Archive for ‘Defence’


Command and lack of control | The Economist

IF THE People’s Liberation Army (PLA) were a company, it would be about to lose its position as the world’s largest corporate employer. When troop cuts recently announced by Xi Jinping, China’s president, are completed in 2017, the ranks of China’s armed forces will have shrunk by 300,000 to 2m, putting it just behind Walmart, a retailer (see chart). It would still be by far the world’s largest military outfit.

When the downsizing was announced, at a big military parade on September 3rd, the cuts seemed no more significant than a round of corporate redundancies. Mr Xi’s own explanation—that they would help the PLA to “carry out the noble mission of upholding world peace”—also seemed to come straight from the gobbledygook of corporate obfuscation.

But recent commentary in China’s state media suggests that the reductions may presage something more: a long-overdue reform of the command structure of the PLA and a shift in the balance of the main military services. If so, one of the most important subsidiaries of the Chinese state is in for a shake-up.

The army has long been the senior service. Almost three quarters of active-duty personnel are soldiers. The navy and air-force chiefs did not have seats on the main institution for exercising civilian control over the armed forces, the Central Military Commission, until 2004. It was only in 2012 that an officer outside the ranks of the army became its most senior military figure. The army’s dominance is a problem at a time when China is expanding its influence in the South China Sea and naval strategy is looming larger.

Moreover, there has long been a split within the PLA between combat forces (which kill the enemy) and other operations (logistics, transport and so on) which are regarded as secondary. But in modern, high-tech warfare, non front-line services such as those responsible for cyberwarfare and electronic surveillance often matter more than tanks and infantry.

Embodying these outdated traditions is a top-heavy, ill-co-ordinated structure with four headquarters and seven regional commands. Many Chinese analysts argue that, as now constituted, the PLA would not be able to conduct modern information-intensive military operations which integrate all the services properly.

China has long talked about military reform. In late 2013 Mr Xi told fellow leaders that the command system for joint operations was “not strong enough”. It was duly announced that China would “optimise the size and structure” of the armed forces. China Daily, an English-language newspaper, said that a “joint operational command system” would be introduced “in due course”.

It now appears that these changes are under way. Mr Xi was recently quoted in PLA Daily, a newspaper, saying that “we have a rare window … to deepen [military] reform”. It is possible that Mr Xi’s anti-corruption purge, which has taken aim at two men (one now dead) who were once the country’s most powerful military figures, as well as 50 other generals, may have weakened opposition enough for change to begin.

The South China Morning Post, a newspaper in Hong Kong, recently published what it described as a radical plan devised by military reformers. This would scrap three of the four headquarters, reduce the number of regional military commands to four and give a more prominent role to the navy. It remains to be seen whether Mr Xi will go that far. But there is no doubt that, in order to fulfil what he calls China’s “dream of a strong armed forces”, he wants a leaner, more efficient PLA. To China’s neighbours, that would make it even more frightening.

Source: Command and lack of control | The Economist


Rivals Pakistan, India to start process of joining China security bloc | Reuters

Nuclear-armed rivals Pakistan and India will start the process of joining a security bloc led by China and Russia at a summit in Russia later this week, a senior Chinese diplomat said on Monday, the first time the grouping has expanded since it was set up in 2001.


The Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) groups China, Russia and the former Soviet republics of Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, while India, Pakistan, Iran, Afghanistan and Mongolia are observers.

“As the influence of the SCO’s development has expanded, more and more countries in the region have brought up joining the SCO,” Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Cheng Guoping told a news briefing.”India and Pakistan’s admission to the SCO will play an important role in the SCO’s development. It will play a constructive role in pushing for the improvement of their bilateral relations.”

India and Pakistan have fought three wars since 1947, two of them over the divided Muslim-majority region of Kashmir which they both claim in full but rule in part. Pakistan also believes India is supporting separatists in resource-rich Baluchistan province, as well as militants fighting the state.

India applied to join the regional security grouping last year and SCO foreign ministers gave a positive recommendation when they met in June. “We await further developments,” said Sujata Mehta, a senior foreign ministry official.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be in Moscow for a summit of the BRICS group of emerging markets and both he and his Pakistani counterpart, Nawaz Sharif, will attend a special SCO “outreach” session as part of the gathering.

Pakistan’s application is being considered, said foreign ministry spokesman Qazi Khalilullah. “We hope they will support us for full membership,” he added.

The grouping was originally formed to fight threats posed by radical Islam and drug trafficking from neighboring Afghanistan.

Cheng said the summit, to be attended by Chinese President Xi Jinping, would also discuss security in Afghanistan.

Beijing says separatist groups in the far western region of Xinjiang, home to the Muslim Uighur minority, seek to form their own state, called East Turkestan, and have links with militants in Central Asia, as well as Pakistan and Afghanistan.

China says Uighur militants, operating as the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM), have also been working with Islamic State.

“It can be said that ETIM certainly has links with the Islamic State, and has participated in relevant terrorist activities. China is paying close attention to this, and will have security cooperation with relevant countries,” Cheng said.

via Rivals Pakistan, India to start process of joining China security bloc | Reuters.


China unveils plans for V-Day parade|Politics|

China on Tuesday announced plans for this year’s celebration of the 70th anniversary of the victory in World War II, including inviting militaries of other countries to participate in a parade on Sept. 3.

China unveils plans for V-Day parade

Xi Jinping, general secretary of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, will attend the event and deliver an important speech, an official said at a press conference on Tuesday.

At the event, Xi will award medals to veterans and generals who participated in the war and family dependents of the deceased.

This year marks the 70th anniversary of the victory of the Chinese People’s War of Resistance against Japanese Aggression and the World Anti-Fascist War. It will be the first time for the country to hold a special parade to commemorate the victory.

Japan signed the formal surrender on Sept. 2, 1945, and China celebrated its victory the following day. September 3 was declared Victory Day.


via China unveils plans for V-Day parade|Politics|


Watch Indian Fighter Jet Land on Highway to Taj Mahal – India Real Time – WSJ

The Indian Air Force on Thursday landed a fighter jet on an expressway for the first time to showcase its ability to use national highways as runways in case of conflict.

The Mirage-2000 jet landed on a cordoned-off stretch of the Yamuna Expressway that leads to Agra, the home of the Taj Mahal.

Test landing of a Mirage 2000 fighter jet of the Indian Air force on the Yamuna Expressway near Delhi on Wednesday. India’s Ministry of Defence

The single-engine, single-seater combat plane is produced by Dassault Aviation SA of France. It can reach a top speed of 2,495 kilometers, or 1,550 miles an hour.

The jet took off from an undisclosed air base in central India. Facilities such as a makeshift air traffic control center, safety services, rescue vehicles, bird clearance parties were set up in coordination with local agencies for its landing.

The air force has “plans to activate more such stretches on highways in the future,” the Ministry of Defence said in a statement.

The Mirage-2000 strike aircraft is a critical part of India’s fighter jet fleet. Its flying qualities and maneuverability came into prominence during the bombing of Pakistani positions in the Himalayas during the Kargil war in 1999.

India’s air force fleet however comprises mainly Russian-origin aircraft such as the Sukhoi and MiG planes.

via Watch Indian Fighter Jet Land on Highway to Taj Mahal – India Real Time – WSJ.


Pakistan close to buying eight Chinese submarines – FT | Reuters

Pakistan is close to agreeing a multi-billion dollar deal to buy eight submarines from China, the Financial Times reported on Thursday, in what would be one of China’s largest overseas weapons sales.

The decision had been agreed “in principle”, the newspaper said, citing a hearing in the Pakistani parliament‘s defence committee. Pakistani newspaper the Dawn said negotiations with China were at an advanced stage.

Pakistani defence officials could not immediately be reached for comment. China’s Ministry of Defence declined to comment.

A former senior Pakistan navy officer with knowledge of the negotiations told the Financial Times the contract could be worth $4 billion to $5 billion.

It was unclear what type of submarine Pakistan was looking to buy but China has poured resources into developing diesel- and nuclear-powered submarines in recent years.

China and Pakistan call each other “all-weather friends” and their close ties have been underpinned by long-standing wariness of their common neighbour, India, and a desire to hedge against U.S. influence across the region.

President Xi Jinping will travel to Pakistan this month, the government in Islamabad has said. China has said Xi would visit this year but given no timeframe.

China is Pakistan’s top supplier of weapons, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), which tracks global arms sales, selling 51 percent of the weapons Islamabad imported in 2010-2014.

China has also surpassed Germany to become the world’s third largest arms exporter, SIPRI said in a report last month. Little is known about China’s arms exports because the country does not publish data on such sales.

via Pakistan close to buying eight Chinese submarines – FT | Reuters.


China 2015 defense budget to grow 10.1 pct, lowest in 5 years – Xinhua |

China on Thursday announced a 10.1-percent rise in its national defense budget in 2015, the lowest growth in five years as the country confronts mounting pressure in the face of an economic slowdown.

According to a budget report released shortly before the country’s top legislature starts its annual session, the government plans to raise defense budget to 886.9 billion yuan (about 144.2 billion U.S. dollars).

That would make China the second largest military spender in the world following the U.S., whose defense budget amounted to 600.4 billion U.S. dollars in 2013.

Nonetheless, the 10.1-percent rise represented the lowest expansion in China since 2010, when the defense budget was set to grow by 7.5 percent.

The figure has thereon been riding on a multi-year run of double-digit increases, expanding 12.2 percent last year.

Thursday’s budget report did not explain the rationale behind this year’s abated growth, but a government work report to be presented by Chinese Premier Li Keqiang may offer some clues.

According to the report, national defense development would be coordinated with the country’s economic growth.

The Chinese economy grew 7.4 percent in 2014, registering the weakest annual expansion in more than two decades. The government set this year’s growth target to approximately 7 percent, brewing new concerns that the world’s economic powerhouse is losing steam.

But the report played down such concerns, stressing that China is now in a “new normal” state, where a balance ought to be stricken between growth and structural optimization.

via China 2015 defense budget to grow 10.1 pct, lowest in 5 years – Xinhua |


Turkey eyes deal with China on missile defense despite NATO concern | Reuters

Turkey‘s defense minister said on Thursday the country does not plan to integrate a new missile defense system with NATO infrastructure and officials said a $3.4 billion deal with China was still under consideration.

NATO member Turkey chose China Precision Machinery Import and Export Corp as a preferred bidder in 2013, prompting U.S. and Western concern about security and the compatibility of the weaponry with NATO systems.

Defense Minister Ismet Yilmaz, in a written response to a parliamentary question, indicated Ankara planned to go ahead with the Chinese system, saying the evaluation of bids had been completed and no new offers received.

“The system in question will be integrated with the national system for Turkey’s defense and will be used without integrating with NATO,” Yilmaz said.

However, other government officials later made clear that did not mean a final decision had yet been reached.

“We are continuing discussions with all the bidders,” the undersecretariat for defense industries said in a statement.

via Turkey eyes deal with China on missile defense despite NATO concern | Reuters.


India’s ailing air force at risk in tough neighbourhood | Reuters

India’s air force risks a major capability gap opening up with China and Pakistan without new western warplanes or if local defence contractors can’t produce what the military needs in a timely manner.

Indian Air Force (IAF) fighter aircraft jets fly past during the Republic Day parade in New Delhi January 26, 2015. REUTERS/Adnan Abidi

A 2012 agreement to buy 126 Rafale fighters from France’s Dassault Aviation (AVMD.PA) has stalled due to a dispute over the assembly of the aircraft in India.

India’s first homegrown fighter, the Tejas light combat aircraft, will finally be delivered next month, 30 years after it was conceived. But senior air force officers privately said they were unimpressed, with one former officer, an ex-fighter pilot, saying the plane was “so late it is obsolete”.

While the navy is undergoing an accelerated modernisation drive, experts said India was vulnerable in the skies because of its reliance on a disparate fleet of ageing Russian-made MiG and French Mirage fighters, along with more modern Russian Sukhoi Su-30s. Half of India’s fighters are due to retire beginning this year until 2024.

“It could lead to humiliation at the hands of our neighbours,” AK Sachdev, a retired air force officer, wrote last year in the Indian Defence Review journal.

A coordinated attack by China an

via India’s ailing air force at risk in tough neighbourhood | Reuters.


Modi wants more technology transfer from global defence firms | Reuters

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has asked global defence contractors to transfer more technology to India as part of the lucrative deals that they win to modernise its armed forces.

India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi attends an event organised by the Christian community to celebrate the beatification of two Indians by Pope Francis late last year, in New Delhi February 17, 2015. REUTERS/Stringer

The country’s offsets policy, which requires contractors to invest a percentage of the value of the deal in India, will be tweaked to encourage more technology transfer, and less simple assembly or production, Modi said at the opening ceremony of the Aero India airshow at Yelahanka air base in Bengaluru.

“We have the reputation as the largest importer of defence equipment. This may be music to the ears of some of you. But this is an area where we do not want to be number one,” Modi said before an air display of Indian military planes.

“It will no longer be enough to buy equipment and simply assemble here.”

India is forecast to spend $250 billion over the next decade to upgrade its military, which still largely relies on Russian equipment it bought from the 1960s to the 1980s, and catch up with strategic rivals like China.

via Modi wants more technology transfer from global defence firms | Reuters.


IAF gets first light combat aircraft – The Hindu

Thirty—two years after the project was sanctioned, the first indigenously—built Tejas Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) was handed over by Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar to the IAF on Saturday, a red letter day for the Indian defence and aerospace sector.

A file photo of the Light Combat Aircraft 'Tejas' at the Yelahanka Air Base in Bengaluru.

The handover signals the start of a process of induction of the fighters being built at home under a project which has already cost the exchequer nearly Rs. 8,000 crore.

The entire project by the DRDO and Hindustan Aeronautics Limited is estimated to cost over Rs. 30,000 crore.

The aircraft that has been handed over has got Initial Operational Clearance—II, which signifies that Tejas is airworthy in different conditions, sources said. The Final Operational Clearance (FOC) is expected by the year—end.

This version of the aircraft lacks the latest electronic warfare suite, which was integrated into one of the LCAs two weeks ago, mid—air refuelling and long—range missiles capabilities, among other things that the FOC—configuration aircraft will have.

The IOC—I was granted to the aircraft, being built by state—owned Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), in January 2011.

via IAF gets first light combat aircraft – The Hindu.


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