Large-scale US and South Korean Ssangyong amphibious landing maneuvers have started. South Korea's and the US's Ssangyong exercise became a deterrent to North Korea's latest ICBM launch. About 30 ships, at least 70 aircraft and helicopters, as well as landing craft are involved in the exercises. In addition, for the first time, 40 British Marines will take part in the maneuvers, and the military from Australia, the Philippines and France will be present as observers. Aviation is also involved in the exercises, the video shows B-1B bombers, US Air Force F-16C fighters and South Korean F-35A. The Ssangyong exercises are part of the larger Freedom Shield maneuvers.

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The Philippine Navy is set to receive new navigation radar for upcoming offshore patrol and corvette vessels under two contracts with HENSOLDT UK.

The sensor solutions specialist has been engaged with two contracts by Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI) to supply Kelvin Hughes Mk11 SharpEye navigation radar systems to the Republic of the Philippines.

HHI is building six 2,400-tonne offshore patrol vessels and two 3,200-tonne corvettes for the Navy, to be delivered over the next four years.

HENSOLDT UK head of UK radar and naval solutions, Adrian Pilbeam, said the Mk11 will be installed in conjunction with an integrated navigation bridge system to provide enhanced navigation and surface surveillance capability.

"We at HENSOLDT UK are delighted to contribute to the modernisation of the Philippine Navy through the provision of radar sensor suites,” he said.
March 20, 2023. Kawasaki Heavy Industries, Ltd. held a ceremony marking the delivery of the submarine Hakugei to the Japan Ministry of Defense (MOD) at its Kobe Shipyard Nishihama Quay at 11:55 AM. The ceremony was attended by a delegation of top MOD officials.

The submarine is the second Taigei class submarine, and the 30th built at Kawasaki Kobe Shipyard after World War II.

It provides superior submerged operation and propulsion performance, and high water pressure resistance by using high strength steel for its pressure hull. It also has lithium ion battery systems for increased underwater endurance, a variety of automated systems, improved surveillance capabilities using high-performance sonar, increased stealth capabilities, enhanced safety measures and several facilities for female crew.
The North Korean army for the first time showed footage of launches of strategic cruise missiles of the Hwasal-1 and Hwasal-2 types. The cruise missiles were equipped with a "test warhead simulating a nuclear warhead" and flew between 1,500 and 1,800 km. The launch of cruise missiles was a response to the US and South Korean military exercises Freedom Shield 23, which we talked about earlier. The North Korean exercise tested the reliability of control devices and detonators in a mid-air explosion and demonstrated yet another military strike capability. Two Hwasal-1 and Hwasal-2 strategic cruise missiles launched in South Hamgyong Province accurately hit a target in the Sea of Japan.

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The North Korean army for the first time showed footage of launches of strategic cruise missiles of the Hwasal-1 and Hwasal-2 types. The cruise missiles were equipped with a "test warhead simulating a nuclear warhead" and flew between 1,500 and 1,800 km. The launch of cruise missiles was a response to the US and South Korean military exercises Freedom Shield 23, which we talked about earlier. The North Korean exercise tested the reliability of control devices and detonators in a mid-air explosion and demonstrated yet another military strike capability. Two Hwasal-1 and Hwasal-2 strategic cruise missiles launched in South Hamgyong Province accurately hit a target in the Sea of Japan.

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Don't know about "hitting a target" but they certainly hit the Sea of Japan ;)
House of Representatives (DPR) Commission I has approved an offer from the Australian government to donate 15 Bushmaster protected mobility vehicles. Some of the vehicles will be used by the Peacekeeping Mission Center (PMPP) of the Indonesian Military (TNI) to increase its capacity in the world peacekeeping operational task force.

Nevertheless, the TNI was reminded of the need to prioritize the use of domestically produced tactical vehicles.

The approval for Australia’s offer to donate defence and security equipment was issued at a working meeting of House Commission I presided over by House Commission I deputy chairman Abdul Kharis Almasyhari, from the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) faction, at the legislative complex in Jakarta on Monday (3/4/2023). Others who attended the Commission I meeting included Deputy Deddfense Minister M. Herindra, TNI commander Adm. Yudo Margono and the Chiefs of Staff of the Army, Navy and Air Force.

Eight of the nine factions in House Commission I approved the Australian government’s offer to donate 15 Bushmaster protected mobility vehicles (BPMV) to the TNI Peacekeeping Mission Centre (PMPP-TNI). According to the plan, some of the tactical vehicles will be used to enhance the capacity of personnel in the world peacekeeping operational task force.
The Philippine Navy has welcomed two Shaldag Mk V fast-attack interdiction craft (FAIC).

As informed, two brand new FAIC platforms for the Philippine Navy were delivered to the country on 11 April.

The vessels are a part of the nine platforms contracted with Israel Shipyards Ltd, arrived on board the general cargo ship MV Mick. They were unloaded with the assistance of BRP Mamanwa (LC294) and proceeded to the naval shipyard in Cavite for a series of tests and crew training.

Slated to be christened in May, they will soon join the Acero-class patrol gunboats along with frontrunners BRP Nestor Acero PG901 and BRP Lolinato To-ong (PG902).

To remind, the navy commissioned the first two Acero-class ships in December last year.

The two vessels manufactured by Israel Shipyards Ltd., provided to the Philippine Navy, serve as the first fully-integrated vessels with the naval combat suite out of a total of nine that the Philippine Navy will ultimately receive.

Japan can quickly and inexpensively increase its force of diesel-electric combat submarines from 22 to at least 28, if it stops prematurely retiring them.

That would provide more of the one category of warship that the armed forces of democratic countries could safely operate close to China in wartime. Moreover, additional Japanese submarines would ease pressure on the US Navy, which is straining to maintain submarine numbers.

Last month Japan decommissioned the first of its 11 Oyashio class boats. They are contemporaries of Australia’s Collins class, which Canberra is not remotely close to withdrawing from service.

JS Oyashio was 25 years old and was only 17 when pulled from the combat force to be converted into a training submarine. Most navies would regard that as waste, just as most air forces would not follow Japan’s policy of discarding F-15 fighters that are nowhere near worn out.

Japan’s early decommissioning of submarines seems especially improvident given the importance of its boats in helping to deter a Chinese attack on Taiwan. They are based near China and are operated by people highly experienced in the waters that would be the main naval theatre in such a conflict.

Consider, for example, the results of table-top simulations of a Taiwanese war published by the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington in January. After Japan’s forces in the games suffered initial blows, the researchers reported that: ‘most valuable were the Japanese submarines, which could strike Chinese amphibious ships and the Chinese picket line around Taiwan.’

For decades, Japan has almost always built a submarine a year. The current and planned fleet is 22 plus two: 22 for operations, including one routinely assigned to development work but presumably fully armed, and two converted for training. On average, they’ll be retiring after about 24 years in service.

Elsewhere, submarine service lives of 30 years are unremarkable.

If Japan suspended submarine retirements for six years and raised the average decommissioning age to 30, it would increase its fleet by six boats without having to spend even one more yen on construction. It could enlarge the fleet at a rate of one a year.

Using each submarine for 32 years would enlarge the fleet by eight. The US Navy has found that its Los Angeles class nuclear submarines are good for 36 years.

The idea of keeping Japanese submarines going for longer is not new. US Congressional Research Service analyst Ronald O’Rourke said in 2020 that the number-one opportunity to expand the naval power of the US and its allies was by enlarging Japan’s submarine force. And in 2021 I proposed that, since Japan planned to throw away Oyashios before they were worn out, they’d make fine temporary additions to the Royal Australian Navy while it awaited delivery of nuclear submarines.

Keeping the remaining Oyashios in Japanese service would be much more valuable.

Japan has expanded its fleet once before by lengthening service lives. The fleet target of 22 plus two, achieved last year, was set in 2010 when Japan had 18 boats (16 plus two) and retired them generally before they got to even 20 years.

Another immediate opportunity is for Japan to end its practice of dedicating two submarines to training. A Japanese naval source says that converting a boat for that purpose every few years involves removing combat equipment, much reducing its war-fighting capability.

Other navies teach sailors the ropes in front-line submarines. If Japan did that, it could add two submarines to its combat force without lifting the building rate.

So, a quick addition of 10 submarines to the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force is quite conceivable.

Japan would have to train enough people for one extra crew each year, though that should not be difficult. It was doing that several years ago as it lifted the force to 22 plus two.

It would also need expanded maintenance capacity, additional weapons such as torpedoes, and a larger budget to cover running costs.

But the biggest additional financial burden may be in shipyard work.

The 2010 decision to operate the submarines for longer required life-extending overhauls for the Oyashios, which began in 2013 and were followed by modernisation to almost the standard of the succeeding Soryu class, according to Japan’s government. If Japan lifts the submarine retirement age to 30 or 32, its submarines will presumably need more or deeper overhauls and modernisation.

That would cost much less than new submarines.

But, however well modernised, will diesel-electric submarines continue to be useful?

Peter Dutton, who was defence minister when Australia decided in 2021 it needed nuclear-powered submarines, wrote last year that the advice from our experts was clear. Diesel-electric submarines would not be able to compete in hostilities in the South China Sea beyond 2035. The diesel-electric submarine needs to come up near to the surface to ‘snort’—raising a snorkel to run its diesel engines and recharge its batteries—and would be detected by emerging radar technologies, Dutton said.

That assessment should not discourage Japan from extending the service lives of its diesel-electric submarines. That would yield a larger Japanese fleet well before 2035, which cannot be regarded as a sharp turning point at which the conventionally powered submarine concept will suddenly become obsolete. Such changes come gradually.

Also, Japanese submarines would operate in wartime not so much in the South China Sea, where the presence of Chinese airborne radar surveillance might be uncontested, but mainly in the East China Sea and nearby waters, close to Japanese and Taiwanese air bases.

And all Japanese submarines delivered since 2009 (after the Oyashio class) have either air-independent propulsion systems or large-capacity lithium-ion batteries enabling them to ‘loiter’. Both technologies allow a commander to reduce or entirely avoid snorting in dangerous locations. Australia’s previously planned diesel-electric submarines lacked such features.

Although Japan plans to double its defence share of GDP to 2% by 2027, a force structure plan issued in December confirmed that the 22-plus-two submarine fleet size would stay.

Why the government and navy rejected the possibility of further expansion is unclear. Possible explanations include competition within the navy for funds or a simply a disinclination to accept the disruption of expansion beyond the 2010 plan.

Whatever the reason, perhaps the one influence that can change minds in Tokyo is Japan’s US ally. If Washington, in seeking to deter China, values undersea strength as highly as it seems to, it needs to tell Japan to stop throwing away good submarines. could quickly build up its submarine force
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The South Korean government has approved a plan for long-range missile defense system development.

The long-range surface-to-air missile (L-SAM) II will be developed from 2024-2035 for 2.71 trillion won ($2.03 billion), Yonhap News Agency reported, citing the Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA).

The outlet added that the system will have interceptors for high-altitude and glide-phase targets such as hypersonic missiles.

The system is expected to have three times the range of the L-SAM missile defense system under development, which is scheduled for deployment by 2027.

The L-SAM is expected to have a range of 150 kilometers (93 miles) and an altitude of 40 to 100 kilometers (25 to 62 miles).

The Korean government’s Defense Project Promotion Committee also endorsed the development of the mid-range surface-to-air missile (M-SAM) Block-III system for 2.83 trillion Korean won ($2.10 billion).

The system is expected to be ready by 2034.

Tomcats To Super Flankers: Iran Might Soon Receive Its Most Advanced Fighter In Almost 50 Years​

Unconfirmed reports in Iranians Press suggest the country may take delivery of the first batch of Su-35 Flanker-E fighter jets it ordered from Russia in the coming weeks.

In an article that has since been removed, Iran’s official Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA) reported that the jets, also known as “Super Flankers,” will soon arrive in Iran. In light of the article’s deletion and past rumors that the aircraft began arriving in April, and statements, such as one affirming the jets would begin arriving in March, ultimately proving premature or outright false, one should take this news with a grain of salt.

Still, the arrival of the Super Flankers in the not-too-distant future will undoubtedly mark a milestone for Iran’s long-neglected air force, officially known as the Islamic Republic of Iran Air Force (IRIAF). The IRIAF hasn’t imported any new fighter jets in 33 years. But one has to go back 47 years to find a fighter procurement this significant for Tehran.

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The United States Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) has delivered the highly advanced SM-3 Block 2A interceptor to Japan.

This collaborative effort between the two nations marks a significant milestone in bolstering their defense alliances and enhancing regional security. The delivery took place in March, and it is set to reinforce Japan’s capabilities to counter evolving ballistic missile threats.

Japan’s Aegis ships, operated by the Maritime Self-Defense Force, will be equipped with the advanced SM-3 Block 2A intercept missiles. The deployment of SM-3 Block 2A missiles on Japan’s Aegis ships will take place in a sequential manner.

As per the plans, the Maya and Atago-class ships, based in Yokosuka (Kanagawa Prefecture), Maizuru (Kyoto Prefecture), and Sasebo (Nagasaki Prefecture), will be among the first to receive these advanced intercept missiles.
Malaysia has signed more than 40 agreements worth $2.2 billion for confirmed and potential defense acquisitions, including for light combat aircraft, armed drones and maritime patrol aircraft, at the ongoing Langkawi International Maritime and Aerospace, or LIMA, exhibition here.

The largest of the contracts was a deal for 18 Korean Aerospace Industries FA-50 light combat jets. The Royal Malaysian Air Force will use these jets for the fighter lead-in training and light combat roles

February, it was announced that Malaysia had selected the FA-50 as its light combat aircraft, with KAI stating at the time the value of the order was $920 million. Malaysia has an eventual requirement for up to 36 jets.

Speaking to Malaysia’s national news agency Bernama, KAI chief executive officer Kang Goo-young confirmed the RMAF will begin receiving the FA-50 Block 20 “Fighting Eagle” aircraft in 2026, with the first four jets built in South Korea while the remaining 14 will be assembled locally.

He added that the jets will come with active electronically scanned array, or AESA, radars, although he did not identify the radar model.

Among the other contracts signed at the LIMA ceremony was a deal for two maritime patrol aircraft from Italy’s Leonardo for $150.78 million.

Malaysian defense minister Hishammuddin Hussein in October announced the selection of the ATR-72MP, which is based on the ATR-72 twin-turboprop regional airliner, for its longstanding requirement.

Leonardo says the ATR-72 is equipped with its Airborne Tactical Observation and Surveillance mission system, which integrates the aircraft’s sensor suite that includes a Seaspray 7300E V2 and enables it to perform a variety of missions, including maritime patrol, anti-submarine, airborne surveillance and intelligence
The Royal Thai Air Force’s (RTAF) bid to procure the highly sought-after F-35 fighter jets has been met with disappointment as the United States has declined to sell them to Thailand.

The decision comes as a result of various factors, including training and technical requirements, according to RTAF spokesperson, ACM Prapas Sornchaidee.

In a statement released by the RTAF, it was revealed that the sale of the fifth-generation F-35 stealth fighter jets was subject to stringent conditions, such as time constraints, technical specifications, and maintenance compatibility.

Unfortunately, the United States was unable to meet these criteria and therefore could not offer the sale to Thailand
The Philippines and Sweden have recently entered into an agreement that could lead to a significant deal involving the supply of Saab Gripen fighter aircraft to the Philippine Air Force (PAF).

The memorandum of understanding (MOU) was signed by Acting Defense Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. and Swedish Defense Minister Pål Jonson during the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore last week. The agreement focuses on defense materiel cooperation and holds the potential for Swedish defense industries to contribute to the modernization program of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

“The signed agreement paves the way for advancing cooperation in the areas of logistics, defense industry development, and exchange of related information between the two countries,” Philippine Department of National Defense spokesman Arsenio Andolong was quoted as saying.
Japan Ministry of Defense (Boei-sho) announced that it has signed four contracts worth about 314.7 billion yen ($2.3 billion) with Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) and Kawasaki Heavy Industries (KHI) to develop its own standoff missiles. Among the four contracts, most notably, the ministry has awarded KHI a contract worth 33.9 billion yen ($243 million) for research and development of a new type of surface-to-ship missile (SSM). The Diplomat reported that Tokyo is striving to acquire counterstrike capabilities as soon as possible amid heightened tensions in the region over China’s assertive behavior, North Korea’s unstoppable nuclear and missile development, and Russia’s ongoing aggression against Ukraine.

This new missile being developed by KHI is simply known by its project name, “New SSM,” in Japan, although the official name of the missile is “New Anti-Ship Guided Missile for Island Defense.” Compared to the existing MHI Type 12 SSM, which the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force began procuring in 2012, the new SSM will have a longer range. The new anti-ship missile is assumed to have a range of 2,500 kilometers. This new cruise missile uses a small, fuel-efficient turbofan engine as a propulsion device, and has wings like an airplane for horizontal flight. Since it has many similarities with the U.S. “Tomahawk” cruise missile in terms of range, shape, and performance, it has been dubbed as a Japanese version of the Tomahawk by domestic media.

Indonesia reported the transfer of 12 Mirage 2000-5 fighters from Qatar to Indonesia. This sale, which received approval from the French authorities, involves several key players who played crucial roles in brokering the deal, according to Israel Defense.

The transfer of the Qatari fleet’s Mirage fighter jets was facilitated by Defense Conseil International (DCI), a private French-owned company based in Qatar. They undertook the preparation of the aircraft for transportation, ensuring a smooth logistical process. The transportation itself was carried out using Antonov 124 cargo planes.

Taiwan said Thursday that it has signed a NT$4.5 billion (US146 million) deal to purchase 14 anti-tank munition-laying systems from the United States.

Under the deal, which was signed recently and became effective on June 21, the American-made arms are scheduled to be delivered before the end of 2029, Taiwan's Ministry of National Defense (MND) said in a public notice.

The purchase deal followed the U.S. State Department's approval last December of a proposed US$180 million arms package for Taiwan, including vehicle-launched Volcano anti-tank munition-laying systems and M977A4 HEMTT 10-ton cargo trucks on which those systems would be mounted.
President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. on Friday said his administration is planning to acquire the Philippines’ first-ever submarine in an apparent bid to catch up with Southeast Asian neighbors.

For now, however, Marcos said the government is working to bolster the country’s anti-submarine capabilities.

“There is a plan but it is still being developed dahil ang (because the) treatment para ma-operate ang (to operate) submarine is not a small commitment, it is a very large commitment because the training, the equipment that is involved, and the operational requirements that are involved is quite significant,” he said in an ambush interview in Manila, where he attended the celebration of Philippine Navy’s 125th anniversary.

“It is still a part of our plan but right now we are in the middle of developing mostly the anti-submarine capabilities,” he added.

According to Marcos, several countries – like France – offer to manufacture submarines for the Philippines.

To recall, French Ambassador to the Philippines Michèle Boccoz has confirmed that Paris is in an “ongoing discussion” with the Marcos administration about potentially purchasing its first-ever submarine.

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