24 October 2016

AUS: Visit to France and Indonesia – 24 Oct 2016

Minister for Defence, Senator the Hon Marise Payne will this week travel to France and Indonesia for discussions on key Australian defence, security and strategic interests.

The Minister will attend a meeting of Defence Ministers from the main force contributors to the Counter-Daesh Coalition in Paris on 25 October, which will include discussions on progress in the military campaigns in Iraq and Syria.

The meeting comes at a critical juncture for the counter-Daesh campaign, with the offensive to liberate Mosul underway.

Daesh has now lost more than 50 per cent of the territory it once held in Iraq and this meeting will be an opportunity to further consider coalition efforts in the campaign against the terrorist group.

While in Paris, Minister Payne will hold a number of bilateral meetings with her counterparts.

The Minister will then travel to Indonesia for the annual 2+2 Foreign and Defence Ministers Meeting with Minister for Foreign Affairs the Hon Julie Bishop MP on 27 and 28 October 2016.

As outlined in the 2016 Defence White Paper, our defence relationship with Indonesia is vital. This year’s forum will be an opportunity to further strengthen bilateral cooperation in the areas of counter-terrorism, peacekeeping and maritime security.

USA: Advanced Space Surveillance Telescope Has Critical Military Applications

By Cheryl Pellerin
DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, Oct. 22, 2016 — The most sophisticated space surveillance telescope ever developed is ready to begin tracking thousands of space objects as small as a softball. It’s a boon to space surveillance and science and a new military capability important to the nation and the globe, an Air Force general says.

“It’s not often we get an opportunity to witness the beginning of an entirely new military capability,” Air Force Maj. Gen. Nina Armagno said at the transfer event, “but that's exactly what we're doing here today.”

The telescope, developed by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, was turned over to the Air Force Oct. 18 at the Space Surveillance Telescope site atop North Oscura Peak on the northern part of the Army’s 3,200-square-mile White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico.

Armagno, the director of strategic plans, programs, requirements and analysis for Air Force Space Command headquarters at Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado, was one of several speakers at the event, which was attended by officials, scientists and engineers from DARPA, MIT Lincoln Laboratory, L3 Communications, media and others.

The formal transition of the SST from a DARPA-led design and construction program to ownership by the Air Force begins the telescope’s operational phase. The Air Force will move the SST to Harold E. Holt Naval Communication Station in Western Australia, operating and maintaining the telescope jointly with the Royal Australian Air Force.

The SST also will be a dedicated sensor in the U.S. Space Surveillance Network, operated by the Air Force Space Command.

According to DARPA, SST represents breakthroughs in telescope design, camera technology and image analysis software, and allows much faster discovery and tracking of previously unseen or hard-to-find small space objects.

Industry: Hyundai Heavy Industries Wins an Order to Build Two 2,600 ton Frigates for the Philippine Navy

Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI), the world’s largest shipbuilder, announced today that it signed a contract to build two 2,600 ton frigates with the Department of National Defense, Republic of the Philippines.

The signing ceremony held in Manila, Philippines, was attended by Mr. Chung Ki-sun, executive vice president of Corporate Planning Office of HHI, Mr. Delfin Lorenzana, Philippines’ Defense Secretary and Mr. Kim Jai- shin, Korean Ambassador to Philippines and other guests.

The frigates will be designed to be a smaller light combatant and successor to the Incheon class frigate which is now in active service for ROKN tailored to the requirement of the Philippine Navy with applying optimized range of good marine standard under naval rule from Lloyd Register, classification society.

News Report: ‘Peace Treaty’ on the Horizon? North Korea, Ex-US Officials Huddle in Malaysia

High-ranking North Korean officials and former US officials met for two days in Malaysia this weekend, possibly due to North Korea’s desire for a change in relations.

Korea Joongang Daily reported that at the talks on October 21 and 22 were between North Korean Vice Foreign Minister Han Song-ryol, Deputy Ambassador of North Korea to the UN Jang Il-hun, and four former US officials: Robert Gallucci, part of a US team that in 1994 negotiated a landmark deal with Pyongyang to stop its nuclear program in exchange for economic help; Joseph DeTrani, a former US deputy envoy for the six party talks on North Korea’s weapons program; and Leon Sigal, director of the Northeast Asia Cooperative Security Project at the Social Science Research Council.

Sigal told local reporters that North Korea has insisted the two sides begin talks on a "peace treaty" and the establishment of diplomatic relations, which North Korea considers a prerequisite to considering freezing its nuclear program, the South Korean media outlet reports. The Yonhap News agency writes that Sigal said the discussions centered on North Korea’s nuclear and missile activities.

News Report: Afghan Forces Detain Truck With Over 2,200 Pounds of Explosives

The counterterrorist forces of Afghanistan seized on Sunday Pakistan’s truck with more than 1,000 kilograms (2,200 pounds) of explosives, local media reported.

MOSCOW (Sputnik) – The incident occurred in the eastern Afghan province of Kunar, the Khaama Press media outlet reported citing the Interior Ministry of Afghanistan. Three people including two citizens of Pakistan were reportedly detained.

The truck is said to have been laden with ammonium nitrate explosives that are often used to create improvised explosive devices (IED)

The truck was seized amid ongoing Kabul’s accusations that Pakistan is sheltering terrorists, who stage attacks in Afghanistan. 

Afghanistan is in a state of political and social turmoil, with government forces fighting the Taliban insurgency. The instability has persisted since the 2001 US-led invasion to defeat the Taliban and al-Qaeda terror groups in the wake of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on New York and Washington, DC.

This story first appeared on Sputnik & is reposted here with permission.

News Report: World’s Oldest Aircraft Carrier Started Last Journey

Image: Flickr User - rgm737
India’s INS Viraat, world’s oldest aircraft carrier, started its last voyage on Sunday before decommissioning, local media reported.

MOSCOW (Sputnik) – The journey started in the southwestern port of Kochi where Navy officials headed by Chief of Staff, Southern Naval Command, Rear Admiral Nadkarni bid farewell to the ship, the New Indian Express reported.

INS Viraat being towed by three tugs is heading for Mumbai where a decommissioning ceremony will take place later this year. 

The ship will be handed over to the Andhra Pradesh government after decommissioning, that wants to use it for promotion of tourism. 

INS Viraat (initially HMS Hermes) was built in the United Kingdom where it was commissioned in 1959. India purchased the ship in 1986.

This story first appeared on Sputnik & is reposted here with permission.

News Report: Russia Could Serve as Powerful 'Third Force' Between China, US in Philippines

Late last week, Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte made a series of statements about his country's geopolitical realignment away from the US and toward China and Russia. How realistic are such plans? Sputnik speaks several Asia experts to find out.

On Thursday, the outspoken leader of the Southeast Asian country announced that he would be "separating" from the US to realign with China and Russia. "Your honors, in this venue, I announce my separation from the United States…both in military, but also economics," Duterte said, speaking before Chinese officials during his official state visit to Beijing. 

"I've realigned myself in your ideological flow," the president later added, suggesting that "maybe I will also go to Russia to talk to [Russian President Vladimir] Putin and tell him that there are three of us against the world – China, Philippines and Russia." 

On Saturday, Duterte walked his words back a bit, insisting that his proposed geopolitical pivot is "not severance of ties" with Washington. "I said separation – what I was really saying was separation of foreign policy," the president stressed.

News Report: North Korea Blasts US, Japan, South Korea for 'Destabilizing Northeast Asia'

The North Korean Foreign Ministry has issued a statement condemning the joint US, Japanese and South Korean naval drills taking place in the Korean Peninsula over the weekend, warning that such maneuvers "constitute a threat to the DPRK (the Democratic People's Republic of Korea) and the whole of Northeast Asia."

On Saturday, US, Japanese and South Korean naval forces kicked off large-scale two day drills near South Korea's Jeju Island. The drills involve a destroyer equipped with the Aegis Combat System, as well as several dozen other ships, helicopters and maritime patrol aircraft from the three countries.

Rodong Sinmun, the official press organ of North Korea's Workers' Party, issued an official response from the country's Foreign Ministry, cryptically suggesting that the US-led alliance "is no longer a mere specter, but takes on a concrete form as a key force for the implementation of US strategy in the Asia-Pacific region."

Last week, in defiance of the international community, Pyongyang conducted testing of an intermediate-range ballistic missile, the latest in a series of missile and nuclear tests initiated in quickening succession since the beginning of the year. 

News Report: Chinese Naval Fleet Visits Vietnam Amid South China Sea Tensions

A Chinese naval fleet has arrived in Vietnam to promote military ties between the two countries, despite the ongoing tensions over contested areas of the South China Sea.

The 23rd Chinese naval escort task force docked at the Vietnamese port of Cam Ranh, the former site of a Cold War-era Soviet military base, October 22, with a mission of promoting military ties between China and Vietnam. The visit had been announced by Vietnamese government officials two days earlier.

Chinese military personnel will participate in activities with the Vietnamese navy and will also meet with Hanoi's provincial leaders. This will be the last stop for the Chinese fleet on their way home after visiting Myanmar, Malaysia and Cambodia, according to Senior Colonel Wang Hongli, commander of the task force. 

This visit is remarkable, considering it falls in a time of tensions, shifting alliances and war memorials. 

News Report: US Navy Patrol in S China Sea Amid Duterte's Visit to Beijing is a 'Provocation'

Chinese authorities have again given warnings to the US Navy after a US destroyer sailed near Xisha/Paracel islands in the South China Sea on Friday. The Chinese defense ministry called the move both “illegal” and “provocative.”

As part of its efforts to challenge China’s "excessive maritime claims," the USS Decatur guided-missile destroyer sailed near the Paracel Islands, where Beijing has constructed a series of artificial landmasses.

This was the fourth such operation in the past year and the Decatur was shadowed by three Chinese ships. According to China's Ministry of National Defense, a guided-missile destroyer and a guided-missile frigate were dispatched to identify and expel the US vessel. 

“All Western media have noted that the US maneuver was conducted during Philippines President Duterte's state visit to China in which bilateral relations have been restored with the signing of a series of cooperative agreements,” online newspaper Global Times reported