Japan will start procuring Tomahawk cruise missiles from the United States in fiscal 2025, a year earlier than initially planned, in response to the worsening Asian security environment, Defense Minister Minoru Kihara said Wednesday.

Kihara, who took up his new post in a Cabinet reshuffle in mid-September, made the announcement when he met the press in Washington after holding his first face-to-face talks with his U.S. counterpart Lloyd Austin.

Amid growing security challenges presented by China, North Korea and Russia, Kihara and Austin confirmed their mutual interest in ramping up the Japan-U.S. alliance's deterrence and response capabilities while modernizing the partners' roles and missions, officials said.

As part of preparations to acquire "counterstrike" capabilities, or the ability to hit enemy bases should the need arise, Japan plans to purchase 400 Tomahawks, which have a strike range of about 1,600 kilometres.
Saab has received an order from the Japan Self-Defense Forces, JGSDF, for the supply of the man-portable, multi-role weapon system Carl-Gustaf®. The order includes over 300 systems and deliveries will take place in 2025.
Indonesia has again failed to notify the South Korean government of its financial plan for contributing to the KF-21 fighter project, jeopardizing this collaborative endeavour.

The Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA), South Korea’s arms procurement agency, expressed its concerns as Indonesia failed to provide the expected payment schedule by the end of October, further straining the partnership

According to reports on 24 May 2022, the issue of paying US$4.2 million in development costs that Indonesia did not pay has not been resolved. In November 2021, Indonesia and South Korea agreed to draw up a new sharing agreement for development costs by March 2022, but it has not been implemented so far. In November 2022, reportedly Indonesia has resumed payment for its share of the cost for a joint fighter development project.

As of 17 Sep 2023, Indonesia did not pay and South Korea signed a memorandum of understanding with the United Arab Emirates (UAE) that the UAE will buy Indonesia's KF-21 shares and be part of the KF-21 program as a partner
North Korea is supplying munitions to Russia for use in its war against Ukraine in return for satellite technology, South Korea has said.

Pyongyang has supplied Moscow with more than one million artillery shells since early August, Seoul’s National Intelligence Service (NIS) reported on Wednesday.

In return, Russia is assumed to be providing technology and know-how to North Korea, which is making a third effort to launch a satellite following two failures.

South Korean lawmaker Yoo Sang-bum said that Pyongyang has sent around 10 arms shipments to Russia by air, as well as via naval shipments between a North Korean east coast port and Russian ports, as the United States has previously claimed.

More than one million artillery shells were transported by sea, originating from the port of Najin and reaching the Russian ports of Dunai and Vostochny, according to NIS. From there, they were conveyed by train to Ukraine, near the Toretsk ammunition depot.

It is estimated that these deliveries will keep Russian forces in Ukraine supplied for two months. Meanwhile, the West is struggling to keep pace in supplying Ukraine’s forces with ammunition.

“North Korea is running its munition factories to full capacity to meet demand for military supplies to Russia and even mobilising residents and civilian factories to make ammunition boxes for exports,” Yoo said.

The Japanese Ministry of Defense (MoD) will acquire a total of 12 new FFMs that will succeed the Mogami-class FFM for the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) in coming five years, a spokesperson at the Japanese Acquisition, Technology & Logistics Agency (ATLA) revealed to Naval News on November 2.

The Mogami class, which has a standard displacement of 3900 tons with a full load displacement of about 5500 tons, is currently being built at a high pace of two ships per year both at shipbuilder Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI)’ facility in Nagasaki City on the island of Kyushu and its subsidiary Maritime Systems’ facility in Tamano City of Okayama Prefecture.

The JMSDF had originally planned to build a total of 22 Mogami-class frigates as Tokyo ramps up efforts to strengthen the country’s naval forces. However, it has decided to now procure a total of only 12 such frigates until the current fiscal year (FY) 2023, with plans to construct a new class of 12 warships from 2024 until 2028. The new frigates will essentially be improved Mogami-class ships that are set to be built to the design proposed by MHI.

In August, the JMSDF also requested 174.7 billion yen ($1.16 billion) to build two New FFMs for fiscal year 2024.

The latest move reflects the increasingly stern security environment around Japan. As neighboring China expands the activities and capabilities of its naval forces, Tokyo plans to defend the southwestern Nansei Islands, including the disputed Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands in the East China Sea, by increasing surveillance missions in Japanese coastal waters. The Senkakau/Diaoyu Islands are controlled by Japan but also claimed by China and Taiwan.

The Philippines has received a surveillance radar system from Japan as part of the first major equipment transfer since the Japanese government lifted its post-war defense export ban in 2014.

The delivery comes amid clashes between the Philippines and China over contested territory in the South China Sea.

Japan’s Acquisition, Technology and Logistics Agency announced the delivery Nov. 2 on social media, the same day Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida addressed the Philippine Congress during a two-day visit to the Southeast Asian nation.

The new warning and control radar system, FPS-3ME, can detect multiple fighter jets and ballistic missiles. The FPS-3ME is an improved version of the J/FPS-3 radar, which has been used by the Japan Air Self-Defense Force, according to manufacturer Mitsubishi Electric Corp.

The Japanese company in August 2020 signed a contract with the Philippine Defense Department worth about $100 million for four FPS-3ME radars. Domestic production for the first radar concluded in October 2022, and the Philippine Air Force received it last week.

The second radar is meant for the Philippine Navy, and its acquisition is possible thanks to $4.2 million from a Japanese-run security assistance program, according to the Japanese and Philippine governments.

Neither the Japanese government nor Mitsubishi have disclosed the status of the remaining radar systems on order.

“The coastal radar systems ... are a vital addition to the [Armed Forces of the Philippines’] maritime defense capabilities and will bolster our ability to monitor and protect our extensive coastline, ensuring the safety and security of our seas,” Gen. Romeo Brawner, the military’s chief of staff, said in a statement.

FPS-3ME is a long-range 3D AESA (Active Electronically Scanned Array) air surveillance radar system capable of simultaneous detection and tracking of multiple aerial targets. The system is a new and improved version of the J/FPS-3, which has been in use by the Japan Air Self-Defense Force for over 30 years.
The Indonesian Air Force has cited bad weather as a possible cause of the crash involving two light attack aircraft during a training mission in East Java on 16 November.

The incident involved two EMB-314 Super Tucano aircraft, each carrying a pilot and a co-pilot. Rescue workers confirmed discovering three bodies of the personnel onboard in Puspo district, Pasuruan regency, while the search for the fourth pilot continues.

"It appears that the incident was primarily caused by adverse weather conditions. However, further investigation is required for confirmation," Air Force spokesman Air Commodore Agung Sasongkojati said in a news conference at Abdulrahman Saleh Air Base in Malang, East Java,

Agung explained that the two Tucanos were flying in formation alongside two similar planes under unfavourable weather conditions that significantly limited the pilots' visibility.

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Australian Defence Force (ADF) performed a joint air patrol in the West Philippine Sea (WPS) during the weekend, part of the two countries’ inaugural Maritime Cooperative Activity.

The Philippine Air Force's A29B Super Tucano and N-22 Nomad, Philippine Navy's BNI2A aircraft, and ADF's P-8 Poseidon Maritime Surveillance aircraft took part in the activity.

The aircrafts took off from the Antonio Bautista Air Base ramp in the City of Puerto Princesa, Palawan.

On Saturday, Philippine Navy vessels BRP Gregorio del Pilar and BRP Davao Del Sur, and Royal Australian Navy frigate HMAS Toowoomba patrolled in the exclusive economic zone of the Philippines, along with two A29 Super Tucanos.

The AFP-ADF activity aims to enhance maritime interoperability and deepen strategic partnership as signed by President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr and Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese on Sept. 8.

“We endeavor to enhance bilateral interoperability in maritime security and domain awareness; test doctrines, existing protocols, and enhance efficiency; and foster closer cooperation between our countries' armed forces,” Marcos said during the signing.

“This inaugural Maritime Cooperative Activity and those that may follow are a practical manifestation of the growing and deepening strategic and defense partnership between our countries.”

In August, the AFP and the ADF held their first amphibious exercise in the city of Darwin under the Indo-Pacific Endeavor activities.

Filipino and Australian troopers also conducted special training for jungle and urban warfare at Camp Capinpin in Tanay, Rizal in May as part of the Army-to-Army Exercise “Kasangga” 23-2.

On Monday, December 18, the DPRK carried out a training launch of the Hwasong-18 intercontinental ballistic missile. Kim Jong-un watched the rocket launch process along with his daughter. In just over an hour, the ICBM covered 1,002 kilometers, rising to a peak altitude of 6,518 kilometers. At the end of the flight, the missile successfully hit a conditional target in the Sea of Japan. When launched along a normal trajectory, optimal for flight range, at an angle of 30-45 degrees, the DPRK intercontinental missile could fly up to 15 thousand km. Exercises to launch intercontinental ballistic missiles were carried out to test the combat readiness of the republic’s nuclear war deterrent forces and confirm their mobility

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Indonesia has signed a contract to buy 18 more Rafale fighter-jets from France, the Defense Ministry said Tuesday, as Jakarta completed a 2022 order for 42 of these warplanes, in upgrading its air force fleet amid regional security challenges.

Defense Minister Prabowo Subianto signed a contract on Monday for the last batch of 18 Rafale, the ministry said. The first delivery is expected in early 2026, it added. “The arrival of the Rafale fighter-jets along with their weapons and support equipment is expected to significantly increase the strength and readiness of the Indonesian Air Force in safeguarding the country’s sovereignty in the air,” the ministry’s spokesman, Brig. Gen. Edwin Adrian Sumantha, said in a statement.

Indonesia has not disclosed the value of the deal, but back in 2022 Reuters had reported it was worth US$8.1 billion, citing the French defense ministry. Indonesia signed contracts for six Rafale in September 2022 and another 18 in August 2023, after scrapping a plan to buy Sukhoi SU-35 jets from Russia due to the threat of US sanctions over Moscow’s war in Ukraine.

South Korea will mass-produce a 155-millimeter extended-range artillery shell this year after successfully completing its development in a yearslong project, the state arms procurement agency said Tuesday.

The Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) held a meeting with ammunition maker Poongsan at the company's research centre in Daejeon, 139 kilometres south of Seoul, to officially conclude the development project launched in 2014 after the shell was assessed as combat suitable last August.

The newly developed shell can fly up to about 60 km, marking an increase in range of more than 30 percent compared with existing projectiles. To ensure the extended range, the shell employs base bleed technology, which reduces the shell's drag, and a rocket motor.

DAPA said it plans to sign a contract with Poongsan this year for the shell's mass production.

In a release, DAPA Minister Eom Dong-hwan said the shell's development will pave the way for South Korea to push for its exports along with the homegrown K9 155 mm self-propelled howitzer.


The development in August last year attracted little attention, but it represented a significant step forward in the strategic relationship between Japan and Australia. For the first time, the Japan Air Self-Defense Force deployed two F-35 fighters overseas—and it chose to send them to Australia.

The reason for the aircraft deploying to the Royal Australian Air Force’s Tindal base in the Northern Territory was not to exercise there. Rather, their flight to the base was itself an exercise, to pave the way for Japanese F-35s to go to Australia in future. Those later deployments will support joint training that will deepen the relationship between Japanese and Australian forces.

An ability to shift F-35s to Australia may be valuable in wartime, too.

The two countries have been working up to this level of cooperation for more than a decade. In 2007 they signed the Japan-Australia Joint Declaration on Security Cooperation. Since 2014 they have strengthened their relationship under the Special Strategic Partnership, under which they work together on economic and security affairs and on regional peace and stability. Then in 2022 the Japan-Australia Joint Declaration on Security Cooperation was updated to enhance their security connection.

Also in 2022, the two countries signed the Japan-Australia Reciprocal Access Agreement (RAA), which aimed at facilitating visits by the forces of each of them to the other. The F-35 deployment to RAAF Tindal was the first application of that agreement. The aircraft, from Misawa Air Base’s 301st Squadron, flew 6400km to Tindal via the US Air Force’s Andersen base on Guam. JASDF tankers repeatedly refueled them in flight.

Future participation in exercises in Australia by Japanese F-35s and their crews will promote the ability of the two countries’ forces to operate together. That will extend to operating with other like-minded Indo-Pacific countries when Japanese F-35 units participate in multinational exercises in Australia. In 2022 JASDF F-2 fighters and their crews participated in the RAAF’s big multinational Exercise Pitch Black. F-35s, which will become the mainstay of the JASDF fighter squadrons, can now follow, their crews getting the particular opportunity to work with other operators of the type.

Another special opportunity for Japan is access to vast air space in northern Australia for training, including the Delamere Weapons Range of more than 2000 square kilometres.

An acquisition and cross-servicing agreement between Australia and Japan provides for logistical backing for the F-35s of both countries. And an F-35 maintenance centre at RAAF Williamtown in New South Wales will be able to support Japan’s aircraft of the type when they are deployed to Australia.

A further advantage of access to Australia by Japan is opportunity for dispersion. China can attack airfields within thousands of kilometres of its territory with cruise and ballistic missiles. Conceivably, Japanese air bases and even civil airports would be wrecked in wartime, forcing JASDF units to seek refuge elsewhere.

Guam is an unlikely destination for them, since it also would be a target for Chinese strike missiles. Australian bases, on the other hand, are at safer distances from China—though it must be acknowledged that they are much too far away for maintaining fighter operations in North Asia.

Japan-Australia security cooperation has progressed to the stage of quasi-alliance. For Japan’s forces, formerly accustomed to cooperating little with any country except the US, the relationship with Australia is opening new opportunities.
https://www.aspistrategist.org.au/s...eps up with Japanese F-35 access to Australia

The elevation of the Australia-Vietnam relationship to the highest diplomatic level opens opportunities for deeper defence cooperation, especially the expansion of defence industry.

On 7 March, after the conclusion of the ASEAN-Australia Special Summit in Melbourne, Vietnam’s Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh made an official visit to Canberra where he and Prime Minister Anthony Albanese issued a joint statement on the elevation of the Australia-Vietnam relationship to a comprehensive strategic partnership (CSP).

The agreement on a CSP includes a section on defence cooperation that pledges to expand current education and training programs, practical exchanges and peacekeeping support. Cooperation in peacekeeping will be elevated to a peacekeeping partnership. Since the establishment of defence cooperation relations in 2010, a remarkable 3500 Vietnam People’s Army officers have graduated from Australian-funded training in Australia and Vietnam.

Under the new CSP, defence cooperation also will be expanded to include defence industry, maritime security, information and intelligence sharing, strengthening maritime cooperation, and enhancing cooperation in cyber-security and critical technology, including through cyber security capacity-building initiatives to address cyber security threats.

The commitment to expand defence industry collaboration with Vietnam is timely. In February 2021, the 13th National Congress of the Vietnam Communist Party adopted a resolution of far-reaching importance for the modernisation of the Vietnam People’s Army. This resolution set the objective to ‘build a streamlined and strong Army by 2025, and a revolutionary, regular, advanced and modern People’s Army by 2030‘. It was assumed that Vietnam would rely on Russia to supply big ticket military platforms and defence technology.

However, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine a year later put paid to Vietnam’s plans as it faced the possibility of severe Western sanctions. Vietnam’s arms procurements have dropped to an all-time low as it marks time. In addition, Ukraine’s resistance to Russian military forces gave pause in Vietnam about its assumptions about the future of modern warfare in an era of drones, unmanned maritime platforms, cruise missiles, electronic warfare and missile defence.

This new strategic situation has opened two major opportunities for Australia.

First, it can expand defence industry cooperation with Vietnam in niche technology areas to assist in capacity-building to counter the new challenges and threats now on display in the Ukraine.

Second, Australia can initiate discussions with the United States, Japan and South Korea bilaterally and multilaterally—perhaps a new informal quadrilateral dialogue—to coordinate defence cooperation with Vietnam.

These opportunities build on a gradual shift in Vietnam’s strategic circumstances and perceptions over the past two decades. To comprehend the opportunities, it is useful to review how Vietnam has altered strategic course.

In 2001, Vietnam began to structure its foreign relations by negotiating strategic partnerships with its closest Cold War allies, Russia, China and India, while also seeking to ‘diversify and multilateralise‘ its external relations. Over the next decade and a half, a three-tiered hierarchy emerged consisting of comprehensive partnerships, strategic partnerships and comprehensive strategic partnerships, the highest level. China, Russia and India were upgraded to the exclusive top tier.

Six years after raising relations with India to a CSP, Vietnam suddenly raised relations with the Republic of Korea to a CSP in December 2022 followed by the United States (September 2023) and Japan (November 2023), and now Australia. The US, which was only a comprehensive partner, gazumped plans by Vietnam and Australia to elevate their strategic partnership in 2023 by agreeing with Vietnam to skip the intermediate stage and go directly to the CSP level.

In just 15 months Vietnam has expanded its constellation of three CSPs to seven by including the US and three of its closest allies in the Indo-Pacific. The fast-paced expansion of strategic ties to the West points to the change in Hanoi’s worldview and underscores the potential for coordination on the full defence cooperation agenda. This flurry of CSP signing is all the more extraordinary when we consider that three of the four partners (the US, Australia, and ROK) had troops on the ground during the Vietnam War.

Agreements on CSPs expand and deepen the scope of cooperation mapped out in the two lower-tier partnership agreements. All of Vietnam’s new comprehensive strategic partnership agreements include a separate section on defence cooperation.

The Vietnam-Republic of Korea joint statement on their CSP contains a section detailing increases cooperation on politics, defence and security, and promoting strengthening defence cooperation through technology, defence industry, and education and training.

The joint leaders’ statement on elevating US-Vietnam relations to a CSP, contains a separate section on defence and security that welcomes ‘further cooperation in defense industry and defense trade in accordance with each side’s conditions through mutually agreed mechanisms‘. The leaders’ statement also commits the US ‘to assist Vietnam to develop its self-reliant defense capabilities in accordance with the needs of Vietnam and established mechanisms‘.

The joint statement on the Vietnam-Japan CSP, which was fashioned as a document for ‘peace and prosperity in Asia and the world‘, contains a 15-point section on cooperation in security and national defence. The two leaders agreed on ‘transferring defence equipment and technology to the Ministry of National Defense of Vietnam‘. They also agreed to assign relevant agencies to discuss the content of Japan’s new Official Security Assistance (OSA).

The task of implementing commitments under these agreements will be complex from both an administrative and diplomatic point of view. Vietnam will need to tread cautiously to take advantage of the new avenues of defence cooperation without offending old friends and incurring strategic risks.

But of the four new comprehensive strategic partners, Australia is well placed to encourage and facilitate coordination. Australia has earned considerable trust in Vietnam because of a long history of engagement and policy consistency.

Australia and Vietnam established official defence relations in early 1998 and exchanged defence attaches in 1999 and 2000, respectively. A major turning point in defence relations was reached in 2010 with the signing of a memorandum of understanding on defence cooperation. Since 2012, Australia and Vietnam have convened a joint foreign affairs and defence strategic dialogue at deputy secretary/deputy minister level. The two sides also hold annual defence cooperation talks, defence policy dialogue and a 1.5 track dialogue. The first formal meeting of defence ministers took place in Canberra in March 2013.

In March 2018, Australia and Vietnam issued a joint statement to establish a strategic partnership that covered cooperation in political matters; economics and development; defence, law, justice, intelligence and security; education, science and technology; labour, social affairs and culture, and people-to-people links; and regional and international affairs.

The section on defence cooperation committed the two parties to an annual meeting of defence ministers to facilitate high-level dialogue.

After raising bilateral relations to a strategic partnership, Australia and Vietnam adopted a ‘joint vision on further defence cooperation’. Funding for Australia’s defence cooperation program stands at $4.15 million in 2023-2024. The program supports a big agenda of strategic dialogue and information exchange; continued assistance with Vietnam’s peacekeeping deployment to the UN Mission in South Sudan; education and training, including English language instruction; maritime security, including annual naval port visits; and Army and Air Force engagement.

At the recent ASEAN-Australia summit, Albanese announced several new initiatives to implement the government’s Southeast Asia Economic Strategy to 2040—a $2 billion Southeast Asia investment financing facility, appointing 10 ‘business champions’ to facilitate greater commercial links and a ’landing pad’ in Ho Chi Minh City to bolster Australian technology exports.

The Albanese Government will now have to consider topping up funding for its defence cooperation program so it has the requisite expertise to expand defence industry cooperation with Vietnam. This means assigning more personnel with appropriate expertise to the defence attaches’ office at the Australian Embassy in Hanoi. The business champion for Vietnam will need to be supported by a specialist on government policy on defence exports. The landing pad in Ho Chi Minh City should have a specialist office in Hanoi dedicated to defence industry commercial sales.

Numerous observers have pointed to the cost effectiveness of diplomacy. Australia now needs to take advantage of a valuable diplomatic opening and ensure that it is fully resourced.
https://www.aspistrategist.org.au/a...e strategic partnership the defence dimension
Live firing of giant 600mm KN-25 multiple launch rocket systems took place in North Korea. According to the Western classification, MLRS are designated KN-25. North Korean leader Kim Jong-un attended the shooting exercise. It was recently reported that these MLRS will be delivered to Russia, but so far there are no facts confirming this. The KN-25 can be conditionally called MLRS, since these missiles already belong to the class of operational-tactical missiles. The mass of the missiles is estimated at three tons, and their length exceeds eight meters. The MLRS are mounted on a modified TATRA T815 chassis and have an armored cabin. The estimated firing range of the KN-25 MLRS is about 400 kilometers; during the exercises, firing was carried out at a range of 347 kilometers.

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Fincantieri has secured a EUR 1.18 billion contract from the Indonesian Ministry of Defence, within the framework of collaborative relations initiated by the Italian Ministry of Defence (MoD), to supply two multi-purpose offshore patrol vessels (OPVs) to the Indonesian Navy, the Italian shipbuilder announced on 28 March 2024.

On April 2, North Korea launched a new medium-range ballistic missile, the Hwasong-16B. Traditionally, the launch was personally led by Kim Jong-un. The Hwasong-16B missile is equipped with a newly developed hypersonic glide warhead. North Korea said it has fully denuclearized its missiles and armed its hypersonic missiles with nuclear warheads. The Hwasong-16B solid-propellant missile flew about 1000 km reaching a maximum altitude of 101.1 km, hitting a conditional target in the waters of the Korean East Sea. South Korean authorities said they estimated the total distance traveled by the missile to be about 600 km. The estimated flight range of the Hwasong-16B missiles is up to 5,500 kilometers

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Indonesian Navy signed a contract to buy two "Scorpene" submarines made by French state-owned shipyard Naval Group, the company said on Tuesday on its website without disclosing the contract's value.

The two 72 m (78.74 yard) submarines will be made in Indonesia, which has recently signed other major arm supplies with French companies, Naval Group said in a statement.

The Asian country ordered 42 Dassault-made Rafale fighter jets in 2022.

The 31-crew "Scorpene" submarines have six torpedo tubes, a capacity of 18 torpedoes and missiles and 12-day underwater autonomy, according to the company.

The broader defence partnership between France and Indonesia is part of what Paris views as its response in the Indo-Pacific region to a new strategic alliance between the United States, Britain and Australia called AUKUS, forged in 2021.

Earlier this year, Prabowo signed a contract for the last batch of 18 Rafale fighter-jets, which is expected to be delivered in early 2026.

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