ALERT The Winds of War Blow in Korea and The Far East


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EDITORIAL | China Tests How Far Looting Can Go in the South China Sea

China is attempting to build another artificial island within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone in the South China Sea, watching how the U.S. and Japan will react.

Editorial Board, The Sankei Shimbun

14 seconds ago
on April 12, 2021
By Editorial Board, The Sankei Shimbun

A Chinese fishing fleet believed to be part of China’s maritime militia has swarmed near one of the hotly contested reefs in the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea and built structures on the reef, the Philippine military revealed on March 30.

The location in question is Whitsun Reef, about 320 kilometers (175 nautical miles) west of the Philippine province of Palawan. The reef is within the Philippines’ 200-nautical mile exclusive economic zone (EEZ).

China has already transformed seven reefs into artificial islands in the Spratly Islands, claiming sovereignty over all of them. While China’s claims are in clear violation of international law, fears are rising that the structures near Whitsun Reef could possibly lead to construction of an eighth artificial island.

Neither the building activities nor the structures are acceptable. The Chinese fleet should be recalled from Whitsun Reef immediately and the reef restored to its original state.

In early March a flotilla of about 220 Chinese boats thronged to waters near the reef and anchored in line formation, presenting a bizarre image which some Philippine media referred to as the “Great Wall of the Sea.” The Philippine military announced on March 30 that “illegal structures” had been discovered by its aerial surveillance.

Philippine Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana accused the Chinese on March 21 of a “clear provocative action of militarizing the area,” repeating calls for Beijing to withdraw the vessels. The Philippine government believes China’s maritime militia are aboard the ships.

RELATED: [Asia’s Next Page] China’s Coast Guard Law Tests Resilience of Maritime Asia

The Chinese government denied the presence of maritime militia, maintaining that the fishing boats were simply seeking shelter due to rough weather conditions. However, the large number of Chinese fishing vessels that remained at the reef after the weather improved and the structures found to have been built there leave no doubt that China’s claims were filled with falsehoods.

In July 2016, the Permanent Court of Arbitration in the Hague ruled that China’s claim of sovereignty over almost the entirety of the South China Sea and its artificial island construction activities in the region were both illegal under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

RELATED: EDITORIAL | Like a Looter at a Fire, Beijing Encroaches on the South China Sea Amid the Pandemic

A reef that is submerged at high tide cannot produce territorial rights to any country in the eyes of UNCLOS. Regardless of the acts a country may take to reclaim land for an artificial island, it will not be viewed as part of that country’s territory.

Nevertheless, China has dared to set up administrative districts over such islands, building military installations such as runways there. Yet, China’s use of military power to disrupt the existing rules-based order under international law can never be permissible.

It should be pointed out that China’s provocations in the Spratly Islands have also been directed towards Japan, the United States, and the international community as a whole. The South China Sea is a vitally important waterway for both international commerce and security, and it must be restored to a “free and open sea.”

RELATED: Beijing Redefines Boundaries in East China Sea via Expanded Surveillance Buoys Network

The Chinese government is paying particular attention to the reactions of the United States administration of President Joe Biden. To deter China from perpetrating further outrageous acts, Japan and the United States must not ignore Beijing’s illegal conduct at Whitsun Reef.

(Read the Sankei Shimbun editorial in Japanese at this link.)

Author: Editorial Board, The Sankei Shimbun

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Taiwan launches shipbuilding program amid China threats
Taiwan launched an amphibious transport ship that’s the first from its new naval shipbuilding program begun as China escalates its threats to use military force to annex the island it claims is its territory

By The Associated Press
12 April 2021, 23:10

Tsai Ing-wen

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The Associated Press
Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen delivers a speech during a launch ceremony for its first indigenous amphibious transport dock in Kaohsiung, southern Taiwan, Tuesday, April 13, 2021. (AP Photo/Chiang Ying-ying)

KAOHSIUNG, Taiwan -- Taiwan launched an amphibious transport ship Tuesday that's the first from its new naval shipbuilding program begun as China escalates its threats to use military force to annex the island it claims is its territory.

President Tsai Ing-wen presided over the launching ceremony at a shipyard in the southern port city of Kaohsiung for the first in the series of ships intended as a defense against any Chinese invasion.

The ship is “designed and built in accordance with the needs of national defense combat training,” Tsai said.

She also called the launch of the new line of 10,000-ton amphibious transport ships an “important milestone for the national shipbuilding in our country.”

Taiwan has been boosting its domestic military industries, including building ships and submarines, and is upgrading facilities on the Pratas Islands in the South China Sea that are also claimed by China. Along with the main island of Taiwan, the government controls territory close to China, including the Kinmen, Matsu and Pescadores island groups that need constant replenishment.

In a pattern of advertising its threats to claim Taiwan by force if necessary, China sent 25 warplanes into Taiwan’s southern aerial space on Monday, the Defense Ministry said. It also recently staged naval exercises with its Liaoning aircraft carrier near Taiwan recently.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Navy announced the carrier Theodore Roosevelt and its strike group reentered the South China Sea on its second such deployment this year.

China claims the South China Sea almost in its entirety and strongly objects to foreign naval activity in the resource rich and heavily transited waters, especially the U.S. practice of sailing naval vessels close to Chinese-held features in what it terms “freedom of navigation operations.”

Taiwan launches shipbuilding program amid China threats - ABC News (


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North Korea may amass almost 250 nuclear weapons by 2027: report

By Yaron Steinbuch

April 13, 2021 | 12:45pm | Updated

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North Korean leader Kim Jong Un could be amassing a deadly nuclear arsenal that could reach 242 weapons and dozens of intercontinental ballistic missiles by 2027, according to a chilling report released Tuesday.

The Seoul-based Asan Institute for Policy Studies and the Rand Corp. in Santa Monica, California, warned that negotiations alone are unlikely to be effective in reducing the threat — and instead called for measures such as deploying tactical nuclear weapons in South Korea, UPI reported.

The think tanks’ joint report — titled “Countering the Risks of North Korean Nuclear Weapons” — estimates that the rogue regime had developed between 67 and 116 nuclear weapons by 2020, with a stockpile expected to grow by 12 to 18 weapons a year until 2027.

“Despite some ROK and US efforts to enhance defense and deterrence, there is a growing gap between the North Korean nuclear weapon threat and ROK and US capabilities to defeat it,” the report said, referring to the Republic of Korea, the official name of South Korea.

“Today, even a few of the likely dozens of North Korean nuclear weapons could cause millions of fatalities and serious casualties if detonated on ROK or US cities,” it added, according to UPI.

North Korea has continued to develop its nuclear and missile programs and has “increased its nuclear strike capability,” according to a UN report.AP

The Hermit Kingdom has not conducted any nuclear or long-range missile tests since 2017, but it launched a couple of short-range ballistic missiles last month in violation of UN sanctions.

In October, Pyongyang also showed off a new ICBM during a military parade.

Nuclear negotiations between Washington and Pyongyang have stalled since a summit with Kim and then-President Donald Trump held in Vietnam in 2019 failed to produce an agreement.

A report by the UN this month concluded that North Korea has continued to develop its nuclear and missile programs and has “increased its nuclear strike capability, as well as its ability to counter foreign missile defense systems while safeguarding itself with its own new air defense system,” the news service reported.

Kim Jong Un could be amassing a deadly nuclear arsenal that could reach 242 weapons.AP
The Asan-Rand report warned that future negotiations are unlikely to lead to denuclearization by Pyongyang.

“Unfortunately, the major ROK and US strategy to moderate the growing North Korean nuclear weapon threat has been negotiating with North Korea to achieve denuclearization, and this effort has failed and seems likely to continue failing,” the report said.

The authors argued that the US and South Korea “must consider putting all options on the table” in confronting the threat, focusing on deterrence and defense but signaling a willingness to destroy Kim’s regime if he uses nukes.

North Korea showed off a new intercontinental ballistic missile during a military parade.AP
Among the steps would be deploying tactical nuclear weapons in South Korea, as well as ramping up intelligence collection and improving missile defense systems, the report said.

“The ROK and the United States must now turn their attention to deterring North Korean nuclear weapon attacks and being able to defeat such attacks if deterrence fails,” it said.

The authors added that the allies should be prepared “to fight and win a war on the Korean Peninsula under conditions of North Korean nuclear weapon use, and both countries must be prepared to implement the current U.S. policy of destroying the Kim regime if it uses nuclear weapons.”


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Indo-Pacific News - Watching the CCP-China Threat


#China may send peacekeepers to #Afghanistan when #US troops leave: experts #Beijing is concerned terrorist groups will prosper if there is a lack of stability in the region Biden says all remaining US troops in Afghanistan will pull out by September 11
So who didn't see this coming?


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Doesn't Afghanistan have rare earth minerals also and I think that's one of the reasons were were there so long.
Rare Earth: Afghanistan Sits on $1 Trillion in Minerals
Afghanistan may be sitting on one of the richest troves of minerals in the world, valued at nearly $1 trillion, scientists say.
Sept. 5, 2014, 11:51 AM PDT

Despite being one of the poorest nations in the world, Afghanistan may be sitting on one of the richest troves of minerals in the world, valued at nearly $1 trillion, scientists say.

Afghanistan, a country nearly the size of Texas, is loaded with minerals deposited by the violent collision of the Indian subcontinent with Asia. The U.S. Geological Survey began inspecting what mineral resources Afghanistan had after U.S.-led forces drove the Taliban from power in the country in 2004.

In 2006, U.S. researchers flew airborne missions to conduct magnetic, gravity and hyperspectral surveys over Afghanistan. [Infographic: Facts About Rare Earth Minerals]......

Afghanistan’s Mineral Resources Are a Lost Opportunity and a Threat
Without a coherent strategy, Afghanistan’s vast mineral resources represent both a lost opportunity and a threat to national security.
By Ahmad Shah Katawazai
February 01, 2020

Torn by four decades of war and desperate poverty, Afghanistan is believed to be sitting on one of the richest troves of minerals in the world. The value of these resources has been roughly estimated between $1-3 trillion.

Afghanistan has vast reserves of gold, platinum, silver, copper, iron, chromite, lithium, uranium, and aluminium. The country’s high-quality emeralds, rubies, sapphires, turquoise, and lapis lazuli have long charmed the gemstone market. The United States Geological Survey (USGS), through its extensive scientific research of minerals, concluded that Afghanistan may hold 60 million metric tons of copper, 2.2 billion tons of iron ore, 1.4 million tons of rare earth elements (REEs) such as lanthanum, cerium, neodymium, and veins of aluminium, gold, silver, zinc, mercury, and lithium. According to Pentagon officials, their initial analysis at one location in Ghazni province showed the potential for lithium deposits as large as those of Bolivia, which has the world’s largest known lithium reserves. The USGS estimates the Khanneshin deposits in Helmand province will yield 1.1.-1.4 million metric tons of REEs. Some reports estimate Afghanistan REE resources are among the largest on earth.......


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APRIL 16, 2021

Hyunmoo-3_missile_carrier (1)

How should South Korea respond to North Korea’s growing arsenal of nuclear-tipped missiles? Some argue that Seoul should improve its conventional capabilities in order to deter Pyongyang’s nuclear adventurism and achieve stability on the Korean Peninsula. Others contend that a South Korean arms buildup in response to North Korea’s nuclear developments could result in inadvertent crisis escalation.

In their recent essays in War on the Rocks and International Security, Ian Bowers and Henrik Hiim rightly point out that South Korea’s conventional military forces are of growing significance for strategic stability with North Korea. However, they also argue that South Korea’s conventional forces are adding to the instability on the Peninsula. Bowers and Hiim conclude that “if the United States wants to ensure that any denuclearization initiatives are successful, it may need to persuade South Korea to undertake conventional arms reductions, particularly with regard to offensive capabilities.”

We respectfully disagree. South Korean conventional forces play a positive and even essential role in an alliance context with the United States in maintaining stability as North Korea nuclearizes. Our perspectives on this matter are informed by our experience as South Korean military officers involved in the development of deterrence theories and policies for the U.S.-South Korea alliance. We argue that South Korea’s conventional capabilities actually strengthen stability on the Korean Peninsula by reducing North Korea’s expectations regarding the utility of its nuclear weapons. As a result, the development of these conventional forces — in cooperation with its allies in Washington — helps Seoul prevent Pyongyang from achieving its strategic goals through nuclear adventurism.

South Korea’s Approaches to Deterrence
South Korea’s conventional capabilities have been designed to play a central role in establishing the U.S.-South Korean alliance’s deterrence posture and implementing a combined counter nuclear strategy. This approach is codified in the “tailored deterrence” strategy announced in 2013. This strategy is attuned to the specific characteristics of North Korea’s nuclear program. Specifically, it is based on the understanding that Kim Jong Un alone has the authority to employ North Korea’s nuclear weapons, that mobile missile launchers are the primary means of delivery, and that North Korea’s missiles are located in deeply buried tunnels. These features could permit the U.S.-South Korean alliance to spot early warning signs of nuclear attacks as well as to destroy the missiles during the stages of deployment and launch preparation. The strategy is based on both the U.S. commitment to extended nuclear deterrence and South Korea’s expected construction of conventional forces, as well as the interoperability of those forces with U.S. military assets.

South Korea’s conventional military capabilities with regard to deterring North Korea’s nuclear threats consist of three key elements: the Korea Air and Missile Defense system, the Kill Chain system, and the Korea Massive Punishment and Retaliation system. The Korea Air and Missile Defense system is a largely indigenous, layered missile defense system. Although it is still mostly conceptual and many components of the missile defense system are in the development stage, the South Korean military aims to establish early warning, command and control, and multiple intercept systems by the mid-2020s through steady investment. The Kill Chain system — run by the army, navy, and air force — consists of sensors, ground/sea-based ballistic and cruise missiles, and various precision-guided bombs. It attempts to detect imminent North Korean missile attacks and allow South Korean forces to destroy the country’s missiles and launchers preemptively. Lastly, the Korea Massive Punishment and Retaliation system involves the use of multiple kinetic and non-kinetic capabilities, including ballistic and cruise missiles, guided bombs, blackout bombs, and electromagnetic pulse weapons, to target North Korea’s leadership facilities following any nuclear attack. In fact, the Kill Chain system and the Korea Massive Punishment and Retaliation system share the same weapon platforms, although their approaches to using the available means differ. This represents one reason behind South Korea’s decision to integrate the Kill Chain system and the Korea Massive Punishment and Retaliation system in 2019 and expand the concepts into the Strategic Strike system to facilitate the efficient management of force buildup projects.

South Korea’s conventional capabilities reinforce deterrence on the Korean Peninsula. On the one hand, the Kill Chain system and the Korea Air and Missile Defense system both represent means of achieving deterrence by denial, as South Korea’s missiles are capable of striking North Korea’s missiles and launchers if attacks are imminent. On the other hand, the Korea Massive Punishment and Retaliation system aims to achieve deterrence by punishment. It is designed to convey the message that if North Korea chooses to use its nuclear weapons, then all the participants in the decision-making process, including Kim Jong Un, will be removed. Thus, the Korea Massive Punishment and Retaliation system is closer to a counter-force or counter-leadership strategy rather than a counter-value strategy.

Anticipating Concerns Regarding South Korea’s Conventional Forces
While South Korea believes that its conventional forces are key to stabilizing the military balance with North Korea, other analysts are concerned that South Korea’s moves will have the opposite effect. Bowers and Hiim, for instance, are concerned about increasing the risk of North Korea’s nuclear use, threatening strategic stability on the Korean Peninsula, and strengthening North Korea’s incentive to possess nuclear weapons.

The first concern is that if South Korea’s conventional forces are operated unilaterally and preemptively, it could increase the risk of North Korea’s use of nuclear weapons. While this concern is understandable, South Korea has no incentive to operate its conventional forces independently, unilaterally, or without any consultation with the United States. Additionally, given the various socio-economic factors involved, a preemptive strike that risks nuclear retaliation would impose nearly unimaginable costs on South Korea, which is democratic with an open economy. Therefore, the concern that South Korea’s enhanced conventional capabilities increase the risk of North Korea’s use of nuclear weapons is overstated.

The second concern is that South Korea’s conventional forces buildup might threaten strategic stability on the Korean Peninsula. The concept of strategic stability involves two essential conditions: arms race stability, which indicates that neither side has an incentive to rapidly engage in military buildup; and crisis stability, which implies that there is no incentive for either party to use military force first. If an arms race always results in an unstoppable crisis escalation, the point raised by the skeptics might seem reasonable. In practice, however, this is not always true. For example, if a strategic balance and mutual vulnerability are achieved following one side’s arms buildup, then both sides could lose the first-attack incentive. South Korea’s missile defense system and assured ability to retaliate would enable the U.S.-South Korean alliance to respond promptly and credibly to North Korea’s nuclear adventurism and so discourage Pyongyang from escalating a crisis by launching its preemptive and surprise attacks, thereby achieving strategic stability.

The third concern is that South Korea’s buildup of conventional forces could make it more difficult to convince North Korea to denuclearize via negotiations. In other words, even if the Biden administration succeeds in persuading Pyongyang that the United States does not pose an existential threat to North Korea, South Korea’s conventional forces represent an incentive for North Korea to preserve its nuclear weapons. This notion seems to hinge on the premise that if South Korea takes steps to disarm itself, North Korea might be more amenable to giving up its nuclear weapons. However, unilateral disarmament measures are unacceptably risky with an opponent as malicious and unreliable as North Korea. It is more likely that if South Korea scaled back conventional force modernization plans, North Korea would opt to use a coercive strategy against South Korea or even attempt to alter the status quo based on its newfound asymmetric military advantage. Such a situation would be an intolerable outcome for South Korea and the United States.

South Korean military restraint would not persuade North Korea to engage in negotiations to denuclearize. On the contrary, improving its conventional forces could actually give South Korea a negotiating advantage. South Korea’s counter-nuclear and counter-leadership capabilities are potential chips to be traded away if North Korea were willing to trade for reductions in its nuclear weapons or the size of the Korean People’s Army. Any unilateral arms reduction by Seoul will be a waste of a potential swap. Even if North Korea were to eliminate its nuclear weapons, it would still have a massive conventional military, including over one million soldiers, mechanized corps, and artillery divisions. South Korea has sufficient reasons to maintain its conventional capabilities to achieve deterrence and stability after denuclearization.

Conventional Deterrence Against North Korea
As North Korea’s nuclear capabilities improve, the most important issue for South Korea and its American allies is determining how best to deter Pyongyang from employing its nuclear weapons. During the Eighth Congress of the Korean Workers’ Party, Kim Jong Un revealed his intentions to separate South Korea from the United States and to reunify the Korean Peninsula under socialist rule. He plans on doing so, in part, by placing pressure on the alliance through the use of coercive nuclear threats.

South Korea and the United States should work together to convince North Korea that its nuclear threats will never succeed. To date, South Korea has relied on America’s nuclear forces to deter North Korea. However, as Brad Roberts notes, North Korea would more likely apply “gray zone” tactics — that is, military provocations backed by its nuclear weapons that fall below the U.S. nuclear threshold. If there is no means of bridging the gap between conventional and nuclear capabilities, North Korea would likely consider threatening to use nuclear weapons in a more aggressive manner, as it may mistakenly perceive that the United States would not intervene in a crisis on the Korean Peninsula. South Korea’s credible conventional threat, therefore, raises the expected costs of North Korea’s nuclear provocations and reduces the possibility of it achieving the desired political and military goals through the use of nuclear weapons.

Looking Ahead
South Korea’s conventional forces play a positive role in maintaining stability on the Korean Peninsula. Through providing flexible and credible options for deterrence, South Korea’s conventional forces prevent North Korea from making a strategic miscalculation and incorrectly determining that nuclear employment will bring about political benefits. Thus, the country’s conventional forces are essential in maintaining strategic stability through crisis management.

Proposals to reduce South Korea’s conventional capabilities in the hope of securing North Korea’s voluntary denuclearization are understandable given the dangers of conflict on the Korean Peninsula. Ultimately, however, unilateral South Korean restraint would not advance the security interests of South Korea or the United States. Instead, Seoul and Washington should work together to reinforce South Korea’s conventional posture. Doing so might even provide North Korea with incentives to return to the negotiating table and refrain from making nuclear threats. Moreover, it is time to think more seriously about how countries (e.g., Australia, Japan, the European Union, the United Kingdom, etc.) that share values with both the United States and South Korea could act collectively to prevent North Korea’s nuclear adventurism and help guarantee strategic stability on the Korean Peninsula.


Maj. Manseok Lee is currently a Ph.D. candidate at the University of California, Berkeley. Previously, he was a research associate at the Center for Global Security Research in the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. He has written multiple research articles concerning North Korea’s nuclear strategy, nuclear non-proliferation, and impact of emerging technologies on strategic stability.

Col. Hyeongpil Ham received his Ph.D. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He has worked for more than 30 years at South Korea’s Ministry of National Defense, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and Korea Institute for Defense Analyses. He led the governmental task force responsible for addressing North Korea’s nuclear threats and developing South Korea’s deterrence and defense strategy.

The authors are especially grateful to Brad Roberts and a
War On The Rocks subject matter expert for insightful comments on earlier drafts of this article. All statements of fact, opinion, or analysis expressed are those of the authors and do not reflect the official positions or views of the South Korean government and army.


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The Strategic Impact of Indonesian KF-21s
Using the phrase “arms race” is attention grabbing, but a more discerning assessment is necessary when it comes to weapons acquisitions.

By Liang Tuang Nah
April 16, 2021

On April 9, a prototype of an advanced multi-role combat jet, the KF-21 Boramae (“young hawk” in Korean) was introduced by South Korea with President Moon Jae-in and Indonesian Defense Minister Prabowo Subianto in attendance. While it is clear that Seoul’s decision to develop an indigenous fighter jet is driven by desires for defense industry self-sufficiency, along with national pride, Prabowo’s presence signifies Jakarta’s commitment to acquiring the KF-21, thereby further diversifying Indonesia’s air force fleet to limit reliance on any one foreign supplier. The bulk of Indonesian warplanes currently come from the United States and Russia.

Will the Boramae Impact the Regional Strategic Status Quo?

Based on publicly sourced research, the KF-21 is touted to be superior to contemporary non-stealthy advanced fighters like the U.S. F-16 or the French Dassault Rafale. The Boramae’s selling points include greater operational range, more advanced avionics and electronic warfare capabilities, along with a Korean-made active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar, which has improved target detection and tracking capability versus earlier radar technologies, leading to more effective weapons delivery. Moreover, the KF-21 is designed to possess baseline radar evading stealth capabilities, which are inferior to full-fledged stealth fighters like the F-35, but give it an edge over potential non-stealthy adversaries.

When coupled with a weapons package comprising advanced infrared and radar guided air-to-air missiles for shooting down enemy aircraft, and air-to-ground munitions including accurate missiles and guided bombs, it can be seen why casual observers might infer that Indonesia’s pending order of 50 KF-21s might impact the future balance of military air power in Southeast Asia.

Important Context for the KF-21 Acquisition

Using the phrase “arms race” is attention grabbing, potentially leading to greater media circulation and corresponding advertising revenue. However, it pays to be more discerning and dispassionate when analyzing national weapons acquisition. Regarding future Indonesian KF-21s, it can be argued that Jakarta has two major considerations: expansive territorial defense and aircraft fleet obsolescence, neither of which should be alarming or sensational.

Concerning Indonesian airspace, the TNI-AU (Indonesian Air Force) has 1,904,569 square km of land to cover and a far larger sovereign airspace over Indonesian soil and internal waters, which it needs to patrol. Additionally, operational and security considerations may, from time to time, necessitate missions over Indonesia’s expansive maritime exclusive economic zone (EEZ). All of this requires a sufficiently large air fleet which the TNI-AU arguably does not possess, since it currently has only 101 armed aircraft and six maritime patrol planes to police or guard its extensive airspace responsibilities. Furthermore, not all of these airframes are always available or airworthy since a proportion will at any time be undergoing maintenance or grounded awaiting spare parts delivery. Seen in this light, the TNI-AU’s acquisition of 50 Boramae fighters in the next few years does not look like an unreasonable proposition for national security maintenance.

Turning to the issue of air fleet obsolescence, it should be mentioned that the additional 50 KF-21s are probably meant to replace some or all of Indonesia’s out-of-date warplanes. A quick look at the TNI-AU’s fighter inventory reveals a few models that are growing long in the tooth, and would be obsolete in the next decade. Examples include the Russian made Su-27, which was acquired in 2002 and 2006 (five aircraft in total), U.S. made F-16As and F-16Bs ordered in 1989 (10 still in service), and British made BAE Hawk Mk 109 and Mk 209 jets delivered by 1997 (total of 30 in service). If all these jets were retired due to uneconomical maintenance costs or aging unsafe airframes, the replacement Boramae fighters would only bring the TNI-AU’s combat fleet to 106, an increase of only five aircraft, which hardly deserves media attention.

Operational Issues Relevant to TNI-AU Modernization

Lastly, there are intangible and tangible issues related to an air force’s operational readiness and effectiveness, which most journalists never consider. Intangible factors like doctrinal effectiveness and pilot quality are hard to measure while tangible aspects such as availability of spare parts and sufficient stocks of compatible munitions are seldom investigated by the press.

With reference to doctrine, these refer to guidelines on how best to employ military force to achieve set objectives, while pilot readiness is often judged based a few factors such the number of annual flying hours, performance during international military exercises, and combat experience of the air force in question. Inasmuch as military doctrine is often classified, there are no means of examining authenticated TNI-AU doctrine; hence it is prudent to withhold comment about the efficacy of Indonesian air force tactics and strategy.

As for the aviators, competence should not be underestimated but one should note that the real-world operational experience of the TNI-AU only covers counterinsurgency missions against domestic rebels, not operations against the combat forces of other states. Also, it is not known whether Indonesian pilots receive the same number of flying hours as NATO air forces (100-150 hours/year), but it must be noted that concrete issues like spare parts availability can affect airworthiness to such an extent that fleets can be grounded, forcing pilots to resort to ground based simulators. For example, in 2005 logistical deprivation from a U.S. embargo resulted in minimal to nil operational availability for U.S.-made Indonesian assets like F-16s and A-4s.

Finally, the impactfulness of an air force rests to a substantial extent on its stocks of missiles and bombs delivered by its aircraft. Putting aside the quality of such armaments, open source research reveals no information about the amount of airborne weapons maintained by the TNI-AU. But it is notable that they procure both Russian and U.S. munitions, leading to greater complexity and strain on the logistical system, which might well hamper operational availability and the air force’s potential. Since the KF-21 is slated to employ both U.S. and European missiles, the eventual incorporation of an Indonesian Boramae fleet could overstretch the TNI-AUs supply network.

Rational Analysis Versus Hype

If anything, the KF-21 sale is an exercise in military, strategic, and industrial diplomacy by the Moon administration in support of Seoul’s ASEAN-centric “New Southern Policy.” From Jakarta’s perspective, the Boramae acquisition is probably intended to effect timely defense modernization for the TNI-AU while preserving status quo national interests. As such, overeager commentators should be encouraged to exercise restraint, especially when they understand little about the national imperatives of regional middle powers, and limitations or inner workings of their militaries.


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US and Japan vow to work on North Korea denuclearization at Washington summit | NK News
View more articles by Kelly Kasulis

3-4 minutes

President Joe Biden and Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga also agreed to work on other “shared security” issues.
U.S. President Joe Biden and Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga vowed to work on the complete denuclearization of North Korea on Friday in their first face-to-face meeting since Biden took office.
Standing behind two podiums at the White House’s Rose Garden, Suga said that the two leaders agreed to work on getting rid of all North Korean weapons of mass destruction in the future.
“On North Korea, we confirmed our commitment to the [complete, verifiable and irreversible dismantlement] of all weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missiles of all ranges, and agreed to demand North Korea to fulfill its obligations under Security Council resolutions,” Suga said.
Biden — who is also expected to meet South Korean President Moon Jae-in in Washington sometime next month — said that the United States and Japan are devoted to “shared security” and have an “ironclad” alliance.
“We committed to working together to take on the challenges from China and on issues like the East China Sea, the South China Sea, as well as North Korea, to ensure a future of a free and open Indo-Pacific,” the U.S. president said.
Over the past few weeks, American foreign policy and defense officials huddled to complete a North Korea policy review that could reveal how much former of U.S. President Donald Trump’s unconventional diplomatic outreach will carry over to the Biden administration.
It’s unclear how much of the North Korea policy review will be made public, but so far, the Biden administration has shown some interest in contacting the DPRK. The Biden administration reached out to North Korea through backchannels and received no response since mid-February, NK News reported on March 13, with U.S. National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan later saying that the White House reached out because it believes “diplomacy has to be part of the process of getting to a denuclearized North Korea.”
Tensions with the DPRK recently escalated when the United States and South Korea held routine, computerized joint-military exercises in March — a move that routinely reads as provocative to officials in Pyongyang.
North Korea then test-fired its first ballistic missile of the Biden administration, violating U.N. resolutions and evoking condemnations from Seoul, Washington, Tokyo and beyond.
“We’re consulting with our allies, our partners, and there will be responses. If they choose to escalate, we will respond accordingly,” Biden said hours after the launch, on March 25. “I’m also prepared for some form of diplomacy, but it has to be conditioned upon the end result of denuclearization.”
The North Korean test-fire launched a short-range ballistic missile, which did not garner an outraged response from U.S. President Donald Trump a year prior, in 2020. The country has yet to test an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) since 2017.


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China’s new powerful warship puts US to shame at sea
In a move that could redefine war at sea, China has unleashed a new colossal and lethal destroyer – and it has the US on edge.

Jamie Seidel


April 8, 202112:22pm

China's new navy fleet will rival U.S. and Russia

This week, both China and the United States sailed aircraft carriers into troubled waters in the East and South China seas. But quietly tagging along is a new warship that puts America’s best to shame and could redefine war at sea.

China’s training aircraft carrier Liaoning and five escort vessels were observed passing through a critical maritime “choke point” south of Japan at the weekend. About the same time, the USS Theodore Roosevelt and two escorts were making their way through the narrow Malacca Strait, past Singapore and into the South China Sea.
Since World War II, aircraft carriers have replaced big-gunned battleships as status symbols and gunboat diplomacy flag bearers.

RELATED: China pilot’s bold claim a worry for Australia
A translated tweet from the Japanese Defence Force regarding the six Chinese ships.

A translated tweet from the Japanese Defence Force regarding the six Chinese ships.Source:Twitter
On the surface, the US-Chinese battle groups are not evenly matched.
The 110,000-ton, nuclear-powered Roosevelt can operate some 90 heavy aircraft and helicopters.
The 55,000-ton, diesel-powered Liaoning can carry up to 40 light fighters and helicopters.

But that balance shifts dramatically once the low-profile escort vessels are taken into account.
Aircraft carriers aren’t the source of overwhelming force they used to be.
Fast, stealthy missiles have negated their one overwhelming advantage – long-range strike.
And China’s new Type 055 “Renhai” class missile destroyer carries an awful lot of them.

Naval arms race
The pace of change has accelerated. Governments worldwide are struggling to come to grips with issues of privacy, data economics and digital security decades after their emergence.
And shedding old ideas, definitions and standards prove to be just as much an issue for the world’s militaries.
RELATED: ‘Chicken’: Dangerous confrontation at sea
The new Type 055 112 VLS-cell warship Nanchang displays its clean, modern lines. Picture: CCTV

The new Type 055 112 VLS-cell warship Nanchang displays its clean, modern lines. Picture: CCTVSource:Supplied
A new Type 055 “Destroyer” is sailing alongside the Liaoning. The PLAN Nanchang carries 112 Vertical Launch System (VLS) cells. Eight ships of this class have been launched. Another six are at various points of assembly.
Meanwhile, a 38-year-old Ticonderoga class “Cruiser” is protecting the USS Theodore Roosevelt. The USS Bunker Hill also carries 112 VLS cells. But the US navy is struggling to keep these ships functional as more and more are retired. No comparable replacements are being built.

The point of comparison, apart from their age, is the number of VLS cells.
These are the “big guns” of modern warships.
Each cell can hold a large missile, or sometimes several smaller ones. The mix of anti-surface, anti-shore, anti-air or antimissile warheads depends on the mission.

They are designed to put as many missiles as possible into the air, as fast as possible.
The idea is to overwhelm the defences of any opponent through speed, stealth – and sheer numbers.
But even as Beijing is sending more and more VLS cells to sea, the US is withdrawing them.
And it has no firm plans to replace them.
The Type 055 Nanchang being manoeuvred by tugboats. This top-down view provides a good look at the numbers of VLS cells positioned forward and amidships. Picture: PLA/Weibo

The Type 055 Nanchang being manoeuvred by tugboats. This top-down view provides a good look at the numbers of VLS cells positioned forward and amidships. Picture: PLA/WeiboSource:Supplied

Lethal weapon
Japan responded to the PLAN Liaoning battle group’s passage through the Miyako Strait between Okinawa Island and Miyako Island by sending one of its own destroyers and a surveillance aircraft to “shadow” the force.
The Type 055 Nanchang will have been the centre of attention.
It is about 180m long and 22m wide. Its smooth sides deflect radar, and the large square panels betray the advanced nature of its sensor systems.
Liaoning’s two other heavy escorts, Type 052D “Luyang III” class destroyers, are only a little less modern. And they carry 64 VLS cells, giving them less potential firepower to their 33-year-old US “Arleigh Burke” class counterparts which hold between 90 and 96.

But it’s the potential of Type 055 that has the US Navy on edge.
Chinese Communist Party-controlled media claims its dual-band radars can detect stealth aircraft and track low-Earth orbit satellites. Its VLS cells can carry 9m-long missiles powerful enough to reach them. Not only does this put crucial surveillance and communications satellites at risk, it also indicates the potential to intercept ballistic rockets – whether they carry hypersonic or nuclear warheads or not.

Some US Ticonderoga and Arleigh-Burke class ships also have this capability.
Now Beijing-controlled media reports the Type 055s are fitted with 20-megawatt generators capable of powering high-energy weapons such as lasers and electromagnetic rail guns. Prototypes of such weapons are already being tested at sea.

What’s in a name?
The PLAN Nanchang weighs 13,000 tons. That’s the equivalent of a World War II heavy cruiser. But it’s called a Guided Missile Destroyer.
The USS Bunker Hill weighs 9800 tons. It’s designation is Guided Missile Cruiser.
The Royal Australian Navy recently accepted the “Air-Warfare Destroyer” HMAS Sydney.

It’s the third and final of a batch of three modern 7000-ton warships based on a Spanish F-100 “frigate” design. All are bigger than World War II cruisers. All carry 48-cell Vertical Launch Systems (VLS) and an assortment of short-range and point-defence weapons.
These designations – cruiser, destroyer or frigate – appear meaningless in the context of their size and firepower.
A Type 055 undergoing speed trials. Picture: PLA

A Type 055 undergoing speed trials. Picture: PLASource:Supplied

Yet the outmoded World War II gun-based language still shapes the thoughts and opinions of politicians, the general public – and military personnel.
But the raw numbers show a 48-cell “Air Warfare Destroyer” has little chance of protecting itself – yet alone the troop transports it is tasked to guard – against even a single 112-cell “Guided Missile Destroyer”.
And the US Pentagon is accelerating plans to retire its expensive-to-maintain Ticonderoga Cruiser fleet, despite plans for its replacement – DDG (X) – appearing to have stalled. An earlier replacement program, the USS Zumwalt class, was abandoned due to excessive costs and a failure to produce its advanced weapon systems on time.

The upshot has severe implications for the balance of power in the Indian and Pacific Oceans.
“We’re going to have to have a much larger fleet than we have today, if we’re serious about great power competition and deterring great power war, and if we’re serious about dominant capability over something like China or some other power that has significant capability,” chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley recently warned.
Jamie Seidel is a freelance writer | @JamieSeidel
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Well here's a DOT................

Posted for fair use.....

Japan-Based USAF F-16s Flew South China Sea Mission Fully Loaded With Live Air-To-Air Missiles
Flying far from their home in Japan, the four F-16s, each armed with six missiles, executed operations in one of the tensest areas of the planet.
F-16CM Japan South China Sea

THOMAS NEWDICKView Thomas Newdick's Articles

The four U.S. Air Force F-16 fighter jets that recently flew a mission over the highly contested South China Sea were photographed landing at their home base, Yokota Air Base in Japan, at the end of their return flight. The images confirm that these jets were armed for counter-air operations with a heavy load of live air-to-air missiles. The jets’ appearance in the South China Sea last week coincided with the biggest presence of People’s Liberation Army aircraft in Taiwan’s southwest air defense identification zone (ADIZ) in recent times: 25 aircraft in all.

The Viper photos, taken by Lori, whose tweets can be found here, detail the jets’ extensive armament. Each jet was armed with five beyond-visual-range AIM-120C-7 AMRAAM air-to-air missiles and a single short-range AIM-9 Sidewinder — one of the latest AIM-9X missiles on some of the jets, or an older AIM-9M on the others. Under the belly, each aircraft was fitted with an AN/ALQ-184 electronic countermeasures self-protection pod. All of the weapons were live, a relatively uncommon sight, especially over Japan, and indicated that this was much more than a simple long-distance training mission and, instead, a calculated signal to the Chinese military and possibly even a contingency operation.

A close-up of the three live AIM-120C-7 AMRAAM missiles under the wings of one of the jets.

As evidenced by the AN/ASQ-213 HARM Targeting System, the distinctive pod-mounted sensor found under the right side of the aircraft’s intakes, these jets are the radar-killing Wild Weasel F-16CM versions but, on this occasion at least, they were carrying maximum air-to-air load-outs. That these live missiles were then taken over the sensitive South China Sea suggests a willingness to demonstrate U.S. ability to generate defensive combat air patrols (CAPs) in proximity to Taiwan, as well as other hotspots in the region.

The photos were taken on April 17, when all four of the jets that had been involved in the South China Sea flight on April 12 touched down at Yokota Air Base, in eastern Tokyo, at around 3:00 PM local time, presumably for a fuel stop, before departing again around 5:00 PM. They then flew home to Misawa Air Base, their home station, around 400 miles further north.


It’s unclear where the jets actually took off from for the April 12 mission, but they may have flown from Kadena Air Base, on the island of Okinawa, located around 300 miles north of Taiwan. This island has a massive U.S. Air Force presence of its own and would have positioned them much closer to the South China Sea. Nevertheless, extensive tanker support was still required, with at least four different Air Force KC-135 Stratotankers identified in the strategic channel area south of Taiwan, based on online flight tracking data.

F-16CM serial number 91-0357, which is marked up as the flagship of the 35th Fighter Wing.

Once in the South China Sea, the four jets performed an overflight of the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-71), currently on a scheduled deployment to the U.S. 7th Fleet area of operations.

At the same time that the F-16s were conducted their armed patrol, the People’s Liberation Army was sending no fewer than 25 aircraft into Taiwan’s southwest ADIZ, comprising 14 J-16 and four J-10 multirole fighters, four H-6K missile-carrying bombers, two KQ-200 anti-submarine warfare aircraft, and one KJ-500 airborne early warning and control (AEW&C) aircraft.

An official Taiwanese graphic showing the flight paths of Chinese aircraft in the southwest ADIZ on April 12.

The Chinese force was bigger than that which was encountered in the area last month, which you can read more about here, but featured a similar mixed composition. On that March 26 mission, however, some of the PLA aircraft extended their flightpaths further out into the South China Sea, before hooking around further behind Taiwan and then returning, suggesting a possible attack profile approaching the eastern side of Taiwan.

Another of the Misawa F-16CMs on approach to Yokota Air Base. Note the ASQ-213 HARM Targeting System on the intake.

On April 12, by contrast, the PLA aircraft headed out into the northeastern reaches of the South China Sea, in more or less a straight line, before turning around heading back to the mainland. This is a more typical tactic and reflects another previous large-scale mission, flown on January 24, an incident that The War Zone reported on in-depth at the time.

Large-scale aerial operations by the PLA in the South China Sea in general, and in Taiwan’s southwest ADIZ in particular, are becoming more frequent. Not only are the numbers of aircraft involved significant, but they include potentially more provocative aircraft types, including long-range bombers and airborne early warning platforms.

A Chinese People’s Liberation Army Air Force KJ-200 AEW&C aircraft.

While Taiwan responds routinely to these incidents by scrambling its own alert fighters, and readying its air defense missile systems, it’s unusual for a U.S. Air Force presence to be in the area at the time, especially one that has been deployed for that purpose from Misawa, in the north of Japan.

Rather than only being a direct response to provocative PLA flights in the area, the presence of the U.S. fighters was clearly timed to coincide with the USS Theodore Roosevelt, a warship that has, reportedly, been subject to dummy attack runs by PLA aircraft in the South China Sea in the past. Nonetheless, it underscores how America can project land-based air combat power far forward into contested areas, including around Taiwan, during a major crisis.

The four 13th Fighter Squadron F-16CMs buzz the USS Theodore Roosevelt on April 12.

U.S. officials have been increasingly vocal about their concerns that Beijing will seek to use force to realize its long-standing aim of reintegrating the breakaway island of Taiwan. “I worry that they’re accelerating their ambitions to supplant the United States and our leadership role in the rules-based international order, which they’ve long said that they want to do that by 2050. I’m worried about them moving that target closer,” U.S. Navy Admiral Phil Davidson, head of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, the top American military command in the Pacific region, told members of Congress earlier this year. “Taiwan is clearly one of their ambitions before then. And I think the threat is manifest during this decade, in fact in the next six years.”

As well as AMRAAMs, this F-16CM is armed with a single AIM-9M Sidewinder missile.
Just two days before the F-16s arrived in the South China Sea, the Theodore Roosevelt Carrier Strike Group and the Makin Island Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) also conducted a coordinated exercise in the area, which you can read more about here.

Two of the F-16s perform a fly-by of the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt, as seen from the warship.

Despite their relative distance from the flash-points of the South China Sea, the F-16s from Misawa still have an important role to play in the strategic balance of the region. And while famed for their Wild Weasel mission immortalized in their ‘WW’ tail codes, these jets are also well equipped for an air-to-air mission.

One of the F-16s banks to reveal an armament of five AMRAAMs and a single AIM-9X.

With potential for turbulence across the Indo-Pacific region, the two F-16 squadrons of the 35th Fighter Wing — the 13th Fighter Squadron (FS) ‘Panthers’ and the 14th FS ‘Samurais’ — have to be ready for any eventuality, wherever it may occur. For Taiwan, the worst-case scenario would be an attack, or amphibious invasion launched from the Chinese mainland. American airpower would be expected to play a huge part in countering such an offensive, although some would argue that the U.S. would not actually step in militarily at all.

The F-16s prepare to fly over the USS Theodore Roosevelt, with aircraft from Carrier Air Wing 11 arranged on the deck.

But China is not the only threat. With more than 100 million square miles to cover in the Pacific Air Forces area of responsibility (AOR), the Misawa F-16s could find themselves tasked on missions directed toward North Korea, or Russia, as well. They also find themselves periodically engaged in the U.S. Central Command AOR, battling ISIS.

All these missions are likely to involve forward deployment, stopovers, and aerial refueling, as on April 12, or the jets might make use of austere bases, like the F-16s and F-35s involved in drills earlier this year on the island of Guam. That exercise, which you read about here, was a major component of a larger emerging initiative that looks to provide dispersed operating locations that can be accessed by Air Force combat aircraft during a crisis. This new strategy is largely driven by the growing threat posed by ballistic missile attacks in the Pacific theater. Misawa Air Base would likely be a target of those missiles.

Four Misawa F-16s in formation over the carrier.

As the previous boss of the 35th Fighter Wing, Colonel (now Brigadier General) R. Scott Jobe told the author, “Misawa F-16s are small, powerful, extremely agile fighters that can hold their own against any currently-fielded fighter.”

It will be interesting to see if U.S. tactical airpower becomes a more common staple around Taiwan and especially over the tense waters of the South China Sea.

Contact the author:


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Zachary Haver

Twitter logo
19 Apr
, 16 tweets, 5 min read

SCOOP: China is using over $930,000 of foreign tech to control the South China Sea, mostly from US companies, including unmanned surface vehicle components and a military-grade countersurveillance device.

Thread on my findings: (1/)

How China is Leveraging Foreign Technology to Dominate the South China Sea Cutting edge technology from the United States and other foreign countries is helping China assert its sweeping maritime and territorial claims in the contested South China Sea, a Radio Free Asia inve… How China is Leveraging Foreign Technology to Dominate the South China Sea

I found that Sansha City has acquired or plans to acquire hardware, equipment, software, and materials from at least 25 different companies based in the United States, Sweden, Austria, Italy, the United Kingdom, Japan, and Taiwan, amounting to 66 items across 13 contracts. (2/) Image

Sansha City is headquartered on Woody Island, is responsible for directly administering the PRC’s claims in the South China Sea, and has an extremely close organizational and operational relationship with the People’s Liberation Army (PLA). (3/)

This means that all of the foreign tech acquired by Sansha City, which is basically a civilian front for the PLA, is directly helping China assert control over the contested South China Sea at the expense of other countries in the region. (4/)

My investigation found that Sansha systematically obtains foreign technology through procurement contracts with third-party Chinese companies. How exactly these Chinese companies acquire the items from foreign companies, however, remains unclear. (5/) Image

The city is using items from foreign companies for monitoring land and sea areas, maritime law enforcement, environmental monitoring, inter-island transportation boats, maritime communications infrastructure, countersurveillance, IT infrastructure, and medical equipment. (6/) Image

One notable example of how Sansha is using this foreign tech is in the L30 unmanned surface vehicle, sometimes known as the “Look Out”, which can navigate autonomously and mount a precision missile launcher. (7/) Image

The L30 ordered by Sansha includes $233,571 of components from foreign companies, namely an AIS transponder, a weather monitoring device, two drives, and two diesel engines. You can even see the foreign drives on the L30 at expos and in promotional videos. (8/) Image

The L30 is designed to carry out missions such as reconnaissance, precision strikes, and guarding islands and reefs as well as their surrounding waters. It will be used by Sansha City’s municipal coastguard force. (9/)

The city also appears to have acquired a countersurveillance device from Research Electronics International (REI), a US company. Records indicate that REI has sold this device and other products in the same line to the FBI, the DOD, the US Navy, and the US Coast Guard. (10/)

According to REI, the device can “rapidly and reliably detect and locate illicit tampering and security vulnerabilities on both digital and analog telephone systems” and “accurately analyze phones and lines for faults and security breaches.” (11/) Image

REI told me that “all of our sales, throughout the world, are made in full compliance with the law and US export regulations” and that “we have no records of the companies you are inquiring about and we have not made any sales to Sansha City.” (12/)

If REI’s statement is accurate, that means Sansha City may have illicitly acquired the device in question, which relevant U.S. authorities might view as a sensitive item subject to certain export restrictions on national security grounds. (13/)

I talked with @emily_sw1, @afeng79, and @jmulvenon about how Sansha City’s behavior mirrors longstanding Chinese government tech transfer practices and why this issue is a big concern for the US government. (14/)

Importantly, because Sansha is still actively acquiring foreign tech, unless the U.S. government and other relevant authorities take action, China’s efforts to dominate the South China Sea will continue to be supported by foreign technology. (15/)

Be sure to check out the full article for more details and this fantastic cartoon by @RadioFreeAsia’s cartoonist! (16/) Image

• • •

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Indonesian Submarine Disappears During Routine Naval Drill
Tyler Durden's Photo

by Tyler Durden
Wednesday, Apr 21, 2021 - 07:00 AM
An Indonesian Navy submarine has disappeared somewhere in the North Bali waters following a series of naval drills this week. Reuters reported Wednesday that a search party has been dispatched by the Navy to try and locate the lost sub, which was staffed with crew members when it disappeared.
The vessel was participating in torpedo drills when it suddenly failed to report results of an exercise as expected, said First Admiral Julius Widjojono.

According to Reuters, the KRI Nanggala 402 was built in Germany in 1981, has a cruising speed of 21.5 knots and can take up to 34 passengers.

A Navy spokesman, and a spokesman for the defense ministry, weren't immediately available to respond to questions about how many crewmembers were on board.

Setting aside the potential loss of life, losing a submarine would be a big loss for the Indonesia Navy, since it only has 5 submarines in its fleet. One Twitter user pointed out an interesting coincidence: on April 5, Indonesia laid down a submarine "support station" on a rocky island in the contested South China Sea, which Beijing claims as its own backyard.
Three weeks later, a submarine has mysteriously failed to report back after a routine torpedo drill.


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Posted for fair use.....

April 19, 2021
1:28 AM PDT
Asia Pacific
Taiwan says seeking long-range cruise missiles from U.S.


Taiwan is seeking to acquire long-range, air-launched cruise missiles from the United States, a defence official said on Monday, as the Chinese-claimed island bolsters its forces in the face of increasing pressure from Beijing.

While Taiwan is developing its own long-range missiles, to give it an ability to strike back deep into China in the event of war, it has also looked to the United States to help provide it more advanced weaponry. read more

Asked in parliament which weapons systems Taiwan wants to buy but the United States has not yet said it can, Lee Shih-chiang, head of Taiwan's defence ministry's strategic planning department, named Lockheed Martin Corp's (LMT.N) AGM-158.

"We are still in the process of seeking it" from the United States, Lee said. "Communication channels are very smooth and normal."

He did not elaborate.

The AGM-158 JASSM - standing for Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile - can have a range of almost 1,000 km (621 miles) depending on the model, and be fixed to aircraft including F-16s, which Taiwan operates.

Lockheed Martin says the missile is designed to destroy high-value, well-defended, fixed and relocatable targets, and be launched far enough away to keep the launch aircraft well away from enemy air defence systems.

China has stepped up military activity near Taiwan, as it tries to force the government in Taipei to accept Beijing's claims of sovereignty.

Taiwan's armed forces, dwarfed by China's, are in the midst of a modernisation programme to offer a more effective deterrent, including the ability to hit back at bases far from China's coast in the event of a conflict.

Taiwan's armed forces have traditionally concentrated on defending the island from a Chinese attack.

But President Tsai Ing-wen has stressed the importance of developing an "asymmetrical" deterrent, using mobile equipment that is hard to find and destroy, and capable of hitting targets far away from Taiwan.

Washington, Taipei's main foreign arms supplier, has been eager to create a military counterbalance to Chinese forces, building on an effort known within the Pentagon as "Fortress Taiwan".

Beijing views Taiwan as sovereign Chinese territory, and has never renounced the use of force to bring it under its control.


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still not finding Australia on my bingo card o' doom.
Indo-Pacific News - Watching the CCP-China Threat


#China fires warning shot to #Australia A senior #Chinese diplomat has issued a warning to Australia, saying the superpower is not a cow to be milked and then slaughtered.
2) Wang Xining, deputy head of the Chinese Embassy in Canberra, also opened up about the arrest of Australian journalist Cheng Lei, saying some reporters had failed to present a “truthful image” about Beijing.
3) Mr Wang told the National Press Club on Wednesday that there was a “shallow understanding” of the Communist Party of China, and he again dredged up the “hurt” caused by Australia’s “unethical” decision to ban Huawei from its 5G network.



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PH military pouring naval, air assets near site of Chinese incursions in WPS

By: Frances Mangosing - Reporter / @FMangosingINQ / 06:18 PM April 21, 2021

MANILA, Philippines—The Philippines is pouring naval and air assets into Palawan province near where China militia vessels have been brazenly encroaching into the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone (EEZ).
According to the National Task Force on the West Philippine Sea, at an online presentation on Wednesday (April 21), some of the ships sent to the area were:

  • BRP Miguel Malvar (PS-19)
  • BRP Magat Salamat (PS-20)
  • BRP Emilio Jacinto (PS-35)
  • BRP Apolinario Mabini (PS-36)
  • BRP Dagupan City (LS-551)
  • BRP Ramon Alcaraz (PS-16)
  • BRP Tarlac (LD-601)
These vessels were expected to back up the Philippine Coast Guard’s BRP Cabra (MRRV 4409), BRP Malapascua (MRRV 4403) plus two other ships from the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources.
Five aircraft from the Philippine Air Force and Philippine Navy are also in Palawan to conduct aerial patrols.

According to the task force’s presentation, the BRP Mangyan (AS-71) and the Navy’s newest frigates BRP Jose Rizal (FF-150) and BRP Antonio Luna (FF-151) are soon expected to join the deployment.
The Philippines has repeatedly protested the lingering presence of China militia vessels in the West Philippine Sea, which is part of the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone. More than 200 Chinese militia vessels had been spotted at the Julian Felipe (Whitsun) Reef in early March.

China all but ignored the protests and had issued a statement saying it owned Julian Felipe Reef and the waters around it which was a direct affront to Philippine foreign affairs and defense officials.
Most of the China ships have left the reef but not the Philippines’ EEZ and were just scattered across the West Philippine Sea.
The military’s Western Command based in Palawan had asked for more assets to protect Philippine sovereignty in the vast maritime area and conduct increased patrols.

PH steps up patrols in WPS as China thrashes protests vs incursions
Carpio to Duterte: PH ‘can’t just fold up’ in the face of China incursion
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:( :( :(


Search for missing Indonesian submarine enters second day as neighbours offer help


Replying to
Hope #Indonesia is smart and already ordered #Boskalis and/or #Mammoet to be present ASAP to lift the #submarine and hopefully able to save crew. Don't make same mistake as with the #Kursk (too late). #Bali

EHA News


#BREAKINGIndonesian navy submarine goes missing off coast of Bali

#Indonesia's navy is searching for a submarine with 53 people on board which has gone missing in waters of the island of #Bali during a military drill. The search for KRI Nanggala-402 and its crew continues.