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Archive for July 1, 2014

1st South Korean F-16s Arrive at BAE Systems for Upgrades

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BAE Systems has begun to upgrade 134 South Korean F-16 aircraft in partnership with the U.S. Air Force.

Two of the F-16s recently arrived at the company’s modification facility at Alliance Airport in Fort Worth, Texas, where they will be equipped with advanced weapons and next-generation avionics, including advanced mission computers, new cockpit displays, and advanced radars and targeting sensors.

The work is part of a Foreign Military Sales program for the Republic of Korea’s fleet of KF-16C/D Block 52 aircraft over several years. With a contract now in place, the program marks the first time a non-original equipment manufacturer is performing a major upgrade for a 4th-generation U.S. fighter jet. The company is also offering similar capabilities to other countries around the world in need of F-16 upgrades.

Under terms negotiated by the Republic of Korea Air Force and the U.S. government, the company is performing Phase One of the KF-16 program, which also includes associated equipment, parts, training, and logistical support. Phase Two will begin this year and will fund completion of the systems integration and flight test activities, followed by production and installation of the upgrades.

Chinese Navy near Hawaii: First time participation in US-led RIMPAC drills

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For the first time ever Chinese warships are taking part in the world’s largest naval drills: the Rim of the Pacific Exercise (RIMPAC), biannual US-led training of Asia-Pacific regional navies traditionally conducted off the Hawaiian Islands since 1971.

RIMPAC will last for over a month, from June 26 to August 1.

The ongoing drill involves 47 surface ships, six submarines, over 200 aircraft, and 25,000 troops from 22 countries.

Originally, the invitation to take part in RIMPAC was sent by then-Defense Secretary Leon Panetta in 2012. China accepted the invitation in 2013, but due to legal restrictions the Chinese role in the drills is limited to relief operation training.

The official website of RIMPAC suggests that the Chinese task force participating in the drills is likely to be the second-largest there – after the US.

Beijing has sent four ships (missile destroyer Haikou, the missile frigate Yueyang, the supply ship Qiandaohu and the hospital ship Peace Ark) with two helicopters aboard, a commando and diving units – altogether 1,100 servicemen.

The Chinese and American navies cooperate on rare occasions and they invariably practice interaction in humanitarian assistance and disaster relief. Military relations between Beijing and Washington also involve exchanging military officers for academic studies.

Although the US is officially repositioning the majority of its navy to the Asia-Pacific by 2020, Washington is interested in transparency in military-to-military relations with Beijing.

An experience of real interaction between the US Navy and the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) is a good insurance against possible misunderstandings between the two militaries in the future.
“It benefits both countries and helps communications. It’s a win-win situation,” a US defense official told Reuters.

“While China and the United States have a vast array of joint interests, certainly there do exist disagreements,” China’s Defense Ministry spokesman Yang Yujun was quoted as saying, yet stressing that China’s participation in RIMPAC serves as an example that Beijing is interested in good military ties with the US, while certain politicians in Washington tend to exaggerate China’s military threat.

PLA constructing more Type 054A frigates

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The Yueyang, a Type 054A guided-missile frigate of the People’s Liberation Army Navy, is participating in the ongoing RIMPAC 2014 joint naval exercise held in Hawaii, and the country is already underway constructing more frigates of the same class, reports the state-run China News Service.

The Yueyang is in fact the 14th vessel among its other sister ships. With 575 as its hull number, the vessel was launched on May 10, 2012, and began its sea trials in September of that year before eventually entering the PLA Navy in March, 2013. The Yueyang, like other ships of its class, is designed to provide fleet air defense and can also coordinate with other vessels and naval aircraft in battle against enemy warships and submarines, CNS said.

Like many of its sister ships, the Yueyang was constructed at the Huangpu Shipyard located in Guangzhou in southern China’s Guangdong province under the supervision of the China State Shipbuilding Corporation.

It takes a shipyard like Huangpu around two years to complete the construction of a Type 054A frigate, CNS said. The last vessel of Type 054A class which will be named the Huanggang and the vessel will likely be launched next year, though it remains under construction at Huangpu Shipyard.

Burma to Purchase Chinese-Pakistani JF-17 Fighter Jets

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Myanmar will purchase the Sino-Pakistan jointly produced JF-17 Thunder multirole fighter aircraft, according to local news reports.

According to the Burma Times, Myanmar is looking to purchase a license to domestically produce the J-17 aircraft, which is called the FC-1 Xiaolong in China. If the report is accurate, it would make Myanmar the first foreign purchaser of the jet. Currently, only Pakistan’s Air Force operates the J-17 and Islamabad is in the process of making a number of upgrades to the fighter jet.

Read the full report at the Diplomat:
http://thediplomat.com/2014/06/burma-to-purchase-chinese-pakistani-jf-17-fighter-jets/

China and Vietnam Ships Clash in Territorial Bout

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China and Vietnam-owned vessels again clashed on Monday, June 23, near a Chinese oil rig that has been set up in a part of the South China Sea that is being claimed by both countries.

According to Vietnamese Coast Guard, the incident left two Vietnamese sailors injured and their Fisheries Surveillance ship KN-951 severely damaged.

Vietnam TV reports indicate that seven Chinese vessels pursued the Vietnamese vessel 11.5 nautical miles south-southwest before one of them rammed into it. Further reports say that two Chinese tugboats 284 and 285 and a maritime patrol ship No. 11 blocked the Vietnamese vessel steadying it on one side where tugboat named Xinhai 285 rammed into it, rendering serious damage on the ship.

On the other hand, Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hua Chunying claimed at a news briefing the day after the incident that the Vietnamese vessel breached a Chinese security barrier and rammed a Chinese boat.

Since the oil rig was deployed on May 2, the two countries have had several similar incidents at the site where Vietnam claims territory saying the rig was within its 200-nautical-mile exclusive economic zone. China, however, declares that the China National Offshore Oil Corporation is simply carrying out normal activities on Chinese waters and is entitled to execute drilling there.

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