Thursday, July 3, 2014

India Has No Plan To Join Or Buy The US-led Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) Programme

India has no plans as of now to either join the US-led joint strike fighter (JSF) programme or buy the F-35 `Lightning-II' fifth-generation fighter aircraft (FGFA) when it finally becomes operational. "We cannot have two types of FGFA. We have already launched preliminary work for our FGFA after inking the $295 million preliminary design contract (PDC) with Russia last month,'' said a top defence ministry official on Friday. 

This comes in the wake of comments made by a top Pentagon official, undersecretary of defence for acquisition, technology and logistics Ashton Carter, in Washington that the US was open to Indian participation in its JSF project. Interestingly, the comments came during a function where an aggressive sales pitch was made for India to select either the American F/A-18 `Super Hornet' ( Boeing) or F-16 `Falcon' ( Lockheed Martin) over their European rivals in the ongoing IAF's medium multi-role combat aircraft (MMRCA) contest. 

The other 4.5-generation fighters in the hotly-contested race to bag the $10.4 billion MMRCA project, under which 18 jets will be bought off-the-shelf and another 108 will be manufactured in India under transfer of technology, are Eurofighter Typhoon, Swedish Gripen (Saab), French Rafale (Dassault) and Russian MiG-35 (United Aircraft Corporation). The IAF force matrix for the coming years revolves around the 270 Sukhoi-30MKIs contracted from Russia for around $12 billion, the 126 MMRCA and 120 indigenous Tejas Light Combat Aircraft, apart from upgraded MiG-29s and Mirage-2000s. In the decades ahead, the advanced stealth FGFA to be developed with Russia will be the mainstay of India's combat fleet. "Our FGFA will be cheaper than the F-35. Moreover, the intellectual property rights of the FGFA will equally and jointly vest on both India and Russia, with full access to the source code and the like,'' said another senior official. 

With a potent mix of super-manoeuvrability and supersonic cruising ability, the "swing-role'' FGFA will of course not come cheap. The cost of designing, infrastructure build-up, prototype development and flight testing has been pegged at around $11 billion, with India and Russia chipping in with $5.5 billion each. Over and above this, each of the 250-300 FGFA India hopes to begin inducting from 2020 onwards will cost around $100 million each. In all, India will spend upwards of $35 billion over the next two decades in its biggest-ever defence project till now. 

The Indian FGFA will primarily be based on the single-seater Sukhoi T-50, the prototype of which is already flying in Russia, but will include a twin-seater version and a more powerful engine with greater thrust. "Its complete design will be frozen by the end of the 18-month PDC. Six to seven of its prototypes should be flying by 2017. After that, there will be 2,500 hours of flight-testing over 25 months before the series production begins in 2019,'' he said.

Russia Seeks To Sell PAK-FA Stealth Fighter Jets To S. Korea

Russia has decided to enter Korea’s advanced jet acquisition project, which would be the biggest arms-procurement deal ever in the country, a defense official said Wednesday. 

“Russian aircraft manufacturer Sukhoi expressed its intent to compete in the fighter jet procurement project early this year,” Col. Wi Jong-seong of the Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) said. 

He said Sukhoi’s T-50 PAK-FA will vie with the F-15SE Silent Eagle from Boeing, the F-35 Lightning II f4rom Lockheed Martin and the Eurofighter Typhoon from the European Aeronautic Defense and Space Company (EADS). 

The T-50 PAK-FA and the F-35 Lightning II are fifth generation stealth fighters, while the remaining two are fourth generation jets with limited stealth capabilities. 

Earlier in the day, DAPA spokesman Son Hyeong-yeong announced that his agency has eased the criteria to allow more companies to bid for the FX-III project, under which Korea will purchase 60 high-end fighters with a budget of 8.29 trillion won ($7.86 billion). 

“We will set up strategies that will allow for the transfer of core technology and that will encourage competition,” he said. 

Insiders, however, say both the T-50 PAK-FA and Eurofighter Typhoon have a little chance in winning the bid as Korea’s alliance with the United States will be a decisive factor in the race. 

They say EADS offered a better deal in Korea’s last jet acquisition project in 2008 than its American competitor Boeing, but lost the bid due largely to political decisions. 

Boeing and Lockheed Martin, two of the largest defense contractors in the United States, say they have had a long industrial partnership with Korea and their fighters offer high compatibility with its existing weapons systems. 

EADS recently announced that it will offer Korea the chance to assemble and partly manufacture Eurofighter Typhoons in Korea in an apparent bid not to lose the FX-race again. 

“The first 10 deliveries will be assembled in Europe, while the next 24 will be built with components manufactured in Korea,” Erwin Obermeier, a senior advisor of export projects at EADS said, adding that the remainder will be assembled here. 

He also downplayed concerns over compatibility, saying all Korean fighters and Eurofighters are built to be inter-operable in the NATO environment. 

Korea has purchased 60 F-15s from Boeing, which won both the FX-I and II projects in 2002 and 2008 

Meanwhile, DAPA announced that Korea will spend 1.84 trillion won to acquire 36 attack helicopters from overseas. Col. Tan Myeong-hoon of DAPA said the AH-1W SuperCobra by Bell and AH-64D Block III from Boeing, will compete with the EC-665 Tiger from Eurocopter of France and the T-129 from Turkey. 

The winners of the FX-III and the attack helicopter bids will be announced in October next year.

Arms Sales and the Future of U.S.-Taiwan-China Relations

The outgoing Bush Administration made an 11th hour decision to notify the U.S. Congress on October 3—a day before Congress went into recess ahead of the groundbreaking November presidential election in the United States—that a raft of arms and weapons systems, which have been effectively frozen since December 2007, will be released for Taiwan. The passage of the arms package provided a temporary reprieve for Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou, whose approval rating since assuming office in May has plummeted to 23.6 percent in October (Global View, November 2008). The items released by the U.S. Defense Security Cooperation Agency, at the value of $6.4 billion, includes: 182 Javelin anti-tank missile; 30 Apache helicopters; four PAC-3 anti-missile batteries; 32 submarine-launched Harpoon missiles; and four E-2T radar plane upgrades. But more noticeable than the items released is the absence of the first phase of 8 diesel-powered submarines, Black Hawk helicopters, and two additional PAC-3 batteries that had been originally sought (United Daily News [Taiwan], October 5, 2008; Defense News, October 6). Taipei also requested 66 F-16 C/D jet fighters to add to its current inventory, but the Bush Administration has not received the letter of request for the reason that it would only process the above-mentioned package at the current stage.

The passage of the arms package was received with a sigh of relief in Taipei, which is concerned about the island's strained relations with the United States,and, had a decision lapsed to the next U.S. president, weary that the package would be approved at all. As expected, Beijing complained bitterly and suspended unspecified military exchange programs with the United States (United Daily News, October 8, 2008), but overall the sale did not upset Sino-U.S. relations, nor did it interrupt the momentum of reconciliatory gestures between the Kuomintang (KMT), the ruling party on Taiwan, and the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). However, the scaling-down of the arms package signifies subtle changes in the geopolitical landscape in East Asia, where the shifting center of gravity may affect the long-term interests of the United States and its relations with the nations in the region.

Arms Sale and Taiwan’s Defense

Although the items approved only represent a fraction of Taiwan's request and the value is half of what was originally sought, the package nonetheless improves Taiwan’s defense capability and reduces Taiwan’s widening military disparity vis-à-vis China. However, China’s military is rapidly modernizing, with its military defense budget has increased by double digit for more than 15 years while Taiwan's defense budget has remained low. Therefore, the arms package will be unable to offset the strategic changes in the depth projection of China’s military in the region and encirclement of Taiwan's sovereignty. Among Taiwan’s most cited threats is the People's Liberation Army’s (PLA) deployment of more than 1,000-1,400 short-ranged ballistic missiles (SRBM), which have increased at the rate of 100 per year since 2001. These missiles have been aimed at Taiwan from six missile bases in Lepin, Santow, Fuzhou, Longtien, Huian, and Zhangzhou, spanning three southeastern coastal provinces of Jiangxi, Zhejiang, and Fujian [1] (Liberty Times [Taiwan], March 30, 2008). In addition, China has also acquired an estimated 50 advanced submarines, which is more than what military analysts state the PLA needs to blockade the Taiwan Strait. The PLA has also engaged in military exercises and deployments designed to sharpen its defensive capabilities so that even with limited offensive capabilities, China would be able to subdue Taiwan’s defenses in a limited amount of time by denying the access of other maritime powers that may come to Taiwan’s defense [2]. Furthermore, China has—in recent years—ratcheted up its computer-hacking activities against the Taiwanese government's national security-related agencies and has stolen countless sensitive materials (United Daily News, April 8, 2007), so much so that some Taiwanese security officials describe that a "silent war" has already begun. 

Friction between the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and the CCP in the Taiwan Strait was to be expected for two parties whose visions for Taiwan and its relationship with China are diametrically opposed. That the result of Taiwan’s presidential election on March 22 was embraced by the embattled U.S. leadership came as no surprise. The KMT's Ma Ying-jeou appears more conciliatory toward China than his predecessor, Chen Shui-bian of the DPP. Chen stoked tensions in cross-Strait relations prior to the election by advocating that Taiwan join the United Nations as a new member, promoted a national referendum on the issue during the recent presidential election. These tensions have since eased following President Ma's inauguration. Bush Administration officials—in pubic and in private—conveyed satisfaction to see Taiwan’s KMT government and the CCP re-engaged in cross-Strait dialogue, particularly the resumption of the Strait Exchange Foundation (SEF) – Association for the Relations Across the Taiwan Strait (ARATS) channel, severed by the CCP after former President Lee Teng-hui stated in a major policy speech in 1999 that Taiwan-China relations are “special state-to-state relations.”

Cross-Strait Politics and China’s Legal Warfare against Taiwan

From November 3 to 7, the head of ARATS, Chen Yunlin, serving as China’s special envoy to Taiwan, participated in an unprecedented visit to Taiwan to negotiate cross-Strait aviation, shipping, and food safety agreements. Chen Yunlin’s visit has attracted international attention on the warming relations between a democratic Taiwan and an authoritarian China, and also on a deepening divide in Taiwanese society.

A closer examination of ongoing cross-Strait shuttle diplomacy between the KMT and CCP, and public announcements made by President Ma raises legitimate questions about whether the current trend is in Taiwan’s national interest or for that matter U.S. long-term security interest. 

The issue of Taiwan’s sovereignty has always been the focal point of cross-Strait tension, since the PRC claims that Taiwan is a part of China under its interpretation of the “one-China principle.” The Chinese government has engaged in what some analysts call a diplomatic “full-court press,” using a carrot and stick strategy in the form of financial and monetary incentives, to legalize the “one-China principle” in major international organizations and thereby legitimize its claim of sovereignty over Taiwan (Javno, November 16, 2007). 

The first such step came in May 2005, when the Chinese government signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the World Health Organization (WHO) Secretariat requiring the WHO to seek Chinese approval before Taiwan, under the name “Taiwan, China,” could participate in any WHO-related activities. The second came in the United Nations, which in March 28, 2007, issued a letter from the Secretariat to Nauru stating that, in compliance with the 1972 UN General Assembly Resolution 2758, “the United Nations considers Taiwan for all purposes to be an integral part of the People’s Republic of China.” The third incident was with the OIE (World Organization of Animal Health). In May 2007, Beijing attempted to pass a resolution “recognizing that there is only one China in the world and the government of the People’s Republic of China is the sole legal government representing the whole of China which includes Taiwan,” changing Taiwan’s membership into “non-sovereign regional member,” and using “Taiwan, China” or “Taipei, China” as Taiwan’s official title in this organization. 

As these three examples demonstrate, the “one-China principle” has been used by the PRC as a means of waging its “legal warfare” to incorporate Taiwan and to accomplish its bottom-line goal of de jure unification, as explicitly stated by its declared intent to use military force if necessary under the "anti-secession law" of 2005 to “reunify” Taiwan. The examples also illustrate how, if Taipei agrees to the "one-China principle," it may be interpreted as accepting China’s claim of sovereignty over Taiwan. Under such pretexts, the government under the DPP had to avoid and even repel the "one-China principle" as the precondition for the resumption of cross-Strait talks. The DPP did this by seeking international support for its counter-position, which led to the standoff in cross-Strait negotiations and showed the world that the "one-China principle" effectively became a non-starter. 

These efforts notwithstanding, Ma Ying-jeou in his inaugural address reversed the previous administration's position and accepted the so-called “1992 consensus” as the foundation for cross-Strait reconciliation in spite of the fact that the PRC officially stated that the “1992 consensus” was a consensus realizing (ti-xien) the “one-China principle.” In several private meetings with foreign visitors, Ma even went on to say that he accepted the one-China principle with or without any elaboration on what he meant by it. In addition, Ma stated in September during an interview with a Mexican journal that the relations between Taiwan and China are “non-state to state special relations,” and his spokesperson Wang Yuchi further qualified that statement of policy by saying that relations should be characterized as “region to region” (diqu dui diqu) relations (September 3, 2008, news release, In the effort to participate in international organizations, Ma announced that there is no better title for Taiwan other than “Chinese Taipei” (United Daily News, April 5, 2008). During the August/September effort to participate in the United Nations, the KMT government gave up on the membership drive and pursued only "meaningful participation" in UN-affiliated organizations. Even so, the Chinese Ambassador to the UN, Wang Guang-yia, stated that Taiwan was not qualified to participate in major international organizations, and Taiwan’s participation in the WHO had to follow the MOU signed between the Chinese government and the WHO Secretariat (Liberty Times, August 28, 2008). The Ma administration made no attempt to repudiate the Chinese claim, and Ma’s spokesperson stated that it was not a "non-goodwill" (Liberty Times, August 29, 2008). In addition, when in the negotiations for cross-Strait chartered flights the Ma administration decided to open up six domestic airports in addition to two international airports, the decision apparently fell into the Chinese claim that the cross-Strait flights are domestic flights. In short, the official statements and policy actions by the KMT government on relations between the two sides of the Strait thus put Taiwan within the description of the “one-China principle,” with Taiwan being part of China. 

Inner Politics and Arms Sales

In another interview by India and Global Affairs, Ma stated that he wanted to pursue full economic normalization with China, and that he also wanted to reach a peace agreement within his term (Liberty Times, October 18, 2008). If Ma’s concept on the relations between Taiwan and China falls within the description of the “one-China principle,” a full economic normalization will mean an arrangement similar to the Closer Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) between Hong Kong and China. A peace agreement between Taiwan and China within the timetable of his four-year term may necessitate that the United States prepare for an eventual termination of arms sales to and security cooperation with Taiwan. Ma’s statements may be welcomed by the international community as gestures toward peace, but it is actually putting Taiwan's security in jeopardy. If Taiwan were to sign a peace agreement under the KMT where the conditions are defined by the KMT and CCP, the resulting equation, influenced by a much more powerful China at the other end of the negotiating table, may forfeit Taiwan’s freedom to repudiate China’s claim over Taiwan. Taiwan may be moving dangerously too close to the PRC and may not be able to maintain its current de facto independent status any longer.

The United States has for decades held a policy of refuting the PRC’s claim of sovereignty over Taiwan, as stated in the “six assurances” provided by President Ronald Reagan in 1982 and other private communications with Taiwan (Fredrick Chien Memoir, vol. 2, 2005, 215-6). When China manipulated the UN Secretariat to issue a letter in March 2007, which stated that Taiwan is considered by the UN an integral part of the PRC, the United States protested to the UN Secretariat, arguing that such a declaration is against U.S. policy (Liberty Times, September 6, 2007). But if Taiwan itself accepts one-China principle, the foundation for this U.S. policy may be jeopardized. In other words, Ma’s effort of reconciliation is a short-term relief for the United States at a time when it is not capable of addressing simultaneous international conflicts. However, such efforts may prove to be against U.S. long-term interests, especially if the United States continues to view China’s rapid military modernization with suspicion.

Taiwan's domestic politics are severely divided over the course of the government's ongoing rapprochement with China. President Ma has not made any efforts to seek domestic reconciliation or attempt to communicate with the opposition over his intentions on cross-Strait policy. In fact, Ma’s statements and actions angered many people who believe that Taiwan should keep China at arm’s length. Taiwan appears to be more divided than before in the months since Ma’s inauguration, as evidenced by several large-scale, anti-government/anti-China demonstrations. Consequently, Taiwan's status has been relatively weakened in facing the subtle and not so subtle threats from authoritarian China. A divided and weakened Taiwan severely threatens Taiwan’s national security, and is, by extension, not in the interests of the United States or Japan, its key ally in East Asia. All interested parties should therefore encourage the KMT to engage the opposition DPP in formulating its policy across the Taiwan Strait. 


The changes occurring within the strategic landscape of East Asia are quite subtle indeed. U.S. arms sales to Taiwan are one of the most important means for the United States to demonstrate its security commitment to its key allies and ensure peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait. In order for the United States to continue to maintain peace and stability in the region, the United States has long held the position, as prescribed by the Taiwan Relations Act, that arms sales to Taiwan are evaluated on the merit of Taiwan’s defense needs, not political judgments or as a result of consultations with the PRC. However, the U.S. decision to scale down the volume of weapons that had already been promised may make Taiwan feel uncomfortable about the U.S. commitment at a time when Taiwan needs a strong defense in order to ward off China’s possible aggression. A continued U.S. commitment is also integral in permitting Taiwan to resist China’s political pressure, however remote it may seem, and most importantly enable Taiwan to negotiate with China from a position of strength. The unfinished issue of arms sales to Taiwan thus becomes another pressing matter for the new U.S. administration to address in order to safeguard American interests in reinforcing peace and stability in East Asia.

JF-17s Block 2 Under Construction In Pakistan

Production of the first two of 50 JF-17's Block 2 on order by the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) is now well under way at the Pakistan Aeronautical Complex, Kamra, with the first expected to fly by the end of the year.
JF-17 Block 2 Cockpit & Refueling Probe

The Block 2 JF-17 has several capability increases over the Block 1s, but the main boost to the PAF as well as to export potential is the installation of an air-to-air refuelling system. One aircraft has been fitted with a refuelling probe, which protrudes from the right side of the fuselage just behind the cockpit, sitting forward of the pilot's position. It is being used for flight trials.

However, this modification will not appear in Block 2 aircraft until midway through the production at the Aircraft Manufacturing Factory (AMF), probably in early 2016, PAF officials said. Coupled with software enhancements, other new features include an upgrade to the avionics system that works around China's Nanjing KLJ-7 radar.
JF-17 Thunder Aerial Refueling Kit

As a result, the Block 2s can add the Chinese-designed C-802 anti-ship missile and SD-10A beyond-visual-range air-to-air missile to the Block 1s' existing armoury, which includes Mk 82/84 dumb bombs and the PL-5-EII short-range air-to-air missile. All the Block 1s will eventually be upgraded with the Block 2 improvements.

With an urgent need to export JF-17s, a two-seater will be built in the Block 2 time frame. The PAF had always said that a two-seater is not urgent, but Air Chief Marshal Tahir Rafique Butt now admits that a dual seater is a necessity. "We realise that it is required, because the air forces interested in buying JF-17 want one," he said.

PAF pilots currently converting to JF-17 are accumulating around 25 hours on a JF-17 simulator operational at Kamra, where one of the two operational squadrons is based. Nearly all the Block 1s have now been delivered to the PAF, which has a current requirement for 150 to replace the ageing F-7P and Mirage III/Vs.

A Glimpse of Operation Zerb-e-Azb of Pakistan to eliminate foreign terrorists from its North Waziristan Agency

This is the first news post on this blog about the "Operation Zerb-e-Azb". But, all this is, some photos are provided by Pakistan Armed Forces "Inter-Services Public Relations" (ISPR) and some others by AFP.

Launch of Operation Zerb-e-Azb on 15 June, 2014 by Air Strike:

 A PAF JF-17 Thunder Fighter Jet, used in the air strike.PHOTO PAF.GOV.PK
 A map of North Waziristan showing the presence of various militant groups in the area. SOURCES: AEI/CRITICALTHREATS.ORG
 A screengrab of PM Nawaz Sharif and Chief of Army Staff General Raheel Sharif in Bannu.
 Army chief Raheel Sharif holds a meeting with Afghanistan's ambassador to Pakistan, Janan Mosazai, at General Headquarters. PHOTO: ISPR
 Chief of Army Staff General Raheel Sharif (R) and Chief of Air Staff Air Chief Marshal Tahir Rafique Butt (L). PHOTO: ISPR
 Express News screengrab of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif addressing the National Assembly.
File photo of gunship helicopters. PHOTO ISPR

Moving civilians to another safe places:

 Moving people from NWA to Bannu City
 A soldier inspects a truck carrying civilians, fleeing a military operation in North Waziristan, at an army checkpoint in Saidgai. PHOTO: AFP
 Civilians fleeing from a military operation in North Waziristan tribal agency carry their belongings as they arrive in Bannu district. PHOTO: AFP
 Civilians, fleeing a military operation in the North Waziristan tribal region, rest on their arrival in Bannu. PHOTO: AFP
 Civilians, fleeing from the military operation in North Waziristan tribal agency, arrive at the Bannu Frontier Region registration centre for internally displaced people in Saidgai. PHOTO: AFP
 Civilians, fleeing from the military operation in North Waziristan tribal agency, receive food at the Bannu Frontier Region registration centre for internally displaced people in Saidgai. PHOTO: AFP
 Civilians, fleeing the operation in the North Waziristan, walk towards an army check point in Saidgai. PHOTO: AFP
 Pakistan army personnel try to break up a protest by internally displaced persons from North Waziristan outside a World Food Programme (WFP) food distribution point in Bannu on June 24, 2014. PHOTO: AFP
Registration of IDPs coming out of Mirali takes place at the Khajori check post. PHOTO: ISPR

Strating the second phase of the operation, search & eliminate:

 A photograph released by the ISPR on Wednesday shows army troops manning a firing station in Miranshah, North Waziristan agency. PHOTO ISPR
 A soldier keeps vigil while a line of vehicles wait to cross a checkpoint at the Bannu Frontier Region registration centre for internally displaced people in Saidgai. PHOTO AFP
 Army troops form up for ground operation in Miranshah, North Wazirastan Agency early morning on Monday.
 Army troops use metal detectors to look for IEDs planted in a Miranshah street.
 In this picture released by ISPR, mechanised troops patrol outside the cordoned area in North Wazirastan Agency. PHOTO AFP ISPR
 Mechanized columns form up for ground operation early monring on Monday at Miranshah, North Wazirastan Agency.
 Mechanized troops patrolling outside the cordoned area in North Wazirastan Agency
 Soldiers standby to storm a compound in a clearing operation. PHOTO ISPR
Troops during house to house search in Miranshah