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South Korea’s military said Thursday, April 10, it would hold its largest-ever joint air drill with the United States as tensions mount over a series of threats from North Korea.
The twice-yearly Max Thunder exercise — to be held from Friday to April 25 — will be the largest-ever involving 103 aircraft and 1,400 troops, the air force said.
Seoul’s F-15K jet fighters will take part along with US Air Force F-15 and F-16s and US Marines’ FA-18 and EA-18 aircraft, it said in a statement.
“The combined air forces will strengthen their battle readiness under the current situation when tension rises over the Korean peninsula,” it said.
The exercise will focus on “practical scenarios” involving precision attacks on enemies or supply drop missions for troops infiltrating enemy territory, it said.
Separately, the allies are also holding annual Key Resolve and Foal Eagle exercises which last from late February to April 18.
Vladimir Putin has approved in principle the sale of Russia’s most advanced air and missile defense system to China, Russian media outlets have reported.
According to a report on the Russian business channel RBK TV, which was reproduced by BBC Monitoring, Russian President Putin has approved the sale of between two and four S-400 air and missile defense systems to China. Such a deal has long been under negotiation, and if approved would make China the first foreign customer of the advanced defense system. Already, China deploys a number of the Soviet-era S-300 defense system.
Despite the ongoing talks, some had felt that Russia would ultimately refuse to sell China the S-400 surface-to-air missile system for a number of reasons. First, there were reports that Russia planned to withhold all foreign sales of the S-400 until Moscow’s own military needs had been satisfied, sometime later this decade. More importantly, there were widespread concerns in Russian military circles that China would purchase a few of the systems with the intent of stealing the technology and reverse engineering a domestic version.
Russia and China have sought to overcome this problem by signing stronger intellectual property protection (IPP) agreements. One IPP agreement was signed in 2008, but Russian officials later dismissed it as being insufficient. Russia and China also reportedly signed a stronger IPP agreement in 2012, although few details about this deal have been released.
With regards to the S-400, Jane’s reports that Russia and China hope to overcome the issue of reverse-engineering using a combination of stronger IPP agreements as well as larger volumes of sales. If China purchases a larger quantity of S-400 missile systems up front, Russia’s arms industry will suffer less if Beijing turns around and reverse-engineers the system.
The S-400 itself is likely to significantly enhance Chinese military power in a number of different contingencies. No country will be more affected by China’s S-400 missile systems, which—with a range of 400 kilometers—experts suggest will allow Beijing to achieve air dominance over the Taiwanese strait. York Chen, a former member of Taiwan’s National Security Council, told Defense News last year: “When S-400s work together with Chinese land- and sea-based fighters, the Chinese will have more confidence in sustaining airspace dominance over the Taiwan theater, thus depriving any organized resistance by the Taiwan Air Force and deterring the American intervention.”
South Korea is seeking AIM-9X-2 Sidewinder missiles and associated support from the United States through a Foreign Military Sales deal worth $98 million.
The U.S. Defense Security Cooperation Agency, which notified Congress earlier this week of the possible sale to the Republic of Korea, said the U.S. Department of State has already signed off on the deal.
“The ROK continues to be an important force for peace, political stability and economic progress in North East Asia,” the agency said.
“The ROK intends to use these AIM-9X missiles to supplement its existing missile capability and current weapon inventory. This sale will contribute to the ROK’s force modernization goals and enhance interoperability with U.S. forces.
“The ROK will use this enhanced capability to strengthen its homeland defense and deter regional threats,” it told Congress.
Korea’s shopping list includes 76 AIM-9X-2 Sidewinder Block II All-Up-Round Missiles; 24 CATM-9X-2 Captive Air Training Missiles; eight CATM-9X-2 Block II Missile Guidance Units; and four AIM-9X-2 Block II Tactical Guidance Units.
Containers, missile support and test equipment, provisioning, spare and repair parts, personnel training and training equipment are also part of the package.
DSCA said Raytheon Missile Systems would be the principal contractor.
Iran has armed IRGC Navy’s speed boats with long-range “Qader” cruise missiles which can destroy maritime targets including frigates and warships, deputy commander of the IRGC Navy General Alireza Tangsiri said, Iranian Fars news agency reported on Monday, April 7, 2014.
In September 2011, Iran unveiled its 200-kilometers range Qader anti-ship cruise missile with a high-precision striking capability and the Iranian defense industries have mass-produced the missile. Iranian media outlets claimed that the missile enjoys automatic digital pilot system, high-precision navigation systems, high-precision striking capability, anti-jamming radar systems and a rapid deployment capability.
Tangsiri also noted that the IRGC’s MIL17 helicopters are equipped with Nour cruise missiles with a range of 120 kilometers. Anti-ship Nour cruise missile systems are ultra-advanced and self-relying systems which have remarkably improved in radar, satellite, precision, range and navigation terms compared to their predecessors.
The IRGC has also mounted short-range Nasr cruise missiles on its 206 mini helicopters, the commander added.