will be less stable than one with one or two superpowers, it says, offering more potential for conflict. Global warming, along with rising populations and economic growth will put additional strains on natural resources, it warns, fuelling conflict around the globe as countries compete for them. "Strategic rivalries are most likely to revolve around trade, investments and technological innovation and acquisition, but we cannot rule out a 19th Century-like scenario of arms races, territorial expansion and military rivalries," the report says. "Types of conflict we have not seen for a while - such as over resources - could re-emerge." There will be greater potential for conflict in the future, the NIC says Such conflicts and resource shortages could lead to the collapse of governments in Africa and South Asia, and the rise of organised crime in Eastern and Central Europe, it adds. And the use of nuclear weapons will grow increasingly likely, the report says, as "rogue states" and militant groups gain greater access to them. But al-Qaeda could decay "sooner than people think", it adds, citing the group's growing unpopularity in the Muslim world. "The prospect that al-Qaeda will be among the small number of groups able to transcend the generational timeline is not high, given its harsh ideology, unachievable strategic objectives and inability to become a mass movement," it says. The NIC does, however, give some scope for leaders to take action to prevent the emergence of new conflicts. "It is not beyond the mind of human beings, or political systems, [or] in some cases [the] working of market mechanisms to address and alleviate if not solve these problems," said Thomas Fingar, chairman of the NIC. And, our correspondent adds, it is worth noting that US intelligence has been wrong before.

New Japanese Missiles Shown at Formal Review

New Japanese Missiles Shown at Formal Review
(NSI News Source Info) November 21, 2008: A ceremonial review of the Japan Air Self-Defense Force (JASDF) last month included the static display of two new Japanese air-to-air missiles that are now entering service on the JASDF’s F-15J interceptors. The AAM-4 is an active-radar-guided replacement for the AIM-7M Sparrow.
It has been under development by Mitsubishi and the Japan Defense Agency (JDA) for about 10 years. The AAM-5 is a more recent product of this partnership and is billed as a high off-boresight replacement for the AIM-9L Sidewinder and its Japanese equivalent, the AAM-3.
Japan has started a multi-stage upgrade of its F-15 fleet, which will eventually include a new active-scan radar and infrared search-and-track system. Japan is also shopping for a new fighter, but the JDA recently postponed a formal solicitation until next year, in the hope that the Obama administration might ask Congress to relax a ban on exporting the stealthy F-22 Raptor.
The formal review took place at Hyakuri airbase near Tokyo, and featured an address by recently appointed Prime Minister Taro Aso. He noted that Japanese forces were now deployed on four international security operations, with more likely.
Ironically, the Japanese government was obliged to remove the chief of the JASDF just two weeks after the review. General Toshio Tamogami was dismissed for writing a magazine article that downplayed Japan’s role as aggressor before and during World War II.

EADS Seeks Early Go-ahead for Advanced UAV

EADS Seeks Early Go-ahead for Advanced UAV
(NSI News Source Info) November 21, 2008: New information on UAV developments at EADS emerged during a recent media briefing day in Germany. The Military Air Systems unit has built a second Barracuda combat UAV demonstrator, and it will make its first flight from Goose Bay air base in Greenland next spring.
The first aircraft crashed in 2006 during an early test flight in Spain. The Barracuda air vehicle is part of a wider program named Agile UAV-NCE that is also investigating datalinks and other necessary network-centric technology.
The German government is partially funding the program, which has failed to attract other partners, except the Finnish subsidiary of EADS. Meanwhile, EADS officials are pushing for a quick decision on development of the Advanced UAV, a separate program to produce an all-European airborne surveillance system.
France, Germany and Spain have funded a study phase, during which EADS has dropped its early concept of a modular design with interchangeable short and long wings. The Advanced UAV has therefore emerged as a medium- to high-altitude platform with an 80-foot wingspan and an mtow of 12,000 pounds.
The payloads would still be interchangeable, and could weigh as much as 1,500 pounds. The officials said that, given a go-ahead by the middle of next year, the Advanced UAV could be flying by early 2013 and operational by late 2015.Meanwhile, EADS is continuing to research a broad range of UAV-enabling technologies, such as sense-and-avoid, command and control, autonomy and communications.

Chinese fighter planes J-10 and J-11 form PLAAF's power points

Chinese fighter planes J-10 and J-11 form PLAAF’s power points (NSI News Source Info) November 21, 2008: China’s march to overhaul its front-line fighter fleet is making good progress, thanks to two major indigenous production programs involving the Chengdu J-10 and Shenyang J-11 models. The Chengdu product is an all-Chinese design that is now entering service in numbers. The J-11 is a license-built Sukhoi Su-27 Flanker, which in its latest production version incorporates important Chinese components. Together, the two types are providing the People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) with a “high/low” fighter mix, akin to those employed by the U.S. (F-15/F-16) and Russia (Su-27/MiG-29). The advanced nature of both types signals China’s intentions to transform its air force from one in which sheer numbers could carry the day to one in which a much reduced number of aircraft can maintain the force’s effectiveness through technology.

“Vigorous Dragon,” the J-10

Vigorous Dragon J-10 Called the “Vigorous Dragon,” the J-10 program dates back to 1983, when China initiated a multi-role fighter competition after the failure of several other programs. The Chengdu, Nanchang and Shenyang organizations submitted proposals and the first of these was chosen.For the J-10, Chengdu drew upon its earlier J-9 fighter design. It also took full advantage of the developments of various Western technologies that were acquired in the 1970s under the Peace Pearl program, and subsequently in deals with Israeli and European companies. In June 1997, the prototype was rolled out, making its maiden flight on March 23 the following year. An initial prototype batch of nine or 10 aircraft was followed by at least six preproduction aircraft. Exactly five years after the first flight, the aircraft’s test campaign officially ended in 2003, and a week later the first aircraft were delivered to the Chinese air force’s Operational Trials Regiment at Cangzhou.The first front-line user was the 131st Regiment of the 44th Air Division at Kunming, which received its first aircraft on July 13, 2004. Later that year initial operating capability was declared and deliveries have subsequently been made to additional regiments. After years of speculation and sightings, the existence of the aircraft was made public officially only on Dec. 29, 2006.Production of the J-10A single-seater runs at around 24 to 36 units per year and the production run is expected to reach 300 to 500 units. Partnering with the single-seater is a fully combat-capable two-seater, variously reported as the J-10B, J-10S or J-10AS. The first of two two-seater prototypes flew on Dec. 26, 2003, and since then J-10AS production has been interspersed with single-seaters on the assembly line. Trials have been performed with a retractable refueling probe, although this feature has not yet been seen on operational aircraft. J-11’s Flanker Pedigree In 1992 the PLAAF received the first of an eventual 36 single-seat Su-27SK and 40 two-seat Su-27UBK fighters to re-equip key air defense units. Experience with the Flanker led to the type being adopted as the primary heavy fighter for the PLAAF. As a result, China went on not only to procure 100 Su-30MKKs and Su-30MKK2s for the fighter-bomber and maritime roles, but also to negotiate a license to assemble Su-27SK fighters at Shenyang.In 1996 Sukhoi and Shenyang reached agreement to assemble 200 aircraft, initially from Russian KnAAPO-supplied kits followed by increasing local component manufacture. Designated J-11, the first was rolled out in 1998, although manufacturing problems led to a delay in full-scale production until 2000. Observers believe that 96 standard J-11s were produced by 2003. The following year it was reported that production stopped at around 100 aircraft and that the J-11 no longer satisfied Chinese requirements. Under the terms of the original coproduction agreement there was no technological transfer for avionics or engines, and they had to be bought from Russia.While production of the baseline J-11 was under way, Shenyang began work on an advanced version known as the J-11B, with Chinese engines and avionics. The locally developed WS-10A Taihang engine was tested in an Su-27SK and has been fitted to trial versions of the J-11B. The improved aircraft also has an indigenous radar housed in a new style radome and the type is compatible with a range of Chinese weapons. J-11Bs have undergone tests since 2003, while the radar was tested in a modified Shaanxi Y-8 (An-12). Engine Issues China’s desperate search for a successful modern fighter turbofan reaches back decades, with a string of failures. In the 1970s and 1980s, Western technology was acquired in the shape of the Rolls-Royce Spey and the CFM International CFM56. The latter is thought to have provided the starting point for what became the Shenyang WS-10 turbofan. This engine was intended to power the J-10, although development was so slow it became obvious that it would not be ready in time for the new fighter. In the early 1990s the embattled WS-10 program gained breathing space thanks to the Sukhoi fighter deal, which provided access to the Salyut (Lyulka) AL-31F engine that powers the Su-27. Negotiations soon began to procure AL-31Fs for the J-10. The first few prototypes flew with development WS-10s, but subsequent aircraft have been powered by the Salyut AL-31FN–a modified version of the Flanker engine with gearbox relocated to underneath to match the J-10’s single-engine requirements. There have been four orders for the AL-31FN, the first reportedly totaling between 10 and 50, while the three subsequent purchases cover 254 engines.Meanwhile, WS-10 development continued, including an increase in thrust to produce the WS-10A Taihang. As the Chinese engine was seen as a potential alternative to the AL-31F, the dimensions were kept the same as the Russian powerplant. Flight tests began in 2002, with one engine replacing an AL-31F in a test Su-27SK. The model was certified in 2006. It now appears that J-11 production will use the WS-10A, while for the foreseeable future the J-10A will retain the Salyut powerplant. However, it is a stated aim to fit the WS-10A in the J-10. This program has ramifications in the export market, as a Taihang-powered J-10 would be an “all-Chinese” fighter completely free of outside export restrictions. Missile Ready Both the J-10 and J-11B are adapted to carry the PL-12 active-radar air-to-air missile (equivalent to the U.S. AMRAAM), as well as earlier Chinese weapons such as the PL-8 (similar to Rafael Python 3) and the PL-11 (semi-active radar honing missile based on the Italian Aspide). Both types also have an impressive air-to-ground capability and are being developed to carry a range of precision weapons.According to reports in the Chinese media, the J-10 and Flanker have met several times in mock combats, with the J-10 reportedly coming out on top in most engagements. This indicates not only its superior flight control system, but also highlights the capabilities of the aircraft’s indigenous avionics. However, the Flanker scores well in terms of range/load characteristics.

Will Russia cancel aircraft carrier deal with India?

Will Russia cancel aircraft carrier deal with India? (NSI News Source Info) November 21, 2008: As the Sevmash shipyard in Severodvinsk, Arkhangelsk Oblast, is preparing for the moving of the aircraft carrier Admiral Gorshkov from the dry dock to the water, tough bargaining over sales conditions now face Russian and Indian defence officials.
Construction of aircraft carrier
Russia is significantly toughening conditions for the sales of the vessel, which originally was to be handed over the Indian Navy in 2008. A contract on the sales of the Admiral Gorskov was signed in 2004. However, the Russian shipyard has been unable to complete the vessel in line with contract time period and contract price. Now, the Russians demand more time and 2 billion USD extra money for the job. The new contract conditions spark speculations that Russia might actually try to keep the vessel in its own fleet. According to Russian defence plans, the country will need to build several aircraft carriers over the next ten years. The sales of the Admiral Gorshkov to India come highly inconvenient for the current Russian defence establishment. According to The Times of India, the Indian government is willing to pay "substantially more" for the 44,570-tonne Gorshkov, which is crucial to its plan of having two operational `carrier battle-groups' by the middle of the next decade. However, the 2 billion USD cost escalation which is being quoted by Russia is proving a little hard to swallow, the newspaper writes. Analysts say that Russia is "arm-twisting" India on the matter. Under the original deal, India was to get a fully-refurbished Gorshkov -- renamed INS Vikramaditya after India paid an initial 500 million USD -- with 16 MiG-29K fighters by August 2008. Russian Embassador to India, Vyacheslav Trubnikov, says to The Times of India that cost escalation is unavoidable due to the "rise in prices of everything", while denying Russia was trying to squeeze India on the matter.
Additional Info
The Admiral Gorshkov returns? Ilya Kramnik, Military commentator November 21, 2008 MOSCOW, Nov. 21 - The transfer of the aircraft carrier Vikramaditya, formerly known as Admiral Gorshkov, to India has been planned for several years already. Although the warship, under refurbishment since 2004, was to join the Indian navy in 2008, the carrier's update is behind schedule. A heavy increase in the cost of both labor and components plus the Sevmash facility's lack of experience in dealing with large surface ships have all contributed to the delay. In spring 2007, the announcement that the transfer of the Admiral Gorshkov to India would not take place before 2010 was followed by protracted talks on the price and term of the contract. Verbal agreement on major issues was announced several times, though no final agreement has yet been achieved. On Nov. 13, Sevmash's announcement that the updated carrier would soon be afloat was followed by a notice that the warship could join the Russian navy if no agreement on costs is reached. Sevmash deputy CEO Sergei Novoselov said at least $ 2 billion are needed to complete the work on the ship. Meanwhile India reported that it is prepared to allocate no more than a few hundred million dollars for the project. It is unclear when and how will this argument end. Most likely it will happen before the end of this year. What will it mean for Russia if the ship doesn't end up in India? On the one hand, a failure to meet commitments to a foreign partner would hit Russia's reputation. On the other hand, a possible decision to provide funding to complete the ship and return it to the Russian navy would favor both the country's defense industry and the navy, which needs an aircraft carrier. The current state of the Russian armed forces requires an immediate increase in hardware even through reducing military exports, as was the case with the Iskander tactical missile system. The Iskander is not to be sold abroad until the country's army receives the required number of these launchers. Regarding the Admiral Gorshkov, what will this ship be like once completed? It will have a 38,000, 48,000 and 53,000 ton unloaded, standard and laden tonnage, respectively, and a 273-meter long flight deck. The vessel will carry 16 to 20 MiG-29 fighters and six to eight Kamov Ka-28/Ka-31 helicopters. If sold to India, the ship will also be able to carry HAL Tejas trainer aircraft and Dhruv light helicopters. Besides aviation, the warship will be fitted with Kinzhal air defense missiles and Kashtan air defense gun/missile systems. The updated ship will be closest in performance to the French nuclear-powered aircraft carrier Charles De Gaulle, which has a slightly lower laden tonnage of 43,000 tons and a higher endurance thanks to its power plant. The more rational design of the latter also provides more room on the hangar deck, 4,600 sq m compared to 2,900 on the Admiral Gorshkov, enough to contain up to 40 aircraft. The Russian ship, however, will be faster and, according to some experts, will have higher sea worthiness, ensuring aircraft operation in adverse weather. A significant advantage of the Admiral Gorshkov returning into service with the Russian navy would be that it could take to the sea as soon as early next decade, while an advanced aircraft carrier, if put into production in December 2008, would not be completed until 2014 or 2015 at best. The destiny of the aircraft carrier will be clear soon. It's hard to tell, though, which of the two possible outcomes will be best for Russia.

Russian Military Considers Buying Aerial Drones From Israel

Russian Military Considers Buying Aerial Drones From Israel (NSI News Source Info) Moscow - November 21, 2008: The Russian Defense Ministry confirmed on Friday that Russia was looking at purchasing pilotless aircraft from Israel, but a spokesman said a final decision had not been made. On Thursday, Russian MP Mikhail Musatov quoted General Staff chief Nikolai Makarov as saying: "The General Staff has decided that while we don't have such drones, over the next two to three years, we will buy them from Israel." But the Defense Ministry spokesman said Russia "must not forget about the support of domestic producers" and would buy only several samples of drones within the framework of military and technical cooperation between Russia and Israel. Lawmaker Musatov said earlier that the unmanned reconnaissance planes at issue were those used by Georgia during August offensive on its breakaway republic of South Ossetia. "These are unmanned reconnaissance planes, which had performed well in Georgia. They were used by Georgia at that time," he said. Numerous flights by reconnaissance drones over South Ossetia were reported by Russian peacekeepers before Georgia launched its military offensive against the region on August 8. Earlier reports said Georgia had acquired a total of 40 drones, worth around $2 million each, from Israel between 2006 and 2008.

Russian US Hostility Has Many Sources

Russian US Hostility Has Many Sources (NSI News Source Info) Brussels - November 21, 2008: Russia sees new threats from NATO and the United States, and they see new threats from Russia. And even where they see common dangers -- as in the case of potential and actual missile threats from Asia and the Middle East -- they cannot find common ground on how to deal with them. How do we reverse this steady escalation of tension and confrontation? The growing hostility has many sources. The atmospherics and style of bilateral diplomacy between Russia and the United States are hostage to an emotional climate quite incompatible with the needs of pragmatic diplomacy. And, for a mix of domestic and international political reasons, neither side has as much of an eye on mutual security as it claims. There is an ideological clash between U.S. views of the expansion of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (as the zone of democracies) and Russian views of its relationship with its periphery countries (as a web of quasi-permanent national and historical relationships from which Russia feels it cannot easily extricate itself nor is it emotionally predisposed to do so). Unfortunately, both sides will find it difficult to back down from their current positions. The Barack Obama campaign Web site labeled Russia "increasingly autocratic and bellicose." But at the same time, it promised a new style of diplomacy and talking through problems. "The United States is trapped by the Bush-Cheney approach to diplomacy that refuses to talk to leaders we don't like," stated the Web site. "Not talking doesn't make us look tough -- it makes us look arrogant, it denies us opportunities to make progress, and it makes it harder for America to rally international support for our leadership." The president-elect has promised a new comprehensive, vigorous and integrated Russia strategy that encompasses the entire region: "Russia today is not the Soviet Union, and we are not returning to the Cold War. Retrofitting outdated 20th century thinking to address this new 21st century challenge will not advance American national interests." This is what Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has asked for. But by threatening, within hours of Obama's victory, a Russian military response to the deployment of U.S. ballistic missile defenses in Eastern Europe, he won few new friends in Washington. "Establishing a new global security regime is grossly overdue," Medvedev said. "And it is especially important that we achieve results in the North Atlantic territory that comprises Russia, the European Union and the United States." He linked this to progress on bilateral arms reductions. There may be quick common ground to be found on a pause to the deployment of ballistic missile defense assets in Europe. Last month Michael McFaul, Obama's key adviser on relations with Russia, told Bloomberg News that Obama would pursue talks with Russia on this issue differently from the Bush administration. McFaul criticized the unilateral approach that the current administration had pursued at the expense of Russia's stated security interests. The window of opportunity may be present in the way Obama has framed his position on the missile defense system. According to McFaul, Obama "will support the missile defense plan if it works and if it can be financially feasible. Those are two big preconditions." This set of issues can be handled effectively at the official level. The opening groundwork already has been laid by Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen -- who may become one of Obama's principal Russia security policy advisers. At the height of the Russian-Georgian controversy, and in the midst of an election campaign, Mullen took the unusual step of meeting with his new Russian counterpart, Gen. Nikolai Makarov, in Helsinki. Despite the unprecedented character of the meeting, Mullen almost certainly had the full support of Defense Secretary Robert Gates for it. Sen. Chuck Hagel, R-Neb., is likely to be another voice to whom Obama will listen on the issue. According to blogger and foreign policy expert Steve Clemons, he has regularly "opposed false trade-offs between embracing Eastern European nations (and even helping to create new ones) and Russia's serious national priorities." It is in my view likely that the Gates/Mullen/Hagel view of how to deal with Russia will be in the ascendancy in an Obama administration, despite campaign rhetoric and recent events in Georgia.

Costa Rica urges global military cuts

Costa Rica urges global military cuts (NSI News Source Info) United Nations - November 21, 2008: Oscar Arias Sanchez, president of the unarmed state of Costa Rica, called on Wednesday for a global reduction of military spending as a matter of international security. The Security Council later adopted a non-binding resolution inviting other countries to follow this path. "The perverse logic that leads a poor nation to spend excessive sums on its armies, and not on its people, is exactly the antithesis of human security, and a serious threat to international security," said Arias in an address before the UN Security Council, over which Costa Rica presides this month. Although Costa Rica has no military, "it is not a naive nation," stressed Arias, a 1987 Novel Peace Prize laureate. "We have not come here for the abolition of all armies. We have not even come to urge the drastic reduction of world military spending, which has reached 3.3 billion dollars a day." He proposed instead that "a gradual reduction is not only possible, but also imperative, particularly for developing nations." The Costa Rican president decried the limited application of Article 26 of the UN Charter, which advocates international arms control as a means to avoid diverting human and economic resources. "Article 26 has been, until now, a dead letter in the vast cemetery of intentions for world peace," he argued, promoting stronger multilateralism instead. "As long as nations do not feel protected by strong regional organizations with real powers to act, they will continue to arm themselves at the expense of their people's development -- particularly in the poorest countries -- and at the expense of international security." Arias urged the Security Council to apply the Costa Rica Consensus, which forgives debt and provides aid for developing countries that spend more on human resources than the military. He also pressed the international body to support the Arms Trade Treaty, which would control international arms sales to prevent the illicit use of weapons. "The destructive power of the 640 million small arms and light weapons that exist in the world, 74 percent in the hands of civilians, has proven to be more lethal than nuclear weapons, and is one of the primary threats to national and international security," he said. The Security Council's non-binding text expressed concern over "increasing global military expenditure." The statement stressed "the importance of appropriate levels of military expenditure in order to achieve undiminished security for all at the lowest appropriate level of armaments" and called on countries to "devote as many resources as possible to economic and social development." Speaking to reporters after the statement was unanimously adopted, Jorge Urbina, UN permanent representative for Costa Rica, said he was satisfied with the outcome. "We are happy that the Council, after almost 60 years, has retaken Article 26," he said. "The Council recognizes that regulation of armaments and disarmament are important instruments for the promotion of peace and international security," he said. "The Council urges countries to invest in development, this is not usual language of the Council."

Gunmen attack Nigerian navy near Shell oil facility

Gunmen attack Nigerian navy near Shell oil facility (NSI News Source Info) PORT HARCOURT, Nigeria - November 21, 2008: Unknown gunmen attacked a navy houseboat in southern Nigeria protecting a Royal Dutch Shell crude oil flow station on Friday, a military spokesman said.
Nigerian Militants
The attack at the Nembe Creek flow station in Bayelsa state in the western Niger Delta took place at around 3 a.m. (0200 GMT), Rabe Abubakar, spokesman for the joint military task force said. He said the Shell facility itself was not damaged. "There is no report so far of any (deaths) but we are collecting more details," Abubakar said. A security source working in the oil industry said four naval personnel were injured and receiving treatment while three more were unaccounted for. Recent attacks by militants on oil facilities in the Niger Delta had largely been focused on Rivers state in the eastern Niger Delta but there have been a growing number of violent incidents in Bayelsa and Delta states to the west. The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) has said it believes the military are preparing to attack militant camps in Bayelsa and Delta and warned that it will end its ceasefire and resume attacks on the oil industry if it is provoked.